March 18, 2015
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.
October 26, 2014
I’ve had a copy of Dembski’s new book for a little more than a week. That has been enough time for me to read it in preparation for this review.
The title itself is strange, at least to me. It is a title that suggests that this is a book on religion. It isn’t, though it does not completely avoid religious ideas. The more complete title is “Being as Communion; A Metaphysics of Information.” And that suggests that it is a book about information. To some extent it is, though it also comes across as a diatribe against materialist metaphysics.
Dembski begins this book with:
What does the world look like if the fundamental stuff of reality is not matter but information? That is the question animating this book. We live in an information age. Yet we also live in an overwhelmingly materialist age in which the things that seem to us most solid and inspire the most confidence are material. Information itself therefore tends to be conceived in material terms, as a property of matter. But what if information cannot be reduced to matter? To turn the tables even more sharply, what if matter itself is an expression of information?
read more »
February 4, 2014
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.
read more »
July 9, 2013
In an earlier post, I wrote: “To me, it seems very unlikely that a designed robotic system could ever lead to consciousness.” I have received some push back in the comments. In this post, I shall attempt to explain why I doubt that design of consciousness is possible.
When we design something, we typically start with an idea of what we want. That leads to a stage of planning where we examine the requirements. We use that planning to prepare a design. Typically, a design is a set of specifications on how to build the final product out of component parts.
“Design” then, pretty much means mechanical design. It means specifying how the components are put together mechanically to achieve the intended result.
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January 6, 2013
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.
read more »
January 17, 2012
From time to time, ID proponents mention James Shapiro as someone who offers an alternative to the Darwinism that they much ridicule. But they have never been sure where Shapiro stands on the question of ID. Shapiro has now given a response. And it is the kind of response that we might expect from a scientist at University of Chicago:
These statements are confusing. Is Dembski saying that he abandons the supernatural as a component of ID? If so, then we can start a real scientific dialogue about the possible natures of intelligence, teleology and design in biology and how to investigate them both theoretically and experimentally. However, if he does not want to abandon the supernatural (as Michael Behe has repeatedly told me he does not) and if he wishes always to have recourse to a literal Deus ex Machina, then we cannot have a serious scientific discussion. Doing that requires respecting the naturalistic limits of science. I think it would be a very positive development for ID proponents to give up on all theological crutches and engage in a strictly naturalistic inquiry, independent of whatever their beliefs in final causes may be. Is Bill Dembski willing to do that?
It is worth reading the full Shapiro post. There’s also a reaction at Uncommon Descent, though there isn’t much to the reaction yet. Perhaps more will follow in the comments.