“We still have a problem here, but we're working on it. You've seemingly been spoon-fed a neutered version of science, a wrong version, that distinguishes between "direct" and "indirect", whatever the hell that means. In real science, there is no such distinction. In Bayesian terms, either the evidence is strong and the probability is high, or the evidence is weak and the probably is close to 50%.
Of course I know that modern science claims that its hypotheses are always tentative and open for future improvement, or even discarding when and if new discovery renders them less advanced or wrong. That is not the problem. We get a better “widget” because of advances in technology that operate according to that flexibility that assumes progress comes as discovery builds upon the back of previous discovery. The applied sciences depend upon the past discoveries of others to build upon. What you still don’t see is how that, for the historical sciences that try to address the questions of origins of life, where the Universe came from, who are we really as sentient creatures and what, if anything is the ultimate purpose of our existence, those materialist STANDARDS by which you assume “science” MUST operate by (and that are fine, even necessary, for APPLIED Science) are UTTERLY INADEQUATE for the issues we are addressing, but that modern materialist science presumes to give answer to anyway.
So that when you say that I have a,
“version of science, a wrong version, that distinguishes between "direct" and "indirect", whatever the hell that means.”
I am not at all surprised that my standard for what scientific methodology OUGHT to be defined by when approaching these kinds of existential, metaphysical questions, is utterly confusing to you. I assume you appreciate the distinction between, “inductive” reasoning and “deductive” reasoning in science? (High School science curriculum). Well, look at it this way. I assume you recognize that “deductive” reasoning would be considered more “direct” or “objective” in the conclusions drawn from it than “inductive” reasoning, though both are accepted as legitimate within scientific experimentation. Without using the word, “proof”, we observe greater reliability in a “deduction” than an “induction” that is only assuming that if a pattern repeats enough times given identical conditions, it will the next time also. Well, those are both methodologies still fully based, as they must be, in materialistic naturalism (atheistic “methodology”). What you are utterly blind to is that third realm of evidence called “circumstantial” evidence that infers something that can come out of neither inductive or deductive science, but STILL offers legitimate “evidence” with which to draw rational conclusions. It is not part of the language of the materialist science which you assume must define “science”, and that must indeed define the limits, FOR SOME REALMS OF SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY, (applied sciences like engineering), but NOT for the ones we are dealing with. Why this should ultimately be mysterious to you must lie in your dogmatic atheistic “faith” worldview, because we KNOW that circumstantial evidence IS valid. We use it, depend upon it and it is vitally functional in our everyday thinking and legal and court system. We know that the burden “toward” proof (not burden “of” proof), needs to be very high for circumstantial evidence to lead to a conclusion, as it should. But it IS a legitimate way to draw conclusions. We can convict people of crimes and send them off to prison based upon it!
Critically, where we are concerned, it is ONLY by way of such evidence that we could ever hope to discover, from within that otherwise closed system of the Natural world, signs of, indications of, suggestion of, inference toward, a transcendent, external realm “IF” it were there. (Discovering the “possibility” of it). Your brand of science EXCLUDES that sort of evidence as illegitimate! It even confuses you in your mindset that I bring it into the definition of how science SHOULD operate when addressing the sorts of issues we are dealing with, because it is utterly outside your materialist mindset! Deduction can’t inquire as to whether there is a God. Neither can induction. We are, as they say, “too close to the forest” for those methods to “see the trees”. In fact the natural world IS the forest and material science is hopelessly confined within that forest. If we want to ask the question, “is there anything outside the forest”, we need to accept what reasoning from circumstantial evidence might bring to the table. You can’t do that because you can’t even imagine it as legitimate within the methodology of science!
So, I say that it is YOUR version of the sort of science we need to investigate the possibility of a transcendent reality outside the Natural world that is “neutered” as it excludes the only methodology that could ever hope to draw any meaningful conclusions about that possibility. Intelligent Design Theory offers us just such an interpretation of the circumstantial case for God.
Maybe we never see your god directly, but we can still see its effects (if any), and thus we can still apply Bayesian reasoning on evidence, aka science, to make conclusions.
That is still circular reasoning EL, because of the restrictions you place on legitimate methodology of inquiry. Intelligent Design theory DOES offer the “effects” you speak of. DNA with its “libraries” of “information”, “communicating”, “instructions”. You just cannot accept the IMPLICATIONS of that toward the conclusion of intelligent design, though the intelligent information is there in front of you and even atheists must use the LANGUAGE of intelligence when discussing it, because it begs such interpretation. Your definition of science refuses to see the circumstantial evidence that would allow for drawing ANY conclusion not grounded utterly within the Natural world, by definition. Hopelessly closed Mindset.
Your arguments from Christian biblical prophesy are a good example. The form of the argument is very scientific. You are relying on actual, observable evidence. You have made a hypothesis. You then argue that the known evidence is much more likely on that hypothesis than alternative hypotheses. The form of the argument is perfect. I have absolutely no problems with that. The argument is what we call "formally valid".
My problem with the argument is the premises. Specifically, I don't think you've done a good enough job examining alternative hypotheses, and I don't think you've done a good job assigning probabilities to some of those alternative hypotheses. If you want to start citing specific prophesies, then we can have a very specific conversation about them, one by one.
So let’s imagine for a moment on what basis you might judge that I have not examined thoroughly enough, “alternative hypotheses”. Out of your restricted materialist scientific viewpoint, you might feel that I would better conclude one of a number of alternatives that would “explain” any given miracle, (Not all that follows would fit prophecy, but you’ll get the point). These have been popularly proposed and we already know what the range of them will include. I’ll propose a few and you can add to these any I've missed. Some mass hysteria made witnesses see something that wasn't real. It was a trick made to “seem” miraculous (slight of hand), It was a dishonest conspiracy on the part of some to fudge the story later on to make it fit, it was never intended to be taken literally and was only allegorical symbolism, and, the best one of all, that utterly un-falsifiable retreat to, “Well, it was something for which, at present, science has no answer to, but for which, “some day”, we “may” have a materialist answer for, but for now, to invoke the supernatural?, Well, that would be “against science” (implicitly meaning fully naturalistic materialism).
So the demonstration of prophecy does not DIRECTLY “prove” that there is a transcendent realm out of which such an occurrence might be genuinely, “other worldly”. And I guarantee you that as long as you are stuck in a dogmatic atheist mindset, NO interpretation in that direction, no matter how compelling, would do the trick. Jesus Himself tells us directly that many will not believe, “though One were to rise from the dead.” Prophecy, if authentic, does not exist within or according to the limitations of the Natural word EL. So as long as your tools for inquiry are grounded and limited to that atheistic methodology, even if we nail down a miracle beyond any doubt of having occurred, you would rationalize it away similar to what I enumerated above. There will always for you be a better “alternative hypothesis”, grounded in NATURALISTIC explanations. We are not going to be able to have a meaningful “conversation about specific prophesies”, because it would be a waste of time to see the various ways in which you would re-interpret them as explainable within a context of utter naturalism.
Let’s just try one on though for fun to see how you respond. Jesus Christ was tortured to death and crucified. His legs were not broken because the Roman guards discovered that He was already dead. But, just to be sure (because if he somehow survived THEY would have been executed), they pierced his heart with a spear. Then he was wrapped in linens grave clothes and strong spices etc that would be smothering to a living person and buried that Friday afternoon. Then, Sunday morning (beyond what would be the point of rigor mortis), He was witnessed to have risen from the dead, and appeared to many for a period of time afterward, demonstrating specifically that He was not a ghost, eating fish with them, having them touch Him as a proof, etc etc. How do you account for that utterly IMPOSSIBLE event in terms of your definition and standards for inquiry in “science”?
You go on to say,
“Your argument about intelligent design is less good. The hypothesis seems to be "no natural process can account for the known evidence". However, you haven't cited any evidence as far as I can tell, just some hand-waves about there being apparent design in living things. I'm sorry - I don't see design when I look at living things.”
What you are really saying (and what I would argue) is that the hypothesis from Intelligent Design makes more sense than trying to force indications of intelligence, into an atheistic hypothesis. Conversely, your argument is that ANY natural explanation, even one full of holes and gaps and conundrums as naturalistic explanation for life and the origin of the Universe is, trumps any interpretation from an alternate, inferred supernatural explanation, even if the evidence for intelligent design is compelling and interpreted rationally. In reality the natural explanation for how DNA could have formed does not have a natural explanation that is any better (and not as good) by way of Darwinian mechanism, than Intelligent Design’s interpretation that the intelligent information that is encoded within it, by extrapolation from our own experience as sentient beings, begs an intelligent mind as the genesis (small g) of that observable reality in the Natural World. But your science cannot entertain inference to ANYTHING outside the natural world. So, for you, it isn't evidence at all. You do not include circumstantial evidence toward implication of transcendence as real evidence, no matter how compelling. The level of circumstantial evidence for intelligent design KNOWABLE by modern science (as far as how circumstantial evidence would be used in a courtroom), would be great enough to send a murder suspect to the gas chamber. But one has to allow for that evidence to be “introduced into the court” of science to even consider it.
“Contrary to common understanding, we do not recognize design by complexity.”
In and of itself, neither do Intelligent Design advocates like Phillip Johnson or Michael Behe recognize design only by way of complexity. Crystals can demonstrate repeating patterns of complexity. They are not qualitatively the same thing as DNA. I agree, Complexity, in and of itself, does not define “intelligent information”. What point are you making?
One sense of the word "complexity" is entropy. The entropy of a system increases over time by natural, unintelligent forces.
“Entropy” refers to the disorder of a system, not increasing levels of complexity, and is critically relevant where the second law of thermodynamics is concerned. That law of physics tells us that in the natural world, things left to themselves, degrade to an ever less organized, more chaotic state of higher “entropy”. Entropy is a measure of the disorder of a system. Systems tend to go from a state of order (low entropy) to a state of maximum disorder (high entropy). So entropy SHOULD have the Universe becoming ever LESS organized and ever higher entropy (a trend toward less organization and toward a more chaotic state) should be the result. Of course, as you observe in the subsequent mention of “Shannon information”, that law could be reversed in an isolated circumstance where additional energy was being introduced from an external source (like a star, or our sun). Then one could find it reasonable to assume that complexity could be built up against the otherwise natural trend toward higher entropy. The problem with that, as you have already asserted yourself, is that “complexity” does not equate with “intelligent information”. Reverse entropy caused by energy impinging upon the physics of the second law, reversing entropy, would not create “intelligent” information just because complexity was being built up. Something as rich with intelligent information, beyond mere “complexity” as DNA, still begs an intelligent agent.
So, when you say,
“… Natural selection is an unintelligent, unguided process that reverses entropy, aka increases Shannon information, in a local open system...”
you conflate raw complexity, with intelligent information, after earlier having said that complexity does not define design! The information encoded in DNA is MORE than just “complex”.
You assert that,
“… almost every single specific purported example of irreducible complexity has been shown to not be irreducibly complex. Three famous examples at the Dover trial: the bacterial flagellum, blood clotting, the immune system.”
In the first place I suppose then that you are conceding that some of Behe’s examples are legitimate if “almost” all of them are wrong? How many do we need to demonstrate his point? Wouldn’t one or two be enough to demonstrate the inference to Intelligent Design? No one is claiming (least of all Dr. Behe) infallibility for him? Still, you flippantly mention three cases without giving the arguments. Even if you do, one wonders (I do) what Dr. Behe’s rebuttal might be?
Thankfully, at the end you offer an opportunity to return to the point of this topic of discussion when you say,
“… the origin of the first cell. As Dobbie and I have explained numerous times, "I don't know". Maybe a god did it. I don't know. Whatever answer we have to this, it does not affect evolution. Evolution will still be true even if a god created the first cell, just like gravity will still be true even if a god created the first cell.”
So ultimately, despite protestations against Intelligent Design theory, you concede that on these existential questions, you just don’t know! You are acting out of a faith
system driven by presuppositions, just like the God believer who postulates Intelligent Design. Is there evolution! Sure. You betcha. If you take finches and change their environment their beaks will change to adapt. That neither tells us how we get the diversity of species, or how we get finches in the first place. You conflate, against a lot of the hard disconfirming evidence, an extrapolation from micro-evolution, to macro evolution. You are exercising a FAITH that the gaps and the contradictions and the counter evidence to that extrapolation is either unimportant or just a problem that might be solved later within your faith system so as to fit everything into your atheistic model. You don’t know it to be true and you have to explain away what I think is the preponderance of problematic evidence, circumstantial as it may be, that militates against your conception of biology and its origins. That is your “faith” “creation story".
I think it is time for me to start a different topic!