Thursday, June 18, 2009

Intelligent Design evidence?

OK. So, supporters of Intelligent Design and Creationism are (at least in their own minds) chock full of reasons why they think evolution by natural selection doesn't explain the possible origins and the subsequent development of life on Earth. If you've spent any time at all reading skeptical, scientific or atheist blogs you will have no doubt heard all sorts of tripe from ID proponents and Creationists about the missing link, transitional fossils, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, geological folding, evolution not being able to create information, natural selection being random, natural selection not explaining X (when usually it does, and very well), the eye can't have evolved, irreducible complexity, ID is not Creationism, ID is not religion but science, objects being designed if they look like they could have been designed, evolution is a faith, there is no evidence for evolution, the Big Bang and evolution are the same theory. And that's just a small dose of the usual canards that they roll out.

What you almost certainly will not hear from your average Intelligent Design proponent or Creationist is what the evidence for Intelligent Design or Creationism is.

You'll hear that real peer reviewed science for ID is just around the corner. You'll hear that mainstream science is repressing and covering up the science behind ID. You'll hear assertions that only ID can explain certain things that evolution cannot. You'll hear lots of poorly argued examples of what evolution allegedly can't explain (most of which rely heavily on a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of evolution anyway), you'll have a whole host of quote mines thrown your way to make it look like some famous person or another disagreed with evolution or thought it wrong. Amongst other things.

So, here's a challenge for any ID proponent or Creationist who runs across this blog:

Cite the evidence for your theory. Arguments against evolution do not count as arguments for your theory. I want clearly explained evidence and conclusions. I want to know what your theory explains that cannot be explained by another alternative theory. I want to know what predictions your theory makes. I want to know how your theory can be falsified. I want to know what evidence would convince you that your theory was wrong. I want to know what your theory tells us about life. I want to know how your theory can be applied in medicine or biology. Where your theory contradicts known evidence or current theories I want to know why and how your theory trumps these things.

Here's a list of arguments or rhetorical techniques that you should avoid using or assuming, as well as some things you should avoid doing if you want to be taken seriously:
  1. Evolution does not equal Big Bang theory - don't conflate the two.
  2. EDITED 29th June 2010 to add: Abiogenesis and the Theory of Evolution are not the same thing, don't confuse them. 
  3. Assertions are not evidence, don't pretend they are.
  4. If evolution does not explain X the only alternative is not automatically your theory - there could be many alternatives that we aren't even aware of yet.
  5. Evidence against one theory is not automatically evidence for another.
  6. Biblical citations are not evidence for a scientific theory.
  7. Quote mining is the same as lying - that's a sin, remember?
  8. Don't misrepresent evolutionary theory - you should understand what you are talking about.
  9. Avoid logical fallacies.
  10. Threatening me with damnation is not evidence for your theory.
  11. Well known hoaxes or fakes cited as evidence will get you laughed at and mocked - don't use them.

Put your money where your mouth is - if I shouldn't accept evolutionary theory why should I accept Intelligent Design or Creationism?

What's your evidence?

103 comments:

  1. If I copied and pasted your challnge and put it on the front door of the Disco' 'tute its sheer rationality mojo power would make cdesign proponentists, er...sorry ID proponents burst spontaneously into flame from thirty meters away!

    I don't think there are any IDists that are intelligent enough to answer your challenge without gross distortion of your words or outright lies. I'd put good money on the idea that it is almost impossible for an IDiot to answer your questions truthfully and not sound like a complete buffoon.

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  2. Dear "anonymous"~
    Just for the sake of argument, since I don't exclusively ascribe to either of the two leading "theories", I do not believe that all the so called intelligent name calling in your post is either intelligent or "proof" of either theory. It seems that you just like to get your kicks as a loud mouth and though that may get laughs from those you spend time with, does not an intellect make. Sorry, but I call it like I see it...
    Also, I can not believe that so many "intelligent people" the world over are so crazed by these theories when there is no way to prove or disprove either theory...and why should we try to push our own beliefs on others? Just because we believe something is true does not make us the leading expert. Not that they truthfully know any more than we do when it comes to the real question as I see it. That question would be, "How did LIFE come to be?"
    We can believe in Creationalism, Intelligent Design, or Evolution all we want, but how can you honestly have one without the other? You can not have an Evolution without having an original organism to begin with...and unless we as a whole work together with those of differing ideals and viewpoints to widdle down the issue and actually STUDY all given specimen (i.e., all of the natural and ancient man made phenomena availabe), how can we possibly hope to ever figure out the great mysteries of the universe that surrounds us?
    Name calling and ignorance is not the way to find knowledge in any situation, so why would it be the case with this debate??? Doesn't seem plausible to me...

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  3. Dawn:
    Also, I can not believe that so many "intelligent people" the world over are so crazed by these theories when there is no way to prove or disprove either theory...and why should we try to push our own beliefs on others?

    No way to prove evolution? You really should do some more research before you make demonstrably false claims like that.

    Start here. Or here. In the scientific sense, there's plenty of proof for evolution. I have still to see any proof for intelligent design or creationism.

    Just because we believe something is true does not make us the leading expert.

    Obviously not, that is why no skeptic or scientist would make that argument or claim. You are attempting to make a strawman argument here, which is a logical fallacy.

    Not that they truthfully know any more than we do when it comes to the real question as I see it. That question would be, "How did LIFE come to be?"

    Oh I guarantee that this is not true. Biologists are certainly a lot closer to this answer than any intelligent design proponent or creationist. Biologists have hypotheses that can be tested and re-tested and possible mechanisms by which life did evolve. The ID proponent and the creationist just say "God did it." and leave it there. Which tells us nothing and does nothing to advance our knowledge.

    We can believe in Creationalism, Intelligent Design, or Evolution all we want, but how can you honestly have one without the other?

    What is this supposed to even mean? It is patently obvious that you can have one without the others.

    You can not have an Evolution without having an original organism to begin with...

    The original organism could 'easily' have evolved from simple organic or inorganic matter. You really should do some more research before telling others what they don't know.

    and unless we as a whole work together with those of differing ideals and viewpoints to widdle down the issue and actually STUDY all given specimen (i.e., all of the natural and ancient man made phenomena availabe), how can we possibly hope to ever figure out the great mysteries of the universe that surrounds us?

    What? Biologists have to work with creationists in order to study biology? Why? Why should scientists work with non-scientists on scientific questions? In case you didn't notice, scientists have been answering lots of these mysteries just fine without interference from the superstitious.

    Name calling and ignorance is not the way to find knowledge in any situation, so why would it be the case with this debate???

    Sorry, I call it like I see it...

    Doesn't seem plausible to me...

    Personal incredulity does not an argument make.

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  4. "It seems that you just like to get your kicks as a loud mouth and though that may get laughs from those you spend time with, does not an intellect make. Sorry, but I call it like I see it..."

    Says someone devoid of intellect.
    Dawn I'd debate the socks off you, and show you evolution is the only show in town by using just two words.


    VAGUS NERVE.


    Okay Dawny, you got that? Now google it and learn why it is evidence that we are descended from fishy ancestors, and that any "designer" that created the arrangement of the nerve is a bad one.
    So thats ID/creationism destroyed, and evidence of evolution all in two words. Now show me your intellectual response to that, or are you just a loudmouth?

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  5. Iam a Computer Scientist.

    "Intelligent design” should not be observed as a deceit.

    But must be observed as an alternate methodology for humans to make a theoretical conclusion to the origination of the unimaginably magnificent design of Life, universe etc


    I believe it is common sense so see that nature,life and the Universe has an intelligent design to it.


    how ever the assimilation of arguments are quite interesting to see and one must take them into consideration as the human brain is not big enough nor capable to explain a great amount of the universes mysteries even with time.

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  6. So Anonymous, you don't have any evidence either then I take it?

    'Iam a Computer Scientist.'

    So?

    '"Intelligent design” should not be observed as a deceit.'

    I don't say it is a deceit, but many of its proponents and the arguments associated with it are deceitful.

    '[ID] must be observed as an alternate methodology for humans to make a theoretical conclusion to the origination of the unimaginably magnificent design of Life, universe etc'

    Why must it? Even though the point of this blog entry is to provide people like you the chance to explain the evidence for ID, you still haven't. There is no validity to a scientific theory which has no scientific basis and no supporting evidence. There is no alternate methodology in ID other than substituting the scientific method and mountains of scientific evidence with, "God did it."

    'I believe it is common sense so see that nature,life and the Universe has an intelligent design to it.'

    Why? What is your evidence? Or do you admit that you only think it common sense because you see it through the preconceptions of your religious faith and you have no evidence?

    If you have evidence that convinces you what is it?

    'how ever the assimilation of arguments are quite interesting to see and one must take them into consideration as the human brain is not big enough nor capable to explain a great amount of the universes mysteries even with time.'

    Ah, so you're a defeatist. No surprises there. What are these arguments you are referring to however?

    Where is your evidence FOR Intelligent Design?

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  7. In Reply to your above post.

    I stated my occupation so that you know I am a Scientist.
    But I am also a child of God.


    Firstly I will start off by letting you know that religion and its miracles cannot be justified by scientific means. It is mainly based on belief and Faith which I will persist that you indulge in.


    In response to Evidence on “Intelligent Design”

    What I will tell you is that the only scientific Evidence that I can quote will be in the paragraph below.

    The current argument is based on how the Universe/Earth began;

    (1) Science of Big Bang theory /evolution

    (2) Religious Beliefs

    (3) Intelligent Design / “Extraterrestrial activity” aka UFO

    Now we will use probability which you will agree is a Mathematical Concept that is used in Science to draw conclusions about the likelihood of potential events. It should suffice as a lead to potential evidence for ID.

    In the case for Science it is “Probability” that is used to commence this theory!
    For example there are 500 billion stars in our galaxy alone not to mention other galaxies thus the creation of Earth is the unlikely event of a probability that is so small happening to create Earth and then further micro- probabilities that created Life on Earth etc etc. Let us not forget the expansion from the “Big bang” is what created the galaxy as we know it.

    Let us bear in mind that if we add up the probabilities of all the events that created the planet Earth and Life on Earth it will be a very small number. i.e 1/100000000000000000

    This is the sort of number you will end up with if you try and calculate the
    Probability of winning the national lottery 10 times in a row! Ask any Mathematician they will confirm it to be a very small number, as science does not make conclusions of impossibility.



    It can clearly be seen that the Universe was created and designed by “Mother Nature”


    We will not touch evolution because we must focus on the Full Picture and not bits and pieces at the moment.



    I must retire to bed now I shall conclude soon……………

    Good Night

    ReplyDelete
  8. Except that it didn't have to happen on Earth, and there's probably enough planets in the universe that there should be more than one no matter how unlikely it is.

    ReplyDelete
  9. OK.
    The probablility argument.

    The probability of a specific event (ie formation of earth as we know it) happening when viewed from a point in the past (ie BILIIONS AND BILLIONS of years ago) is yes, very, very, very small (in facct, many factors smaller than the numer you quoted. In fact the probablility of it happening is so infinitessimally small that it would take many more zeroes than can be fit in this comment box to fully numerate.

    BUT, and this is where you fall down drastically is that we are NOT at that point in the past. We are on earth, (at least I am, I'm not sure what planet creationists are on), and we are living and breathing. Therefore the probability of earth forming is 1. It has happened.

    You cannot retroactively run probability calculations on an event that HAS ALREADY HAPPENED and use that as proof that improbable events could not occur, therefore ID must be a viable alternative.

    Note that I do not say that the big bang theory is correct. Your argument cannot be used to prove the error (or truth) of any particular genesis of the Universe (pun intended).

    The fact that we have reached your improbable end point demostrates only that the end point was improbable. The mechanism by which we reach that point is very logical and built upon many iterations of many equally improbable events.

    The mere fact that you quoted the lottery analogy is telling. yes, winning the lottery is improbable, but I see people holding big checks every week after winning. Does this mean that God has intervened to cause them to win, or that they were simply lucky and their balls were in the right place at the right time (again, pun intended).

    No fool would be brash enough to suggest that there is a guiding hand behind the falling o random lottery numbers, and equally no fool should be short-sighted enough to suggest that there was anything other than random chance behind the building of our massively improbable Universe.

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  10. Let me answer your question above! Probability is defined by, chance or is a way of expressing knowledge or belief that an event will OCURR or has OCCURRED and is used in science, mathematics to draw conclusion.


    Sorry about this but let me conclude.
    It must be said that the creation of the universe / Earth using mathematical probability will lead you to an extremely minuscule number that I mentioned earlier and bearing in mind I was being very generous with the number taking into account it is an estimation without accounting for the intermediate stages of spontaneous generation that will be ignored in the calculation.

    What the answer simply is telling us will be that, it is impossible for spontaneous generation to of created Universe/Earth/Life.


    This evidence will obviously have to be accounted/Certified by a mathematician and researched vigorously.

    Frequently this route is used for somebody of whom will want to prove that life was generated in an instant by a divine creator. But this route seems to be interesting.

    Science has a phenomenal Financial incentive to maintain and sustain its study and in turn rewards us with Application ,cures for disease etc etc that is why people are able to produce evidence on the study of the design of life e.g fossils, Chemical Weapons, medicine etc etc

    Now the “Intelligent Design” philosophy does not really have any potential in Application, medicine etc so you will not get any incentive for studies to be carried out to yield evidence on the theory, it will be mainly free lancers putting their spare time to try and yield some evidence.
    That is why you are not going to get masses of evidence in favour of ID.

    Let us not persecute ID as I can’t think of any disadvantages it brings to our philosophy. Apart from it needs more scientific evidence which I am sure may be out there.

    People are not going to use it to disadvantage the Human race.

    But let’s look at Science, which yields immense benefits from studying and replicating the design of life, biologically, chemically and in application.
    It has the Potential for people to use it in a Destructive Manner that can extinct the Human race.
    i.e Toxic Gasses Pollution, Dictators With Biological Weapons of Mass Destruction, Nuclear Warfare etc


    I will end my post with greeting you good Night
    and will encourage you to try and read the bible .

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sarah:

    'I stated my occupation so that you know I am a Scientist.'

    So? Or are you making an Appeal to Authority here? You said you are a computer scientist, not a cosmologist or evolutionary biologist. Your occupation is therefore irrelevant.

    'Firstly I will start off by letting you know that religion and its miracles cannot be justified by scientific means.'

    Who said anything about science justifiying religion?

    'It is mainly based on belief and Faith which I will persist that you indulge in.'

    So is Intelligent Design science or religion?

    'In response to Evidence on “Intelligent Design”'

    And here is where you start to go wrong. Not evidence on Intelligent Design, evidence FOR Intelligent Design.

    'What I will tell you is that the only scientific Evidence that I can quote will be in the paragraph below.'

    And yet there is NO scientific evidence in the paragraph below.

    'The current argument is based on how the Universe/Earth began;

    (1) Science of Big Bang theory /evolution

    (2) Religious Beliefs

    (3) Intelligent Design / “Extraterrestrial activity” aka UFO'


    This is filled with errors:

    (1) Evolution has nothing to do with the origins of the Universe or the Earth. In the original post, this was point 1 in the list of things you should avoid claiming if you want to be taken seriously. Big Bang and Evolution are seperate and neither relies on the other - do not conflate them. One could occur without the other.

    (2) Intelligent Design IS a religious belief. ID is just religious creationism with the honesty to admit so taken out.

    (3) What does extraterrestrial activity or UFOs have to do with ID?

    (4) What about theories like the steady state Universe or panspermia?

    'Now we will use probability which you will agree is a Mathematical Concept that is used in Science to draw conclusions about the likelihood of potential events.'

    Still not seeing evidence FOR ID.

    'It should suffice as a lead to potential evidence for ID.'

    Why should it? Explain.

    'In the case for Science it is “Probability” that is used to commence this theory!'

    Which theory?

    'For example there are 500 billion stars in our galaxy alone not to mention other galaxies thus the creation of Earth is the unlikely event of a probability that is so small happening to create Earth and then further micro- probabilities that created Life on Earth etc etc. Let us not forget the expansion from the “Big bang” is what created the galaxy as we know it.'

    So did the Big Bang create the Universe or not? If you accept Big Bang theory then the chances of planets like the Earth being created are actually extremely likely and not impossible. Which part of this is evidence FOR ID? Bear in mind that evidence AGAINST the Big Bang (which by the way I don't think you have come even close to providing) is not evidence FOR ID. There are other theories. If I ask you for evidence that something is red, saying "Well the chances of it being black are tiny." is not evidence that it is red.

    You're also basing your probabililty argument on a misunderstanding of very small and very large numbers. For instance, the odds of your parents producing you specifically are roughly 1 in 70 trillion. Do you exist or not? But those odds seem improbable don't they?

    'Let us bear in mind that if we add up the probabilities of all the events that created the planet Earth and Life on Earth it will be a very small number.'

    Still not seeing evidence FOR ID.

    'This is the sort of number you will end up with if you try and calculate the
    Probability of winning the national lottery 10 times in a row!'


    So? It is improbable, not impossible. Again, for someone who claims to be a scientist you seem to have a poor grasp of probability and what it means.

    More to come.

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  12. To continue:

    'It can clearly be seen that the Universe was created and designed by “Mother Nature”'

    Sorry, but that claim is just not true - you have not even come close to proving that the Universe was created and designed by anything or anyone - you have not given one single shred of evidence FOR this conclusion so you have no grounds for simply stating it. You have the cheek to boldly assert it as if it is a self evident fact when clearly it is not. Go back and read the link I just gave and keep reading it until you understand why.

    What you are claiming with this assertion is that the deck of cards must have been designed to be in the order that they are in because that is the order they are in.

    That is not even close to being science.

    'We will not touch evolution because we must focus on the Full Picture and not bits and pieces at the moment.'

    We won't touch on evolution because A) Evolution has nothing to do with the origins of the Universe or the Earth and B) we are discussing evidence FOR ID, not against or for evolution.

    You're not doing well on either count.

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  13. 'Probability is defined by, chance or is a way of expressing knowledge or belief that an event will OCURR or has OCCURRED and is used in science, mathematics to draw conclusion.'

    You should probably get a better handle on probability yourself before lecturing others on it.

    'What the answer simply is telling us will be that, it is impossible for spontaneous generation to of created Universe/Earth/Life. '

    You're wrong. Even if I grant that you are right (and I most certainly do not) this is still not evidence FOR ID.

    'Frequently this route is used for somebody of whom will want to prove that life was generated in an instant by a divine creator.'

    This route proves nothing of the sort. It proves nothing. It attempts to disprove something else and then present the false dilemma that the favoured alternative is the only alternative.

    Please read up on your logical fallacies if you continue to post here.

    The rest of your post is nothing but poisoning the well by claiming scientists are ignoring ID only because there's no money in it. Are Dembski and his ilk poor? What about the possibility that scientists ignore ID because it is not scientific?

    'Let us not persecute ID as I can’t think of any disadvantages it brings to our philosophy.'

    You really aren't trying very hard then.

    'Apart from it needs more scientific evidence which I am sure may be out there.'

    And yet no-one seems able to provide ANY evidence for it AT ALL, never mind more evidence for it.

    'People are not going to use it to disadvantage the Human race."

    That is exactly what would happen if ID were used as science.

    'I... will encourage you to try and read the bible .'

    You mean this Bible?

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  14. Probability is defined by, chance or is a way of expressing knowledge or belief that an event will OCURR or has OCCURRED and is used in science, mathematics to draw conclusion.

    Are you playing semantics? If so, you will know that once an event has occurred, then the probability that it has occurred is, by definition... 1. I stand correct. (not correctED, correct). And while I'm at it probability has nothing to do with belief. Stop dropping wishy-washy words into your 'scientific' argument.

    What the answer simply is telling us will be that, it is impossible for spontaneous generation to of created Universe/Earth/Life.

    there you go again. You make the leap from 'improbable' to 'impossible'. Yes, we can both agree that, while the creation of life on earth WAS hugely improbable based upon empirical data, however, after this tacit agreement, we then diverge in our thinking.

    While you go one step further up the improbability tree and go as far as 'impossible' (hence the far more probable solution of a desginer in your mind), I go the other way and say that yes, it was improbable but it happened, so bully for me. I'm alive.

    This evidence will obviously have to be accounted/Certified by a mathematician and researched vigorously.

    Creationism 101: Subject competing theories to rigorous scientific research but refuse to proffer theories of your own other than "god did it". Inherently improvable.

    snip...snip some rambling about how ID research is not funded because it does not lead to useful weapons or drugs

    Yes, that is PRECISELY why there is no funding for ID research. That chip on your shoulder must be heavy. The lack of funding for 'scientific ID research' is because it is inherently non-provable and contaminated with anti-scientific dogma.

    I'm going to stop now because my kids are running around my feet wanting dinner which I should have cooked an hour ago, but I have more...

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sarah,

    The recurrent laryngeal nerve runs from its opening in the base of the skull to the larynx. However, it doesn't take a direct path, as one would expect if it was "intelligently" designed. Rather, it plunges down into the chest, curls around the aorta and then ascends again to the larynx.

    It does this not only in humans but in all mammals, including, incedibly, the giraffe.

    If there is a designer, this is not an intelligent design. Why did he do it in the first place, and then why did he repeat it separately in all the mammals? ID has no sensible explanation for this at all. Or does it? I invite you to find it out and post it here, and we can compare notes.

    For evolutionary theory, however, it isn't even a problem. It's a textbook example common ancestry, especially as the homologous nerve in fish travels a direct route, uncomplicated by the "later" development of neck and shoulders over 100s of millions of years.

    Which theory explains this better?

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  16. Dis-advantage of Science

    frankly I will not critic this Id thing.

    Its like people are not taught what they should really know at school about evolution.

    Absolutely Shambolic!

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070319071447AAqKcD0

    http://boards.ign.com/teh_vestibule/b5296/182976869/r182977425/

    http://www.topix.com/forum/afam/TQSH4EGLEDV5OCO0L

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  17. To demonstrate that we don't know enough about evolution, you link to... sites that demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of evolution! Great!

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  18. Its like people are not taught what they should really know at school about evolution.

    Well if the state of your post is anything to go by, maybe they should start with English first anyway.

    The first link you gave is a moronic question asked by someone with the mental capacity of a dog turd. The second is more of the same from probably the very same mental midget, the third yet more crap from someone whose cognitive powers just about gives toe fluff a run for its money.

    Bravo, you finally found your level.

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  19. Well, who could argue with that?

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  20. I would like to point out that because a theory has not produced sufficient scientific evidence to prove itself, we should not underestimate its possible validity. No, I'm not a Creationist or Id-ist (?), but as a lover of science I will say that because something is not proven does not mean that it cannot be proven.

    That said, I was wondering if the owner of the blog (mr. jimmy blue) could kindly explain to me how evolution explains the origin of life. Please do not be provoked, I am not asking for the sake of challenging; I am merely asking because I am curious. (My school does not teach evolution, so unfortunately I do not have suffiecient evidence to make a decision as to what I believe, hence my curiosity arouses).

    All answeres much appreciated :)

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  21. I would like to point out that because a theory has not produced sufficient scientific evidence to prove itself, we should not underestimate its possible validity.

    Intelligent Design has produced NO scientific evidence at all, nevermind even a small amount. Where a theory is unable to provide any evidence at all when its proponents are repeatedly asked for it then there is no reason to assume it has any scientific validity.

    No, I'm not a Creationist or Id-ist (?),

    You do seem familiar with their arguments and tactics however.

    but as a lover of science I will say that because something is not proven does not mean that it cannot be proven.

    Indeed. However that does not mean that all theories are equally valid, equally possible or equally plausible. You are assuming that every idea starts off on an equal footing, and this is an incorrect assumption. Some ideas are just dumb. If science wasn't able to make that distintion then every small advance would take millenia while every possible explanation was investigated and ruled out.

    Say I have a theory that all life in the Universe was created by a Koi Carp called Bert, who also makes it impossible to ever discover his existence so there is no way to prove this - would you consider that a possibly valid explanation?

    And yet that is basically what Intelligent Design argues.

    The ID proponents' only 'evidence' for the existence of an Intelligent Designer is that things appear to them to be Intelligently Designed so they must have been Intelligently Designed by an Intelligent Designer whose existent we can't prove other than by the assumption that everything in nature is Intelligently Designed - which is the logical fallacy known as Begging The Question. When someone's claim starts with a logical fallacy, there is no reason to suppose their theory has any merit at all.

    Not all ideas are equal.

    That said, I was wondering if the owner of the blog (mr. jimmy blue) could kindly explain to me how evolution explains the origin of life.

    It doesn't. And trying to imply it does is, by the way, a typical creationist or ID tactic. Apart from that though, this blog entry is about discussing the evidence FOR Intelligent Design, not for the Theory of Evolution or for other theories about the origin of life. I am not going to get sidetracked into discussing the actual scientific evidence for other theories because I want to hear the evidence the ID people claim they have that supports their theory.

    Abiogenesis is the study into the origins of life. Evolutionary theory works without knowing the origins of life since it is concerned with what happened after life began.

    If you want to start learning about evolutionary theory, here is a good place to start:

    Talk Origins

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  22. I disagree. I think that all theories in science start off "equally". That is to say, one is not more powerful than the other.

    The fact remains that evolution has indeed gathered more scientific evidence than the theory of intelligent design has managed to. But because of this, we should not underestimate the possible validity of other theories. I agree that some theories (your example being one, the theory of Bert :) are too absurd to be true. But who is to determine what does or does not qualify as science? Are we going to limit science to what we believe is plausible? I hope not.

    This argument was not for ID/Creationism. I just think that scientists should be more open-minded when presented with new theories. There can be no harm in trying to prove something (even though it sounds absurd), can there?

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  23. Anon,
    The fact that you criticise evolution's failure to explain the origin of life already red flags you as a creationist who has never read a non-creationist science book. Funny how you creationists spout the same idiotic and ignorant rhetoric, without realising how obvious it is.

    Asking why can't evolution explain the origin of life is exactly like saying "Well, Newtonian physics can explain why the apple falls, but it can't explain how it got up the tree in the first place".

    Of course it doesn't. It's a completely separate issue, not a gap in the theory.

    A better way to formulate your question would be "Why is evolutionary theory currently more advanced than than theories about the origin of life?"

    And there are of course plenty of reasons for that, but I doubt they would interest you.

    You say:
    This argument was not for ID/Creationism. I just think that scientists should be more open-minded when presented with new theories. There can be no harm in trying to prove something (even though it sounds absurd), can there?

    Again, you deny being a creationist, despite talking exactly like one, I doubt your sincerity, and suspect I am just wasting my time responding here, but I'll offer some information anyway.

    Calling for scientists to be open to new theories is like calling for golfers to practise their golf swing. In case you haven't noticed, scientists are the ones mapping the genome, cloning, flying around in space ships, and all that kind of stuff.

    Not only are they open to new ideas, to a degree that would make your hair stand on end, but even more importantly, they are prepared to test their ideas, refine them and discard the ones that don't help.

    Most of the "alternative theories" that creationists put forward are insane wobbly gibberish, but a few were already believed or accepted by scientists. Darwin deals with many of them in On the Origin of Species (the title of which does not mean on the origin of life - which creationists who haven't read it don't realise - which is why they keep harping on about how evolution doesn't explain the origin of life).

    The history of biology over the last 150 years is the story of the slow and painstaking process of dreaming up new ideas and then testing them.

    Genetics especially is the story of scientists being open to new and bizarre sounding ideas, and then taking the extra steps of testing and refining them.

    If you were really a "lover of science" as you claim, you would already know this.

    I strongly suggest you read a proper book by a real scientist before you declare your love for the subject. I think if you did, you would change your mind about proclaiming love for it.

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  24. Anonymous:

    I disagree.

    OK. Why?

    I think that all theories in science start off "equally".

    Absolute nonsense. If every one starts off equally then everyone would have to be investigated equally - no scientific progress would ever be made because every possibility would have to be investigated equally. Some theories can be dismissed because they are quite clearly ridiculous. Do apples fall because of some force drawing them to larger objects, let's call it gravity, or because invisible goldfish pull them in the direction of the larger object every time? You really think these two theories both start off equal and should be investigated as diligently as each other?

    Good luck with that version of science.

    I agree that some theories (your example being one, the theory of Bert :) are too absurd to be true.

    Then you contradict yourself. They cannot all start off equally and require equal investigation and yet some be too obviously absurd to be true.

    Incidentally, you dismiss the theory of Bert as too absurd to be true and yet claim ID may be valid without seeming to realise that the theory of Bert IS the theory of Intelligent Design, I just changed the name of the instigator from "Intelligent Designer" to Bert and made him a fish - ID proponents do after all like to stress that they nothing of the Designer.

    So, you unknowingly admitted that ID is too absurd to be true, yet you also claim it is as equally valid as evolutionary theory.

    But who is to determine what does or does not qualify as science?

    Scientists.

    Are we going to limit science to what we believe is plausible?

    No. But we also aren't going to broaden it to include the ridiculously unscientific.

    I just think that scientists should be more open-minded when presented with new theories.

    Oh don't be silly, scientists are amongst the most open minded people there are when it comes to new ideas (with exceptions of course). They just aren't so open minded that their brains fall out.

    There can be no harm in trying to prove something (even though it sounds absurd), can there?

    Depends on just how absurd it sounds and in what area of research it is. Should we try and prove that AIDs can be cured by eating moon dust, or should we research much more likely cures?

    I'm with Yakaru on this one, I think that you have no real understanding of how science is done and why and I think you are a creationist even if you won't admit it. If not, you certainly act like one.

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  25. If that is the same Anonymous who started off by posting "a", I think he failed to capitalise on a promising start.

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  26. ... is bollocks.

    There, finished that thought for you.

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  27. thanks for your (futile) attempt at finishing my thought...but I was thinking something more along the lines of "flood geology...is infallible evidence that has not, and most probably will not, be disproved; it is a solid foundation for Creationism, which is much more than evolution has managed to gather so far (the MISSING missing link has made evolutionism a mere unproved assumption)"

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  28. Well, it's improving, Anonymous. How about explaining briefly how flood geology fits the evidence better than normal geology.

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  29. Yakaru:

    That was going to be one of my next questions, I can't wait to see the answer. I'm also going to bring some time commenter Rockhound in on this if I can get hold of him - handily, he's a geologist for a living.

    Anonymous:

    Not even close, no cigar for you.

    flood geology...is infallible evidence that has not, and most probably will not, be disproved;

    Failed at the first hurdle. No scientific evidence should ever be described as 'infallible' since one of the basic principles of science is falsifiability. If it is infallible that implies it could never be shown to be wrong, hence it isn't really science but psuedoscience or religion. Declaring that your theory will probably never be disproven is also the kind of arrogance indicative of religion or pseudoscience.

    But then, do you mean the evidence for flood geology is infallible, or do you mean the hypothesis of flood geology is infallible?

    What is flood geology evidence of? How does it prove that there exists an intelligent designer or creator? Isn't flood geology merely another example of starting with your conclusion and fitting the evidence to it? Isn't it merely another example of begging the question?

    Even if (and I have to emphasise just exactly how big an 'if' this is) we accept that flood geology proves there was a global flood, how does it prove an intelligent designer or creator exists and was capable of creating the Universe? Show your working. Quoting the Bible here proves nothing, incidentally.

    What is the evidence that only flood geology can explain?

    What could falsifiy flood geology theory?

    How does flood geology explain the pretty basic fact that there is no geological layer showing evidence of a clearly massive extinction event in the predicted time period?

    Where did all the water go?

    it is a solid foundation for Creationism, which is much more than evolution has managed to gather so far

    This is nothing but the usual creationist bullshit. Refer to the Talk Origins link given above as a starting point and then try to remove your blinkers and do some actual research on actual biology rather than quoting the usual creationist canards. 'The Ancestors Tale' or 'The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution', both by Richard Dawkins should be a good start. The evidence for evolution is plentiful and from multiple scientific disciplines and forms the basis of modern biology.

    However, this is not about the evidence for evolution and we are not going to discuss that here, this is about your evidence for your theory. I will remove any comments that go off topic since it will be nothing more than an attempt at distracting from the non-existence of evidence for intelligent design or creationism.

    the MISSING missing link has made evolutionism a mere unproved assumption

    More of the usual. It is funny how creationists say : "Show me the missing link." and when they are shown one they go "Well show me the missing link between that missing link and the thing before that." and on ad infinitum - it's a rhetorical trick known as 'shifting the goalposts' and also shows a complete lack of understanding of the processes of science, geology, archeology and the actual chances of the fossilisation of anything.

    Here's the really funny part though - the entirety of flood geology is based on two unproven assumptions - that God exists and that he caused a global flood.

    Hypocrite, thy name is flood geology believer.

    Oh, and to avoid confusion please pick a name and just use that for future comments, to avoid mistaken identities - just click in the drop down beneath the comment box labelled "Comment as" and choose Name/URL - you don't have to give a real name just something you can be identified by.

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  30. 'flood geology' ? I'm guessing what is really meant by this is the biblical global flooding event for which Noah (alledgedly) built a boat?

    There's absolutley no evidence for this in the geological record whatsoever, so to avoid confusion with real science let's refer to it as the biblical flood, the only reason geology got in to this is for the same reason creationism became creation science.

    Incidentlly if anyone can point me in the way of any credible scientific, peer reviewed papers explaining where we could find evidence of a global flood I'd be interested.

    There have been alot of flood events of varying sizes recorded in the geological coloumn. There is no evidence for a global flood event.

    We don't even need to start talking rocks! First of all where did all of the water come from and where did it go afterwards?
    We'll move on to the rocks later.

    But this is getting away from the original thread, so maybe worth moving to a new thread if there's a response? Jimmy?

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  31. I don't think this does need to go to another thread unless it gets into massive detail (comment length limit) - our anonymous flood geologist wants to claim flood geology is evidence of intelligent design or a creator and so a look at why geology shows there was no global flood, and why flood geology is bunk, is definitely on topic!

    Of course, if you're offering to do a guest post that is an entirely different matter...

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  32. What a surprise - a creationist makes a bold scientific claim and then scuttles away when faced with someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

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  33. "...if you don't like having your beliefs or assumptions questioned, you might as well piss off now"

    .... look who's talking

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  34. Really, that's all you've got?

    I have no problem with having my beliefs questioned dear anonymous commenter, THAT'S WHY I HAVE A BLOG. What I have a problem with is people who can't back up what they say.

    Good grief.

    Funny how once again we have someone who clearly came here looking for a post that would reinforce their belief in Intelligent Design and had that belief challenged and could offer nothing in return but a weak attempt at an attack on me.

    What a surprise. I guess the irony of you using that particular quote just passed you by.

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  35. What the heck is flood geology anyways? Anyone?

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  36. It's the pseudo-scientific theory that there is geological evidence of a global flood akin to the one described in Genesis.

    It flies in the face of genuine scientific geological theory and evidence.

    It's bollocks. You can see just exactly how much weight it holds when someone who proclaims it proves intelligent design crawls quickly back under their rock when faced with an actual geologist.

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  37. feeling particularly open minded today, I thought about the fact that I'd never actually looked at the evidence of ID, so I decided to consult google to enlighten me on the topic (congrats, by the way, to the owner of this blog for being on the first page of results for "intelligent design evidence").

    the first result was a site called intelligent-design-evidence or something like that. after expressing disdain for people who say that there's no evidence, the author says something to the effect of "come on, you can just tell! trust your instinct!"

    now don't get me wrong. I seriously have no issue with christianity, religion in general, spirituality, meditation, tai chi, or anything like that. there have been studies that show psychological benefits to people of faith. I just want faith to stay faith, and not be taught as science. you shouldn't call a dog a cat, and you shouldn't call your faith a scientific theory.

    again, I really have no objection to anyone believing that the universe was designed by a benevolent, invisible creator. and it's true, science can't prove that it didn't happen. but neither does ID or creationism have anything to say about science. just as I wouldn't expect a church to preach about evolution, a man of faith should not be preaching his faith as science.

    soren kierkegaard said that science is necessarily objective, while faith is necessarily subjective. short of polling people on their beliefs, science just has nothing to say about your personal choice of faith. there's nothing to really do but make a decision on whether you think there's a god, and follow it. for those who are unfamiliar with kierkegaard - after coming to this conclusion, he became a passionately religious christian. and to you christians, I say with no contempt, please do the same. believe in god and jesus from the depths of your soul. just please, please, stop calling it science.

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  38. Yeh, if faith doesn't need evidence, then it doesn't need evidence. Any christian who wants to prove their faith can't complain if someone points out their evidence is weak.

    But ID isn't about evidence. It a multi-front attack on science and the details of the theory change according to the territory. It's not a coherent or consistent theory.

    Evolutionary theory is seen as having originated with the devil appealing to man's arrogance. Kent Hovind's doctoral thesis traces the origin of the idea from its first appearance in the Bible through history, culminating with Darwin and Hitler.

    In case you're interested, Anon, here's a lecture by biologist Ken Miller talking about the Dover trial.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohd5uqzlwsU

    - Don't be put off by the opening - Miller is a catholic and gets his pastor to say a prayer at the opening. When Miller talks biology, he talks straight biology. He has a few books where he tries to mix science and God and it falls as flat as one must expect.

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  39. A person I know argues against evolution by claiming that it could not have happened because "complexity requires a designer" and because "evolution is impossible according to mathematical probability"...

    I KNOW for a fact that what she said is untrue, but I don't know how to counter-argue this argument. Any help?

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  40. Plenty of people who read this blog will have better suggestions than this, but I'll have a go.

    "complexity requires a designer"
    It sounds like your friend doesn't understand the concept of evolution. First thing is probably to explain it to her and get her to at least conceed that it's plausible.

    A good start might be to explain the example of evolution in the wild, discovered by John Endler. He discovered two guppy populations in fairly close proximity, one brightly coloured, the other plain grey. He noticed they were of the same species and wondered why one is plain, the other brightly coloured.

    He discovered a predator in the pond of the grey ones, which was missing from the pool of the colourful ones. He postulated that the colourful fish had been the first to be eaten by the predator in the "grey" pond, whereas in the other pond, whereas in the other pond, the most colourful fish might be more attractive to mates and therefore have a reproductive advantage.

    He took samples of both populations to his lab and reproduced the two habitats, only this time, introducing a predator into the coloured population's pond, and no predator in the grey pond. After many many generations, the situation had reversed. The plainer of the colourful fish had had a survival advantage over the more noticable brightly coloured ones, eventually leading to the emergence of a grey population; and in the original grey population, those fish born with a splash of colour had a reproductive advantage and got to spread their colourful genes through the population without them or their progeny being swiftly eaten. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/sex/guppy/low_bandwidth.html

    Of course, it's a big jump from admitting something like that can happen, to saying "ok, something like that created me", and all you can really try for is that she at least understands the concept. Basically, random mutation and natural selection are the "designers" of the natural world. Buildings need conscious designers because they can't replicate themselves with variation, unlike animals.

    "evolution is impossible according to mathematical probability"
    That's a bit easier. It's wrong. It assumes that huge complex changes happened very swiftly. In fact many very small changes occurred cumulatively over a staggeringly long period. As an analogy, it's not like hitting the jackpot in a 1000 digit poker machine with one spin; rather it would be like having unlimited spins, with each digit that spins up in the correct position be held still for future spins.


    My favourite example of this is the recurrent laryngeal nerve. It follows a tortuous route from the base of the cranium down into the chest, where it loops around under the aorta, and then ascends to connect to the larynx. It does that in all mammals. Why? Because in the fish from which we mammals evolved, the analogous nerve ran a quite simple straight line from A to B, which as we developed more complex neck structures, the nerve took, step by step, an ever mroe intricate path, as the changes to the anatomy of the aota dragged it slowly deeper and deeper into the chest.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recurrent_laryngeal_nerve

    Intelligent design advocates have absolutely no explanation of why a Designer would repeat that weirdness across an enormous variety of ammals. Even in Giraffes, the nerve descends the entire length of the neck, curls around the aorta and then ascends the entire distance of the neck.

    So, according to probability, what is the better explanation for this? That a designer repeated the same poor design over and over again, or that mammals evolved over tens of millions of generations from fish?

    Jerry Coyne talks about it here
    http://www.rockefeller.edu/evolution/video.php?src=coyne

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  41. Anonymous:

    "complexity requires a designer"

    There are all kinds of things wrong with this, and Yakaru nails a good one. I'd add that this is based on some pretty big assumptions - such as the assumption that the universe and life on Earth in particular could have been designed like a human designs a watch. There is no proof that either could be designed, so why must we assume they were?

    This is also an example of the logical fallacy known as begging the question. Your friend is already assuming that there is a designer in order to provide proof that there is a designer. Her conclusion is part of her premise.

    As for "evolution is impossible according to mathematical probability"..., ask her to find out what the odds of her genetics being as they are to make her who she is, and then ask her if she is impossible. Or ask her to find out what the odds of having a shuffled deck of cards turn out in the order they do are, and then ask if that was impossible. The probability argument is usually used by people who don't understand large numbers and/or probability. Yakaru also hits the nail on the head with what he wrote.

    Now ask her to provide actual scientific evidence for intelligent design. Don't play the game of defending every absurd objection to the Big Bang or Evolution, get her to provide the evidence for ID. Scientific theories don't become valid because of what is wrong (if indeed there is something wrong) with the alteratives, but because of what is right about them.

    Yakaru:

    Plenty of people who read this blog will have better suggestions than this, but I'll have a go.

    Since the whole 'Guns and skeptics' thing that's basically you! I imagine it won't get better if I ever get around to finishing replying to the crap Skeptico left with too.

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  42. you know, let me suggest a slightly different approach when dealing with people like that.

    the thing to realize when arguing this sort of thing with people is that logic is processed in a different part of the brain than emotion (forgive the oversimplification here). thinking about the two are largely mutually exclusive. when someone argues for god and against science, they're not arguing from logic, they're arguing from emotion. no matter how logical you argument is, they won't care, because that part of their brain isn't working.

    furthermore, if you call they're argument nonsense, they'll just get upset and angry, which takes you even farther from your goal.

    one thing you can do instead is convince them that evolution existing doesn't say anything about whether or not god exists. maybe god created man using evolution, who knows. say that god is something in a realm totally unknown to science, and therefore science doesn't really say anything about god.

    when you talk, even if you're an atheist, pretend that you're open to the idea of god being something real. this will make them respect your position a little more and will make them more open to what you have to say.

    to reiterate, start with the argument that evolution in no way disproves god any more than gravity does, and that the two things can go exist. even if you don't believe this is true, you'll make a lot more progress with this kind of argument than by just trying to prove that the person is wrong about their beliefs.

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  43. Chris:

    Sorry but I am going to have to disagree with you on this, and I think that you are missing a key element here.

    Intelligent Design is posited as a scientific alternative to the theory of evolution - it is not claimed to be an argument based on emotion or faith but on scientific fact. ID proponents in fact go out of their way, at least in public, to pretend this has nothing to do with religion (see the Dover trial for a snippet of evidence of this). That is the entire basis of the ID movement, that it is science and should be taught in science classes as an alternative to evolution. On that basis it absolutely should be countered with cold hard logic and fact and nothing more.

    If it is science, where is the scientific evidence? That is the point of this post.

    On top of that I disagree strongly with the notion that the question of God's existence is not scientific - it absolutely is. The existence or not of anything is a scientific question.

    The existence of God is a scientific question and it is intellectually dishonest to pretend it isn't. I just don't buy into NOMA.

    If someones argument is nonsense then we should stop pretending it is anything but and we should highlight it as such. Should we pretend that someone arguing the world is indeed flat is arguing anything other than nonsense? Of course not. So why should religious ideas as equally absurd be given special dispensation?

    when you talk, even if you're an atheist, pretend that you're open to the idea of god being something real.

    So you advocate intellectual dishonesty in order to try and 'win' an argument? This kind of action simply puts you down there with concern trolls, creationists and IDers. The only way to convince people of your position is to be honest, open and to have the evidence to support your argument, not to pretend you think the other guy has a point.

    to reiterate, start with the argument that evolution in no way disproves god any more than gravity does, and that the two things can go exist. even if you don't believe this is true,

    No, this is absolutely the wrong thing to do. You don't convince people by lying about your position. We simply must not stoop to the tactics of the morons we are trying to fight.

    The consequences of being found to have lied are far worse than having a few people bent out of shape because you readily admit you don't believe in the existence of their particular fairies.

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  44. I don't disagree with you at all on your complaint about ID and creationism being wrongly posited as a scientific theory.

    on whether or not god is a scientific issue, I don't really disagree with you either, I just come from a more existentialist stance, in that you can't prove or disprove god (or flying spaghetti monster), and therefore the best you can do is decide what you want to believe. I know that it seems pointless to believe in something that has no evidence, but believing in god has some functional value, and I therefore have a difficult time telling people that they should abandon their beliefs. for a lot of people, its what keeps them sane.

    equating me with trolls and religious zealots seems a little harsh. I respect your notion of intellectual honesty, but how many christians have you actually turned by proving them wrong with logic? christians messing with science is a really serious issue. especially when christians have so much political power. it just seems worth it to me to make actual progress instead of just wasting breath with people who just aren't gonna get it.

    besides, you don't even have to lie, you just have to structure your argument in a way that doesn't make them upset, and even more passionate about their cause. computers are machines of pure logic, but the human brain has all kinds of other stuff going on to. no matter how solid your logic is, you're just not gonna win anyone's mind if you ignore all the social and emotional factors that are involved in people's decision making processes.

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  45. Chris,

    I have to add to the above something on this statement of yours -
    evolution in no way disproves god any more than gravity does

    It depends on which qualities the person is ascribing to God. The God who commands the sun to stop, or who placed the earth at the center of the cosmos is indeed disproven by the laws of gravity. The church learned to twist itself around science on this point, and eventually it will do the same with evolution - which contradicts God the creator of humans and animals.

    I agree with you on one point - that it's good to realise the person is probably not functioning rationally, and to tailor the response accordingly. It's good to inquire how well they think they they understand evolutionm, and whether or not they think they need to understand it if they want to criticise it.

    Incidentally, Chris, check out Jimmy's link about NOMA and maybe google accomodationism. You're certainly not alone in your views. You're actually in pretty good company. (Just that they're wrong!)

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  46. Chris, the above post was written before I saw your answer to JB.

    I think we're basically in agreement, but there is a big argument going on att he moment within the science community as to how to deal with this issue.

    Personally, I think it's more respectful to ones interlocutor to engage them in open, and where possible politie, debate or discussion. One can easily slip into trying to convert people rather than just rpesenting them with the facts and leaving it to them to make up their own mind.

    If someone publically criticises evolution they are taking it upon themselves to be capable of hearing opposite viewpoints, clearly and openly expressed.

    Also, it might never change their minds, but for people who are listening in, or reading on the internet, it does make an impression.

    (And also, also, I agree that some people may need their religion, and they have a right to decide that for themselves, which is why I would not reccommend telling that evolution is a safe topic for them to study. Go into it deeply enough and it will sooner or later be a profound affront to anyones spiritual beliefs. They may be smart enough to come out with their beliefs in tact, but it is certainly not a safe topic for the religious, or even the mildly spiritual.)

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  47. Chris, sorry but you and I don't really agree despite what you think. Much of what you are saying seems to be just rehashing the tired old arguments about framing and, as Yakaru pointed out, accomadationism.

    I just come from a more existentialist stance, in that you can't prove or disprove god (or flying spaghetti monster), and therefore the best you can do is decide what you want to believe.

    This is just silly - you are basically saying that anything that you can possibly imagine could exist and therefore can't be dismissed outright or with certainty, which makes science virtually pointless and scientific dicovery impossible because everything is about what you believe to be true.

    As Yakaru pointed out, yes ultimately science can't absolutely with 100% certainty disprove the existence of God, but it can certainly show much of what is claimed by the religious about God to be false. Furthermore though, science can't prove anything with 100% certainty - but do you choose to believe that the laws of gravity are or are not what they are?

    You are making an exception for religious claims where they impact on science and there is no reason to do so.

    I know that it seems pointless to believe in something that has no evidence, but believing in god has some functional value, and I therefore have a difficult time telling people that they should abandon their beliefs.

    It does, but it also has many documented harmful effects, why shouldn't this be pointed out simply because people might get upset about it?

    equating me with trolls and religious zealots seems a little harsh.

    You are advocating actions that if undertaken would make you like them, why not then point out the similarities?

    I respect your notion of intellectual honesty, but how many christians have you actually turned by proving them wrong with logic?

    I'm not trying to turn them - but you would be surprised by the number of people who have rejected a religious idea, or religion all together, when presented with logical and factual arguments. Cruise the atheist blogosphere and you will find plenty of accounts of this. But your mistake is assuming I want to convert - I want to establish the science behind the claims of an alleged scientific theory. If ID can't do that without descending into religion, then my point is proven.

    no matter how solid your logic is, you're just not gonna win anyone's mind if you ignore all the social and emotional factors that are involved in people's decision making processes.

    None of which is relevant to the question asked here - what is the scientific evidence for Intelligent Design?

    If none can be provided and instead we end up talking about faith, politics and sociology then my point is being made for me.

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  48. yeah I wasn't arguing your point about intelligent design, I was answering another commenter who was asking how to argue with people who are wrapped up in intelligent design. the person who asked the question sure was asking with the intent of trying to change someone's mind, and not just spew scientific data at them. I understand what you're trying to do in the blog, thanks for reiterating, but my goal was to answer some poor guy who asked a question about argumentation, and the answer I gave him was pretty valid on the subject of argumentation.

    as for my assertions about god, yeah a lot of bad stuff happens in the name of religion. that stuff is our business to deal with appropriately. on the other hand, if believing in god helps an alcoholic turn his life around, who are we to tell him to stop believing?

    my point is - you can attack a bad theory without attacking a person's faith. there's no reason to structure an argument like "ID has no evidence.. and also everything that gives you hope is wrong". if you instead structure it as "ID has no evidence, and god can still be real if you want", then its more likely that your real point will stick, and that is,ID has no evidence. if, later on, you really want to say that god has no evidence, you'll have a lot better of a case if you can get the person to stop thinking about ID first. again, this isn't an answer to you blog post. its an answer to someone who was asking how to deal with these people.

    you do have me a little curious now though. is your point in writing this blog... to actually try and collect evidence on ID? and if no one comments on your blog post with evidence, then you'll feel like you've proven your point? this is what you just said you're trying to do here, as though the comments left in your blog are a good way to gauge the general philosophical moods of the opposing sides of the issue. if you're a person who thinks scientifically, then I can't help but feel like you have a greater motive than doing inductive reasoning based on your blog comments. if this is really your purpose, then please correct me. it just seems more likely that you're either trying to convert people to your way of thought, or that this is all an exercise in self righteousness.

    but idk, that's just my opinion.

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  49. Chris:
    my point is - you can attack a bad theory without attacking a person's faith.

    Fine.

    say that god is something in a realm totally unknown to science, and therefore science doesn't really say anything about god.

    Not so fine. The Christian God - the one who created the animals and caused the sun to stop and all that stuff is squarely in the field of science.

    A god who is all that stuff which we can't comprehend probably exists way out there and who the fuck knows what it is, then that kind of god is at the moment (and maybe for ever) indeed outside the realm of science. But it is also outside the realm of religion and spirituality and all human thought or mental experience.

    (I notice religious people often say "there are some things we just can't answer", but then they go on and say "and the answer is God and he bla bla bla...")

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  50. I think its pretty bizarre that you guys have me defending god when I'm a) not religious at all, b) giving a pretty well accepted philosophical view on the topic, and c) not even stating my own beliefs, but rather talking about how to argue with religious people. but hey, let's do this. I'll play devil's advocate.

    A god who is all that stuff which we can't comprehend probably exists way out there and who the fuck knows what it is, then that kind of god is at the moment (and maybe for ever) indeed outside the realm of science. But it is also outside the realm of religion and spirituality and all human thought or mental experience.

    what? seriously that made no sense. when I say that god is in a realm outside science, I mean that god is a subjective experience, and not an objective one. it's like talking about the experience of pain or love. science can tell us all about the neurobiology, but it can't describe the subjective experience of pain or love, as in how it feels to you, because science is necessarily objective.

    if a christian starts making wild objective scientific claims about god, then by all means shoot him down with the evidence (or lack thereof). but you know, there are as many versions of god as there are religious people, so if you want to say that a person shouldn't believe in god, then you have to make an argument that covers your bases. when I talk about god with people, my definition is loose enough that in includes the idea and experience of god even if it's just a phenomenon of evolution, or an epiphenomenon of having an oversized cortex.

    obviously there's no scientific evidence for the existense of and invisible objective god, but there's plenty of evidence for the experience of god. whether or not god is real, the experience certainly is. there's not one spot in the brain where religion is, but religious thought does have a clear effect on the brain. strangely, the data show that the effect on the brain is actually quite beneficial.

    there may have been a survival benefit to having dumb faith, but its more likely that its an epiphenomenon that arises from our larger cortex.

    either way, the hardware is there, and telling someone not to believe in god is like telling them not to love. think about it - is love any more real than god? love is one of evolution's way of letting creatures make more creatures. and yet, we all live our lives as though love was some real thing, perhaps a plutonian form that exists somewhere in a different world. but no, if you look at the hard science, love is nothing more than a subjective experience of a cocktail of neurotransmitters and hormones, and doesn't seem mirror anything that exists past our own experience.

    but even if you agree with me that love isn't any more real of a thing than god is, I'll bet you have people that you frequently say "I love you" to. and I'll bet you generally live your life in a way that pretends that love is real. people murder, wage wars, destroy lives over love, and yet we have no problem living with the illusion.

    so again, the focus really shouldn't be on whether or not people believe in god, because believing in god is at least as valid as believing that love exists. the focus should be specifically on the scientific claims that have no evidence. I'm not big on this whole "us vs them" thing, I'm just concerned about the social issues that arise from the pushing policies based on ID or creationism, and I'm concerned about the hindrance to scientific progress. I don't need to feel justified about my stance on ID, as I already know there's no evidence, I just want to keep religion in the church, and science, well, everywhere else.

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  51. Chris:

    on the other hand, if believing in god helps an alcoholic turn his life around, who are we to tell him to stop believing?

    What if they temporarily overcome the addiction but go through relapses every crisis of faith?

    The problem with the idea that we should just go easy on religion because of the nice stuff it may provide is it doesn't address the consequences of the failure of religious belief or the twisting of it.

    you can attack a bad theory without attacking a person's faith.

    Unless the two are combined. Why when attacking ID would I be attacking a person's faith unless it is religious? If ID is science then attacking it isn't an attack on faith and IDers should be able to provide scientific evidence. On the other hand, if they feel an attack on ID is an attack on their faith then they prove one of the points I am making - ID is religion not science.

    What you're unintentionally saying is that since ID and faith are entwined, we shouldn't criticise it because people might get upset.

    You also act as if religious claims and science don't intersect, they do. Your position would seem to be that you can't talk about those points where they do crossover because people of faith might not like it or get upset. Sorry, you can't talk about the impossibility of water turning into wine without attacking the christian faith. Should it be off limits? Should we pretend that it could actually happen just to make christians happy?

    there's no reason to structure an argument like "ID has no evidence.. and also everything that gives you hope is wrong".

    And we don't do that. Of course, what would be wrong in pointing that out but adding the addendum that there is all this other stuff that can give you hope?

    if you instead structure it as "ID has no evidence, and god can still be real if you want"

    What is real has nothing to do with what you want. Encouraging that delusion is no better than encouraging a belief in Santa Claus. Encouraging that kind of belief is harmful.

    if, later on, you really want to say that god has no evidence, you'll have a lot better of a case if you can get the person to stop thinking about ID first.

    Why can't they handle both ideas at once? Why not structure the argument to show that since ID is flawed why not examine all other religious claims in the same light?

    is your point in writing this blog... to actually try and collect evidence on ID?

    The traditional IDer tactic is to attack the theories they don't like but rarely to provide evidence that supports their position. Scientific theories don't stand or fall on whether or not alternatives stand or fall but on their own supporting evidence. Hence if ID has no supporting evidence, it isn't science. Therefore I am asking the ID proponents/ believers out there (and plenty read the blog - about 50% of the small number of people who come here have done some kind of search on the term 'intelligent design evidence' - and as you said I am on page one of that Google search) - what is the evidence for your theory?

    and if no one comments on your blog post with evidence, then you'll feel like you've proven your point?

    To a very limited extent, yes. Or more accurately, it is the beginning of proving my point.

    this is what you just said you're trying to do here, as though the comments left in your blog are a good way to gauge the general philosophical moods of the opposing sides of the issue.

    No, I said that if all we end up talking about is anything other than the science my point is being made for me, the comments here would be a tiny sample of the general arguments between the two sides.

    Lo and behold the comments have basically gone as I could have predicted - little attempt at providing scientific evidence for ID, the usual tired attempts that are easily debunked or discredited, and lots of waffle around the issues.

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  52. see, I'm talking about two different things here: religious claims and religious experience. I'm not defending any religious claims, rather I'm defending people's rights to their own religious experiences. I thought I pretty clearly represented that when I talked about objective vs subjective, but I guess not.

    To a very limited extent, yes. Or more accurately, it is the beginning of proving my point.

    oooor you could search through the databases of peer reviews scientific articles and thesis papers available at schools and see what actual experts have to say about it. might get you farther than examining the flame wars on your blog (here's a shortcut - there's no evidence for ID, but I'll bet thesis papers can provide more insight than I can, or anyone here can). I mean the more this thing drags on, it looks more like an attempt to make yourself feel better than to actually move anything socially or scientifically.

    that said, I congratulate you on properly predicting the way that comments would go on the internet when you talk about religion, and on realizing that religion isn't science. maybe now we can write our congressmen, and our school boards, and let them know?

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  53. Chris:

    I think its pretty bizarre that you guys have me defending god

    It's more bizarre that you don't see that this is basically what you have been doing.

    b) giving a pretty well accepted philosophical view on the topic,

    Being well accepted doesn't make it right, and Yakaru and I both pointed out we understood your arguments were nothing but the same old framing/NOMA/accomadationist arguments.

    when I say that god is in a realm outside science, I mean that god is a subjective experience, and not an objective one.

    Then you are using a definition that A) isn't used by most religious people and B) makes any discussion of gods pointless and irrelevant. Gods in every religion that I can think of, off the top of my head, are said to perform objective actions in the real world - they are absolutely not merely relegated to an individuals subjective experience. Asserting that god is a subjective experience is ignoring what almost all religious people actually believe.

    it's like talking about the experience of pain or love.

    Then you really just don't get religion and what is being discussed here and there seems to be little point carrying this on.

    if a christian starts making wild objective scientific claims about god, then by all means shoot him down with the evidence (or lack thereof).

    The whole basis for, just as examples, Judaism, Christianity and Islam is that God does objective things that we see, hear or feel in the real world - he isn't just something that the followers of those religions feel. He does stuff in the real objective world. You're simply ignoring everything about religion in favour of some definition you have that is meaningless.

    when I talk about god with people, my definition is loose enough that in includes the idea and experience of god even if it's just a phenomenon of evolution, or an epiphenomenon of having an oversized cortex.

    Then it is so broad as to be meaningless and it conflicts with what the vast majority of religious people actually believe god is.

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  54. obviously there's no scientific evidence for the existense of and invisible objective god, but there's plenty of evidence for the experience of god.

    Oh we have some pretty good ideas about the existence of religious experiences too, as just one example I found by Googling 'drug induced religious experiences'.

    there's not one spot in the brain where religion is

    Actually there is, for example, some evidence that religious experiences are linked to the temporal lobe of the brain. Stimulating this area has resulted in feelings similar to those described by people who have religious experiences.

    either way, the hardware is there, and telling someone not to believe in god is like telling them not to love.

    Don't be ridiculous. You are confusing the feelings people associate with god with there actually being a god - we are not telling people not to believe in the subjective experience they associate with god, that would be stupid, we are telling people those feelings are something else because there's no evidence gods exist. This is why your definition of god is flawed.

    think about it - is love any more real than god?

    Again you are confusing two different things. No, feeling love is no more real than feeling god or a religious experience. However feeling a religious experience or feeling god doesn't mean there is an actual god that causes those feelings. Religious people don't believe that religious feelings are the same as love - they believe they come from an external source, a god.

    if you look at the hard science, love is nothing more than a subjective experience of a cocktail of neurotransmitters and hormones, and doesn't seem mirror anything that exists past our own experience.

    Just like the feeling of god/religion. However, the religious don't just believe in that feeling, they believe in an actual physical god.

    so again, the focus really shouldn't be on whether or not people believe in god, because believing in god is at least as valid as believing that love exists.

    No it isn't. It is only because of your flawed definition of god that you think so.

    the focus should be specifically on the scientific claims that have no evidence.

    Like, say, the existence of a god who designed and created the entire Universe? For instance. How do you seperate those two, exactly?

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  55. Chris:

    rather I'm defending people's rights to their own religious experiences.

    Then you completely missed the point, no-one here suggested restricting religious experiences or people's right to have them. The question is not that people have them, but what causes them.

    oooor you could search through the databases of peer reviews scientific articles and thesis papers available at schools and see what actual experts have to say about it.

    How do you know I haven't? The point is to highlight that there is no scientific evidence for ID, not that I don't know whether or not there is no scientific evidence for ID. Not even sure what your point was here to be honest.

    Let's see - I want to highlight the fact that there is no evidence for ID and want to do so in a way that is easily accessible online. So I make a post on my blog that asks for people to provide what they think is evidence for ID and your attempt at being a smart ass in order to ridicule this is to say why don't I go and look up the science on it?

    I mean the more this thing drags on, it looks more like an attempt to make yourself feel better than to actually move anything socially or scientifically.

    Oh good grief, now you're starting to pick from the playbook. No. Fine, you got me. It was all about making myself feel better about knowing that ID has no scientific evidence. There couldn't possibly be any other reasons.

    that said, I congratulate you on properly predicting the way that comments would go on the internet when you talk about religion, and on realizing that religion isn't science. maybe now we can write our congressmen, and our school boards, and let them know?

    Oh and attempted wit too. Gosh you're good. Now if only you'd addressed the actual point I had made instead of attempting sarcasm. Should I also tell you I predicted you'd start getting prissy if we didn't simply accept your half arsed philosophy on this matter too?

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  56. I'll take one more stab at this and be on my way. free will is something that probably doesn't exist in reality. it's not scientifically viable. none the less, I'll bet you live your life in a way that assumes you have free will. I'll bet you don't think of yourself as a robot on a set path, unable to make any real decisions. and frankly, its fine that you do, as its a very functional way to think. its fine so long as you don't extend that assumption in a way that interferes with progress. there are a ton of these pretenses in the human mind, and yet I'm willing to bet you play along with them the same as everyone else does. love is another example. it doesn't reflect anything that actually exists. its just a function of the brain. so why is believing in god out of the question, while acting in a way that would suggest the existence of free will or love is perfectly fine? its pointless to tell people not to believe in god. thus my point that we should attack the theories that are stunting progress while still allowing people their core belief in god. believing in god isn't hurting anything in and of itself, it's only the extension of those beliefs that hurts anyone.

    but the real point was just that allowing for the possibility of god will make you more likely to win an argument with an IDer. and again, the point was directed at someone who asked how to win an argument with an IDer. I'm not really sure why it became anything more than that, as it's pretty hard to deny that I'm right on at least that point. seriously, try it. it works.

    Oh good grief, now you're starting to pick from the playbook. No. Fine, you got me. It was all about making myself feel better about knowing that ID has no scientific evidence. There couldn't possibly be any other reasons.

    I mean, right?

    you're saying that you didn't do this to convince anyone, so that's not the reason. you said you wanted to prove a point, but if you're not proving the point to convince anyone, then are you proving the point to yourself? what reasons do you have beyond self righteousness?

    Gosh you're good.
    thank you

    Should I also tell you I predicted you'd start getting prissy if we didn't simply accept your half arsed philosophy on this matter too?

    yes you're a very good predictor of things.

    I think I've made my points clearly enough by now, and at this point I'm just making fun, so I'll leave you with the closing argument and bid farewell.

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  57. telling someone not to believe in god is like telling them not to love. think about it - is love any more real than god?

    Yes it is. I have a subjective experience of love that is clear enough for me to feel safe assuming others have essentially the same kind of experience. With "God" there is no such uniformity.

    You are one step away from doing what a lot of Christians do, and that is, first, equating god with love. Then if someone says god doesn't exist, they say, then you mean love doesn't exist. It's as if people are running around with a sticky label with 'God' written on it, and trying to find somewhere to stick it. So they stick on 'love' or something either valuable or diffuse. Then when they've convinced people that their equivocation is valid, they try to push it further - now suddenly, 'He' can save you, he was Jesus, he was resurrected, etc. And when someone disagrees, they go back to "you can't disprove love" - or where ever it it was they stuck the label.

    People often think atheists don't value things like love, morality, sensitivity, etc. We do. We just don't stick the label 'God' on them.
    ...

    On a slightly different topic, IDers who react with horror to the idea that we are an evolving member of the ape family, seem quite comfortable with the idea that I will burn for eternity in hell. I don't bother too much about offending such twits.
    ........
    JB - interesting that you get a lot of people looking into ID here. Good to diversify the readership, I think! (Meaning I think you do fine without the few who don't post here anymore!)

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  58. Chris:

    Why do you have such a problem making a distinction between a philosophical concept or idea and something physical?

    Free will is a philosophical concept and nothing more, and it is one that you can easily make arguments for and against - I'd argue that in the end free will is quite probably an illusion.

    On the other hand god is argued by believers to be an actual physical entity - no religious believer whose belief system involves a god would argue that the god is nothing more than a philosophical concept.

    love is another example. it doesn't reflect anything that actually exists.

    So it doesn't reflect any form of process in the brain and biology at all?

    so why is believing in god out of the question, while acting in a way that would suggest the existence of free will or love is perfectly fine?

    Who said that believing in god was out of the question? I certainly didn't because it would be ridiculous to argue that belief in a concept or idea was out of the question. It might be fucking stupid, but it depends on the concept or idea.

    its pointless to tell people not to believe in god.

    And yet you have completely failed to show why.

    thus my point that we should attack the theories that are stunting progress while still allowing people their core belief in god.

    People can believe in god all they want - but claiming he is scientifically proveable or real impacts on science - you seem unable to grasp this concept and your definition of god is so broad it is meaningless anyway.

    believing in god isn't hurting anything in and of itself, it's only the extension of those beliefs that hurts anyone.

    And how exactly do you draw a distinction between believing in god and carrying that beyond merely believing? How many religious believers simply believe in god and then nothing further - i.e they don't use that belief to inform decisions they make everyday? How many believers don't extend belief in god beyond mere belief in god?

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  59. Continuing:

    but the real point was just that allowing for the possibility of god will make you more likely to win an argument with an IDer.

    Yes we know what your point was, our point is that yours is bollocks. So you really think you are more likely to win a scientific argument with an IDer by agreeing with them that they might be right, there might be a designer, even if you don't think that? Even if it means abandoning many principles of the scientific method? Even if it means bringing religion into science (something which you after all said should be kept seperate)?

    I'm not really sure why it became anything more than that, as it's pretty hard to deny that I'm right on at least that point.

    You arrogant fucker - actually it is really really easy to deny you are right on this point and it has been done inumerable times all across the atheist and science blogosphere. Here's an example:

    YOU ARE WRONG ON THIS POINT

    There. Easy.

    If you allow for the existence of god when arguing with an IDer then you can't win an argument on ID because you've conceded that BOTH OF YOU could be right.

    you said you wanted to prove a point, but if you're not proving the point to convince anyone, then are you proving the point to yourself?

    You missed the point of what I was saying chris. You asked if reason and logic had ever 'turned' a christian, I replied that my point here was not to 'turn' or convert a christian (but by the way the answer is yes) - my point here is to prove that ID is not scientific, I absolutely want to convince people of that. I don't care whether or not they keep believing in god after that, my point with this post is not to deconvert them but to show that there is no scientific evidence that supports ID. I was pretty explicit about this, you simply changed from 'turning' christians to 'convincing' christians as if the two are the same thing and as if I had meant both or just the latter.

    what reasons do you have beyond self righteousness?

    Let's see now, just off the top of my head. Maybe I just want this information publically available and accessible. Maybe I believe that once people understand that ID is not scientific they'll stop supporting the idea that it should be taught in science classes. Maybe I like hearing the sound of my own voice. Maybe I just like arguing. Maybe I have some kind of OCD. Maybe I like arguing lost causes. Maybe I understand knowledge is power. Maybe I just wanted to attract people to the blog by having a well Googled topic on it? Maybe I want to convince people that ID is not scientific.

    No, the only reason must be self righteousness.

    Of course, if you could point out where I said I wasn't trying to convince anyone that might help understand why you think I said that.

    I think I've made my points clearly enough by now

    The problem with your points wasn't clarity chris.

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  60. Yakaru:

    Yakaru: There are a lot of Google searches on 'intelligent design evidence' that bring people here - but almost all never comment, which is interesting to me. And thanks for the ego boost!

    And it's wierd, but your last comment didn't show up in the recent comments box. Strange.

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  61. And it's wierd, but your last comment didn't show up in the recent comments box. Strange.

    And then it did after I posted. Gremlins.

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  62. I also noticed that. "Blogger" has something personal against me. I know it. I think it's coz I use Opera. Blogger wants everyone to use firefox or IE.

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  63. For me, the single most important feature of polemics is raising awareness. I don’t believe one should aim for victory for its own sake: For this is something that happens only when one’s identity is overly attached to a particular point of view.

    People kill and die for their cherished beliefs. They hold on to and justify them at magnificent lengths. A recent study on American’s that still believed Iraq was responsible for 911 in spite of the evidence to the contrary, showed to what lengths people will go to keep their beliefs intact.

    The rules of debate are useful for systematizing argument and for avoiding typical pitfalls, but I wish they included an understanding of recognized social psychological tendencies as well. Like groupthink, reverse reasoning and “us” and “them” pitfalls.

    Using labels is practical for categorization; but can, and usually does, limit one’s scope of comprehension. The brain is like a computer that way. A category represents “x” and leaves out the possibility of “y” and “z”. Therein lays the danger of stereotyping of course.
    My belief is that the three opposing camps in this blog are actually different aspects of the same coin. I don’t mind if that earns me the label, Accomodationist.

    Consider the idea that at a quantum mechanical level all of creation is for lack of a better term, Energy: Creative Energy that has purposeful directional properties – properties for growth, for life and death, expansion and contraction, for tragedy and humor and so on. It’s also possible, that like us, this energy has personal and impersonal aspects to its nature. The body is impersonal. But there must also be a personality considering how the energy is expressed in us at every moment of our lives. I’m only postulating at this point.

    That the energy has a sense of humor can be seen in the folks that argue about the nature of existence. The creative intelligence in one person expresses itself as an ardent atheist, while in another as an intractable Creationist.
    No one is absolutely wrong on a particular issue and often when both sides play out the best of their arguments, everyone grows.

    My standpoint on Creationism is that Genesis was never meant to be taken literally; that the real evidence of intelligent design lies in direct experience, something that can be had only by exploring the deeper realms of one’s own consciousness; and that evolution and ID are not mutually exclusive.

    Here’s some evidence for ID (taken from : http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/intelligent-design/ )

    Cosmic Connection
    “ It is impossible to imagine a universe containing life in which any one of the fundamental constants of physics or any one of the fundamental parameters of the universe is different, even slightly so, in one way or another.

    From this recognition arises the anthropic principle—everything about the universe tends toward man, toward making life possible and sustaining it. The first popularizer of the principle American physicist John Wheeler, describes it in this way, “A life-giving factor lies at the centre of the whole machinery and design of the world.”(1)

    The Earth as a Fit Habitat

    Evidence for the design of the sun-earth-moon system(14-31)

    The following parameters cannot exceed certain limits without disturbing the earth’s capacity to support life. Some of these parameters are more narrowly confining than others. For example, the first parameter would eliminate only half the stars from candidacy for life-supporting Systems, whereas parameters five, seven, and eight would each eliminate more than ninety-nine in a hundred star-planet systems. Not only must the parameters for life support fall within a certain restrictive range, but they must remain relatively constant over time. And we know that several, such as parameters fourteen through nineteen, are subject to potentially catastrophic fluctuation. In addition to the parameters listed here, there are others, such as the eccentricity of a planet’s orbit, that have an upper (or a lower) limit only.

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  64. Earth As a Fit Habitat continued...

    The following parameters cannot exceed certain limits without disturbing the earth’s capacity to support life. Some of these parameters are more narrowly confining than others. For example, the first parameter would eliminate only half the stars from candidacy for life-supporting Systems, whereas parameters five, seven, and eight would each eliminate more than ninety-nine in a hundred star-planet systems. Not only must the parameters for life support fall within a certain restrictive range, but they must remain relatively constant over time. And we know that several, such as parameters fourteen through nineteen, are subject to potentially catastrophic fluctuation. In addition to the parameters listed here, there are others, such as the eccentricity of a planet’s orbit, that have an upper (or a lower) limit only.

    1. number of star companions
    •if more than one: tidal interactions would disrupt planetary orbits
    •if less than one: not enough heat produced for life

    2. parent star birth date
    •if more recent: star would not yet have reached stable burning phase
    •if less recent: stellar system would not yet contain enough heavy elements

    3. parent star age
    •if older: luminosity of star would not be sufficiently stable
    •if younger: luminosity of star would not be sufficiently stable

    4. parent star distance from center of galaxy
    •if greater: not enough heavy elements to make rocky planets
    •if less: stellar density and radiation would he too great

    5. parent star mass
    •if greater: luminosity output from the star would not be sufficiently stable
    •if less: range of distances appropriate for life would be too narrow; tidal forces would disrupt the rotational period for a planet of the right distance

    6. parent star color
    •if redder: insufficient photosynthetic response
    •if bluer: insufficient photosynthetic response

    7. surface gravity
    •if stronger: planet’s atmosphere would retain huge amounts of ammonia and methane
    •if weaker: planet’s atmosphere would lose too much water

    8. distance from parent star
    •if farther away: too cool for a stable water cycle
    •if closer: too warm for a stable water cycle

    9. thickness of crust
    •if thicker: too much oxygen would he transferred from the atmosphere to the crust
    •if thinner: volcanic and tectonic activity would be too great

    10. rotation period
    •if longer: diurnal temperature differences would he too great
    •if shorter: atmospheric wind velocities would he too great

    11. gravitational interaction with a moon
    •if greater: tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would he too severe
    •if less: earth’s orbital obliquity would change too much causing climatic instabilities

    12. magnetic field
    •if stronger: electromagnetic storms would be too severe
    •if weaker: no protection from solar wind particles

    13. axial tilt
    •if greater: surface temperature differences would be too great
    •if less: surface temperature differences would he too great

    14. albedo (ratio of reflected light to total amount falling on surface)
    •if greater: runaway ice age would develop
    •if less: runaway greenhouse effect would develop

    15. oxygen to nitrogen ratio in atmosphere
    •if larger: life functions would proceed too quickly
    •if smaller: life functions would proceed too slowly

    16. carbon dioxide and water vapor levels in atmosphere
    •if greater: runaway greenhouse effect would develop
    •if less: insufficient greenhouse effect

    17. ozone level in atmosphere
    •if greater: surface temperatures would become too low
    •if less: surface temperatures would he too high; too much uv radiation at surface

    18. atmospheric electric discharge rate
    •if greater: too much fire destruction
    •if less: too little nitrogen fixing in the soil

    19. seismic activity
    •if greater: destruction of too many life-forms
    •if less: nutrients on ocean floors would not be uplifted

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  65. The Universe as a Fit Habitat

    In recent years these and other parameters for the universe have been more sharply defined and analyzed. Now, nearly two dozen coincidences evincing design have been acknowledged:

    1. The gravitational coupling constant—i.e., the force of gravity, determines what kinds of stars are possible in the universe. If the gravitational force were slightly stronger, star formation would proceed more efficiently and all Stars would be more massive than our sun by at least 1.4 times. These large stars are important in that they alone manufacture elements heavier than iron, and they alone disperse elements heavier than beryllium to the interstellar medium. Such elements are essential for the formation of planets as well as of living things in any form. However, these Stars burn too rapidly and too unevenly to maintain life-supporting conditions on surrounding planets. Stars as small as our sun are necessary for that.
    On the other hand, if the gravitational force were slightly weaker, all stars would have less than 0.8 times the mass of the sun. Though such stars burn long and evenly enough to maintain life-supporting planets, no heavy elements essential for building such planets or life would exist.

    2. The strong nuclear force coupling constant holds together the particles in the nucleus of an atom. If the strong nuclear force were slightly weaker, multi-proton nuclei would not hold together. Hydrogen would be the only element in the universe.

    If this force were slightly stronger, not only would hydrogen be rare in the universe, but the supply of the various life-essential elements heavier than iron (elements resulting from the fission of very heavy elements) would be insufficient. Either way, life would be impossible.(a)

    3. The weak nuclear force coupling constant affects the behavior of leptons. Leptons form a whole class of elementary particles (e.g. neutrinos, electrons, and photons) that do not participate in strong nuclear reactions. The most familiar weak interaction effect is radioactivity, in particular, the beta decay reaction: neutron -> proton + electron + neutrino

    The availability of neutrons as the universe cools through temperatures appropriate for nuclear fusion determines the amount of helium produced during the first few minutes of the big bang. If the weak nuclear force coupling constant were slightly larger, neutrons would decay more readily, and therefore would be less available. Hence, little or no helium would be produced from the big bang. Without the necessary helium, heavy elements sufficient for the constructing of life would not be made by the nuclear furnaces inside stars. On the other hand, if this constant were slightly smaller, the big bang would burn most or all of the hydrogen into helium, with a subsequent over-abundance of heavy elements made by stars, and again life would not be possible.

    A second, possibly more delicate, balance occurs for supernovae. It appears that an outward surge of neutrinos determines whether or not a supernova is able to eject its heavy elements into outer space. If the weak nuclear force coupling constant were slightly larger, neutrinos would pass through a supernova’s envelop without disturbing it. Hence, the heavy elements produced by the supernova would remain in the core. If the constant were slightly smaller, the neutrinos would not be capable of blowing away the envelop. Again, the heavy elements essential for life would remain trapped forever within the cores of supernovae.

    4. The electromagnetic coupling constant binds electrons to protons in atoms. The characteristics of the orbits of electrons about atoms determines to what degree atoms will bond together to form molecules. If the electromagnetic coupling constant were slightly smaller, no electrons would be held in orbits about nuclei. If it were slightly larger, an atom could not “share” an electron orbit with other atoms. Either way, molecules, and hence life, would be impossible.

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  66. The Universe as a Fit Habitat Continued...

    5. The ratio of electron to proton mass also determines the characteristics of (he orbits of electrons about nuclei. A proton is 1836 times more massive than an electron. if the electron to proton mass ratio were slightly larger or slightly smaller, again, molecules would not form, and life would be impossible.

    6. The age of the universe governs what kinds of stars exist. It takes about three billion years for the first stars to form. It takes another ten or twelve billion years for supernovae to spew out enough heavy elements to make possible stars like our sun, stars capable of spawning rocky planets. Yet another few billion years is necessary for solar-type stars to stabilize sufficiently to support advanced life on any of its planets. Hence, if the universe were just a couple of billion years younger, no environment suitable for life would exist. However, if the universe were about ten (or more) billion years older than it is, there would be no solar-type stars in a stable burning phase in the right part of a galaxy. In other words, the window of time during which life is possible in the universe is relatively narrow.

    7. The expansion rate of the universe determines what kinds of stars, if any, form in the universe. If the rate of expansion were slightly less, the whole universe would have recollapsed before any solar-type stars could have settled into a stable burning phase. If the universe were expanding slightly more rapidly, no galaxies (and hence no stars) would condense from the general expansion. How critical is this expansion rate? According to Alan Guth,(6) it must be fine-tuned to an accuracy of one part in 1055. Guth, however, suggests that his inflationary model, given certain values for the four fundamental forces of physics, may provide a natural explanation for the critical expansion rate.

    8. The entropy level of the universe affects the condensation of massive systems. The universe contains 100,000,000 photons for every baryon. This makes the universe extremely entropic, i.e. a very efficient radiator and a very poor engine. If the entropy level for the universe were slightly larger, no galactic systems would form (and therefore no stars). If the entropy level were slightly smaller, the galactic systems that formed would effectively trap radiation and prevent any fragmentation of the Systems into stars Either way the universe would be devoid of stars and, thus, of life. (Some models for the universe relate this coincidence to a dependence of entropy upon the gravitational coupling constant. [7, 8])

    9. The mass of the universe (actually mass + energy, since E = mc2) determines how much nuclear burning takes place as the universe cools from the hot big bang. If the mass were slightly larger, too much deuterium (hydrogen atoms with nuclei containing both a proton and a neutron) would form during the cooling of the big bang. Deuterium is a powerful catalyst for subsequent nuclear burning in Stars. This extra deuterium would cause stars to burn much too rapidly to sustain life on any possible planet.
    On the other hand, if the mass of the universe were slightly smaller, no helium would be generated during the cooling of the big bang. Without helium, stars cannot produce the heavy elements necessary for life. Thus, we see a reason why the universe is as big as it is. If it were any smaller (or larger), not even one planet like the earth would be possible.
    10. The uniformity of the universe determines its stellar components. Our universe has a high degree of uniformity. Such uniformity is considered to arise most probably from a brief period of inflationary expansion near the time of the origin of the universe. If the inflation (or some other mechanism) had not smoothed the universe to the degree we see, the universe would have developed into a plethora of black holes separated by virtually empty space.

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  67. The Universe as a Fit Habitat continued...

    On the other hand, if the universe were smoothed beyond this degree, stars, star clusters, and galaxies may never have formed at all. Either way, the resultant universe would be incapable of supporting life.

    11. The stability of the proton affects the quantity of matter in the universe and also the radiation level as it pertains to higher life forms. Each proton contains three quarks. Through the agency of other particles (called bosons) quarks decay into antiquarks, pions, and positive electrons. Currently in our universe this decay process occurs on the average of only once per proton per 1032 years.(b) If that rate were greater, the biological consequences for large animals and man would be catastrophic, for the proton decays would deliver lethal doses of radiation.

    On the other hand, if the proton were more stable (less easily formed and less likely to decay), less matter would have emerged from events occurring in the first split second of the universe’s existence. There would be insufficient matter in the universe for life to be possible.

    12. The fine structure constants relate directly to each of the four fundamental forces of physics (gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear). Compared to the coupling constants, the fine structure constants typically yield stricter design constraints for the universe. For example, the electromagnetic fine structure constant affects the opacity of stellar material. (Opacity is the degree to which a material permits radiant energy to pass through). In star formation, gravity pulls material together while thermal motions tend to pull it apart. An increase in the opacity of this material will limit the effect of thermal motions. Hence, smaller clumps of material will be able to overcome the resistance of the thermal motions. If the electromagnetic fine structure constant were slightly larger, all stars would be less than 0.7 times the mass of the sun. If the electromagnetic fine structure constant were slightly smaller, all stars would be more than 1.8 times the mass of the sun.
    13. The velocity of light can be expressed in a variety of ways as a function of any one of the fundamental forces of physics or as a function of one of the fine structure constants. Hence, in the case of this constant, too, the slightest change, up or down, would negate any possibility for life in the universe.

    14. The 8Be,12C, and 16O nuclear energy levels affect the manufacture and abundance of elements essential to life. Atomic nuclei exist in various discrete energy levels. A transition from one level to another occurs through the emission or capture of a photon that possesses precisely the energy difference between the two levels. The first coincidence here is that 8Be decays in just 10-15 seconds. Because 8Be is so highly unstable, it slows down the fusion process. If it were more stable, fusion of heavier elements would proceed so readily that catastrophic stellar explosions would result. Such explosions would prevent the formation of many heavy elements essential for life. On the other hand, if 8Be were even more unstable, element production beyond 8Be would not occur.
    The second coincidence is that 12C happens to have a nuclear energy level very slightly above the sum of the energy levels for 8Be and
    4He. Anything other than this precise nuclear energy level for 12C would guarantee insufficient carbon production for life.
    The third coincidence is that 16O has exactly the right nuclear energy level either to prevent all the carbon from turning into oxygen or to facilitate sufficient production of 16O for life. Fred Hoyle, who discovered these coincidences in 1953, concluded that “a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.”(10)

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  68. On the other hand, if the universe were smoothed beyond this degree, stars, star clusters, and galaxies may never have formed at all. Either way, the resultant universe would be incapable of supporting life.
    11. The stability of the proton affects the quantity of matter in the universe and also the radiation level as it pertains to higher life forms. Each proton contains three quarks. Through the agency of other particles (called bosons) quarks decay into antiquarks, pions, and positive electrons. Currently in our universe this decay process occurs on the average of only once per proton per 1032 years.(b) If that rate were greater, the biological consequences for large animals and man would be catastrophic, for the proton decays would deliver lethal doses of radiation.
    On the other hand, if the proton were more stable (less easily formed and less likely to decay), less matter would have emerged from events occurring in the first split second of the universe’s existence. There would be insufficient matter in the universe for life to be possible.
    12. The fine structure constants relate directly to each of the four fundamental forces of physics (gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear). Compared to the coupling constants, the fine structure constants typically yield stricter design constraints for the universe. For example, the electromagnetic fine structure constant affects the opacity of stellar material. (Opacity is the degree to which a material permits radiant energy to pass through). In star formation, gravity pulls material together while thermal motions tend to pull it apart. An increase in the opacity of this material will limit the effect of thermal motions. Hence, smaller clumps of material will be able to overcome the resistance of the thermal motions. If the electromagnetic fine structure constant were slightly larger, all stars would be less than 0.7 times the mass of the sun. If the electromagnetic fine structure constant were slightly smaller, all stars would be more than 1.8 times the mass of the sun.
    13. The velocity of light can be expressed in a variety of ways as a function of any one of the fundamental forces of physics or as a function of one of the fine structure constants. Hence, in the case of this constant, too, the slightest change, up or down, would negate any possibility for life in the universe.
    14. The 8Be,12C, and 16O nuclear energy levels affect the manufacture and abundance of elements essential to life. Atomic nuclei exist in various discrete energy levels. A transition from one level to another occurs through the emission or capture of a photon that possesses precisely the energy difference between the two levels. The first coincidence here is that 8Be decays in just 10-15 seconds. Because 8Be is so highly unstable, it slows down the fusion process. If it were more stable, fusion of heavier elements would proceed so readily that catastrophic stellar explosions would result. Such explosions would prevent the formation of many heavy elements essential for life. On the other hand, if 8Be were even more unstable, element production beyond 8Be would not occur.
    The second coincidence is that 12C happens to have a nuclear energy level very slightly above the sum of the energy levels for 8Be and
    4He. Anything other than this precise nuclear energy level for 12C would guarantee insufficient carbon production for life.
    The third coincidence is that 16O has exactly the right nuclear energy level either to prevent all the carbon from turning into oxygen or to facilitate sufficient production of 16O for life. Fred Hoyle, who discovered these coincidences in 1953, concluded that “a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.”(10)

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  69. Insufficient Universe

    It is clear that man is too limited to have created the universe. But, it is also evident that the universe is too limited to have created man. The universe contains no more than1080baryons(h) and has been in existence for no more than 1018 seconds.

    Compared to the inorganic systems comprising the universe, biological systems are enormously complex. The genome (complete set of chromosomes necessary for reproduction) of an E. coli bacterium has the equivalent of about two million nucleotides. A single human cell contains the equivalent of about six billion nucleotides. Moreover, unlike inorganic systems, the sequence in which the individual components are assembled is critical for the survival of biological systems. Also, only amino acids with left handed configurations can be used in protein synthesis, the amino acids can be joined only by peptide bonds, each amino acid first must be activated by a specific enzyme, and multiple special enzymes (enzymes themselves are enormously complex sequence-critical molecules) are required to bind messenger RNA to ribosomes before protein synthesis can begin or end.

    The bottom line is that the universe is at least ten billion orders of magnitude (a factor of 1010,000,000,000times) too small or too young for life to have assembled itself by natural processes.(i) These kinds of calculations have been done by researchers, both non-theists and theists, in a variety of disciplines.(42-58)

    Invoking other universes cannot solve the problem. All such models require that the additional universes remain totally out of contact with one another, that is, their space-time manifolds cannot overlap. The only explanation left to us to tell how living organisms received their highly complex and ordered configurations is that an intelligent, transcendent Creator personally infused this information.

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  70. Thanks for the posts, Anonymous. I'll look into the arguments for ID more carefully, later (gotta go to work), but for now here are a few criticisms of your opening statements.

    ...Energy: Creative Energy that has purposeful directional properties – properties for growth, for life and death, expansion and contraction, for tragedy and humor and so on.

    You've made several anthropomorpic jumps here. You've conflated "energy" with consciousness, and ascribed it subjective human properties like humor, as if such properties objectively exist in the same way as electrons or atomic behavior exist. That is not to negate humor or love or beauty, merely to point out that these things depend on human subjective experience in a way that the properties of energy as a physicist defines it, do not.

    With this move, you are granting elements of human subjective experiences the same degree of facticity as things like chemical reactions. Just because humans have humor, you can't then jump to the idea that "enregy" itself as physicists define, has humor as an inherent quality.

    The body is impersonal. But there must also be a personality considering how the energy is expressed in us at every moment of our lives. I’m only postulating at this point.

    Postulating is fine, but to avoid confusion it's better not to use a phrase like "there must also be" if you're postulating. This might sound like nitpicking, but it's a similar mistake to the one above - blurring the boundaries. You make an assertion, and then call it a postulation - requesting a lower standard of proof....And then keep on making assertions, under the less rigorous label of "postulation".

    No one is absolutely wrong on a particular issue and often when both sides play out the best of their arguments, everyone grows.

    So people who believe the world is flat are not absolutely wrong? (*Please answer!)

    Indeed discussing issues with people who disagree is often very worthwhile - hence this blog for example. I've argued with creationists before and have been insulted, told I will burn in hell, and had them run away rather than answer my politely worded arguments.

    ....exploring the deeper realms of one’s own consciousness; and that evolution and ID are not mutually exclusive.

    In principle they may indeed not be mutually exclusive. What is lacking though, is evidence for ID. Sophistry and blurring of boundaries are not lacking.

    Incidentally, I doubt that you are an accomodationist.

    (More later.)

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  71. Anonymous, please choose a pseudonym if you want to continue cutting and pasting from other websites. I'll get around to answering after work.

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  72. Yakaru,

    Thank-you for the constructive criticism. I'm an inexperienced debater and I'd like to learn more.

    <*i> You've made several anthropomorpic jumps here. You've conflated "energy" with consciousness, and ascribed it subjective human properties like humor, as if such properties objectively exist in the same way as electrons or atomic behavior exist. That is not to negate humor or love or beauty, merely to point out that these things depend on human subjective experience in a way that the properties of energy as a physicist defines it, do not.
    With this move, you are granting elements of human subjective experiences the same degree of facility as things like chemical reactions. Just because humans have humor, you can't then jump to the idea that "energy" itself as physicists define, has humor as an inherent quality. <*/i>

    Chemical reactions and human thoughts have common ground. Maybe energy is the wrong word to use here, but one can find commonality in chemical reactions, human thoughts and the mole on my grandmother’s nose, especially when examining these at finest level of their structure and inception. Although I haven’t read Dance of the Wu Li Masters yet, I hear that Mr Zukav tackles the subject comprehensively.

    I’m going with the point of view that the universe is quantum mechanical. From that standpoint, a person’s humor can be traced to the same source that expresses itself as a rock on my windowsill. I hope this statement is not misunderstood, because I’m not in any way denigrating what it means to be human.


    <*i> So people who believe the world is flat are not absolutely wrong? <*/i>

    If you look outside, you’ll immediately see that they are not absolutely wrong. And the earth is the center of the universe!
    Seriously though, I concede your point: Not every subject for debate is not absolutely wrong. Elephants can’t fly (I wonder if that’s worth debating) and pigs aren’t purple.

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  73. I’m going with the point of view that the universe is quantum mechanical. From that standpoint, a person’s humor can be traced to the same source that expresses itself as a rock on my windowsill.

    I would like to see a reference for that. Quantum physics has a lot of credibility because it is being carefull any exhaustively researched. Unfortunately a lot of new age people with a private agenda (Gary Zukov for example) steal the terms and concepts, redefine them, and then sell them as if they have the same value as the words that physicists have spent lifetimes developing. It's a deceitful and dishonest practise.

    So, a reference please, from a physicist, supporting that statement.

    And maybe read this while you're at it:
    http://skepticreport.com/sr/?p=555

    You assert that the energy or whatever we wish to call it is "expressing itself". Please explain this special use of the verb.

    Basically, you're saying a person has humor, so the universe has humor in the same way as it has rocks. Well, ok, so far. But then you seem to go further in vaguely suggesting that humor can somehow exist without a brain to provide the subjective experience. As if humor is a quality of the the universe in the same way as a rock is, freely floating, not dependent on a subjective experiencer.

    Then you take this argument as a step towards ID, and even suggest it is supported by quantum physics. The site you linked to takes it much further, suggesting it supports Judaism.

    Unfortunately the lines of argument are very thin and poorly supported. Further, the essential thing for ID is missing: evidence from the field of biology.

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  74. Alright, I'm working on a lengthy new blog post dealing with all the points of the anthropic principle raised here but it is going to be a while, probably Wednesday morning at the earliest (US time).

    Anonymous - pick a username to post under or further comments will be deleted and you will remain as Gertrude in my new post, the name I have chosen for you to distinguish you from all the other anonymous comments.

    Just click in the drop down list below the comment text box and select name/URL and then make up a name for yourself and stick to it, doesn't have to be your real name obviously.

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  75. "Assertions are not evidence, don't pretend they are." Isn't evolution, at best, an assertion? I'm not an ID-head, jury is out on all of it as far as I'm concerned, but definitely evolution should be put squarely in its place as a generally accepted 'best guess'. I think the danger in trying to have everyone prove alternate theories using credentials that evolution itself doesn't stand up to gives the theory of evolution an undeserved, if only perceived, place all too close to scientific fact... unless you are careful to acknowledge the 'fact' that it's not written in stone (paleontological pun unintended). If true scientific methods are employed across the board, we will admit that we really have no idea how it all started - and that is a much better place to be than married to one sketchy idea.

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  76. David, I strongly suspect you have read some creationist or ID material, because you make a couple of statements you would not have made, had you read a decent outine about evolution.

    The "jury" being can only refer to people who haven't familiarised themselves with the basics. As far as the jury of the worldwide scientific community is concerned, most of the jury already gave its verdict in the 1860s, and those who had reserved judgment were convinced by the 1930s when it became clear that genetics was the medium of heredity. Natural selection explained the vast body of evidence that had been assembled over centruries about the obvious similarites among species. It showed clearly the mechanism by which the obvious "relatedness" of different species was in fact literally relatedness. (Incidentally, it did not, and does not attempt to explain the origin of life.)

    No other viable explanation for these similarities exists. ID tries to contest a few minor points in specific cases, and has failed miserably, even with a reduced, narrowed focus. It is forced to ignore mountains of overwhelming evidence against it.

    You seem to think that there are alternatives to evolutionary theory in the scientific community. There aren't. The alternatives were sorted out long ago, just as alternive theories in chemistry gave way to atomic theory. Now no chemist needs to waste his time exploring the ideas that been shown useless.

    Just to make it a bit clearer, here are two websites - scroll down and see what creationists say about the platypus.

    I know (or suppose!) you are not a creationist, but compare that kind of thinking to the way evolutionary theory explains what has happened.

    You'll notice that many different fields of science confirm the explanation. It is the same, often even clearer throughout the animal kingdom. Or look at whale evolution. Beautiful stunning examples of how much we have discovered about what is going on on this planet.

    "...all too close to scientific fact"
    When scientists use the term "evolutionary theory" it makes it sound like they are unsure and just using it as their "best guess". But they use it in the same was as "aerodynamic theory" refers to the calculations about a plane's performance in the air. It doesn't mean that the jury is still out on whether or not flight is possible. Flight is a fact, and the theory can explain and predict certain factual occurances. The "theory", here, as with "evoltionary theory"refers to all the things that have been so clearly demostrated and time again that we can be extremely certain that we can treat it as truth in our calculations and it will fit and explain the known facts.

    I hope you will take the time to look at the links I posted before replying, David. can you find any other alternative explanations that fit the facts so well?

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  77. David:

    Isn't evolution, at best, an assertion?

    No. Next.

    Oh ok, one more thing;

    If true scientific methods are employed across the board, we will admit that we really have no idea how it all started

    And right there you prove you don't really understand what the theory of evolution is - evolution does not make any claims about how life began, only about how it subsequently developed.

    If you are going to make assertions about something, at least try to understand it first.

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  78. David:

    Before replying you should also read this, as a basic introduction:

    Scientific theory

    The theory of evolution is very different to Miss Marple's theory about who killed who and when.

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  79. Yakaru / Johnny Blue - thanks for the links. The creationist notion on the platypus and other similar examples sometimes border on being silly, and seem a little desperate - probably from an urgent need to shield a religious belief system. There seem to be two points to this that I can tell. How it all started and how it came to be what it is. As for the latter, evolution is the only rational explanation I can see. Creationists don't seem to identify with the concept of organic systems reacting to environmental variables, which, very slowly, and over vast periods of time (assumed) create the variance in species. Maybe that's not the best way to state it but I think there is ample evidence to support the idea that things adapt in this way and then greatly differ over time. Choosing between that and "God's will" I'll take the evolutionary perspective. Perhaps it is not surprising that in general folks who think the world was created in seven days have a hard time dealing with evolutionary periods spanning millions of years. The main issue I had with evolution was its theory of origin, which to me seemed to be where it broke down into pure hypothesis. Seems like I had the incorrect idea that the spark and soup notion was part of the theory of evolution. I stand corrected (appreciate the clarification, Johnny Blue). I never had any issue with the concept of environmental factors, etc., changing species, or even creating new ones - or that all life originated from very tiny beginnings. Just had issue with accepting as a given the concept mud and lightning created that life (yes, a horrible oversimplification). Strange, but every argument, every lecture, every everything I've ever heard or read on evolution contains the notion of origin. Guess I've been looking in the wrong places. Origin and evolution/adaptation have always been presented to me as a unified theory. Even creationist arguments against evolution cite irreducible complexity to both debunk natural selection/variation as well as the idea of an un-engineered life origin (usually with a relatively unscientific frog and blender analogy). Anyway, learn something new every day. Looking forward to further reading on this. Thanks for your comments.

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  80. David:

    Strange, but every argument, every lecture, every everything I've ever heard or read on evolution contains the notion of origin. Guess I've been looking in the wrong places. Origin and evolution/adaptation have always been presented to me as a unified theory.

    One is forced to wonder just how much attention you have paid to anything you've heard or read related to evolution or the origin of life when you can't even get my name right when responding to me on my blog right after one of my comments.

    For instance, the primordial soup idea of the origin of life is just one possible idea of many, it is not the only one as you seem to think.

    And yes, I am sure that when you have read or heard something about evolution there has also been reference to the origin of life - that still does not mean that the theory of evolution is also a theory on the origins of life. It means simply that in discussions about life the two often, not surprisingly, come up together and, not surprisingly, biologists have their own opinions on how life originated on this planet. Some are more plausible than others, some are closely linked to the theory of evolution, some are more likely to be mentioned than others.

    Even creationist arguments against evolution cite irreducible complexity to both debunk natural selection/variation as well as the idea of an un-engineered life origin (usually with a relatively unscientific frog and blender analogy).

    Yes we know, it is just another of the many areas where creationists and IDers get it wrong, by conflating the two.

    Your really going to try and imply that creationists know what they are talking about?

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  81. Nice to read your comment, David. It's hard to know on the internet whether someone is sincere or if they're just looking for someone to condemn to the flames of hell.

    The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins might interest you. It gives a good sense of the breadth of knowledge about the subject, and also deals a bit with the origins of life.

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  82. "One is forced to wonder just how much attention you have paid to anything you've heard or read related to evolution or the origin of life when you can't even get my name right when responding to me on my blog right after one of my comments."

    JIMMY - you've got some very good points and I appreciate most of them. Apologies for not getting your name right, but on the bright side it did give you another cherished opportunity to be unnecessarily rude. Really, take a break from it. It just makes you seem like a resentful little kid. Smart, but immature. I hope whatever emotional issues you have resolve themselves in time. No offense, but I think maybe you could do with a little 'evolution' on a personal level.

    Yakaru - humble thanks again. Will definitely look into the Ancestor's Tale.

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  83. David:

    If you're wrong about something, simply say "I understand Jimmy, you're right about that" and I guarantee you'd be treated with respect. But you decided to be a pompous twat in your last comment. So you'll be treated as one.

    Why is it so hard to simply withdraw a claim, or admit wrong doing?

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  84. You know, after all this time reading and writing on skeptical blogs there is one thing I am still amazed by: the short term memory of woos, anti-science nuts, trolls and IDers and their ilk. Add to that a little touch of hypocrisy and we have people like David.

    David wrote:

    but on the bright side it did give you another cherished opportunity to be unnecessarily rude. Really, take a break from it.

    You think that was rude? Oh boy...

    David - at 7:53 pm on 15th April this comment was made on the blog. According to Sitemeter, you were the only person on the blog at that time. Wouldn't you say that this comment is insulting? Unnecessarily rude, even?

    You attempted to say I'm a bully, egotistical and immature. How rude. You may try to deny it was you, but the tone and attempted comparisons to children seem remarkably similar, don't they? And that comment comes so close to your first comment on this thread. With no other visitors inbetween who could have made it.

    Would it not be hypocritical to call someone unnecessarily rude when the first thing you did was insult them? No doubt you thought you were being witty and clever, no doubt you thought you'd gotten away with it.

    It just makes you seem like a resentful little kid. Smart, but immature.

    Why do people assume that only children or the immature are or can/should be rude? Why do they consider that every opinion and person must be treated with respect? Respect is earnt David, you have done nothing to earn it. Now you're in arrears. What you did was come on here, throw out some dressed up insults, repeat some creationist canards we've heard dozens of times before and then assume I'd respect you for it, then get all bent out of shape when I didn't. Tough. Grow up or piss off.

    Did you really think that I would take you seriously when you write crap like:

    Strange, but every argument, every lecture, every everything I've ever heard or read on evolution contains the notion of origin. [my italics]

    Either this is sarcastic hyperbole intended to imply Yakaru and I are still wrong or you are about 12 years old. You're still trying to imply that you are right and Yakaru and I are not, but you're attempting to do so in a way that you think will make it look like you are agreeing with us. Either that or you still don't really accept what you have been told, in other words, you haven't bothered to do some more research.

    In short, as Ryan pointed out, you are acting like a pompous twat.

    I hope whatever emotional issues you have resolve themselves in time.

    I'm sure it makes you feel better to assume that there must be something wrong with me in order for me to respond in the very mild way I did so I won't attempt to disabuse you of the notion. If that is what your fragile ego needs, knock yourself out.

    No offense, but I think maybe you could do with a little 'evolution' on a personal level.

    I love this one. It is so funny when people like David begin what they think is an offensive statement with "No offense..." What they are really saying is that they want to insult you but want to pretend they have the moral high ground.

    No offense, but I think maybe you are a half-witted dullard who isn't used to people telling him he is full of shit.

    Well look at that. It's still an insult, even if you try to pretend it isn't. No offense.

    In the end though, the paragraph you were complaining about can hardly be deemed to be rude unless you are so thin skinned your vital organs are showing. How can we rely on your memory recall of lectures, books and such if you can't even get the name of one of the people you are referring to right?

    I haven't even started being rude yet, but keep this up and it won't take long.

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  85. I love this one. It is so funny when people like David begin what they think is an offensive statement with "No offense..." What they are really saying is that they want to insult you but want to pretend they have the moral high ground.

    No offense, but I think maybe you are a half-witted dullard who isn't used to people telling him he is full of shit.

    Well look at that. It's still an insult, even if you try to pretend it isn't. No offense.


    Coffee just went all over my computer. You owe me one new keyboard.

    *my nose burns too*

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  86. Hmmm. Maybe I need to add a damage disclaimer to the front page...

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  87. Nah, just preface anything funny with a disclaimer.

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  88. Greetings all,

    I know the second law of thermodynamics. But why do people claim that it disproves the theory of evolution and the big bang theory? Does it disprove/prove anything? If so, why/why not?

    Thanks in advance.

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  89. Ah the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the creationists favourite scientific misunderstanding and misrepresentation.

    The link is to the Wikipedia explanation of the second law and is good enough for the purposes of this discussion.

    Creationists will point out that in a closed system entropy will increase - the second law says so, so evolution could not have occurred. So there.

    The blindingly, achingly, 'smack you in the face with a wet kipper'-ly obvious answer is that the earth is not a closed system. Unless of course you think that bright yellow ball in the sky is painted on and doesn't really do anything.

    Th Earth gains vast amounts of energy from the sun constantly. Hell, a lot of this energy is reflected back into space from the earth.

    Anyone who thinks they have a point to prove by asking about the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not know the second law as well as they think they do.

    So there's your answer anonymous - creationists think the second law disproves the theory of evolution. The reason they think this is because they are fucking idiots, because they don't get the science when they think they do, or because they do get it but are dishonest wankers. Or all of the above.

    If you plan on replying pick a psuedonym to post under or subsequent replies will be deleted - every anonymous person gets one warning.

    Click on the drop down box below the comments text box, select Name/URL and make up a name so we can distinguish you from all the other anonymous posters.

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  90. Hi Jimmy,
    I mainly want to congratulate you on your phantastic blog - I am a young biologist and recently moved to the US for research opportunities. Coming here from a country where nobody would dream of suggesting that creationism could possibly be taught anywhere else but in religion classes, I am still trying to recover from the shocking discovery that there are not just individuals but entire institutions in this country that try to sell their religious ideologies as science under the ridiculous disguise of "Intelligent Design". Since that discovery I have spent some time researching the phenomenon on websites and trying to debate it on "ID" blogs. So, I just wanted to say that I absolutely loved how your opener to this particular thread completely mirrors my experience and the issues that I have - usually unsuccessfully - tried to bring up on those forums. Thank you!!!

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  91. as an afterthought: it occurred to me immediately when I read your list of arguments that IDers should avoid using if they want to be taken seriously: under #1 it would be helpful and powerful to point out that Abiogenesis (the collective name for a suite of theories addressing mechanisms for the emergence of the first living organism from non-living matter) is also NOT a part of the theory of Evolution; this is pointed out later in the discussion by both Jimmy and Yakaru; but I have found in debates with IDers that this fact cannot be stressed enough, which is equally true for the conflation of Evolution with Quantum mechanics, Cosmological Constants, Big Bang or any other theory or concept or fact that deals with the state of the cosmos BEFORE the first living organism came about...
    Not that most IDers are bound to care or seemingly even comprehend these distinctions (see one of the anonymi on this blog rambling on and on about the anthropic principle which obviously has absolutely nothing to do with the theory of evolution...), but I have found a few polite and open-minded folks who actually got that part and came back to debate biology, instead of cosmology or chemistry...

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  92. madbat089:

    Welcome and thanks for commenting.

    I take your point about emphasising Abiogenesis a bit more, I should have done that from the start - but then I just know that some creotard will latch on to the second half of that word as some sort of proof for their mythology anyway.

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  93. Thanks for the welcome!
    yeah - good point about the habitual abuse of terminology in the creotard camp.... it starts with terms like Darwinism and Evolution, that these folks use to mean just about anything they need it to mean at the moment...
    love that word by the way - creotard - is that your invention?

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  94. I stole creotard from somewhere else I'm sure, but damned if I can remember where. Probably Bronze Dog or Tom Foss.

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  95. Jimmy blue, how about you give me some evidence for the big bang? I personally believe in intelligent design but I'm not here to prove you wrong. No one knows for sure but I would like to know more about the big bang thanks.

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    1. Cosmic microwave background radiation

      There you go. If you really want to know more you can do your own research, which is what people who really want to know more usually do.

      And for the record the Big Bang has nothing - absolutely nothing - to do with evolution. The two theories are completely distinct, please do not mistake one for the other or conflate the two - something I mentioned you shouldn't do in the original post here by the way, you did read it didn't you? Anyway, that's one of the biggest mistakes most creationists make.

      There will be no more debate about the Big Bang theory here - you did exactly the thing I was talking about in this post. We are not going to discuss the evidence for the Big Bang theory - we want the evidence for intelligent design. What you did here is a typical IDer tactic. When asked for your evidence you say "well, where's yours." I think we all know why that is, don't we?

      You just basically proved my original point.

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  96. Btw I'm not a Christian and I believe in evolution

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    1. So you believe in intelligent design and evolution?

      I call bull shit. Apparently you don't understand at least one of these two concepts, because they are mutually exclusive.

      Delete
  97. Hello good day :) , I read your article and I found it interesting and mindful please keep on posting different kinds of discussion.

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