Comment on “Blindingly Obvious Artifacts” of Intelligent Design by Sean Pitman.
If one is going to be able to “present a mindless natural mechanism” than one has to talk about the “shop” no matter if the mechanism is natural or intelligent. Otherwise the claim of falsification can never be achieved. Finding a “polished granite cube” on the shelf of a rock shop is going to have a much higher probability of being an artefact of intelligence than one found in an ice core 1000 meters below the surface.
That’s simply not true. The location where the polished granite cube is found is irrelevant to the determination that it is a true artefact of intelligent design. That’s why, even if found on an alien planet, like Mars by one of our rovers there, it would be instantly proclaimed an artefact of intelligent design and would in fact hit the front page of every news paper and science journal in the world.
Also, a hypothesis to be testable has to be specific not vague. “highly symmetrical”? Does that mean the corners are square to 90.00 +/-0.01 degrees? To 88 +/- 2 degrees? How am I to know? “polished”? What scratch and dig parameter is being applied here to determine the quality of polishing? Is natural desert polish sufficient to be polished enough? Again, how am I to know in order to falsify? Who is going to define the terms for falsification? Pitman does not seem to think such matters are important. To him, one only has to look at it to conclude “yup! that’s an artefact”.
I do think such parameters are important. I’ve even posted pictures to specifically illustrate what I was talking about.
Such a granite cube would be recognized as a clear artefact of intelligent design regardless of where it happened to be found in the universe.
Are you telling me that you would not be able to recognize these granite cubes as true artefacts of intelligent design? – regardless of where they happened to be found?
In addition, Pitman’s claim of falsification in this case is itself inconsequential. If scientists finds a thousand polished granite cubes and one can be shown to have been formed by “a mindless natural mechanism”, the “hypothesis” (if you want to call it that) is still proven to be true 99.9% of the time – and that is falsification? Such a measure of falsification makes no sense? Are we required to throw out our ability to identify the other 999 granite cubes as artefacts of intelligence because one was found that is not? Again, it makes no sense.
It makes perfect sense. The discovery of any non-intelligent natural mechanism that can produce such granite cubes would definitively falsify the hypothesis that only intelligent design can create such granite cubes. This falsifying demonstration would make the claim for intelligent design of such a cube much much harder to support.
Finally, what gives a polished granite cube the unique place of having the properties sufficient to identify a “blindingly obvious artifact” better than any other creation by intelligence? Why not choose a hexagonal stoneware dinner plate? Certainly that has to be a “blindingly obvious artefact”. What about a shiny metal toaster? How about a molded rubber ducky? It seems that all of these satisfy the properties of shape, material and surface quality needed to identify an artefact of intelligence just as well as a polished granite cube. Selecting a granite cube because it is “closer to being natural, but not” is an extraneous addition that is at best ad hoc in trying to save the argument. Identifying a polished granite cube above other artefacts adds no merit to what is supposed to be an empirical statement.
You miss the point entirely. I never said that my granite cube would be the only “blindly obvious artefact” if found in nature. I only used it as an example of something that is “simple” yet clearly artificial. The method for determining that it is a true artefact of intelligent design can be used to determine that other phenomena are also “blindingly obvious” artefacts as well – to include SETI radio signals, hexagonal stoneware dinner plates, metal toasters, rubber duckies, granite cubes, other granite artefacts (see picture below), and biological machines. The very same argument applies in all of these cases – giving it universal application as a scientific method of investigating various phenomena for artefactual features.
Please be clear, that I am not saying that ID is not a valid argument. The position here is to demonstrate that Sean Pitman’s approach to ID and empiricism is untenable.
But you are actually saying that ID is not a valid argument – outside of knowing exactly how, by what precise method, the phenomenon in question was produced. If you know with absolute certainty how something was done, you no longer need science to determine how it was most likely done. Science isn’t about producing absolute certainty. Science is about producing useful predictive value given limited information. That is why a scientific hypothesis is always open to the potential for falsification…
Your position, in comparison, invalidates SETI as well as forensic science and anthropology. You’re also not being consistent in your claims since you yourself would in fact recognize my granite cube, as described, as a true artefact of intelligent design – as would any candid observer with any background experience with the material of granite.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Even your statement “A simple polished cube of granite… is well beyond what can be ‘naturally’ produced and is therefore a clear artefact of intelligent design.” is an existential statement, not scientific since falsification is necessary for it to be scientific (as according to Popper). Intuitively there is nothing unscientific about this claim as presented, but intuition is not an acceptable basis for making scientific conclusions. Intuition is subjective not objective. Phrases such as “well beyond “ or “clear artifact” are vague and therefore makes this stated claim unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific.
Not true. The hypothesis that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube is a true artefact of intelligent design is testable in a potentially falsifiable manner. All that has to be done to falsify this hypothesis is to present a mindless natural mechanism that is capable of producing such a cube. Such a demonstration would effectively falsify the artefact hypothesis.
This isn’t just “intuition”. This is science in that some real investigation of the natural world is required before one can detect true artefacts with any degree of useful predictive value. Also, your “presuppositions” are themselves testable and potentially falsifiable.
Testability is the key element in science. Using the results of these tests to extrapolate or to predict the future is the whole purpose of science. And, this is what separates science from mere wishful thinking or pure philosophy – testability. This is the difference between pure subjectivity and objectivity. While we cannot be purely objective, while biases cannot be fully overcome, we do not have to be purely subjective either. We can actually test our ideas against external information – external reality.
By appealing to the tools only, you claim that you have made the question philosophically neutral. If that is the case the results should come out identical within statistical sampling uncertainties. However, we are in this discussion because of the strong polarization that exists between ID and mainstream science. Thus, we know the answers will not be the same because of the necessity of the philosophical component that must be included in answering the question.
If your philosophy causes you to reject the design hypothesis for something like a highly symmetrical polished granite cube, your philosophy simply isn’t rational. What you’re doing is rejecting the obvious implications of the empirical evidence because of a blind desire to hang onto a philosophy or a belief system that just isn’t true. What you have at this point is nothing more than wishful thinking.
Science is supposed to go beyond mere philosophy or personal bias or wishful thinking by being open to the testing of ones hypotheses and theories with at least the potential for falsification. That’s the benefit of science. If your position is rooted so deeply in a cherished philosophy that you cannot be challenged in your thinking, your simply not being scientific or rational.
In short, your philosophy should have nothing to do with deciding if something like a highly symmetrical polished granite cube is or is not a true artefact of intelligent design.
You seem to be ignorant of the fact that in all domains of science ID proponents reject methodological naturalism and accept theistic science as a basis for making even the simplest observation and drawing a conclusion.
You’re not talking to just any ID proponent here. You’re talking to me. What I’m pointing out here is that from the perspective of methodological naturalism, as it is generally applied in sciences like forensic science, anthropology, and SETI science, the same rules used to hypothesize ID in these sciences can be used to discover true artefacts of intelligent design, on a “natural level” behind certain aspects of living things.
Also, your argument that a highly symmetrical polished granite cube would not be a clear artefact of intelligent design unless a shop were found with tools, etc., simply isn’t a valid argument. Such a cube is a clear artefact of intelligent design regardless of if evidence for how it was created is or isn’t discovered. The same is true for SETI-type radio signals.
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