God and Granite Cubes

From an interesting E-mail exchange I recently had about the “science” of detecting God’s signature in nature:

Mr XWhy to you have to jump from “we don’t understand the natural explanation for this” to “it must have been designed by something unnatural?”  As scientists we pursue NATURAL explanations for NATURAL things.  Are you redefining or resorting out things in our world into “Natural” ones and “So Complicated It Couldn’t Be Natural” categories?  If so you are making a VALUE JUDGEMENT.  You can’t do that and call yourself a scientist.

Sincerely,

Dr. X

Instructor of Biology

Hi Dr. X,

I understand your argument that scientific methodologies can only deal with the empirical world and can therefore only propose natural explanations for these natural phenomena.  Of course science cannot study much less demonstrate “God” or the “supernatural” – right?

Granite cubesConsider that there are different types of explanations in science… all of which are “natural” in their own sphere – but are clearly within different “spheres” or “levels” of what might be considered “natural”. For example, consider a highly symmetrical polished granite cube that measures 25 cm alone each edge – with perfectly symmetrical geometric etchings (like triangles, squares, hexagons, etc.) carved into the middle of each face of the cube. What do you think would be the best scientific explanation for the origin of such a granite cube?  Let’s say that one of our robotic rovers on Mars happened to come across such a granite cube sitting right there on the surface of Mars. Do you not think that the vast majority of scientists would recognize such a granite cube as a true artifact of deliberate design?  Of course they would, and so would everyone else with a candid mind.  It would hit the front page of every newspaper in the world with the heading, “We are NOT Alone!” – and for very good reason.

Clearly, the best and most reasonable explanation or hypothesis for such a phenomenon would require the involvement of at least human-level intelligent design. How so? Because, there are no known mindless natural mechanisms that could come close to doing the job while, at the same time, we know that at least human level intelligence is capable of easily producing such things.  Given these two pieces of knowledge the hypothesis of intelligent design becomes the best scientific explanation among the competing options.

SETIAfter all, this argument forms the very basis of various modern scientific disciples such as forensic science, anthropology, and even SETI science.  All of these modern sciences are entirely based on the human ability to rationally detect the workings of intelligent design behind various natural phenomena that are or that might be seen in nature.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the designer of the granite cube or the SETI radio signal was God or any other supernatural being.  It’s much more likely that if such phenomena were ever discovered that some form of “natural alien intelligence”, similar to humans perhaps, produced these “artifacts” of intelligent design – right?  This is a very reasonable argument to be sure.  However, consider that not everyone who is intelligent is at the same level of intelligence.   Some phenomena, while requiring intelligence to explain (like our granite cube) do not require very high levels of intelligence to explain.  Could God or a God-like being have been responsible?  Sure!  However, the hypothesis of God-like intelligence and creative power is not required to explain the origin of such a granite cube – right?   Much lower levels of intelligence would work just fine.

spaceshipHowever, let’s say that our Mars rover came across something that looked very much like a mechanically-intricate spaceship. Let’s even say that, after investigation, it was discovered that technology previously unknown to us, and perhaps still very mysterious, was used by the creators of this spaceship to enable the spaceship, and anything inside of it, to go back in time.  Clearly, not only would such a spaceship be very excellent evidence that its creators were highly intelligent, it would strongly suggest that they were a great deal more intelligent, or at least had access to a much higher level of knowledge, than humans currently have.  So, one might reasonably argue that even if we might not yet be able to understand how such technology works, we can or could detect that whoever produced such a spaceship had greater intelligence and/or technological advancement compared to us.  Of course, this doesn’t mean that these very advanced intelligent beings were “supernatural” or at all God-like! – right?  Of course not.  Would a God or God-like being be required to explain the origin of such a spaceship?  Not necessarily – right?

However, what would it take before one could be rationally suspicious that a particular phenomenon could only be explained by a level of intelligence and creative power that, from our finite perspective at least, would be indistinguishable from what we would expect from a God or a God-like being?

Fine-tuned universeThis is what many modern physicist are asking.   That’s right, many, and probably most, modern physicists believe that God, or at least a God-like being, is responsible for the origin of the fine-tuned features of the universe in which we live.  In order for the universe to be inhabited by intelligent beings of any kind it has to achieve an extremely high level of precise fine tuning for large numbers of variables known as “fundamental constants”.  Obviously intelligent design was required to achieve a level of fine tuning far beyond what any spaceship would require to function.  What type of intelligence and creative power could produce such a thing?  Call it “natural” if you want, but I certainly couldn’t tell the difference if this “natural” intelligence told me, “By the way, I’m also God.”   What would I say to that?  I simply couldn’t tell the difference and would have no basis to argue otherwise.  And, who knows, perhaps God is just as “natural” as you and me? – just on a different level of what might be defined as “natural”.  After all, I’m sure that God, given that he exists, considers his own level of intelligence and creative power perfectly “natural” from his own perspective.

intelligent-designSuch conclusions aren’t just “value judgments” beyond noting that there are in fact different levels of intelligence and that some phenomena in nature require extraordinarily high levels of intelligence and creative power to explain.   And, I’m not the only one to come to this conclusion.

For example, there are the interesting back and forth arguments from Paul Davies, and English astrophysicist.  Although he is currently a seemingly conflicted atheist (Link), he was once a kind of theist and still manages to argue strongly for what seems like a nearly overwhelming impression of design that most physicists come away with when studying the fine tuned features of the universe.

DaviesThe temptation to believe that the Universe is the product of some sort of design, a manifestation of subtle aesthetic and mathematical judgment, is overwhelming.  The belief that there is “something behind it all” is one that I personally share with, I suspect, a majority of physicists. This rather diffuse feeling could, I suppose, be termed theism in its widest sense.1

The really amazing thing is not that life on Earth is balanced on a knife-edge, but that the entire universe is balanced on a knife-edge, and would be total chaos if any of the natural ‘constants’ were off even slightly. You see, even if you dismiss man as a chance happening, the fact remains that the universe seems unreasonably suited to the existence of life – almost contrived – you might say a ‘put-up job’.

The force of gravity must be fine-tuned to allow the universe to expand at precisely the right rate.  The fact that the force of gravity just happens to be the right number with stunning accuracy is surely one of the great mysteries of cosmology…

The equations of physics have in them incredible simplicity, elegance and beauty.  That in itself is sufficient to prove to me that there must be a God who is responsible for these laws and responsible for the universe.2

Davies, Paul C.W. [Physicist and Professor of Natural Philosophy, University of Adelaide at the time of writing], 1) “The Christian perspective of a scientist,” Review of “The way the world is,” by John Polkinghorne, New Scientist, Vol. 98, No. 1354, pp.638-639, 2 June 1983, p.638 (LinkLink) aand 2) Davies in his1984 book Superforce.

 

Nobel laureate Arno Penzias makes this observation about the enigmatic character of the universe:

PenziasAstronomy leads us to an unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.

Arno Penzias (Nobel prize in physics), Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos. La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 83.

 

Freeman J. Dyson distinguished mathematical physicist, says,

DysonAs we look out into the universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked to our benefit, it almost seems as if the universe must in some sense have known that we were coming.

 

Sir Fredrick Hoyle, famous British astronomer who early on (1951) argued that the coincidences of the fine-tuned universe were just that, coincidences.  But, by 1953 he had evidently changed his mind and wrote:

HoyleSuch properties seem to run through the fabric of the natural world like a thread of happy coincidences. But there are so many odd coincidences essential to life that some explanation seems required to account for them… A superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology.

http://www.leaderu.com/offices/bradley/docs/universe.html

Hoyle, Fred. “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20. (1982), p.16.

 

Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy):

Allan_SandageI find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.

Alan Sandage, per Willford, J.N., March 12, 1991. Sizing up the Cosmos: An Astronomers Quest. New York Times, p. B9.

 

Charles Hard Townes, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physics and a UC Berkeley professor noted:

TownesThis is a very special universe: it’s remarkable that it came out just this way.  If the laws of physics weren’t just the way they are, we couldn’t be here at all….

MultiverseSome scientists argue that, “Well, there’s an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different.  This one just happened to turn out right.

Well, that’s a postulate, and it’s a pretty fantastic postulate.  It assumes that there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them.  The other possibility is that our was planned, and that is why it has come out so specially.

·        http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2005/06/17_townes.shtml

 

And the list goes on and on.  Are these famous scientists not being scientific? – are they not being at all rational?

I don’t know about you, but it makes a lot of sense to me…

 

Again, all the best to you in your continued search.

Sean

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36 thoughts on “God and Granite Cubes

  1. @ Sean

    I enjoyed your article. As I’ve stated before, I think Intelligent Design is a more modern form of Deism and do not think it is irrational. However, as science on an ongoing basis shows what matters are explainable by cause and effect, less is attributable to conscious design. The question of course is what are the limits of science in this regard? For example, will it ever be able to explain First Cause/

    Below is a more fulsome quote of Professor Townes, an self acknowledged Protestant Christian. Please note what he has to say about literal creation and evolution. Do you think he is being more reasonable than you on the nature of design?

    “I do believe in both a creation and a continuous effect on this universe and our lives, that God has a continuing influence – certainly his laws guide how the universe was built. But the Bible’s description of creation occurring over a week’s time is just an analogy, as I see it. The Jews couldn’t know very much at that time about the lifetime of the universe or how old it was. They were visualizing it as best they could and I think they did remarkably well, but it’s just an analogy.

    Should intelligent design be taught alongside Darwinian evolution in schools as religious legislators have decided in Pennsylvania and Kansas?

    I think it’s very unfortunate that this kind of discussion has come up. People are misusing the term intelligent design to think that everything is frozen by that one act of creation and that there’s no evolution, no changes. It’s totally illogical in my view. Intelligent design, as one sees it from a scientific point of view, seems to be quite real. This is a very special universe: it’s remarkable that it came out just this way. If the laws of physics weren’t just the way they are, we couldn’t be here at all. The sun couldn’t be there, the laws of gravity and nuclear laws and magnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and so on have to be just the way they are for us to be here.
    Charles Townes
    ‘Faith is necessary for the scientist even to get started, and deep faith is necessary for him to carry out his tougher tasks. Why? Because he must have confidence that there is order in the universe and that the human mind – in fact his own mind – has a good chance of understanding this order.’
    -Charles Townes, writing in “The Convergence of Science and Religion,” IBM’s Think magazine, March-April 1966
    Some scientists argue that “well, there’s an enormous number of universes and each one is a little different. This one just happened to turn out right.” Well, that’s a postulate, and it’s a pretty fantastic postulate – it assumes there really are an enormous number of universes and that the laws could be different for each of them. The other possibility is that ours was planned, and that’s why it has come out so specially. Now, that design could include evolution perfectly well. It’s very clear that there is evolution, and it’s important. Evolution is here, and intelligent design is here, and they’re both consistent.

    They don’t have to negate each other, you’re saying. God could have created the universe, set the parameters for the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, and set the evolutionary process in motion, But that’s not what the Christian fundamentalists are arguing should be taught in Kansas.

    People who want to exclude evolution on the basis of intelligent design, I guess they’re saying, “Everything is made at once and then nothing can change.” But there’s no reason the universe can’t allow for changes and plan for them, too. People who are anti-evolution are working very hard for some excuse to be against it. I think that whole argument is a stupid one. Maybe that’s a bad word to use in public, but it’s just a shame that the argument is coming up that way, because it’s very misleading. “




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    • Just because I agree with these scientists as far as their arguments for design behind the fundamental constants of the universe doesn’t mean I agree with them on everything they say.

      Charles Hard Townes, for example, is a physicist, not a biologist, so he can be forgiven for thinking that there are no limits to what a mindless mechanism can do with living things. However, the very same arguments he cites for ID behind the fundamental constants of the universe can also be applied to living things beyond very low levels of functional complexity. In fact, the most simple living thing requires a far higher level of “fine tuning” to live than is required to produce the entire universe. So, if the universe is so clearly designed based on the high degree of fine tuning that it requires, so then are living things and machines within living things that also require an equivalent degree of “fine tuning”.

      The counter, of course, is that there is a “natural explanation” for the extreme fine-tuning found within all living things – i.e., natural selection. However, this explanation simply doesn’t work and cannot reasonably work beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. This puts us right back to the argument that Townes and these other scientists use for evident design behind the origin of the universe.




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  2. @ Sean

    The very same argument that you use against Townes’ lack of expertise in biology can also be used against you. You are a medical doctor, not a physicist, geologist, or biologist. However, in the past when this has been pointed out to you, you say they of different expertise have to prove you wrong and the weight of evidence supports your unique position.

    Seems to me you are cherry picking my friend. For example Townes is a Nobel Prize physicist ( and a Protestant Christian) Look at what he has to say about literal creation being only a biblical analogy. Would you agree that he is better able to weigh the evidence in this regard?




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    • There’s a difference between formal training or a specific degree in a field of science and having a substantial degree of knowledge of that particular field of science. What I’m suggesting here is that Townes has not studied biology and biological complexity for himself to any significant degree. I have studied biology quite extensively (well beyond my degree in biology). And, the very same limitations, and then some, are seen in biology as are cited for the anthropic fine-tuned universe.




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  3. @ Sean

    “The counter, of course, is that there is a “natural explanation” for the extreme fine-tuning found within all living things – i.e., natural selection. However, this explanation simply doesn’t work and cannot reasonably work beyond very very low levels of functional complexity. This puts us right back to the argument that Townes and these other scientists use for evident design behind the origin of the universe.”

    But it does work and is the most rational and best explanation for the vast diversity of interlrelated life we see on the planet. And the vast acknowledged scientific weight of the evidence ( from experts in their fields , not amateurs or fundamentalists) supports evolution. That does not mean there are not issues to resolve as to how it works over time at a micro level. Of course there are, just like medicine is still working on a cure for many diseases.

    It is nonsensical to postulate that on a planet with limited resources, God make perfect, immortal, procreative life and instructed it to go forth and multiply! But that is the model you say is supported by the weight of the evidence. What was perfect God thinking about that design? How can such a concept appeal to your rational, scientific mind?

      (Quote)




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    • But it does work…

      This is like saying that you can occasionally get a three letter word from looking at randomly jumbled Scrabble letters on a table. The evolutionary mechanism only “works” to produce what are equivalent to “three letter words”, with an exponential decay in evolvability as one moves up the ladder of functional complexity from here. You’re trying to argue that because three-letter words can easily evolve that given enough time an entire Shakespearean play is inevitable. That’s a ridiculous argument… and the same thing is true for biological complexity at higher levels.

      and is the most rational and best explanation for the vast diversity of interlrelated life we see on the planet.

      No, it isn’t. The most rational and best explanation beyond very low levels of functional complexity is intelligent design. You have absolutely no rational argument to the contrary – and neither does anyone else.

      And the vast acknowledged scientific weight of the evidence ( from experts in their fields , not amateurs or fundamentalists) supports evolution.

      Based on what? Where is the evidence for how the evolutionary mechanism can remotely achieve what you claim it did?

      And, by the way, I’m not talking from an amateur position. I know biological science and have been trained in it very well…

      That does not mean there are not issues to resolve as to how it works over time at a micro level. Of course there are, just like medicine is still working on a cure for many diseases.

      It’s not that there are a few “minor” issues here. No one has the foggiest idea how the evolutionary mechanism could possibly “work” beyond very low levels of functional complexity – no idea at all. That’s not a scientific position. That’s a philosophical position that is only in play in an effort to avoid acknowledging the signature of God.

      It is nonsensical to postulate that on a planet with limited resources, God make perfect, immortal, procreative life and instructed it to go forth and multiply! But that is the model you say is supported by the weight of the evidence. What was perfect God thinking about that design? How can such a concept appeal to your rational, scientific mind?

      What is nonsensical is your lack of consideration of the power of someone who is actually a God. If you and I could think of very simple solutions to such problems, certainly a God worth His salt could also think of reasonable solutions. The command in the Bible is to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28).

      The command isn’t to “overfill the earth”, but to fill it appropriately and rule over it. Do you think that a God wouldn’t understand birth control? – or that perhaps humans could expand to other planets within the universe?




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  4. @ Sean

    “You have absolutely no rational argument to the contrary – and neither does anyone else.”

    This speaks volumes my friend! It reminds me of the joke: ” everyone is crazy except you and me… and I’m beginning to wonder about you 🙂 I am quite prepared for you to discount my scientific rationality. However are you really saying that of all the other scientists that differ from you on evolution, none of them has ‘any’ rational argument!?

    As previously expressed, what you resort to when you don’t have scientifc evidence on six day creation or recent life, or proof of miracles, is resort to the ole bromide weight of evidence based on biblical credibility. However when it comes to evolution you use no such test but put it to such laboratory exactitude of changes that occur over millions of years of time. This double standard has not only been pointed out by me but by other Adventist scientists as well. Yet you are the ‘only’ one with a rational argument. Is that scientific?




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    • However are you really saying that of all the other scientists that differ from you on evolution, none of them has ‘any’ rational argument!?

      When it comes to the creative potential of the evolutionary mechanism (RM/NS) that’s exactly what I’m saying. There is no demonstration or tenable argument for how evolution works, beyond very low levels of functional complexity, in literature. Now, if you think otherwise, by all means show me where such a rational argument exists… because I can’t find one and I’ve been looking for a long time.




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    • George,

      You have no empirical evidence for Neo-Darwinism (evolution).

      The is absolute empirical evidence for the laws of Biogenesis and Heredity. They disprove evolutionary theory.

      Don’t you think you should give some proof of evolution before you philosophize about topics you clearly have little knowledge?




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  5. “The command isn’t to “overfill the earth”, but to fill it appropriately and rule over it. Do you think that a God wouldn’t understand birth control? – or that perhaps humans could expand to other planets within the universe?”

    Hmmm… that’s a lot of speculation. I wonder why God didn’t comment about that in the Bible as those appear to be pretty pressing issues today? By the way, I don’t underestimate the power of a God, but I also do not underestimate the power of ‘men’ to anthropomorphize God in ‘their’ image to raise their self esteem above other species or their gender. Hello to all the fellow creatures and ladies I share the planet with 🙂




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    • Hmmm… that’s a lot of speculation. I wonder why God didn’t comment about that in the Bible as those appear to be pretty pressing issues today?

      Because Adam and Eve “Fell” by disobeying God – before they had any children.




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  6. I think Intelligent Design is a more modern form of Deism.

    George,

    I don’t think you really know what the Theory of Intelligent Design is.

    FYI
    Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” [1] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. According to adherents, intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos; it also can be detected in at least some features of living things.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/id-foundations/fyi-ftr-just-what-is-the-core-design-position-and-inference-and-why-is-such-an-inference-made/

    Should intelligent design be taught alongside Darwinian evolution in schools as religious legislators have decided in Pennsylvania and Kansas?

    Where did you get that idea? As usual an ignorant media presented a biased view. What happened in Pennsylvania and Kansas is that the school boards thought that the glaring warts of evolutionary be taught along with regular evolutionary theory. A straw man was created (creationism / intelligent design) to defeat what should be considered normal science methodology.

    To the average high school student Intelligent Design is self evident and does not need to be taught. The Theory of Intelligent Design in a rigorous form in probably more appropriate to the university.

    Now, that design could include evolution perfectly well. It’s very clear that there is evolution, and it’s important. Evolution is here, and intelligent design is here, and they’re both consistent.

    It depends on what you call evolution, if you mean;

    “The doctrine that unguided natural forces caused chemicals to combine in such a way that life resulted; and that all living things have descended from that common ancestral form of life.”
    Evolution as taught is not supported by the data, God designed life to adapt, not evolve, and that “adaptation” has an edge, based on its Kind. This is well supported by the Law of Biogenesis and the Laws of heredity.

    God could have created the universe, set the parameters for the laws of physics and chemistry and biology, and set the evolutionary process in motion,

    God did create a fine tuned universe for carbon based life and life with the ability to adapt and produce the variety of life that we see in the fossil record and extant life.

    You beg the question as to why academia does not want to teach the glaring faults in evolutionary theory.




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  7. ” That’s a ridiculous argument… and the same thing is true for biological complexity at higher levels.”

    But it is not ridiculous to think once all biological life was perfect without decay and all biodiversity ( except fish and fowl) that we see today came from animals crammed into an Ark that survived a world wide flood? Ahhh yes… but this latter proposition is supported by the weight of the evidence buttressed by biblical credibility.

    I think what Pauluc and others are trying to point out to you ( for example look af the opinions of Noble Prize winning, Christian Professor Townes) is that there can be a disparity between science and literal biblical faith and that is OK. But when all science has to be shoe horned into a unique YLC model, this is going to be viewed as a tad narrow on the objective rational scale:)

    I confess, I don’t know if there is a God, don’t know the nature of HIm/Her/It, rely on science over time to give me a better understanding of reality and to understand what God is likely not, see the hand of Man in creating religion and ideas of God(s) over time, have never spoken to a God or been spoken to one- that I know of – have never witnessed ghosts, spirits, miracles, etc. Doesn’t mean I am not looking for answers or oblivious to the faith of others. Faith and hope can be very comforting things and I do not begrudge anyone in that regard.

    As to non human design, the jury remains out. As I cited to you long ago there is evidence of other universes: and they are a possibility. If they are numerous – approaching infinity- then there is certainly a possibility that ours is by chance one that supports observable human life ( anthropic principle). This is no more outlandish than your admonition – and speculation – to me that I don’t understand the power of a god that would contemplate birth control or humans travelling to other planets as part of a ‘perfect’ plan. If you can speculate on God’s unstated motives it’s OK to speculate on a metaverse where cosmology is now starting to explore 🙂

    Lots of fun and food for thought in any case, keep up the good work and dialogue.

    By the way, my family and good friends think a bit nutty in any case, especially for a secular guy that spends so much time blogging on Educate Truth….. ha ha hee hee 🙂




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    • I think what Pauluc and others are trying to point out to you ( for example look af the opinions of Noble Prize winning, Christian Professor Townes) is that there can be a disparity between science and literal biblical faith and that is OK. But when all science has to be shoe horned into a unique YLC model, this is going to be viewed as a tad narrow on the objective rational scale:)

      Based on what? You personally have no idea aside from the fact that the Darwinian perspective is popular among mainstream scientists (an argument from authority alone). Beyond this, you have no idea how the evolutionary mechanism of RM/NS works beyond low levels of functional complexity and you don’t know of any published arguments that reasonably explain how it works. How then are you so sure of your position?

      In any case, I have no problem with those who believe in the Darwinian perspective. I have a lot of good friends who are Darwinists and a few who are ardent atheists. They just don’t expect a paycheck from the SDA Church is all…

      As to non human design, the jury remains out. As I cited to you long ago there is evidence of other universes: and they are a possibility.

      There is no positive evidence of other universes. A theoretical possibility isn’t the same thing as evidence.

      If they are numerous – approaching infinity- then there is certainly a possibility that ours is by chance one that supports observable human life ( anthropic principle). This is no more outlandish than your admonition – and speculation – to me that I don’t understand the power of a god that would contemplate birth control or humans travelling to other planets as part of a ‘perfect’ plan. If you can speculate on God’s unstated motives it’s OK to speculate on a metaverse where cosmology is now starting to explore 🙂

      I’m sorry, but the multiverse argument is a far more outlandish argument compared to the ID argument. The “multiverse” argument is fundamentally illogical and anti-science. It can be used to argue for anything regardless of its probability. It therefore undermines the “predictive value” part of scientific methodologies. For example, if Arnold Schwarzenegger had won the California Lottery 10 times in a row would you have suspected some kind of deliberate setup? – or would you just argued that perhaps he was just living in the right universe? Do you understand the problem here?




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  8. @ Gene

    Ahem…. I think if you read my excerpt a bit more carefully you will find comments on the teaching of intelligent design and evolution ( between the ” ” ) you are attributing to me were from the quoted comments of Nobel prize winning Professor Townes! By all means however feel free to hash it out with him as I think he has the street cred to go toe to toe with you 🙂




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    • @George: You’re the one quoting someone whom you think is an authority on a topic. Yet, your authority was not trained in the biological sciences and evidently does not have any reasonable argument regarding the evolutionary mechanism aside from the fact that it’s the majority opinion. Now, if you have no scientific argument aside from your repeated arguments from authorities who are personally ignorant as to the specific question in play, why should those of us who have actually studied biological sciences extensively, to include detailed studies of how the evolutionary mechanism actually works, consider your “authority arguments” at all relevant or helpful?




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  9. @ Sean

    “When it comes to the creative potential of the evolutionary mechanism (RM/NS) that’s exactly what I’m saying. There is no demonstration or tenable argument for how evolution works, beyond very low levels of functional complexity, in literature. Now, if you think otherwise, by all means show me where such a rational argument exists… because I can’t find one and I’ve been looking for a long time.”

    In other words all the articles that Matzke and Rosenhouse refer to do not support any tenable argument, notwithstanding their expertise in the area? Now remember you claimed Townes had no expertise so don’t chastise me for citing others’ obvious expertise.




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    • Rosenhouse is a mathematician, not a biologist, and he has absolutely no idea how the evolutionary mechanism works at higher levels of functional complexity. Even he says that he believes in evolution based on “circumstantial evidence” – not an actual understanding of how the evolutionary mechanism could actually do what it needed to do. His argument that the beneficial steppingstones are closely spaced and form lines across sequence space is demonstrably wrong. They aren’t lined up in nice little rows at all, but are in a fairly uniform distribution within sequence space. His imaginary solution to the problem is just that – imaginary. The same thing is true of Matzke’s arguments. They’re just imaginary arguments. Not a single one is supported by either laboratory demonstration or relevant statistical calculations based on real empirical evidence. If you think otherwise, perhaps you could reference any of his arguments along these lines? You simply have no idea…




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    • @George:
      “There is no demonstration or tenable argument for how evolution works”
      Actually, that is not true. Even the very basic, and limited information about genetics taught to medical students back in the 1980’s provided at least the broad outline of how evolution works, and everyday more information is filling in the details.

      If you want to claim that a supreme intelligence called God is directing evolution, then I could probably accept that as a matter of faith, but you don’t even need to be a scientist, just look. Evolution is everywhere. It seems to me that only intentional blindness could not see it.




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      • Ron,

        Yes we “know” how “Evolution works”. What we don’t know is how “Evolution” can produce the new information required for new organs and new body types. In fact all empirical science demonstrates otherwise. A mechanism for new information is sadly lacking in the currant theories.

        The limit of evolution seems to be defined by the Laws of Biogenesis and Heredity.




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  10. @ Sean

    ” They’re just imaginary arguments. Not a single one is supported by either laboratory demonstration or relevant statistical calculations based on real empirical evidence.”

    With respect, can you not see how you don’t apply these same exacting standards to your belief the Bible when it comes to proof of miracles or six day creation? That’s what bothers us chattering masses about your obvious double scientific standard.




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    • As I’ve explained several times before, my position isn’t based on some kind of absolute “proof”, but upon the weight of empirical evidence that is available to me – to include the established credibility of the authors with regard to those empirical claims that can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. Exactly the same thing is true of the sciences. Science isn’t about presenting absolute proof. It’s about demonstrating useful predictive value for the hypothesis where there is actually the potential for effective falsification.




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    • This is just a link to downloading Firefox. There’s nothing here about any positive evidence for multiple universes.

      Not that I’m not the only one who claims that there is no positive evidence for multiple universes. Numerous well-known physicists say the same thing. As already mentioned in the article above, for example, Sir Roger Penrose described the ‘multi-verse’ hypothesis noting that, “Its overused, and this is a place where it overused. It’s an excuse for not having a good theory.” (Link).

      There are those who argue that the evidence for a rapid inflation or expansion of the universe is evidence of multiple universes, but this isn’t true. It is not positive evidence for multiple universes. What is does is make them feasible, but does not predict them or make them testable.

      In short, just because you can imagine it and just because it might exist, doesn’t mean that there is any evidence for it or that it can be studied scientifically with the potential for falsification.




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    • Nima Arkani Hamed and others have proposed over 1e500 universes because fewer of them would not obviate fine-tuning. Why believe in them? As a New Scientist writer has explained:

      But the main reason for believing in an ensemble of universes is that it could explain why the laws governing our Universe appear to be so finely turned for our existence … This fine-tuning has two possible explanations. Either the Universe was designed specifically for us by a creator or there is a multitude of universes — a multiverse.

      Cosmologists deserve credit for making the choice so clear. In that spirit, Discover Magazine offers the multiverse as “Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator” (2008).

      It matters that this stuff is considered “science” today.

      (Link)

      @george:




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  11. “In short, just because you can imagine it and just because it might exist, doesn’t mean that there is any evidence for it or that it can be studied scientifically with the potential for falsification.”

    You are talikng about God here, right? 🙂




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    • Not even close. There is very very good evidence for extremely high level intelligent design all over the place within the universe and within our planet. And, the ID-only hypothesis can actually be studied and tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. This is not true for the concept of “mutliple universes”, for which there is no evidence whatsoever and no possibility of testing or falsification…




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  12. @ Sean

    “There is very very good evidence for extremely high level intelligent design all over the place within the universe and within our planet. And, the ID-only hypothesis can actually be studied and tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. This is not true for the concept of “mutliple universes”, for which there is no evidence whatsoever and no possibility of testing or falsification…”

    So you are saying at this point in time that Science can prove God in a falsifiable manner but any evidence of the multi verse ( for example the findings of Laura Mersini-Houghton) are unscientific?




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    • Here’s a quote that explains the problem I have with the multiverse idea (i.e., a “Theory of Anything” can be used to explain absolutely everything – and therefore nothing):

      A pervasive idea in fundamental physics and cosmology that should be retired: the notion that we live in a multiverse in which the laws of physics and the properties of the cosmos vary randomly from one patch of space to another. According to this view, the laws and properties within our observable universe cannot be explained or predicted because they are set by chance. Different regions of space too distant to ever be observed have different laws and properties, according to this picture. Over the entire multiverse, there are infinitely many distinct patches. Among these patches, in the words of Alan Guth, “anything that can happen will happen—and it will happen infinitely many times”. Hence, I refer to this concept as a Theory of Anything. Any observation or combination of observations is consistent with a Theory of Anything. No observation or combination of observations can disprove it. Proponents seem to revel in the fact that the Theory cannot be falsified. The rest of the scientific community should be up in arms since an unfalsifiable idea lies beyond the bounds of normal science. Yet, except for a few voices, there has been surprising complacency and, in some cases, grudging acceptance of a Theory of Anything as a logical possibility. The scientific journals are full of papers treating the Theory of Anything seriously. What is going on?…

      A Theory of Anything is useless because it does not rule out any possibility and worthless because it submits to no do-or-die tests. (Many papers discuss potential observable consequences, but these are only possibilities, not certainties, so the Theory is never really put at risk.)

      Paul Steinhardt, 2014

      Laura Mersini-Houghton’s observations have not demonstrated the existence of infinite universes – not even close. The concept of infinite universes beyond our own is simply not testable and could never be testable in a falsifiable manner from our very very limited Earth-bound perspective. Again, the modern use of the multiverse argument is equivalent to undermining the very basis of scientific discovery – predictive value. The multiverse argument completely undermines the entire concept of predictive value since it makes anything not only possible, but argues that anything and everything will happen somewhere an infinite number of times – by sheer chance alone. If I win at the craps table in Las Vegas 1000 times in a row, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m deliberately cheating somehow. Odds are pretty much 100% that I just happen to be in the right universe! After all, its bound to happen somewhere an infinite number of times – right?! Come on now! You just can’t do science starting with such a premise. Surely you can see that?

      So, isn’t the hypothesis of intelligent design in the same boat? Well, no. It isn’t. Why not? Because, the argument that an intelligent mind and only an intelligent mind could have produced a given phenomenon can be tested and falsified quite easily – by simply showing how some mindless mechanism based on the mechanical laws of nature could do the job without any additional intelligent “direction” or “guidance” beyond these mindless mechanisms. You see, the ID-only argument isn’t being used to explain anything and everything. It is only being used to explain what cannot be explained by mindless mechanisms, but are at least approximated by what known intelligent minds can produce.




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      • @Sean Pitman: How is it that your statement/quote,

        “Here’s a quote that explains the problem I have with the multiverse idea (i.e., a “Theory of Anything” can be used to explain absolutely everything – and therefore nothing):”

        does not also apply the concept of God? If God is the Theory of Anything, then by your own assertion, God is also “nothing”.




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  13. I guess the answer to your question, “However, what would it take before one could be rationally suspicious that a particular phenomenon could only be explained by a level of intelligence and creative power that, from our finite perspective at least, would be indistinguishable from what we would expect from a God or a God-like being?” is nothing. I can’t conceive of anything that could only be explained by that level of intelligence. Certainly nothing in the natural world meets that criteria, and even your illustration of the granite blocks fails on the principle of Emergence. The granite block, or the international space station for that matter, are all naturally emergent phenomena created by a human being which is in turn an emergent phenomenon in an continually emerging universe.

    Also, the existence of intelligence does not necessarily imply the necessity for God. Depending on how you define intelligence, every living thing, from bacteria, to plants to humans displays some form of intelligence, and unless you are proposing some form of pantheism, they are not God.




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    • Oh please. A bacterium is not deliberately intelligent like humans are. This should be self evident to you. Also, human intelligence may be natural, but it is not the same thing as the mindless forces of nature (like meterological phenomena for instance). The existence of a highly symmetrical granite cube cannot be explained by any other “natural phenomena” besides that which also has access to at least human level intelligence. And, that’s the whole point. Different phenomena that are clearly “artificial” in nature require different levels of intelligence to explain…




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  14. @ Sean

    “The concept of infinite universes beyond our own is simply not testable and could never be testable in a falsifiable manner from our very very limited Earth-bound perspective. ”

    How do you know that? How do you know it could ‘never’ be testable, if in fact certain cosmologists are know making observations that they say indicate the effect of other universes on our own? How do you know as time goes on that Man will not in fact unravel the mystery and provide more concrete evidence of a multiverse?

    Yet, as Ron points out, God of the Gaps becomes your default mechanism for ‘ostensible’ design – that gets whittled down over time by science demonstrates how cause and effect mechanisms create phenomena.

    Again the glaring double standard.




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    • How do you know that? How do you know it could ‘never’ be testable, if in fact certain cosmologists are know making observations that they say indicate the effect of other universes on our own? How do you know as time goes on that Man will not in fact unravel the mystery and provide more concrete evidence of a multiverse?

      I’ve already explained this is some detail. And, I’ve explained why the use of the “multiverse argument” can be used to explain everything and therefore nothing… and how this is anti-science. It’s not real science if it undermines the ability to produce “predictive power” for the hypothesis and/or theory – the very basis of science.

      Again, the multiverse concept is impossible to test, even in theory, because other bubble universes would be permanently out of reach and unobservable. “Literally, anything can happen and does happen infinitely many times,” Steinhardt says. “This makes the theory totally unpredictive or, equivalently, unfalsifiable.”

      An untestable idea is by definition unscientific, because science relies on verifying predictions through experimentation. Proponents of the multiverse idea, however, say it is so inextricable with some theories, including inflation theories, that evidence for one is evidence for the other. However, this argument is self-defeating. It’s like saying that evidence that predicts a multiverse is evidence that would predict anything and everything… and therefor nothing again. It’s a circular argument…

      Also, as far as Laura Mersini-Houghton’s arguments, they are based on the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) “cold spot” and “dark flow” data. However, since the initial WMAP data was obtained, a more thorough analysis of data from the WMAP and from the Planck satellite (which has a resolution 3 times higher than WMAP) failed to find any statistically significant evidence of such a bubble universe collision. In addition, there is no evidence of any gravitational pull of other universes on ours. (Link)

      Here’s what the Planck team said about the WMAP data:

      “The Planck team’s paper appears to rule out the claims of Kashlinsky and collaborators,” says David Spergel of Princeton University, who was not involved in the work. If there is no dark flow, there is no need for exotic explanations for it, such as other universes, says Planck team member Elena Pierpaoli at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “You don’t have to think of alternatives.”

      So, really, there is no solid evidence even for one other universe beyond our own – much less an infinite number of universes (which would make any “evidence” meaningless anyway because such a perspective makes any and all observations and predictions equally likely).

      Yet, as Ron points out, God of the Gaps becomes your default mechanism for ‘ostensible’ design – that gets whittled down over time by science demonstrates how cause and effect mechanisms create phenomena. Again the glaring double standard.

      Science itself is based on “gaps” between what various hypotheses can effectively explain and reliably predict. If there were no discoverable gaps like this, there would be no science. That is why pointing out the scientific ability to detect deliberate intelligent design behind various phenomena in nature is not a “double standard” at all – especially given that several modern scientific disciplines are based on the scientific ability to detect deliberate intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. How do you think forensic scientists, anthropologists, and SETI scientists hope to be able to detect true artifacts of intelligent design when they find them?




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