Why I Am an ID Proponent

They are not like leaves in all possible respects, sure. I believe I knew this already. I see we can agree on something. :smile:

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Why use ad hominem attacks? They add nothing to the discussion. What about the fabulous nonsense you believe. Does it help if I go there? As soon as you claim people want to believe something, you are open to the same accusation. As soon as you claim others believe a fairy tale, how do you know it’s not you that believes a fairy tale? That’s a waste of time.

You are coming across half the time like a troll.

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Yes, @gbrooks9 I think we’re on the same page here.

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I see that I have written something above in my response to Eddie inconsistent with what I wrote earlier. Some times having to type out your thoughts and reading other people’s responses forces you to think more clearly about things. Allow me to retract this earlier statement of mine:

Yeah I think that really just begs the question then. By calling it designed you are assuming it was “purposefully arranged/directed to an end”.

Eddie responded by explaining how ID proponents make their inference, and it is not guilty of the question begging fallacy in the way I portrayed it.

Rather what I think is wrong with how ID proponents infer design is in the idea that things that work well together “looks like a purposeful arrangement of parts”. This is the part I was trying to call in to question with my analogy with the wind scattering the leaves. I was trying to explain with this analogy why we should not infer, merely because something is good at what it does, or has some arrangement that makes them function well together in performing some action or process, that it is actually purposefully arranged or directed to do it.

The heart is good at pumping blood, so it must have been purposefully arranged to do it.
The wind is good at scattering the leaves around, so the wind must be directed to do it.

I believe these are both unjustified inferences for the same reason, and I do not share the intuition that because X is conducive to performing Y, it is justified to believe that X was purposefully arranged/is being directed to perform Y.

I hope I have explained my use of the wind analogy now in a way that makes sense.

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Hi, Neil.

Not always, and not completely different. Take the example of the camera eye. Yes, it is obviously different from a refractor telescope, but it has certain structural things in common with a refractor telescope – and those things in common are connected with similar functions.

Now, we know that the refractor telescope is designed. The question arises whether the camera eye in human beings (and other animals that have it) is designed. In both cases there is a careful coordination of means with an end (or, if you want to be more verbally cautious, with a clearly identifiable function). In the case of the eye, the coordination of means is many times more elaborate. Are you denying that it is a reasonable question, to ask whether or not the plan of the eye was the result of design? Even Darwin granted that it was a reasonable question, and that reasonable arguments could be given for the design of the eye and other “organs of extreme complexity”.

I actually agree with this. Purpose implies intention. Many things appear intentional that are not. Many unintended consequences, become intended. The transition from unpurposed to purposed might be entirely extrinsic to the “thing.” It is very hard to discern intention, even in every day interactions with other humans, without the ability to ask them directly what they intended (revelation).

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By all means tell me what you think. I’m not shy.

Edit: Actually I do take your point, and my statement you quote is unnecessarily provocative.

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FWIW I have interacted with Rumraket for a long time. I think he’s sincere. I don’t think he is a troll. He and I even manage to find things we agree on! Also, he is very interesting to talk to, knows some interesting things, is typically a good contributor, and does not go all repetitious.

It made sense before, it just wasn’t a good analogy. :smiley:

Try it this way:

The heart is arranged in such a way that it is effective and efficient at pumping blood, and pumping blood appears to be its function and purpose.

Now in light of that construction how would you frame your wind and leaves analogy?

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Thanks for this. It makes conversation easier, to feel some flexibility at the other end.

I agree with you that as a formal logical argument,

is not valid. But surely design inferences take place in a larger argumentative context, and are not merely hasty inferences of the above kind. Most people who would make such a statement about the heart also have in mind a whole series of observations about the fine-tuning of all kinds of organs and systems in the body, and the pile-up of such “useful coincidences” strongly points to design – unless something like Darwin’s explanation is correct.

And that is Mung’s point. If for whatever reason, Darwin’s argument comes to be doubted, then the main alternative to the design inference is removed. (Remember, Darwin himself was an ardent disciple of Paley’s design arguments until he came up with natural selection as a designer-substitute.)

As for the “wind scattering the leaves” example, you would do best to let it go, since it does not match up very well with the heart and eye examples. No one is claiming that the way the leaves happen to lie after a gust of wind indicates a “purposeful arrangement of parts,” whereas in the case of the heart, the eye, etc., that is what is being claimed.

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The wind is effective at scattering leaves, so scattering leaves appears to be it’s purpose.

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An important consideration that Christians often take for granted, but which is hard to articulate to Skeptics/Agnostics/Atheists, is that the religious mind or heart can see something in nature … something amazing or spell-binding… and find in it “reason” or “cause” to say (or believe) that God has fashioned it like so!

Sometimes the author of such sentiments knows the difference between a “scientific conclusion” vs. merely a circumstance that is persuasive - - even conclusive - - to his way of seeing the world.

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In your arrangement there is no mention of the wind being arranged in such a way that it performs that function. That is why it is not analogous. In the case of the heart we can talk of specific parts and how the arrangement of those parts contribute to the perceived function. I don’t see how you can do that with the wind and leaves example. That’s why no one advancing or defending the "design’ of the heart would be convinced by your wind and leaves response.

The next step I suppose would be to try to convince you that wind and leaves are not just a bad analogy but also an unreasonable analogy. Perhaps i’ll ponder on that.

Thanks for your comments!

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But why? That’s what I’m trying to get at. What I’m trying to say is that you can’t get to (or have yet to explain how you get to) that point. You are missing some key premises to get to the “strongly points to design”. So far you seem merely to have piled more things on the “they work well together” plate. Unless it is a matter of mere quantity (which I don’t see how it is), if the inference is invalid for 3 items, it’s not going to transform into a valid one with 10, or 15, or 22 million items.

I understand this is how you see things. But I’m missing the actual inference. I want to understand how you go from the “useful coincidences” as you call them, to concluding design. And I’m trying to explain that those “useful coincidences” to me don’t give this appearance of design that you speak of. I am genuine when I say I don’t see it, so if we both agree that merely pointing out that some smaller number of things work well together can’t get us there, then what can? More of them? Why?

Well being mindful that you are saying there’s more to your inference than just pointing out how the parts fit well together so they are conducive to performing some role or action, that just leaves me thinking Darwin could have been guilty of the same invalid reasoning I have objected to above.

That’s actually why I used the analogy. To pick something that people would not think implied design, yet which could be put to the same invalid inference. To bring out in an intuitive way that the inference is invalid because obviously (to me at least) nobody would say the scattering of the leaves is purposeful and directed.

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And perhaps then saying “bad argument” or “invalid argument” is insufficient to overcome the inference to design. We would need to frame the argument in the best possible light, where critics often appear to try to frame it in the worst possible light. Then we’d need to ask whether it is reasonable to believe the design inference.

Perhaps we need a discussion about how “scientific arguments” differ from “ID arguments.” But that would be for a different thread.

If ID ruled out an old earth, I’d not likely be an ID proponent. If ID ruled out common descent I’d likely not be an ID proponent. If ID required appeal to the Bible I’d likely not be an ID proponent. That ID does none of these things is seen as nefarious but to me it gives me some place I can stand and feel comfortable. I am not assenting to things I disagree with.

That said,I think ID can be improved. I think the “ID movement” is working on it.

@swamidass, if you are not an ID proponent, what are you? A theistic evolutionist?

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People describe the vertebrate eye as a “camera eye” because they wrongly assume that the eye works in much the same way as a camera. It doesn’t.

To me, it seems very unlikely that something like a camera could evolve. And it seems equally unlikely that something like the vertebrate eye would ever be designed.

Evolved things still look very different from designed things.

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I agree, so try this on instead.

The arrangement of the ground is conducive to bringing the water in the river out to sea, so it must have been purposefully directed to do it.

Or, the indentations in the ground are conducive to holding bodies of water, so they must have been arranged towards that end.

Or, the arrangement of the atoms in that mountain range is conducive to carrying winds to high altitude so clouds can form, so the mountains must have been purposefully created for it.

And so on.

Heck, there are even examples of things that WERE designed, that still perform certain actions (or have certain effects) merely by accident. The arrangement of the buildings in my neighborhood is conducive to creating howling sounds when strong winds blow, so they must have been purposefully made for that purpose. What’s ironic here is the placement of the buildings in my neighborhood really was purposeful towards and end, but the purpose I infer is wrong.

The point here being that you can’t get to there being a purpose just because something is conducive to whatever it is doing, and even when where it was purposefully arranged, you can’t know that merely from the fact that they have that particular effect.

The phrase “camera eye” is used by all parties in these debates – atheists, TEs, ID folks, creationists, etc. It is also commonly used in popular scientific literature. I am not trying to slip anything by you – just using the typical label.

In any case, we can drop “camera” – I don’t need the adjective. I wasn’t comparing the human eye with a camera, but with a refractor telescope. And there definitely is some similarity between the two, as I confirmed from reading material by experts in the field of optics, before preparing my recent class lecture on Paley (who uses the eye/telescope analogy).

You seem to be opposing “design” and “evolution” in a way that I think is unnecessary. Why cannot something have been produced by modification of earlier organic analogues, yet be designed? Why could a hypothetically omnipotent, intelligent being not have designed an evolutionary process to yield certain results?

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I think we need another thread on why @Eddie is a ID proponent. :smile:

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But you use such cumulative reasoning, and everyone uses such reasoning, all the time in everyday life, and we regard it as reliable. When the number of happy coincidences piles up too high, we regard design as certain for practical purposes (even if some purely academic doubt might remain).

Suppose the same guy kept winning the million-dollar lottery, month after month. Once we would attribute to chance. Twice, to a rare but plausible coincidence. Three times, we would treat as either a cosmic freak, or highly suspicious. Four times, and there would probably be a state or federal investigation looking for illicit collusion of the winner and the lottery organizers.

Or, in a closer analogy, suppose you arrive, half-starved and exhausted, at a hotel. You’ve never been to that hotel before, or even to that U.S. state. You don’t know the owner, manager, or staff. You have only barely enough money to pay for your room and dinner. In fact, the amount you have to pay matches your coins and bills to the penny. You are shown to the room, and it has flannel sheets, your favorite material, which is odd, because most hotels have cotton or polyester. Coincidence? Maybe. You lie on the bed, and it is hard as a rock, exactly the way you like it, not mushy, like so many other hotel mattresses. Coincidence? Maybe. They bring you your evening meal, and it consists of your favorite meat, your favorite style of potatoes (scalloped, not often served in hotels), and your favorite vegetable (peas), cooked the way you like them (steamed, not boiled). Still another coincidence? Hmmm… Coffee and dessert are served. Out of maybe 20 brand names they might have served, the coffee is your favorite. Your favorite dessert is lemon meringue pie, and by chance, supposedly, that is what is served that night. Then you open the bar fridge provided, and in it are all three of your favorite beers, your favorite white and red wines, and your favorite soft drinks. Not a single drink you don’t like. You walk over to the TV, and see a pile of DVDs next to it, and a DVD player. Every single movie is one you have been dying for 20 years to see, but have never been able to see, because they have not been shown on TV and previously have not been available on home video. Now just those movies are there, and you can see them. On the night table is your favorite magazine, and your favorite newspaper, one not commonly sold in the part of the country you are in. The bars of soap and little tube of toothpaste provided are your brands. You hate the tiny bath towels most hotels provide, and these are huge wraparound towels just as you like.

At what point would you give up saying “another amazing coincidence” and infer that the room was designed for you? That maybe your wife or some friend has called ahead and set things up for you, as a big joke of some kind, or as a birthday present? At what point would “design” become a reasonable inference? Would the inference not be stronger in direct proportion to the number of fortunate coincidences?

Piled-up happy coincidences are evidence for design. Maybe not “proof” in some Euclidean sense, but evidence. And at some point, the preponderance of evidence can become convincing to a rational person, even without a formal proof.

Have a look at the recent books of Michael Denton for the pile-up of anthropocentric coincidences related to fire, water, and light. And see his earlier book, Nature’s Destiny, for many of the coincidences related to the human body, cells, etc.

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They solve very different problems. They are not at all similar.

It really gets back to an issue still argued – is perception direct or indirect. According to the proponents of indirect perception, the eye creates an image on the retina, and we are really looking at the retinal image. According to direct perception advocates, such as J.J. Gibson, that’s not at all how vision works. My view is that of direct perception.

Can you find me some experts in optics who will propose using a bag of fluid as a lens?

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