Being Reasonable

In the typical incivility that regular pro-ID commenters get away with on Uncommon Descent, StephenB says,

“Witness the recent spectacle of highly honored scientists who claim, with triumphant stupidity, that a universe can come into existence without a cause.”

Is this a reasonable statement? Let’s evaluate it and try to find out.

1) According to StephenB and others who reason like him, the universe must have had a cause.

2) Since at some point, you would run out of causes as you go back into time, there must have been a first cause, which for some completely unknown reason, required no cause at all.

Let’s think about that. A “first cause” entity, sitting in a timeless void, but requiring no cause to exist, absolute proof that it is possible for some things to exist without being caused. How many others are there? We have our “first cause” entity, but there is nothing stopping any other entity from existing either. Can our “first cause” entity stop other entities from existing?

The answer, sadly for StephenB and his followers, is no. There is no “time” to stop any other entity since time does not exist yet, nothing does except any other entity that does not require a cause. How many could there be? An uncountable number, since according to StephenB, the universe or anything that could place limits on anything else, doesn’t exist yet!

Could the universe itself be an uncaused cause? Sure it can, because nothing would predate it including other entities or gods. Nothing can exist before our uncaused entity, including other uncaused entities, because there literally is no “time”, within which to stop it. This means that no entity can prevent the existence of another.

Is StephenB reasonable? Yes. His flaw is in feeding unfounded assertions, such as, “There is only one first cause”, into his logic.

He provides a great example of how ID fails at science, and badly.

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Irreducible Complexity – (3)

Kairosfocus, a regular commenter and now poster at Uncommon Descent asks, in regards to one of his posts,

“PS: Anybody seen a pickup from the usual objectors out there in the evo mat blogosphere? That might be useful . . . as they perceive IC as ID’s weakest yet most threatening point, I think.”

He’s right about “weakest” but wrong about “most threatening”. The IC, (irreducibly complex), argument is one of the least defensible positions the ID movement has taken.

Take the binary representation of the number 5, “0101”. If I change any bits at all, it no longer functions as the scalar value 5, proving it is a construction that is IC.

What about the binary 4, “0100”? If I change any bits here, it no longer functions as the scalar value 4, meaning it too is IC.

But wait a minute. If I change one bit in the binary 5 and get a four, what have I done? Have I moved to or from an IC structure? And what about going from a 4 to a 5? Are they subsets of each other?

How can a structure be called IC if changing a bit simply “changes” its function to another accepted IC function?

What about functions we don’t know about, like binary “0001” or binary “0000”, or binary “0111”? These are all legitimate constructs that function as scalar values, each of them equally irreducibly complex for any chosen scalar value yet all the parts appear in different structures with different functions.

I think with the “Irreducible Complexity” argument, the ID people are providing us with a very strong argument as to why ID itself, is a dead-end.

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Irreducible Complexity – A House Of Cards

At the Uncommon Descent blog, irreducible complexity is offered up as evidence against any complex structure managing to poof into existence without help from something god-like.

What it means is that if a structure is missing any one component, and no longer functions exactly as when it had that particular component, then that structure is “irreducibly complex” and therefore must have been created all at once.

Try this experiment. Get a couple of packs of playing cards and start building card houses. Invite a friend over to randomly, but carefully, pull a card out of each house.

According to UD contributors like “kairosfocus”, any collapsed house was irreducibly complex and therefore could not have been assembled in stages.

This clearly is not true but shows how bad the best ID arguments are.

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Upright BiPed On Music

We should remember that people are best described as analog entities, not digital ones. This is an introduction to a great comment by one of the regular UD pro-ID people, Upright BiPed, who has shocked me with an absolutely great comment on music here.

People are complex and can’t really be classified easily using terms like right, wrong, enemy or friend.

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GilDodgen Gets It!

“Human civilization has acquired and passed on much wisdom and knowledge, that is used by each generation to do more with what has been cumulatively learned.”

– GilDodgen

In a post here, Gil shows that ID’ists do understand the mechanism of evolution very well. Gil shows how information is passed from generation to generation, something the evolution side has been telling them over and over, waiting patiently to see if it was understood, and it looks like it has.

I’m betting that they all understand it, but admitting that that is indeed our argument, would be accepting the end of theirs.

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Barry has a great new post here,

Uncommon Descent is trying to get a better definition of “Darwinism” here, implying their current definition of “Darwinism” doesn’t suit their purpose.

That’s very interesting. They don’t like their current definition, so they’re going to change it to better reflect what they mean, but they want to use the same label. Why not simply use a different label that also better reflects its new meaning?

They could call it MET, for “Modern Evolutionary Theory”, which pretty well defines what all of us are talking about, or MMNET, for “Modern Methodological Naturalistic Evolutionary Theory” indicating exactly what they’re talking about.

But no, they want to change the definition, and yet retain the label of a man who 150 years ago tried to look at this somewhat new “evolution” idea he and some of his peers had, a new theory limited by the equipment and knowledge available to them at the time.

I believe that a new term wouldn’t allow them to use one of the most powerful weapons in their arsenal and that is, guilt by association. You can’t say things like MMNET was a racist or that he influenced Hitler and that communist, Stalin. MMNET is a strictly scientific term, not something that can be personified.

What the ID movement has done is personify evolutionary theory by equating it to a human being, and then, having a humanized term, blame him, and therefore his theory for the sins of other humans.

If you’ve been using a term whose associated meaning no longer accurately describes what you intend your reader to understand, change your term along with your new meaning, in order to avoid confusion in its new and old use.

For instance, we would never consider equating modern airplane designers with the label, “Wrightist”, a great historical name from just over a hundred years ago that just doesn’t properly define aircraft designers or their industry today.

ID/Creationism needs a villain, that’s why they feel free to change the definition, but they’re keeping the name.

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On Language And Science

Barry Arrington has started a great post on language and science at Uncommon Descent  that can be found here,

He states, “The issue is: Does science say anything that is “True” with a capital “T”? That is to say, does science make absolute statements?”

Take the simple sentence, “The sun is in the center of our solar system”. It would seem to be accurate, but the actual point Barry is trying to make is, can science allow us to claim it to be absolutely true?

The short answer is no. Science is a process that allows us, those who use it, to come to a conclusion that is useful to us. Notice that what I have stated is slightly different than what Barry wrote. He said “does science” make a statement while I am claiming a definition that is more useful as I claim, “scientists” make statements. New discoveries change previously held beliefs by scientists who then make new statements that are more useful than previous statements.

Let’s satisfy ourselves that the statement, “The sun is in the middle of our solar system”,  is not absolutely true.

The planets in our solar system orbit our sun, which appears to be right in the middle of all the action, but it’s not, and I think “kairosfocus”, a regular contributor at Uncommon Descent, touched on that.

Astronomers find planets orbiting other stars by looking for a wobble in that star. That wobble is caused by the planets gravitational pull on their star which pulls the  star towards the planet just as the gravity of the star is pulling on the planets. The actual center of two orbiting bodies is biased towards the bigger mass but always lies somewhere between the two, add 8 or 9 more planets, numerous asteroids and comets, plus a light sprinkling of space dust, and you can be sure that our sun, is very rarely in the middle of our solar system at any given time.

Why didn’t I say never? I can’t since science helps scientists make useful statements not statements that contain any form of “absolute truth”.

I think that’s what gets Barry and the ID crowd in trouble trying to make sense of what we call reality. I get the sense that they believe that they can find things labeled “absolute truth” that exist in their own right separate from our own existence and are waiting to be uncovered by us, but even if not “discovered” by us, still somehow exist waiting for us to find them.

As scientists, we always search for a better understanding of the conditions we find ourselves in, not absolute truths, which would only serve to end searches for better and better explanations.

As always, ID tries to explain static systems, never dynamic ones.

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