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 Post subject: Intelligent Design (Bubble Boy V Alyrium Denryle) PostPosted: 2008-12-09 01:12am
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For the record first the initial request for a match.
Alyrium Denryle wrote:
Honorable Senators,

I hereby do propose and challenge that someone engage me on the subject of the evolution of religion. Specifically, on distinguishing whether religion at different temporal scales best fits an evolutionary spandrel hypothesis, a mutualistic hypothesis, or the parasitic meme hypothesis. My position being that religious belief systems originated as a neutral byproduct of adaptive cognitive processes, and were attached to (and became mutualistic with) human cultural systems. Later, after a lot of divergence,I will split hairs and take the position that it depends on the religion whether or not is is adaptive, neutral, or maladaptive.

~Alyrium
November 11, Year of Our Darwin 199

This is our first official match between members here in the newly restored Coliseum. Expect more formal rules in the weeks ahead and I hope a much improved turn around time between request, vote and opening thread.

The rules are simple as stands there will be a standard three round match. The opening post belongs to Bubble Boy arguing the Pro-ID side of this debate. At which time Alyrium Denryle will have a set(As yet undefined) period of time to post his own opening statement and get first respond to Bubble's OP. At that time Bubble Boy will be allowed a clarification and response post As will Alyrium Denryle. And then both sides will make closing statements with Alyrium Denryle having the final word. This is the rough outline for now if I judge it necessary I will grant either side one addition response post or additional time between posts as there is no set rules for most of this yet.

For the record the initial request came from Alyrium Denryle wishing to argue against ID and Bubble Boy has agreed to take the Pro side. His words are his own as are Alyrium. Both are free to draw on whatever sources of information they wish but please keep in mind that if quoting scientists or studies they should be sourced properly to avoid that common problem of Internet debates "Making shit up".
Bubble Boy you have the first post.




"A cult is a religion with no political power." -Tom Wolfe
Pardon me for sounding like a dick, but I'm playing the tiniest violin in the world right now-Dalton

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 Post subject: Intelligent Design(Bubble Boy V Alyrium Denryle) PostPosted: 2008-12-09 07:38pm
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Disclaimer wrote:
I, SDN user Bubbly Boy, hereby declare that the position I henceforth will be arguing for, Intelligent Design, is not my genuine position and all arguements and efforts on my behalf should be interpretated in this context. I will endeavor to maintain my position as long as possible and challenge my opponent to the best of my ability, for the expressed purpose of entertainment and, ideally, education on debating skills, tactics and fallacies.

So it is written, so it shall be done!


Intelligent Design, as I will argue it, is the satisfactory explanation that all life on Earth orginated and originates via an Intelligent Creator, AKA Designer.

The most conclusive and persuasive proof for ID is the Theory of Evolution, a theory irrefuteably founded and supported by empirical facts and logical reasoning. Allow me to express the general concept of Evolution:

"The Theory of Evolution explains the gradual modification of simple living organisms into (potentially) larger, more complex and effectively adapted organisms, determined via Natural Selection. Natural Selection, in this case, being enviromental pressures."

The Theory of Evolution should not be confused with the concept of Abiogensis; Evolution explains the diversity and complexity of life, not the origin of life. The origin of life will be effectively explained as an Intelligent Creator later.

Now let us look upon a concept that no rational person would dispute as a product of Intelligent Design; the personal automobile.

Automobiles didn't start out as fully envisioned concepts. They stemmed from extremely simple things like fire and the wheel, AKA chemistry and physics. Just as the beginnings of life stemmed from chemistry and physics.

Today's most advanced vehicles incorperate vast quantities of assorted technologies and ideas, with the end result being impressive designs. Not to be confused with perfect designs, however. Note: imperfect design is not an arguement against design.

But this wasn't always the case. The further back in time one travels, the more one sees automobiles become less and less advanced, to the point where a horse drawn cart on wheels doesn't even fit the definition of a vehicle as people now typically understand it.

Vehicles, like their organic counterparts, evolved over a long period of time, becoming more complex and adapted to their enviroments, dictated by the demands of Natural Selection. Some vehicle designs and components survived Natural Selection, others did not. To rehash the definition of The Theory of Evolution as submitted above:

"The Theory of (Vehicle) Evolution explains the gradual modification of simple vehicles into (potentially) larger, more complex and effectively adapted vehicles, determined via Natural Selection. Natural Selection, in this case, being enviromental pressures."

Amazing, isn't it? Your typical vehicle is also a product of a long process of evolution, where Natural Selection favored some designs over others, thus today we have incredibly complex, well designed and obviously intelligently designed results.

But your typical atheist/evolutionist will insist that despite this obvious parallel, Evolution doesn't require an Intelligent Designer because, well, they say so! The Theory of Evolution is exactly how an Intelligent Designer goes about designing complex structures and creations. I refer you to my vehicle arguement, along with any other advanced creations people have built and refined over the years.

Allow me to touch once more upon Evolution as a proof for a creator. Evolution and Natural Selection, by their very nature, eliminate wasteful behavior and traits, since they do not contribute to survival. So why do so many people have the trait of faith? We are products of Evolution, therefore mindless ideas like "I think I can fly off this cliff" or "teasing a non caged, fast and vicious predator" are ideas that will tend to get removed fairly quickly, only cropping up occasionally as argueable 'defects'. And on that note, your average pop can production plant obviously has defects routinely crop up, but let's not pretend that is a valid excuse to dismiss the Intelligent Design of a pop can, hmm?

To sum up my arguements:

-Evolution is a conculsively proven theory, and it is exactly how an Intelligent Designer goes about creating things. The personal automobile being my example of choice.
-Evolution by it's very nature eliminates useless traits and behavior; therefore one can point out that belief/faith in a creator should've been weeded out quickly if it were indeed useless or wrong. Since Evolution and Natural Selection only keep valueable traits, faith and belief in a creator must be a useful mechanism for understanding and surviving in our world. More importantly, this understanding allows us to become creators as well.



"Now let us be clear, my friends. The fruits of our science that you receive and the many millions of benefits that justify them, are a gift. Be grateful. Or be silent." -Modified Quote

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 Post subject: 123 PostPosted: 2008-12-09 11:28pm
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God-Emperor Wong and his Duly Appointed Magistrates; Esteemed Legates of the Senate; and the broader community of SDN: I hereby submit for your approval and digestion my opening argument, and rebuttal of my opponent's intrinsically flawed position.

My position is that Intelligent Design is a useless canard. It is not a satisfactory explanation for the origin of life on this planet, because it is untestable, unfalsifiable, and all arguments for its satisfactory nature either rely on logical fallacies, hubris, or both.

To take for example my opponent's argument, it can be broken down into fundamental errors.

1)A strawman of evolution and how it operates
2)A false analogy between the design and construction of automobiles and the evolution of complex organisms.
3)A non-sequitur

I will deal with each of these errors in turn, and humbly in my capacity pray that they are satisfactory.


Quote:
"The Theory of Evolution explains the gradual modification of simple living organisms into (potentially) larger, more complex and effectively adapted organisms, determined via Natural Selection. Natural Selection, in this case, being enviromental pressures."


This is his first fundamental error. Natural Selection is the differential reproduction and survival of phenotypes, relative to other phenotypes. To phrase it somewhat differently, it is the differential relative fitness between individuals in a population.

Fitness is defined as the relative contribution of an allele, genotype, of phenotype to the next generation.

Natural selection can only occur if the following conditions are met.

1)There must be variation among individuals
2)Variation must be Heritable. Heritability being defined as the proportion of variation within a population that is directly attributable to genetic variation.
3)Some individuals must have higher fitness than others
4)This higher fitness must not be random, and must be related to heritable phenotypic variation.

Clearly your honors, while this definition is somewhat more complex, it does not lend itself so easily to my opponent's position. His operational definition was either a self-serving intentional distortion, or a mistake born of ignorance. I pray you show mercy on my opponent, for I have none to give. How, you may be asking my Lords and Ladies, does the variation upon which Selection acts come into being?

Heritable variation arises as the result of mutation in the genetic code as a result of copy errors in meiosis of greater and lesser magnitude, that are passed on to offspring. This happens randomly, and is undirected by an outside force. Where survival and reproduction become non-random is when this variation in genotype interacts with the rest of the organism's developmental processes mediated through the laws of chemistry and physics, and when the phenotype that results (barring inviability) interacts with the external environment and other organisms both con and heterospecific.

This brings us however to my opponent's False Analogy.


Quote:
Vehicles, like their organic counterparts, evolved over a long period of time, becoming more complex and adapted to their enviroments, dictated by the demands of Natural Selection. Some vehicle designs and components survived Natural Selection, others did not. To rehash the definition of The Theory of Evolution as submitted above:


Surely your honors are not to be expected to swallow this argument like like certain prostitutes swallowed the seminal fluid of American soldiers during a certain S. Asian conflict in the 1960s.

There are several problems with this analogy

1).In order to solve a specific problem, engineers such as our Beloved God-Emperor toil in obscurity and come up with as simple, efficient and cost-effective a solution as they are able. Evolution does not function this way. Mutation is random and blind. It creates random changes in individuals with each successive generation. The selective forces acting upon each individual determine their probability to survive and how many offspring they will have in their lifetime. A given mutation can be adaptive, maladaptive, or neutral. As a result of this process biological systems are jury-rigged, redundant, and inefficient compared to their mechanical counterparts. The exact opposite of what we would expect to see if systems were in any way engineered.

2).The second problem is a simple one. The “evolution” of motor vehicles does not echo Evolution because the conditions for natural selection to act on the system are not met. There is no heritable variation between individual vehicles of the same make and model. In fact, the last time I checked vehicles neither engage in asexual cell division, vegetative reproduction,or parthenogenesis. Nor do they mount each other and proceed to mate. They are produced from raw materials in a factory, and neither the blue prints, or the machinery vary so as to create variation in the product vehicles.

The final error made by my opponent is a non-sequitur. Even were I to concede the above argument, an action I have no reason to take, your graces, it does not logically follow that just because vehicles are designed, and biological systems look designed, that biological systems are in fact designed. One would have to establish a mechanism by which a designer would in fact design biological systems. In order to to establish such a mechanism for action one would have to formulate a coherent testable hypothesis for this mechanism, then go about performing the test. No such test can be designed that can confirm or falsify an Intelligent Creator, because one can merely appeal to his omniscience/omnipotent/inscrutable character to deflect criticism of a negative result.

All of this of course belies the fact that there is an infinite regress whenever one posits the need for a creator. One must ask the question “How did the creator get there?” Because surely an intelligent creator must be at least as complex as a life form he creates, and if we are too complex to have arisen by Natural Selection certainly the designer must also have been designed. And it's turtles all the way down.

...

As for the existence of faith, and it being useless or wrong, and thus could not possibly have evolved... This is a false argument. Evolution by the random nature of mutations, how selection operates, and the interdependent nature of the components of a complex biological system (the number of receptors for testosterone, and indeed testosterone itself, controls many different characters and behavioral traits for example) leads to a great many trade-offs that lead to what we would consider sub-optimal solutions if we were engineering them. There are three primary hypotheses, all of them undergoing testing at present in the literature regarding the evolution and maintenance (they might have different mechanisms) of faith in humans.

1)Spandrel: The spandrel hypotheses rests on the idea that religion evolved as a byproduct of other adaptive cognitive processes in humans, such as pattern-recognition, agency-detection, and a desire for control over the environment. It is hypothesized by spandrel theorists that it is maintained by selection on these same traits.(For something written for lay people go here)

2)Adaptation: The Adaptation hypothesis rests on the idea that religious faith encourages behavior that was and is important for the functioning of social groups and competition between groups. An alternative point of view within this school, and the one I hold to, is that the capacity for spiritual experiences evolved as an evolutionary spandrel, but was later maintained and actively selected for because it facilitated adaptive behaviors via the cultural evolution of religions. (for more on the adaptationist hypothesis written for lay people go here)

3)Parasitic: The parasite hypothesis rests on the idea that religion evolved as a meme which hitched a proverbial ride on otherwise adaptive cognitive processes and has been causing harm to us since. It is kept in the system because if we alter the cognitive processes that maintain it we suffer fitness consequences even greater than we do with religion staying in the system. (for more, go read The God Delusion)

If my opponent wishes to enter into this particular debate, I am more than happy to oblige.

I do however hope that my argument pleased the greater body whom I have been tasked with enlightening and entertaining, and look forward with great pleasure to my opponents response.


Submitted this Ninth Day of December, Year of Our Darwin 199.

~Alyrium Denryle-Minister of Sin
Subdirector. Herpetology and Evolutionary Biology
SDNet Department of Biological Sciences



GALE Force Biological Agent/
BOTM/Great Dolphin Conspiracy/
Herpetology and Evolutionary Biology Subdirector:SD.net Dept. of Biological Sciences


There is Grandeur in the View of Life; it fills me with a Deep Wonder, and Intense Cynicism.

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 Post subject: Re: Intelligent Design(Bubble Boy V Alyrium Denryle) PostPosted: 2008-12-10 11:35pm
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I shall begin by summarizing my opponent's objections and arguments, and then address each in turn. I've repeatedly read over his response, and I'm fairly confident I have not missed any of his key points:

1) I have misunderstood the concept of Natural Selection with regards to biological organisms.

2) Human designers, more commonly known as engineers, do not employ Evolutionary theory to design.

3) Biological Evolution passes information via a physical method (ie: mating and sharing of DNA).

4) One needs to establish a mechanism by which an Intelligent Designer would create life and this mechanism must be testable or at least capable of being disproven.

5) The infinite regress argument against the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

6) The argument faith could not have evolved.

With my summary out of the way, allow me to proceed:


1) I have misunderstood the concept of Natural Selection with regards to biological organisms.

I believe I should freely admit fault here for too loosely using the term "Natural Selection". This seems to have confused my opponent with the idea that I meant only in the context of the biological means by which this process occurs; transfer of information via DNA and mating.

My response is I would point out that what I should have said instead of 'Natural Selection' is a more inclusive label "Feedback Environment". Simply put, a transfer of information via whatever means available upon which a Feedback Environment will dictate positive, neutral or negative results.

Whether this process employs DNA, sound waves, verbal communication, computer code or whatever is irrelevant to the process.

All that matters is that information is passed forward in the on going process of Intelligent Design.

In regards to the fitness of specific vehicles for specific niches in their environments, I trust I don't need to spell out something that incredibly obvious.

2) Human designers, more commonly known as engineers, do not employ Evolutionary theory to design.

My opponents asserts that human engineers tackle problems by carefully designing tools and constructs, building a single end product to fit whatever purpose they have in mind.

Clearly my opponent's education is lacking. Human engineers are indeed employing evolutionary mechanisms for design, because of the enormous success this method can yield. I will provide a source here, demonstrating that NASA engineers employ evolutionary software to develop things like antennas and other desired tools.

Evolutionary mechanisms can be extremely effective at producing desired results, with the end results merely reflecting whatever the Feedback Environment (ie: Natural Selection) rewards.

Indeed, if a perspective were limited to a tiny segment of the mess this system (I refer to our NASA example) makes during the process, one could easily argue absolute stupidity and non intelligence behind the process, since hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of defective and badly 'designed' models crop up and disappear.

But this is clearly a limited view of the situation; the engineers care not for the discarded material, only for the end goal and product.

Similarly, only human arrogance would suggest we are any type of end product or ideal, especially in light of the fact Evolution is still an ongoing process in our world. Scriptures at least got it right when asserting our own imperfection, and apparent purpose of serving God. Just not quite in the way many believers think.

One thing we can say for certain, is that the Intelligent Designer that setup the Feedback Environment upon which our own evolution was dictated by (in this case, the natural world) clearly favours the product of intelligence itself. This is substantiated by the human trait that makes us the dominate species in our world, and our ongoing effort to increase this trait. Even going so far as to exert significant effort towards creating artificial intelligence greater than our own.

The fact that humans need to possess much greater knowledge and intelligence relative to our past selves in order to actually artificially create Evolutionary systems is an enormously powerful point in itself!

3) Biological Evolution passes information via a physical method (ie: mating and sharing of DNA).

I actually covered this mostly in section one: my opponent complained about the fact that Intelligently Designed vehicles do not pass on information or traits via the biological process of mating and DNA.

That's actually completely irrelevant to my point. The traits, features and information on the design of any particular vehicle(s) were transferred anyhow. My opponent has taken the concept of biological Evolution and its existing means of information transfer, and arbitrarily declared its difference from other potential transfer methods as proof it cannot be designed!

4) One needs to establish a mechanism by which an Intelligent Designer would create life, and this mechanism must be testable or at least capable of being disproven.

This challenge seems hardly worth the effort! Physics and the universe at large seem to quite provable, and are clearly the mechanism our Intelligent Designer is employing to create us. Once physics and the universe as we understand it is in place, all that is required is the tiniest effort to begin Intelligent Design.

My opponent's argument is akin to saying a computer programmer is not an Intelligent Designer, because the (created!) evolutionary nature of the computer code and its ability to run without our programmer pressing every 1 and 0 directly proves otherwise. Absurd!

Why would an Intelligent Designer shun efficiency or methods of producing results without absolute direct control or decision making? I refer you back to section two!


5) The infinite regress argument against the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

Infinite regress is a well known argument: "What created the Intelligent Designer?"

The answer seems trivially easy; the Intelligent Designer 'always' existed in the form of the universe itself. Perhaps my opponent thinks I subscribe to the silly notion our Intelligent Designer is some deity 'outside' of the Universe, as if that notion has any validity whatsoever. Nonsense.

But perhaps pictures speak louder than words!


6) The argument faith could not have evolved.

This is actually a strawman of my argument. I did not say faith could not evolve; I said Evolution via Natural selection weeds out useless or counter productive traits, therefore faith must be a useful trait of humanity.

My opponent then attempts to explain away faith as indeed a useless and accidental trait of humanity, despite it's persistence in our species for as long as we presumably could think; thousands of years minimum. This seems to fly in the face of understanding the Theory of Evolution, which dictates any behaviour not necessarily understood doesn't mean it doesn't have some actual useful purpose. I will quote Richard Dawkins from the God Delusion, page 163:

"To choose an example that doesn't involve advertising, there is 'anting': the odd habit of birds, such as jays, of 'bathing' in ants' nest or otherwise applying ants to the feathers. Nobody is sure what the benefit of anting is - perhaps some kind of hygiene, cleaning out parasites from the feathers; there are various other hypotheses, none of them strongly supported by evidence. But uncertainty as to details doesn't - nor should it - stop Darwinians from presuming, with great confidence, that anting must be 'for' something."

I expanded upon this and proposed the existence of faith as an element of human understanding regarding creation, and thus we are granted the capability to create and design as well. Our ability to create and design is well documented, and our progression towards utilizing evolutionary mechanisms, as touched upon in section two, is only further fuel for my argument.

Hopefully my opponent will address my actual argument in this particular case.



"Now let us be clear, my friends. The fruits of our science that you receive and the many millions of benefits that justify them, are a gift. Be grateful. Or be silent." -Modified Quote

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 Post subject: Re: Intelligent Design(Bubble Boy V Alyrium Denryle) PostPosted: 2008-12-11 08:40pm
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My opponent has once again attempted to insult both your intelligence and my own with his arguments so vacuous as to resemble the space between the atmospheres of planetary bodies.

In the following post, I shall endeavor to show that his arguments, while clever, are indeed only cleverly used distortions and logical fallacies intended to obfuscate the truth, and decided illogic of his position. I shall give each of his arguments the full treatment, and spare no detail.


Quote:
1) I have misunderstood the concept of Natural Selection with regards to biological organisms.

I believe I should freely admit fault here for too loosely using the term "Natural Selection". This seems to have confused my opponent with the idea that I meant only in the context of the biological means by which this process occurs; transfer of information via DNA and mating.

My response is I would point out that what I should have said instead of 'Natural Selection' is a more inclusive label "Feedback Environment". Simply put, a transfer of information via whatever means available upon which a Feedback Environment will dictate positive, neutral or negative results.

Whether this process employs DNA, sound waves, verbal communication, computer code or whatever is irrelevant to the process.

All that matters is that information is passed forward in the on going process of Intelligent Design.

In regards to the fitness of specific vehicles for specific niches in their environments, I trust I don't need to spell out something that incredibly obvious.


My opponent commits three fallacies here. The first is that he shifts the goal posts. The second is a fallacy of equivocation, which he commits twice. The third is an implicit non-sequitur.

His goal-post shift is to suddenly change Natural Selection to “feedback environment” and expand the definition to the point of meaninglessness such that he props up the unfalsifiable proposition that any and all information is by definition intelligently designed. More on the unfalsifiable nature of his position later.

His second fallacy is a fallacy of equivocation. In this instance of this fallacy, he equivocates all forms of information transfer. Even though they have different mechanisms and act under different conditions.

Verbal communication for example is a symbolic language. It has meaning only in so far as a conscious being ascribes meaning to it. Such information must by definition be transferred from intelligent agent to intelligent agent.

A ribozyme (an autocatylizing RNA enzyme) is not under this constraint, and the meaning it carries (both to replicate itself, and catalyze the formation of proteins) is intrinsic. It exists as a physical property of the ribozyme. For the information to transfer from one ribozyme to another, chemical reactions such as polymerization and ligation take place deterministically, and the ribozyme self-replicates with some copy error. In order for this ribozyme to produce a protein, it must also catalyze the polymerization of amino acids. The point here being that no intelligent agents are required for any step in the reactions (1, 2,3)

This is the same dichotomy that exists between a vehicular blueprint, and a DNA strand.

Intelligent agents are required to reproduce the blue prints (which do not replicate themselves). Moreover, changes in the blue prints are not the result of random copy-error, but deliberate changes. Additionally the vehicles that are produced are also by definition the product of intelligent agents that interpret information contained in the blueprints.

Ribozomes (derived ribozymes) catalyze the production of proteins. These proteins catalyze the replication and transcrioption of DNA, which codes for the production of those very proteins in the ribosomes, among other proteins. This is all one massive integrated complex system with nary an intelligent agent in sight.

So, why does this matter? It matters because a self replicating system, which copies itself with error, and is under selection does not require an intelligent agent. If an intelligent agent were somehow guiding this agent-free system, we would expect to see a non-random distribution of copy-errors. However we do not find this in systems we do not ourselves engineer. (1,2)

The second Equivocation committed by my opponent is to equivocate the fitness of an organism within nature, to the popularity or performance of a vehicle within a free market.

The reason this is an equivocation is because Fitness in biology has a very specific meaning that does not apply to non-replicators in a market environment. This is such a distortion that it is insulting to the intellect and thus does not warrant further response.


Quote:
My opponents asserts that human engineers tackle problems by carefully designing tools and constructs, building a single end product to fit whatever purpose they have in mind.

Clearly my opponent's education is lacking. Human engineers are indeed employing evolutionary mechanisms for design, because of the enormous success this method can yield. I will provide a source here, demonstrating that NASA engineers employ evolutionary software to develop things like antennas and other desired tools.

Evolutionary mechanisms can be extremely effective at producing desired results, with the end results merely reflecting whatever the Feedback Environment (ie: Natural Selection) rewards.

...

The fact that humans need to possess much greater knowledge and intelligence relative to our past selves in order to actually artificially create Evolutionary systems is an enormously powerful point in itself!


I am of course well aware of this. Of course we are capable of imitating evolution in order to engineer parts for various machines.

But it is fallacious to assume that just because we humans utilize a technique modeled after natural selection, that natural selection is engineered.

Depending on how his logic (if we can call it that) is constructed in his head (because it certainly does not make sense written), my opponent is committing one or two of several fallacies.

A formal fallacy called Affirming the Consequent that takes the form:

If A is true then B is true
B is true
Therefore A is true

If his logic takes this form my opponent is arguing:

If Evolution is engineered, then evolution can be applied by engineers
Evolution can be applied by engineers
Therefor evolution is engineered

If his argument is structured in this way

If evolution can be applied by engineers, evolution is engineered
evolution can be applied by engineers
therefore evolution is engineered

He is committing a Bare Assertion non-sequitur because he has failed to establish that evolution being used by engineers entails that evolution is engineered. Moreover, because he assumes implicitly and explicitly that this conclusion is true, he is committing an informal fallacy known as begging the question.

More than likely, because the fallacy is slightly less obvious, he is engaging in the second form of syllogism and thus the second set of fallacies.

Of course, the fact that the entire argument is one gigantic logical fallacy belies the fact that when we engineer a part using an evolution simulator, we program it with a pre-determined set of goals which it must reach, certain design specifications, and then the parts in each generation that are farthest away from this a priori determine goal get selected out. In real evolution, there is no goal. No direction.

Quote:
One thing we can say for certain, is that the Intelligent Designer that setup the Feedback Environment upon which our own evolution was dictated by (in this case, the natural world) clearly favours the product of intelligence itself. This is substantiated by the human trait that makes us the dominate species in our world, and our ongoing effort to increase this trait. Even going so far as to exert significant effort towards creating artificial intelligence greater than our own.


:wtf:

If this was the case, why is it that the first known intelligent life form took approximately 14 billion years to evolve? Why is it that of over ten million extant species (Plus a lot more undescribed extant and a few orders of magnitude more than that in extinct species) only a handful have evolved any significant degree of intelligence?

How does it follow from the existence of intelligence that the process of evolution was somehow designed? Indeed, what positive case, what actual evidence can be presented that might lead one to the conclusion that this is the case?


Here is what this argument essentially is

“Wow. Look at us. We are certainly nifty, we must have been intended by the universe” This argument (in one form or another, substituting the universe for god as needed) is common to essentially all intelligent design arguments and it is a fallacious argument. Partially because it violates parsimony. The most parsimonious explanation for the existence of intelligence is that it (intelligence) evolved under selection as an adaptation to selective pressures. No agency required. Adding the agency to the equation when it is not required by the system (as I have shown earlier in regards to autocatalysis of ribozymes, and my opponent has already conceded for the en situ evolution of biodiversity, he does not claim it is directed or manipulated after all), adds an entity or variable to the system that is not needed.

One could, as my opponent apparently is, posit that the universe itself was created with these results in mind, and the system, as described by science, has an additional layer of complexity, namely a designer,which is required for the system to come into being. However that does not avoid the problem of the infinite regress, as I will demonstrate shortly. Moreover, one must provide positive evidence that the system requires said designer, rather than merely stating that it is so.

This requires the construction of an empirical test, which makes coherent predictions as to the result of that test. My opponent is invited to attempt to generate such an empirical test. However, he will not be able to because the explanation “God did it” or variations thereof does not lead one to predictions, that when falsified, could not be rationalized away with something like “The universe or god does not want to be tested” or “God works in mysterious ways” or “The intelligent designer designed the universe so that he could not be detected by empirical tests”

In other words, even if there was an intelligent designer, a proposition for which there is no evidence, it has no explanatory power, nor can it be empirically falsified. It cannot lead to the creation of a meaningful research tradition, nor can it be applied to solving real problems. It is a useless canard.

Quote:
Biological Evolution passes information via a physical method (ie: mating and sharing of DNA).

I actually covered this mostly in section one: my opponent complained about the fact that Intelligently Designed vehicles do not pass on information or traits via the biological process of mating and DNA.

That's actually completely irrelevant to my point. The traits, features and information on the design of any particular vehicle(s) were transferred anyhow. My opponent has taken the concept of biological Evolution and its existing means of information transfer, and arbitrarily declared its difference from other potential transfer methods as proof it cannot be designed!


This has already been properly dealt with

Quote:
One needs to establish a mechanism by which an Intelligent Designer would create life, and this mechanism must be testable or at least capable of being disproven.

This challenge seems hardly worth the effort! Physics and the universe at large seem to quite provable, and are clearly the mechanism our Intelligent Designer is employing to create us. Once physics and the universe as we understand it is in place, all that is required is the tiniest effort to begin Intelligent Design.


This argument violates parsimony. Yes, the universe exists. However this is yet another example of affirming the consequent (I cannot be faulted if he uses the same fallacy over and over again)

If a Designer exists, Then he by definition created the universe
The Universe Exists
Therefore the designer exists

Not only is this affirmation of the consequent, but it violates parsimony, because there is no need for a creator in the system. Unless my opponent is capable of defending the proposition that it is necessarily the case that for the universe to exist, a designer must exist. If this is the case, he must somehow deal with the infinite regress problem which as you will momentarily see, he has not addressed in a satisfactory manner.

As it stands, he has yet to adequately answer my challenge to at the very least propose an empirical test of his proposition. In science, here is how we essentially avoid affirming the consequent.

We start with the premise :
If X is true Y is true

We then evaluate the truth value of Y

If Y is true, we fail to reject X

If Y is false, we reject X

This is an example of Modus Tollens, denying the consequent, and it is a valid syllogism.

If X is true, Y is true
Y is false
Therefore X is not true

Can my opponent construct a test where Y is in danger of being found false?

Quote:
My opponent's argument is akin to saying a computer programmer is not an Intelligent Designer, because the (created!) evolutionary nature of the computer code and its ability to run without our programmer pressing every 1 and 0 directly proves otherwise. Absurd!


This is a false analogy for the same reason his argument involving engineers was a false analogy, by nature of computer codes being symbolic languages, while DNA is not.


Quote:
5) The infinite regress argument against the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

Infinite regress is a well known argument: "What created the Intelligent Designer?"

The answer seems trivially easy; the Intelligent Designer 'always' existed in the form of the universe itself. Perhaps my opponent thinks I subscribe to the silly notion our Intelligent Designer is some deity 'outside' of the Universe, as if that notion has any validity whatsoever. Nonsense.


But perhaps pictures speak louder than words!


I have only one way to adequately respond to that image.

:wtf:

The “God is the universe” bit does not actually solve the problem of the infinite regress. Our human intelligence evolved over the course of around a billion years of life on this planet, the product of billions and billions of generations of organisms, with each generation rising or failing on the fitness of individuals with variation that effects survivorship and reproduction. Thousands of psychologists and computer scientists have been toiling for decades to attempt to understand and simulate (respectively) intelligence, and are not even close to unraveling that mind-boggling complexity.

My opponent actually expects us to believe that not just the universe (this I can understand) came into “being” at some point, but that this universe is intelligent, has goals, and not only popped into being ex nihlo, but directed its own development...somehow, in a fashion I imagine he will refuse to propose, in accordance with those goals?

I am forced to ask 2 questions.

1)Is my opponent high?
2)Where did he get that shit, because I think i want to begin experimenting with hallucinogens


However, I do have several more pertinent questions for my opponent's

1)by what mechanism does the universe have intelligence? IE. Where is information stored, how does it process information, how does it receive input in order to do such, and upon what cognitive framework does it make decisions?
2)How did it direct its own development, presumably after the big bang when these systems were not in place? Our complex developmental pathways are the result of natural selection (as my opponent has already conceded, unless he wants to modify his position). What about the universe?

This argument actually creates more problems than it solves for my opponent.






Quote:
I did not say faith could not evolve; I said Evolution via Natural selection weeds out useless or counter productive traits, therefore faith must be a useful trait of humanity.


I apologize for the misunderstanding. However this does not make my opponent's position any less wrong.

Here is why:

Quote:
My opponent then attempts to explain away faith as indeed a useless and accidental trait of humanity, despite it's persistence in our species for as long as we presumably could think; thousands of years minimum. This seems to fly in the face of understanding the Theory of Evolution, which dictates any behaviour not necessarily understood doesn't mean it doesn't have some actual useful purpose.


Indeed. However it does not mean that it is adaptive either. I will give the example of the fiddler crab.(4)

Male fiddler crabs come in two general varieties. Passive and Aggressive. Aggressive crabs have higher levels of the hormone testosterone. These aggressive crabs mate more, and are more “aggressive” with burrow selection. However they are also much more risky in the presence of predators, they do not hide in their burrows like the other crabs. As a result they suffer higher mortality. Now, if one did not know what the term “evolutionary constraint” meant, they might assume that the risk-taking behavior would be culled by selection. But this is not the case.

Because the crabs are constrained by their reliance on Testosterone to mediate both sets of behaviors, the two cannot easily be uncoupled by selection. In this way, the deleterious behavior of risk taking is maintained by nature of the same control mechanism also being adaptive for other reasons.

There are many many other examples such behavioral trade offs, because the developmental mechanisms that cause them are so interwoven and redundant (5)

Faith is analogous. Even if deleterious, it cannot be uncoupled from the adaptive cognitive processes from which it springs. These being things like our ability to detect patterns, ascribe causes, and to ascribe agency (even those that are not there, because it is better to ascribe agency to a twig snap and be wrong, than to not and get eaten) and our desire to control our environments.

Evolution does NOT require that everything be adaptive. (1,2,3,4,5, 6,7)

References

1)Snustad, D., Sommons, M. (2006). Principles of Genetics. Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons. Freeman, S., Herron, J. 2004.

2)Evolutionary Analysis. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall

3)Bruice, P. 2007. Organic Chemistry. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall

4)Reaney, L., Backwell, P.2007. Risk-Taking Behavior Predicts Aggression and Mating Success in a Fiddler Crab. Behavioral Ecology 18, 521-525.

5)Gilbert, S. 2006. Developmental Biology 8th ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.

6)Alcock, J.2005 Animal Behavior an Evolutionary Approach 8th ed. Sunderland, MA:Sinauer Associates.

7)Stearns, S. 1992 The Evolution of Life Histories. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press



GALE Force Biological Agent/
BOTM/Great Dolphin Conspiracy/
Herpetology and Evolutionary Biology Subdirector:SD.net Dept. of Biological Sciences


There is Grandeur in the View of Life; it fills me with a Deep Wonder, and Intense Cynicism.

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 Post subject: Re: Intelligent Design(Bubble Boy V Alyrium Denryle) PostPosted: 2008-12-13 11:01pm
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I will again begin my reply by summarizing my opponent's objections and points, and address each in turn. And once again I've repeatedly read his reply for the purpose of not missing any key points or arguments, which hopefully is the case.

For the record, this will be my third and final response as per the established Coliseum rules for this specific debate. Therefore I will also be including a closing argument at the end of my reply.

To summarize my opponent's key arguments/points:

1.) The accusation I shifted the goal posts by expanding the definition of Natural Selection and asserting that any and all information is the result of Intelligent Design.

2.) The accusation that I invoked a Fallacy of Equivocation by calling all forms of information transfer equal.

3.) The optimization of biological organisms for their environment isn't the same as the optimization of vehicles for their environment.

4.) The argument that humans mimicking the process of Natural Selection for the purpose of engineering advanced creations is not proof for an Intelligent Designer.

5.) Engineers employing evolutionary methods for designing creations have an end objective in mind, while natural evolution does not.

6.) My argument for Intelligent Design pursuing the goal of intelligence as an end product is undermined by the scale of time over which this process has taken place.

7.) The argument that the existence of an Intelligent Design violates parsimony, since the process of evolution does not require its presence.

8.) The universe was created by an Intelligent Designer.

9.) The existence of an Intelligent Designer has to be falsifiable theory to have any validity.

10.) The fiddler crab is an example of two different types of behaviour not being weeded out via Natural Selection because both have a proven success rate of replication.


Now to address my opponent's arguments and points:

1.) The accusation I shifted the goal posts by expanding upon the definition of Natural Selection and asserting that any and all information is the result of Intelligent Design.

There are two significant problems here:

First, he has retaken issue with my loose application of the term Natural Selection, despite my concession I was using the term too broadly. What he expects of me on that issue I'm unable to guess. I submitted the label "Environmental Feedback"; that being the means by which random mutations will be attributed positive, negative or neutral value. This would include Natural Selection as we understand it, but not be limited by its methods or nature.

Secondly, my opponent has straw manned my position again by asserting I claimed all information is the result of an Intelligent Designer. This is pure fiction, I've never claimed that. My argument is that an Intelligent Designer can employ different types of information transfer in any evolutionary process. Hence my reference to other forms of information transfer like verbal communication, computer code, radio waves, etc etc. How he came up with his distortion of this simple concept is anyone's guess.

He then expanded upon this and points out that our default Natural Selection process requires self replication. This is obvious; what isn't so obvious is why he thinks he can arbitrarily declare that self sufficient replication invalidates an Intelligent Designer. Using his logic, if humans create an Artificial Intelligence capable of reproducing itself without our direct assistance, that trait should negatively impact the fact said AI was Intelligently Designed in the first place!

To use a more modern example, any computer program that is capable of random (within limits) self modification and replication cannot be Intelligently Designed. A slap in the face of modern day programmers, to put it bluntly.


2.) The accusation that I invoked a Fallacy of Equivocation by calling all forms of information transfer equal.

Quite frankly, this is another obvious straw man, and I'm being generous labelling it such instead of outright deceit. I never once stated or implied that all forms of information transfer are equal; only that other methods of accomplishing information transfer itself are possible. You can transfer information via light speed radio waves, hand carried notes or DNA code. The speed or efficiency of this process does not dictate whether it is an intelligent system or not, particularly taking into account section six.

3.) The optimization of biological organisms for their environment isn't the same as the optimization of vehicles for their environment.

This is my opponent demonstrating his capacity to state the obvious. I've already pointed out that our own evolution clearly favours the product of Intelligence, just as the evolution of vehicles is dictated by subjective popularity, safety features or just outright need for them. They are two different Environmental Feedback stimuli, which have absolutely no bearing on the intelligent source behind them.

My opponent may as well be complaining about the differing goals and design methods of different sets of tools, and seizing those differences as an excuse to class one set as 'not Intelligently Designed!".


4.) The argument that humans mimicking the process of Natural Selection for the purpose of engineering advanced creations is not proof for an Intelligent Designer.

I will concede it is certainly not direct proof, but it is most certainly indirect proof.

As we become more advanced technologically and mentally, we are moving towards the process of using evolutionary principles (which I referenced in my previous Coliseum post) and artificial technology that would easily be capable of the self replication process. Indeed, this has been of some concern to programmers of seed AI, since there is a worry we aren't smart enough yet to predict just how our eventually self sufficient and powerful creations will interpret the goals we give them.

In other words, the more Intelligent the creator is, the more it will rely upon evolutionary principles and self replication means to do the work faster and more efficiently than it could itself. I refer you to section six.

5.) Engineers employing evolutionary methods for designing creations have an end objective in mind, while natural evolution does not.

This again is an arbitrary declaration by my opponent. He simply states that our evolution has no end goal, despite humanity’s combined knowledge and time of existence being utterly insignificant against the whole (known) time frame of the universe.

I touched upon this in my prior post as well. If an intelligent perspective were confined to a small segment of the evolutionary process of, say NASA's antenna development via an evolutionary program, it would be easy to conclude there's no Intelligent Designer since no goal is apparent and the mutations seem utterly random (which they in fact are, it's the goal that counts).

6.) My argument for Intelligent Design pursuing the goal of intelligence as an end product is undermined by the scale of time over which this process has taken place.

My opponent fails on two fronts here. First, he does not consider the ramifications of General Relativity, and how our perception of our evolution might seem like 'a long time' to us, but not to our Intelligent Designer. Especially if it's perception is concerned with astronomical scales and time frames. Educated theologians no doubt realize this, hence there being some debate on the difference between humanity's perception of time and that of our creator.

Secondly, the argument falls flat on its face if one considers that a designed creation having the capability to be faster than its actual designer in some respects is not an argument against design.

Unless of course my opponent thinks that modern day computers, capable of completing mathematical functions and calculations many orders of magnitudes faster than their designers, is proof those computers couldn't have been designed.

7.) The argument that the existence of an Intelligent Design violates parsimony, since the process of evolution does not require its presence.

I pretty much dealt with this in section five; self sufficient replication is not an argument against design. All it potentially demonstrates is a difference in perception of time and scale.

8.) The universe was created by an Intelligent Designer.

I dealt with this previously. I've suggested the universe itself is our Intelligent Designer, and that it is employing intelligent means to produce more intelligence, whereas we are a part of that on going process.

My opponent's own position is that intelligence can crop up without a designer, and yet when I assert this very idea with regards to the universe (which we seem to agree doesn't need a designer in order to have come about), his reaction is to demand the source of the designer!

He contradicts his own argument by not accepting it when it is used against him.


9.) The existence of an Intelligent Designer has to be falsifiable theory to have any validity.

This is a common argument against ID, but a flawed one. It starts with the premise that any idea or theory must be immediately falsifiable in order to garner any weight or consideration. This is nonsense. For example, air pressure cannot be observed directly, but instead only indirectly. The famous String Theory, a theory suggested by many scientists as 'mathematically beautiful and coherent' is also unfalsifiable, at least currently.

Just because a theory is currently or practically unfalsifiable doesn't mean it actually is. My opponent needs to learn the difference between actual falsifiability and practical falsifiability. This is the same trap that many ignorant creationists try to pull when they dispute Evolution. They don't see it in effect right this second, therefore it is false because they aren't seeing it.

If I propose the theory that a very large asteroid will impact the Earth within the next couple of million years, falsifying that theory isn't impossible. But it is extremely impractical.

Such is the case with our Intelligent Designer. I would never say that falsifying our creator is impossible, just currently very impractical, especially taking into account our limited means of going about it. Again, another place scripture got it right is when it suggests we be humble.

10.) The fiddler crab is an example of two different types of behaviour not being weeded out via Natural Selection because both have a proven success rate of replication.

This argument was made by my opponent for the purpose of backing up his claim faith is useless but not necessarily weeded out via Natural Selection.

Given he is a professed biologist, I find this somewhat disturbing. This is by no means whatsoever proof that Natural Selection doesn't weed out useless traits; it's proof that Natural Selection simply favours any method that works towards achieving a goal, which in this case is reproduction. Once again, he has simply arbitrarily declared a particular behaviour (in this case, aggressive fiddler crabs) a negative attribute despite its obvious success.

To add irony to his mistake, his very example is proof that more than one means (or behaviour) can exist to transfer information to the next generation of creations. The very same argument I used regarding information transfer methods to begin with!

Perhaps my opponent will finally acknowledge my superior position on the matter...

Final summary of my position:

Our Intelligent Designer is using evolutionary principles to bring about intelligence, with one of our traits being faith that helps bring about this goal. Our own creation efforts reflect, if not exactly, closely the means by which our own creation was brought about and ongoing evolution.

Our Intelligent Designer is the physical universe itself, not some entity outside or separate from it. If my opponent seriously advocates the existence of intelligence without a designer, then the existence of our Intelligent Universe/Creator/Designer does not have the problem of infinite regress nor should he have a problem with it (at least in principle).

My opponent has confused absolute unfalsifiability with impractical unfalsifiability, therefore his argument 'Intelligent Design is unfalsifiable' is rendered moot.

Scriptures, while notoriously inaccurate and unreliable, are correct that we exist to further the goals of our Intelligent Designer (the creation of more Intelligence), and we should be humble and realize our insignificance next to the whole. Both physically and regarding limited perception (via dimensions such as time).



"Now let us be clear, my friends. The fruits of our science that you receive and the many millions of benefits that justify them, are a gift. Be grateful. Or be silent." -Modified Quote

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 Post subject: Re: Intelligent Design(Bubble Boy V Alyrium Denryle) PostPosted: 2008-12-16 08:41pm
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Your Graces, this will be my third and final post in this debate, and shall consist of a final rebuttal to my opponent's argument as well as a general summary and conclusion.

Quote:
First, he has retaken issue with my loose application of the term Natural Selection, despite my concession I was using the term too broadly. What he expects of me on that issue I'm unable to guess. I submitted the label "Environmental Feedback"; that being the means by which random mutations will be attributed positive, negative or neutral value. This would include Natural Selection as we understand it, but not be limited by its methods or nature.


My expectation is that my opponent display a shred of intellectual honesty and admit it when they screw up, rather than move the goal posts by redefining his terms and claiming that his opponent was confused.

Quote:
Secondly, my opponent has straw manned my position again by asserting I claimed all information is the result of an Intelligent Designer. This is pure fiction, I've never claimed that. My argument is that an Intelligent Designer can employ different types of information transfer in any evolutionary process. Hence my reference to other forms of information transfer like verbal communication, computer code, radio waves, etc etc. How he came up with his distortion of this simple concept is anyone's guess.


Let us take a look at exactly what my opponent said

Quote:
My response is I would point out that what I should have said instead of 'Natural Selection' is a more inclusive label "Feedback Environment". Simply put, a transfer of information via whatever means available upon which a Feedback Environment will dictate positive, neutral or negative results.


Here is where he shifts his goal posts.

Quote:
Whether this process employs DNA, sound waves, verbal communication, computer code or whatever is irrelevant to the process.

All that matters is that information is passed forward in the on going process of Intelligent Design.


Now considering that his position is that the universe itself is an intelligent being that itself engineered evolutionary processes from which any of the information he mentions must either come, or be deciphered via symbolism from, and that the existence of the evolutionary process and information is evidence of this design (thus setting up a nice circular tautology) I am not committing a strawman. Merely pointing out that he does not know how to construct an argument to save his own life.

Quote:
He then expanded upon this and points out that our default Natural Selection process requires self replication. This is obvious; what isn't so obvious is why he thinks he can arbitrarily declare that self sufficient replication invalidates an Intelligent Designer. Using his logic, if humans create an Artificial Intelligence capable of reproducing itself without our direct assistance, that trait should negatively impact the fact said AI was Intelligently Designed in the first place!

To use a more modern example, any computer program that is capable of random (within limits) self modification and replication cannot be Intelligently Designed. A slap in the face of modern day programmers, to put it bluntly.


Once again he uses a false comparison. In the one instance we have a complex system (namely a computer program) which we know a priori is designed, because we designed it, and moreover by definition requires design to get to the stage where it can be subject to an evolutionary process. On the other we have a complex system (life) that does not require an intelligent agency at any point, and which we do not know a priori is designed.

I am having trouble finding a less apt comparison.

Additionally a self replicating system, the basic components of which form spontaneously polymerize, ligate and react on their own, invalidates the need for design because at no stage is any intelligent agency required for system functioning. In the case of a computer program, the code is designed, the machines running the program are designed. It violates parsimony to postulate a designer in the first instance, but not in the second because know a priori that the computer systems are the product of design, and even if we did not, that it is designed is easy to determine because the materials are artificial and the language used is an obvious symbolic language.

Quote:
Quite frankly, this is another obvious straw man, and I'm being generous labeling it such instead of outright deceit. I never once stated or implied that all forms of information transfer are equal; only that other methods of accomplishing information transfer itself are possible. You can transfer information via light speed radio waves, hand carried notes or DNA code. The speed or efficiency of this process does not dictate whether it is an intelligent system or not, particularly taking into account section six.


Did I say that my opponent claimed they were equal? No. He equivocated because his argument relies on the notion that in terms of his “feedback environment” postulate, that all forms of information are equivalent, and that mechanistic differences between them are irrelevant, and thus they are functionally equivalent. But they are relevant. If one is going to argue that life is self-evidently designed, that person needs to show that this is necessarily the case. With a symbolic language this is easy to demonstrate, with DNA it is not. How the information is generated and used in a system matters.


Quote:
This is my opponent demonstrating his capacity to state the obvious. I've already pointed out that our own evolution clearly favors the product of Intelligence, just as the evolution of vehicles is dictated by subjective popularity, safety features or just outright need for them. They are two different Environmental Feedback stimuli, which have absolutely no bearing on the intelligent source behind them.


My opponent has claimed that evolution favors intelligence and has yet to provide any evidence that this is the case, save for his say so. He does not even address the obvious problems of trying to draw a trend with a sample size of one. Moreover, he hand-waves away the idea that engineering principles should apply if natural selection were engineered, while at the same time inconsistently drawing the analogy of a human engineer as proof that natural selection is in fact engineered. I could not draw a more perfect circle if I had a computer brain with Pi calculated out to a trillion digits.

Quote:
I will concede it is certainly not direct proof, but it is most certainly indirect proof.


No. It is not. You have failed to address the logical fallacies your argument fundamentally committs.

Quote:
In other words, the more Intelligent the creator is, the more it will rely upon evolutionary principles and self replication means to do the work faster and more efficiently than it could itself. I refer you to section six.


My opponents conclusion does not follow from his premises. As I have gone over in detail. He has merely engaged in the argument”Humans use evolutionary principles in engineering, thus evolution itself is engineered” Which is silly on its face and I have gone over this in detail.

Quote:
This again is an arbitrary declaration by my opponent. He simply states that our evolution has no end goal, despite humanity’s combined knowledge and time of existence being utterly insignificant against the whole (known) time frame of the universe.


No. I do not merely state this. I actually cited textbooks in support of this contention and my opponent is committing an appeal to ignorance.

There is no evidence whatsoever that evolution has a goal. There is no mechanism by which this goal could be achieved that is evident in every aspect of modern biology.

To not belabor the point, the consensus among biologists since the 1930s is that evolution has no pre-determined path. Mutations are random, and the outcomes of selection are determined by a combination of selection and stochastic forces known as genetic drift. For information on these things, I would recommend visiting the references in my prior response. For a good review of the history of evolutionary biology and how the synthesis happened I would recommend Evolution the History of an Idea 3rd edition by Peter J. Bowler. The burden of proof is on my opponent to show that as he postulates, evolution has been somehow guided. At the very least he needs to provide a mechanism as to how this would occur that can be tested. He has squandered the opportunity I gave him to do so.


Quote:
My opponent fails on two fronts here. First, he does not consider the ramifications of General Relativity, and how our perception of our evolution might seem like 'a long time' to us, but not to our Intelligent Designer. Especially if it's perception is concerned with astronomical scales and time frames. Educated theologians no doubt realize this, hence there being some debate on the difference between humanity's perception of time and that of our creator.


This is an example of the unfalsifiability I mentioned earlier. A testable prediction we would make of engineers is that if they have a goal in mind they will not take their sweet time achieving it, and that if that goal was a consistent design principle, then it would appear more than once. But it does not. It (human intelligence) appears as far as we know, once. Once, in 14 million years, on one of eight planets in one of one hundred billion star systems, in one of hundreds of billions of galaxies. More over, the other forms of intelligence we do see are the result of, barring closely related organisms like primates, the result of different brain structures solving different problems with different cognitive processes. The universe did not need to intend intelligence for this to occur and my opponents argument is not only unfalsifiable by nature of his willingness and ability to hand-wave away the falsification of predictions drawn from his position with a modified version of “The Lord Works on Mysterious Temporal-Spatial Scales”, but his argument is an appeal to ignorance. This and similar cop-outs can be used to circularly support his conclusion no matter what data anyone ever brings up.

If my opponent cannot argue without engaging in one to three logical fallacies for any given statement, I would admonish him to not quit his day job.



Quote:
Secondly, the argument falls flat on its face if one considers that a designed creation having the capability to be faster than its actual designer in some respects is not an argument against design.


Another appeal to ignorance

Quote:
My opponent's own position is that intelligence can crop up without a designer, and yet when I assert this very idea with regards to the universe (which we seem to agree doesn't need a designer in order to have come about), his reaction is to demand the source of the designer!

He contradicts his own argument by not accepting it when it is used against him.


I daresay a finer strawman has not been constructed since the makeup team did the work necessary to make Mr. Scarecrow for The Wizard of Oz.

My argument, if my opponent was capable of basic reading comprehension, was that human intelligence came about as the result of a billion years of natural selection. With mechanisms of data storage and processing that are hideously complex and just now being understood after intense exposure to the harsh light of the scientific method. And here he is saying that this is equivalent to the universe gaining unfathomable intelligence ex nilho (from nothing). It having popped into being with a fully formed consciousness; no discoverable method of data storage and processing; and no process of selection to shape cognitive processes, with learning to establish details and discrete goals as a result of those processes.

Not only is the probability and feasibility of this extremely low (on the order of someone inventing a perpetual motion machine or time travel device), but the burden of proof is on my opponent to show that it is true something which he has not even attempted to do. His whole strategy has been to throw out wild speculation that affirms the consequent or commits other logical fallacies by its very existence and hope I miss something.

In this particular case my opponent has essentially constructed his own strawman, then set it on fire with a false comparison.

Quote:
This is a common argument against ID, but a flawed one. It starts with the premise that any idea or theory must be immediately falsifiable in order to garner any weight or consideration. This is nonsense. For example, air pressure cannot be observed directly, but instead only indirectly. The famous String Theory, a theory suggested by many scientists as 'mathematically beautiful and coherent' is also unfalsifiable, at least currently.

Just because a theory is currently or practically unfalsifiable doesn't mean it actually is. My opponent needs to learn the difference between actual falsifiability and practical falsifiability. This is the same trap that many ignorant creationists try to pull when they dispute Evolution. They don't see it in effect right this second, therefore it is false because they aren't seeing it.

If I propose the theory that a very large asteroid will impact the Earth within the next couple of million years, falsifying that theory isn't impossible. But it is extremely impractical.

Such is the case with our Intelligent Designer. I would never say that falsifying our creator is impossible, just currently very impractical, especially taking into account our limited means of going about it. Again, another place scripture got it right is when it suggests we be humble.


This entire line of argumentation is farcical. My opponent claims that I am confusing practical unfalsifiability with absolute unfalsifiability. He then uses things like air pressure and string theory as examples of the former, and says that they are similar to ID. The major and crucial part he is missing is that both of these make testable predictions that can be falsified, while ID does not, and when asked to, my opponent has refused steadfastly to do so, preferring to insult your intellect and mine with a variant of “The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways and You are Not Competent to Ask Questions”

The predictions relating to air pressure are tested and confirmed whenever Bill Nye uses his Vacuum Pump of Science, whenever someone sees water evaporating from a heated pot on the stove, or whenever a diver's lungs explode because they held their breath when ascending, or someone uses a hot air balloon. Predictions relating to air pressure are confirmed when you use a thermometer or turn on the water in your sink and are so integrated into your life that you do not realize that they are even being tested.

String theory is theoretically falsifiable as it makes testable predictions relating to gravitons that we lack the technological ability to test. However it still makes those predictions.

Intelligent Design does not do this. It makes no predictions and cannot be tested using observation or experiment in a manner that cannot be rationalized away, as my opponent has already demonstrated his ability and willingness to do.

Quote:
This argument was made by my opponent for the purpose of backing up his claim faith is useless but not necessarily weeded out via Natural Selection.

Given he is a professed biologist, I find this somewhat disturbing. This is by no means whatsoever proof that Natural Selection doesn't weed out useless traits; it's proof that Natural Selection simply favors any method that works towards achieving a goal, which in this case is reproduction. Once again, he has simply arbitrarily declared a particular behavior (in this case, aggressive fiddler crabs) a negative attribute despite its obvious success.

To add irony to his mistake, his very example is proof that more than one means (or behavior) can exist to transfer information to the next generation of creations. The very same argument I used regarding information transfer methods to begin with!

Perhaps my opponent will finally acknowledge my superior position on the matter...


Hear that sound? That is the sound of the point wooshing over my opponent's head.

Aggression and Risk-Taking Behavior are two behaviors, and controlled by two separate neural pathways. However they are both mediated by the same hormone. Testosterone. Selection for aggression (which is beneficial) by increasing testosterone sensitivity speed/amount of production etc also selects for Risk-Taking behavior (which is deleterious) as a by-product. Because of the shared hormonal mechanism it is very difficult for selection to uncouple the two behaviors without also upsetting other complex regulatory pathways.

In this way a behavior that is neutral or harmful can be maintained in the system by being coupled with a behavior that is sufficiently beneficial. Religion does the same thing. The same cognitive processes that are largely responsible for our survival since we diverged from apes, also create the capacity for supernatural beliefs as a byproduct. These beliefs then act as a substrate upon which cultural evolution can act, but probably not much differently than it would have acted in its absence in terms of solutions to cultural problems.

On a personal note, I find it amusing that my lay-opponent, while claiming that we should be humble before the Universe and its infinite wisdom, also possesses the hubris to think that he can distort what I say and outmaneuver me within my field of expertise.

Summary and Conclusion

As my opponent has so kindly demonstrated Intelligent Design is by its nature inherently unfalsifiable and the arguments for it largely rely on various forms of Non-Sequiturs, Affirming the Consequent, and False Analogies. Additionally the postulates of Intelligent Design violate parsimony, rely on willful distortions of facts and of science itself, and has no explanatory power

These shortcomings are not just the result of my opponent's incompetence, they are inherent to the position and result from the fundamental (mal)logic of Intelligent Design, the very syllogistic form of which is fallacious.

Moreover, my opponent has not come within 15 kilometers of meeting the burden of proof laid out by he who asserts the positive position, and because he has already conceded the factual correctness of the theory of evolution (his distortions aside) there has been no need to defend evolution against attack or provide a positive case for it. Perhaps my opponent would have been better served by forcing me to do this as it would have more handily controlled the engagement and put me on the defensive. However, he did not.

I would like to thank the People of SDN, the Moderation Staff, and God-Emperor Wong for giving me the opportunity to present these arguments over the course of the last few days.

Submitted this Sixteenth Day of December, Year of Our Darwin 199.

~Alyrium Denryle-Minister of Sin
Subdirector. Herpetology and Evolutionary Biology
SDNet Department of Biological Sciences



GALE Force Biological Agent/
BOTM/Great Dolphin Conspiracy/
Herpetology and Evolutionary Biology Subdirector:SD.net Dept. of Biological Sciences


There is Grandeur in the View of Life; it fills me with a Deep Wonder, and Intense Cynicism.

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