Saturday, June 16, 2012

Religious Hypocrisy: Denial of Our Own Beliefs

The religious beliefs of evolutionists mandate that evolution, in one form or another, must be true. The details of how it happened don’t matter, but their religion demands that the world arose on its own. These beliefs have been clearly stated and proclaimed for centuries. And these beliefs have been proclaimed by a wide variety of believers, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Jews, agnostics and atheists. Evolution is, if anything, a religious theory and there is nothing wrong with that. But evolutionists deny any such religious influence and criticize others for undue religious biases. That reveals the hypocrisy of evolutionary thought and a monumental internal contradiction.

As a general rule, those who are convinced they are free of metaphysics are those who are most beholden to metaphysics. P.Z. Myers, for example, wrote in the LA Times that he is “pretty certain that if there were an all-powerful being pulling the strings and shaping history for the benefit of human beings, the universe would look rather different than it does.”

That is a religious claim.

But when I pointed this out an evolution professor accused me of deception and asserted that Myers made no such religious claim:

see what the charlatan has done here: Myers said "IF there were an all-powerful being..."

But the confidence man's trick was to turn that conditional into a non-conditional statement. Keep you eyes out: It's his chief modus operandi.

No metaphysics committed here by Myers, once you peek behind the curtain.

The hypocrisy just keeps on coming. Evolutionists make religious arguments that mandate evolution, they accuse others of what they do, and when you point it out they just bring more empty accusations and denials. In this case, the evolution professor attempts to hide the religion with the fallacious argument that Myers argument is not a religious claim because it is a conditional. Of course that makes it no less of a religious claim. Religion drives science, and it matters.

171 comments:

  1. Why do you never link to these anonymised "professors" you keep quoting?

    When you quoted me, why did you not link to the context of my words, and attribute them to me?

    Why did you not respond when I raised this with you?

    And why are you ignoring the protests against your illustration of a piece about PZ Myers with the image of a mass murderer?

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  2. The religious beliefs of evolutionists mandate that evolution, in one form or another, must be true.

    No, they don't. Repeatedly claiming this, without support, and in the teeth of rebuttals, does not make it true.

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    Replies
    1. EL:

      No, they don't.

      Yes they do. This is yet another one of your nonsensical comments. If an evolutionist believes God wouldn't make the mosquito for example (and many other things about this world), then you are left with evolution, in one form or another.

      Delete
    2. My comment is far from nonsensical, Cornelius. You keep accusing "evolutionists" (not "atheists" but "evolutionists") of being religious. Some of us are, some of us aren't. Some are atheists.

      But whether we are or are not religious is irrelevant to the science qua science. Some people, PZ Myers, for instance, sees scientific evidence as falsifying the God hypothesis. I disagree, because I think he is defining the God hypothesis too narrowly. But I would agree with PZ Myers that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.

      We do not believe (I do not, and you have provided no evidence that PZ does) that evolutionary theory a good model because God wouldn't make a mosquito.

      We believe evolutionary theory is a good model because it fits the data well.

      It also infirms a specific, and widely held, God hypothesis - the hypothesis that God is a being who actively intervenes in the world to avert evil.

      And what about that mass murderer image, Cornelius? Are you going to take it down? Or leave it libellously in place?

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    3. Hunter: If an evolutionist believes God wouldn't make the mosquito for example (and many other things about this world), then you are left with evolution, in one form or another.

      That's beyond preposterous, Cornelius. It's downright ludicrous. Crack open some primary research papers and try to find this sort of reasoning there.

      Delete
    4. Here, at about the 55:00 minute mark in the following video, Phillip Johnson sums up his 'excellent' lecture by noting that the refutation of his book, 'Darwin On Trial', in the Journal Nature, the most prestigious science journal in the world, was a theological argument about what God would and would not do in the world and therefore Darwinism must be true, and the critique from Nature was not a refutation of the evidence that Johnson had highlighted, based on any contrary scientific evidence for Darwinism that one would be expected to be brought forth in such a prestigious venue:

      Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson) – lecture video
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw

      Here Ayala is schooled by Craig for not presenting any counter evidence but only Theological arguments:

      Refuting The Myth Of 'Bad Design' vs. Intelligent Design - William Lane Craig - video
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIzdieauxZg

      But 'bad' Theology is really all Darwinists got since Ayala and Nature really had no substantiating evidence to bring forth even if they had wanted to!

      “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain - Michael Behe - December 2010
      Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.(that is a net 'fitness gain' within a 'stressed' environment i.e. remove the stress from the environment and the parent strain is always more 'fit')
      http://behe.uncommondescent.com/2010/12/the-first-rule-of-adaptive-evolution/

      Where's the substantiating evidence for neo-Darwinism?
      https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q-PBeQELzT4pkgxB2ZOxGxwv6ynOixfzqzsFlCJ9jrw/edit

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    5. EL:

      My comment is far from nonsensical, Cornelius. You keep accusing "evolutionists" (not "atheists" but "evolutionists") of being religious. Some of us are, some of us aren't. Some are atheists.

      But whether we are or are not religious is irrelevant to the science qua science. Some people, PZ Myers, for instance, sees scientific evidence as falsifying the God hypothesis. I disagree, because I think he is defining the God hypothesis too narrowly. But I would agree with PZ Myers that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.


      There you go again, making your religious claims, just after denying your own religious beliefs.

      Delete
    6. oleg:

      Hunter: If an evolutionist believes God wouldn't make the mosquito for example (and many other things about this world), then you are left with evolution, in one form or another.

      oleg: That's beyond preposterous, Cornelius. It's downright ludicrous. Crack open some primary research papers and try to find this sort of reasoning there.


      Sure, you can see an example discussed here:

      http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2011/08/peacefulness-in-grown-man-that-is-not.html

      http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2010/05/let-worship-begin.html

      Delete
    7. Hunter: Sure, you can see an example discussed here:

      None of those articles qualify as primary research literature, which I mentioned explicitly. Try again.

      Delete
    8. There you go again, making your religious claims, just after denying your own religious beliefs.

      As I've said in my last post, but will repeat, as we have cross-posted:

      A scientific claim that refutes, with evidence, a specific religious hypothesis is not "a religious claim".

      It is merely a claim that a certain religious proposition is infirmed by the evidence.

      The evidence infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god, just as it infirms the hypothesis of a world that was created by a god in 6 days, about 6,000 years ago, or was entirely inundated by that same god shortly afterwards.

      To point this out is not to make a "religious claim" but to point out that certain specific religious claims are infirmed by the evidence.

      If you want to propose a god that does fit the evidence, feel free.

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    9. oleg:

      None of those articles qualify as primary research literature, which I mentioned explicitly. Try again.

      Yes, this is the typical response, amazingly enough. When if comes to supporting evidence, evolutionists lower the bar to the ground. Practically anything proves evolution. But for counter arguments, they quickly raise that bar way, way up. In this case, a research paper, on precisely the topic we are discussing, in the top journal, Nature, just doesn't qualify. Truly a classic.

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    10. Cornelius Hunter

      In this case, a research paper, on precisely the topic we are discussing, in the top journal, Nature, just doesn't qualify. Truly a classic.


      What paper would that be? I do believe you would rather be poked in the eye with a rusty fork than supply a proper reference.

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    11. Yes, this is the typical response, amazingly enough. When if comes to supporting evidence, evolutionists lower the bar to the ground.

      Nope. The bar is always sound scientific methodology.

      Practically anything proves evolution.

      And yet again, you equivocate with the word "evolution". Evolutionary theory is a whole body of theory, from which testable hypotheses can be, and are, derived. Sometimes those hypotheses are confirmed; sometimes infirmed. One hypothesis was that genetic phylogenies would match morphological phylogenies, which they do, substantially, but with some interesting anomalies. Those anomalies required explanation, and led to the discovery that genetic material is not solely inherited but can be transferred horizontally.

      But by pretending that "evolution" is a single theory that is not subject to modification or extension, you ignore the body of evidence that actually supports it.

      It is true that evidence supports evolution but it is not true that all hypotheses derived from evolutionary theory are always supported. That's how our understanding grows.

      But for counter arguments, they quickly raise that bar way, way up. In this case, a research paper, on precisely the topic we are discussing, in the top journal, Nature, just doesn't qualify. Truly a classic.

      Link or proper reference please. And for goodness sake, improve your referencing style.

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    12. What paper would that be? I do believe you would rather be poked in the eye with a rusty fork than supply a proper reference.

      It's quite bizarre.

      Delete
    13. EL:

      CH: Those who are convinced they are free of metaphysics are those who are most beholden to metaphysics.

      EL: I would agree with PZ Myers that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.

      CH: There you go again, making your religious claims, just after denying your own religious beliefs.

      EL: A scientific claim that refutes, with evidence, a specific religious hypothesis is not "a religious claim." It is merely a claim that a certain religious proposition is infirmed by the evidence. The evidence infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god, just as it infirms the hypothesis of a world that was created by a god in 6 days, about 6,000 years ago, or was entirely inundated by that same god shortly afterwards. To point this out is not to make a "religious claim" but to point out that certain specific religious claims are infirmed by the evidence.


      To which I must again point out that those who are convinced they are free of metaphysics are those who are most beholden to metaphysics, as you continue to demonstrate before our eyes. Evolutionists are literally oblivious to their own dogma, as they issue it in real time.

      Merely a claim that a certain religious proposition is infirmed by the evidence? Oh no, I’m afraid evolutionary thought goes far beyond such innocence.

      You say that “The evidence infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god,” and that “To point this out is not to make a ‘religious claim’ but to point out that certain specific religious claims are infirmed by the evidence.”

      That of course is false. It most certainly, and obviously, is a religious claim to say that the evidence infirms “the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god.” Evolutionists are literally in denial of their own claims as they make them.

      Delete
    14. CH: That of course is false. It most certainly, and obviously, is a religious claim to say that the evidence infirms “the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god.” Evolutionists are literally in denial of their own claims as they make them.

      You see this in the literature and in discussions with evolutionists, but one cannot cease to be amazed at the raw, ludicrous, denials. Like the politician who stands up and denies what everyone knows. It’s just tragic and comical at the same time.

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    15. Oh, this is ripe! CH is now resorting to quoting himself as confirmation that his strawman argument is correct.

      Just classic.

      Delete
    16. Taking someone else's claims serious for purpose of criticism doesn't necessitate personally holding that belief.

      Again, that any monotheistic God created the world we observe in any particular way is a religious idea conjectured by theists.

      We make process by criticizing conjectured ideas. Those ideas that do not withstand criticism are discarded. Ideas that cannot be criticized because they could explain anything, an therefore nothing, are merely logical possibilities, which we discard as well.

      This is how we make progress.

      Given that you appear to object to this process being applied, what part of the above do you disagree with? If so, what is your alternative explanation as to how we make progress. Please be specific.

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    17. Oh, this is ripe! CH is now resorting to quoting himself as confirmation that his strawman argument is correct. Just classic.

      Ummm, so I quote the evolutionist, showing the religion, and that’s a “strawman argument.” You can see why trying to have rational discourse with evolutionists is impossible. It’s right out of Monte Python. Yes, “Just classic.”

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    18. Elizabeth Liddle

      T: "What paper would that be? I do believe you would rather be poked in the eye with a rusty fork than supply a proper reference."

      It's quite bizarre.


      Not really, when you consider that providing a proper reference would make it easy for people to check the preposterous claims. Readers would then be able to see for themselves the underhanded quote-mining and deliberate misrepresentation of the actual work.

      Can't have things like truth or honesty messing up some darn good Creationist propaganda!

      Delete
    19. To which I must again point out that those who are convinced they are free of metaphysics are those who are most beholden to metaphysics, as you continue to demonstrate before our eyes. Evolutionists are literally oblivious to their own dogma, as they issue it in real time.

      Your argument is completely self-reinforcing, Cornelius. It's like the old witch trials - if she floats, she's a witch, if she sinks, oops.

      No, we are not "beholden to metaphysics", merely to data. Unlike you, a scientist employed by an institution constitionally committed to a religious fundamentalist view of the world's origins.

      Merely a claim that a certain religious proposition is infirmed by the evidence? Oh no, I’m afraid evolutionary thought goes far beyond such innocence.

      And you are mistaken. Evolutionists who take a stand against ID or creationism are pointing out that the evidence infirms a specific god hypothesis. It has to be that way, because, as you have pointed out yourself, you cannot rule out hypotheses that have not been presented, plus, a god hypothesis so flexible that it can account any evidence is unfalsfiable.

      You say that “The evidence infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god,” and that “To point this out is not to make a ‘religious claim’ but to point out that certain specific religious claims are infirmed by the evidence.”

      That of course is false.


      No, it is not false.

      It most certainly, and obviously, is a religious claim to say that the evidence infirms “the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god.”

      No, it is not. It is a claim about religion; it is not a religious claim. Compare:

      God made the word 6,000 years ago in six days as written in the book of Genesis.

      That is a religious claim.

      This, this and this evidence indicates that earth is over four billion years old, and the universe over 13 billion years old, and therefore the religious claim made by biblical literalists is falsified".

      That is a scientific claim. It infirms a religious claim, but it is not a religious claim.

      The same is true of the claim that life was not designed by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God. The evidence suggests that if the life was designed by a God, at least one of those omnis did not apply.

      Evolutionists are literally in denial of their own claims as they make them.

      You are unable to see the circularity of your own argument, Cornelius.

      And I note that there is still no response to the comments about your posting of images of mass murderers to illustrate your posts on evolution and "evolutionists", and no response to comments about the oddity of you, of all people, condemning (wrongly, but never mind) of "religious fundamentalism".

      Do you consider religious fundamentalism intrinsically evil? Is that why you accompany your headline with an illustration of a mass murderer?

      Do your employers know?

      Delete
    20. EL:

      CH: Those who are convinced they are free of metaphysics are those who are most beholden to metaphysics.

      EL: I would agree with PZ Myers that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.

      CH: There you go again, making your religious claims, just after denying your own religious beliefs.

      EL: A scientific claim that refutes, with evidence, a specific religious hypothesis is not "a religious claim." It is merely a claim that a certain religious proposition is infirmed by the evidence. The evidence infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god, just as it infirms the hypothesis of a world that was created by a god in 6 days, about 6,000 years ago, or was entirely inundated by that same god shortly afterwards. To point this out is not to make a "religious claim" but to point out that certain specific religious claims are infirmed by the evidence.

      CH: To which I must again point out that those who are convinced they are free of metaphysics are those who are most beholden to metaphysics, as you continue to demonstrate before our eyes. You say that “The evidence infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god,” and that “To point this out is not to make a ‘religious claim’ but to point out that certain specific religious claims are infirmed by the evidence.” That of course is false.

      EL: No, it is not false.

      CH: It most certainly, and obviously, is a religious claim to say that the evidence infirms “the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god.” Evolutionists are literally in denial of their own claims as they make them.

      EL: No, it is not. It is a claim about religion; it is not a religious claim.

      CH: Evolutionists are literally in denial of their own claims as they make them.

      EL: You are unable to see the circularity of your own argument, Cornelius.



      No matter how many times evolutionists say it again, it is still religious. And no matter how many times they deny it, it is still religious.


      The same is true of the claim that life was not designed by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God. The evidence suggests that if the life was designed by a God, at least one of those omnis did not apply.

      Truly amazing. They make the claim, they deny the claim. Like a fish that doesn’t know it is in water, evolutionists are soaking in their religion. One way to see the religion is to actually spell out the claim. In other words, actually go step by step from the evidence to the conclusion that “life was not designed by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God.” You have to make religious claims in order to reach the evolutionary conclusion.

      Of course the ones who would benefit from such an exercise, evolutionists, are precisely the ones who will never do the exercise. They just continue to make their religious claims and deny they are doing any such thing.


      EL: Your argument is completely self-reinforcing, Cornelius. It's like the old witch trials - if she floats, she's a witch, if she sinks, oops. … You are unable to see the circularity of your own argument, Cornelius.

      So you make the religious argument, I point it out, you deny it and say my point is circular. Unfortunately this is evolutionary thought in action.

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    21. No matter how many times evolutionists say it again, it is still religious. And no matter how many times they deny it, it is still religious.

      And it seems, no matter how much we deny it, explain why you are mistaken, cite evidence that we are, you still assert it. And snip the parts of our posts where we make our point, as evidenced in the one I am responding to right now.

      Truly amazing. They make the claim, they deny the claim.

      And - wheeeeee!!!! - the point sails over your head. What part of "the falsification of a religious claim is not a religious claim" is causing you trouble, Cornelius? Was Galileo making a "religious claim" when he showed the church that they were wrong about the earth being at the centre of the universe? Of course not - he was making a claim about a religious proposition, but he was not making a religious claim.

      Like a fish that doesn’t know it is in water, evolutionists are soaking in their religion.

      And how do you propose testing the hypothesis that you are seeing water where there is none, against the hypothesis that we are failing to see water where there is?

      You can't, because, ironically, you, Cornelius, are the one with Morton's Demon on your back, unable to see that evolutionary theory is not "driven by religion" however much you wish it was, but is simply a body of testable, and tested, hypotheses.

      One way to see the religion is to actually spell out the claim. In other words, actually go step by step from the evidence to the conclusion that “life was not designed by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God.” You have to make religious claims in order to reach the evolutionary conclusion.

      Nope. One merely has to make predictions based on the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god and observe that they are unsupported by evidence.

      Unless your definition of "omnibenevolent" includes ensuring that e. coli bacteria have efficient flagella, the more efficiently to kill small children.

      In which case fine. But in that case, your god is an unfalsifiable proposition, and no scientific claim for or against it (I'm not going to dignify it with a gendered pronoun) can be made.

      Of course the ones who would benefit from such an exercise, evolutionists, are precisely the ones who will never do the exercise. They just continue to make their religious claims and deny they are doing any such thing.

      Just look, occasionally, at the beam in your own eye, Cornelius. Especially when using the word "hypocrisy" in your headline.

      So you make the religious argument, I point it out, you deny it and say my point is circular. Unfortunately this is evolutionary thought in action.

      No, it is your circular thinking in action. You will never escape from the self-reinforcing loop you have got yourself into, Cornelius, unless you actually consider that if you set up a question such that a denial and an affirmation lead to the same conclusion, you have an unfalsifiable case.

      And, thereby, an untenable one.

      Wake up.

      Delete
    22. EL:

      CH: One way to see the religion is to actually spell out the claim. In other words, actually go step by step from the evidence to the conclusion that “life was not designed by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God.” You have to make religious claims in order to reach the evolutionary conclusion.

      EL: Nope. One merely has to make predictions based on the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god and observe that they are unsupported by evidence.


      So, as everyone except evolutionists know, “predictions based on the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god” are religious.


      Unless your definition of "omnibenevolent" includes ensuring that e. coli bacteria have efficient flagella, the more efficiently to kill small children.

      There you go, just good solid scientific research. No metaphysics here, move along. Truly unbelievable.

      Delete
    23. So, as everyone except evolutionists know, “predictions based on the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god” are religious.

      A prediction cannot be religious, although it can be about a religious subject.

      But let me ask you, Cornelius: how would you test the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god?

      Do you think it's possible?

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    24. EL:

      But let me ask you, Cornelius: how would you test the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god? Do you think it's possible?

      Sure it's possible. You just did it, and you found it to be false.

      Delete
    25. So answer my question then: how would you test the hypothesis?

      Delete
    26. EL:

      So answer my question then: how would you test the hypothesis?

      I thought I did. Your test is perfectly valid.

      Delete
    27. And you agree with my conclusion? That the evidence tends to infirm the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god?

      Delete
    28. Hunter: Yes, this is the typical response, amazingly enough. When if comes to supporting evidence, evolutionists lower the bar to the ground. Practically anything proves evolution. But for counter arguments, they quickly raise that bar way, way up. In this case, a research paper, on precisely the topic we are discussing, in the top journal, Nature, just doesn't qualify. Truly a classic.

      This is called "bait and switch," Cornelius. Doug Theobald's research letter in Nature is summarized as follows: "I test UCA [universal common ancestry] by applying model selection theory to molecular phylogenies, focusing on a set of ubiquitously conserved proteins that are proposed to be orthologous. Among a wide range of biological models involving the independent ancestry of major taxonomic groups, the model selection tests are found to overwhelmingly support UCA irrespective of the presence of horizontal gene transfer and symbiotic fusion events. These results provide powerful statistical evidence corroborating the monophyly of all known life."

      I challenge you to show that this equates to "God wouldn't make the mosquito." That just doesn't compute. You are a lousy manipulator.

      Delete
    29. EL:

      And you agree with my conclusion? That the evidence tends to infirm the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god?

      I agree your conclusion is valid. It follows from your premise.

      Delete
    30. Please be specific in your answer, Cornelius, because this may be where you are making your error.

      What "premise" do you think my conclusion follows from?

      Delete
    31. oleg:

      This is called "bait and switch," Cornelius. … I challenge you to show that this equates to "God wouldn't make the mosquito." That just doesn't compute. You are a lousy manipulator.

      Oh I suspect you could figure it out. Premises about what the world would look like under independent ancestry are metaphysical. Whether one is talking about insects or proteins makes not difference. But then again, I bet you knew that.

      So that’s how Theobald could conclude that he had powerful evidence “corroborating the monophyly of all known life.” Good work if you can get it.

      Delete
    32. EL:

      What "premise" do you think my conclusion follows from?

      I'm just following your claims, which were that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God would not have created life as we find it.

      Delete
    33. You aren't concentrating, Cornelius.

      I asked you how you would test the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god.

      You said that I had just done so, and my test was valid, and that my conclusion followed from my premise.

      When I ask you what that premise is, you say that you are just "following my claims" and you restate the conclusion that you said followed from my premise.

      What premise?

      I'm off to bed now Cornelius, but I hope to find an answer to my question in the morning.

      And not another evasion. Or crickets.

      Delete
    34. Hunter: Oh I suspect you could figure it out. Premises about what the world would look like under independent ancestry are metaphysical. Whether one is talking about insects or proteins makes not difference.

      Oh, I don't think so. Theobald compared several models of ancestry in which major classes of organisms (Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya) either had common ancestors or originated independently, meaning that their ancestors started with entirely different genetic makeups. The models are spelled out explicitly in the paper. There is nothing religious about them. Nowhere does Theobald mention God.

      You may or may not find this study convincing. You may object that even if Archaea and Bacteria had independent ancestors these ancestors may have shared similar genetic makeup. Theobald's paper certainly does not refute that model. He does not even consider it. You should feel free to offer this model to the scientific community, explain why you think this model is relevant (feel free to inject your own metaphysics), and offer ways to distinguish between your model and the model of common ancestry.

      But equating Theobald's work to "God wouldn't make the mosquito" is ludicrous. There is nothing of the sort in that paper. It compares specific models of ancestry and finds that the model of universal common descent is the best among the models considered. And that's exactly how science is done.

      Delete
    35. EL:

      When I ask you what that premise is, you say that you are just "following my claims" and you restate the conclusion that you said followed from my premise. What premise?

      No, I did not restate your conclusion, I restated your premise. Of course if you think I got it wrong, you could actually *tell us* what your premise is, rather than playing word games. As I explained earlier, there's nothing like actually spelling out the logic, but evolutionists never do that.

      Delete
    36. oleg:

      But equating Theobald's work to "God wouldn't make the mosquito" is ludicrous. There is nothing of the sort in that paper. It compares specific models of ancestry and finds that the model of universal common descent is the best among the models considered.

      Well at this point you're simply misrepresenting the paper. Theobald concludes that he had powerful evidence “corroborating the monophyly of all known life,” not that one model beat out some others. But then again you knew that.

      Delete
    37. I did not misrepresent the paper. I summarized it pretty accurately. Infinitely more so than you did with your ludicrous mosquito claim.

      Furthermore, Theobald was absolutely right to say that his work corroborates universal common descent. He did not say that it absolutely proves it. Science is not in the business of logical proofs.

      Delete
    38. oleg:

      Theobald was absolutely right to say that his work corroborates universal common descent.

      You are continuing to misrepresent the paper. I know you want to avoid this, but the paper does not merely claim to corroborate universal common descent. Even that claim would be non scientific. But the paper claims its results are “powerful statistical evidence corroborating the monophyly of all known life” and furthermore that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. That, of course, is a metaphysical claim, nowhere justified by the science.

      He did not say that it absolutely proves it.

      And now we have the usual strawman.

      Delete
    39. That's not a straw man, Cornelius. It is how science differs from mathematics. The former has no watertight proofs, only evidence supporting a theory.

      Theobald presented evidence corroborating universal common descent. The model of UCA was compared to other models and its predictions were found in much better agreement with the data than the models assuming independent ancestry of this or that group. It does not rule out all possible models of separate descent, only those where the ancestors had entirely different genetic makeup.

      Is that absolute proof of common descent? No. Is it corroborating evidence? Yes.

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    40. oleg:

      Theobald presented evidence corroborating universal common descent.

      There are endless problems with UCD on the molecular evidence. It is “corroborating” only because the theory was protected from such problems, and instead was simply compared to some alternatives. You say “corroborate” but it simply means a terrible hypothesis beat out even worse hypotheses given a tiny data set. Completely misleading.


      The model of UCA was compared to other models and its predictions were found in much better agreement with the data than the models assuming independent ancestry of this or that group. It does not rule out all possible models of separate descent, only those where the ancestors had entirely different genetic makeup.

      You can explain what you think the paper presented all day long. The issue is what the paper claims. Remember? That’s what you asked for. Again, the paper does not merely claim to corroborate universal common descent. It claims its results are “powerful statistical evidence” and that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. Completely false, misleading and unjustified on just the science. But underwritten by the metaphysics.

      Delete
    41. Hunter: There are endless problems with UCD on the molecular evidence. It is “corroborating” only because the theory was protected from such problems, and instead was simply compared to some alternatives. You say “corroborate” but it simply means a terrible hypothesis beat out even worse hypotheses given a tiny data set. Completely misleading.

      The least terrible hypothesis rules the day. Science has always worked that way.

      "Terrible," by the way, is a subjective term. In any event, science is not a beauty contest. Feel free to suggest a better scientific theory of the origin of species. If you don't have one, well, you have nothing to say. Just jeer from the sidelines.

      Delete
    42. oleq, since the entire material universe came instantaneously into origination from a higher dimension in the Big Bang, why is it not 'fashionable' for the sudden appearance of different kinds of fossils in the fossil record to also have top down origination from a higher dimension? It certainly would explain exactly what we see in the evidence much better than bottom up causation does!

      Delete
    43. ba77,

      I thought we were through talking.

      Delete
    44. oleg:

      In any event, science is not a beauty contest. Feel free to suggest a better scientific theory of the origin of species. If you don't have one, well, you have nothing to say. Just jeer from the sidelines.

      Again, you are missing the point (which you originally asked for). To say one model beat out some other models, that’s the way science should work, etc., is all fine. We have no argument there. What is *not* fine is to claim that the results are “powerful statistical evidence” and that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. That simply is not true, and covering such misleading statements over with admonitions about “that’s the way science works” simply makes you an accomplice to the lie. It is what it is. A terrible model beats out some even some other models on a very limited data. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less.


      "Terrible," by the way, is a subjective term.

      It need not be. There are certain levels of deviation from the expected that can reasonably be expected under evolution, and the evidence from biology is far outside those levels.

      Delete
    45. Hunter: A terrible model beats out some even some other models on a very limited data. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less.

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You don't have to like the UCA model, and apparently you don't. (Surprise!)

      Here is what Theobald says:

      Among a wide range of biological models involving the independent ancestry of major taxonomic groups, the model selection tests are found to overwhelmingly support UCA irrespective of the presence of horizontal gene transfer and symbiotic fusion events.

      You can call the alternative models "even more terrible" than the UCA model, but the fact is that one can make this comparison and independent ancestry makes no sense, whereas the UCA model works pretty well. There is no disputing this.

      Theobald's abstract (well, they call it an introductory paragraph in Nature) ends thus:

      These results provide powerful statistical evidence corroborating the monophyly of all known life.

      I tend to agree with this assessment and you don't. So we'll have to agree to disagree. And that's fine.

      That said, there is no basis for you to equate Theobald's paper with "God wouldn't make the mosquito." None whatsoever. By doing so you mischaracterize what the paper does. You may think the evidence for UCA presented in the paper is not that strong. But it is does not boil down to a silly cliche. Admit that.

      Delete
    46. oleg:

      Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You don't have to like the UCA model, and apparently you don't. (Surprise!).

      My problem is not with UCA but with misrepresentations of UCA.


      You can call the alternative models "even more terrible" than the UCA model, but the fact is that one can make this comparison and independent ancestry makes no sense, whereas the UCA model works pretty well. There is no disputing this.

      You state this as though there is a single, monolithic model for independent ancestry.


      Theobald's abstract (well, they call it an introductory paragraph in Nature) ends thus: “These results provide powerful statistical evidence corroborating the monophyly of all known life.” I tend to agree with this assessment and you don't. So we'll have to agree to disagree. And that's fine.

      I hope we can go further than merely disagree. I hope we can explain the basis for our assessments. IMO Theobald’s self-assessment is overly-optimistic because makes an unwarranted leap from contrastive reasoning to a conclusion about the probability of the hypothesis. He goes from relativism to an absolute. There is no basis for that. Theobald doesn’t even try to provide one. In fact he skirts the whole issue an in our discussion here at Darwin’s-God (at the link I provided above) his defense did not hold up well.

      So one wonders what the basis could be of your agreement with Theobald’s rosy self-assessment. Could it be your predilection for UCA? Perhaps you would say that Theobald’s alternatives seem to span the space of all possible explanations quite well. That, of course, would be a non scientific claim, but it is difficult to imagine any better way out for your, aside from the vacuous “that’s just my opinion” escape hatch.


      That said, there is no basis for you to equate Theobald's paper with "God wouldn't make the mosquito." None whatsoever.

      Whether it is proteins or insects, evolutionary thinking introduces metaphysics into science. Both examples make metaphysical claims involving contrastive reasoning.


      By doing so you mischaracterize what the paper does.

      The paper claims that the results are “powerful statistical evidence” and that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. That is not a mischaracterization, it is a quote. And you can’t get there without non scientific, metaphysics.


      You may think the evidence for UCA presented in the paper is not that strong.

      There is no basis for claiming it is strong. You’ve provided no explanation for why we should think otherwise, aside from “that’s just my opinion.”


      But it is does not boil down to a silly cliche. Admit that.

      I would gladly admit that if the paper was not using the usual evolutionary, metaphysically-laden, contrastive reasoning.

      Delete
    47. Cornelius, this conversation is beginning to resemble a Kafka novel:
      EL: ... I would agree with PZ Myers that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.
      CH: There you go again, making your religious claims, just after denying your own religious beliefs.
      EL: A scientific claim that refutes, with evidence, a specific religious hypothesis is not "a religious claim". It is merely a claim that a certain religious proposition is infirmed by the evidence. The evidence infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god.... To point this out is not to make a "religious claim" but to point out that certain specific religious claims are infirmed by the evidence.

      CH: That of course is false. It most certainly, and obviously, is a religious claim to say that the evidence infirms “the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god.”
      EL: No, it is not. It is a claim about religion; it is not a religious claim. Compare:

      God made the word 6,000 years ago in six days as written in the book of Genesis.

      That is a religious claim.

      This, this and this evidence indicates that earth is over four billion years old, and the universe over 13 billion years old, and therefore the religious claim made by biblical literalists is falsified".

      That is a scientific claim. It infirms a religious claim, but it is not a religious claim.

      The same is true of the claim that life was not designed by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God. The evidence suggests that if the life was designed by a God, at least one of those omnis did not apply.

      CH: Truly amazing. They make the claim, they deny the claim.... One way to see the religion is to ...actually go step by step from the evidence to the conclusion that “life was not designed by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God.” You have to make religious claims in order to reach the evolutionary conclusion.

      EL: Nope. One merely has to make predictions based on the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god and observe that they are unsupported by evidence.

      CH: So, as everyone except evolutionists know, “predictions based on the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god” are religious.
      EL: A prediction cannot be religious, although it can be about a religious subject.

      But let me ask you, Cornelius: how would you test the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god?

      Do you think it's possible?
      CH: Sure it's possible. You just did it, and you found it to be false.
      EL: So answer my question then: how would you test the hypothesis?
      CH: I thought I did. Your test is perfectly valid.
      EL: And you agree with my conclusion? That the evidence tends to infirm the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god?
      CH: I agree your conclusion is valid. It follows from your premise.
      EL: What "premise" do you think my conclusion follows from?
      CH: I'm just following your claims, which were that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God would not have created life as we find it.
      EL: I asked you how you would test the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god. You said that I had just done so, and my test was valid, and that my conclusion followed from my premise. When I ask you what that premise is, you say that you are just "following my claims" and you restate the conclusion that you said followed from my premise.

      What premise?
      CH: No, I did not restate your conclusion, I restated your premise. Of course if you think I got it wrong, you could actually *tell us* what your premise is, rather than playing word games. As I explained earlier, there's nothing like actually spelling out the logic, but evolutionists never do that.

      Comment below:

      Delete
    48. So, to summarise: first of all you say that “It most certainly, and obviously, is a religious claim to say that the evidence infirms “the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient god.” Then you say that the test of this hypothesis is valid, given my premise. When I ask you what “my premise” is, you evade the question, but refer to what you call my “claim” that “the evidence tends to infirm the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god.” So I point out that this is not my premise but my conclusion, at which point you say, no, it is not my conclusion, but my premise. So, according to you:
      EL’s premise is: “the evidence tends to infirm the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god”
      EL’s hypothesis is “the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god”
      EL’s claim is “the evidence tends to infirm the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god”
      Which you say is a valid conclusion, given my premise. Well, it is certainly not a valid conclusion given my alleged premise! The two are identical!
      So, I ask again: if you consider that my claim that “the evidence tends to infirm the proposition of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god” is a valid conclusion given my premise...

      SO WHAT IS MY PREMISE?????????

      Delete
    49. Hunter: The paper claims that the results are “powerful statistical evidence” and that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. That is not a mischaracterization, it is a quote. And you can’t get there without non scientific, metaphysics.

      There is no basis for claiming it is strong. You’ve provided no explanation for why we should think otherwise, aside from “that’s just my opinion.”


      Of course I have. For the umpteenth time,Theobald compared several models of origin of the major groups, including common and separate. The UCA model works much better than any of the models where one or all of the majors groups had independent origin. Is this evidence for common ancestry? Of course it is. The evidence is made plain in this paper. If you wish to argue that it is not then the burden is on you to defend your contrarian position.

      With the issue of independent origin out of the way, we can turn our attention to the details of common ancestry. It is of course well known that the model of purely vertical gene propagation does not work. Even in mammals one observes occasional horizontal gene transfer. Does that mean that all mammals did not originate from a common ancestor? No, it doesn't! There are well-understood mechanisms of HGT that are fully compatible with common ancestry (e.g., viruses). At any rate, the horizontal signal in the mammalian (and other animal) branches of the tree is very weak and genes are transferred almost exclusively upward. No sane biologist questions common ancestry in animals. And we have yet to hear a coherent argument from you on this matter.

      Further down the branches, near the root, VGT seems to be less dominant. However, as Theobald shows, not to the extent that independent ancestry becomes a more viable model than common ancestry. That means that the UCA model is still a better starting point than any other model available and one can try and improve it. Again, there are known mechanisms of HGT and there are plausible arguments why it should be particularly strong at the early stages of evolution: the genetic material is less well isolated in primitive organisms. Communal-ancestry models (Woese) are an elaboration of common-ancestry models. These are certainly better models than straight common ancestry and they are studied and debated by evolutionary biologists.

      Hunter: I would gladly admit that [it does not boil down to a silly cliche] if the paper was not using the usual evolutionary, metaphysically-laden, contrastive reasoning.

      So here we are. It's a no-brainer that the paper does not equal the silly cliche you tried to make of it. The paper makes a meaningful comparison of several models of ancestry. It does not even mention either mosquito or God. But Cornelius cannot admit the obvious. Well, shame on you.

      And while we're at it, what's with the pictures of Breivik and Kaczynsky? If you really wish to have a good-will dialogue with the other side then you should remove them. If you don't remove them then it is plain obvious that you are not doing it in good faith. Liz seems to hold out the hope that you are interested in the dialogue. Me, not so much. You are not doing this for the sake of bridging the gap. You are an ideologue. So I don't hope for any reasonable dialogue here, but I will continue to call your errors and misrepresentations.

      Delete
    50. YOUR PREMISE IS YOUR CONCLUSION!!!!! (Obvious!)

      Delete
    51. Cornelius,

      I'll ask you directly for the umpteenth time: how do you differentiate between taking someone else's claims serious for the purpose of criticism and personally believing those claims are true?

      Or are you suggesting there is no difference?

      If I said that we can know we live in a virtual reality simulation because the sky is green, would criticizing this claim represent your personal belief that we do or do not live in a virtual reality simulation? Of course not. You're merely taking my claim serious, by assuming it's true in reality, and assuming all observations should conform to it.

      For example, when we look at the sky, we see that observations do not conform to it, because the sky is blue.

      Does this mean we do not live in a virtual reality simulation? No it doesn't. However, we shouldn't conclude we *do* live in a virtual reality simulation based on this *specific* theory I presented because it does not conform to observations.

      You having personally pointing this out doesn't *necessarily* mean you personally believe we do not live in a virtual reality simulation because the sky is green. This doesn't follow. There could be some other reason why you think we do or do not live in a vital reality simulation that is unrelated to my claim.

      Just because *my* theory has been falsified, this doesn't mean its conclusion is either true or false.

      Now, you might reply that it's not as simple as observing a blue sky, rather than a green sky.

      Specifically, you seem to be suggesting it's logically possible that an omnibenevolent being might specifically design bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics, so they can kill us better, for some reason we simply cannot comprehend. As such, this does represent a religious belief.

      However, if the qualifier omnibenevolent does not narrow down God's actions in some specific way, then it's empty. As a theory, it doesn't stick its neck out in a way that allows it to be criticized, in practice. We're left with a being that explains nothing, because it could do absolutely anything and everything.

      In attempting to make some logical sense out of this on your behalf, perhaps you do not recognize that religious claims are ideas that would be subject to criticism? Therefore criticism, of that which cannot be criticized represents a religious claim in of itself?

      However, a theory that cannot be criticized is a mere possibility. And we discard an infinite number of mere possibilities in every field of science. Why should your designer be any different?

      Or perhaps you define "omnibenevolent" as anything that is in agreement with depictions of the Christian God the Bible, that the Bible depicts God as having created this world and that the Bible is the divine word of God. Therefore any criticism of the claim that an all knowing, all powerful and perfectly good God would or would not do anything depicted in the Bible represents criticism of whether the Bible is the divinely revealed word of God?

      If so, then why not just come out and say that in the first place? If not, then connect the dots and show us your work.

      In other words, you seem to be making assumptions here that you haven't disclosed, which would be necessary to reach your conclusion.

      Then again, perhaps you do not recognize them as assumptions in the first place. Therefore, you do not see the need to disclose them?

      Delete
    52. Dale: YOUR PREMISE IS YOUR CONCLUSION!!!!! (Obvious!)

      Well, if it were, then my argument would not be valid, yet Cornelius said it was.

      So I think Cornelius is confused.

      But, FWIW, my "premise" is not my conclusion.

      All I have done is to operationalise the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God, and found the hypothesis infirmed by the evidence (e.g. pathogenic organisms, and the female pelvis).

      Delete
    53. Cornelius, on the subject of "contrastive reasoning" - last time I looked you were seriously confused on that topic, and had nothing to say about Dembski's use of the technique.

      Are you going to tackle that issue at some point?

      Delete
    54. oleg:

      Hunter: The paper claims that the results are “powerful statistical evidence” and that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. That is not a mischaracterization, it is a quote. And you can’t get there without non scientific, metaphysics. There is no basis for claiming it is strong. You’ve provided no explanation for why we should think otherwise, aside from “that’s just my opinion.”

      oleg: Of course I have. For the umpteenth time, Theobald compared several models of origin of the major groups, including common and separate. The UCA model works much better than any of the models where one or all of the majors groups had independent origin. Is this evidence for common ancestry? Of course it is. The evidence is made plain in this paper. If you wish to argue that it is not then the burden is on you to defend your contrarian position.


      Sure, that’s easy. There are several reasons why the paper’s conclusions that its results are (i) “powerful statistical evidence” for universal common descent and (ii) “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent, are non scientific.

      First, contrastive approaches simply do not support claims you and the paper are making. Contrastive approaches tell you how theories *compare*, not how a theory does in an absolute sense. So there is no scientific justification for concluding that the results are “powerful statistical evidence” for universal common descent and “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. In reality, what you have are results are “powerful statistical evidence” not for universal common descent *period*, but for universal common descent winning out over some alternatives. It is what it is, and to claim more is non scientific.

      Second, this is a bait-and-switch. The contrastive approach is used for a reason. There are approaches available that can tell you something about how well the universal common descent does according to the evidence. But those approaches make universal common descent look bad. Or, unjustified assumptions are required in those approaches. So contrastive approaches provide methods that obviate the unjustified assumptions. Therefore the method is stronger and more robust. But the price you pay is that you no longer can make claims about the theory, *period*. Instead, you have to live with comparisons between theories. This is all well and good, but it is a bait-and-switch to then, after doing the study, to sweep that inconvenient limitation under the rug and make unjustified claims about the the theory, *period*.

      Third, the study uses a selective, ridiculously tiny, data set of a couple dozen proteins. Meanwhile universal common descent suffers from all kinds of empirical problems ignored in the paper. I’m actually understating this problem and it would be difficult to imagine a more gross abuse of science.

      Continued…

      Delete
    55. Continued…


      Hunter: I would gladly admit that [the paper does not boil down to metaphysical reasoning] if the paper was not using the usual evolutionary, metaphysically-laden, contrastive reasoning.

      oleg: So here we are. It's a no-brainer that the paper does not equal the silly cliche you tried to make of it. The paper makes a meaningful comparison of several models of ancestry. It does not even mention either mosquito or God. But Cornelius cannot admit the obvious. Well, shame on you.


      The “god wouldn’t make the mosquito” is not a silly cliché as you seem to think. It and many other arguments like it are powerful, arguments set for quite seriously by evolutionists.


      The paper makes a meaningful comparison of several models of ancestry.

      It makes comparisons, yes, but the papers conclusions are deeply flawed. See my three points above.


      It does not even mention either mosquito or God.

      And of course I did not claim that it did. This, and other accusations like it coming from you, suggest the motives in your discourse are not merely to get at the truth.

      You asked for examples of reasoning of this sort in the primary literature. This is an example of such contrastive reasoning that relies on metaphysical assumptions to reach strong evolutionary conclusions. Your rebuttal that the paper doesn’t mention “mosquito” or “God” is either naïve or disingenuous.


      But Cornelius cannot admit the obvious. Well, shame on you.

      I’d be delighted to retract my comments about this paper, but you’ve provided nothing but various fallacies as your rebuttals.

      Delete
    56. Hunter: First, contrastive approaches simply do not support claims you and the paper are making. Contrastive approaches tell you how theories *compare*, not how a theory does in an absolute sense. So there is no scientific justification for concluding that the results are “powerful statistical evidence” for universal common descent and “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. In reality, what you have are results are “powerful statistical evidence” not for universal common descent *period*, but for universal common descent winning out over some alternatives. It is what it is, and to claim more is non scientific.

      The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

      If the data do not support universal common ancestry then what do they support? Something else entirely, right? So Theobald tests the UCA hypothesis against several plausible alternatives that include entirely separate origins of some major life forms. Do you have some other alternatives, Cornelius? Like special creation of every species? Or what? LOL

      Delete
    57. oleg:

      The lady doth protest too much, methinks. If the data do not support universal common ancestry then what do they support? Something else entirely, right? So Theobald tests the UCA hypothesis against several plausible alternatives that include entirely separate origins of some major life forms. Do you have some other alternatives, Cornelius? Like special creation of every species? Or what? LOL.

      So now it’s on to the Tu Quoque fallacy. Whether or not I have other alternatives, and what they are, is not relevant to the three problems with the paper. You asked for an example from the primary literature, I provided one, and you have denied it using a variety of fallacies. This time, it’s my fault for not solving the problem. This is, unfortunately, the way discourse with evolutionists usually go. It’s one fallacy after another.

      Delete
    58. Let's review what was actually said, Cornelius.

      CH: If an evolutionist believes God wouldn't make the mosquito for example (and many other things about this world), then you are left with evolution, in one form or another.

      OT: That's beyond preposterous, Cornelius. It's downright ludicrous. Crack open some primary research papers and try to find this sort of reasoning there.

      CH: Sure, you can see an example discussed here.

      OT: I challenge you to show that [Theobald's paper] equates to "God wouldn't make the mosquito." That just doesn't compute.

      CH: Oh I suspect you could figure it out. Premises about what the world would look like under independent ancestry are metaphysical. Whether one is talking about insects or proteins makes not difference. But then again, I bet you knew that.

      OT: equating Theobald's work to "God wouldn't make the mosquito" is ludicrous. There is nothing of the sort in that paper. It compares specific models of ancestry and finds that the model of universal common descent is the best among the models considered.

      [CH keeps complaining how the methodology of the paper does not warrant its conclusions. He never explains how that equates to metaphysical claims about God and the mosquito. Curtain.]

      Delete
    59. oleg:

      CH keeps complaining how the methodology of the paper does not warrant its conclusions. He never explains how that equates to metaphysical claims about God and the mosquito. Curtain.

      Actually I was not “complaining” about the unwarranted conclusions, I was explaining them to you. If it sounded like complaining that probably was because I had to explain it repeatedly given your reluctance to acknowledge the obvious. Until you can understand the methodology and the claims, and how the former does warrant the latter, there isn’t much hope for you understanding the role of metaphysics both in the paper, and in the typical arguments for evolution from dysteleology or evil. On the other hand, once you do understand the paper, then it is straighforward to see how it uses non scientific constrastive reasoning as go the arguments for evolution from dysteleology or evil.

      Instead your strategy is to play dumb, throw up a barrage of fallacies, and blame me. You have made several claims and your defense has not held up well.

      Delete
    60. Cornelius Hunter

      Actually I was not “complaining” about the unwarranted conclusions, I was explaining them to you. If it sounded like complaining that probably was because I had to explain it repeatedly given your reluctance to acknowledge the obvious


      You've yet to "explain" anything even remotely connected to evolutionary biology on this blog. All you do is repeat the same baseless Creationist assertions then run from all attempts to get you you deal with published contradicting scientific data.

      Amazing how so many Creationists confuse their fact-free religiously based assertions with scientific evidence or explanations.

      Delete
    61. Monday morning, and I can only assume that Cornelius has realised his blunder, as there is no answer to my question to him.

      Shall we start again, Cornelius?

      Delete
    62. Hunter: Actually I was not “complaining” about the unwarranted conclusions, I was explaining them to you. If it sounded like complaining that probably was because I had to explain it repeatedly given your reluctance to acknowledge the obvious.

      LOL. As if I needed your help! I read the paper and summarized what Theobald had done right there, at the beginning of this prolonged slugfest. In the same comment I pointed out that Theobald had not engaged in anything resembling "God would not make the mosquito" nonsense. You then switched to criticizing the methodology of the paper.

      If you don't find the methodology to your liking then that's fine. But you have no leg to stand on when you say that Theobald's argument is based on a religious claim. None. What. So. Ever. This is something you refuse to acknowledge. Keep refusing the obvious.

      Delete
    63. Actually, there has been progress! This is as much as Hunter will ever concede:

      On the other hand, once you do understand the paper, then it is straighforward [sic] to see how it uses non scientific constrastive reasoning as go the arguments for evolution from dysteleology or evil.

      According to Hunter, the use of contrastive reasoning is as non-scientific as would be the reliance on the God-and-mosquito argument. So it's not a God-and-mosquito type argument, but it is as bad! Well, that's so convincing! :)

      Delete
    64. CH: Contrastive approaches tell you how theories *compare*, not how a theory does in an absolute sense.

      What you mean by "how a theory does [?] in an absolute sense"?

      We make progress when we criticize conjectured theories. And we do so in an absolute sense in that we become less wrong. So, I'd suggest that you're trying to compare apples and oranges because we do not care about the same things. You're projecting your concerns and limitations on us.

      Specifically, I'm concerned with the way that positions are adopted, criticized, defended and relinquished. You, on the other hand, are concerned with fixing on a position. This is not to say that fixing on a position isn't sometimes necessary for practical reasons, such as building a bridge as safely as we know how at the time, but it we cannot continue to make progress unless we progress without criticism.

      I'd also note that conjecture and criticism isn't merely contrastive reasoning any more than evolutionary processes are merely random. They are variations on the same overarching process. So, it comes as no surprise that you think that we cannot make progress using criticism, either.

      CH: So there is no scientific justification for concluding that the results are “powerful statistical evidence” for universal common descent and “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent.

      That depends on the role that evidence plays in testing scientific theories. Not to mention that it assumes acceptance of theories is justified in the sense you implying, in the first place. So, your entire argument is parochial since it assumes empirical evidence can only play one role in science, despite the existence of highly detailed alternate forms of epistemology. See Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery, the myth of the framework, etc.

      Delete
    65. CH: In reality, what you have are results are “powerful statistical evidence” not for universal common descent *period*, but for universal common descent winning out over some alternatives. It is what it is, and to claim more is non scientific.

      Except, no one has formulated a "principle of induction" that actually works, in practice. So, you're complaining that evolutionary theory cannot meet a criteria that science doesn't actually use, in practice.

      I'd also point out that the current crop of ID suffers from the same problem. No ID proponent has formulated a "principle of design" that can actually be used to identify designed things, in practice, either.

      From the transcript of this video….

      At the time, what they thought distinguished science was a radical idea about things unseen, known as empiricism. All knowledge derives from the senses. Well, we've seen that that can't be true. It did help by promoting observation and experiment. But, from the outset, it was obvious that there was something horribly wrong with it.

      Knowledge comes from the senses. In what language? Certainly not the language of mathematics, in which, Galileo rightly said, the book of nature is written. Look at the world. You don't see equations carved on to the mountainsides. If you did, it would be because people had carved them. By the way, why don't we do that? What's wrong with us? (Laughter)

      Empiricism is inadequate because, well, scientific theories explain the seen in terms of the unseen. And the unseen, you have to admit, doesn't come to us through the senses. We don't see those nuclear reactions in stars. We don't see the origin of species. We don't see the curvature of space-time, and other universes. But we know about those things. How?

      Well, the classic empiricist answer is induction. The unseen resembles the seen. But it doesn't. You know what the clinching evidence was that space-time is curved? It was a photograph, not of space-time, but of an eclipse, with a dot there rather than there. And the evidence for evolution? Some rocks and some finches. And parallel universes? Again: dots there, rather than there, on a screen. What we see, in all these cases, bears no resemblance to the reality that we conclude is responsible -- only a long chain of theoretical reasoning and interpretation connects them.

      "Ah!" say creationists. "So you admit it's all interpretation. No one has ever seen evolution. We see rocks. You have your interpretation. We have ours. Yours comes from guesswork, ours from the Bible." But what creationist and empiricists both ignore is that, in that sense, no one has ever seen a bible either, that the eye only detects light, which we don't perceive. Brains only detect nerve impulses. And they don't perceive even those as what they really are, namely electrical crackles. So we perceive nothing as what it really is.

      Our connection to reality is never just perception. It's always, as Karl Popper put it, theory-laden. Scientific knowledge isn't derived from anything. It's like all knowledge. It's conjectural, guesswork, tested by observation, not derived from it.


      What we do, in practice, is conjecture theories, which we take seriously for the purpose of criticism. In addition, we take the rest of our current, best theories serious as well, which forms an explanatory whole which use for the purpose of criticism. This is when empirical observations come into play. So, it's not that observations do not play an important role, but you've got it backwards.

      Delete
    66. As we wait for Cornelius to go through the next round of mental acrobatics, let's turn our attention to his specific complaints about Theobald's article.

      Here he insists that the use of contrastive reasoning is non-scientific:

      First, contrastive approaches simply do not support claims you and the paper are making. Contrastive approaches tell you how theories *compare*, not how a theory does in an absolute sense. So there is no scientific justification for concluding that the results are “powerful statistical evidence” for universal common descent and “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. In reality, what you have are results are “powerful statistical evidence” not for universal common descent *period*, but for universal common descent winning out over some alternatives. It is what it is, and to claim more is non scientific.

      So let us ponder. Is the use of the contrastive approach, i.e., comparing theories to one other rather than evaluating them in absolute terms, an acceptable scientific practice? Cornelius thinks it is not. History of science indicates otherwise.

      Consider the famous story of Poisson's spot. In 1818 Poisson pointed out that Fresnel's wave theory of light predicted the existence of a small bright spot in the middle of a shadow from a round obstacle. The corpuscular theory of light did not. Arago performed the experiment and found the spot. The experiment indicated that Fresnel's wave theory of light worked better than Newton's corpuscular theory. So Fresnel's theory triumphed. That was clearly a contrastive approach: one theory did better than another.

      But how does Fresnel's theory fare in the absolute sense? Not too well, actually. Being a scalar wave theory, it cannot explain the polarization of light (a vector quantity). Based on classical physics, it utterly fails to explain the quantum nature of photons. Given these failures, should we conclude that the French physicists of the 19th century erred in accepting Fresnel's theory? I don't think so.

      No scientific theory is born fully developed. Fresnel's theory of light was an important step toward the current understanding of light, which is much more sophisticated. It was the right thing to prefer the wave theory of the corpuscular theory in the 19th century, even though the corpuscle made a triumphal return a hundred years later. We now think light exhibits both wave and particle properties.

      I can point out other instances in physics where the contrastive approach was used. Look at the development of cosmology, from Ptolelemy's epicycles to Copernic's heliocentric hypothesis to Kepler's laws of planetary motion to Newton's theory of gravity to Einstein's relativity and the Big Bang cosmology. All of these theories fail at one point or another if you test them in absolute sense. The Universe is certainly not heliocentric. Planets don't move in circles. Mercury's orbit violates Newtonian mechanics. The Universe's expansion is accelerating for no obvious reason. If physicists abandoned these theories because of these failures, would they get to the point where we are now? I don't think so.

      This is why science relies very much on the contrastive approach. One lousy theory does better than another. Eventually theories get to be pretty good. Hunter's complaints ring hollow.

      Delete
    67. continued...

      And it's in this role that observations overwhelmingly collaborates evolutionary theory. Of course, if you'd like to enlighten us with an explanation of how one can mechanically derive theories from observations, I'm all ears. Please be specific.

      Until then, I'd suggest that, just like ID's principle of design detection", you cannot recognize inductivism's "Principle of induction" as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

      CH: Second, this is a bait-and-switch. The contrastive approach is used for a reason. There are approaches available that can tell you something about how well the universal common descent does according to the evidence. But those approaches make universal common descent look bad.

      Is there? Then you should have no problem enlightening us how it's possible to extrapolate observations without putting them into an expiatory framework, right? Please be specific.

      Again, you're assuming there is some mechanical way to derive theories from observations that is neutral. However, you have yet to explain how this actually works, in practice. Nor have you responded to detailed criticism to that effect.

      CH: So contrastive approaches provide methods that obviate the unjustified assumptions. Therefore the method is stronger and more robust. But the price you pay is that you no longer can make claims about the theory, *period*.

      But, this is the same sort of logic behind the claim that evolutionary theory is merely random, so it cannot create non-explanatory knowledge. Both conjecture and criticism along with evolutionary processes both operate on the same over arching principle. The exception is that, as people, we can create explanatory knowledge. Evolutionary processes cannot.

      You might find this hard to believe, but science doesn't come grinding to a halt because you're bound and determined to remain ignorant about how we make progress. The best argument is that we continue to make progress despite your repeated claims that we cannot.

      CH: Third, the study uses a selective, ridiculously tiny, data set of a couple dozen proteins.

      Again, What we do, in practice, is conjecture theories, which we take seriously for the purpose of criticism. In addition, we take the rest of our current, best theories serious as well, which forms an explanatory whole which use for the purpose of criticism.

      CH: Meanwhile universal common descent suffers from all kinds of empirical problems ignored in the paper. I’m actually understating this problem and it would be difficult to imagine a more gross abuse of science.

      Which, as I've pointed out here and elsewhere, these "problem" are based on your particular conception of human knowledge, which you use to extrapolate observations.

      Delete
    68. oleg

      This is why science relies very much on the contrastive approach. One lousy theory does better than another. Eventually theories get to be pretty good. Hunter's complaints ring hollow.


      Cornelius doesn't even understand the concept of differential reproductive success in biological evolution. (i.e. "I don't have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun you!" :D )

      Why is it surprising he doesn't understand the concept of differential success in other areas?

      Delete
    69. Scott: Until then, I'd suggest that, just like ID's principle of design detection", you cannot recognize inductivism's "Principle of induction" as an idea that would be subject to criticism.

      What do I mean by this?

      CH: Actually I was not “complaining” about the unwarranted conclusions, I was explaining them to you. If it sounded like complaining that probably was because I had to explain it repeatedly given your reluctance to acknowledge the obvious.

      Surely, empiricism and the "Principle of induction" are obvious. They are not subject to criticism. They do not need to be argued for. Alternatives need not be acknowledged.

      Delete
    70. And Cornelius still hasn't answered my question.

      Ah well. I'll add it to the list.

      Delete
    71. Thorton,

      "I don't have to outrun the bear.I only have to outrun you."

      This is very altruistic of you. Explain to me again how altruism would evolve in humans.

      And you would have to outrun the bear if you were alone, so I guess you would always plan to have a sacrificial companion with you. Again, how would altruism evolve?

      Delete
    72. Nic

      Thorton,"I don't have to outrun the bear.I only have to outrun you."

      This is very altruistic of you. Explain to me again how altruism would evolve in humans.


      I already explained about kin selection and provided you a reference on the other thread. You lied and said you read it when you obviously didn't. Sorry Nic but I can't do anything about your laziness and willful ignorance.

      The "lying for Jesus" thing you do you'll have to take up with your pastor.

      Delete
    73. Thorton,

      "I already explained about kin selection and provided you a reference on the other thread."

      I was only commenting regards your comment of outrunning the bear in relation to altruism. It's hardly a display of altruism if you're going to let your companion die.

      I really wonder sometimes whether you even know what's being discussed. I think you're only here to hurl insults.

      Delete
    74. Nic

      I was only commenting regards your comment of outrunning the bear in relation to altruism. It's hardly a display of altruism if you're going to let your companion die.


      Outrunning the bear isn't an example of altruism. It's the punch line of an old joke illustrating differential success. Outrunning the bear wasn't offered as an example of altruism. Altruism wasn't even mentioned. You claimed on the other thread to be a well read expert on the topic but you continually demonstrate amazing ignorance on all things regarding evolutionary theory.

      I really wonder sometimes whether you even know what's being discussed.

      Altruism wasn't being discussed on this thread. Differential reproductive success was. Talk about being clueless and not knowing what the topic of conversation is. Nice own goal there Nic.

      I think you're only here to hurl insults

      Not at all. But I have zero patience with willfully ignorant blustering fools like you who continually insult all evolutionary scientists. I don't take it lying down.

      Delete
    75. EL:

      SO WHAT IS MY PREMISE????????? …

      All I have done is to operationalise the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God, and found the hypothesis infirmed by the evidence (e.g. pathogenic organisms, and the female pelvis). …

      Monday morning, and I can only assume that Cornelius has realised his blunder, as there is no answer to my question to him. Shall we start again, Cornelius?


      OK. You say God wouldn’t create pathogenic organisms. That is a mandate for evolution. Then amazingly you claim you don’t have any premises, as if to say your reasoning is objective. As usual, evolutionists make metaphysical truth claims and turn right around and deny making any such claim.

      Delete
    76. CH: You say God wouldn’t create pathogenic organisms. That is a mandate for evolution.

      Where did I say either of these things? Where did anyone say this?

      Then amazingly you claim you don’t have any premises, as if to say your reasoning is objective. As usual, evolutionists make metaphysical truth claims and turn right around and deny making any such claim.

      I deny making any such claim because, well, I made no such claim.

      This is a real problem, Cornelius. You repeatedly, in your OP, accuse "evolutionists" of saying things they do not say. And them berate them for saying it.

      You are Making Stuff Up.

      I did NOT say that "God wouldn’t create pathogenic organisms". I don't even believe in any god, so why would I be claiming to know what that god-in-which-I-do-not-believe would create?

      Sure, there could be a god that created pathogenic organisms.

      Do you believe in such a god, Cornelius? And do you worship him/her/it?

      Delete
    77. Hunter: CH: You say God wouldn’t create pathogenic organisms. That is a mandate for evolution.

      Isn't that what theodicy is about? Last time I checked, it wasn't part of evolutionary biology.

      Here are people who say this:
      Answers in Genesis,
      Roberta Winter Institute
      Reasons to Believe

      Not exactly hotbeds of evolution.

      Delete
    78. EL: All I have done is to operationalise the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God, and found the hypothesis infirmed by the evidence (e.g. pathogenic organisms, and the female pelvis). …

      CH: You say God wouldn’t create pathogenic organisms. … Then amazingly you claim you don’t have any premises

      EL: I deny making any such claim because, well, I made no such claim.


      I think we’ve reached the point where the irrationality becomes even more clear. It always comes down to religion, but evolutionists always deny it.

      Delete
    79. oleg:

      Isn't that what theodicy is about? Last time I checked, it wasn't part of evolutionary biology.

      Try reading next time. Theodicy is foundational to evolution. You can trace it back to the 17th century, through to Darwin, and on up to today.

      “Thus, we can hardly believe that the webbed feet of the upland goose or of the frigate-bird are of special use to these birds; we cannot believe that the similar bones in the arm of the monkey, in the fore-leg of the horse, in the wing of the bat, and in the flipper of the seal, are of special use to these animals. We may safely attribute these structures to inheritance.” –Charles Darwin

      “Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread but that a natural process, constrained by history, follows perforce. No one understood this better than Darwin. Ernst Mayr has shown how Darwin, in defending evolution, consistently turned to organic parts and geographic distributions that make the least sense.” –SJ Gould

      Delete
    80. Cornelius,

      You must be using a very broad definition of theodicy to find any of it in Darwin's quote. Theodicy is generally understood to be the problem of reconciling the existence of evil in the world with the goodness of its Creator. I see nothing remotely relevant to that in Darwin's words.

      Admit it, you're making it up as you go.

      Delete
    81. oleg:

      You must be using a very broad definition of theodicy to find any of it in Darwin's quote. Theodicy is generally understood to be the problem of reconciling the existence of evil in the world with the goodness of its Creator. I see nothing remotely relevant to that in Darwin's words. Admit it, you're making it up as you go.

      As I have explained many times, the metaphysical foundation of evolution finds it way into several different types arguments, though it’s all the same underlying metaphysic. Whether it is parasites, diseases, designs that do not seem to be fitted to the environment, wisdom teeth, or protein sequences, the argument is that evolution, in one way or another must have occurred (even though we have no idea how it could have happened and science repeatedly rejects evolutionary ideas) because the alternative must be false. Whether it’s a paper on protein sequences not fitting independent origin or complaints about deficiencies and cruelty, such as this one:

      “There are too many deficiencies, too much cruelty in the world of life. To assume that they have been explicitly created by God amounts to blasphemy. I believe God to be omniscient and benevolent. The design of organisms is not compatible with such beliefs” --Francisco Ayala

      The arguments are not scientific. For as with theodicies, they entail assumptions of how the world would have been created or designed, find that the world contradicts those assumptions, and so the world must have arisen on its own. Evolutionists insist evolution is a fact, and their reasoning is not scientific.

      Delete
    82. Here is a phylogeny of the underlying metaphysics:

      http://www.darwinspredictions.com/Figure15.jpg

      Delete
    83. Ayala's argument is certainly not scientific, but you did not find it in the scientific literature, did you? I tracked that quote to an interview in a newspaper entitled "Hard science, firm beliefs: Famed UCI evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala discusses future and
      ethics of genetic engineering and cloning."

      It's your usual bait-and-switch approach, Cornelius. You claim that scientists use unscientific methods, but you fail to disclose that they do that outside of their line of work. A sleight of hand, and not a very subtle one.

      Darwin's argument, on the other hand, was within bounds of science. These strange designs make sense when we realize that they are vestiges of a former function. It isn't an argument against God, it's an argument for evolution.

      Delete
    84. CH: I think we’ve reached the point where the irrationality becomes even more clear. It always comes down to religion, but evolutionists always deny it.

      Cornelius, you accused me of saying something I did not say.

      Please either support or retract your accusation.

      Delete
    85. Oleg to Cornelius: Admit it, you're making it up as you go.

      Yes, I think so. He consistently evades the questions put to him, and simply repeats his misattributions without evidential support.

      It's very tiresome, but I think revealing to any objective onlooker.

      Delete
    86. Or just conceivably he thinks these two poistions:

      EL: All I have done is to operationalise the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God, and found the hypothesis infirmed by the evidence (e.g. pathogenic organisms, and the female pelvis). …

      CH: You say God wouldn’t create pathogenic organisms. … Then amazingly you claim you don’t have any premises

      are equivalent. Which makes me wonder how he achieved a PhD in science.

      Delete
    87. EL:

      Evolutionists make religious claims and all the while deny it. Your statement that the hypothesis of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God is infirmed by pathogenic organisms is a religious claim. You can deny this all you want, it is nonetheless a religious claim.

      Delete
    88. No, it is not a religious claim, Cornelius.

      "God would not do it this way" would be a religious claim.

      That is not the claim I made, despite your (unsupported) that I did. You need to retract that accusation.

      The claim I made was not a religious claim, any more than the claim:

      A right-handed axeman would not have left the pattern of wounds observed on this body

      is neither a claim that the wounds were delivered by an axeman, nor a claim that the axeman ws right-handed.

      You seem unable to distinguish between a scientific hypothesis (i.e. a hypothetical) that posits a property of a postulated agent and the claim that the postulated agent has that property.

      Which is especially bizarre, given the conclusion that the hypothesis is false.

      Why would I, or PZ, be claiming to know the mind of an entity we do not believe either exists or has a mind?

      Delete
    89. is neither a claim that the wounds were delivered by an axeman, nor a claim that the axeman ws right-handed.

      should read:

      is either a claim that the wounds were delivered by an axeman, or a claim that the axeman was right-handed.

      Delete
    90. Dr Hunter can't admit that his "science is religion" shtick* is false, because he's based his blogging and publishing career on it.

      He's a foot soldier in a sectarian culture war that debases the very idea of "religion."

      ----------

      *Because of its roots in comedy and show business, the word shtick has a connotation of a contrived and often-used act—something done deliberately, but perhaps not sincerely. - Wikipedia

      Delete
    91. EL:

      No, it is not a religious claim, Cornelius.

      Denials do not alter reality. When you say an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God is disproved by what we observe in nature, you are making a religious claim. Claims about God are religious. But this is the way evolutionists think. Such gratuitous expression of their religious dogma, and even denials of their dogma, are standard. Then they claim it’s all about science. Rationalism tends to have a high view of its axioms, and evolution is an extreme example.


      "God would not do it this way" would be a religious claim.

      That too.


      That is not the claim I made, despite your (unsupported) that I did. You need to retract that accusation.

      Of course you made that claim. Evolutionists are so drunk in their own metaphysics they don’t even know they are drunk.



      Why would I, or PZ, be claiming to know the mind of an entity we do not believe either exists or has a mind?

      But that is precisely what you evolutionists claim to know. Evolutionist’s repeated denials to the contrary, and demands for a retraction of my pointing out the obvious, make it all the more obvious that they are in denial of their own underlying motivations.

      Delete
    92. What, no further discussion on Ayala? :)

      Delete
    93. I do have a reply coming, but first have a new post.

      Delete
    94. oleg:

      LOL. As if I needed your help!

      Please see:

      http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2012/04/darwins-god-institutes-stricter-comment.html where it says:

      Up until now the only guideline on comments in this blog has been no foul language. The new guidelines adds no disrespectful language. For example, personal attacks and derision (e.g., "LOL," HAHA") are now not allowed.


      I read the paper and summarized what Theobald had done right there, at the beginning of this prolonged slugfest. In the same comment I pointed out that Theobald had not engaged in anything resembling "God would not make the mosquito" nonsense. You then switched to criticizing the methodology of the paper.

      No, I switched to correcting your misrepresentations of the paper. You mischaracterized the paper saying that it “finds that the model of universal common descent is the best among the models considered.” That mischaracterization just happens to leave off the metaphysical part. In fact, from a couple dozen proteins the paper makes the absurd claim that its results are powerful evidence “corroborating the monophyly of all known life” and that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent. Those claims don’t come merely from the results.


      If you don't find the methodology to your liking then that's fine. But you have no leg to stand on when you say that Theobald's argument is based on a religious claim. None. What. So. Ever. This is something you refuse to acknowledge. Keep refusing the obvious.

      The paper claims that the results are powerful evidence “corroborating the monophyly of all known life” and that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent are absurd. They are arrived at by adding metaphysics to the reasoning. Specifically, by comparing to some toy alternatives, and by selecting a couple dozen proteins while ignoring substantial evidential problems. The only way those results could provide such powerful evidence for universal common descent is if those toy alternatives--as represented by their predictions for the couple dozen proteins--are the *only* alternatives. If these toy alternatives were not the only alternatives, then there would be no basis for the paper’s claim to have confirmed the overwhelming probability for universal common descent. But since the paper assumes those toy alternatives are the only alternatives, then yes, it can say that it confirms universal common descent. For all alternatives are astronomically unlikely. Hence in interviews about the paper Theobald was able to assert that creationism was a horrible hypothesis. You can read the paper or you can continue to make blind assertions.


      So let us ponder. Is the use of the contrastive approach, i.e., comparing theories to one other rather than evaluating them in absolute terms, an acceptable scientific practice? Cornelius thinks it is not.

      And yet another strawman. The problem is not the paper’s contrastive approach, per se, but it’s non scientific conclusions based on the contrastive reasoning, as I have explained several times.

      Delete
    95. oleg:

      No scientific theory is born fully developed. Fresnel's theory of light was an important step toward the current understanding of light, which is much more sophisticated. It was the right thing to prefer the wave theory of the corpuscular theory in the 19th century, even though the corpuscle made a triumphal return a hundred years later. We now think light exhibits bothwave and particle properties.

      Yes, it was the “right thing to prefer the wave theory over the corpuscular theory in the 19th century, even though the corpuscle made a triumphal return a hundred years later. We now think light exhibits both wave and particle properties.”

      What is striking is that you think this is a relevant analogy to evolutionist’s UCD claims which are based literally on a tiny amount of evidence while ignoring substantial problems.

      Furthermore, your own example demonstrates the very problem with the paper, as we now view any simple wave-theory-versus-corpuscular-theory as a false dichotomy. Such false dichotomies are well known in the history of science, but it matters not to evolutionists because their dogma mandates their theory.

      Delete
    96. CH: EL:

      No, it is not a religious claim, Cornelius.

      Denials do not alter reality. When you say an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God is disproved by what we observe in nature, you are making a religious claim. Claims about God are religious. But this is the way evolutionists think. Such gratuitous expression of their religious dogma, and even denials of their dogma, are standard. Then they claim it’s all about science. Rationalism tends to have a high view of its axioms, and evolution is an extreme example.


      Claims about gods are not necessarily religious, unless you want to define a "religious claim" as one that involves the concept of a god. In which case absolutely any scientific falsification of a religious claim is "religious", including the falsification of any creation myth.

      And if that is all you are saying, then what you are saying is utterly trivial.

      "God would not do it this way" would be a religious claim.

      That too.


      That is not the claim I made, despite your (unsupported) that I did. You need to retract that accusation.

      Of course you made that claim. Evolutionists are so drunk in their own metaphysics they don’t even know they are drunk.


      I. Did. Not. Make. That. Claim.

      Either link to where you think I did, or retract it. In the face of my denial, and your absence of any quotation from me that supports your accusation, I can only infer that you are lying Cornelius.

      In other words, that you are deliberately telling the world something you know to be false.

      EL:Why would I, or PZ, be claiming to know the mind of an entity we do not believe either exists or has a mind?

      But that is precisely what you evolutionists claim to know.


      Or, conceivably, extremely dense. Of course nobody claims to know the mind of something they think neither exists nor has a mind!

      That would be like claiming to know that nonexistent unicorns have two horns.

      Evolutionist’s repeated denials to the contrary, and demands for a retraction of my pointing out the obvious, make it all the more obvious that they are in denial of their own underlying motivations.

      No, it makes it all the more obvious that you are either being dishonest or obtuse, Cornelius. If you are honest, I suggest you re-read the exchange for reading. If you are not, I suggest you consult your conscience.

      But let me summarise the issue for you one more time:

      Many religious claims are made about god or gods. Many of these claims are falsifiable, scientifically. For instance we cand falsify the claim that the earth stands on the back of a turtle; that earth is at the centre of the universe; that the earth and universe were created 6,000 years ago; that god inundated the entire world with a global flood; that intercessory prayer works in any systematic way; that seizures are caused by evil spirits.

      These falsifications are not, in any normal English usage "religious claims" - they are merely falsifications of religious claims. Indeed, modern science is the result of the triumph of empirical methodology over superstition.

      I am saying that the religious claim that some deity with human welfare at heart made the world is falsified - probabilistically, as all scientific falsification is - from evidence within that world. That falsification is not a "religious claim" - it is merely a rebuttal to a religious claim.

      The onus is therefore on those making that religious claim to demonstrate why their postulated deity's postulated concern for human welfare is consistent with, for example, the mechanisms of the female reproductive tract and the efficiency of microorganisms that cause suffering and death to small children.

      The ball is in your court.

      Delete
    97. Hunter: The paper claims that the results are powerful evidence “corroborating the monophyly of all known life” and that the results are “very strong empirical evidence” for universal common descent are absurd. They are arrived at by adding metaphysics to the reasoning. Specifically, by comparing to some toy alternatives, and by selecting a couple dozen proteins while ignoring substantial evidential problems.

      In what sense are Theobald's alternative models "toys?" Which features (or lack thereof) set them apart from, say the UCA model? What would constitute a non-toy model? You hint at these ominous problems with his methodology but you never explain what exactly the problems are. It's a typical obfuscationist tactics that I have seen in interactions with Paul Nelson. Hardly a surprise.

      Delete
    98. Hunter: What is striking is that you think this is a relevant analogy to evolutionist’s UCD claims which are based literally on a tiny amount of evidence while ignoring substantial problems.

      No analogy is perfect, of course. But the copious physics examples refute your reasoning concerning falsification of scientific theories. You seem to have missed that point.

      Delete
    99. EL:

      Claims about gods are not necessarily religious …

      That’s a new one. What are they if not religious? They certainly are not scientific.


      In which case absolutely any scientific falsification of a religious claim is "religious", including the falsification of any creation myth.

      No, that’s different. Your claim that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God is disproved by what we observe in nature is not a “scientific falsification of a religious claim.” If it were you’d be able to explain it. As it stands you’ve provided no scientific explanation (because there is none).

      Evolutionists believe that their beliefs are not beliefs, but rather brute facts. Evolutionists do not even realize they are promoting religious beliefs. They think their religious premises are just givens. It is all so obvious to them that they think their conclusions are necessary consequences of undeniable truths. So when they say an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God would not have created pathogens, they think this is just an obvious, undeniable conclusion that only a religious fundamentalist would deny. In fact, it is the evolutionist who is the fundamentalist.


      EL:Why would I, or PZ, be claiming to know the mind of an entity we do not believe either exists or has a mind?

      CH: But that is precisely what you evolutionists claim to know.

      EL: Of course nobody claims to know the mind of something they think neither exists nor has a mind!. That would be like claiming to know that nonexistent unicorns have two horns.


      All you are demonstrating is (in addition to the religious premises in your reasoning) the irrationality of your reasoning. That is, you have no basis for your religious premises. To summarize: You say an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God would not create pathogens. That is a religious claim. You are in denial of your own religious beliefs. And you have no basis for your belief in the first place.

      Furthermore, you are in denial of your own irrationality. Rather, you think that your disbelief in the existence of God demonstrates that you could make no such religious claim.

      Believe me, atheists hold religious beliefs. It is just that the existence of God is not one of them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t hold religious beliefs. In fact, their religious beliefs are denied, go unexamined, and are more dogmatic. That’s fundamentalism.

      You say an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God would not have created pathogens, the female pelvis and so forth. That is a religious belief, no matter how many times you deny it and claim it is a scientific refutation. Perhaps it would help if you tried to provide a scientific explanation for why claims about what an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God would or would not create are not religious.

      Delete
    100. Hunter: Believe me, atheists hold religious beliefs. It is just that the existence of God is not one of them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t hold religious beliefs. In fact, their religious beliefs are denied, go unexamined, and are more dogmatic. That’s fundamentalism.

      My irony meter blew up, Cornelius. I'll have to send you a bill to replace it.

      It's an interesting world you have invented. Black is white, up is down, and fundamentalism is frowned upon. At Biola, the place where Christian fundamentalism was born. And raised.

      But tell me, what exactly are my religious beliefs? Or are you planning to examine them first, 'cause, you know, they have gone unexamined but are definitely more dogmatic?

      In fact, this paragraph is signature-worthy. I might appropriate it for myself or put it up for grabs.

      Delete
    101. EL:

      Claims about gods are not necessarily religious …

      CH:

      That’s a new one. What are they if not religious? They certainly are not scientific.

      Tell that to the anthropologists.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropology_of_religion

      Delete
    102. CH:EL:

      Claims about gods are not necessarily religious …

      That’s a new one. What are they if not religious? They certainly are not scientific.


      They might be religious or they might be scientific. A claim that the evidence infirmed the hypothesis that a deity created the world in 6 days within the last 10,000 years would not be a religious claim, it would be a scientific claim.

      A claim that a deity did not create the world in 6 days within the last 10,000 years because actually it was created by spirit serpent 5,000 years ago would be a religious claim not a scientific one. This isn't hard.

      EL In which case absolutely any scientific falsification of a religious claim is "religious", including the falsification of any creation myth.

      CH: No, that’s different. Your claim that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God is disproved by what we observe in nature is not a “scientific falsification of a religious claim.”


      Firstly, I did not say "disproved". You Made That Up. Again. I said (as did PZ) that the evidence is against it. That is a scientific inference from a test of the hypothesis against the data, and, like all scientific inferences, is provisional and probabilistic.


      If it were you’d be able to explain it.


      And indeed I did. Let me do it again. First of all, we need to operationalise the hypothesis, so I will operationalise it thus:

      omnnipotent: can do anything
      omnibenevolent: seeks to promote human welfare
      omniscient: knows everything.

      In a universe created by such a deity we would expect to see an absence of pathogenic organisms because:

      An all-powerful deity could make a universe without such organisms
      A deity that sought to promote human welfare would not want to create an organism that jeopardized it
      A deity that knew how to avoid creating such organism could avoid doing so.

      And yet they exist. Ergo the world was not created by an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient deity.

      It could have been created by a deity with some other attributes, I guess. One that loved nematodes at least as much as people, for instance.

      As it stands you’ve provided no scientific explanation (because there is none).

      Explanation for what? I'm not trying to explain anything. I'm simply showing you why the inference that the world we observe was unlikely to have been created by an omnipotent an omniscient deity with human welfare at heart is a perfectly valid scientific inference, just as the inference that an child with marks of beatings and neglect is unlikely to be the offspring of a loving family.

      You seem very confused about the difference between science and theology, Cornelius.

      Delete
    103. CH: Evolutionists believe that their beliefs are not beliefs, but rather brute facts.

      Nope. Evolutionist regard models as models and data as data, and models fit the data well are better models than models that fit the data less well.

      Evolutionists do not even realize they are promoting religious beliefs.

      That's because they aren't.

      They think their religious premises are just givens.

      Nope. And when I asked you to give me an example of such a premise (one you were ascribing to me) you couldn't do it. You gave me my conclusion instead.

      It is all so obvious to them that they think their conclusions are necessary consequences of undeniable truths.

      You are Making Stuff Up again, Cornelius. It's getting very tiresome.

      So when they say an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God would not have created pathogens, they think this is just an obvious, undeniable conclusion that only a religious fundamentalist would deny.

      Because it is. See my post above. There are alternatives, of course - you could define "omnibenevolent" in some way other than "cares for human welfare", or you could even argue that it meant "cares for humans after death" or something.

      In which case fine. But that would render the postulate unfalsifiable (and indeed circular). But if we regard "benevolent" as meaning "having human welfare as a priority" then, clearly, if the universe has a creator deity, then that deity did does not have human welfare as a priority.

      In fact, it is the evolutionist who is the fundamentalist.

      Rubbish. It is the evolutionist who has a grasp of simple logic.

      It's the fundamentalist who has to tackle the Problem of Evil. The rest of us don't even have a problem because we don't posit a clearly impossible deity. If we posit one at all, we posit one that is compatible with the facts.

      Delete
    104. All you are demonstrating is (in addition to the religious premises in your reasoning) the irrationality of your reasoning. That is, you have no basis for your religious premises. To summarize: You say an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God would not create pathogens. That is a religious claim. You are in denial of your own religious beliefs. And you have no basis for your belief in the first place.

      Oh, for goodness' sake, Cornelius. You accuse me of saying something I a) have not said and b) makes no sense, then regard my denial as evidence that I am making no sense!!!

      Sheesh.

      Please read my posts above.

      CH: Furthermore, you are in denial of your own irrationality. Rather, you think that your disbelief in the existence of God demonstrates that you could make no such religious claim.

      Absolute rubbish. I would have made exactly the same claim 10 years ago when I firmly believed in the existence of God, and it would have been no more a religious claim then than it now. In both cases it is simple logic.

      Delete
    105. Believe me, atheists hold religious beliefs.

      I thought we were talking about scientists? Sorry "evolutionists"? Now we are talking about atheists?

      No, they don't. An atheist is a person who doesn't hold religious beliefs. That's the definition of an atheist. You need a dictionary, Cornelius.

      It is just that the existence of God is not one of them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t hold religious beliefs.

      So a "religious claim" is one about God, even if it is a simple scientific inference about a specific postulated deity, but a belief that is not about God is can still be a religious belief?

      You seem confused.

      In fact, their religious beliefs are denied, go unexamined, and are more dogmatic. That’s fundamentalism.

      And that is unsupported assertion, Cornelius. You repeatedly attribute beliefs to us that we do not hold; when we deny those beliefs, you regard that as evidence of our lack of understanding of our own beliefs! Circular much?

      You say an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God would not have created pathogens, the female pelvis and so forth.

      Yup. Because the female pelvis does not promote maternal welfare, so the postulated deity must be at least one of the following: unable to create a functional female human pelvis; unwilling to design a functional female human pelvis; unable to foresee what a crap design the female human pelvis actually is.

      That is a religious belief, no matter how many times you deny it and claim it is a scientific refutation.

      Of course it isn't a religious belief. It's simple human reproductive anatomy. Or are you saying that the female human pelvis is optimally designed for the welfare of human mothers and their infants?

      Perhaps it would help if you tried to provide a scientific explanation for why claims about what an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator God would or would not create are not religious.

      One more time, and I'll stick with the female human pelvis as it's such a good example. The human pelvis results in a high rate of maternal and infant death, as the size of the human cranium is too close to the size of the maternal birth canal (partly because of the width between the hips, but also because of our vestigial tail, which further constricts the canal). Many mammals - most - have much more efficient reproductive tracts, and, as a result, have much lower maternal and infant mortality.

      Is this because the postulated deity could not make a better birth canal? No, because the postulated deity is omnipotent.

      Is it because the postulated deity wanted human mothers to die in agony, and their infants to be still born? No, because the postulated deity is omnibenevolent.

      Is it because the postulated deity didn't know how to make a decent birth canal? No, because the postulated deity is omniscient.

      Therefore, the human birth canal infirms the postulate of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient creator deity.

      It's that simple, Cornelius. Not religious, just simple logical argument with evidence to support it.

      Delete
    106. EL:


      You are Making Stuff Up again, Cornelius. It's getting very tiresome.

      That's the idea, to talk nonsense until you surrender.

      Delete
    107. EL:

      omnibenevolent: seeks to promote human welfare

      A religious claim.


      You seem very confused about the difference between science and theology, Cornelius.

      Says the evolutionist after making religious claims and denying any such thing.


      There are alternatives, of course - you could define "omnibenevolent" in some way other than "cares for human welfare", or you could even argue that it meant "cares for humans after death" or something.

      Ah, progress. Now that you’ve tried to explain your reasoning, it is clear that your conclusions are contingent on your religious premises. But you still seem to think your premises are the “right” ones. Perhaps after some more thought you’ll realize you are way outside of science. It is precisely those religious beliefs that seem so obvious and true that drive evolutionists.

      Delete
    108. CH:
      omnibenevolent: seeks to promote human welfare

      A religious claim.


      It's not a claim at all Cornelius! It's an operational definition!

      Sheesh.

      If you want to use a different one, fine. My inference only extends to the definition I have used.


      Says the evolutionist after making religious claims and denying any such thing.

      Do you understand the difference between an operational definition and a claim?


      Ah, progress. Now that you’ve tried to explain your reasoning, it is clear that your conclusions are contingent on your religious premises.


      Obviously not. Did you really do a science PhD Cornelius? Did you never do programs in methodology?

      But you still seem to think your premises are the “right” ones.

      I'm not claiming that my definition is either "right" or "wrong". That would be absurd, seeing as the whole thing is a postulate anyway. I'm saying that if we define the terms in the way I have done, we can infer that the postulated God is not supported by the evidence.

      If you want to test a different postulated God, one, for instance, for which the attribute "omnibenevolent" is defined differently, be my guest.

      In fact, if you give me an operational definition I will test it against the evidence.

      Perhaps after some more thought you’ll realize you are way outside of science.

      Nope, I am insisting on remaining strictly within it. That's why I stated my operational definition. I'm perfectly happy to use an alternative.

      It is precisely those religious beliefs that seem so obvious and true that drive evolutionists.

      Except there is no "belief" here at all. It is not that I "believe" that "omnibenevolent" means "seeks to promote human welfare". It's that I chose that as my operational definition. I could also have chosen "seeks to promote the welfare of all sentient creatures".

      I'd have come to exactly the same conclusion though, given the evidence that the welfare of lions depends on the excruciating death of zebras.

      But feel free to supply an operational definition of your choice. I'm sure there are some that are compatible with the evidence. In which case, we will have discovered a set of attributes of a deity that are actually consistent with our observations.

      I look forward to your response :)

      Delete
    109. Pedant: That's the idea, to talk nonsense until you surrender.

      Is it? I'm still unclear as to whether Cornelius really doesn't get it, or he does and is blowing smoke to try to prevent others getting it.

      Delete
    110. EL:

      EL: I would agree with PZ Myers that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.

      CH: There you go again, making your religious claims, just after denying your own religious beliefs.

      EL: First of all, we need to operationalise the hypothesis, so I will operationalise it thus: … omnibenevolent: seeks to promote human welfare,

      CH: A religious claim.

      EL: It's not a claim at all Cornelius! It's an operational definition! Sheesh. If you want to use a different one, fine. My inference only extends to the definition I have used. … I'm not claiming that my definition is either "right" or "wrong". That would be absurd, seeing as the whole thing is a postulate anyway. I'm saying that if we define the terms in the way I have done, we can infer that the postulated God is not supported by the evidence. … In fact, if you give me an operational definition I will test it against the evidence. … I'm perfectly happy to use an alternative. … there is no "belief" here at all. It is not that I "believe" that "omnibenevolent" means "seeks to promote human welfare". It's that I chose that as my operational definition.



      So first it is “the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God” but after the evolutionist called to account for the religion it suddenly becomes “the whole thing is a postulate … I'm saying that if we define the terms in the way I have done, we can infer that the postulated God is not supported by the evidence … there is no "belief" here at all.”

      Oh what a web we weave.

      Delete
    111. Elizabeth Liddle

      Pedant: That's the idea, to talk nonsense until you surrender.

      Is it? I'm still unclear as to whether Cornelius really doesn't get it, or he does and is blowing smoke to try to prevent others getting it.


      Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

      We have a WINNAH!

      Delete
    112. CH: So first it is “the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God” but after the evolutionist called to account for the religion it suddenly becomes “the whole thing is a postulate …

      Cornelius, do you know what a hypothesis is?

      It's when we postulate an explanation.

      So no, it is not "after" the "evolutionist called to account for the religion" that the "hypothesis" becomes “the whole thing is a postulate"" - a postulate is what the whole thing is in the first place! That's why we call it a HYPOTHESIS!!!!

      And of course it is not that "first of all" that we make the inference that the evidence infirms the hypothesis. First comes the hypothesis, then comes the inference. This is scientific methodology 101, Cornelius. In fact, it's not even 101 - the content above is actually taught in UK primary schools.


      I'm saying that if we define the terms in the way I have done, we can infer that the postulated God is not supported by the evidence … there is no "belief" here at all.”

      Oh what a web we weave.


      The web woven here is simple scientific methodology, Cornelius. I operationalised my hypothesis and tested it against data.

      I also invited you to provide an alternative operational definition of omnibenevolent.

      The silence is deafening.

      I am not sure whether that is because you really do not know how to operationalise a hypothesis, or because you really cannot come up with an operationalisation that does not lead to the same inference when applied to the data.

      The first would make you remarkably incompetent as a scientist. The second would make you dishonest.

      I hope there is a third explanation.

      Delete
    113. A scientist Cornelius is not. He published 3 papers with his research advisor, got his PhD, and switched to Christian apologetics.

      Delete
    114. Yet he's first author on those, and they are about model-fitting.

      He must have had a scientific training.

      Delete
    115. EL:

      EL: I would agree with PZ Myers that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.

      CH: There you go again, making your religious claims, just after denying your own religious beliefs.

      EL: First of all, we need to operationalise the hypothesis, so I will operationalise it thus: … omnibenevolent: seeks to promote human welfare,

      CH: A religious claim.

      EL: It's not a claim at all Cornelius! It's an operational definition! Sheesh. If you want to use a different one, fine. My inference only extends to the definition I have used. … I'm not claiming that my definition is either "right" or "wrong". That would be absurd, seeing as the whole thing is a postulate anyway. I'm saying that if we define the terms in the way I have done, we can infer that the postulated God is not supported by the evidence. … In fact, if you give me an operational definition I will test it against the evidence. … I'm perfectly happy to use an alternative. … there is no "belief" here at all. It is not that I "believe" that "omnibenevolent" means "seeks to promote human welfare". It's that I chose that as my operational definition.

      CH: So first it is “the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God” but after the evolutionist called to account for the religion it suddenly becomes “the whole thing is a postulate … I'm saying that if we define the terms in the way I have done, we can infer that the postulated God is not supported by the evidence … there is no "belief" here at all.”

      EL: no, it is not "after" the "evolutionist called to account for the religion" that the "hypothesis" becomes “the whole thing is a postulate"" - a postulate is what the whole thing is in the first place! That's why we call it a HYPOTHESIS!!!! … I'm saying that if we define the terms in the way I have done, we can infer that the postulated God is not supported by the evidence … there is no "belief" here at all.”


      If that were true then you wouldn’t make the claim that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. Instead, all you could claim is that the evidence substantially infirms a particular postulate regarding an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God, not the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God, period. You see you are contradicting yourself. You cannot say (i) I am merely testing a particular postulate which I just happened to choose even though I don’t believe in it myself and (ii) because that particular postulate reveals a failure I conclude that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. These statements are consistent only if you indeed do believe your postulate is likely to be true. That of course is a religious claim, which you are strenuously denying making. If, on the other hand, you hold no beliefs about the truth value of your postulate, then you cannot make any claim about how the evidence bears on the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.

      I hope the UK schools are a little better than this.

      Delete
    116. CH: If that ["...if we define the terms in the way I have done, we can infer that the postulated God is not supported by the evidence … there is no "belief" here at all.”] were true then you wouldn’t make the claim that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. Instead, all you could claim is that the evidence substantially infirms a particular postulate regarding an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God,

      Which is EXACTLY what I am doing, Cornelius! This has been my POINT ALL ALONG! Excuse me for shouting, but shouting appears to be what it takes!

      not the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God, period.

      Well, if the "period" denotes an undefined concept, of course. Scientific inferences are only as good as their operationalisation.

      As I've said many times, if you make your god-concept woolly enough, it's unfalsifiable. The moment you start to get specific, it becomes falsfiable. And I'd like to see an operational definition of "omnibenevolent" that you would consider not falsified. But I expect I will be waiting for some time.

      You see you are contradicting yourself. You cannot say (i) I am merely testing a particular postulate which I just happened to choose even though I don’t believe in it myself and (ii) because that particular postulate reveals a failure I conclude that the evidence substantially infirms the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. These statements are consistent only if you indeed do believe your postulate is likely to be true.

      Nope. They are consistent as long as I define the terms of my inference in the same way as I did in my hypothesis. Which I do. As I've said many times now, I am making no inferences outside the operationalisation of my hypothesis. We don't, in science. That's why your repeated allegations that scientific inferences are "religious" are so wide of the mark. You seem to have forgotten what you ever knew about the intrinsically limited nature of scientific claims, and assume that the rest of us have too. We haven't.

      Clearly my inference does not extend to any definition of those terms. If I had operatioinalised "omnibenevolent", for example, as "reward in heaven for whatever suffering a creature experiences on earth" then, clearly, my inference does not apply. But I did not operationalise it that way.

      That of course is a religious claim, which you are strenuously denying making.

      Nope. It would be a woolly and unfalsifiable claim not worth making, and I am not making it.

      If, on the other hand, you hold no beliefs about the truth value of your postulate,

      Obviously not. If I did, it would not be a "postulate".

      then you cannot make any claim about how the evidence bears on the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.

      I can make a claim about how the evidence bears on the hypothesis of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent god as operationalised.

      That's all we can ever do in science. That's why the operationalisation of hypotheses is so important. That's the part of scientific methodology you seem to have forgotten, judging by your repeated misreading of the nature of scientific claims.

      Delete
  3. Cornelius, you forgot to post your usual picture of a mass-murderer to try and smear evolutionary scientists.

    I'm sure that was an accidental oversight on your part.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At some future point, not distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.
      - Charles Darwin

      Hmmm, seems almost prophetic, save for the fact that he was off by a few centuries.

      In fact Darwinism has a very dark history of being the root cause of 'pseudo-scientific racism':

      Summary Of Evidence For Human Evolution & The Racism Evolution Engenders – Don Patton – video
      http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4032606

      In fact the 'pseudo-scientific racism' Darwinism engendered was so insidious, and obvious, that Darwinism can be traced back as a primary root cause for the NAZI holocaust:

      From Darwin to Hitler - video
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_5EwYpLD6A

      The Dark Legacy Of Charles Darwin – 150 Years Later – video
      http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4060594

      It is also interesting to point out that the materialistic philosophy has an extremely difficult time assigning any proper value to humans in the first place, i.e. Just how do you derive value for a person from a philosophy that maintains transcendent values are illusory?:

      How much is my body worth?
      Excerpt: The U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils invested many a hard-earned tax dollar in calculating the chemical and mineral composition of the human body,,,,Together, all of the above (chemicals and minerals) amounts to less than one dollar!
      http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/explain/docs/worth.asp

      Whereas Theism, particularly Christianity, has no trouble whatsoever figuring out how much humans are worth, since infinite Almighty God has shown us how much we mean to him:

      John 3:16
      “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

      MercyMe - Beautiful
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vh7-RSPuAA

      Delete
  4. Perhaps you don't know how to link to a comment.

    The link is the date and time. If you are using a PC, just rightclick on the date of Pedant's post, select "copy link location" and there you are.

    Although why you couldn't have identified the author as Pedant, I have no idea. As I've said before, your referencing habits are appalling for an academically trained writer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The point you make is and always has been very clear, Dr. Hunter: "God wouldn't do it this way" is a religious claim, devoid of ANY scientific proof. You have provided numerous attributable quotes to the effect that underlying all evolutionary theory is this religious claim about what God would or wouldn't do. From Darwin to Coyne to Futuyma. Without the claim which asserts itself as a special knowledge of the mind and ability of God (IF there is a God, of course, ha ha), evolution is no more than an interesting hypothesis, all the "facts" of which may be interpreted in at least one completely different way. The theory of Intelligent Design cleanly and consistently attributes a polar different understanding to the very same "facts". ANY so-called evidence of evolution, for example the similarity of DNA in all living systems, stripped of the religious imperative and viewed at strictly face value, shows rather compelling evidence of Design. So the "facts" do not compel evolution, the underlying religious presumption does. Why your detractors do not get this, why their bias is hidden in their blind spot, is a mystery but it has always been so. The religious leaders who compelled belief in Ptolemaic astronomy showed EXACTLY the same blindness. The evolutionists are their priestly children.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Red Reader

    The point you make is and always has been very clear, Dr. Hunter: "God wouldn't do it this way" is a religious claim, devoid of ANY scientific proof.


    Except no one has made the claim "God wouldn't do it this way". The actual point being made is "There's no logical reason for an omnipotent Deity to produce such jury-rigged barely functional designs".

    The actual argument is a completely different view that the bogus strawman one CH is propagating, and still stand unrebutted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thorton wrote:
      "Except no one has made the claim "God wouldn't do it this way". The actual point being made is "There's no logical reason for an omnipotent Deity to produce such jury-rigged barely functional designs"."
      This is a distinction without a difference and I find it laughable.
      "...jury-rigged barely functional..."
      Funny, very funny! HA HA HA. This is YOU, your design, your evolvement or whatever that you are talking about!!!

      Delete
  7. The point you make is and always has been very clear, Dr. Hunter: "God wouldn't do it this way" is a religious claim, devoid of ANY scientific proof.

    No, it is not a religious claim. It is a claim that a specific religious view is infirmed by scientific evidence, just as the claim that the view that the earth was created by God 6,000 years ago is a scientific claim about a religious view.

    There is a huge difference.

    You have provided numerous attributable quotes to the effect that underlying all evolutionary theory is this religious claim about what God would or wouldn't do.

    Even if it were true, and it is not, that a religious conviction about what God would or wouldn't do "underlies" evolutionary theory, that would be entirely irrelevant to its status as a theory. All that matters is that it fits data.

    And data doesn't care what anyone believes.

    From Darwin to Coyne to Futuyma. Without the claim which asserts itself as a special knowledge of the mind and ability of God (IF there is a God, of course, ha ha), evolution is no more than an interesting hypothesis,

    This is nonsense. Evolutionary theory does not depend for its validation on any religious view, but on whether it successfully explains the data and predicts new data.

    all the "facts" of which may be interpreted in at least one completely different way. The theory of Intelligent Design cleanly and consistently attributes a polar different understanding to the very same "facts".

    Tell me what this "theory of Intelligent Design" is.

    ANY so-called evidence of evolution, for example the similarity of DNA in all living systems, stripped of the religious imperative and viewed at strictly face value, shows rather compelling evidence of Design.

    This is mere assertion, and the "similarity of DNA in all living things" is not evidence for evolutionary theory, though it may be evidence for the common ancestry that the theory of evolution seeks to explain.

    So the "facts" do not compel evolution, the underlying religious presumption does.

    Nonsense.

    Why your detractors do not get this, why their bias is hidden in their blind spot, is a mystery but it has always been so.

    It's not a mystery at all. Cornelius, and other ID proponents, systematically and repeatedly misrepresent evolutionary theory, equivocate with words like "evolution", "random", "naturalism", "materialism" and so on, and when rebutted, either ignore questions and rebuttals, or ban the rebutter from commenting (props to Cornelius for not going down the second road, however).

    As a result, far from us "not getting it", ID proponents cocoon themselves into a closed loop of self-referencing, self-reinforcing arguments against a straw man of their own creation, and ignore the actual scientific literature that would allow them to learn about what the scientific theories and claims actually are. It's a phenomenon known as Morton's Demon.

    They also repeatedly poison the well by implying that "evolutionists" are allied to mass murderes, that they have no "grounds for morality", and, here, oddly, from a man employed at a school based on religious fundamentalism, of being "religious fundamentalism".

    The religious leaders who compelled belief in Ptolemaic astronomy showed EXACTLY the same blindness. The evolutionists are their priestly children.

    There is no word for the level of irony here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe you found a description of the argument several posts ago

      Delete
    2. Methinks thou dost protest way, way, way too much...

      Delete
    3. Oh really.

      Well, perhaps you'd like to actually tackle my points?

      Delete
    4. Elizabeth,

      "The point you make is and always has been very clear, Dr. Hunter: "God wouldn't do it this way" is a religious claim, devoid of ANY scientific proof."

      "No, it is not a religious claim. It is a claim that a specific religious view is infirmed by scientific evidence, just as the claim that the view that the earth was created by God 6,000 years ago is a scientific claim about a religious view."

      You never fail to amaze me with your total lack of understanding when it comes to logical reasoning. Of course Myers' comment 'that God would not do it this way' is a religious statement. What else can it be? He cannot prove if God exists or not and therefore cannot possibly prove that if a god did exist how he would act. Myers' statement is completely asinine as is your attempt to defend it.

      "that they have no 'grounds for morality'"

      They don't! If you think you can provide some basis for an 'evolutionary morality' feel free to do so. It should be interesting to see you try to explain the formation of absolutes from a blind, purposeless and goalless process. I look forward to it.

      Delete
    5. It is your logical reasoning that is shaky here, Nic. For a start, as far as I know, PZ mYers did not say "that God would not do it this way".

      What he is quoted as saying is that: he was “pretty certain that if there were an all-powerful being pulling the strings and shaping history for the benefit of human beings, the universe would look rather different than it does.

      The first statement (the one he didn't make, but which you have attributed to him), would probably class as a religious statement. It presupposes that God exists (there is no conditional) and it makes a claim about the properties of that God (that [he] would not do things in a particular way).

      However, the statement he is quoted as making is very different. First of all, it makes no assumptions about whether or not any god exists. Second, it posits a specific, hypothetical god with specific properties ("an all-powerful being pulling the strings and shaping history for the benefit of human beings") - in other words he posits an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.

      And he concludes, on the basis of the evidence, that such a being is not supported by the evidence presented by the universe.

      Which is not a religious conclusion, it is a scientific conclusion about a specific religious hypothesis, namely, an omnipotent, omnibenevolent God.

      Now, I think that PZ has missed a trick here, because he hasn't posited an omniscient God. It is possible, on the basis of the evidence, that there is an all-powerful being who has human welfare at heart, but who doesn't know much, and keeps making foolish decisions.

      Claiming that such a god exists would be a religious claim, but refuting it would not be, as long as the refutation was based on evidence.

      And I would not rule out a powerful kindly god who was a bit of a bumbler, on the basis of the evidence, although I don't think it has much going for it as a scientific hypothesis.

      And it doesn't make much sense to me theologically, but that is, indeed, a religious view.

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    6. Nic If you think you can provide some basis for an 'evolutionary morality' feel free to do so. It should be interesting to see you try to explain the formation of absolutes from a blind, purposeless and goalless process. I look forward to it.

      I didn't say anything about an "evolutionary morality". I did say that I think that our capacity to be morally aware evolved. Those two things are not the same.

      Not did I say anything about "the construction of absolutes".

      So perhaps you could first explain to me what you think morality is, where it comes from, and what these "absolutes" are that you refer to.

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    7. Elizabeth,

      "PZ mYers did not say "that God would not do it this way"."

      Show me where I said Myers said "God would not do it this way." Perhaps the use of quotation marks confused you. I don't know if Myers has ever used that exact phrase but he and others have made that claim in various ways on numerous occasions as you yourself demonstrate with your comment about Myers claim that he's confident if there was a God, the universe would look 'rather different.' This is no less a religious claim and totally asinine. Your attempts at semantic gymnastics in no way gets Myers off the hook.

      "And he concludes, on the basis of the evidence, that such a being is not supported by the evidence presented by the universe."

      You just don't get it do you? This is still Myers claiming to know the mind of God. Rephrase it any way you want, it is still the same religious claim. For one who sees herself as an intellect I am amazed at the poor quality of your reasoning. Truly amazing.

      "It is possible, on the basis of the evidence, that there is an all-powerful being who has human welfare at heart, but who doesn't know much, and keeps making foolish decisions."

      Are you for real? An 'all-powerful being' who doesn't know much! What kind of argument is that! If he is all-powerful one would be safe in assuming he knows quite a bit and would not be making foolish decisions. This line of reasoning is absurdly foolish.

      "Claiming that such a god exists would be a religious claim, but refuting it would not be, as long as the refutation was based on evidence."

      So you're saying that positing a God such as you envision would be a religious claim, but denying his existence would be a scientific claim based on evidence. Please supply me with the evidence you would present as proof such a god would not exist. Remember this is going to require you to have full knowledge of what this god would do in order for you to provide evidence that things as we see them would not be done that way if he did indeed exist. I hope you can see you're in a hopeless dichotomy.

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    8. Elizabeth,

      "I didn't say anything about an "evolutionary morality". I did say that I think that our capacity to be morally aware evolved. Those two things are not the same."

      You took exception to Cornelius' claim about evolutionists having no basis for morality. I stated he was right, they don't. Do you believe they do? If so, answer my question from where would this basis have come. It certainly cannot evolve. How would 'moral awareness' evolve independent of already existing morals. One cannot become aware of that which does not yet exist. Again, you do not think your arguments through before presenting them.

      "So perhaps you could first explain to me what you think morality is, where it comes from, and what these "absolutes" are that you refer to."

      Morality is that which we ought to do. We ought to tell the truth for example. We should not steal. This is not hard Elizabeth, this is all stuff you should understand.

      As for absolutes, truth is an absolute. Do you really not understand these things? Are you of the impression that absolutes do not exist?

      Delete
    9. You just don't get it do you? This is still Myers claiming to know the mind of God. Rephrase it any way you want, it is still the same religious claim. For one who sees herself as an intellect I am amazed at the poor quality of your reasoning. Truly amazing.

      It is you who is failing to "get it", Nic. Myers isn't claiming to know the mind of God. Obviously - he doesn't believe God exists! What he is saying that IF there were a God whose mind was to benefit human beings, then we'd expect to see a different world from the one we do. Just as you'd say that IF there was a kidnapping BigFoot in the mountains, we'd expect to see more kids napped. The fact that we don't suggests that either there is no BigFoot, or that BigFoot doesn't kidnap kids.

      Are you for real? An 'all-powerful being' who doesn't know much! What kind of argument is that! If he is all-powerful one would be safe in assuming he knows quite a bit and would not be making foolish decisions. This line of reasoning is absurdly foolish.

      Please re-read my post Nic.

      So you're saying that positing a God such as you envision would be a religious claim,

      No. Claiming that such a God existed would be a religious claim. Positing such a God as a hypothetical, would not be.

      but denying his existence would be a scientific claim based on evidence.

      concluding, that the god whose existence is posited does not possess the properties posited on the basis of infirmed predictions flowing from the hypothesis is a scientific claim based on evidence, yes. That is not denying the existence of any god, but concluding that if a god exists, that god does not have the properties claimed for him/her. For instance we can test the hypothesis that there is a god who responds to intercessionary prayer. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests not. That isn't denying the existence of any god, merely concluding that if such a god exists, s/he does not systematically respond to intercessionary prayer.

      Please supply me with the evidence you would present as proof such a god would not exist.

      See above. There can be no evidence for or against a god with no posited attributes - but plenty against a specific god, such as the tri-omni god.

      Remember this is going to require you to have full knowledge of what this god would do in order for you to provide evidence that things as we see them would not be done that way if he did indeed exist. I hope you can see you're in a hopeless dichotomy.

      Not at all. Science cannot rule out a god we haven't thought of. It can only potentially rule out gods we have thought of. And the tri-omni god is falsified by the evidence.

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    10. Nic: Elizabeth,

      "I didn't say anything about an "evolutionary morality". I did say that I think that our capacity to be morally aware evolved. Those two things are not the same."

      You took exception to Cornelius' claim about evolutionists having no basis for morality. I stated he was right, they don't. Do you believe they do?


      Yes I do.

      If so, answer my question from where would this basis have come. It certainly cannot evolve.

      Why not?

      How would 'moral awareness' evolve independent of already existing morals. One cannot become aware of that which does not yet exist.

      I said that our moral capacity evolved. By that I mean our capacity tocollectively construct a moral code and be guided by it.

      Again, you do not think your arguments through before presenting them.

      I have done.

      "So perhaps you could first explain to me what you think morality is, where it comes from, and what these "absolutes" are that you refer to."

      Morality is that which we ought to do.


      Well, I'd say that morality is the sense that there are things we ought, and ought not, to do. Ethics - or moral philosophy - is the name we give to the process by which we figure out what those things are.

      I suggest that our theory-of-mind capacity plus our status as language-using social animals is what underlies our moral capacity, and that this leads to the emergence of the basic ethical rule that we treat others as we would like to be treated. This fairly fundamental rule, I suggest, is the foundation of all human ethical systems.

      We ought to tell the truth for example.

      Mostly, yes. There are circumstances when I would say it is more ethical to lie. Think of the people who hid jews from the Nazis during WWII.

      We should not steal.

      Again, mostly yes. But not always. There may be circumstances in which stealing is the lesser of two evils - to save a child from starvation, for instance.

      This is not hard Elizabeth, this is all stuff you should understand.

      As for absolutes, truth is an absolute.

      What does this mean? That we must be never lie? If so, I disagree. If not, what?

      Do you really not understand these things? Are you of the impression that absolutes do not exist?

      I think the golden rule is a fundamental (rather than an absolute). I don't think there are ethical absolutes, as I hope I've shown.

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    11. Elizabeth,

      "What he is saying that IF there were a God whose mind was to benefit human beings, then we'd expect to see a different world from the one we do."

      You never fail to amaze me. You are still claiming to know the mind of God and you simply don't see it. By what standards do you set the parameter 'benefit human beings'? By your standards, and because what you witness does not meet those standards you assume God does not exist because he is not doing things your way. Ergo, you presume to know what God should do and as result claim to possess knowledge surpassing God's. I mean this sincerely, get some help on critical thinking.

      "It is possible, on the basis of the evidence, that there is an all-powerful being who has human welfare at heart, but who doesn't know much, and keeps making foolish decisions."

      For what reason do I need to re-read your post. You made an asinine statement, there's no getting around it. Either God is all-powerful or he's not.

      "For instance we can test the hypothesis that there is a god who responds to intercessionary prayer. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests not."

      What evidence? I'm afraid you cannot study intercessory prayer to any degree of certainty. Also, the common assumption is a prayer has only been answered if the answer is yes. Guess what, 'no' is an answer. Again, help with critical thinking is necessary.


      "Science cannot rule out a god we haven't thought of. It can only potentially rule out gods we have thought of. And the tri-omni god is falsified by the evidence."

      Please provide this evidence.

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    12. Elizabeth,

      Nic:"If so, answer my question from where would this basis have come. It certainly cannot evolve."

      Elizabeth: "Why not?"

      You're going to need to provide more than your opinion a moral code could evolve. How would an abstract such as morality evolve within a material process?

      "I said that our moral capacity evolved. By that I mean our capacity tocollectively construct a moral code and be guided by it."

      How would that moral code be constructed. Would the morals be based on consensus? What if the consensus view changed? Would it be based on strength? What if the powers that be were overthrown?

      No Elizabeth, morals don't work that way. If they did we would have no standards to which we could hold violators. How would the Nuremberg Trials have gone if that was the basis for our moral code. If what you suggest was the basis for our moral code, we would have been acting immorally by prosecuting the Nazis.

      "that this leads to the emergence of the basic ethical rule that we treat others as we would like to be treated. This fairly fundamental rule, I suggest, is the foundation of all human ethical systems."

      What is the source of the idea that we should 'treat others as we would like to be treated?'


      Nic:"We ought to tell the truth for example."

      Elzabeth:"Mostly, yes. There are circumstances when I would say it is more ethical to lie. Think of the people who hid jews from the Nazis during WWII."

      So as a result of the fact we do not always do as we ought it becomes a non-absolute? Absolutes do not depend on us following them for their existence, that is what makes them absolutes, they are true whether believe them or not. I too would have lied to protect Jews. It would not have made the lie a non-lie however.

      "I think the golden rule is a fundamental (rather than an absolute). I don't think there are ethical absolutes, as I hope I've shown."

      So, if you don't believe there are ethical absolutes, on what basis would you object to a thief stealing your purse?

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    13. Nic:

      Elizabeth,

      "What he is saying that IF there were a God whose mind was to benefit human beings, then we'd expect to see a different world from the one we do."

      You never fail to amaze me. You are still claiming to know the mind of God and you simply don't see it.


      Because I am not. Let me try to explain:

      Let's say I am a detective, trying to figure how the wallet did, in fact, go missing from my handbag while I was in Barcelona the other week. One theory is that it somehow dropped out as I slung my bag over my shoulder. Another is that a thief stole it. It is perfectly valid reasoning for me to say: IF it was stolen, THEN it was stolen by a thief who was skilled at extracting wallets undetected from a shoulder bag I was actually wearing at the time.

      I am not claiming that the thief exists. Nor am I claiming that no thief exists. All I am saying is that IF it was stolen by a thief THEN the evidence suggests that that thief was a skilled pickpocket, not a brutal mugger.

      Same here. PZ isn't claiming to "know the mind of God" - and nor am I. Like PZ, I myself do not believe a god-with-a-mind exists (cf a detective who does not actually believe my wallet was stolen). However, given the postulate of a powerful being with human welfare at heart, I can evaluate the evidence for support for this hypothesis, and reject it if it is wanting.

      In this case, I agree with PZ that it is wanting.

      By what standards do you set the parameter 'benefit human beings'? By your standards, and because what you witness does not meet those standards you assume God does not exist because he is not doing things your way. Ergo, you presume to know what God should do and as result claim to possess knowledge surpassing God's. I mean this sincerely, get some help on critical thinking.

      No, and I agree that provided you operationalise "benefit human beings" broadly enough, and consider pathogenic organisms that kill human children, congenital and genetic defects, the design of the female reproductive system as "benefiting human beings" then you may come to a different conclusion. But both PZ and I have, in effect, operationalised "benefit human beings" as "tends towards our health and happiness". Again, that is not a claim to "know the mind of god" but merely rejection, on appeal to the evidence, of the hypothesis of a god who designed the universe for our health and happiness.

      Delete

    14. "It is possible, on the basis of the evidence, that there is an all-powerful being who has human welfare at heart, but who doesn't know much, and keeps making foolish decisions."

      For what reason do I need to re-read your post. You made an asinine statement, there's no getting around it. Either God is all-powerful or he's not.


      It's not an asinine statement. If you want to define "all-powerful" as coterminous with "all-knowing" fine. I had in mind the possibility of a god who could do anything he figured out how to do, but didn't necessarily have perfect knowledge to inform those actions. So I left the possibility of an all-powerful,all-benevolent god who had less than perfect knowledge. That would not be inconsistent with the evidence. It's trying to square all three omnis with evidence that is problematic.

      "For instance we can test the hypothesis that there is a god who responds to intercessionary prayer. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests not."

      What evidence? I'm afraid you cannot study intercessory prayer to any degree of certainty. Also, the common assumption is a prayer has only been answered if the answer is yes. Guess what, 'no' is an answer. Again, help with critical thinking is necessary.


      I'm talking about at least one fairly rigorous experimental study, that showed no significant effect of prayer on people who did not know they were being prayed for, and a significant negative effect (worse outcomes) on those who did. I'll try to dig out the reference.


      "Science cannot rule out a god we haven't thought of. It can only potentially rule out gods we have thought of. And the tri-omni god is falsified by the evidence."

      Please provide this evidence.


      The evidence of high perinatal mortality in humans, of both infants and mothers, and of pathogenic bacteria.

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    15. Elizabeth,

      Nic:"If so, answer my question from where would this basis have come. It certainly cannot evolve."

      Elizabeth: "Why not?"

      You're going to need to provide more than your opinion a moral code could evolve. How would an abstract such as morality evolve within a material process?


      Through the evolution of a capacity to communicate using symbolic language, which allows abstract thought.



      "I said that our moral capacity evolved. By that I mean our capacity tocollectively construct a moral code and be guided by it."

      How would that moral code be constructed. Would the morals be based on consensus? What if the consensus view changed? Would it be based on strength? What if the powers that be were overthrown?



      Yes, morals are based on consensus, and the consensus is constantly changing, for the better, I would argue. I'd say we are a more humane society now than we were in the past. The value of consensus is that everyone in society has a stake in fairness, unlike a libertarian system in which every person acts in his/her own best interest.

      No Elizabeth, morals don't work that way. If they did we would have no standards to which we could hold violators. How would the Nuremberg Trials have gone if that was the basis for our moral code. If what you suggest was the basis for our moral code, we would have been acting immorally by prosecuting the Nazis.

      It was consensus that condemned the Nazis. In contrast, the deity described in the Old Testament frequently commands genocide.

      "that this leads to the emergence of the basic ethical rule that we treat others as we would like to be treated. This fairly fundamental rule, I suggest, is the foundation of all human ethical systems."

      What is the source of the idea that we should 'treat others as we would like to be treated?'


      Our evolved capacity for empathy, abstract thought and communication, and our property of being a social animal.


      Nic:"We ought to tell the truth for example."

      Elzabeth:"Mostly, yes. There are circumstances when I would say it is more ethical to lie. Think of the people who hid jews from the Nazis during WWII."

      So as a result of the fact we do not always do as we ought it becomes a non-absolute? Absolutes do not depend on us following them for their existence, that is what makes them absolutes, they are true whether believe them or not. I too would have lied to protect Jews. It would not have made the lie a non-lie however.



      No, you've missed my point. I would have thought you would have agreed with me that the Dutch heroes who lied to the Nazis about the jews they were hiding, were doing what they ought. In that circumstance "treat others as you would be treated" trumped "tell the truth".

      "I think the golden rule is a fundamental (rather than an absolute). I don't think there are ethical absolutes, as I hope I've shown."

      So, if you don't believe there are ethical absolutes, on what basis would you object to a thief stealing your purse?


      On the basis that s/he was not treating me has s/he would like to be treated. On the other hand, if I was rich, and would not help the thief, and if the thief had a starving child who needed bread, I'd consider it arguably right for the thief to steal my purse.

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    16. Nic, apologies, I slightly misread one of your comments above - I thought you'd missed my point, but in fact I'd missed yours! So let me respond to the point I think you did make:

      Nic:"We ought to tell the truth for example."

      Elzabeth:"Mostly, yes. There are circumstances when I would say it is more ethical to lie. Think of the people who hid jews from the Nazis during WWII."

      So as a result of the fact we do not always do as we ought it becomes a non-absolute? Absolutes do not depend on us following them for their existence, that is what makes them absolutes, they are true whether believe them or not. I too would have lied to protect Jews. It would not have made the lie a non-lie however.


      Of course the the fact that you lied to protect Jews doesn't make it a non-lie. My point is that it makes it a not-wrong!

      In other words "tell the truth" is not an absolute. It's a good guide, but ultimately, we resolve ethical dilemmas, on the whole, by reference to more fundamental principles, for example "treat others as you would be treated". I'd say that was as fundamental as ethics gets, because it's the basis on which we are able to live in a harmonious society - the rule by which the well-being of each member of society is optimised.

      Delete
  8. So evolution is a religion therefore it is untrue, are all religious beliefs untrue?

    ReplyDelete
  9. And on the issue of why Cornelius posts pictures of mass murderers to illustrate his stories about evolution?

    *crickets*

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    Replies
    1. Elizabeth,

      "And on the issue of why Cornelius posts pictures of mass murderers to illustrate his stories about evolution?"

      Get over it already! I did not take the inclusion of Kyzinski's (?) picture as an implication that evolutionist were guilty of mass murder. I think your lot has become over sensitive due to the beating your position is taking in relation to the evidence.

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    2. The beating? By whom? The inane cdesign proponentsists? According to their 5-year plan, there should have been "Ten CRSC Fellows teaching at major universities." By 2003. Can't find any unless you count Biola as a major research university. The Cornelius would certainly qualify. LOL.

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    3. He's probably attempting to illustrate his conversation. Much like Thorton did several months ago by countering a statement made by Eugen with links to photos of deformed children. When it was mentioned to Thorton that this was a bit much, he defended his position by saying the knee-jerk reactions proved his point.

      He went as far a implying that those who didn't agree with his methodology didn't agree with him.

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    4. Oleg,

      "The beating? By whom?"

      Not by whom, but by what. The science. Your attempt at a rebuttal is nothing more than an appeal to majority,a logical fallacy. However, that is exactly the type of argumentation evolutionists love.

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    5. Congrats on being so open minded about insults to other people Nic. Which evidence is most likely to topple the leaning tower of evolution?

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    6. Smith,

      Not exactly historically correct, the picture of one child was a reponse to Eugen posting of a photo of his own, remarking if I recall the majesty of God's Creation,he had a point. Thorton provided a counter example. One I feel exploited the bad luck of a child unnecessarily.

      So insinuating that a murdering right wing Christian lunatic and PZ have common ground illustrates the article which accuses PZ of stating that,quelle horreurs, evolution is a fact. Which ironically had nothing to do with Breivik. So the picture illustrates the concept of irony

      Delete
    7. Which science, Nic? Give us some references to the primary research literature. Dazzle us with commentary. We're all ears.

      Delete
    8. velikovskys

      "Which evidence is most likely to topple the leaning tower of evolution?"

      The tower has long ago tipped over. Simply because evolutionists refuse to accept the obvious evidence of design and try vainly to explain it away does not change the facts.

      Evolution provides no answers, simply 'just so' stories. The evidence for design is there. You, Oleg, Thorton, et al, only need to be open minded enough to investigate it. Research is available, have the courage to look at it and don't try to pass it off on me or others to do the work for you by demanding references you know you will never look at. This is not and never has been a question of the science. It is and always has been and always will be a battle of world views. You will never accept anything I or anyone else says, or references we provide. You must have the integrity and courage to look at the evidence for yourselves.

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    9. Evolution provides no answers,
      Evolutionary theory provides a good account of the data and consistently predicts new data. This is all we ever ask of scientific theory.

      simply 'just so' stories.

      Testable hypotheses are not "just so stories".

      The evidence for design is there. You, Oleg, Thorton, et al, only need to be open minded enough to investigate it.

      The problem isn't our lack of open-mindedness. The problem is that ID proponents fail to see any alternative explanation.

      Research is available, have the courage to look at it and don't try to pass it off on me or others to do the work for you by demanding references you know you will never look at.

      I check out pretty well any reference I am given. I have yet to read a persuasive ID paper.

      This is not and never has been a question of the science.

      Unfortunately, you are right. Although I do think that Behe and Dembski in the early years thought they were doing science. But now it seems to be merely a matter of maintaining the market for their books.

      It is and always has been and always will be a battle of world views.

      Yes. Between superstition and scientific methodology.

      You will never accept anything I or anyone else says, or references we provide.

      Probably not, but I'd be prepared to accept any argument if I found it persuasive.

      You must have the integrity and courage to look at the evidence for yourselves.

      Yes. And that applies to IDists. But they always seem woefully ill-informed.

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    10. Elizabeth,

      "The problem isn't our lack of open-mindedness. The problem is that ID proponents fail to see any alternative explanation."

      That's funny, were bombarded constantly with alternative explanations. It's called evolutionary theory. Because I and others have chosen to reject them does not mean we fail to see or understand them. You're like all evolutionists, you're of the opinion your explanation is the only one which counts. You're entitled to your opinion, but we are also entitled to disagree without being referred to as idiots.

      "I check out pretty well any reference I am given. I have yet to read a persuasive ID paper."

      Good for you. Does the fact they fail to persuade you mean their wrong? If so, why does the fact that papers supporting evolution failing to persuade me and others not prove them wrong?

      Do you not see the ineptness of your logic?

      "Yes. Between superstition and scientific methodology."

      Really, is this the best you can do? Labeling what you disagree with as superstition is not a persuasive argument.

      "Yes. And that applies to IDists. But they always seem woefully ill-informed."

      In my experience it is evolutionists who are ill-informed as to the case for ID. But as you do not find it persuasive, it therefore is wrong. Sigh, this is what passes for intellectual thought these days.

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    11. That's funny, were bombarded constantly with alternative explanations. It's called evolutionary theory. Because I and others have chosen to reject them does not mean we fail to see or understand them.

      No, it doesn't. But I have yet to meet anyone who claimed to reject evolutionary theory who actually understood what they were rejecting.

      You're like all evolutionists, you're of the opinion your explanation is the only one which counts.

      Not at all. Evolutionary theory is a large body of explanations, some of which are alternatives to each other, and which have to be tested.

      You're entitled to your opinion, but we are also entitled to disagree without being referred to as idiots.

      Sure. And I don't. However, I do think that you are wrong, that ID arguments are logically flawed, and that most ID proponents don't understand evolutionary theory. I come to this conclusion after a lot of discussions with ID proponents and a lot of reading of ID arguments, some by very intelligent people.

      Good for you. Does the fact they fail to persuade you mean their wrong? If so, why does the fact that papers supporting evolution failing to persuade me and others not prove them wrong?

      Well, it means that I think they are wrong, clearly. Just as the fact that the papers supporting evolution fail to persuade you means that you think that they are wrong. I actually think, though, that the reason people are unpersuaded by papers supporting evolution is that they think they are making a claim that is not being made. I'm happy to discuss this with reference to any specific paper you are unpersuaded by.

      In my experience it is evolutionists who are ill-informed as to the case for ID. But as you do not find it persuasive, it therefore is wrong. Sigh, this is what passes for intellectual thought these days.

      No, it's just the human condition. We don't have any foolproof way of knowing which of two views is right - we can only use our judgement, which, in this case, clearly differs. That is why, on the whole, I say that I do not find an argument persuasive, rather than that I think it is wrong. But if I overstepped the mark I apologise. I do think some ID papers make evident mistakes. But in complex arguments, not everyone always agrees on whether a conclusion is a mistake.

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    12. Elizabeth,

      "No, it's just the human condition. We don't have any foolproof way of knowing which of two views is right - we can only use our judgement, which, in this case, clearly differs. That is why, on the whole, I say that I do not find an argument persuasive, rather than that I think it is wrong. But if I overstepped the mark I apologise."

      No need for apologies. We do indeed use our judgment, and if we differ, so be it.

      "However, I do think that you are wrong, that ID arguments are logically flawed, and that most ID proponents don't understand evolutionary theory. I come to this conclusion after a lot of discussions with ID proponents and a lot of reading of ID arguments, some by very intelligent people."

      You may think I'm wrong all you wish, that's you prerogative. However, the position that those who oppose evolution do so because they don't understand it is not a valid argument. Many people understand very well what evolution teaches and reject it.

      If these people are very intelligent as you admit, I would think their objections would give you pause to think, not simply say they don't understand.

      Delete
    13. Nic: You may think I'm wrong all you wish, that's you prerogative. However, the position that those who oppose evolution do so because they don't understand it is not a valid argument. Many people understand very well what evolution teaches and reject it.

      I do not think you understand evolution. Nor do I think you understand what evolutionary theory does or does not teach. And I'd suggest that the key point of your confusion is your particular conception of human knowledge.

      For example, how was the knowledge of how to build biological adaptations, as found in the genome, created?

      A designer that, "Just was", complete with the knowledge of how to build biological adaptation, already present, doesn't' serve an explanatory purpose. This is because one could more economically state: organism "just appeared", complete with the knowledge of how to build complex biological adaptations, already present.

      All you've done is push the problem into an inexplicable realm.

      However, I'd suggest that you cannot recognize the actual problem of biological complexity because you cannot recognize your own pre-enlightenment, justificationist, authoritative conception of human knowledge as an idea that would be subject to criticism. This results in the two following assumptions.

      01. You discount the role knowledge plays in the design hypothesis. Specifically, you think there is no need to complicate the design hypothesis with a material brain. Nor do you see the need to complicate it with a means of creating the knowledge this designer supposedly put there. This, in turn, effects how complex you perceive the design hypothesis from the perspective of Occam's razor.

      On the other hand, Evolution does present an explanation as to how this knowledge is created. It's more complex because it actual explains the origin of this knowledge. And it does so, based on the an overarching theory of how knowledge is created, in general.

      02. You you assume that knowledge is justified by an authoritative source. In the absence of a authoritative source, there can be no knowledge. As such, the assumption that evolution could actually create knowledge of how to build biological adaptations is absurd, etc.

      Of course, if I do not understand your position, free to point out where where I've got it wrong, along with how your actual view differs, in detail.

      Delete
  10. Gee, I interact with the real world for a few hours and return to find my self honored by a quotation in one of Dr Hunter's posts.

    Let's look at his kind rebuttal:

    In this case, the evolution professor attempts to hide the religion with the fallacious argument that Myers argument is not a religious claim because it is a conditional.

    I have nothing to add to what Elizabeth and other representatives of the sane commenting community have pointed out. Elizabeth:

    A scientific claim that refutes, with evidence, a specific religious hypothesis is not "a religious claim".

    It is merely a claim that a certain religious proposition is infirmed by the evidence.


    Six days of creation, anyone?

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    1. ... as well as a six-thousand-year-old world, the universal flood, and historical Adam and Eve, to name a few.

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  11. Incidentally, Dr Hunter, it is not sufficient to label an argument fallacious. It is incumbent on the labeler to identify the fallacy.

    Thanks.

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  13. Now Elizabeth try to walk me through this. How is it possible for one atheist, you, to be so upset with a photo, claiming that it is morally disgusting, while another atheist can not be disgusted by this?:

    Infanticide and bestiality advocate given Australia’s highest civic award
    Excerpt: He (Peter Singer - professor of 'bio-ethics' at Princeton) has become infamous for his open promotion of infanticide, bestiality, and experimentation on the mentally disabled.
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/infanticide-and-bestiality-advocate-given-australias-highest-civic-award

    Or Elizabeth do you find infanticide, bestiality, and experimentation on the mentally disabled disgusting as well? If so, why so? If not, why not? i.e. What is your moral basis as a atheist that allows you to be morally disgusted at a photo yet allows Peter Singer to not be disgusted by infanticide, bestiality, and experimentation on the mentally disabled??? Elizabeth besides photos on blogs, are you also saddened and 'disgusted' by the wholesale slaughter of the unborn in America (1,200,000 a year) as you are with this photo?

    Elizabeth, if you are not 'disgusted' by 1,200,000 abortions a year and if you believe that it is a 'choice' to kill an unborn and we, as Christians, have no moral right to infringe on the 'right' of individual people to choose to kill an unborn, how can hold, as a atheist that you have a moral right to impose your morality on a photo that Dr. Hunter has chosen to display? Elizabeth, no matter how much you deny it to the contrary, you live in a moral salad bar, where morals are to be chosen or discarded as is convenient. You certainly, in your worldview, have no right to tell Dr. Hunter which moral he has to choose. ,, I guess this is why you appealed to Christian ethics in the previous thread.,,, Personally, I'm very glad that objective morality is real and finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ:

    Heather Williams – Hallelujah – Lyrics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX2uM0L3Y1A

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    1. And explain to me, ba77, the moral salad bar that has justified Christians in torture, burning at the stake, massacre and genocide?

      And why your own chosen divine text describes a deity who ordered infanticide, genocide, rape and sexual slavery?

      Then get back to me with your questions about "objective morality".

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    2. Elizabeth, sure humans, who proclaim to be Christians, have done horrendous evil in the name of Christianity. Indeed the bible proclaims:

      Jeremiah 17:9-10
      The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? "I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve."

      Moreover, if you remember correctly, the bible says that the primary enemies of God were the extremely 'religious' people of His day who thought they were better than everybody else and who were so clueless as to their own depravity that they ended being the very ones who orchestrated Christ's crucifixion!

      But none-the-less Elizabeth, when all things are considered, it is found that when man goes his own way and tries to become a 'god until himself', as you are advocating that we do, then we find that man is exponentially more evil than if we were to 'try', however clumsily we may 'try' to do it, to allow God govern the affairs of our nation.,,, This following video is very clear as to pointing the extremely different 'degrees of evil' we are dealing with in atheistic and Christian cultures:

      "Christian" Atrocities compared to Atheists Atrocities - Dinesh D'Souza - video
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmrRC6zD4Zk

      Further notes:

      SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

      The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
      http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

      You can see that dramatic difference, of the SAT scores for private Christian schools compared to public schools, at this following site;

      Aliso Viejo Christian School – SAT 10 Comparison Report
      http://www.alisoviejochristianschool.org/sat_10.html

      United States Crime Rates 1960 - 2010 (Please note the skyrocketing crime rate from 1963, the year prayer was removed from school, thru 1980, the year the steep climb in crime rate finally leveled off.) of note: The slight decline in crime rate from the mid 90s until now is attributed in large part to tougher enforcement on minor crimes. (a nip it in the bud policy)
      http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

      AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray - David Barton - crime graphs corrected for population growth
      http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

      What Lies Behind Growing Secularism by William Lane Craig - May 2012 - podcast (steep decline in the altruism of young people since early 1960's)
      http://www.reasonablefaith.org/what-lies-behind-growing-secularism

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    3. Very interesting post BA but EL got off way too easily with her initial tu quoque response which came not long after she lectured me on that type of appeal. What a hoot !

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    4. Ah, no. That is not a tu quoque. It is simply evidence against the allegation of a correlation between atheism and ethical behaviour.

      And, in addition, a response to the "have you stopped beating your wife" question of ba77 - if I am to demonstrate that a moral system not grounded in theism is as objective as one grounded in theism, I'd like a baseline.

      I'm seeing a pretty low bar.

      Delete
  14. In case any of the creationist nut-jobs on this blog want to read a really good article that supports the truth of evolution:

    http://pigeonchess.com/2012/05/31/gill-slits-by-any-other-name/

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    1. Oh, and your very own "Cornelius the Creationist" loon gets a mention in the above article.

      Delete
  15. Pedant:

    "Let's look at his kind rebuttal:

    In this case, the evolution professor attempts to hide the religion with the fallacious argument that Myers argument is not a religious claim because it is a conditional.

    I have nothing to add to what Elizabeth and other representatives of the sane commenting community have pointed out. Elizabeth:

    A scientific claim that refutes, with evidence, a specific religious hypothesis is not "a religious claim".

    It is merely a claim that a certain religious proposition is infirmed by the evidence.

    Six days of creation, anyone?

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    olegJune 16, 2012 3:07 PM
    ... as well as a six-thousand-year-old world, the universal flood, and historical Adam and Eve, to name a few."


    There's no scientific find that show six-day creation, the universal flood and historical Adam and Eve are untrue.

    "Let us suppose otherwise", "just-so stories"...none of these things count as evidence, disproof or science.

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  16. Cornelius,

    BTW, the title of this post nailed it.
    Amazing how evolutionists confirm your point.

    Not content to proclaim religious claims as being science, they go deeper into proclaiming that evil in the world counts as "scientific" evidence which has "falsified" "the tri-omni god". Where has science gone?

    "Religion drives science..."

    Greetings from Brazil!
    God bless!

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