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A Visit to Monkey Town

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William Crawley | 10:40 UK time, Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan chat in court during the Scopes Trial.

I've been reading about the Scopes "Monkey Trial" for years, but today I got to sit in the judges chair in the courtroom that was the venue for "The Trial of the Century". In 1925, Tennessee passed a law, the "Butler Act", which banned the teaching of evolution in the state's public schools. Soon, a young schoolteacher in Dayton, Tennessee, was on trial for breaking that law, and the world descended on this small town to see a courtroom battle between a legal Titan, Clarence Darrow (who defended Scopes) and a political giant of his day, William Jennings Bryan (who aided the prosecution).


If you've watched the film Inherit the Wind, you'll have seen a wonderful cinematic exploration of some of the themes in that trial, but you shouldn't rely on it for historical truth. The truth is much more intriguing. One day in Robinson's drugstore, the town's elders say a commercial opportunity to bring some much-needed cash into Dayton. They persuaded a young teacher to agree to become a guinea pig and announced that the constitutionality of the Butler Act was about to be tested. In fact, we've very little evidence that John Scopes ever taught Darwinian science (he mostly coached sports). But that was merely a detail as America was about to be plunged into its first great culture war.

Scopes was convicted, though the verdict was eventually overturned on a legal technicality. The trial became the first to be nationally-broadcast via the new medium of radio. And Dayton soon became a byword for intellectual intolerance.

Dayton residents today are all too aware of the reputation the town gained in 1925, and many regret the episode entirely -- though most, it would have to be said, are simply uninformed about what actually took place. Dayton's tiny economy benefitted from the two-week trial for about the duration of the media circus, which was very short-lived. Those who concocted the scheme to bring the trial of the century to the town are reported to have regretted their own legal ingenuity before the completion of the court's business. The minimal financial boost was short-lived, but the reputational damage has endured.

Bryan, one of America's best-known politicians at the time (a Democrat, he'd served as Secretary of State and was a two-time presidential nominee), died five days after the trial, while still in Dayton writing a pamphlet about the significance of the case. He was buried in Arlington Cemetary with full military honours. But his final legacy in Dayton itself is Bryan College, founded in 1930 as a Christian university. Today, Bryan is a small liberal arts college with some 800 undergraduates and a full-time faculty of about 50 professors. It employs about 200 local people, and contributes about $35m annually to the Dayton economy.

Outside the courthouse stands a statue of William Jennings Bryan -- the gift of the college on the 75th anniversary of the trial. In the basement of the court you can visit a small museum commemorating the biggest thing that's ever happened in this little town. There you'll find picture boards and artefacts from the event that rocked the Roaring 20s; you buy a copy of the full trial record, or a facsimile of the local newspaper reporting the conviction of the teacher who, we now know, may never have even read any Darwinian evolution, let alone taught It. Walk upstairs and you can sit in the actual seats used by the jury or sit behind the actual desk where Darrow and Bryan piled their science books and Bibles respectively.

The Dayton trial teaches us many things about religious culture wars. Perhaps its greatest lesson is this: it prompts us to dig under the surface of a purported "encounter" between science and religion to find out what was really going on. That's just as true with Dayton and John Scopes as it is with Rome and Galileo.

That said, while I've been visiting Tennessee, the state legislature has passed a new law dubbed by some "The Monkey Bill", which just goes to show that some of the issues in the air at the time of the Scopes trial are still issues for some today.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I saw this on the subject at hand from a Catholic take:


    Apes “R” Not Us: Catholics & the Debate Over Evolution
    GEORGE SIM JOHNSTON
    "Catholics should not hesitate to get involved in the debate over Darwin’s theory, especially since they occupy a reasonable middle ground between scientific and biblical fundamentalists."
    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0038.html

  • Comment number 2.

    It's interesting how censorship and "intellectual intolerance" has come full circle.

    It seems to be one of the themes of history: the victims become the oppressors, who don't mind milking their historical grievance for everything it's worth, totally blinded to their new status as the intolerant quasi-religious establishment.

    A fascinating (albeit tragic) study in human nature, I would suggest...

  • Comment number 3.

    I have not seen the film Inherit the Wind, but BBC Radio (Wales, I think) produced a very good drama on the subject. The American Civil Liberties Union wanted someone to lose the case so that the Butler Act could be tested in a higher court. I suspect the judge must have known that by imposing a fine of $100 without seeking the approval of the jury (jury approval for fines over $50 was required) that the verdict would be overturned and therefore there would be nothing to appeal.

    This latest "Monkey Bill" is greatly concerning. Teachers who are creationists will be able to to talk about creationism in science classes:

    "Now everyone, what do think about this picture of a bacterial flagellar motor. Yes, it does look complex, doesn't it? You are right, it does look 'irreducibly complex'. Who said that? Someone did, I definitely heard it."

  • Comment number 4.

    newlach (@ 3) -

    Teachers who are creationists will be able to to talk about creationism in science classes:

    "Now everyone, what do think about this picture of a bacterial flagellar motor. Yes, it does look complex, doesn't it? You are right, it does look 'irreducibly complex'. Who said that? Someone did, I definitely heard it."


    How scandalous. Teachers will be able to call complexity "complex"! They may even be able to employ something called "the scientific method" to observe that certain things are indeed complex - even irreducibly so. How terrible the practice of accurate observation is, don't you think?

    Sheesh... next they'll be calling ducks "ducks", 'cos they look like ducks and quake like ducks.

    Shouldn't be allowed in the atheism (oops... I meant science) classroom...
  • Comment number 5.

    Ducks quake?

  • Comment number 6.

    Well spotted, old chap.

    And the moral of the story is...just because something looks similar to something else (the 80% "genetic" similarity between "quake" and "quack") doesn't mean there's a relationship.

    So a highly instructive typo, I would say, for the "common descent" brigade!

  • Comment number 7.

    5.At 21:06 17th Apr 2012, AboutFarce wrote:
    Ducks quake?
    *********
    Ducklings do when it's cold.My son's girlfriend has one for a pet & has observed it "quake." (And "quack.")

  • Comment number 8.

    Instructive. Hmm. I've heard your beardy creator mate takes out a few thousands willy nilly when he gets miffed by means of quakes. Maybe I should sleep outside tonight. "The common descent brigade." It wouldn't happen to be your vanity at the bottom of your aversion to that quite beautiful fact, would it?

  • Comment number 9.

    LSV

    Creationism should be kept out of the science classroom. Children in Tennessee are now at great risk of receiving a substandard science education and I fear that when examining complex scientific processes and structures the children will be offered a simple alternative - only an Intelligent Designer/God could have done it.

    On Saturday I was visited by the Jehovah Witnesses (2nd time this year). The bloke did not accept that humans have evolved from non-human species. I asked him if he believed that humans existed at the same time as the dinosaurs and he answered that the Bible doesn't say anything about dinosaurs.

    Do you think it would be appropriate for a teacher with similar creationist beliefs to discuss them during a science class?

  • Comment number 10.

    AboutFarce (@ 8) -

    "The common descent brigade." It wouldn't happen to be your vanity at the bottom of your aversion to that quite beautiful fact, would it?


    "Vanity"!!?

    To think that someone who espouses a theory, whose sole purpose appears to be to obviate the need for a creator (hence Dawkins' "intellectually fulfilled atheist" claim) - and therefore to inflame human pride and arrogance - should accuse those who affirm the existence of an intelligent creator of being guilty of vanity!!

    I've heard of self-delusion, but that just about takes the biscuit!

    As for "fact" - perhaps you may like to provide something called "evidence"? (I notice that you have resorted to rather unscientific subjectivism by describing the gory celebration of death and waste - "survival of the fittest" - as "beautiful"; which is rather disturbing, I have to say!)

    So how about explaining how the highly complex and intricate (and irreducibly complex) avian wing evolved, eh? Speculation not allowed - just hard - and "beautiful" - facts. (Perhaps reptile scales furiously flapping as the gravitationally challenged creature takes a wrong turn out of a tree? Or perhaps the cursorial theory takes your fancy: wildly flapping forearms of land creatures magically turning into wings. Sounds very plausible!)

    I wait with eager anticipation...

    (By the way... make sure Peter Klaver doesn't find out that you have referred to common descent as a "fact", as he has just written the following on the Open Thread: "Science doesn't deal with 'proof' in the sense of 100% certainties that are sure never to be overturned. It provides explanations that can be incredibly powerful and accurate, yet still remain provisional, subject to possible revision in light of new observations or insights. Providing strong credibility for a theory is the best science will give you." I am sure that the morally consistent Mr Klaver will pull you up on your error.)
  • Comment number 11.

    newlach (@ 9) -

    Creationism should be kept out of the science classroom.


    If it is wrong for a scientist to infer an intelligent cause for a complex effect, then it follows logically that it is also wrong for a scientist to infer an unintelligent cause for a complex event.

    If you dispute that, then please provide the evidence to support the idea that the most complex events known to man must have non-intelligent causes. Failure to provide this evidence will reveal that your comment has no intellectual credibility, and therefore reveals the kind of "intellectual intolerance" characteristic of the Scopes trial.

    Like I said... history has come full circle, and those who were formerly victims of censorship are now the most fanatical censors. Such is the hypocrisy and bigotry of the human heart (something that I would have thought you would speak out against, given your long moral crusade on this blog).
  • Comment number 12.

    It is a "fact" insofar as we use that term casually, day to day. It just seemed that you rather resent being distant cousins with the banana, preferring instead your deep and meaningful personal relationship with the creator of the universe, even though that seems very likely only to be going on in your own head, since we have not and cannot have any evidence for it. I would say your friend-in-high-places claim extremely vain. It is vanity of an order that would make any horrid little borgeois name-dropper blush. Me and my mate, God. Indeed. Wasn't it the demotion dealt to mankind by Darwin that had the church all apoplectic? Wasn't that basically the pop that Wilberforce was taking at Huxley when he wondered whether Huxley was descended from apes on his grandmother or grandfather's side? Forgive me if I've missed something here. Call me an old romantic if you will, but I find our cousinship with all life on earth a strikingly beautiful, erm, fact. I've never claimed to be a scientist or a philosopher, dear Logica. I would eat my keyboard if I ever saw you have the humility for once -- just once -- to admit the same, instead of endlessly, endlessly, endlessly parading your abject obtuseness and wittering on about The Great Science Conspiracy you seem to think has been cooked up solely to do away with your friend, God. Logica Sine Sanitas, perhaps...

  • Comment number 13.

    11 LSV

    If you do not object to Creationism being taught in science lessons you have a warped view of science. Science is not supernaturalism. An "intelligent cause" is an idea that cannot be tested using the tools of science. For example, if I believed that an intelligent pink bunny rabbit created everything and taught children this in science classes it would not make for good science. Science requires hypotheses and evidence that can be tested using the tools of science. I stand by my claim that Creationism should be kept out of the science classroom.

  • Comment number 14.

    AboutFarce (@ 12) -

    I've never claimed to be a scientist or a philosopher, dear Logica.


    Ah, I see. Perhaps that explains the smorgasbord of evidence, that is conspicuous by its absence in your long and fairly incoherent diatribes. Perhaps the smorgasbord doesn't exist? If it does, then perhaps you might like to treat us to just a little nibble of a small vol-au-vent of these "facts" you talk about (like little budgie's wing, perhaps)? I'm not being greedy, you understand.

    As for the evidence for my friend, as you call Him - it's one of those things that is so overwhelming, and so basic, that one is tempted to blind oneself to it ("it's too easy and obvious an explanation, so we must construct the most arcane and improbable theory, in order to appear intellectually profound"). This super-obvious thing is known as "complexity" - a phenomenon that "the beautiful fact" of mindlessness cannot explain - and this imaginary explanation is becoming even more elusive the further science progresses. But never underestimate the power of human vanity to ignore science in favour of godless hubris.

    What were you saying about "sanitas" again?

    Oh by the way... I assume you don't eat anything? I wouldn't want to think you were cannibalising your cousins now, would I? Not a very 'umble thing to do, methinks!
  • Comment number 15.

    newlach (@ 13) -

    An "intelligent cause" is an idea that cannot be tested using the tools of science. ... Science requires hypotheses and evidence that can be tested using the tools of science.


    Fine. Then please explain how the non-intelligence cause can be tested by science.

    If you are going to appeal to scientific testing to condemn an explanation, then you cannot try to promote another explanation which is also outside the range of scientific testing. Otherwise you are guilty of special pleading.

    By the way... what do you understand by the word "inference"?
  • Comment number 16.

    AboutFarce, post 8,

    "It wouldn't happen to be your vanity…….."

    You're not the first one to pick up on LSV's vanity. Rather than your 'Logica Sine Sanitas' name for LSV, Helio had come up with the alternative

    vanitate sine logica

    :)

  • Comment number 17.

    LSV, post 10,

    I see you once more need help regarding the basics of science. In order to seem less ignorant about what constitutes a theory and/or fact, you could read

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/21p11486w0582205/fulltext.html

    Regarding evidence, it might be good to take a trip down memory lane. You've asked for evidence for evolution many times, and been presented with it many times in response. But you either ignored it or pushed the complaint button on posts that would have been very educational to you. Bit disingenuous to then ask for it over and over again, wouldn't you say?

  • Comment number 18.

    LSV, post 11,

    "If you dispute that, then please provide the evidence to support the idea that the most complex events known to man must have non-intelligent causes."

    Ah, the good old argumentum ad straw again. LSV commits another round of heinous abuse of his keyboard.

    Or could you point out where any pro-science poster on this blog has claimed that it must have been down to non-intelligence? I only recall the pro-science poster saying that the naturalistic is the best fit of all the evidence we have.

    I do love your display of persecution syndrome at the end of that post btw,

    "Why won't you teach my flat, fixed earth theory in science classes?! Help, help, we're being intellectually repressed!"

  • Comment number 19.

    And finally LSV, your various requests for evidence do led me to repeat something I had put on the open thread. It does seem a bit rich for you to go on about evidence when your creationist position fails so spectacularly by that criterion. Both its critique of evolution and its attempts to provide positive evidence for its alternative idea. From the open thread:

    First your attempts to do away with evolution. Information has been among your favourite angles to that. But then I did ask you to provide some definition of 'algorithmically incompressible information' and you could only substitute other jargon like 'specified information' for it. No clear definition of it or how it would be quantified, or how it would be determined for something like DNA. It's totally embarrassing for you who can produce exactly zero in the area of information that you keep banging on about.

    But leaving aside the strong validity of evolution (which you like to equate with atheism, but of course most catholics and many non-fundie protestants don't see it as incompatible with their faith, they wouldn't want to be associated with your anti-science guff at all), you could try to provide a better explanation from a creationist point of view. But though invited to elaborate on how intelligence creates anything living (at whatever scale, from a biomolecule to an ecosystem), you only made one failed attempt to mention the word spine a number of times, without explaining any bit as to how it was created through intelligence.

  • Comment number 20.

    Four consecutive posts from Peter Klaver telling us absolutely nothing, other than...

    1) the requisite special pleading;
    2) the blatant and unjustified dismissal of my valid point about the spine, showing that the Darwinian explanation is redundant in physiotherapy;
    3) the boorish and cowardly ad hominem attack;
    4) the dishonest reference to my pushing the complaint button, which he knows I've only ever done once in response to a thoroughly malicious accusation that he levelled at me - a point the moderators agreed with and for which the said Mr Klaver provided zero supporting evidence.
    5) And, to top it all, the accusation that creationists are pleading persecution, even though he agrees that the intelligence explanation should be banned; it's a bit like hitting someone in the face and then mocking them for complaining at being assaulted!

    What does one do when dealing with people like Mr Klaver? Despair, I think.

    Again this man, who dismisses critical thinking as "pseudo-philosophy" and who cannot tell the difference between the scientific method and philosophical naturalism, asks me how intelligence works! Perhaps he ought to ask himself how he manages to do anything at all if he really doesn't know by now!

    Anyway, here's "the intelligence method for dummies" for people who need to study the blindingly obvious.

    Wait for it... a post will appear soon from a certain Mr Klaver with the usual bluster about "anti-science" (code for: "anti-philosophical naturalism"). Or perhaps he'll say that the intelligence method doesn't count, because we can't observe every part of it - and yet when challenged about empiricism, he then bleats on about not subscribing to strong empiricism, as a way of wriggling out of the problem of empiricism being self-refuting. In other words, he's a strong empiricist when he wants to oppose the intelligence explanation, and he's no longer a strong empiricist, when faced with the epistemological fact of strong empiricism's incoherence.

    Such honesty and integrity is a wonder to behold!

  • Comment number 21.

    20 LSV

    "Then please explain how the non-intelligence cause can be tested by science."

    Whatever is the intelligence of the pink bunny rabbit I referred to it cannot be tested by science. It is a matter of metaphysical speculation and should have no place in the science classroom. Why do you think that Creationism should be taught in the science classroom? For more information on "inference" click on the link in post 17 and read the final paragraph on page 3.

    "What does one do when dealing with people like Mr Klaver?"

    Answer his questions.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Logica", #14.

    Very early on in our acquaintance, I distinctly remember telling you my name is not Sisyphus, and so I would not be getting into any kind of ping-pong with you. That was good judgment on my part (for once). I must say I'm flattered that you've been reading my piddling little contributions here, and I'm sorry you find them incoherent. I don't tend to give them much thought at all you see, and I don't proof read them, because I've usually got better things to be getting on with, and for writing which requires any real effort I've gotten rather used to being paid. A certain amount of incoherence I can live with, especially when all I do on here much is blow raspberries.

    I also remember having directed you to a free undergraduate course module in evolutionary biology offered by Yale, which you obviously ignored, because your thinking is as flabby as it ever was, and still the interminably stupid questions come rapid-fire. If anything, they're getting stupider, because now you're not even maintaining the pretence that you are anything other than a block-headed creationist. That's as funny as it is sad. You'll excuse me if I opt for a quiet chortle instead of weeping in response. It's quite something to witness such willed stupidity.

    Having said that, maybe I'm not being entirely fair. Maybe I've missed some armour piercing intelligence from you. You'll have to forgive me again, because after a strong salt-water solution, reading more than a paragraph or two of yours at a time is the best emetic one can get outside of an emergency room, and I like my grub. I make a point of eating only distant relatives.

  • Comment number 23.

    "If you dispute that, then please provide the evidence to support the idea that the most complex events known to man must have non-intelligent causes."

    You have a position that denies that neuropsychology suffices as an account of intelligent agency. This is an important obstacle to your accepting what evidence could potentially be provided in opposition to your claim - namely, the view that understands that intelligence is encoded in facts about the physical, and that would therefore render the claim about intelligent causes subject to a reductio via Turing/Godel-style incompleteness arguments.

    The question now becomes one about what evidence there is to support philosophical physical reductivism. And Neuropsychology provides quite a lot of interesting evidence to this effect, at least as regards matters of "intelligence" and the mind. Stick a few probes into peoples' brains and watch as their actions, cognition and behaviour changes.

    Most of the puzzles of the mental realm have curiously useful physical solutions. You can argue for the fallibility of induction all you like in response to this, but when what you want is supporting evidence, there's plenty of it, and when what you want is final proof, there's none of it whatsoever for anything at all.

  • Comment number 24.

    Here's a paragraph from Roger Scruton's book 'The Face of God' I rather liked;

    You can situate human beings entirely in the world of objects. In doing so you will in all probability reduce them to animals whose behaviour is to be explained by some combination of evolutionary psychology and neuroscience. But then you will find yourself describing a world form which human action, intention, responsibility, freedom and emotion have been wiped away: it will be a world without a face. The face shines in the world of objects with a light that is not of this world - the light of subjectivity. You can look for freedom in the world of objects and you will not find it: not because it is not there, but because it is bound up with the first person perspective, and with the view from somewhere of the creature who can say 'I'.

  • Comment number 25.

    LSV, post 20,

    Fine for you to produce quite an amount of false moral indignation, but that doesn't answer either of the two more substantial bits put to you about evidence.

    First there was information in living things. While you originally liked to bring that one up by your own choice, you have recently run away from it half a dozen times or so already. Can you produce anything for your favourite critique of evolution? The relevant request for that one was contained in the text below

    First your attempts to do away with evolution. Information has been among your favourite angles to that. But then I did ask you to provide some definition of 'algorithmically incompressible information' and you could only substitute other jargon like 'specified information' for it. No clear definition of it or how it would be quantified, or how it would be determined for something like DNA. It's totally embarrassing for you who can produce exactly zero in the area of information that you keep banging on about.

    And your post 20 does nothing to explain how the human spine was created through intelligence. Neither does the post you linked to, it doesn't even mention the human spine. The relevant bit for that one in post 19 was

    But leaving aside the strong validity of evolution (which you like to equate with atheism, but of course most catholics and many non-fundie protestants don't see it as incompatible with their faith, they wouldn't want to be associated with your anti-science guff at all), you could try to provide a better explanation from a creationist point of view. But though invited to elaborate on how intelligence creates anything living (at whatever scale, from a biomolecule to an ecosystem), you only made one failed attempt to mention the word spine a number of times, without explaining any bit as to how it was created through intelligence.

    If you say you previously provided an explanation about how the human spine was created thorough intelligence, then feel free to copy-paste the text of that explanation here, no need to retype it of course. Same would go for an explanation of how intelligence created any other part of a living thing, from a single biomolecule to an entire ecosystem. Did I miss it and could you copy-paste it here, or am I right in stating that both your ex-favourite critique of evolution and positive evidence for creation through intelligence both are 100% empty?

  • Comment number 26.

    Peter Klaver (@ 25) -

    Yet another long post asking me a question for which I have already given the answer.

    As for how intelligence creates anything, I am rather disturbed that you don't know this. How did you create post #25? By waiting for natural forces to do it? Or did you use something called "intelligence" to order the pixels on your screen?

    Or perhaps you won't accept an intelligent cause for the complex systems in nature unless you can actually observe the creator in action? Is that it? If that is the case, then you clearly don't accept the concept of "inference", do you? Therefore I assume you do not apply inference to anything else in science, such as the unobserved dark matter? Furthermore, if you insist that an explanation can only be true if every part of it is directly observed, then you are effectively admitting that you subscribe to strong empiricism - even though you disown strong empiricism when challenged about it! You assume that a certain theory of knowledge is true, and can't bear anyone exposing it - hence your rather ill-informed "pseudo-philosophy" comment about epistemology.

    The systems in nature, such as the human spine, require specific information that determines how matter behaves. Such information comes from an intelligence, since the information content inherent in matter is inadequate to explain the high level of complexity - as I have already explained clearly in the post I linked to. But since the explanation does not support atheism, then you will feel duty bound to reject it, since you are clearly more an atheist than a scientist.

  • Comment number 27.

    @ 24. Andrew,
    Thank you. I enjoyed reading that.

  • Comment number 28.

    LSV, your post 26 is a total fail on both issues we were discussing, the information theory critique against evolution and the creation of something living through intelligence.

    Regarding your much vaunted information argument, you still fail to even define what your 'specified complexity' jargon is exactly or how it would be determined for something like DNA. You can't even give an order of magnitude estimate of it, given that you yourself don't know very well what you're even talking about.

    And it doesn't get any less bad when you try to explain life being created through intelligence:

    "As for how intelligence creates anything, I am rather disturbed that you don't know this. How did you create post #25? By waiting for natural forces to do it?"

    People posting text on a blog page through well know means is rather different than positing the creation of something living without having any clue about anything whatsoever.

    Instead of going on tangents about direct observation, strong empiricism, could you perhaps stay on topic and explain how some part of something living, like the human spine, is created through intelligence? Your post totally fails to do that, just like the post you linked to.

  • Comment number 29.

    @LSV
    On the other thread ypou asked for examples re cognitive biases, and since you again bring up the argument that is “basic information theory” , I’ll start here.

    That information argument hinges on the term “specified complexity” which, as has been pointed out to you often, is not part of information theory at all. It has not been picked up by any information theorists and has formed no part of further research in the field. In short it has been rejected by them. Nor has it been picked up by any researchers investigating complex systems, and no biologists use the concept in published papers. Despite this, you continue to use the argument, thus as it were rejecting the rejection of all the people in these fields. In your head, it seems, you know more about this topic than all the information theorists, computer scientists, physicists, biologists and chemists who study complex systems.

    In a related discussion last year, you informed me that the “Law of Conservation of Information” was “basic stuff to do with algorithms”. I found that particularly intriguing, since I make my living by writing software and that was something I did not know. Just to be sure I consulted “Introduction to Algorithms”, a 984 page tome produced by MIT, the number 1 university in the world for Computer Science. There was nothing in there on conservation of information or its synonyms. Relieved that I hadn’t somehow managed to miss an integral part of the theory of algorithms after all, I pointed this out at the time, but you did not respond. Your own vast knowledge of computer science seems in your opinion to trump that of the MIT guys to the extent that you didn’t deem the challenge worth a mention.

    In the field of evolution, your view that the whole theory is nothing more than a denial of God and not proper science leaves the many scientists who are theists just plain wrong in your view if they don’t reject evolution. Also, you deem yourself competent to dismiss evolution as a fiction without understanding the details – a fact you cheerfully admit. In this case you are in your own mind intellectually so far ahead of all the evolutionary biologists that have ever lived that you don’t even need to grasp the concepts before you can refute the theory.

    You rejected the ruling of the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, on the grounds that the whole American Justice system doesn’t comply with your exacting logical standards.

    In philosophy, you dismiss Kurt Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems. According to The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , Godel was “established, beyond comparison, as the most important logician of our times”. Now this fact alone, of course, does not make the Theorems true, but it does demand a level of argument significantly more technical than, “Well, duh, he’s using logic.” Which is pretty much all you have to say on the subject. You also dismiss the significance of self referential paradoxes, saying they are just meaningless or absurd, whereas the giants of 20th Philosophy – Russell, Tarski, Godel et al saw them as integral to the proper understanding of logic. Chalk another one up to the mighty LSV.

    And finally Russell again. Uncontroversially enough to his peers, he said that the self refuting nature of empiricism as a theory of knowledge meant that we could not know if it were true or not. You insist that is wrong. Self refutation for you means the statement is false, apparently on no better authority than because you say so.

    So, in your head, your reasoning skills and knowledge of logic are superior to Russell and Godel and all of the 20th Centery logicians. You know more about evolution than all the biologists and scientists, theist and atheist alike. You have better reasoning skills than all American judges, you know basic Computer Science better than anyone at MIT, and you know stuff about complex systems and information theory that none of the information theorists, including, Chaitan, Shannon and Kolgamorov ever did, not to mention all the chemists, physicists, biologists and computer scientists studying complex systems.
    Well mate, I think that either makes you the greatest polymath who has ever lived or an online avatar of the Dunning Kreuger effect...

  • Comment number 30.

    ...Or, you are just some standard creationist. Someone once said something along the lines of: arguing with a creationist is like playing chess with a pigeon. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or a grand master, your opponent will knock over the pieces at random, defecate all over the board while strutting around with his chest all puffed up, cooing the same thing over and over. Then he’ll fly off and tell everyone he won the game.

    Does it for me.

  • Comment number 31.

    Don't you think its an accurate observation that an atheist looks for God in much the same way as a burglar looks for a policeman?

    Many of the posts on this blog certainly suggest so!

  • Comment number 32.

    @Pastor F

    It's my experience that religion (not a god) finds me in much the same way as George Zimmerman found Trayvon Martin. The least I can due is reciprocate.

  • Comment number 33.

    I don't think that's an accurate observation at all, Philip. Burglars know what policemen are, why they're supposed to avoid them and what the likely consequences of any encounter would be. Any atheist being honest with themselves (and not simply rebelling against some particular established religion) will have very little clue what God is supposed to be, can't make sense of the values or problems of having a concept of God involved in the analysis of the world, and are only given reason to avoid it in the public face of God being so utterly repellant.

    The church in our country is tearing itself apart because half of it doesn't like gay people. That to me seems like an organisation to avoid. But this only seems to be a reason to avoid [i]God[/i] if we take there to be no further facts to the idea of God than facts already about the church.

    Many Atheists believe this, because there's no other sense made of what God is supposed to be than that which the church provides. Many Christians believe this because they think the church is correct. Those of us outside this dichotomy are often presented with little alternative, and once you are out, the "spirituality" you are left with often seems vacuous and unmotivating when held in isolation from anyone else's views, but that's not to say the dilemma is genuine.

  • Comment number 34.

    PaulR

    "Those of us outside this dichotomy are often presented with little alternative, and once you are out..."


    ...You have to learn to surf:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h618MvtPoU

  • Comment number 35.

    grokesx (@ 29) -

    Ah, so that long rant proves that the most intricate and complex systems known to man must have been formed by natural forces alone - without any guiding influence? I look forward to seeing the evidence for that.

    Am I to meekly submit to this view, eh? And if I dare question this attempt to call a circle a square, then I am merely a pigeon who poops over a chessboard (#30), am I? A rather ironic analogy, given that atheism affirms that it's "the clumsy pigeon" (i.e. the forces of mindlessness) which creates all things by means of randomness, whereas creationism affirms the role of "the intelligent grandmaster" carefully calculating his moves with purpose! Funny how you steal the concept of "intelligence" from creationism in order to contrive this banal insult!

    Anyway, I presume that you're an honest and morally consistent person, who uses "the natural method" in his work? Or is your work a grand celebration of "intelligent design", with information being used with purpose and conscious selectiveness? Hmmm... I wonder...

    But, hey, I'm just a poor freethinker (a humble soul who only studied philosophy - specifically philosophy of religion, including epistemology - at London University) consumed with delusions of grandeur. Therefore, I will just have to settle for "mere logic", as I cannot attain the metaphysical heights of "faith in recognised authorities" that you advocate (although don't mention that to Peter Klaver, as he has spoken against "the argument from authority". You would do well to heed his words.). Poor me for spurning the self-appointed priesthood of the so called "enlightenment". What a rebel I am! And a sceptic and unbeliever. Who will deliver me from this terrible fate?

    (By the way... who said I rejected Goedel's theorems? I don't remember that. Do please refresh my memory... All I have spoken about is the validity of logic - something that you seem to question, and something on which Goedel depended. As for Bertrand Russell: yes, the perfect man, whose views should be accepted without question. Clearly no cognitive bias in that "heavenly being", who spoke ex cathedra on every issue! And woe betide the daring fellow who thinks some of his arguments - e.g. the teapot - are naive drivel! Funny how atheists have their own panoply of "saints", isn't it?)

  • Comment number 36.

    @LSV

    A fair bit of pigeon droppings there.

    Firstly, where in the foregoing discussion did I make the claim to prove

    that the most intricate and complex systems known to man must have been formed by natural forces alone
    And what on earth is this supposed to mean:
    Funny how you steal the concept of "intelligence" from creationism in order to contrive this banal insult.

    Anyway, I presume that you're an honest and morally consistent person, who uses "the natural method" in his work? Or is your work a grand celebration of "intelligent design", with information being used with purpose and conscious selectiveness? Hmmm... I wonder...
    Are you saying to reject the supernatural explanation is to reject the concept of intelligence as well? That intelligence is a concept invented by creationists? Who made that rule?

    As for authority - when my points involved your claimed expertise in various areas, it would be hard not to mention the relevant authorities. And I'd be a little wary if I were you, of protesting about arguments from authority in one breath after making one in the form of your academic credentials in the previous one. Not to mention your arguments from the non existent authority of specified complexity and the imaginary law of conservation of information.

    And the Incompleteness Theorems - well, since their conclusion demonstrate the limits of formal logic and you insist on the universal validity of logic (still undefined, but hey ho) without saying how this squares with Godel, you implicitly reject them.
    Poor me for spurning the self-appointed priesthood of the so called "enlightenment".
    So you are a medieval philosopher? No wonder science is such a mystery to you.

    And Russell - you brought him up originally months ago as an authority to support your empiricism argument. When it was pointed out that his words didn't support your conclusion, your response was to insist you are right - without further argument. And that's the point - you make and repeat assertions that we are apparently supposed to take simply because you make them. And when, like the specified complexity stuff, weaknesses are pointed out, you repeat them again. If you don't like the pigeon dropping analogy, there are other, even less flattering descriptions.
  • Comment number 37.

    LSV.

    Have a look at what the evolutionists have put their faith in!

    http://www.truthnet.org/Christianity/Apologetics/Evolutiontrue4/

  • Comment number 38.

    Steady on Newthornley, you've just disclosed LSV's mother-lode.

  • Comment number 39.

    grokesx (@ 36) -

    Firstly, where in the foregoing discussion did I make the claim to prove

    that the most intricate and complex systems known to man must have been formed by natural forces alone


    Can I take it therefore that you accept the legitimacy of the theory that the most intricate and complex systems known to man (i.e. the systems of life) could have been created by an intelligent agent? After all, if intelligent design is rejected, the alternative is formation by natural forces alone.

    So don't try and hide behind the "I didn't say this and that" plea. Have the intellectual courage to put your cards on the table. Either you accept the legitimacy of the intelligence explanation or you don't.

    And if you believe that the most complex systems are the result of a methodology that does not involve any intelligent agency, then presumably you must have discovered this "mindlessness method" from somewhere. Hence my question as to whether you live consistently with it. Because I'm afraid I don't know where this "mindlessness method" comes from, since we have no empirical knowledge of such a concept of causation.

    As for the concept of "intelligence", it does indeed derive from the creationist worldview, since nature itself cannot create reason. The pragmatic and utilitarian mechanisms of deterministic natural selection cannot create reason, since they are merely subjective and instinctual, and I am sure I don't need to explain to you that instinct is the antithesis of reason, and determinism is the antithesis of free will, which is a necessary condition of the functioning of reason.

    As for my academic credentials: you can hardly complain when you have been burbling on about this ridiculous Dunning-Kruger nonsense. Playing the amateur psychologist is just a smokescreen to avoid facing inconvenient arguments.

    To be continued...
  • Comment number 40.

    Continued from post #39 -

    And the Incompleteness Theorems - well, since their conclusion demonstrate the limits of formal logic and you insist on the universal validity of logic (still undefined, but hey ho) without saying how this squares with Godel, you implicitly reject them.


    Nonsense. I have never suggested that the universal validity of logic means that we can prove everything or explain everything. In fact, I am rather a fan of the idea that human understanding is limited - it does rather fit with the theistic worldview (it's called "reality").

    But if logic is not universally valid, then what is the alternative concerning the justification of ideas? Please do enlighten me!

    My comment about the priesthood of the "enlightenment" (note the inverted commas, which indicate irony) concerns the fact that you are promoting a kind of quasi-religion, based on the authority of the (atheistic) scientific establishment. Nothing to do with proper science or indeed logic. As for "medieval": the charge is irrelevant. If ideas from hundreds of years ago are logically coherent, then I will accept them. Chronology has nothing to do with it. I am more interested in something called "truth" - an idea with which you seem to have some trouble. (By the way... you may like to know that "science" is not synonymous with "philosophical naturalism". Perhaps you would like to show me evidence of anything I have written which is - strictly speaking - "anti-science". What have I ever written which is contrary to the scientific method?)

    Finally: Bertrand Russell. Yes, I did refer to him, precisely because he was an atheist. In other words, I showed that a celebrated atheist philosopher acknowledged that empiricism is self-refuting. I thought that fact might help to shine some light in the dark recesses of the atheist minds of those who contribute on this blog. Clearly such light has not managed to penetrate the gloom. But, of course, referring to someone does not imply that I would agree with everything he said. But if you really want to make an issue out of it, then, frankly, I couldn't care less what Russell thought about empiricism. It makes no difference to my point of view, which I have carefully thought through, and of which I am convinced.

    Go on, call it pigeon talk, if that's the best you can do. Better than boring old logic, innit?
  • Comment number 41.

    paul james (@ 38) -

    Steady on Newthornley, you've just disclosed LSV's mother-lode.


    Better than fool's gold.
  • Comment number 42.

    LSV,

    There were some bits in your most recent posts addressed to grokesx that have some bearing on our latest exchange too.

    "Playing the amateur psychologist is just a smokescreen to avoid facing inconvenient arguments."

    Call it crazy, but you seem to have been dodging two inconvenient arguments with considerable consistency lately.

    One is that your favourite 'algorithmically incompressible information' critique against evolution is nothing but jargon bluff, as the underlying 'specified complexity' is also nothing but empty jargon. And you don't have a very clear idea as to what specified complexity is (since the creationist cook you are parroting, Dembski, doesn't know himself), how it would be quantified, or how it would be determined for DNA.

    The other is that you can't provide any insight at all as to how intelligence would create anything living, at any level, and you can only make the most far-fetched analogies about things that are completely different from creating something living (like an internet blog post).

    You asked grokesx where what you had said went counter to the scientific method. Well, not admitting the blatantly obvious failings of your position, that is unscientific.

    And I could connect this to another one of your favourite talking points: morality. How does remaining in denial about a completely lost position and not having the honesty to admit you're wrong, fit in with the moral absolutes you claim to get from god?

  • Comment number 43.

    Can I take it therefore that you accept the legitimacy of the theory that the most intricate and complex systems known to man (i.e. the systems of life) could have been created by an intelligent agent?
    Of course it could. I have said innumerable times on this blog that a case can be made for some sort of deist explanation. I don't find it convincing, so I argue against it.
    Either you accept the legitimacy of the intelligence explanation or you don't.
    I think it's a bad explanation. More importantly, the arguments you put in support of it are extremely bad arguments, especially when you try to support them with poorly understood scientific concepts.
    So don't try and hide behind the "I didn't say this and that" plea.
    I know, I know. It's a bit unreasonable of me to expect you to address arguments I actually make.
    And if you believe that the most complex systems are the result of a methodology that does not involve any intelligent agency, then presumably you must have discovered this "mindlessness method" from somewhere. Hence my question as to whether you live consistently with it. Because I'm afraid I don't know where this "mindlessness method" comes from, since we have no empirical knowledge of such a concept of causation.
    That makes no sense whatsoever. If intelligence ultimately derived from a non intelligent source, it is still intelligence and is there to be used to discover anything at all. I can't believe I have to make that point.
    As for the concept of "intelligence", it does indeed derive from the creationist worldview, since nature itself cannot create reason. The pragmatic and utilitarian mechanisms of deterministic natural selection cannot create reason, since they are merely subjective and instinctual, and I am sure I don't need to explain to you that instinct is the antithesis of reason, and determinism is the antithesis of free will, which is a necessary condition of the functioning of reason.
    I'm supposed to agree to that load of bare assertions just because you said them? Nature can't produce reason? Why can't it? Just because you believe it and it fits with your world view? Didn't they teach you anything about making a case at uni? Determinism is the antithesis of free will, which is a necessary condition of the functioning of reason? That's settled question in philosophy is it? There's no ongoing discussion between metaphysical libertarians and hard determinists? No discussions about compatibilism? Mate, no one else is compelled to accept your positions just because you find them compelling and that you can type them out.
    Nonsense. I have never suggested that the universal validity of logic means that we can prove everything or explain everything. In fact, I am rather a fan of the idea that human understanding is limited - it does rather fit with the theistic worldview (it's called "reality").

    But if logic is not universally valid, then what is the alternative concerning the justification of ideas? Please do enlighten me!
    So logic is universally valid and it isn't both a the same time. Quantum logic? Zen?
    Or are we getting to that point that I have been asking about all along - that you think logic is a metaphysical entity independent of human minds? That was what the questions about your definition of logic and your position vis vis the philosophy of maths were trying to tease out.
    Perhaps you would like to show me evidence of anything I have written which is - strictly speaking - "anti-science". What have I ever written which is contrary to the scientific method?)
    I said you had a problem with science, in that you don't grasp how it operates very well. But since you ask, you did once rail against the centrality of Popperian falsifiabilty, which is central to the modern practice of the scientific method.
    Go on, call it pigeon talk.
    Not talk, mate. The other end.
  • Comment number 44.

    too much central-ness in that last para. Edit function please, Aunty.

  • Comment number 45.

    At the end of the day it's down to whether you believe the supernatural exists or not?
    If you believe that there is a natural explanation for everything then you will continue to go with that thinking unless you witness the supernatural yourself or you, somehow, become willing to believe the testimony of others.
    From my point of view, I think it is be fair to say that the supernatural exists.
    There are suprnatural forces at work in our world and there are many things that cannot be scientifically explained.
    I have met those who have shared some of their experiences and would wish to doubt them in any way.
    There are obviously many unusual occurences that have been reported in the newspapers and the media. Some have been discarded as hoaxes whiles others simply cannot be explained from a naturalistic point of view.
    Mind you, I suppose there are still those who will do all they can to try and explain it somehow...like a few on this blog.

  • Comment number 46.

    Go on Newty, do tell your personal evidence for the supernatural.

  • Comment number 47.

    The Resurrection of Jesus Christ might be a good place to start!

  • Comment number 48.

    paul james.

    I could write as much as you want paul but I can sense your just one of those whom I referred to in the latter part of my statement and I'm not going to leave myself open to the tactics of bloggers like yourself.

    It's really up to you to do your own research because all I would say wouldn't make a button of difference to you.

    There's the challenge for you...if your up to it.

  • Comment number 49.

    Hi pastorphilip,

    Hallelujah and Amen

  • Comment number 50.

    Come on lads I'm only asking for a little water/wine, fish/coin action here.

  • Comment number 51.

    Paul

    "...a little water/wine, fish/coin action here."

    What about gold or rust?

    "...the new year which had fattened
    on nothing, like fish under ice,
    broke the surface with an open mouth,
    which may have been gold or rust."


    from December Hoar Frost, Michael Symmons Roberts.

  • Comment number 52.

    I see you're not up for the challenge then pauljames.
    Easier to mock, like so many.

  • Comment number 53.

    newthornley, post 45,

    "......there are many things that cannot be scientifically explained. "

    Thanks for keeping the memory of Graham of the Gaps alive on this blog. :)

  • Comment number 54.

    Newt

    I see you're not up for the challenge then pauljames.

    Ok then, so you're not able to give personal experience of the supernatural, but if it is described in the Bible then it is sufficient evidence for the existence of a god?
  • Comment number 55.

    Peter Klaver (@ 42) -

    How does remaining in denial about a completely lost position and not having the honesty to admit you're wrong, fit in with the moral absolutes you claim to get from god?


    So the morally upright and honest thing for me to do, is admit that the most complex systems known to man definitely arose by purely natural means - even though there is absolutely no evidence for this ridiculously counter-intuitive and perversely improbable idea (an idea that is completely unknown to proper applied and experimental science, never mind normal life) - and purely because a bunch of atheists insist that this must be the case?

    Please explain to me why your opinions must be true simply because you insist that they are true, even though there is no evidence to support them. Are you asking me to believe something for which there is no evidence? How very scientific of you!!

    to be continued...
  • Comment number 56.

    Continued from post #55 -

    Since I have never seen the slightest scrap of evidence that the information content of matter has the capacity of itself to generate the information content of living systems, then the only moral position I can take is to believe that matter did not and could not create life without the guidance of an intelligent agent.

    Concerning information: I have actually explained all this before, but since you obviously didn't understand what I was talking about, perhaps you might like to reread it, and explain to me how the genetic code can function as a code if the sequence is determined by the chemistry of the molecular bonds of DNA (as it must be, if matter is all that has ever been involved). But please ignore my post if it offends your atheist ideology. I wouldn't want the thought to occur to you that you might just possibly be wrong.

    to be continued...

  • Comment number 57.

    Continued from post #56 -

    One last thing... if I am pursuing a lost cause (I know that I am not), then why does it concern you? According to your philosophy I believe what I do because the deterministic process of evolution has made him think like this. Apparently I think like this, because this is a methodology that aids my survival. In other words, all ideas are justified by reference to utility. Therefore there is no such thing as truth, just "usefulness". So, according your epistemologically nonsensical philosophy, there is no logical reason why you should be appealing to "morality" to persuade me to give up what I allegedly can't help thinking anyway!

    Note to other readers: Please expect another long post from Peter Klaver, burbling on about how I have avoided answering his questions, even I though I have already done so (see the link).

  • Comment number 58.

    Apologies for the series of short posts, but my word limit has just been severely reduced. The mysteries of the BBC!

  • Comment number 59.

    Paul james

    My beliefs in the supernatural are not just confined to what God has revealed to us in His word, the Bible.
    I believe that God is still the same God as you read of in the Bible but He's not in the business of producing magic shows just to prove His existence.

    I also believe that satan exists and I have witnessed the evil and demonic displays of his power.

    It's probably difficult for you to understand if you've have never come face to face with it.

  • Comment number 60.

    Peter Klaver,

    Ignorance is bliss for you Peter

  • Comment number 61.

    Newt@59

    I believe that God is still the same God as you read of in the Bible but He's not in the business of producing magic shows just to prove His existence

    I guess that little magic show in front of Pharaoh involving sticks and snakes doesn't count then?
  • Comment number 62.

    pauljames

    I'm not sure what your getting at paul but if your asking if I believe it....then certainly yes.

    or if you would like God to do it for you so that he can prove his existence to you...then go ahead and ask Him.

    or If you want to read the story in the Bible you'll understand his purpose for doing what he did with a staff (not a stick) and a snake.


    It's time to get serious and not silly paul....I'm not playing games.

  • Comment number 63.

    Newthornley

    "I'm not sure what your getting at paul..."

    He isn't getting at anything.

    On second thoughts, he could be saying, "Ya! Boo!" but to be honest, I'd opt for my first thoughts.

  • Comment number 64.

    Newt
    Sorry dude but if you profess a belief in magic then things do get silly very quickly....... last question for the Paul Daniels fans out there, who/what changed the sticks, sorry staffs, of the Pharaoh's magicians into snakes?

  • Comment number 65.

    Paul

    "...who/what changed the sticks, sorry staffs, of the Pharaoh's magicians into snakes?"

    I know the answer to that, Paul. Interested?

  • Comment number 66.

    paul james (@ 64) -

    ...if you profess a belief in magic then things do get silly very quickly...


    I agree.

    That's why I don't believe in magic, especially the kind of conjuring trick that the primordial goo pulls off (all by itself!) to churn out complex living systems, and then to set natural selection on its happy and exponentially increasingly improbable way.

    Intelligent design is really so boringly rational by comparison. We do it all the time, and so I can understand that people need a rest from it, and a bit of good old sci-fi fantasy can be a tonic for weary brains. Unfortunately some people just can't get back into "Monday morning" reality mode, as evidenced by certain posts on this thread. I do try to soften the blow, but it ain't easy...
  • Comment number 67.

    Sure Pete, as long as you don't spoil Newt's day by rationalising things with stories of Egyptian snake charmers or belly ticklers.

    And really, LSV the great supernaturalist, doesn't believe in magic? Well there goes the Creation fairy story then.

  • Comment number 68.

    Staffs into snakes: it was a bit like this I'm sure;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3b7LWFPF9s

  • Comment number 69.

    Paul James (@ 67) -

    And really, LSV the great supernaturalist, doesn't believe in magic? Well there goes the Creation fairy story then.


    Yep. Absolutely right.

    The "creation (by matter and energy alone) fairy story" discovers its rightful place: in the intellectual garbage can, 'cos it's magic, innit? And a true believer in reason (i.e. in intelligence, whence comes all reason) doesn't do magic.

    Like I said: the intelligence explanation is just soooo boringly rational. It's great to spice up intellectual life with a bit of magical "molecules to man" sci-fi: a kind of "Alice in Wonderland" for grown-ups!
  • Comment number 70.

    For all you who don't understand information or the scope of the scientific method, here's a thought provoking quote from Professor John Lennox (wait for the predictable ad hom from the usual crowd...). It concerns SETI.

    (I'll have to run the quote over two posts, due to the severe word limit regime that seems to afflict my posts at the moment):

    Though some scientists might regard SETI with some scepticism, it clearly raises a fundamental question as to the precise scientific status of the detection of intelligence. How does one scientifically recognize a message emanating from an intelligent source, and distinguish it from the random background noise that emanates from the cosmos? ...
  • Comment number 71.

    Continued from post #70:

    ... Clearly, the only way this can be done is to compare the signals received with patterns specified in advance that are deemed to be clear and reliable indicators of intelligence - like a long sequence of prime numbers - and then to make a design inference. In SETI the recognition of intelligent agency is regarded as lying within the scope of natural science.


    (From "God's Undertaker", chapter 11. Bold emphasis mine)

    Therefore the intelligence inference is not "anti-science" (contrary to what a certain ill-informed contributor to this blog might say).
  • Comment number 72.

    Andrew

    Not bad, but they’re only pretenders in the world of magic and sorcery - here’s the real mover and shaker, the great who and the who knew what:

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3447292928/tt0032138

    Now that we’ve got that the of the way, Paul; spoil anyone’s day? Why, I’ll even let you carry on with your critique of the great magician in the sky:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6TFW1F6oY0&feature=related

    Golly, it’s just like church.


    BTW

    gold or rust?

  • Comment number 73.

    pauljames,

    You need to read what I'm saying and not twist my words to suit your own ends.

    Not worth conversing with you if thats the case...you've your own agenda

  • Comment number 74.

    Pete

    Golly, it’s just like church

    Yup, just like every sunday school story.

    I do believe the four drachma piece is silver
  • Comment number 75.

    Paul

    "Yup, just like every sunday school story."

    And every new atheist objection.


    Gold or rust?

  • Comment number 76.

    Sorry Newt
    From your original post @45

    From my point of view, I think it is be fair to say that the supernatural exists.
    There are suprnatural forces at work in our world and there are many things that cannot be scientifically explained.

    I offered you the chance to provide evidence from your own experience or to explain magic tricks from the bible- hardly twisting your words, but then again maybe the celestial choir of LSV or Peterm2 can ease your obvious discomfort.

    Again from post 45
    There are obviously many unusual occurences that have been reported in the newspapers and the media. Some have been discarded as hoaxes whiles others simply cannot be explained from a naturalistic point of view.

    Just remember "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"
  • Comment number 77.

    LSV, post 55-57,

    "So the morally upright and honest thing for me to do, is admit that the most complex systems known to man definitely arose by purely natural means….."

    What I said was that it would be honest for you to admit that your creationist critique of evolution in the form of 'algorithmically complex information' and 'specified complexity' talk was nothing but jargon bluff. Your response again demonstrates a total failure to precisely define what specified complexity is, how it is determined, or how such a determination of specified complexity would work out for DNA. No determination of specified complexity for DNA etc in the post you linked to either.
    The rest of your information blablabla is somewhat of a different angle than the one I've been trying (without much success) to get you to address.

    What I didn't say, what is just the usual straw man that you again falsely attribute to me, is the claim of certainty about how life arose.

    "One last thing... if I am pursuing a lost cause (I know that I am not), then why does it concern you?"

    Because unlike you I value honesty when making statements that concern reality. Your type of thinking is so anti-thinking, anti-knowledge, anti-science, anti-rationalism that it is a good thing to speak out against it.
    The rest of that paragraph in post 57 was a bit too garbagy too respond too btw, sorry.

    "Please expect another long post from Peter Klaver, burbling on about how I have avoided answering his questions….."

    Ah, you realize the scientific and moral inadequacy of what you wrote well enough to know what the smack-down against it would consist of. Well done. But if you know how insubstantial and disingenuous your posts were, then you might have not wasted the blog readers time.

  • Comment number 78.

    Peter Klaver (@ 77) -

    Your type of thinking is so anti-thinking, anti-knowledge, anti-science, anti-rationalism that it is a good thing to speak out against it.


    So affirming intelligence is anti-thinking, anti-knowledge, anti-science and anti-rationalism?

    Good one, Peter.

    That's bright of you. Very bright indeed.

    According to the great Peter Klaver, "to think" means to always assume a non-intelligent cause for something complex. I hope you apply this principle in your daily life and work.

    Obviously, in the light of what I wrote in posts #70 & 71, you think that the intelligence inference is contrary to the scientific method. Perhaps in your worldview there is no evidence that could ever cause a scientist to infer the existence of a source of intelligence? If so, you may like to write to NASA about that.
  • Comment number 79.

    Peter Klaver (@ 77) -

    Because unlike you I value honesty when making statements that concern reality.


    Not that you will be able to provide any evidence to support that assertion. But, hey ho. If it makes you feel better.

    The rest of that paragraph in post 57 was a bit too garbagy too respond too btw, sorry.


    Ah, so your "honesty" doesn't stretch to addressing the points that I raise, such as the logical implications of the philosophy of naturalism? How very mature of you. And yet you waffle on about my apparent refusal to address your points! Cognitive dissonance, it's called.

    How very "honest" of you to steal concepts from the worldview you reject - such as reason and morality - and then use them to reject that same worldview.

    Please let it be known that there is at least one contributor to this blog who is not fooled by your bluster. Others will have to make up their own minds about your so called "honesty".
  • Comment number 80.

    LSV, 78;

    "If so, you may like to write to NASA about that."

    Just reminded by this of an interesting disjunction in our conventional thinking about human life. If we discovered a human embryo, or even a zygote within an hour of conception, on another planet; scientists, politicians, the media, the medical profession - everyone would be deliriously excited that we had discovered the existence of *human life* elsewhere in our universe. But when a zygote or a human embryo is 'discovered' on this planet, conventionally, very much as the nazis did, we deny that he/she is properly human, and frequently make a decision on his/her behalf that he/she is not worthy of life. Incidentally, it makes me feel almost sorry for people who snigger at the thinking of people in the Middle Ages. If some people only knew how staggeringly barbaric they will appear to future generations...

  • Comment number 81.

    LSV,

    "So affirming intelligence is anti-thinking, anti-knowledge, anti-science and anti-rationalism?"

    If you have no good evidence for your assumption that it created life, then yes, it is anti-scientific to just assume it's there, just because that unfounded assumption fits in well with your creationist wishful thinking. Not being able to even precisely define the terms in your story, not being able to say how they can be determined, or how they apply to things living like DNA (as is the case for your algorithmically incompressible information and specified complexity) is not very scientific either.

    Face it, you have nothing in the area of your much vaunted information critique of evolution. You don't even know what you're talking about, because the creationist you're parroting, Dembski, doesn't know it himself. How scientifically inferior you are for not to even knowing the definition of the jargon words you kept bringing up in the past. And how morally inadequate you are for not being able to admit that after so many rounds.

    "Perhaps in your worldview there is no evidence that could ever cause a scientist to infer the existence of a source of intelligence?"

    Sure there is, in many cases. But so far, none such evidence has been presented for the diversity of living beings brought about by intelligence. While a strong case is available for life coming about through naturalistic means. You might want to read up on the extensive evidence for it, some of which has been handed to you on a plate previously on this very blog.

    In the meantime, why don't you have the minimum of honesty to admit that your information critique against evolution was nothing but empty jargon terms and that you can't provide any detail, on any level, as to how exactly intelligence ever created anything living?
    Or start explaining specified complexity and how it is determined for things like DNA. But then you have nothing, you know nothing and can do nothing when it comes to that, can you?

  • Comment number 82.

    76.At 00:31 24th Apr 2012, paul james :

    Just remember "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"
    *****
    That may well be the reason folks who experience things mystical keep it to themselves.There is no "evidence" for such an event & making claims only makes one appear ridiculous or attention-seeking.
    My guess might be that many have had experiences with the spiritual realm that could be called mystical/supernatural, etc but have kept quiet about it .Which is probably a wise thing.
    If one believes in the Sacraments then we all experience something supernatural on a daily or weekly basis in the Eucharist & other sacraments.We don't have to "see" it to believe it, but I think some folks are able to.

  • Comment number 83.

    grokesx (@ 43) -

    It's a bit unreasonable of me to expect you to address arguments I actually make.


    Such as?

    If intelligence ultimately derived from a non intelligent source, it is still intelligence and is there to be used to discover anything at all. I can't believe I have to make that point.


    No, it is not "intelligence" if it is derived from a non-intelligent (i.e. purely naturalistic) source. If it is, then all ideas are merely the result of cause and effect within a deterministic system. In what sense, therefore, can we talk about objective truth? We cannot, given that ideas arise for purely utilitarian reasons within that paradigm. For example, if the idea of "God" is an emergent property of "nature" doing its mindless thing, then that idea has exactly the same status as the idea of "philosophical materialism". Both come into being as a result of a mechanism by which these ideas confer some kind of advantage on those who subscribe to them.

    To be continued...
  • Comment number 84.

    Continued from post #83 -

    If one is to be considered "true" and the other "false", then there has to be some objective method by which this judgment is made (remember that "justification" is central to epistemology). But this method is itself an idea - or set of ideas - which, within naturalism, would have the same status as the ideas it is seeking to judge. So therefore what higher method judges those ideas? And then what judges the ideas of the second method? And so on ad infinitum... So naturalism leads us into an infinite loop of scepticism.

    If you then argue that only those ideas that can be tested empirically should be regarded as valid, then how can that idea be tested empirically? So we are back to the incoherence (self-refuting nature) of empiricism.

    To be continued...

  • Comment number 85.

    Continued from post #84 -

    The fact that you express surprise that I should question your assertion (hence your comment: "I can't believe I have to make that point") indicates a considerable naivete on your part about the epistemological problem at the heart of philosophical naturalism.

    Which brings me onto this. You forgot to address this question that I put to you...

    But if logic is not universally valid, then what is the alternative concerning the justification of ideas? Please do enlighten me!


    Do feel free to dismiss my comments according to your pet pigeon posterior theme, if you can't take the heat of the kitchen... (to shamelessly mix metaphors)
  • Comment number 86.

    Mscracker@82

    Faith is not extraordinary evidence for the supernatural, it's not even evidence.

  • Comment number 87.

    Paul

    ”maybe the celestial choir of LSV or Peterm2 can ease your obvious discomfort.”

    Oh I doubt that he’s in any discomfort, but perhaps you might listen to the prophets:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pHWZ1YGGpc&feature=related

    ...the summertime’s in bloom... look at all the pretty colours: flaxen, yellow, orange, ochre, gold, rust. What do you see?

    I don’t see anything ordinary, not ever, you ain’t ever gonna burn my heart out...

    ...singing along yet ;-)

  • Comment number 88.

    86.At 18:40 24th Apr 2012, paul james wrote:
    Mscracker@82

    Faith is not extraordinary evidence for the supernatural, it's not even evidence.
    **
    That's an interesting point and turns around what scripture says.
    It's not what I was referring to though.I meant an individual's experience with the spiritual seldom has material "evidence." And often it's hard to distinguish from things experienced due to illness, fatigue, etc.That's why church authorities are very circumspect re.folks having visions, etc.

  • Comment number 89.

    paul james (@ 76) -

    Just remember "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"


    And what would the word "extraordinary" mean in this context?

    I take the word to mean "out of the ordinary". Since ordinary life shows us that complex systems need to be designed, then it follows that the claim that the most complex systems known to man must have been (or even could have been) fashioned without intelligent input, obviously qualifies as "extraordinary".

    Therefore such a claim requires extraordinary evidence.

    Which is?
  • Comment number 90.

    Is 'extraordinary claims require extra...' a truism or does it require an argument?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rooPPLtK9pg

  • Comment number 91.

  • Comment number 92.

    Can sheep eat mint humbugs?

  • Comment number 93.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    Claim: Chelsea will reach the Champions League Final by beating Barcelona.

    Evidence: Fernando Torres scores an individual goal at the Nou Camp to confirm Chelsea's place.


    Andrew

    I'm not sure, but I've heard that they can hum, and bug farmers.

  • Comment number 94.

    Peter

    I hadn't heard. About sheep, not Chelsea. It's good to know these things I suppose.

  • Comment number 95.

    mscracker

    I meant an individual's experience with the spiritual seldom has material "evidence." And often it's hard to distinguish from things experienced due to illness, fatigue, etc

    As true now as it was 2000 years ago

    LSV
    I take the word to mean "out of the ordinary". Since ordinary life shows us that complex systems need to be designed,

    Only for creationists like yourself

    Andrew
    Is 'extraordinary claims require extra...' a truism or does it require an argument?

    A Truism

    Peter
    "...who/what changed the sticks, sorry staffs, of the Pharaoh's magicians into snakes?"

    I know the answer to that, Paul. Interested?"

    Yup
  • Comment number 96.

    Paul

    "Yup"

    You missed it, Paul?

    How'd ya miss it, Paul?

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3715728384/ch0004327

    You missed it? Well, golly, gee!

    Why, it was the great who and the who knew what.

    Now, gold or rust?


    Clickity click, Dot.

  • Comment number 97.

    Thought so Pete, and the bit you missed ...... silver of course.

  • Comment number 98.

    Peterm2,

    Touchy, are we?

  • Comment number 99.

    paul james (@ 95) -

    LSV ...

    Only for creationists like yourself


    No evidence then.

    I thought so.
  • Comment number 100.

    LSV@99
    None necessary from me, PK and Grokesx have already obliterated your cdesign proponentist argument.

 

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