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Libertarians and Atheism

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scineram replied on Wed, May 21 2008 6:56 PM
What is the problem with infinite regress anyway?
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The secular statists reject the idea of a designed order for the universe but accept it for societies and economies. The libertarian theists reject the idea of a designed order for societies and economies but accept it for the universe. The theist statists accept the premise of a designed order for both the universe and socities and economies. The libertarian atheists tend to reject both views.

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JCFolsom replied on Wed, May 21 2008 7:07 PM

The libertarian atheists accept the idea that rules for ordering abstracted sums of conscious activity are applicable to ordering actual physical mechanisms of unconcious physical phenomena.

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JCFolsom:
Hey, Digger of Sluts (who doesn't),

You are getting tiresome with this comment. I have explained my name two or three times to you, have I not?  You can read about the Slutsky Decomposition here: http://www.econ.hku.hk/~wsuen/umicro/slutsky.pdf

do you ever actually make an argument or do you just insult people and say "nuh-uh, prove it"?

When I have personally insulted you?  I do not expect you to back up this claim, like your other claim.  You really do not understand, the burden of proof you.  You are the one making a positive claim.  You have failed to prove your claim that there is an Intelligent Designer.   I don't see evidence of an Intelligent supernatural entity.  All you are saying that there is some order in biology.  This order implies a supernatural entity.  This is not verifiable proof.  All you are doing is creating a false dragon

If you have verifiable evidence, then perhaps you should think to publish it and become famous.

Apparently, Sagan was a dirk.

Are you calling Sagan a "dagger" or your commiting libel with an inflammatory remark? What is the definition of a dirk that you are using?

Can you show that random processes can produce biological information?

Abiogensis has not yet been proven.  There are different hypotheses.  We can discuss them, if you'd like.  Are you asking to have a conversation about abiogensis or are you asking another question?

 

 

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Paul replied on Wed, May 21 2008 9:12 PM

Brainpolice:

Anyways, I believe what Paul was talking about is the infinite regress that both the formal concept of a god and the big bang theory run into: what created the creator or what caused the first cause?

The "big bang theory" doesn't have that problem; it is not a "cause", merely an event - nothing necessarily needs to have caused the event; "causeless events" occur all the time (see "vacuum fluctuation")

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Paul replied on Wed, May 21 2008 9:16 PM

JCFolsom:

If you come to the beach and see three pieces of driftwood and a piece of seaweed, there is of course nothing special there. If the drifwood is arranged so it stands as a little pyramid, held together at the top with a loose wrap of seaweed, you can be virtually certain a person was involved. Why? Because nature does not do that sort of thing on its own, putting things in higher-energy, higher-order states than is necessary. Nature's tendency is to decay order, not create it.

So you're defining the question to force a god...there must be a god because "nature doesn't behave that way on it's own", and whenever you see nature apparently behaving that way on it's own, it must be because "god did it" because you've defined that "nature" can't have done it...brilliant.

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Paul:

Brainpolice:

Anyways, I believe what Paul was talking about is the infinite regress that both the formal concept of a god and the big bang theory run into: what created the creator or what caused the first cause?

The "big bang theory" doesn't have that problem; it is not a "cause", merely an event - nothing necessarily needs to have caused the event; "causeless events" occur all the time (see "vacuum fluctuation")

 

It's specifically the concept of "the singularity" that I have a problem with.

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Paul replied on Wed, May 21 2008 9:29 PM

JCFolsom:

Well, then, color me confused. Because society would not exist without conscious interactions, even if society as a whole is unplanned.

Ever seen a flock of birds?  They have some sort of "society"; are the birds conscious?  (If you think they are, what about a flocking simulation on a computer?)

Julian Jaynes suggested that consciousness only arose in humans about 3000 years ago (in mesopotamia; less than that in other groups - e.g., he says that the Inca weren't conscious when the conquistadors arrived, less than 500 years ago); society - quite complex society - certainly existed...

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Paul replied on Wed, May 21 2008 9:47 PM

Ego:

For another example, read about flocking. I could write a computer program where individual deterministic "actors" act in seemingly complex ways without any master plan.

Ha; great minds ... Smile

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Paul replied on Wed, May 21 2008 9:50 PM

JCFolsom:

Again, atheists seem to be obsessed with the Judeo-Christian conception of God.

Of course, it couldn't possibly have anything to do with the culture in which we live?  If I'd spent my life in India, I'd probably be thinking of Hindu gods...

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JCFolsom replied on Wed, May 21 2008 10:52 PM

IDigSluts_ky:
You are getting tiresome with this comment. I have explained my name two or three times to you, have I not?  You can read about the Slutsky Decomposition here: http://www.econ.hku.hk/~wsuen/umicro/slutsky.pdf

Why the underscore, man? You really didn't mean to have Sluts_ky emphasize the Sluts bit?

IDigSluts_ky:
Apparently, Sagan was a dirk.

Are you calling Sagan a "dagger" or your committing libel with an inflammatory remark? What is the definition of a dirk that you are using?

It is an insult, as you say. It is not libel, because than I'd have to be lying about him. Merely insulting him is not libel, and I could do it repeatedly without fear of lawsuit. For instance, if I were to say, "IDigSluts_ky is subconsciously trying to cover up his love of sheep with his screen name, and yes, I mean that way", and it weren't true, that would be libel. On the other hand, if I just said "IDigSluts_ky is dumb", that is just an insult.

IDigSluts_ky:
Can you show that random processes can produce biological information?

Abiogensis has not yet been proven.  There are different hypotheses.  We can discuss them, if you'd like.  Are you asking to have a conversation about abiogensis or are you asking another question?

 

I still say that atheists have the position that God does not exist. This constitutes an assertion that the universe came in to existence without God. Given that this is contrary to the common-sense conclusions you would draw in examining the world (even famous atheists admit that nature gives the appearance of design), I say it is the atheist on whom rests the burden of proof. Since we disagree on this fairly basic point, and I have given you the basic extent of my arguments (while you have given none), I am forced to merely toss idle mockery in your direction in any future communication on this topic. Dreadful sorry.

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JCFolsom replied on Wed, May 21 2008 10:56 PM

Paul:

Ego:

For another example, read about flocking. I could write a computer program where individual deterministic "actors" act in seemingly complex ways without any master plan.

Ha; great minds ... Smile

 

Maybe your "great mind" should have read the extant responses to that post before you did your own. It sure would be nice, if people are going to post on a topic, if they read through everything first. I understand this one's gotten a bit long, though.

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JCFolsom:
I still say that atheists have the position that God does not exist.

Some do, some don't.  I do.

JCFolsom:
This constitutes an assertion that the universe came in to existence without God. [...]  it is the atheist on whom rests the burden of proof.

Then you have a basic deficiency in your understanding of logic.  There's not much anyone here can do to help you, I suggest professional help.

Here's a hint: atheism per se makes no assertions about how the universe and life came into existence, it merely rejects one of the asserted possibilities as being nonsensical and irrational.  Science offers other hypotheses, and certainly the burden of proof is on anyone advocating any specific hypothesis.  The Big Bang, for instance, is well supported by evidence.  Hypotheses abound about what, if anything caused the Big Bang, and the burden of proof is on those advocating any of them in particular.  The failure to do so says nothing either way about the ID hypotheses (and I'm being very, very generous in applying that term to it.)

The term "abiogenesis" is not a hypotheses, it is a delineation of the problem space.  One answer to the question of the method of abiogenesis is "God did it". That answer can be rejected even in the complete absence of an alternate hypotheses without committing a logical fallacy or violation of the rules of logic, and without changing the burden of proof. Other hypotheses have been forwarded, a few of which have the benefit of cursory plausibility, but none that rise to the level of defensible theory. The lack of a well supported theory, again, has exactly zero effect on the viability of ID.

 

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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JCFolsom:
Why the underscore, man? You really didn't mean to have Sluts_ky emphasize the Sluts bit?

For the third of fourth time.  It is a play on words. I joined an economics forum.  I figured that some people would get the joke. If people don't like it or find it offensive, then I will change it.  No big deal.  So far you have only expressed unwarranted hostility against me because of my user name as shown below.

JCFolsom:
Apparently, Sagan was a dirk.

IDig:
Are you calling Sagan a "dagger" or your committing libel with an inflammatory remark? What is the definition of a dirk that you are using?

JCFolsom:
It is an insult, as you say. It is not libel, because than I'd have to be lying about him. Merely insulting him is not libel, and I could do it repeatedly without fear of lawsuit. For instance, if I were to say, "IDigSluts_ky is subconsciously trying to cover up his love of sheep with his screen name, and yes, I mean that way", and it weren't true, that would be libel. On the other hand, if I just said "IDigSluts_ky is dumb", that is just an insult.

You unjustly defamed a person's character in a written statement. No you continue in your groove of pervesity and publicly deflaming me. You are falsely accusing me that I love sheep. This is a written, public statement of defaming me. I am going by the Merriam-Webster version; a reputable dictionary.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/libel

You are being nothing, but an internet troll.  I am going to stop feeding you and leave this conversation between us.  Despite you false claim a few posts ago.  I have never insulted you.

 

I still say that atheists have the position that God does not exist.

You do not understand that you have the burden of proof. What god are you talking about?  Your own version.

This constitutes an assertion that the universe came in to existence without God.

IT CONSTITUTES THAT I DO NOT KNOW HOW THE UNIVERVERSE CAME INTO EXISTENCE.  THIS IS A TRUTHFUL AND HONEST ANSWER. 

Unlike you, I don't say an undefined, ambigious Intelligent Creator is respsonsible without verifiable evidence.  You have no clue what atheism is nor that you have the burden of proof.

(even famous atheists admit that nature gives the appearance of design),

This statement is drivel and highlights your misunderstandin of atheism.  What famous atheists support Intelligent Design? What famous atheist believe in a supernatural entity?  Do you even know what you are saying?

I say it is the atheist on whom rests the burden of proof. Since we disagree on this fairly basic point, and I have given you the basic extent of my arguments (while you have given none), I am forced to merely toss idle mockery in your direction in any future communication on this topic. Dreadful sorry.

I do not have to disprove your god.  You have the burden of proof.  I am ending this conversation with you.  If you are sure of your verifiable claims about your god, then try to publish them is a scientific journal.

 

 

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Can someone PM me to who I can address about this unwarranted flaming and personal insults being casted on me?

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IDigSluts_ky:
Can someone PM me to who I can address about this unwarranted flaming and personal insults being casted on me?

How about a Forum Message?  I think your screen name rocks!  Kinda clever if you ask me.  Check out my screen name, a play on the birthplace of Austrian Economics, a canned food, and the male genitalia.  It's all done in good fun, as I am sure how you developed you SN. 

 

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ViennaSausage:

IDigSluts_ky:
Can someone PM me to who I can address about this unwarranted flaming and personal insults being casted on me?

How about a Forum Message? 

Or, you could just take it like a man.

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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histhasthai:
Or, you could just take it like a man.

Now there are two trolls in the same thread. I did not know it was troll season on Mises.org.

 

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IDigSluts_ky:

histhasthai:
Or, you could just take it like a man.

Now there are two trolls in the same thread. I did not know it was troll season on Mises.org.

If you think I'm trolling you, you're a bit too paranoid. 

Look, I'm pretty much with you on everything so far, including your screen name.  Folsom has been rude, condscending, insupportably arrogant, and, worst of all, logically adrift without the slightest clue where to find solid ground.  But what he's not been is disruptive to the forum or beyond the bounds of civil discource.

Given that, I found the whining unwarranted and unbecoming.  So, I would suggest that you suck it up and grow a thicker skin.  But you're a free agent, so do as you please.

 

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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histhasthai:
If you think I'm trolling you, you're a bit too paranoid.

Your remark was trollish, not you. I am sure you are intelligent enough to demarcate the difference.

 

So, I would suggest that you suck it up and grow a thicker skin.

My skin is plenty thick. We just have a different opinion on what civil and tasteful discourse is.  As far as I am concern, this conversation and issue is over.

 

 

 

 

 

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maxpot46 replied on Thu, May 22 2008 1:27 AM

Ego:

maxpot46:

Ego:
he's not applying the same standard to "society" that he does to "the universe"

Why should he, when society is comprised of teleological humans and the universe is comprised of deterministic atoms?

I thought about that as soon as I hit "Post", but then I realized that difference doesn't really matter.

It hugely matters.  It's the whole reason for methodological dualism.  You can't say "complex systems need no teleological creator because of the existence of spontaneous order in nature" and then point to teleological beings in support of your assertion -- it's inconsistent.  To be consistent you have to point to some instance of non-teleological (i.e. determinist) spontaneous order.  Good luck with that...

"He that struggles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper." Edmund Burke

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JCFolsom replied on Thu, May 22 2008 1:36 AM

IDigSluts_ky:
For the third of fourth time.  It is a play on words. I joined an economics forum. I figured that some people would get the joke. If people don't like it or find it offensive, then I will change it.  No big deal.

A play on the word "***", right. For a person with such a screen name, you're awfully sensitive. I'm just continuing your joke! I'm in no way offended.

IDigSluts_ky:
So far you have only expressed unwarranted hostility against me because of my user name as shown below.

No hostility. Just mockery. I'm not mad at you, I'm having fun at your expense. I find it amusing to poke at people's soft spots. Bastardly of me, isn't it?

IDigSluts_ky:
You unjustly defamed a person's character in a written statement.

Its injustice is a matter of opinion. I happen to find Sagan's characterization condescending. Thus the madness of calling him a knife.

IDigSluts_ky:
No you continue in your groove of pervesity and publicly deflaming me. You are falsely accusing me that I love sheep. This is a written, public statement of defaming me. I am going by the Merriam-Webster version; a reputable dictionary.

No, if you look at it in context, it is in fact an example, and not a statement about you. That it is an insulting example and would, in fact, be a libel without such a context is true, but it is not technically libel. It is not an assertion, but an example. Precision in your definitions would be good.

IDigSluts_ky:
You do not understand that you have the burden of proof. What god are you talking about?  Your own version.

Well, that's how y'all have managed to turn it. I was really targeting those who make the assertion that God DOES NOT EXIST, because that is a position that requires justification. Saying you don't know that God exists is different than saying you know God does not exist. Also, your definitional requirements are BS. I have set out elsewhere that God is the conscious being that created the universe, and defended that idea by pointing to the features of the universe that, when any analogous features are found in objects for which the origin of order is known, were created by intelligences.

IDigSluts_ky:
I do not have to disprove your god.  You have the burden of proof.  I am ending this conversation with you.  If you are sure of your verifiable claims about your god, then try to publish them is a scientific journal.

We are kind of going around in circles at this point. Toodles!

(even famous atheists admit that nature gives the appearance of design),

IDigSluts_ky:
This statement is drivel and highlights your misunderstandin of atheism.  What famous atheists support Intelligent Design? What famous atheist believe in a supernatural entity?  Do you even know what you are saying?

Do you? Is English your first language? Because certain nuances seem lost on you. In any case, when Dawkins said that nature gives the appearance of design, he meant that it was illusiory. He did not mean to say that the appearance indicated that nature actually was designed, any more than a mirage reveals actual water.

IDigSluts_ky:
I do not have to disprove your god.  You have the burden of proof.  I am ending this conversation with you.  If you are sure of your verifiable claims about your god, then try to publish them is a scientific journal.
 

Nuh-uh! You! Thbbbt! Nah nah nah nah nah!

Again, toodles Sluttie-poo!

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Paul replied on Thu, May 22 2008 7:16 AM

JCFolsom:

Maybe your "great mind" should have read the extant responses to that post before you did your own. It sure would be nice, if people are going to post on a topic, if they read through everything first. I understand this one's gotten a bit long, though.

Sorry; I read the posts in order, and reply as I come across things to reply to; if I read the entire thread and then went back to reply to things I'd read earlier, I'd spend a lot of time hunting for the post I wanted to reply to, and probably forget what I wanted to say about it...(and then I suppose I'd have to refresh the page and make sure nothing else had been posted while I was typing up my reply (which sometimes takes a long time, as I have other things to do), and alter my reply to take those into consideration, and ... lather, rinse, repeat)

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JackCuyler replied on Thu, May 22 2008 10:33 AM

JCFolsom:
An interesting point, but the structures we have observed to be created by consciousnesses have more organized complexity than anything we have observed created by random chance.

That is circular.  I assume we agree that life is far more complex than anything created by human design.  Your statement is only true, then, if you start with a premise that a consciousness created life.  If you start with random chance creating life, then the opposite of your statement is true - the strctures we have observed to be created by consciousness have far less organized complexity than anything we have observed created by random chance.  I'm not taking sides on this, only pointing out that without the conscious designer identifying itself, there is no way to proove either.

JCFolsom:
Nor do we consider it outside the realm of possibility that we might ever create structures so complex via our conscious understanding, we just can't yet.

Not sure why this matters.  We may one day catch up to God, or we may one day replicate the effects of random chance.

JCFolsom:
On the other hand, we have every reason to believe we will never see something so complex as life arise randomly.

I have no reason to believe that.  Seemingly impossibly improbable events happen all the time.  What would you say the odds are of life happening by chance?  Deal out all 52 cards of a shuffled deck.  The odds of getting whatever sequence you end up with are 1/8.06581752 × 10^67 (one in eight unvigintillion).  Use two decks in which you can tell each card apart, and the odds of getting the sequence you end up with are 1/1.02990167 x 10^166 (one in ten quattuorquinquagintillion).  It was certain that you would get a sequence, but extremely unlikely that you would get that sequence.  But there it is.  The same can be said for life.  It is certain that something would have happened, but extremely unlikely that life would happen.   But here we are.

I'm not trying to prove or disprove God, gods, or any of the supernatural, by the way.  I'm saying that there is no proof one way or another, and clearly alternative theories.  Some theories may be more or less likely, but none can be proved.

JCFolsom:
Human machines have increased in complexity over time, while most of the changes we have seen come about through natural forces are neutral or actually reduce complexity.

Water is more complex than either hydrogen or oxygen.  Ice is far more organized than water.


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Inquisitor replied on Thu, May 22 2008 10:56 AM

I suggest that anyone who doesn't know who Slutsky is, should look him up. His nick is merely a play on words. Any more unwarranted hostility, and I will begin ridding of inflammatory posts, or perhaps even lock the thread. So keep the discussion civil.

 

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JCFolsom replied on Thu, May 22 2008 11:06 AM

Let me just start by saying: impressive. Your questions are challenging and interesting. Hmmm...

JackCuyler:
That is circular.  I assume we agree that life is far more complex than anything created by human design.  Your statement is only true, then, if you start with a premise that a consciousness created life.  If you start with random chance creating life, then the opposite of your statement is true - the strctures we have observed to be created by consciousness have far less organized complexity than anything we have observed created by random chance.  I'm not taking sides on this, only pointing out that without the conscious designer identifying itself, there is no way to proove either.

No, my statement is that, of the orders we have observed being created, those created by consciousness are more complex. Based on the structures we have observed being created (the original design, now), we can state that consciousness tends to create new structures that are more complex than the spontaneous structures of nature. I hope I'm being clear.

JackCuyler:
JCFolsom:
On the other hand, we have every reason to believe we will never see something so complex as life arise randomly.

I have no reason to believe that.  Seemingly impossibly improbable events happen all the time.  What would you say the odds are of life happening by chance?  Deal out all 52 cards of a shuffled deck.  The odds of getting whatever sequence you end up with are 1/8.06581752 × 10^67 (one in eight unvigintillion).  Use two decks in which you can tell each card apart, and the odds of getting the sequence you end up with are 1/1.02990167 x 10^166 (one in ten quattuorquinquagintillion).  It was certain that you would get a sequence, but extremely unlikely that you would get that sequence.  But there it is.  The same can be said for life.  It is certain that something would have happened, but extremely unlikely that life would happen.   But here we are.

That is true, but unlike the deck of cards example, these incredibly unlikely events did not have to happen. When you lay out the cards, an order must occur. To use your card-dealing example, while it is true that any particular order is highly unlikely, that does not mean some orders are not more significant than others. A random array would raise no eyebrows, since, as I said, they have to be laid out in some order. But if you had them organized by suit and number laid out on the table, we could be confident that someone did that on purpose. It is both complex and unlikely and has recognizable significance in its order.

JackCuyler:
JCFolsom:
Human machines have increased in complexity over time, while most of the changes we have seen come about through natural forces are neutral or actually reduce complexity.

Water is more complex than either hydrogen or oxygen.  Ice is far more organized than water.

Not really. To say water is more complex than hydrogen or oxygen is about the same as saying that a marble in a marble-shaped divot on a surface is more complex than the marble rolling around on the surface. The tendency of hydrogen to be bound to oxygen, a rather strong one, means that water is a lower-energy, more stable state than either hydrogen or oxygen gas, or particularly single atoms of hydrogen and oxygen.

Contrast this with the chemicals found in life, which are either higher-energy states than the constituent chemicals or the constituent chemicals have other low energy states that are more easily accessible. This is one of the reasons we need to eat, see, because to make many biological compounds requires energy input, but of course, just energy by itself won't do. Plants gain energy from the sun. Try to do that yourself, and the radiation will just begin to break down the chemicals in your skin and eyes.

Everyone here pleads ignorance, it seems. I was a bit surprised at first, but I ought not have been. In contrast to the circles I'd normally bring these subjects up in, biology and other physical science is probably not the major emphasis of many on this board. The fact is, we have a pretty good idea of what it would have taken for life to be generated in its simplest forms. We also have observed mutation rates in various organisms. We have tinkered with the building blocks of life. We have discovered layer after layer of complexity in life.

We know, at least at a basic level, what it would have taken to produce life. We have a theoretical foundation for what life is. Life requires meaningful information, but it also requires the ability to interpret that information and to implement it. The basic candidates biologists believe could have been the original molecule of life are proteins or RNA, both of which come laden with problems. Much-touted experiments, like the production of amino acids in organic soups, were accomplished only with human intervention in conditions which scientists no longer believe represent early earth.

Darwin's theory had a profound impact, because it supposedly obviated the need for God, something the scientists of the day already deeply desired. Its widespread acceptance and even enforcement in government schools has led entire generations to view theistic explanations for life as childish and ridiculous. That's really just a prejudice, though. If you don't know enough to really take a side on this, it is because you choose not to. The information you need to at least lean one way or another is out there, and there are very well-argued books that exist to help (try Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe).

 

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JCFolsom:
To use your card-dealing example, while it is true that any particular order is highly unlikely, that does not mean some orders are not more significant than others.

But it's only our notions, our point of view, that give any particlar ordering any more significance than any other. The universe doesn't care about a Royal Flush, nor does it even know the difference.  It's only because the specific ordering that is us happens to have the property of introspective capacity, and the fact that that particular ordering is the definition of the entire context within which we can do so, that gives this ordering any significance.

Someone who wins the lottery thinks he's special, but somebody had to win the lottery. It's only in the context of that one person that the odds against winning were astronomical. In the larger context, the odds for were 100%.

"The universe was not designed to be perfect for us, we evolved as what was possible given the way the universe is. That's the problem with being the ones who get to ask such questions: we assume we are the premise instead of the conclusion."

 

The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.

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JCFolsom replied on Thu, May 22 2008 11:51 AM

histhasthai:
JCFolsom:
To use your card-dealing example, while it is true that any particular order is highly unlikely, that does not mean some orders are not more significant than others.

But it's only our notions, our point of view, that give any particlar ordering any more significance than any other. The universe doesn't care about a Royal Flush, nor does it even know the difference.  It's only because the specific ordering that is us happens to have the property of introspective capacity, and the fact that that particular ordering is the definition of the entire context within which we can do so, that gives this ordering any significance.

My only point with this example was that we can infer design, and what is more, design by someone with a similar understanding of playing cards to our own, if they appear in such an order.

histhasthai:
Someone who wins the lottery thinks he's special, but somebody had to win the lottery. It's only in the context of that one person that the odds against winning were astronomical. In the larger context, the odds for were 100%.

Either I don't get your point or you don't get mine. The lottery bit is the same situation as the random array of cards.

histhasthai:
"The universe was not designed to be perfect for us, we evolved as what was possible given the way the universe is. That's the problem with being the ones who get to ask such questions: we assume we are the premise instead of the conclusion."

While this does not disqualify it from being possible, it is rather difficult to envision life in a universe where the big bang collapsed back in on itself already (as it would have with a slightly greater gravitational constant) or expanded into cold death (as it would have if gravity were a bit less). It is difficult to conceive life in a universe where heavy elements, or atoms, or even matter itself could not form, yet tweak any of the fundamental forces of nature just a little bit, and these things would be so. You make it sound as if life is inevitable, but there is absolutely no reason to think so. Life is, and that is miraculous. In my opinion, literally.

You can say, rightly, that we have no way to know that the current best understanding of science is in fact correct, and that the truth might be more amicable to atheism. This is indeed so, yet I would have to call that a bit of a "naturalism of the gaps" theory.

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JCFolsom:
My only point with this example was that we can infer design, and what is more, design by someone with a similar understanding of playing cards to our own, if they appear in such an order.

And my point is that you can't, because you know that if you lay them out randomly enough times, it will come up that way eventually.

JCFolsom:
it is rather difficult to envision life in a universe where the big bang collapsed back in on itself already

Yes, and if that had been the case, there would have been nobody to record the failure to support life.  It could have happend 10^100 times already.  The fact that we're here means that the universe is the kind of universe that can support life. We think that's special, just like the lottery winner.

JCFolsom:
we have no way to know that the current best understanding of science is in fact correct, and that the truth might be more amicable to atheism. This is indeed so, yet I would have to call that a bit of a "naturalism of the gaps" theory.

If you're going to try to turn a pithy catch phrase around to support your position, it helps to understand what that pithy catch-phrase means in the first place.  Your aspirations to cleverness outstrip your abilities.

 

 

 

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JCFolsom replied on Thu, May 22 2008 12:25 PM

histhasthai:
JCFolsom:
My only point with this example was that we can infer design, and what is more, design by someone with a similar understanding of playing cards to our own, if they appear in such an order.

And my point is that you can't, because you know that if you lay them out randomly enough times, it will come up that way eventually.

True. If you can live for the millenia it would take for that card pattern to show up, and spend all that time doing nothing but laying out those cards, you are right, eventually it will come up, and you would not necessarily be suspicious. However, if you took a supposedly shuffled deck of cards, any time within a human lifetime, and laid them out, and they were in order, you would be right to assume they were deliberately set up that way.

But again, there is no reason to think that the universe was just sitting there shuffling natural laws and biological chemicals around until it happened upon life. We actually haven't come upon ANY natural processes that would really tend to produce useful organic compounds. All the biological chemicals we know of are quite delicate, easily broken or corruptible, and tend to bind to each other in ways other than that found in life. I actually don't believe that probability enters into the origin of life. I think you could wait forever, and never come upon it.

It is like the monkeys at a typewriter example. Atheists say that if you put an immortal monkey in front of a typewriter for an infinite period of time, you will wind up with all the works of Shakespeare. I say, you'll end up with a broken and faeces-smeared typewriter. There was no chance and no realistic scenario on early Earth where life would ever arise without conscious intervention. I think it is a mistake of the ID folk to have focused on probability with these points.

histhasthai:
JCFolsom:
it is rather difficult to envision life in a universe where the big bang collapsed back in on itself already

Yes, and if that had been the case, there would have been nobody to record the failure to support life.  It could have happend 10^100 times already.  The fact that we're here means that the universe is the kind of universe that can support life. We think that's special, just like the lottery winner.

We have no reason to think it did so, however. We know of only one universe that has ever been. Positing multiple or previous universes is at least as fanciful as positing God, and again, you do so only to try to explain away the appearance of design in nature.

histhasthai:
JCFolsom:
we have no way to know that the current best understanding of science is in fact correct, and that the truth might be more amicable to atheism. This is indeed so, yet I would have to call that a bit of a "naturalism of the gaps" theory.

If you're going to try to turn a pithy catch phrase around to support your position, it helps to understand what that pithy catch-phrase means in the first place.  Your aspirations to cleverness outstrip your abilities.

 

Ha! Trying to give me a taste of my own medicine, are you? Well, perhaps I misused the phrase. I'll admit it's shaky, but your "there could have been 10^100 universes" idea strays even further into the realm of "naturalism of the gaps".

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JackCuyler replied on Thu, May 22 2008 12:46 PM

JCFolsom:
No, my statement is that, of the orders we have observed being created, those created by consciousness are more complex. Based on the structures we have observed being created (the original design, now), we can state that consciousness tends to create new structures that are more complex than the spontaneous structures of nature. I hope I'm being clear.

Ahh ok.  That make a lot more sence, and I really can't refute it.  I will not concede, however, that just because random chance has not produced something a complex as a digital watch that it wouldn't, given a few billion years.  It really comes down to the old chestnut involving one or more monkeys, a type writer, eternity and Hamlet.

JCFolsom:
When you lay out the cards, an order must occur. To use your card-dealing example, while it is true that any particular order is highly unlikely, that does not mean some orders are not more significant than others. A random array would raise no eyebrows, since, as I said, they have to be laid out in some order. But if you had them organized by suit and number laid out on the table, we could be confident that someone did that on purpose. It is both complex and unlikely and has recognizable significance in its order.

As I said, "It is certain that something would have happened, but extremely unlikely that life would happen."  The result of life is only more significant than the others because it was the result.  It life hadn't happened, something else would have.  If you look at life as a result, not a goal, then it just happened that way by chance.

JCFolsom:
JackCuyler:
Water is more complex than either hydrogen or oxygen.  Ice is far more organized than water.

Not really. To say water is more complex than hydrogen or oxygen is about the same as saying that a marble in a marble-shaped divot on a surface is more complex than the marble rolling around on the surface. The tendency of hydrogen to be bound to oxygen, a rather strong one, means that water is a lower-energy, more stable state than either hydrogen or oxygen gas, or particularly single atoms of hydrogen and oxygen.

Claiming water is not more complex than hydrogen or oxygen goes even further than claiming the pyramids are not more complex than bricks.  Water has more parts than either.  Water has completely different properties than either.  Further, the fact that a water molecule is more stable than either a hydrogen or oxygen atom leads to the conclusion that natural forces are not necessaritly "neutral or actually reduce complexity," but rather will eventually achieve stability.  Stability may be more or less complex.

JCFolsom:
Contrast this with the chemicals found in life, which are either higher-energy states than the constituent chemicals or the constituent chemicals have other low energy states that are more easily accessible. This is one of the reasons we need to eat, see, because to make many biological compounds requires energy input, but of course, just energy by itself won't do.

I thought water was a chemical found in life.  Regardless, I agree that life, even in its simplest form, is more complex than water. 

JCFolsom:
Plants gain energy from the sun. Try to do that yourself, and the radiation will just begin to break down the chemicals in your skin and eyes.

I'll also get vitamin D and a nice tan that will attract the ladies... until my skin turns to a leather-like consistency later in life.

JCFolsom:
Darwin's theory had a profound impact, because it supposedly obviated the need for God, something the scientists of the day already deeply desired. Its widespread acceptance and even enforcement in government schools has led entire generations to view theistic explanations for life as childish and ridiculous. That's really just a prejudice, though. If you don't know enough to really take a side on this, it is because you choose not to. The information you need to at least lean one way or another is out there, and there are very well-argued books that exist to help (try Edge of Evolution by Michael Behe).

That's rather silly.  Darwin's removed God as the creator of the species, not life.  At no point does Darwin attempt to explain the origin of life, nor does current evolutionary theory.  God could have created the universe, and all that was in it a few billion years ago, including the first bits of life, giving those first life forms the abilty to reproduce and to have mutant offspring.  That supposition is perfectly  harmonious with evolution.  The only God that Darwin attempted to disprove was the Judeo-Christian God that supposedly created man out of dust and woman out of a rib six thousand years ago.  Since you have consitently said you are not talking about this God, then why attack Darwin or evolution at all?

Finally, you are correct; rejecting the existence of a God is claiming that the universe was created without God.  It is not more than that, though, and it certainly is not a claim that one does know how it was created.  Given any simple problem, even if I do not know the solution, or the solution is unknowable, I may be able to eliminate some possibilities.  "Given that X is a positive whole number,  what is X + 6?"  I may not know the answer, as it is unknowable, but I can tell you it's not 4.  How did the universe come to be?  "I don't know, but it wasn't God," is along the same line.


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JCFolsom replied on Thu, May 22 2008 1:32 PM

JackCuyler:
I will not concede, however, that just because random chance has not produced something a complex as a digital watch that it wouldn't, given a few billion years.  It really comes down to the old chestnut involving one or more monkeys, a type writer, eternity and Hamlet.

While that statement may not mean that nature could not produce a digital watch, I think you could show in other ways it could not. Indeed, I would dare say that, even if you put all the components of a digital watch together in a box, and shook it, you would never see a digital watch assembled. This is because there is no tendency for the components of a digital watch to assemble themselves. Further, even if you find a device where there is such a tendency but it is still highly unlikely, you will likely see the components pounded into dust before you see it constructed.

Life had to arise in the real world, with UV light and oxygen and heat and all manner of other things that would tend to destroy it before it even really started. 

JackCuyler:
As I said, "It is certain that something would have happened, but extremely unlikely that life would happen."  The result of life is only more significant than the others because it was the result.  It life hadn't happened, something else would have.  If you look at life as a result, not a goal, then it just happened that way by chance.

Why is it certain something would have happened? Why couldn't nothing happen?

JackCuyler:
Claiming water is not more complex than hydrogen or oxygen goes even further than claiming the pyramids are not more complex than bricks.  Water has more parts than either.  Water has completely different properties than either.  Further, the fact that a water molecule is more stable than either a hydrogen or oxygen atom leads to the conclusion that natural forces are not necessaritly "neutral or actually reduce complexity," but rather will eventually achieve stability.  Stability may be more or less complex.

A decent point. I phrased it poorly. But things like proteins and nucleic acids are nowhere close to the most stable arrangement of their constituents. We have to create and repair them constantly to keep ourselves from breaking down into goo. You get energy from breaking down the bonds in organic compounds because it took a lot of energy to make those bonds.

We can't know anything for sure, but the best explanation for how life arose in an essentially hostile environment is intelligent intervention. No naturalistic explanation makes sense. Further, when you find something like the bacerial flagellum, a literal outboard electric motor, where, if you remove any of its components, it no longer works, you find a structure which even in its lesser components is massively improbable but which, to serve its purpose, must be constructed as a whole. And you find this over and over again through nature. You do not only propose one immensely improbable random event, but huge numbers of them over billions of years.

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JCFolsom:
when you find something like the bacerial flagellum, a literal outboard electric motor, where, if you remove any of its components, it no longer works,

It may no longer work as a flagellum, but it turns out that there is evidence that it evolved first for other purposes, and only became a means of locomotion by a single change that allowed it to wiggle.

If you look at the development of biological structures as a consequence of the requirements for the purpose they serve, instead of looking at the purpose they serve as a consequence of the existence of the structure, you miss the whole point of evolution theory.  You may not agree with the latter point of view, but it would probably be beneficial to you to try occasionally adopting it as an academic exercise to better understand what it is you are arguing against.

 

 

 

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JCFolsom:

JackCuyler:
I will not concede, however, that just because random chance has not produced something a complex as a digital watch that it wouldn't, given a few billion years.  It really comes down to the old chestnut involving one or more monkeys, a type writer, eternity and Hamlet.

While that statement may not mean that nature could not produce a digital watch, I think you could show in other ways it could not. Indeed, I would dare say that, even if you put all the components of a digital watch together in a box, and shook it, you would never see a digital watch assembled. This is because there is no tendency for the components of a digital watch to assemble themselves. Further, even if you find a device where there is such a tendency but it is still highly unlikely, you will likely see the components pounded into dust before you see it constructed.

It may never, which is not to say it is impossible.  It is very unlikely that it would.  This is very basic Douglas Adams pseudo-science :)  Then again, there is a tendency for the components of life to assemble themselves.  This is demonstrable.  Therefore, it is much more likely that life will occur randomly than a digital watch.

JCFolsom:
Why is it certain something would have happened? Why couldn't nothing happen?

I guess I poorly phrased.  There would always be a result.  If nothing happens, then the result is nothing.  If something happens, one of a huge number of possibilities will be the result.

From a different post:

JCFolsom:
But again, there is no reason to think that the universe was just sitting there shuffling natural laws and biological chemicals around until it happened upon life. We actually haven't come upon ANY natural processes that would really tend to produce useful organic compounds. All the biological chemicals we know of are quite delicate, easily broken or corruptible, and tend to bind to each other in ways other than that found in life. I actually don't believe that probability enters into the origin of life. I think you could wait forever, and never come upon it.

The entire way you're phrasing implies life is a goal that was achieved, or that the universe was looking for something.  This is only true if there was a conscious creator/designer.  A compound is only "useful" if there is a goal for its use.  If you want to refute claims that it could have happened another way, you have to attack the arguments based on other premises.  Those who deny God are denying that there is a goal at all.  Life just happened.  We can all agree that life just happening by chance is extremely unlikely, but I think you go too far when you say that it is impossible.


JCFolsom:
We can't know anything for sure, but the best explanation for how life arose in an essentially hostile environment is intelligent intervention. No naturalistic explanation makes sense. Further, when you find something like the bacerial flagellum, a literal outboard electric motor, where, if you remove any of its components, it no longer works, you find a structure which even in its lesser components is massively improbable but which, to serve its purpose, must be constructed as a whole. And you find this over and over again through nature.

Again, you're stating a purpose.  If there is no God, there is no "working" bacterial flagellum "working".  It is alive or it is not. The part cannot be "missing" if there is no one to judge it.  It is only relevant in that you're giving more weight to it "working", and only a conscious being can do that.  Flip a coin (don't cheat; call it in the air!).  Nature does not care which side comes up; you, as the caller, do.  Nature does not care if there is or is no life.  You as a living, conscious being, do.  If God does not exist, life could still exist by random chance alone, however unlikely.

JCFolsom:
You do not only propose one immensely improbable random event, but huge numbers of them over billions of years.

Actually, after a series of highly improbable events, the likelihood of a given end result becomes more likely, or rather other results are eliminated.  That is, after you deal out 48 of the 52 cards, there are now only 4 left, and hence only 24 possible results.  What was once one out of an impossibly high number is now one out of twenty-four.  After you have dealt 51 cards, the set is already determined, even though not yet complete.  Likewise, after the first building block of life improbably formed by pure chance, it became much more likely that life would form by pure chance.  After the second building block improbably formed, the likelihood of life forming continued to increase.  That is, it is much more likely that you will get four aces in your poker hand if the first two cards you are dealt are aces.


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JCFolsom replied on Thu, May 22 2008 3:20 PM

Again, you're stating a purpose.  If there is no God, there is no "working" bacterial flagellum "working".  It is alive or it is not. The part cannot be "missing" if there is no one to judge it.  It is only relevant in that you're giving more weight to it "working", and only a conscious being can do that.  Flip a coin (don't cheat; call it in the air!).  Nature does not care which side comes up; you, as the caller, do.  Nature does not care if there is or is no life.  You as a living, conscious being, do.  If God does not exist, life could still exist by random chance alone, however unlikely.

Well, the flagellum definitely serves a purpose for the bacteria. You are right, nature itself has no purposes. It cannot plan, or even desire. It is utterly indifferent. Which is why, if we can show that a natural structure must have been planned to come about as it did, then we know nature could not have done it.

You say life could exist by chance alone. How do you know? How do you know that life is accessible by chance at all? I am claiming it is not. If I am correct, is there any way to explain life except by God?

The very consciousness you discard as meaningless is one of the things that tells us that God is possible. There is nothing in science that shows that mind and brain, or even brain processes, are identical; indeed, most recent evidence is to the contrary. There are aspects of consciousness that just have no physical explanation. Thus, consciousness appears to be, at least in part, non-physical. Once we admit the existence of non-physical phenomena, especially non-physical minds, especially non-physical minds that interact with physical brains, all the elements needed for the possiblity of a big powerful spirit called God are present.

Of course, what I've really done is opened another big can of worms, but be that as it may...

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JCFolsom:
You say life could exist by chance alone. How do you know? How do you know that life is accessible by chance at all? I am claiming it is not. If I am correct, is there any way to explain life except by God?

How do i know random chance is a possibility?  It fits the results.  A few trillion oxygen atoms and a few trillion hydrogen atoms crash around and form a puddle, or an ocean.  Some carbon atoms and some more oxygen atoms fall into the soup.  Heat from a nearby star keeps the water from freezing, and the puddle's distance from the star keeps it from boiling off.  I'm not saying it did happen exactly that way, only that this is a possibilty.   I have no idea the circumstances, but I accept that random chance is a possible cause.

If it was not random chance, even if only by the randomness of "first cause", then yes, I agree it must have been designed.  This is, "a or not a".  Designed or not designed.  If there is a design, there of course must be a designer, God or gods,  or some consciousness; if it was not, it must have been random, at least to some extent.

The fact is, though, we cannot prove it one way or another.  You cannot prove that life could not happen by chance any more than I can prove that God does not exist.  Any evidence you give can be turned to evidence for the other side, and vice versa.  Since we can observe chance, and we cannot ovserve God, I think the burden of proof falls on those who wish to prove God's existence.  That nature is produces complex structures, or that life produced by chance was highly unlikely is not proof, only evidence.  The random chance theory fits observable evidence better: Even if "chance" is only the chance of proximity, atoms for molecules by chance, and molecules form compounds by chance.

The biggest problem with proving or disproving the existence of "God" is, as others have said, defining "God".  Is he the God of Abraham, who led people out of the desert and later may or may not have knocked up a nice Jewish girl who was already engaged to someone else?  Is he the God that told a bunch of guys to steal some airplanes and run them into some buildings?  Did he just cause first cause and let everything happen?  Is he all powerful, or is he bound by the laws of logic?  Is he all knowing, or does he not know the future?  Can he microwave a burrito so hot that even he can't eat it?  These questions matter, as without them, how will others know what you are talking about?

As for me personally, I dislike the idea of "first cause", whether by design or by chance.  Even if I accept that there is no free will, choices still feel like choices, so much so that the difference is irrelevant.  Still, the existence of a planner, to me, seems even more far fetched than life happening by almost impossibly unlikely random chance.


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Paul replied on Thu, May 22 2008 11:55 PM

JackCuyler:

JCFolsom:
No, my statement is that, of the orders we have observed being created, those created by consciousness are more complex. Based on the structures we have observed being created (the original design, now), we can state that consciousness tends to create new structures that are more complex than the spontaneous structures of nature. I hope I'm being clear.

Ahh ok.  That make a lot more sence, and I really can't refute it.  I will not concede, however, that just because random chance has not produced something a complex as a digital watch that it wouldn't, given a few billion years.

The entire reason nature doesn't make digital watches is that watches can't evolve...they don't breed, etc.

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Nitroadict replied on Fri, May 23 2008 12:18 AM

Paul:

JackCuyler:

JCFolsom:
No, my statement is that, of the orders we have observed being created, those created by consciousness are more complex. Based on the structures we have observed being created (the original design, now), we can state that consciousness tends to create new structures that are more complex than the spontaneous structures of nature. I hope I'm being clear.

Ahh ok.  That make a lot more sence, and I really can't refute it.  I will not concede, however, that just because random chance has not produced something a complex as a digital watch that it wouldn't, given a few billion years.

The entire reason nature doesn't make digital watches is that watches can't evolve...they don't breed, etc.

Man has the capacity to develop machines that breed, however; unlikley & futuristic as it is now.  I'm not sure if doing such would be nature per-se (perhaps by proxy since humans eventually evolved via nature), but it could be done.

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JackCuyler replied on Fri, May 23 2008 12:43 AM

Paul:
The entire reason nature doesn't make digital watches is that watches can't evolve...they don't breed, etc.

Nor do diamonds, rubies, water, helium, salt, etc., etc., etc.  And yet nature makes all of these.


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JCFolsom replied on Fri, May 23 2008 1:32 AM

JackCuyler:

Paul:
The entire reason nature doesn't make digital watches is that watches can't evolve...they don't breed, etc.

Nor do diamonds, rubies, water, helium, salt, etc., etc., etc.  And yet nature makes all of these.

 

It is important to remember, though, that crystals like diamonds are not designed when you see the diamond. The atomic constituents of diamonds behave as they do because of pre-existing chemical properties. Under the right circumstances, they will "fall" into that crystal lattice on their own. Not so with a watch.

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