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.
To be specific, let’s define “highly symmetrical” as: less than 0.001 mm variation per 10 cm – parallel and perpendicular.
Let’s also define “polished” as a surfaced finished to 1000 grit definition.
I’ve also previously mentioned a size of exactly one cubic meter for the cube, but lets use a minimum size requirement of 10 cm^3.
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
“Blindingly Obvious Artifacts” of Intelligent Design
I agree. Snowflakes may have the appearance of design, but they are not designed. They are not true artefacts that require intelligent input beyond mindless natural mechanisms.
Also, the ability to detect true artefacts is not inherent knowledge derived directly from God. In order to be able to accurately detect true artefacts of design one has to have some background experience with the material in question (i.e., some actual scientific research). For example, pyrite and salt crystals naturally form highly symmetrical cubes. This is not true of the material of granite, however. That is why a highly symmetrical granite cube is a “blindingly obvious” artefact of intelligent design while the same is not true of a cube of pyrite.
“Blindingly Obvious Artifacts” of Intelligent Design
That’s true, but that’s a different question. The fundamental laws or “constants” of nature are themselves clearly designed. However, one can also tell if something is intelligently designed beyond the mindless robotic laws of nature that God created. A polished granite cube is an artefact of intelligent design while a snowflake can be explained by the mindless laws of nature. There’s a key difference between these two examples.
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.
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Science and Methodological Naturalism
Very interesting passage. After all, if scientists are honest with themselves, scientific methodologies are well-able to detect the existence of intelligent design behind various artifacts found in nature. It’s just the personal philosophy of scientists that makes them put living things and the origin of the fine-tuned universe “out of bounds” when it comes to the detection of intelligent design. This conclusion simply isn’t dictated by science itself, but by a philosophical position, a type of religion actually, that strives to block the Divine Foot from getting into the door…
Why is it that creationists are afraid to acknowledge the validity of Darwinism in these settings? I don’t see that these threaten a belief in God in any way whatsoever.
The threat is when you see no limitations to natural mindless mechanisms – where you attribute everything to the creative power of nature instead of to the God of nature.
God has created natural laws that can do some pretty amazing things. However, these natural laws are not infinite in creative potential. Their abilities are finite while only God is truly infinite.
The detection of these limitations allows us to recognize the need for the input of higher-level intelligence and creative power that goes well beyond what nature alone can achieve. It is here that the Signature of God is detectable.
For those who only hold a naturalistic view of the universe, everything is attributed to the mindless laws of nature… so that the Signature of God is obscured. Nothing is left that tells them, “Only God or some God-like intelligent mind could have done this.”
That’s the problem when you do not recognize any specific limitations to the tools that God has created – when you do not recognize the limits of nature and what natural laws can achieve all by themselves.
Since the fall of Adam, Sean, all babies are born in sin and they are sinners. God created them. Even if it was by way of cooperation of natural law as human beings also participated in the creation process.
God did not create the broken condition of any human baby – neither the physical or moral brokenness of any human being. God is responsible for every good thing, to include the spark or breath of life within each one of us. However, He did not and does not create those things within us that are broken or bad.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?'” Matthew 13:27-28
Of course, all humans are indeed born broken and are in a natural state of rebellion against God. However, God is not the one who created this condition nor is God responsible for any baby being born with any kind of defect in character, personality, moral tendency, or physical or genetic abnormality. God did not create anyone with such brokenness. Such were the natural result of rebellion against God and heading the temptations of the “enemy”… the natural result of a separation from God with the inevitable decay in physical, mental, and moral strength.
Of course, the ones who are born broken are not responsible for their broken condition either. However, all of us are morally responsible for choosing to reject the gift of Divine Grace once it is appreciated… and for choosing to go against what we all have been given to know, internally, of moral truth. In other words, we are responsible for rebelling against the Royal Law written on the hearts of all mankind.
This is because God has maintained in us the power to be truly free moral agents in that we maintain the Power to choose, as a gift of God (Genesis 3:15). We can choose to accept or reject the call of the Royal Law, as the Holy Spirit speaks to all of our hearts…
Remember the statement by Mrs. White that God is in no wise responsible for sin in anyone at any time. God is working to fix our broken condition. He did not and does not create our broken condition. Just as He does not cause Babies to be born with painful and lethal genetic defects, such as those that result in childhood leukemia, He does not cause Babies to be born with defects of moral character either. God is only directly responsible for the good, never the evil, of this life.
Again, your all-or-nothing approach to the claims of scientists isn’t very scientific. Even the best and most famous of scientists has had numerous hair-brained ideas that were completely off base. This fact does not undermine the good discoveries and inventions that were produced.
Scientific credibility isn’t based on the person making the argument, but upon the merits of the argument itself – the ability of the hypothesis to gain predictive value when tested. That’s it.
Gary Gilbert, Spectrum, and Pseudogenes
Don’t be so obtuse here. We’re not talking about publishing just anything in mainstream journals. I’ve published several articles myself. We’re talking about publishing the conclusion that intelligent design was clearly involved with the origin of various artifactual features of living things on this planet. Try getting a paper that mentions such a conclusion published…