Archive for ‘ID’

May 18, 2016

Differences in scientific viewpoint

by Neil Rickert

There’s a weird post at the ENV site:

For those who don’t know, ENV is a blog from the Discovery Institute, the organization that does three things: (1) it pushes “Intelligent Design”, (2) It attempts to have ID taught as science in the schools, and (3) it denies that it tries to have ID taught as science in the schools.

So when the Discovery Institute says that we should tolerate differences in scientific viewpoints, I’m inclined to take that as an argument that alternative science should be taught in the schools.  Here, “alternative science” could mean ID, or it could mean global warming denial (and the Discovery Institute does appear to be a hotbed of global warming denial).  It could possibly also mean vaccination denialism, though I don’t think that they themselves have supported the anti-vax proponents.

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May 5, 2015

Granville Sewell on conscious typewriters

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post at ENV, Granville Sewell suggests that if computers could be conscious, then why not typewriters:

Sewell is, of course, attempting to ridicule the idea of a conscious computer.  But I don’t think his ridicule succeeds.

Those in the AI community who perhaps hope to produce a conscious computer, would have ready answers to Sewell’s argument.  They would see a typewriter as far too simple a device for there to be any possibility of consciousness.

Consciousness and AI

Sewell’s argument against conscious computers similarly misfires.  He seems to be arguing that any conscious computer would have to be something like the Eliza program, based on using preprogrammed canned responses.  However, most people in the AI community would readily grant that Eliza is not conscious and not even intelligent.

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April 26, 2015

ID vs. evolution

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post at his blog, Jason Rosenhouse wrote “Truly, ID is dead.”  In response, Vincent Torley (vjtorley), at Uncommon Descent, has posted “Is Intelligent Design dead?“.

Rosenhouse was mainly commenting on his observation that the UD blog has deteriorated to the point where it is posting some rather silly arguments.  In his response, Torley doesn’t actually say much about that.  Instead, he gives some of the tired old arguments that evolution is impossible (never mind the evidence for evolution).

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March 18, 2015

ID and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

by Neil Rickert

At the ID blog Uncommon Descent, there have been several recent posts that attempt show that the 2nd law of thermodynamics (or 2LOT) poses a serious problem for proponents of biological evolution.

ID (intelligent design) proponents claim that theirs is a scientific program.  Yet they undermine that claim of science when they demonstrate their misunderstanding of 2LOT.  It is well known  among physicists that 2LOT does not pose any problems for the existence or evolution of biological life.

It is, of course, well understood that random motion of molecules is not life.  Living things are not random.  They extract energy from elsewhere (food, sunlight, etc) and use that energy to maintain their organization.  2LOT allows this.   But this is what the ID proponents are arguing against.

Granville Sewell, in his post, shows photographs of Moore, OK before and after the tornado that destroyed the town.

It is certainly true that we observe that designed things decay over time.  Sometime the decay is catastrophic, as with a tornado.  Sometimes it is more gradual, as with the erosion damage to Mt. Rushmore.

We see this with all designed things, from your automobile to your computer, from your hand knit sweater to your house.  There are no known exceptions.  Using induction or abduction (the preferred “scientific” methodology of the ID proponents, we can reasonably conclude that all designed things decay over time.

This ought to pose an enormous problem for the proponents of intelligent design.

February 4, 2014

On vjtorley on ID, religion, metaphysics

by Neil Rickert

Vincent Torley, who posts under the handle “vjtorley” at Uncommon Descent, has a longish post on Intelligent Design and related topics:

I encourage you to read the full post by vjtorley.  Here, I want to give my reaction to only some of the issues that he raises.  I’ll note that his post grows out of an online discussion with theologian James McGrath, and is a followup to an earlier thread about that discussion.

Torley says, of McGrath:

As far as I can tell, Dr. McGrath doesn’t necessarily think God created the laws of Nature; nor does he believe in miracles. As might be expected, he doesn’t believe in the Divinity of Christ.

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September 11, 2013

God is not omnipotent

by Neil Rickert

In a debate with an ID proponent ericB, I wrote:

Here’s my puzzle. ID proponents push the case for “fine tuning”. Yet, “fine tuning” would seem to call for something like deism — a god that created the cosmos in just the right way at the start, and then allowed nature (that finely tuned nature of the deities design) to take its course. It seems to me that a proponent of fine tuning should be a proponent of the view that the cosmos was so finely tuned that it was certain that life would emerge from that finely tuned nature.

In response, ericB wrote:

With the exception of living organisms, the rest of what we see in nature seems in principle to allow explanation based on law+chance. Law is causally adequate to account for order and regular arrangements. Chance is causally adequate to account for unspecified complexity and meaningless irregularities.

Yet living organisms are different in documented ways that cannot be reasonably denied. They are systems based upon specified complexity. We’ve never found anything else in the universe (other than artifacts) to have that property.

You can read ericB’s full response here.

So ericB seems to be saying that his God is powerful enough to create a universe in which there would emerge a planet Earth that is fine tuned for life.  But his God is not powerful enough to create that universe so that biological life will emerge.

It seems hard to see that as anything other than a denial of the omnipotence of God.

Not only is ID bad science (really, not much science at all), but it is also bad theology.

January 6, 2013

Granville Sewell is still an embarrassment

by Neil Rickert

When I last posted about Granville Sewell, I made a joke about it.  Sadly, Sewell is still at it.  As a mathematician, I am embarrassed when a fellow mathematician says something so foolish.  I suppose I shouldn’t be — it is well known that people can be very intelligent in their mathematics, yet make very unwise decisions elsewhere in their lives.

Sewell’s latest effort is “Just Too Simple,” posted at the Uncommon Descent blog.  It presents a youtube video (just under 15 minutes) with an updated version of his old argument about a tornado running backward.  I am not sure who is narrating the video, but since the narrator refers to Sewell in the third person, I assume that Sewell is not narrating it himself.

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November 15, 2012

Intelligent raining; two different conceptions of God

by Neil Rickert

Over at Uncommon Descent, the ID  blog, there are often posts and comments about theistic evolution and theist evolutionists (TE for short).  Many, but not all of the ID proponents are usually quite critical of TE, as I was reminded by a recent post.  For reference, that post is:

While reading and commenting on that post, it occurred to me that TEs and ID proponents have very different conceptions of God.  And that is what I mainly want to discuss here.

Intelligent Raining

I’ll begin  with some quotes from Barry Arrington in that recent post:

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October 25, 2012

Quote of the week

by Neil Rickert

From James McGrath, on the Progressive Christian Channel at patheos:

At long last I got around to watching the movie Prometheus – aka Intelligent Design: The Motion Picture. It is a great film for those interested in the intersection of religion and science fiction.

cite: Prometheus

I thought that was an interesting way of putting things.

At least some people in the ID community do see the movie as having to do with the intersection of ID and science.  Here are some relevant posts at the Uncommon Descent blog:

I’ll note that James McGrath is the author of a book titled “Religion and Science Fiction.”


August 20, 2012

Why people laugh at ID proponents

by Neil Rickert

Just take a look at a recent post at Uncommon Descent: Why people laugh at Creationists but have a harder time refuting ID-ists.

The discussion to that thread (the comments) provides plenty of reasons to laugh.