Attempts to Refute Front-loading Part 2

We have seen that the first criticism of FLE has failed completely.  So let us now turn our attention to the second criticism. As it turns out, the second criticism is not really an argument against FLE, but is instead just a complaint.

Brayton writes:

they have to accept that those front-loaded genes had different functions in earlier species (which effectively makes front loading synonymous with exaptation, rendering the idea meaningless)

Once you recognize we are in the realm of ducks and rabbits, this complaint becomes meaningless.  It’s like arguing that because you see my half-full glass of water as being half-empty, it is meaningless for me to think it is half-full.

Recall that an exaptation is simply the non-teleological perspective reframing the concept of preadaptation.  And such preadaptation is something we would predict from front-loading.

Brayton is, of course, free to view all possible examples of preadaptation as exaptation (things that “just happen), but his ability to perceive as such is not an argument against FLE nor does it render FLE meaningless.

MacNeill takes a slight different angle with the same complaint.  He begins by claiming

This evolutionary argument is now being strongly supported by findings in the field of evolutionary development (“evo-devo”), in which arguments based on “deep homology” are providing explanations for at least some of the seemingly amazing convergences we see in widely separated groups of organisms…..However, as should be obvious by now, this in no way provides evidence for the currently popular ID hypothesis of “front-loading”, except insofar that it states that the hierarchical control of overall development evolved very early among the metazoa.

Wrong.  Since FLE predicts deep homology, of course it is evidence for front-loading (at the very least, it is evidence for the plausibility of front-loading).  If there was no deep homology to be found (as conventional evolutionary theory once expected), then front-loading would have been fatally wounded so much that it could never get off the ground.

Then again, it all depends on how people define the often slippery concept of “evidence”:

It provides no empirically testable way to distinguish between an evolutionary explanation and a “design” explanation. Indeed, all of the evidence to date could be explained using either theory.

As you can see, it’s not only that there is no evidence against FLE, but that FLE is as well-supported as conventional views of evolution.  So why is it that I am supposed to abandon and ignore the hypothesis of FLE?

Continuing….

And so, by the rules of empirical science, since the evolutionary explanation is both sufficient to explain the phenomena and does not require causes that are outside of nature (i.e. a supernatural designer, that is neither itself natural nor works through natural – i.e. material and efficient – causes), evolutionary biologists are fully justified in accepting the evolutionary explanation (and disregarding the “front-loaded ID” explanation.)

I have no problem with evolutionary biologists disregarding FLE because of ground rules.  In fact, this sociological observation makes sense since science cannot process a teleological hypothesis such as front-loading. This simply means that if evolution was front-loaded, it would remain in science’s blind spot.  But since I am interested in what happened, and not interested in shoe-horning teleology into science, one does not refute the hypothesis of front-loading, a hypothesis about our history, by noting it violates a convention.

That front-loading violates a convention and evolutionary biologists are thus justified in disregarding it is not an argument against the validity of the hypothesis.

To summarize, the second “argument” is not really an argument; it is merely a complaint and statement of preference.  Thus, it fails as an argument against front-loading.

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58 responses to “Attempts to Refute Front-loading Part 2

  1. If MacNeill is correct, and the evolutionary explanation is sufficient to explain the phenomena, then since it is a simpler explanation than one that also requires an intelligent entity, the evolutionary explanation would be the most reasonable one. So I don’t think it is merely a question of “convention.”

    However, there may be additional evidence, besides deep homology, for which the evolutionary explanation is insufficient. In that case, it would not be the most reasonable one. In your book, The Design Matrix, you provided evidence that would at least support a reasonable suspicion of intelligent design. And I think, Mike, that you have already provided some of that evidence that will further support that suspicion: foresight and rationality. I have a suspicion that you’ve only just begun.

  2. Hi Bilbo,

    If MacNeill is correct, and the evolutionary explanation is sufficient to explain the phenomena, then since it is a simpler explanation than one that also requires an intelligent entity, the evolutionary explanation would be the most reasonable one. So I don’t think it is merely a question of “convention.”

    First of all, front-loading is an evolutionary explanation (there is no “the evolutionary explanation”). Basically, what you seem to be saying is that unless I can show that it is impossible for something to “just happen,” then it did indeed just happen. No, if someone thinks something just happened (especially a key evolutionary change), then that person should provide the evidence that clearly indicates it just happened.

    Secondly, it is indeed a matter of convention. In this case, science rejects a design explanation because it is dependent on the existence of an intelligent entity that somehow infuses life with a purpose. This convention is very old, as can be seen from this book review:

    For the purposes of research, science must be mechanistic. But at the same time, it is well to remember that the mechanistic view sees only one side of evolution. From a philosophical point of view, it is quite possible that the whole universe might be interpreted in terms of intelligence just as well as in terms of physics and chemistry.

    https://designmatrix.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/a-book-review/#more-1845

    Science is thus an attempt to come up with the best mechanistic explanation. That’s what science is. That’s why so many scientists have struggled with my question in the past – what type of data would you count as evidence for design? If one’s mind is trained to seek out the best mechanistic explanation, it short-circuits when trying to apply that approach to a teleological cause.

    Finally, I would point out that coming up with the true “simpler explanation” is more complicated than many think. For example, if science needs independent evidence of the intelligent entity (as that convention demands), is the discovery of this independent evidence as simple as discovering evidence for mutation or natural selection? Is it really simpler to attribute deep homology to non-teleology when deep homology is not entailed by non-teleology? Is it really simpler to attribute the rational aspects of life to non-teleology?

  3. Hi Mike,

    I was using MacNeill’s meaning of “evolutionary explanation,” which, judging from the context, is shorthand for “a non-tele0logical evolutionary explanation.” And his reasoning is correct: If the non-teleological explanation is sufficient, then since it is simpler than the teleological explanation, it should be accepted.

    I agree that non-teleologists need to provide evidence that a key evolutionary change, or deep homology, “just happened.” That would be part of showing that it is a sufficient explanation. The fact that it didn’t predict deep homology, while the front-loaded explanation did, should be part of that evidence.

    I agree that science has limited itself to the convention of only mechanistic explanations. But I think that’s different than MacNeill’s argument, which seemed to be appealing to parsimony.

    In answer to your last two questions, I would say No.

  4. Hi Bilbo,

    I was using MacNeill’s meaning of “evolutionary explanation,” which, judging from the context, is shorthand for “a non-tele0logical evolutionary explanation.”

    Sure. But he also has it set up so it’s the design explanation vs. the evolutionary explanation. It is important to point out that front-loading is an evolutionary explanation – just as evolutionary as the conventional thinking MacNeill conveys. The true fulcrum comes in the distinction between teleological vs. non-teleological.

    And his reasoning is correct: If the non-teleological explanation is sufficient, then since it is simpler than the teleological explanation, it should be accepted.

    Just because there are sufficient lines on a paper to see the outline of a Duck does not mean I must accept it as a Duck when those same lines are sufficient to see a Rabbit.

    The reasoning is essentially a cheat. Entailed in that reasoning is this: “Unless you can show that my explanation is insufficient (ie., prove a negative), you must accept my explanation.” To see the Rabbit, you must disprove the existence of the Duck. No, if someone wants me to accept MacNeill’s explanation, then they need to go beyond mere sufficiency/parsimony and give me the evidence that it is most likely to be true.

    I agree that science has limited itself to the convention of only mechanistic explanations. But I think that’s different than MacNeill’s argument, which seemed to be appealing to parsimony.

    They are the same. MacNeill’s position is that since mechanistic explanations are more parsimonious (they do not entail the existence of an intelligent designer), they must be accepted. Lots of ID people buy into this game rule, which is why they insist on finding something sensational to force him out of this position – something that non-teleological evolution cannot possibly explain. But are you sure that the truth of design entails the ability of the human mind to find something sensational enough to force non-teleologists to acknowledge the “just happened” escape hatch cannot be used?

  5. I’d agree with Mike on this one. I’ll add a few thoughts of my own.

    First, the “just happened” escape hatch – as I think Mike hints – can never be closed. It’s easy to see why if someone just ponders it for a bit, but it couldn’t have been made more clear when “multiverses/MWI” was brought up to explain the OoL. There’s always a non-teleological explanation: One can appeal to ’causes we haven’t found but must exist’ (promissory materialism), ’causes we can never find but must exist’ (new mysterianism), ‘it happened utterly uncaused’ (Humean notions of causality), ‘our explanation is radically unlikely, but it’s not logically impossible, and therefore must be the most reasonable explanation’ (MWI/multiverses/”it just happened”). And that’s not even an exhaustive list.

    Second, it’s not clear that non-teleological explanations are “simpler than” teleological explanations, even for relatively tame phenomena. Not in the relative sense. I’ll skip talk about the important distinctions in various types of “teleology” (Aristotle v Paley), and say this: We do know that teleology exists in intelligent creatures. We also know that humans are capable, and in fact often do, intervene in nature in ways that are either hard to detect, or are for all practical purposes undetectable. There exists nothing in nature – not even the simplest, most easily explained interactions (though even these are typically more difficult than people expect) – that could not in principle be sourced in an intelligent cause.

    Unintelligent causes – or ‘non-teleological’ explanations – are never positively observed. Outside of ID-style design detectors, they’re hardly even inferred. They are assumed. Once that is realized, it becomes much more difficult to play the ‘non-teleological explanations are simpler and therefore should be preferred’ card – because not only are they explanations of a type different from the one we can be absolutely certain of existing, but they are in principle unverifiable.

    With all this in mind, science is unable to show that something “just happened”. It can’t do it for a rock stumbling down a hill two feet. It certainly can’t do it for evolution. That question is for philosophy and metaphysics. At best, in science, ‘just happened’ is an assumption for the sake of pragmatism. (Go read up on why Ockham came up with Ockham’s Razor, by the way. It wasn’t because ‘the simplest explanation is the one most likely to be true’ – it was ‘the simplest explanation is the one most likely to be simple’.)

  6. Great points, nullasulus. Consider just the example of promissory materialism. Let’s say there is something that compels MacNeill to agree with Behe (evolutionary explanations do not sufficiently explain IC) or Dembski (evolutionary explanations do not sufficiently explain CSI). It would still be easy for him to make a slight modification – current evolutionary explanations do not sufficiently explain IC/CSI. And the parsimony issue would still remain. The argument would look like this: Given the track record of success with science (non-teleological explanations), it is more reasonable to hold out for a scientific explanation than invoke an intelligent entity that is without evidence.

    The bottom line is that in science, unless you have independent evidence for an intelligent entity beyond this Earth, you have no candidate for a designer and science cannot incorporate a design explanation. Without that independent evidence, promissory materialism will always trump any insufficiency argument.

  7. To continue this conversation, let’s start with something I think we both agree on: there are random mutations; and meaning by this that events that are not determined by an intelligent source, and without respect to fitness, have caused genetic mutations. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I think you accept this.

    I don’t know about you, but I accept it because it seems to be a sufficient and the simplest explanation for many mutations. Now I could be mistaken. It is quite possible that God determines every single mutation that ever happens. So I am making not just a scientific, but also a philosophical and theological claim when I claim that there are random mutations.

    Does that mean that I am unjustified in making that claim? If not, why not?

  8. Bilbo, I’m not sure who you were asking, so forgive me if it was directed at Mike instead of me. But right away, no, I don’t agree that mutations are random in the sense of being ‘not determined by an intelligent source’ ultimately. How would I even go about determining that? The science certainly doesn’t demand or even hint at that on its own – ‘random’, if scientific, speaks to our (lack of) knowledge, and our developing useful but universally acknowledged incomplete and imperfect models.

    Now, you say ‘sufficient and simplest’. But “sufficient” is easy to come by – basically, ‘if it’s not necessarily logically false (assuming one believes logic is ironclad) and if it hasn’t been falsified’. And, as I said before, determining what’s simplest isn’t so easy either. To give another example: Solipsism provides a sufficient and arguably the simplest explanation for everything you (and most everyone else) experience. A whole lot of problems turn out to be illusory if that conclusion is accepted, including the entire evolution discussion. And yet…

    As for justified, it depends what you mean. Justified by making the claim that mutations are unguided and without purpose or direction as a scientific statement? No, because that goes right outside the bounds of science (keep in mind my stance on ID, even while I’m greatly supportive of the philosophy and sympathetic to some other claims). Whether you’d be justified in other senses is another discussion (can two normal people with opposing views ever be justified in their conclusions?, etc), and I’m only concerned with the proper limits of science here.

  9. Hi Bilbo,

    I’m in agreement with Nullasulus. I don’t think you can claim that all mutations are random in a philosophical or theological sense. But in a scientific sense, we can say they are random with regards to fitness. Scientists accept this claim not because of some sufficiency belief, but because the data patterns point in this direction. That is, mutations are spread throughout the genome, here and there, and not targeted to specific genes that would aid in response to a specific environmental challenge.

  10. If mutations are random with regard to fitness, then wouldn’t scientists be justified in believing that they were not intelligently caused?

  11. No, scientists would be justified in believing there is no evidence these mutations were intelligently caused and thus would not need to entertain this hypothesis as part of their research. To go further and insist they were NOT intelligently caused not only gets into metaphysics, but assumes the scientists have a test to detect/falsify the hypothesis of intelligent causation of mutations. But they don’t.

  12. I’d further add that “increasing fitness” isn’t the only end available to an intelligent agent. An agent could choose to decrease fitness, to have no effect on fitness, to have an effect only partially related or utterly unrelated to the organism’s fitness, etc.

  13. Here’s the problem, Mike. Your favorite argument for common descent and against common design is the appearance of the same mutational accidents or mistakes in what appear to be closely related species. The argument is that it makes more sense to think this was caused by a non-intelligent random mutation in a common ancestor. But if scientists are not justified in believing that this mutation was NOT caused by an intelligent agent, then this argument evaporates into thin air. We no longer can use this as evidence of common descent.

  14. So do I have a valid point?

  15. Hi Bilbo,

    I don’t agree. From the scientific perspective, there is no independent evidence for the existence of a designer and there is no evidence that a shared pseudogene, for example, was intelligently caused. The scientist does not need to come up with a way to disprove the possibility the pseudogene might have been intelligently caused in order to reasonably ignore that possibility. As I said, scientists are left with no reason to entertain the ID hypothesis as part of their research, especially when the pseudogene so nicely fits the evolutionary picture.

  16. But the scientist we are talking about here is you. You do entertain an ID hypothesis, yet believe that common descent is a better explanation for the shared pseudogene than common design. Am I mistaken in thinking that you believe that the pseudogene was NOT designed? Or at least, not designed twice?

  17. In the book, I gave pseudogenes a DM score of -4.5. I can’t say pseudogenes were NOT intelligently caused from a metaphysical perspective, but from my investigative perspective that relies on assumptions entailed in the four criteria, I do say they were not intelligently caused.

    There are important distinctions to keep in mind. There is the distinction between science and metaphysics/philosophy. And there is the distinction between the DM approach and science.

    Science cannot rule out the metaphysical possibility that mutations are intelligently caused since science has no method to measure this. In fact, science cannot consider this possibility since it violates the rules of science. The DM, not being science, can consider this possibility. It does not rule it out in a metaphysical sense, but the score I arrive at allows me to dismiss this possibility as part of an investigative endeavor.

  18. You say you can’t rule out the metaphysical possibility that pseudogenes were intelligently caused, but then you do say they were not intelligently caused (based on assumptions entailed in your four criteria). So is it reasonable to believe that pseudogenes were not intelligently caused?

  19. Just to jump in again.

    “Reasonable to believe” packs in a whole lot of assumptions itself. It can be reasonable to believe (for two different people, of course) two conflicting things depending on the assumptions in play and the evidence available.

    I think the distinction at work with Mike’s ID hypothesis is that he’s evaluating the intentions of a hypothetical designing agent according to a reasonable assumption: that certain developments in the past make the most sense when viewed in the context of the present/future. In other words, Mike stakes out a broad possibility (front-loading for particular future developments of life) and then sees how the evidence and what we know fits with that possibility.

    If Mike was operating under a different perspective, or with different assumptions, the reasonable inclusion may differ. Or at least, this is how I see it. Rather like, if I come across a foreign artifact I can start making judgments about how developed or undeveloped the creator of it was by seeing how readily it performs the task I think it was meant for. So if I say, “This tool was meant for smashing nuts”, and it turns out not to do that too well, then hey, it’s reasonable to infer from this that the agent’s technological skills were wanting. But what if someone else says, “Actually, this tool is a calculator, it’s meant as a math aid, and it does a damn good job of it”? Well, now I’m going to reasonably infer the technological skills were higher.

    To give an extreme example, look up “occasionalism”. Ask yourself how someone who believes in that would or could start making judgments of “this event happened by an intelligent agent”.

  20. You say you can’t rule out the metaphysical possibility that pseudogenes were intelligently caused, but then you do say they were not intelligently caused (based on assumptions entailed in your four criteria). So is it reasonable to believe that pseudogenes were not intelligently caused?

    Sure. A DM score of -4.5 says it is darn reasonable to think pseudogenes were not intelligently caused. But if we take away the DM, and rely solely on science, what experiments/studies were done to falsify the idea that pseudogenes were intelligently caused? Since science, without independent evidence of designers, has no method to evaluate whether or not something was designed, it must remain agnostic on this issue.

  21. “Since science, without independent evidence of designers, has no method to evaluate whether or not something was designed, it must remain agnostic on this issue.”

    IOW, there is no way to disprove this notion, and thus FLE fails as a scientific hypothesis.

    Yawn.

  22. Hi Dave,

    FLE “fails as a scientific hypothesis” because it is inherently teleological. But why not deal directly with my point? Without independent evidence of the designers, does science have a method to evaluate whether or not something was designed?

  23. Because your point, to a scientist interested in advancing the state of our knowledge, is pointless. You can engage in endless discussions about front-loading, and I’m sure you will, but in the end, you’ve gotten nowhere. That’s the reason for the “Yawn” at the end of my previous comment.

    Look, I have no problem if you and your boys want to talk about this endlessly. If you ever do get to the point where you get beyond the talking, you might get the attention of the rest of us. ‘Til then – Yawn.

    See ya.

  24. But you didn’t answer my question. Without independent evidence of the designers, does science have a method to evaluate whether or not something was designed? If the answer is yes, then by all means, share and cite this method. If the answer is no, then science cannot advance our state of knowledge in regard to this question unless someone gets lucky enough to stumble upon the designer(s). As I said, it must remain agnostic for as long as the method does not exist. And that makes your point,…well, pointless.

  25. Let’s back up. Upstream you wrote:

    “But since I am interested in what happened, and not interested in shoe-horning teleology into science, one does not refute the hypothesis of front-loading, a hypothesis about our history, by noting it violates a convention.”

    Note that here you call front-loading a “hypothesis”.

    Later you finally admit that it is not really a hypothesis, at least not as that word is used in real science.

    It’s a notion. And will forever remain a notion, because, as you also admit, there is no way to examine it.

    So obviously the answer to your question is no. I thought that was obvious, but I guess you needed me to specifically respond for some reason. I went ahead and discussed the ramifications of the “no” answer without specifically addressing what I thought was a rhetorical question. I guess you didn’t understand that.

    So we can both agree on that. Science is useless in teleology, and FLE is a teleological notion (NOT a hypothesis, perhaps you can clean up the language above).

    What we seem to disagree upon are the ramifications of that answer. To me, the ramifications are obvious. The only possible way that you have to discern “what happened” is to talk about it, and generate more untestable notions in the process. Navel-gazing. Pipe dreams. That is apparently good enough for you and your acolytes.

    It isn’t enough to engage anyone who really is interested in “what happened” AND who also wants to get somewhere in a search for evidence.

    Talk about it all you want. You seem good at it.

    Hope that helps.

  26. Hi Dave,

    You seem awfully interested in a subject that you claim makes you sleepy. Maybe ID really is interesting, and you just need to take some NoDoze. 🙂

    Mike, yes science has the tools to address the question of design: Discontinuity and Analogy. That’s what they would do with the face on Mars or with a radio signal from outer space. And you’ve added Foresight and Rationality (though when scientists criticize ID, they often appeal to those categories, anyway).

    So now, instead of complaining about MacNeill’s comments on Deep Homology, why not apply your criteria to it, and give us a rough idea of what you think the score would be, so far.

  27. Yeah, I like to check in on the ongoing train wreck every few months or so.

    Back to my nap now.

  28. Hi Dave,

    Contrary to your posturing above, it seems I can get your attention without even trying.

    Note that here you call front-loading a “hypothesis”.

    Later you finally admit that it is not really a hypothesis, at least not as that word is used in real science.

    You’re twisting things. What I actually wrote (there was no final admission) is, “FLE “fails as a scientific hypothesis””. Note two things. First there is the adjective ‘scientific.’ It is missing in my original point and added in the second point. Not all hypotheses are scientific hypotheses. Second, note the quote marks. I was quoting you, Dave. You are the one who introduced the adjective and I simply noted that I agree that adjective does not apply to my hypothesis. There is no problem.

    It’s a notion. And will forever remain a notion, because, as you also admit, there is no way to examine it.

    It’s both a notion and a hypothesis. The dictionary defines hypothesis as:

    a proposition, or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena, either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation (working hypothesis)

    Yes, this applies to my approach.
    And there are ways to examine it (as I have explained). It’s just that science itself cannot determine whether or not the hypothesis is valid since science has no method to evaluate such a hypothesis without the luxury of independent information about the designers. Either stick with science, and remain agnostic, or embrace my approach, and begin examining.

    So obviously the answer to your question is no. I thought that was obvious, but I guess you needed me to specifically respond for some reason. I went ahead and discussed the ramifications of the “no” answer without specifically addressing what I thought was a rhetorical question. I guess you didn’t understand that.

    Yes, the obvious answer is no. While you may be willing to assume things about me, I would rather you state your own position clearly. And no, you were not obvious.

    So we can both agree on that. Science is useless in teleology, and FLE is a teleological notion (NOT a hypothesis, perhaps you can clean up the language above).

    There is no need to clean up the language. If you have a problem, you need to prove that all hypotheses are scientific hypotheses and the word ‘hypothesis’ cannot be used outside of science. Yet the fact that you chose to add the adjective ‘scientific’ to the word hypothesis tells me you already know not all hypotheses are scientific. That’s why you inserted the adjective.

    The main point here is that we both agree that without independent information about the designers, science cannot determine whether or not something was designed. The ramifications of this insight are obvious – the fact that FLE is not scientific simply means a) we have no independent evidence of the designers and b) science cannot determine whether or not FLE is a valid hypothesis. Unless someone is an enthusiast for scientism, then the fact that FLE is not a “scientific hypothesis” is rather…boring.

  29. Y’know, it’s a tad bizarre, even creepy, that you and Bilbo comment on “getting my attention”. Somehow I thought that the whole point of a blog was to get attention. Why do you comment on something that is your whole reason for existence here? I’m not special; I’m just a sporadic commenter. Is it that rare that you get comments here?

    And I sincerely apologize for not answering your rhetorical question before proceeding to the ramifications of the obvious answer. I assumed you were quicker than you apparently are. Mea culpa.

    More to the point, I’m pretty sure I’m not the one who is “twisting things”. The word “hypothesis” has connotations which you are taking advantage of, and then disingenuously claiming that you are unaware of the connotations. The adjective “scientific” is assumed by most readers, and you take advantage of that assumption when it suits your purposes. If you don’t think so, ask Bilbo. He still thinks that “science has the tools to address the question of design”, but you admit that it doesn’t. Major twisting, IMHO.

    But let’s take you at your word and note that FLE is not a “scientific” kind of hypothesis. That leads to some (non-rhetorical) questions.

    What kind is it?

    Does it generate predictions?

    If so, what predictions does it lead to?

    Can those predictions be tested?

    If it can “guide investigation”, what is the nature of those investigations?

    I submit, and you and the acolytes have done nothing to shake this conclusion, that it is robustly untestable and leads to no investigations other than navel-gazing. Words are not investigations, no matter how profoundly you wish they were.

    Science is one way of knowing, and predictive hypotheses are part of that process. Unpredictive notions don’t lead to new knowledge in that paradigm. It’s not scientism to point out that one of the best ways of knowing available to us is of no use here. It’s not scientism to point out that endless yammering about untestable notions is merely that – endless yammering about untestable notions. Now that’s “boring”, at least to me.

    Clearly you and the acolytes find it fascinating, and that’s cool. But when I come in here every few months to check on the lack of progress, that’s not a sign that I find it fascinating, so please don’t misunderstand that. It’s still boring, until and unless you come up with something that leads to new knowledge.

  30. Y’know, it’s a tad bizarre, even creepy, that a guy who thinks it is very important that I know he thinks I am boring just can’t seem to stop posting about such boring things. Dave, I know you want me to know you think I am boring and my yammering is boring. I heard ya with your first yawn. And the second yawn. And the “see ya.” And the nap. But, so what? Whether or not something is boring is a matter of subjective taste. If I find a TV show to be boring, I change the channel. I don’t keep watching it, while yelling at the TV for being boring.

    More to the point, I’m pretty sure I’m not the one who is “twisting things”. The word “hypothesis” has connotations which you are taking advantage of, and then disingenuously claiming that you are unaware of the connotations. The adjective “scientific” is assumed by most readers, and you take advantage of that assumption when it suits your purposes.

    Non-scientific psychoanalysis rooted in negative stereotypes is not a substitute for proving that all hypotheses are scientific hypotheses and the word ‘hypothesis’ cannot be used outside of science. Are you doing science when you claim such knowledge about my inner mind and the mind of most readers? Are your perceptions of me supposed to be interesting to anyone else but you?

    But let’s take you at your word and note that FLE is not a “scientific” kind of hypothesis. That leads to some (non-rhetorical) questions.

    Those questions were addressed in my book, Dave. I also address them throughout this blog. Since you’ve made it crystal clear that you find it all a boring, disingenuous, trainwreck, why bother?

    I submit, and you and the acolytes have done nothing to shake this conclusion, that it is robustly untestable and leads to no investigations other than navel-gazing. Words are not investigations, no matter how profoundly you wish they were.

    Those are your personal opinions, Dave. Or have you used science to determine this is knowledge?

    Science is one way of knowing, and predictive hypotheses are part of that process. Unpredictive notions don’t lead to new knowledge in that paradigm.

    Yet we agree that without independent evidence of the designers, that paradigm cannot determine whether or not a hypothesis of design was true or false. So why keep raising it and focusing on it?

    It’s not scientism to point out that one of the best ways of knowing available to us is of no use here.

    Agreed. As the link from PBS notes, “scientism claims that science alone can render truth about the world and reality. Scientism’s single-minded adherence to only the empirical, or testable, makes it a strictly scientifc worldview, in much the same way that a Protestant fundamentalism that rejects science can be seen as a strictly religious worldview. Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.”

    It’s not scientism to point out that endless yammering about untestable notions is merely that – endless yammering about untestable notions. Now that’s “boring”, at least to me.

    I heard the first yawn. You made your opinion quite clear.

    Clearly you and the acolytes find it fascinating, and that’s cool. But when I come in here every few months to check on the lack of progress, that’s not a sign that I find it fascinating, so please don’t misunderstand that. It’s still boring, until and unless you come up with something that leads to new knowledge.

    Actions speak louder than words, Dave. It’s not checking in the first time that signals your deep interest in my thoughts, but your multiple, rapid responses which are trying just a little too hard to make me aware of your supposed boredom. Your first reply to my reply was within 25 minutes and the next morning, you second reply to my reply was within 19 minutes. A few hours later, you replied to Bilbo within 15 minutes. But to be fair, it took you a whole 90 minutes to post your third reply to me. Clearly, you are very interested in my reaction/thoughts to your taunting.

    I have a hypothesis – you are not truly bored with my thoughts. This hypothesis leads me to predict that you will soon be posting a 4th reply.

  31. Didn’t really address Dave’s points though. It seem you admit you’re not doing science? Okay – perhaps the religious or philosophical communities will embrace you. If you want to do / claim science, then you must adhere to that framework. As for ‘ways of knowing’ – that’s a can of worms. If knowledge is the intersection of belief and fact, then I can’t see how you get there outside of science.

    Dave’s interest is perhaps tangential to your main thesis, and I would suggest that ‘interesting’ can exist at a few levels…

  32. Hi Rich,

    Dave’s point seems to boil down to this: “Hey Mike, since you are not doing science, I thought I’d let you know that all you are doing is yammering and I find that boring.” Yawn. And I find it boring that Dave finds me boring. So what?

    What matters here is that Dave is in the same boat. Without independent evidence of any designers, science has no method to determine whether or not something was designed. So to complain about “boring yammering” is, well, boring. It’s a free country, after all. Dave is certainly free to ignore my “boring yammering” and I am free to continue my “boring yammering.” Is there a problem? Am I supposed to shut up and keep quiet?

  33. “Am I supposed to shut up and keep quiet?” Not at all! The last thing we want is IDists to get some sort of suppression / martyr complex. 😉 Are you going for some strange Tu Quoque with Dave?

    Back on track – front loading, top of mind I have these thoughts:

    Mass extinction events and the very low survivability of species – Evidence against Front Loading?

    Engines of genomic random variation (such as ERVs) are already accounted for

    Life as a stochastic process – so many interactions with bottlenecked tipping points in the hands of fate.. We can’t even model where pool balls on a table will end up if you hit the white sufficiently hard…

    Error correction mechanisms needed for error correction mechanisms required for error correction mechanisms…

    If you’re smart enough to foresee a few billion years of history and environmental change and an intractable number of organic interactions, you are almost certainly powerful enough to just change the environment and bang out the finished product

    These are the first few, top of mind.

    And as for ‘inferences’ – if something looks like creationist apologetics carefully stripped of any bits that might be legally difficult to get past, then it’s probably..?

  34. Hi Rich,

    Not at all! The last thing we want is IDists to get some sort of suppression / martyr complex. Are you going for some strange Tu Quoque with Dave?

    LOL. But do you seriously think I find it interesting that Dave finds me boring??

    Back on track – front loading, top of mind I have these thoughts:

    Mass extinction events and the very low survivability of species – Evidence against Front Loading?

    How so? I don’t see how front-loading would entail that there should be no mass extinctions and most species would not go extinct.

    But hold on here. In raising the possibility that mass extinctions are evidence against front-loading, are you practicing science by posting words in my comments section? Or are you just engaging in navel gazing?

    Engines of genomic random variation (such as ERVs) are already accounted for
    Life as a stochastic process – so many interactions with bottlenecked tipping points in the hands of fate.. We can’t even model where pool balls on a table will end up if you hit the white sufficiently hard…

    Error correction mechanisms needed for error correction mechanisms required for error correction mechanisms…

    If you’re smart enough to foresee a few billion years of history and environmental change and an intractable number of organic interactions, you are almost certainly powerful enough to just change the environment and bang out the finished product.

    Are you doing science? Or navel gazing?

    Two things. Are you under the impression that front-loading means that the specific biomes that exist today were biologically predestined to appear? If so, that is not what I am talking about. I raise the possibility that single-celled life forms could be designed to facilitate and nudge the appearance of multicellular life.

    Secondly, would you really have to be all that powerful to predict that all life forms would use the same genetic material, amino acids, and genetic code billions of years subsequent to their implementation?

    These are the first few, top of mind.
    And as for ‘inferences’ – if something looks like creationist apologetics carefully stripped of any bits that might be legally difficult to get past, then it’s probably..?

    Stereotypes are boring, Rich. They also tend to cloud understanding.

  35. Well, I bet you wish all your predictions were as successful as predicting that I would come back to comment on your pack of lies! Congratulations. A successful (but still non-scientific) prediction that you can brag about.

    It seems to be a constant that ID blogs revert almost immediately to comments about the personalities of the commenters, rather than the ideas. Messengers, not messages, are the theme in both this forum and in the Bronze-Age book that underlies your “science”. I guess that is to be expected. But since you have indulged in amateur psychoanalysis of me, let me return the favor.

    I think you are still smarting from my review of your book on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/review/R30GCRZ1LKGIXW/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R30GCRZ1LKGIXW).

    Now on to the facts, even thouhg I predict that your response will pay more attention to my amateur psychoanalysis than to these facts.

    It is another hallmark of ID blogs to be told that all questions are answered “in my book”. I’ve read your book. I disagree that you have answered any of my questions.

    Re my objection that words are not investigations, you retort that this seems to be my personal opinion. Yes, but the evidence for that opinion is that you and your acolytes have contributed zip, zilch, nada, zero to the realm of knowledge about how the world works. When your sophistry leads to new knowledge, the evidence for my opinion will be lessened. ‘Til then, at least my opinion is backed by something substantial.

    I also note that you omitted my evidence for your disingenuous use of the word “hypothesis”, that being the confusion of Bilbo re the use of science in whatever it is that you are doing here. He’s confused because of your use of that word. Deal with it, or not, as you wish.

    As for my rapid responses to your baloney, which you take as a sing of intense interest in whatever it is you might be thinking, here’s a clue. At the bottom of your comment pages there is a little box you can check to be notified of follow-up comments via email. I checked that box. I’m not on your blog all the time, contrary to your desires. I am on the internet much of the time, and get those email messages. Since your reply comments are usually egregious baloney mixed in with mistaken psychoanalysis, I respond quickly.

    Finally, in your comment to Rich, you write: “Without independent evidence of any designers, science has no method to determine whether or not something was designed.” That’s correct. But science has no NEED to determine that; science already has an excellent working paradigm to explain the diversity of life forms on the planet. Design seems quite unnecessary.

    The need to determine this is your problem; science has enough to do without trying to fulfill the fantasies of everyone. That would be your job, since it is your stated goal. Now that you’ve admitted that you con’t approach this with the tools of science, it seems to me that your job might be more difficult than you’ve led Bilbo and the acolytes to believe. Good luck with your “investigations”. I’m predicting that they will continue to resemble navel-gazing for the next few millenia or so.

  36. I’m not doing science, and I don’t think I suggested that I was. These are malformed philosophical musings from my tiny mind.

    You seem to water front loading down to ‘designed to evolve’. Or you could have ‘designed the mechanism of evolution’ (there’s one for the Catholics). Err, okay.Not the most ontologically economical explanation.

    Also, does your front loading have an end or purpose that is set out at the beginning?

    And my question was legitimate. Turnabout is fair, of course we’re really talking about ‘abductive reasoning’ but there’s no need to get weighed down in the logical details; you guys sure look like creationists trying to hide something.

    Why doesn’t the design matrix have categories like ‘How did the designer fabricate it?’, or ‘What was the designer’s motivation’? These seem good categories to me…

  37. Dave,

    Well, I bet you wish all your predictions were as successful as predicting that I would come back to comment on your pack of lies! Congratulations. A successful (but still non-scientific) prediction that you can brag about.

    Very good. So I have just shown you a) how the word hypothesis can be used outside of science; b) how it can lead to a prediction about the world that is c) successful.

    Yet according to you, once we step outside the realm of science, we are stuck in the realm of pointless, navel gazing.

    It seems to be a constant that ID blogs revert almost immediately to comments about the personalities of the commenters, rather than the ideas. Messengers, not messages, are the theme in both this forum and in the Bronze-Age book that underlies your “science”. I guess that is to be expected. But since you have indulged in amateur psychoanalysis of me, let me return the favor.

    You already indulged in amateur psychoanalysis. You wrote, “More to the point, I’m pretty sure I’m not the one who is “twisting things”. The word “hypothesis” has connotations which you are taking advantage of, and then disingenuously claiming that you are unaware of the connotations. The adjective “scientific” is assumed by most readers, and you take advantage of that assumption when it suits your purposes.”

    Like I said, “Non-scientific psychoanalysis rooted in negative stereotypes is not a substitute for proving that all hypotheses are scientific hypotheses and the word ‘hypothesis’ cannot be used outside of science.”

    I think you are still smarting from my review of your book on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/review/R30GCRZ1LKGIXW/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt#R30GCRZ1LKGIXW).

    Not at all: https://designmatrix.wordpress.com/2009/03/11/reviewing-a-review/

    In summary, this was not a good review of The Design Matrix, as it failed to convey any of the basic arguments of the book while setting up numerous straw man positions to be knocked down. You could never get a feel for what the book was about by reading this review.

    I am quite content in knowing that I more than adequately answered and rebutted your review. One way to tell is that in the subsequent 9 months, I felt no need to revisit it here. You, on the other hand, did feel the need to go back and change your Amazon review and now clearly feel the need to revisit it after 9 months. I think you are still smarting from my review of your “review.” 😉

    Now on to the facts, even thouhg I predict that your response will pay more attention to my amateur psychoanalysis than to these facts.

    Okay, let’s see your “facts.”

    It is another hallmark of ID blogs to be told that all questions are answered “in my book”.

    I see. So I am supposed to embrace anecdotes, rooted in your personal experience, as facts. And if I don’t believe you, I’m dishonest or psychoanalyzing you, right?

    But I am curious. When determining the “hallmark of ID blogs,” were you doing science? Or pointless, navel gazing?

    I’ve read your book. I disagree that you have answered any of my questions.

    Yes, and I wrote the book and read your review. That allowed me to gauge your ability to grasp my points/positions. That’s why your disagreement doesn’t mean much to me.

    Re my objection that words are not investigations, you retort that this seems to be my personal opinion.

    Well, did you use science to determine this? Would philosophers agree that none of their work can be viewed as an investigation?

    Yes, but the evidence for that opinion is that you and your acolytes have contributed zip, zilch, nada, zero to the realm of knowledge about how the world works.

    What is “knowledge?” How do you know when you have it? Are you claiming knowledge here? I think Rich is correct in noting, “As for ‘ways of knowing’ – that’s a can of worms.”

    When your sophistry leads to new knowledge, the evidence for my opinion will be lessened. ‘Til then, at least my opinion is backed by something substantial.

    LOL! It will be “lessened.” In other words, if I use my approach to contribute some “new knowledge,” it won’t be good enough. It will just lesson your condemnations and accusations. Covering all bases, eh?

    I also note that you omitted my evidence for your disingenuous use of the word “hypothesis”, that being the confusion of Bilbo re the use of science in whatever it is that you are doing here. He’s confused because of your use of that word. Deal with it, or not, as you wish.

    Wow. Dave insists on attacking me as disingenuous and his “evidence” is rooted in his ability to read Bilbo’s mind. In other words, Dave believes that if I did not use the word ‘hypothesis,’ Bilbo would understand I am not doing science.

    But it gets worse. Did Dave reach his sneering conclusions about me and Bilbo because he was doing science? After all, he claims to have “evidence!” Or was he just engaging in boring, pointless, navel gazing? If it is the latter, why I am supposed to respond?

    Sorry Dave, I have demonstrated that it is perfectly appropriate to use the word ‘hypothesis’ outside of science, just as you use the words “predict” and “evidence” outside of science. Deal with it, or not, as you wish.

    As for my rapid responses to your baloney, which you take as a sing of intense interest in whatever it is you might be thinking, here’s a clue. At the bottom of your comment pages there is a little box you can check to be notified of follow-up comments via email. I checked that box. I’m not on your blog all the time, contrary to your desires. I am on the internet much of the time, and get those email messages. Since your reply comments are usually egregious baloney mixed in with mistaken psychoanalysis, I respond quickly.

    LOL! You just strengthened the hypothesis, Dave! You are so interested in my thoughts and views that you want to be notified immediately when I respond!!

    Of course, this raises another issue. Time spent reading my replies and posting your rapid replies could be used to read journal articles that contain new knowledge. You make that choice with every posting, Dave. You find me more interesting than science! For all that talk about the need for “new knowledge,” your interests seem to lay elsewhere.

    Finally, in your comment to Rich, you write: “Without independent evidence of any designers, science has no method to determine whether or not something was designed.” That’s correct. But science has no NEED to determine that; science already has an excellent working paradigm to explain the diversity of life forms on the planet. Design seems quite unnecessary.

    Yes, science has no such NEED. What’s your point? Are you advocating the god-of-the-gaps approach? That design CAN be part of science if science did NOT have an excellent working paradigm to explain the diversity of life forms on the planet?? Are you trying to find a way to get design into science?

    The need to determine this is your problem; science has enough to do without trying to fulfill the fantasies of everyone.

    I think you may be confused by all that extensive time you invest in determining the hallmark of various ID blogs. I told you I have no interest in shoehorning a teleological perspective into science. And we agree that “Without independent evidence of any designers, science has no method to determine whether or not something was designed.” There is no problem here.

    That would be your job, since it is your stated goal.

    Sure. I have come to realize that a non-teleological perspective is not mandated or necessary. I think that bothers you.

    Now that you’ve admitted that you con’t approach this with the tools of science,

    What are the “tools of science?” Are you insisting that science has a patent on these tools and they can only be used when doing science? Did the tools poof into existence with the appearance of science?

    it seems to me that your job might be more difficult than you’ve led Bilbo and the acolytes to believe. Good luck with your “investigations”. I’m predicting that they will continue to resemble navel-gazing for the next few millenia or so.

    Thank you for demonstrating that we can make predictions about the world outside of science. Now, are you willing to admit your prediction is rooted in a hypothesis?

  38. Hi Rich,

    First things first.

    I’m not doing science, and I don’t think I suggested that I was.

    Okay, then, according to Dave, you must be engaged in navel gazing.

    These are malformed philosophical musings from my tiny mind.

    Yes, Dave calls that navel gazing. And according to Dave, front-loading is just a notion that cannot be examined and your musings are pointless. Do you agree your musings are pointless and lead nowhere?

    BTW, are you one of Dave’s acolytes?

  39. I don’t think they lead to science, perhaps proto science if you can find a way for the framework to accommodate them (without trying to change the framework 😉 ).

    You seem hung up on demarcation and not very interested in your original point.

    I like Dave and know him from elsewhere on the ‘net. I suspect we could share a beer and a joke, but then I suspect you and I could also.

  40. Hmmm, first I was moderated, then I wasn’t, now I am again. Don’t be UDmk2.

  41. BTW, I should let people know that I’ll get in trouble if I stay on the computer New Year’s Eve day and I won’t have time tomorrow. Since I can’t baby sit, comments are set to be approved before they get posted. I’ll let them through after the holidays and deal with them then. No need to get all paranoid or develop some suppression / martyr complex. I just need to make this blog adapt to my real life than the other way around.

  42. No worries. Have a great New Year.

  43. Dave wrote: He’s [Bilbo] confused because of your use of that word [“hypothesis”].

    Uh…no. I’m not confused. I understand that Mike insists that he is not doing science. I insist that Mike is mistaken. Science does have the ability to identify design, without independent evidence of a designer. Had higher resolution of the “face” on Mars looked even more like a face, scientists would have strongly suspected that it was designed, and we would have had a team of astronauts headed to Mars by now. If SETI ever gets their wished-for radio signal, they will conclude that it was designed, even though they would have no independent evidence of a designer. Mike might think that SETI isn’t scientific, but I think most scientists would disagree with him. So clearly, science has the tools to identify design, without independent evidence of a designer. What are those tools? Discontinuity (from Nature) and Analogy (similarity to design). And Mike’s significant contribution to this question is noticing that we also use two other categories: Foresight and Rationality.

    So contrary to both Dave and Mike, ID is science.

  44. Good job.

    The false dichotomy is yet another hallmark of ID blogs (and IDiots in general). You win yet another kewpie doll. There are (many) other alternatives besides doing science and navel-gazing. The fact that I pointed out your navel-gazing apparently galls you greatly, but it was only a description of what goes on here. It was not meant to be a description of “anything being done while not doing science”.

    Re your rationalization about not-revisiting the topic of my review of your book, that’s pretty funny too. I certainly can see why you wouldn’t want to revisit it., but I appreciate the inventive excuse of “I’m satisfied with my rebuttal of your review”.

    Re reading Bilbo’s mind, that isn’t necessary. I read his words instead. You apparently didn’t, so here they are again from upthread: “yes science has the tools to address the question of design”.

    What part of that indicates to you that Bilbo still thinks that science is useful here?

    Just curious as to why you invoke mind-reading when simple English comprehension can do.

    Finally, I realize you do want me to go away and read journal articles rather than enjoy your wriggling, and I’ll do that eventually. But I truly don’t think it is a waste of my time and intellect to sporadically visit places like this and point out the intellectual vacuity of ID. As a scientist and an educator I could even argue that it is part of my job to communicate science, and pointing out non-science is a big part of that job.

    So please don’t take this personally, because it isn’t meant that way. My commenting here has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with your attempts to convince others that there is something behind the smoke and mirrors of ID. In fact, I could turn the tables and ask you why you engage in endless navel-gazing rather than doing real lab work to shore up the edifice of ID. But I already know the answer, and so do you.

    Happy New Year.

  45. Hi Rich,

    You seem hung up on demarcation and not very interested in your original point.

    Actually, I write much more about FLE than the demarcation issue. The latter is simply thrust upon me and I must periodically reply.

    I like Dave and know him from elsewhere on the ‘net. I suspect we could share a beer and a joke, but then I suspect you and I could also.

    I suspect the same. And just because that is also true of Bilbo and I does not mean he is some “acolyte.” If you get my drift.

    Okay, let me get to your previous points.

    You seem to water front loading down to ‘designed to evolve’. Or you could have ‘designed the mechanism of evolution’ (there’s one for the Catholics). Err, okay.Not the most ontologically economical explanation.

    That’s not watering-down. That’s what FLE is. And while it might not be the most ontologically economical explanation, I find it to be remarkably intriguing. In fact, if our efforts to design synthetic life succeed, I think these issues will come to the forefront. Just how evolvable will these synthetic life forms be? Can we design them in a way that makes them more evolvable? Can we design them in such a way that their subsequent evolution can be channeled, and if so, to what extent?

    Also, does your front loading have an end or purpose that is set out at the beginning?

    That would follow from it being a teleological hypothesis. But what is the end or purpose? I honestly don’t know. To know that, I would have to know the mind of the designer. Thus, all I can do is guess and this is one of the main reasons my approach is not science – it is much too subjective.

    And my question was legitimate. Turnabout is fair, of course we’re really talking about ‘abductive reasoning’ but there’s no need to get weighed down in the logical details; you guys sure look like creationists trying to hide something.

    Okay, you seem like a good guy and, contrary to proponents of scientism, I think there is a place for “looks like” arguments. What is it about me that “looks like” a creationist (whatever that word means) and what I am supposed to be hiding?

    Why doesn’t the design matrix have categories like ‘How did the designer fabricate it?’, or ‘What was the designer’s motivation’? These seem good categories to me…

    Because I honestly can’t think of much to say with those questions, in contrast to questions like “Is there a connection between proteins and DNA?” or “is there a connection between the genetic code and cytosine deamination?” or “what influences evolution?” or…

    Without independent information about the designer(s), how would I go about determining their fabrication process? How would I go about determining the motivation of a designer? Since the approach I take must make assumptions to begin with, if you ask me, it’s not a good idea to multiply assumptions.

  46. Actually, if the truth be known, I am Rich’s acolyte. I’ve admired his work fighting the IDiots for a long time; I hope someday to be as accomplished and witty as he is.

    Bilbo writes, as if he has been living in a locked room for the past year: “Had higher resolution of the “face” on Mars looked even more like a face, scientists would have strongly suspected that it was designed”

    Yes, Bilbo, it would have been a good reason to suspect that the designer(s) looked like humans. Which is, sadly for your position, actual information about the designer(s). Which is an auxiliary assumption that is absolutely necessary for even having that suspicion, much less coming to any conclusion. later.

    You need some information about the designer to detect design. Period.

    But we’ve been through this already, in the “review of the review” thread several months back. You apparently didn’t get it then, so I’ve little hope that you will get it now.

  47. Dave:

    Yes, Bilbo, it would have been a good reason to suspect that the designer(s) looked like humans. Which is, sadly for your position, actual information about the designer(s).

    LOL. Check here, folks:

    According to Dave’s logic, we have actual information about the designers – they looked like bunnies!

  48. And I now offer my evidence that cats can sculpt:

  49. Dave, as Mike maded clear, we wouldn’t know what the designers of the face looked like. But we would know that the face was designed, based on Analogy and Discontinuity.

  50. Hey Guys.

    First Each and everyone of you have a great ’10.

    Looking at this FLE, I can’t say it moves me much. inter-dimensional micro-angels could also be responsible for gravity, and we could discuss at length, and have these sort of discussions. This FLE looks so much like vanilla evolution that I’m not sure what the excitement is about. I’m not sure there’s an objective, targeted outcome, other than perhaps (more) advanced life?

    With regard to a framework, why not use the legal one of ‘suspect, means, motive, and opportunity’? At least this methodology has a track record.

  51. Well, if you wanted to get rid of me, posting nonsense links about bunnies and cats is probably a good way to do it. Unfortunately for you, it is also a good way to demonstrate the intellectual vacuity of your notions.

    See ya in a few months; hopefully you will have come up with some evidence for your notions that goes beyond nonsense and navel-gazing. Hope springs eternal, etc…

  52. Meanwhile, Mike, let’s get back to MacNeill’s argument. Your criteria warrant us in believing that pseudogenes are not designed. Let’s imagine that the score had been 0. I’m not sure, but I think MacNeill might claim that that would justify a non-design conclusion, since it would be simpler.
    Would this be a good way of understanding the issue?

  53. Rich:

    First Each and everyone of you have a great ‘10.

    You too! In fact, let’s hope the next decade is much better than the last. But I doubt it.

    Looking at this FLE, I can’t say it moves me much. inter-dimensional micro-angels could also be responsible for gravity, and we could discuss at length, and have these sort of discussions. This FLE looks so much like vanilla evolution that I’m not sure what the excitement is about.

    Looks so much like vanilla evolution? It is vanilla, just seen from a very different vantage point (okay, okay, maybe its french vanilla). Ducks. Rabbits. And as a cherry on top, we agree the bunny ain’t science. So I’m not sure what the problem is.

    I’m not sure there’s an objective, targeted outcome, other than perhaps (more) advanced life?

    Agreed.

    With regard to a framework, why not use the legal one of ’suspect, means, motive, and opportunity’? At least this methodology has a track record.

    The legal framework is a perfect example of an investigative approach that is not science. But we can’t borrow too closely from it because this framework relies heavily on our extensive and massive knowledge about humans, who are the subjects of the investigation. Nevertheless, I do borrow some from this framework and use humans as a proxy for the designer (since they are the only one available). This of course comes with many minefields, red flags, and limitations. But it may be better than nothing.

  54. Bilbo,

    Without independent evidence of the designers, MacNeill will always view the non-teleological explanation as the simpler one with the track record of success.

  55. We borrow all our design knowledefge from humans – its the only example we have really.

    five questions:

    who / what?
    when?
    where?
    how?
    why?

    FLE looks like Regular E, but ducks the juicy questions!

    Also:

    “Attempts to Refute Front-loading Part 2” seems a bit strong. The case doesn’tseem that strong. Its like “Attempts to Refute teapot orbiting venus Part 2”

  56. Rich,

    FLE digs those juicy ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. In fact, one might even say it really digs the cutting-edge questions.

    But I would agree that lots of folks find vanilla questions to be juicy. After all, what is juicy is a matter of taste.

    “Attempts to Refute Front-loading Part 2″ seems a bit strong. The case doesn’t seem that strong.

    Sure. If I thought it was that strong, I’d be expecting you to embrace it. My focus is not on getting a skeptic to embrace it. As I have explained many times before, my focus has always been on determining to what degree the possible is plausible. Just as there is a lot of room between science and navel gazing, there is a vast expanse between Mighty and Feeble.

    Its like “Attempts to Refute teapot orbiting venus Part 2″

    Except that no one bothers attempting to refute orbiting tea pots.

  57. I’m not saying you’re wrong, guys. I think you’d need predicatively novelty over regular evolution before we could make that call. But, just as with orbiting tea pots and such, ontological economy comes into play (for me). That not a refutation of course, but more a case of insufficiency.

  58. Dave:

    Yes, Bilbo, it would have been a good reason to suspect that the designer(s) looked like humans. Which is, sadly for your position, actual information about the designer(s). Which is an auxiliary assumption that is absolutely necessary for even having that suspicion, much less coming to any conclusion. later.

    You need some information about the designer to detect design. Period.

    But we’ve been through this already, in the “review of the review” thread several months back. You apparently didn’t get it then, so I’ve little hope that you will get it now.

    No, as I have just shown, you had no good reason to suspect that the designer(s) looked like humans. Nor would your suspicion, which could easily be erroneous, constitute “actual information about the designers.” And just because we must make some assumptions about the designer(s) does not mean we must possess independent information about the designer(s). After all, making an assumption is not the same as possessing independent information.

    But we’ve been through this already, in the “review of the review” thread several months back. You apparently didn’t get it then, so I’ve little hope that you will get it now.

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