Thursday, February 01, 2007

More on a blog visit: On the evolutionary materialist agendas as shown up by their rhetoric

Over the past week or so, I have continued to monitor comments, and to respond as necessary over at the ID in the UK blog, as can be seen here and here.

The former is of especial importance to those of more or less scientific bent, as it addresses the hotly disputed claim that considerations tied to the universe's tendency of going from order to disorder [entropy, and the second law of thermodynamics] pose significant problems for evolutionary materialist accounts of the origin of life. The confession by a research biologist in the threads that there is no robust theory of abiogenesis, is revealing, as is the attempt to besmirch the reputation of a distinguished scientist and co-author of the famous work, The Mystery of Life's Origin, Professor Walter Bradley late of Texas A & M, now of Baylor. TMLO is actually the technical level work that is at the foundation of the rise of the modern Design Theory, insofar as it addressed biological issues. If readers are interested, I have a 146 pp PDF based on web excerpts, some of which are annotated by me; available on request. For a few days now, there has been silence in the first thread, especially by the one who made the accusations against Professor Bradley.

This morning, I found that a commenter I call A in the below, has picked up the second linked thread, and has posed a set of questions. After first remarking on the tactics of the Neo-Darwinian and broader Evolutionary Materialism agenda advocates, I took on his seven specific questions, which he seems to believe are unanswered and perhaps unanswerable.

I cross-post here, as I think this is again revealing on the state of mind among many in the North, and increasingly here in our region. So, this will help us to equip us to respond to the secularist tidal wave from the North -- which often comes in the guise of "science" and "progress."

The remarks, slightly cleaned up, formatted for greater legibility, and with a link or two added, follow:



Observe the insistent drive-by irresponsible rhetoric on consistent display in this and the parallel thread, from NDT advocates.


1] As the above and linked documents -- and other threads in this and many other blogs will document in nauseating, shocking details -- they have made many ill-founded, even slanderous assertions against those who differ with them, whether commenters, bloggers or even distinguished scientists. (The case with Mr Bradley in the other thread is the most evident in this blog.) When this was pointed out and corrected, there was only silence at best in response -- or insistent assertions at worst.

2] At least some of same have plainly joined the cheering section on the persecution of a fair-minded non-ID journal editor through workplace harassment involving external advocacy groups and slander, even though the uncontested, publicly accessible evidence abundantly shows that this was an unjustifiable inquisition. Others have tellingly remained silent in the face of such manifest injustice. [And there are also many similar cases of persecution and intimidation of scientists, to the point where leading ID researchers have warned would-be newcomers about the risks.]

3] Then, they have the gall to raise the question of publishing in such journals, and when that has been abundantly shown they wish to move the goal posts to publishing of new research findings in such journals. Of course, science and legitimate scientific publications embrace more than laundry lists of new empirical findings, as is manifest in the central role of explanation in science -- and indeed absent explanation, power to predict is empty [cf the ancients' ability to predict eclipses without understanding mechanisms]. But also, in works such as that by Minnich etc [cf. e.g. here], it is not just critical reviews and conceptual synthesis, but new empirical data that are on view. [Minnich, FYI, is a lab-based expert on the iconic bacterial flagellum.] Also, cf. Tipler's warning on what can be done to capture peer review to an agenda of censorship.

4] But then, such links often come from ID-supportive sources, so they immediately cannot be trusted, “nuh”? In short, we see imposition of secularist apartheid wherein the victim cannot be trusted within reason to speak in his own behalf truthfully.

5] Some now wish to assert - again, in the teeth of long since proffered evidence -- that the historically and the philosophically unwarranted imposition of evolutionary materialist philosophy in the name of the alleged true definition of science as "methodological naturalism" has not distorted the nature or success of science. But in fact:

First, modern science originated in what was then called Christendom, and was led by people who were by and large consciously seeking to understand God's works in light of their confidence in his orderly superintendence of nature.

Second, many current scientists – up to and including Nobel Prize winners -- actually practice in this framework.

Third, functionally specific, complex information, in EVERY case where we do directly know the source, traces to agency.

Fourth, in that light, when we impose the philosophically question-begging criterion that intelligent action may not be appealed to in cases of FSCI in the cell and origin of life, or the fine-tuning of the cosmos, the evidence in hand suggests strongly that here we see a materialistic philosophical agenda blocking the road to credible discovery or acknowledgment of scientific truth.

6] One particularly pernicious claim is the assertion that there is no ID-supportive research programme. But in fact, as has been repeatedly documented, such exists -- and is far broader than one imagines, due to the nature of the emerging paradigm of the role of intelligence and its classic artifact, information, in the world. I note how consistently the material that is only a click away is driven by as the rhetoricians' rush on to their favourite mantras of misinformation.

7] Of these, a major case is the persistent attempt to distort and prejudicially misrepresent the basic definition of Design theory as a research programme. A key excerpt from this page is:

>>Intelligent design is the scientific investigation of intelligent causation, and subsequent novel data, hypotheses, experiments, and practical applications that are derived by viewing specific phenomena in the universe as designed. Intelligent design is a scientific hypothesis that seeks to explain a very large range of scientific data, and so has a general definition, and then subsidiary definitions for use within specific disciplines . . . .

Intelligent design (also known as "ID") proposes that specific physical phenomena in nature are better explained as being designed by intelligence. This is inferred by detecting the types of physical effects known to be produced by intelligent agents when they act. The goal is to understand intelligence working in the context of the physical world, and infer intelligent activity by observation and analysis of data . . . .

intelligence - a characteristic of a phenomenon in which it is capable of undertaking the conceptualization and actualization of a plan and/or forward-thinking . . . .

design - a purposeful arrangement of parts, typically understood as the actualized products of intelligence . . . .

In current methods of detecting design, steps two and three [WD: "(2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions"] are particularly significant, because they involve the conceptualization of a choice, or directed contingency. Directed contingency often involves the development or construction of a pattern, a purposeful arrangement of parts, which can be empirically investigated . . . .

Complex Specified Information, also known as Specified Complexity, is an attribute of events that are very unlikely (i.e. high Shannon information), very complex (i.e. high Kolmogorov complexity), and are specified (i.e. there is a description of them that is in some sense independently given).

It is claimed that if complexity and specification occur in tandem, the event is nearly impossible, so profoundly unlikely that it is not considered in the realm of reason to expect it to happen by the random effects of chance, the regularity of natural processes, or their cooperation. . . . .

Irreducible Complexity is a special case of Specified Complexity. A structure is considered to be Irreducibly Complex when all its component parts are required for the system to function . . . . [per definition, and so this is empirically testable . . .] there is no way to build an IC structure to perform a given task out of a simpler system that also performs that task. The stronger claim has been made that IC structures cannot evolve by any means, direct or otherwise, without intelligence playing a causal role. If true, this claim would be problematic for certain anti-design assumptions of current evolutionary biology, as there are some biological structures that would appear to be Irreducibly Complex . . . .

Certain features of the universe, including the observation that life is possible within it, are best explained by intelligent causation operating in conjunction with undirected processes, blind natural forces and laws, and random chance . . . . ID proposes that current and plausible scientific methods can empirically detect whether the "apparent design" in biological entities, acknowledged by virtually all biologists, is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process, such as natural selection acting on random variations.>>

This research programme plainly seeks to restore the full triad of basic explanations in science: chance, necessity, agency, in cases where there is credible empirical warrant for agency -- e.g. the implications of the detection of FSCI. In this context, there are plainly empirical constructs and there is relevant data – much of it in the form of the mounting pile of anomalies that defy the explanation based on the evolutionary materialist paradigm. NB: at the core of research programmes lies a matrix of philosophical assumptions and commitments. Such worldview level concepts, are belted -- in the Lakatosian view -- with a girding of specific theories, and thus when some of the theories are subjected to test and begin to degenerate, that is the point where new paradigms may emerge, reverting to Kuhnian language.

In this context, for Design as a scientific paradigm, who may have designed something, or how he/she/it "dunit", are obviously secondary to the basic point: is there worldview-level willingness to go with the empirical data that points to agency, or is there a closed-minded unwillingness to address such an issue because of a prior commitment to, e.g., atheism [as we saw in a case where someone let the secularist agenda slip by insisting on using the word "god"]?

So, let us note: scientific inference to intelligent action from empirical traces in finite material objects is not at all the same as worldview-level inference to the supernatural, as “intelligent agent” and “supernatural agent” are plainly not the same thing. [And, if the evidence points to agency in matters of the origin of life and the cosmos, why then is it an alleged SCIENTIFIC -- as opposed to philosophical -- objection to claim that such a proposed intelligent agent just may be beyond the material cosmos we observe? Other than, smuggling in of the obviously inappropriate worldview level idea that science is/must be applied atheism? Would it not be wiser to simply refuse to censor out known causal sources in scientific explanation a priori, then let the philosophical chips fall where they may, as the worldview advocates debate to their hearts' content the meaning of the findings of such uncensored science?]

8] In that light, let's look at A's agenda of questions – and BTW, an apology or two are in order, A:

"1)Who is the Designer?

--> Of what? Of DNA and the associated FSCI-rich nanotechnology of cellular level life? In short, detecting credible evidence that points t life as showing signs pointing to design, and being willing to entertain the implications of FSCI, are prior to any such inference to identity of proposed designers.

--> Of a given code detected through say cryptanalysis? Why, that may be the precise point of an intellligence investigation. [And BTW, can you identify a single case where, knowing the source of a code independent of speculative theories, we see codes that are not artifacts of minds, i.e. intelligent agency?]

--> Of the massively fine-tuned, contingent observed cosmos that has in it a common system of laws and unimaginably large energy and scale, and as of my last check was dated as originating in a cosmic singualrity some 13.7 BYA? Why, if we see a world of contingent beings then that implies a necessary being as their sufficient reason – by plain logic. And since necessity acts whenever sufficient conditions are met, origination of the cosmos at a finite point in time implies necessity is not the root cause. Finetuning implies that chance is maximally unlikely – unless you resort tot he infinite array of randomly distributed sub-cosmi. And that is unobservable so it is metaphysical speculation. Suppression of the concept that an extracosmic designer of vast power and intelligence is the source then becomes worldview level censorship. .

2)Where did s/he/it come from?

--> Cf discussion at 1 supra.

3)Is there just one designer or are there many?

--> At cosmic scale we see evidence of one system of laws, and that the many contingencies are so finely set that we see evident setting up of parameters supportive of the emergence of life. Thus, it is by Occam most reasonable to infer to one designer, as we need no more than one to achieve this.

4)How did the Designer do the designing?

--> That is what science as a programme of investigation is about here: reverse-engineering the cosmos so we see the underlying structures and systems: describe, explain, predict, influence/control. In short, the designer acted in accordance with certain laws, which we as other agents can discover, correlate and apply to our own advantage.

5)When did the Designer do the designing?

--> Since time as we know it begins for the observed cosmos some 13.7 BYA, then the cosmological design is outside of the reference of our space-time system.

--> Life on earth is generally held to date to something like 3.5 – 8 BYA or whatever latest date is put forth. Before that is a trivial and satisfactory answer.

--> In the case of say steganography hiding an Al Qaeda instruction, the timing may be a bit harder to pin down [save for: in the rather recent past] but can with correlation to other phenomena be used in some cases to help catch the terrs before they act.

6)Is the Designer still designing or has s/he/it retired?"

--> WHICH designer? Al Qaeda's notorious Mr Usama Bin Laden? [We can only hope that hehas retired, in that case . . .]

--> Of the cosmos and/or life? For that we have no direct scientific evidence to report in either direction. But, if there is in fact an extracosmic designer who is a necessary being, then we have no reason to believe that such is capable of retirement – but that is a matter for philosophy not physics etc. And, note the distinction made here between science and a wider universe of discourse that as Lakatos and many others point out, may lie at the core of praxis in any given era.


So, it is not so much that there has been a dodging of questions, as that there is an insistence on ignoring answers that do not fit the evolutionary materialist agenda.

It is time to put these irresponsible assertions out to pasture.


I think the significance of this discussion to the mandate of the church in and from the Caribbean is manifest, and vital for us to address. END


PS: For more details cf here. Also, I have argued within the common scientific dating scheme without necessarily committing myslelf to its soundness, on the principle of basing the defence on what is rational to defend in the light of the relevant context.

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