Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

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Incl. intelligent design, belief in divine creation

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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#41  Postby DavidMcC » Dec 27, 2017 12:20 pm

LucidFlight wrote:Indeed, the design of the eye may be based on an intention to enjoy the perception of photons, not just for the purpose of finding food and avoiding danger, but also for an organism to truly enjoy a very narrow band of electromagnetic radiation.

Eh? :scratch:
Intention? Design?
It can be argued that natural selection non-consciously "designed" our eyes (by trial and error over millions of years), but there was definitely no "intention" behind it. It was all down to the numbers of descendants.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#42  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Dec 27, 2017 1:04 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:Indeed, the design of the eye may be based on an intention to enjoy the perception of photons, not just for the purpose of finding food and avoiding danger, but also for an organism to truly enjoy a very narrow band of electromagnetic radiation.

Eh? :scratch:
Intention? Design?
It can be argued that natural selection non-consciously "designed" our eyes (by trial and error over millions of years), but there was definitely no "intention" behind it. It was all down to the numbers of descendants.

Design, by definition implies intent.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#43  Postby LucidFlight » Dec 27, 2017 1:36 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:Indeed, the design of the eye may be based on an intention to enjoy the perception of photons, not just for the purpose of finding food and avoiding danger, but also for an organism to truly enjoy a very narrow band of electromagnetic radiation.

Eh? :scratch:
Intention? Design?
It can be argued that natural selection non-consciously "designed" our eyes (by trial and error over millions of years), but there was definitely no "intention" behind it. It was all down to the numbers of descendants.

Eyes were clearly designed to allow us to see the beautiful design of flowers, trees, and bees. Otherwise, what would be the point of having beautifully-designed flowers, trees, and bees?

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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#44  Postby laklak » Dec 27, 2017 2:33 pm

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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#45  Postby Hamster » Jan 04, 2018 4:34 am

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:Indeed, the design of the eye may be based on an intention to enjoy the perception of photons, not just for the purpose of finding food and avoiding danger, but also for an organism to truly enjoy a very narrow band of electromagnetic radiation.

Eh? :scratch:
Intention? Design?
It can be argued that natural selection non-consciously "designed" our eyes (by trial and error over millions of years), but there was definitely no "intention" behind it. It was all down to the numbers of descendants.

Design, by definition implies intent.

"Design" is not the best word. Too much pointless equivocation.
"Structure" is my preference.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#46  Postby romansh » Jan 04, 2018 5:17 am

Hamster wrote: "Design" is not the best word. Too much pointless equivocation.

Interestingly, Daniel Dennett in From Bacteria to Bach and Back insists on calling evolution a form of design.

Go figure.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#47  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 04, 2018 12:58 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
LucidFlight wrote:Indeed, the design of the eye may be based on an intention to enjoy the perception of photons, not just for the purpose of finding food and avoiding danger, but also for an organism to truly enjoy a very narrow band of electromagnetic radiation.

Eh? :scratch:
Intention? Design?
It can be argued that natural selection non-consciously "designed" our eyes (by trial and error over millions of years), but there was definitely no "intention" behind it. It was all down to the numbers of descendants.

Design, by definition implies intent.

You just ignored what I said about non-conscious design, didn't you? It means producing designs without having to think. This what evolution does, by natural selection (instead of thought).
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#48  Postby Sendraks » Jan 04, 2018 1:16 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
You just ignored what I said about non-conscious design, didn't you? It means producing designs without having to think. This what evolution does, by natural selection (instead of thought).


He's not ignoring what you said, Thomas is pointing out that design implies intent and thefore the idea of "non-conscious design" is deeply silly, because there isn't any "intent" behind natural processes.

Natural selection is a "non-conscious process." It is not a process of "design."
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#49  Postby felltoearth » Jan 04, 2018 1:32 pm

Sendraks wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
You just ignored what I said about non-conscious design, didn't you? It means producing designs without having to think. This what evolution does, by natural selection (instead of thought).


He's not ignoring what you said, Thomas is pointing out that design implies intent and thefore the idea of "non-conscious design" is deeply silly, because there isn't any "intent" behind natural processes.

Natural selection is a "non-conscious process." It is not a process of "design."


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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#50  Postby Sendraks » Jan 04, 2018 1:38 pm

felltoearth wrote:I should introduce you to some of my wife's students.


:lol:

Human beings probably can design things non-conciously because, regardless of whether we are concious or not, we can apply intent to whatever it is we are designing. Natural processes cannot do this.

*edit*

Alternatively 'non-concious' design could be consider 'unintended' design but, that still requires humans to apply purpose/intent to the design after the fact.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#51  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 04, 2018 8:09 pm

felltoearth wrote:
Sendraks wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
You just ignored what I said about non-conscious design, didn't you? It means producing designs without having to think. This what evolution does, by natural selection (instead of thought).


He's not ignoring what you said, Thomas is pointing out that design implies intent and thefore the idea of "non-conscious design" is deeply silly, because there isn't any "intent" behind natural processes.

Natural selection is a "non-conscious process." It is not a process of "design."


I should introduce you to some of my wife's students.

So you keep saying, but I say that a process that produces what RD called "designoid" objects such as living organisms is a sort of design process that you may not know of, but which closely resembles an industrial design process used by the US military to design high-performance wings for its aircraft. In effect, they "evolve" improvements to the wing design, in stages. At each stage, the best-performing modifications are selected, and subjected to further "mutations".
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#52  Postby felltoearth » Jan 04, 2018 8:20 pm

It was a joke. Sheesh.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#53  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 04, 2018 8:39 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
felltoearth wrote:
Sendraks wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
You just ignored what I said about non-conscious design, didn't you? It means producing designs without having to think. This what evolution does, by natural selection (instead of thought).


He's not ignoring what you said, Thomas is pointing out that design implies intent and thefore the idea of "non-conscious design" is deeply silly, because there isn't any "intent" behind natural processes.

Natural selection is a "non-conscious process." It is not a process of "design."


I should introduce you to some of my wife's students.

So you keep saying, but I say that a process that produces what RD called "designoid" objects such as living organisms is a sort of design process that you may not know of, but which closely resembles an industrial design process used by the US military to design high-performance wings for its aircraft. In effect, they "evolve" improvements to the wing design, in stages. At each stage, the best-performing modifications are selected, and subjected to further "mutations".


Some of us may prefer to use language as precisely as we are able to do rather than broadening it to include clever metaphors where they are not helpful. RD's point at least reflects some understanding of how proponents of ID are so easily misled by what they observe, or worse yet, purposely misinterpret observations to produce arguments for divine design.

Using the concept of design the way the engineers do implies some aim of optimization, and precise language rules out calling biological structures 'designed' because what survives is only what works well enough. The fact of biological competition ensures that some stuff has to work fairly well simply in order to work well enough.

"Designoid" thinking works backwards, taking what we observe and working in reverse to pick out that relative to which it appears to us to have been optimized, even a little.

If you think it is useful to describe the evolution of complex biological structures 'designed', why do you think it's useful? Some non-theists who might want to view human beings as 'superior' in the pursuit of a humanistic philosophy have plenty of motivation to do this, but I think that's a pile of crap, and the purpose it serves is antithetical to clear thinking and discourse.

DavidMcC wrote:there was definitely no "intention" behind it. It was all down to the numbers of descendants.


Ah, common ground at last. I certainly agree that the bacteria have us outnumbered.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#54  Postby Calilasseia » Jan 05, 2018 7:25 am

Well once again, we're into that familiar territory known as "people using words to mean what they want them to mean, not what they actually mean". Though with words that haven't been subject to rigorous scientific attention, "what they actually mean" tends to be problematic too, even before duplicitous practitioners of apologetics enter the picture.

Indeed, as I've covered at length in the past, the word "design" involves some interesting issues, even if we concentrate solely upon human "design" activities. Ultimately, every instance of human "design", can be reduced to the following:

[1] Try something out;
[2] Discard it if it fails;
[3] build upon it if it succeeds.

Hmm, where have we seen this collection of processes before? :)

Which is one of the reasons, of course, why I exert effort to emphasise the difference between human "design" and the fantasy process creationists try to conflate therewith, which I refer to as "supernatural magic design". Which is routinely defined by creationists, as a process involving perfect foreknowledge of the outcome of the activity in question, something that humans have never had, even when working with a mature technology whose system behaviours are well-documented. Though of course, the duplicitous shell game played with mature technologies by creationists, when a far more apposite comparison would be with infant technologies, is merely another aspect of creationist dishonesty amongst many. A tangential diversion to be pursued another time.

Which brings me to an essential point.

Namely, that intent not only implies a goal, though this is actually irrelevant from the standpoint of dealing with the requisite apologetics, but also implies exercising control over the steps taken by the process. If a system of interactions isn't exercising any control over key parts of the process, then intent is by definition absent from that part of the system, and any attempt to refer to this as a "design" process purportedly isomorphic even to human "design", let alone supernatural magic design, fails at first base.

That is the key point. Evolutionary forces don't exercise direct control over the underlying chemistry. They let that chemistry do whatever it will. All that evolutionary forces do, is determine which instances of that chemistry are sufficiently competent to produce descendants at a given historical locus, and which are not - the latter ending up as lunch for the former. A high pass filter with the pass bar set at a fairly mediocre setting, isn't a "designer" in the sense usually associated with that word, even though the outcome of its action - entities with certain functions - looks deceptively like the product of a "designer" to the naive.

I was informed wonderfully on this matter by a computer program I wrote some time ago, featuring entities known as modular cellular automata. These are, quite simply, static cells in a matrix, which can take one of several defined states. A simple algorithm takes the state information from the matrix at generation N, and determines the states each cell in that matrix will take in generation N+1. It's as mindlessly deterministic a process as one could wish for (Conway's The Game Of Life is related thereto).

One of the fun things I discovered, after I wrote that program, and put it through the "suck it and see" phase of testing once the bugs were removed, was this. A matrix of cells with no discernible pattern, can, in a short number of generations, transform into a matrix that excites the pattern matching area of human brains wonderfully. Furthermore, that patterened matrix can, in another short number of generations, transform into another matrix with no discernible pattern. Those cells aren't generating those patterns as a 'goal', or by 'intent', they're doing so simply because a mindless mechanical process generates that result. The existence of such phenomena, on its own, is wonderfully informative to the astute amongst us, about the manner in which our own capacity for pattern matching, coupled with our sometimes too-exuberant willingness to project our own intent upon our surroundings, can prove utterly misleading.

Consequently, attempts to characterise evolution as isomorphic to "design" fail miserably. There's even a limit to the extent to which evolution is homomorphic thereto (keeping an eye on the precise mathematical language I've just introduced, and deliberately). I've characterised evolution in the past as consisting of the following three steps:

[1] Generate lots of variations;
[2] Discard the failures;
[3] Build upon the successes.

This, to the untrained eye, certainly looks homomorphic to the manner in which I presented human "design" above, but that earlier presentation was aimed at showing how our "design" activities share a far closer kinship with evolution than is suspected by many, and most emphatically not intended as another example of "design" apologetics. I'll now elaborate. For those unfamiliar with the term 'homomorphism', this term implies the existence of a structure preserving map between two systems. Well, the structure in question looks pretty similar between my two expositions, but of course, there's an all-important difference in that first step in each of the two. One has humans with complex brains generating the initial instances, with all the usual intent/goal/control baggage that implies, whilst the other has, in effect, mechanical processes generating the instances, though I'll understand readily, as a past chemistry student myself, if chemists bristle at having their subject described in such limiting terms. Consequently, although there is a structure to preserve when mapping human "design" onto evolution (or vice versa), I'm aware of the essential differences that make such a mapping utterly useless to pedlars of the usual apologetics. The moment one discovers that mechanical processes utrterly devoid of intent, or even sentience in its broadest or most limited forms, can generate the instances needed to launch that three step process, and can furthermore perform the tasks of the other two steps, the game is over with respect to the brand of "design" apologetics we see here all too often.

Now of course, we have a problem, in that characterising that three-step process above as "design", leaves the entire topic wide open to apologetic abuse, at the hands of miscreants taking ruthless advantage of uneducated or credulous audiences. Which not only stems from the multifarious issues already covered above, but from another issue I've yet to deal with - namely, how one defines the 'successes' in step [3]. Of course, in the world of evolutionary biology, 'success' is easily and simply defined, as an affirmative answer to the question "has X produced descendants?" Step [3], on the other hand, does not admit of a well-defined universal criterion independent of subjective human judgement, when humans are the generators in step [1]. What constitutes 'success' for one set of humans, seeking one goal, will constitute dismal failure for a different set of humans, with a different goal. "Does it work?", in the case of human activity, constitutes such a broad brush that its utility value as a defining criterion, is limited by being similarly open to subjective change across instances."Does it work?" is a useful first step along the way during our infant trials, but necessarily gives way to more precise specification later, and for different instances of the requisite human activity, those precise specifications will differ too. Evolutionary processes differ sufficiently substantively in that respect also, to render the homomorphism I expounded above apologetically useless in the face of an informed audience.

There's more to cover here, but this will suffice for the present.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#55  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 05, 2018 12:48 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
felltoearth wrote:
Sendraks wrote:

He's not ignoring what you said, Thomas is pointing out that design implies intent and thefore the idea of "non-conscious design" is deeply silly, because there isn't any "intent" behind natural processes.

Natural selection is a "non-conscious process." It is not a process of "design."


...

Well, not "design" in the usual, conscious sense, of course, but in the sense of "trial and error", as in military wing "design" (the crucial bit, that you mysteriously left out in your reply).
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#56  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 05, 2018 12:56 pm

Thus, Cito the word, "design" covers more meanings than you seem to think, because the forms created can be called "designs" even if the process involved are not necessarily those that you have thus-far insisted are necessary. You obviously have never been an engineer.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#57  Postby Sendraks » Jan 05, 2018 1:03 pm

DavidMcC wrote:
Well, not "design" in the usual, conscious sense, of course, but in the sense of "trial and error", as in military wing "design" (the crucial bit, that you mysteriously left out in your reply).


*sigh*
I didn't "mysteriously" leave anything out of my reply, given there was nothing in what I quoted about "military wing design" and therefore no reason why I would comment about such a thing. Once again you unhelpfully go down the path of projecting all sorts of agendas onto your interlocutors.
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#58  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 05, 2018 1:08 pm

... Also, I have only myself to blame for your misunderstanding of my point about unusual desgin methodologies, because I neglected to emphasise sufficiently that military aircraft wing design is based on a MODIFICATION technique. Thus it is not appropriate to compare our populaton with bacterial populations, which are not modifciations of the same design, unless you go back to the very beginning of life, which involves an awful lot of small modifcations!
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#59  Postby DavidMcC » Jan 05, 2018 1:10 pm

Sendraks wrote:
DavidMcC wrote:
Well, not "design" in the usual, conscious sense, of course, but in the sense of "trial and error", as in military wing "design" (the crucial bit, that you mysteriously left out in your reply).


*sigh*
I didn't "mysteriously" leave anything out of my reply, given there was nothing in what I quoted about "military wing design" and therefore no reason why I would comment about such a thing. Once again you unhelpfully go down the path of projecting all sorts of agendas onto your interlocutors.

I wasn't talking to you, Sendraks, I was talking to Cito (which you apparentl;y hadn't noticed).
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Re: Debating Creationist Friends on Facebook

#60  Postby Sendraks » Jan 05, 2018 2:10 pm

Given that the text quoted was mine and nothing of Cito's, it certainly looked like a response to me rather but, that appears to be the resulting of an editing error.

My point regarding your "imaginings" remains relevant, regardless of whom your comment was directed at.
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