Sean Pitman and nested hierarchy

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John Harshman

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Feb 26, 2008, 11:44:47 AM2/26/08
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[I thought I'd start a new thread since Sean isn't replying in the old
one. This combines two posts.]

Seanpit wrote:
> On Feb 19, 5:56 pm, John Harshman <jharshman.diespam...@pacbell.net>
> wrote:

>>> It should be intuitively obvious. I really don't know what more
>>> you're looking for?

>> I'm looking for something more than "It should be intuitively
>> obvious." If it's so obvious you should be able to make some kind
>> of explicit argument why one (design is involved) implies the other
>> (no common descent).
>
> I've given you several explicit arguments - just as explicit as any
> you have provided.

I have missed them. Could you repeat them in one handy spot?

> As far as I've been able to tell, your argument is basically that a
> nested hierarchical pattern implies common descent in all cases where
> it is found. This hypothesis does seem to hold true, as far as I can
> tell, for non-deliberate processes. It seems that non-deliberate
> processes cannot make a nested hierarchical pattern without the use of
> common descent. In fact, this particular hypothesis, is actually
> falsifiable. All one has to do to falsify this hypothesis is show a
> non-deliberate process producing a nested pattern without using common
> descent and this hypothesis would be falsified.
>
> However, this very predictable limitation is demonstrably *not* a
> necessity when intelligent design is involved.

I agree. Since there are no limits on intelligent design, anything is
possible and science is futile. I can't understand why you still cling
to it.

> In order to try to
> make it a necessity for when ID is demonstrably involved, you propose
> various limitations to all intelligent designers. You suggest that no
> intelligent designer would ever produce a nested pattern. You ask for
> a reason why an intelligent designer would create such a pattern.
> Don't you see, this is like asking why Picasso refuses to paint in the
> style of Michelangelo? It makes absolutely no sense to ask this
> question. If you don't see that, there simply is no further
> argument. It should be enough to speak for itself.

I agree. It makes absolutely no sense to ask any questions at all, given
your assumptions. We can't know anything through examination of the world.

> Your efforts to presuppose limits on all intelligent designers, even
> ones you do not know, reduces your hypothesis to a position of non-
> falsifiability. Given they way you describe your position, it is true
> by definition. It cannot be challenged, even in theory, because you
> defined what a designer can and cannot do.

No, in fact I haven't. Consider this in a likelihoodist framework: A
designer (hey, can I save typing by calling him "god" from now on?
Thanks.) has a flat probability distribution of expected result,
infinitely wide -- i.e. he could do anything. This means that the
probability of any one outcome -- e.g. a nested hierarchy -- is
arbitrarily close to zero. The likelihood of the data given the god
model is almost nil. Then again, the distribution for common descent is
sharply peaked; we strongly expect a nested hierarchy and little else.
So the likelihood of the nested hierarchy data given the common descent
model is quite high. In a likelihoodist framework we clearly pick common
descent as an explanation of the data. Similar reasoning would produce
similar results in bayesian or frequentist frameworks.

Or we could talk about specified information. A nested hierarchy is
specified information. If we see a particular pattern that we expect to
find resulting from X, we don't invoke some other process that has no
expectation. The probability of getting that specified result from
chance, or from an unpredictable god, are close to zero.

You actually use this reasoning yourself in other contexts. You only
invoke god when convenient, and reject one when you think a natural
model applies. Recently you claimed that the geological record is
clearly the product of a catastrophic event. I said you couldn't rule
out god creating the record. And your response was that since natural
processes could explain the record, god was unnecessary. You reject god
as an explanation purely because there is a natural explanation, because
the probability of god producing a result that happens to mimic a
natural process is, in your mind, very low. And this reasoning doesn't
come from a constraint put on god; quite the opposite: it comes from a
total lack of constraint, which makes the probability of any particular
result almost zero.

Similarly, you have already agreed that nested hierarchies are a
predicted product of common descent; we have no need of god to explain
that hierarchy just as we have no need of god to explain the
stratigraphic record.

Yet you reject common descent but accept stratigraphy. Why the
difference? Simple, it's the elephant in the room that you won't
mention. You have a prior template into which all conclusions must fit:
biblical inerrancy. You know that common descent is false because
Genesis says kinds were separately created. But you know strata weren't
created because Genesis says (or is interpreted as implying) that the
strata formed naturally from the Flood. All your argument is in service
to that hidden agenda. And that's where the difference comes from.
Nowhere else. Have the honesty to realize that.

> Let's consider the dog species. Dogs show a nested pattern. It is
> therefore theorized that all dogs share a single common doggy ancestor
> - the wolf. The mechanism of producing the wide variety of dog
> morphologies is known - i.e., Mendelian variation. It is also known
> that this mechanism does not require the input of outside information
> in the form of intelligent manipulation or otherwise. So, the
> mechanism compliments the hypothesis since it is known that no non-
> deliberate process can produce such a pattern without the use of
> common descent. For argument's sake though, let's just suppose what
> would happen to the theory of doggy common descent if it was known
> that each variety of dog required intelligent input to produce. The
> nested pattern would still be the same. However, the notion that this
> pattern had to have been the product of common descent is not longer
> true. The intelligent designer could have produced the pattern over
> time via common descent or via any other process he/she/it wanted -
> even de novo sudden creation. There simply is no limit to what a
> designer could have done to produce such a pattern given that a
> designer was required to produce the differences. Therefore, the
> hypothesis of common descent given such a scenario looses a great deal
> of predictive value.

Agreed. There is no limit. And this applies to the stratigraphic record
exactly as it applies to the nested hierarchy of life. No more and no
less. It applies to everything or nothing. If it applies, all science is
impossible. If it doesn't apply, a natural explanation of the nested
hierarchy is preferable to "goddidit".

> Your argument that such a designer would have likely limits that would
> require the use of common descent is no more supported by predictive
> value than wishful thinking. You simply cannot predict how an
> intelligent designer that you do not personally know would or would
> not choose to create a particular pattern. That notion is pure
> nonsense.

That is not my argument. I hope you now understand what my argument
really is. You reject creation of strata because there is a natural
explanation. By the same token you must reject creation of kinds because
there is a natural explanation, or explain why the systems are
different. Note that you are still free to accept creation of adaptive
systems, your "more than 1000 fairly specified residues" because (at
least according to you) there is no natural explanation. But no matter
how hard you try, guilt by association doesn't turn that into creation
of separate kinds.

> If you do not recognize this, I really see no further point in
> continuing to discuss this point. I'm not convinced by your assertion
> of likely limitations on unknown designers or the non-falsifiability
> of your position. Sorry. It just isn't science.

I don't intend to convince you. I know that's impossible. But I at least
hope to get you to understand my argument, which so far you don't. I
agree that something around here isn't science, but you are confused
about where the non-science comes from. It comes from your
(inconsistently applied) idea that a god capable of producing any
observed data makes some things unfalsifiable (though paradoxically not
other things).

[another post tacked on here]

> The difference between the nested pattern in living things and the
> stratigraphic pattern is that all the key differences in the nested
> pattern of life require ID.

Irrelevant even if true, because we are talking about an aspect (the
nested hierarchy itself) that we both agree doesn't require ID. Unless
you are arguing for guilt by association, everything you say about this
doesn't matter.

> This is not true of any aspect of the
> layers of rock. None of the features of layered geologic column
> require outside intelligent input. That is why the pattern itself,
> for layered rock, strongly suggest that the limited mechanisms
> available to non-deliberate processes to produce certain types of
> patterns is the most likely explanation when no ID is required for any
> aspect of the pattern in question.

Again, this is merely an attempt to apply some principle of contagion or
guilt by association. You are saying that because some aspect of life
require ID (you think), other unrelated aspects must also. But there is
no reason for that claim, and you use it selectively. You aren't, for
example, claiming that the development of individual embryos requires
ID. You aren't claiming that such random mutations as even you agree
happen require ID. So why does a nested hierarchy? You agree in fact
that it doesn't, but you nevertheless hold the position that the
hierarchy isn't due to common descent. Of course, as I've said, we know
why; it's because your interpretation of Genesis requires you to think
that, and you invent reasons so as to sound scientific. Without that
hidden theme there is no consistency at all to your argument.

> This is quite different from the "tree of life" pattern where just
> about all the branches of the tree require intelligent input. Given
> that intelligent input is in fact required to produce most of the
> differences in the tree, the overall pattern is in fact the result of
> ID.

Sorry, that doesn't follow. It's like saying that because apples grow on
trees, and an apple pie is mostly apples, then apple pies must grow on
trees.

> This brings us to your conclusion that the intelligent designer
> would have to have used common descent to produce such a pattern.
> That's not true or even necessarily likely given that you don't even
> know the designer.

No matter how many times I explicitly deny that this is my conclusion,
you keep repeating it. Why? I think it's to avoid addressing my real
argument, which you have conveniently snipped. [But which I restored above]

> In other words, the conclusion of the usual natural mechansim given a
> phenomenon where no intelligent input is required is quite resonable.
> The conclusion of the usual natural mechansim, given the required
> input of ID to produce all of the key features of the pattern in
> question, is not nearly on the same logical basis. There simply is no
> "exact" correlation like you suggest.

This is only the case if you artificially conflate common descent with
adaptation. You seem unable to separate them, even for a second. There
is no logical basis for assuming that one aspect of life must share the
same cause as another, independent aspect.

> One is known to require intelligent design to produce the pattern
> while the other does not require intelligent design to produce the
> pattern.

Again, you make this work only by confusing what pattern we're talking
about. No intelligent design is required to produce the pattern of
nested hierarchy, as you yourself admit.

> The one that does not require intelligent design to produce
> the pattern is far more predictable as to its actual origin because,
> so far as we known, non-intelligent physical laws of this universe are
> very consistent and therefore quite predictable in the patterns that
> they produce (i.e., nested patterns produced by non-deliberate
> processes are always the result of common descent). In comparison,
> creative intelligences, especially ones that you don't know and have
> never met, are notoriously unpredictable.
>
> That is why your position that a nested pattern indicates common
> descent, given that ID from an unknown entity or "God" is in fact
> required to produce the pattern, is not testable in a falsifiable
> manner and is therefore not scientific. Period. There simply is no
> argument here.

There's no argument because you snipped it without replying, and merely
repeated your previous claims as if I had said nothing.

> The only way your position might become scientific is if you could
> find out something about the intelligent agent or "God" in question so
> as to have some basis as to his likes, dislikes, and general pattern
> of doing creative things. Otherwise, you really have no basis
> whatsoever for suggesting any limits as to what this "God" might or
> might not like to do.

And indeed I have not suggested any such limits. Let me know when you're
ready to respond to my actual argument. It might help if you didn't snip
the whole thing.

John Harshman

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Feb 26, 2008, 9:30:38 AM2/26/08
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Perplexed in Peoria

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Feb 26, 2008, 5:23:28 PM2/26/08
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"John Harshman" <jharshman....@pacbell.net> wrote
(quoting Pitman):

> > As far as I've been able to tell, your argument is basically that a
> > nested hierarchical pattern implies common descent in all cases where
> > it is found. This hypothesis does seem to hold true, as far as I can
> > tell, for non-deliberate processes. It seems that non-deliberate
> > processes cannot make a nested hierarchical pattern without the use of
> > common descent. In fact, this particular hypothesis, is actually
> > falsifiable. All one has to do to falsify this hypothesis is show a
> > non-deliberate process producing a nested pattern without using common
> > descent and this hypothesis would be falsified.

Ok. I'll bite. Is alphabetical order a kind of nested heirarchy? Seems
to me that it is. Words beginning with the same letter are in the same
phylum. Words beginning with the same pair of letters are in the
same order. Etc.

Now, if you accept that this is a nested heirarchy, then please notice
that the heirarchy itself is in the mind of the systematizer, rather than
in the process which generates the words - whether deliberate or not.

[snip]

John Harshman

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Feb 26, 2008, 9:47:43 PM2/26/08
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So what you have there is a deliberate process imposing a nested
hierarchy on data that aren't inherently hierarchical. What was your
purpose in doing that? It doesn't seem to be arguing either for or
against anything Sean said.

Ernest Major

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Feb 27, 2008, 4:23:49 AM2/27/08
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In message <r94xj.4949$Mh2...@nlpi069.nbdc.sbc.com>, John Harshman
<jharshman....@pacbell.net> writes
Sean's characterisation of "your argument" is sloppy to the point of
being a strawman. PiP took it at face value.

For many sets of objects you can define a nested hierarchy (a
dichotomising or polychotomising key) but restricting your consideration
to selected data (in PiP's example the spelling, ignoring part of
speech, word length, syllable count, source language, semantic
clustering, gender, etc.) Life, as you know, is different in the
correlation of the hierarchies inferred from different data sets.

Most people understand this distinction, and we would overlook the
wording as the intent is clear in the context. When conversing with Sean
it's probably wise to make the distinction explicit.
--
alias Ernest Major

TomS

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Feb 27, 2008, 8:15:39 AM2/27/08
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"On Wed, 27 Feb 2008 09:23:49 +0000, in article
<3LqWokBl...@meden.invalid>, Ernest Major stated..."

It seems to me that any given finite set of data can be
arranged in just about any pre-determined finite pattern.

The interesting thing is when there is an open-endedness
to the data.

Living things are open-ended in two ways: One, that there
are always more things to be considered and discovered
about them, and DNA is one major discovery that fell into
the same tree structure; The other, that there are always
new species being discovered (both living and fossil).

Another way of putting this might be to say that the
"nested hierarchy" of life makes predictions about what
will be discovered about life.

It makes me think of the discovery of the periodic table
of elements. What is interesting about the periodic table
is that it makes predictions of both kinds: About the
properties of the elements which were not used to
determine their position in the table; About elements
not-yet-discovered (as I recall, Mendeleev predicted the
element germanium to fill a gap in the table).

Without this open-ended, predictive power of the pattern,
the pattern seems no more interesting than a mnemonic
device.


--
---Tom S.
"As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand."
attributed to Josh Billings

John Harshman

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Feb 27, 2008, 9:51:12 AM2/27/08
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But that wasn't Sean's argument (much less mine).

> For many sets of objects you can define a nested hierarchy (a
> dichotomising or polychotomising key) but restricting your consideration
> to selected data (in PiP's example the spelling, ignoring part of
> speech, word length, syllable count, source language, semantic
> clustering, gender, etc.) Life, as you know, is different in the
> correlation of the hierarchies inferred from different data sets.
>
> Most people understand this distinction, and we would overlook the
> wording as the intent is clear in the context. When conversing with Sean
> it's probably wise to make the distinction explicit.

Sean has not raised this question. And nothing in the quoted argument is
relevant to it. He said nothing about a deliberate process imposing a
nested hierarchy. He asked for a non-deliberate process producing a
nested hierarchy without common descent. He in fact has agreed that
common descent is the only *natural* explanation of a nested hierarchy.
We are merely arguing about whether you can infer common descent from
such a hierarchy. He says you can't because god might have made it that way.

TomS

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Feb 27, 2008, 10:37:45 AM2/27/08
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"On Wed, 27 Feb 2008 06:51:12 -0800, in article
<HLexj.59195$Pv2....@newssvr23.news.prodigy.net>, John Harshman stated..."

And, I believe, you pointed out that anything at all is an
equally possible state of affairs given "intelligent design".
A nested hierarchy is no more (or less) likely than any other
pattern.

After all, if there is any point to the concept "intelligent
design", it is that it accommodates more things than "natural
causes" (and even more than "chance").

Perplexed in Peoria

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Feb 27, 2008, 3:59:06 PM2/27/08
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"John Harshman" <jharshman....@pacbell.net> wrote in message news:r94xj.4949$Mh2...@nlpi069.nbdc.sbc.com...

My purpose here is simply to explore how strongly the observation
of a nested heirarchy suggests the hypothesis of common descent.
I accept the point made by several people that my alphabetical-order
example was flawed mostly because the heirarchy gets built based
on a single criterion. Whereas the biological nested heirarchy used
as evidence for common descent has the property that the tree is
'robust' in that you get pretty much the same tree whatever criterion
you choose at each stage. That 'robustness' is what gives the tree
its predictive power.

So the question I want to look at this time is whether the existence
of this kind of robust classification heirarchy is necessarily evidence
for common descent.

Let us consider the classification of books in a bookstore by genre.
Phylum 'fiction'. Order 'F&SF'. Family 'Sword and Sorcery'. Is
the Heirarchy 'natural'? I think so. Is it predictive? I can probably
make a pretty good guess as to whether a book belongs in this
category just by looking at the cover art.

Now, is this heirachy the result of common descent or intelligent
design?

To be honest, I'm coming to the opinion that an OEC
doesn't really need to be an omphalist in order to have no fear
of the nested heirarchy evidence, per se. Of course, the actual
sequence data provides too many examples of non-adaptive
features that also fit the heirarchy. Those do indeed tend to argue
against ID. But I think we need another name for these bits
of evidence - another name beyond Nested Heirarchy.

John Harshman

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Feb 27, 2008, 4:51:11 PM2/27/08
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I think not. Genre is moderately arbitrary, and classifying the books by
genre is itself arbitrary. Why not by author, or subject, or color?

> Is it predictive? I can probably
> make a pretty good guess as to whether a book belongs in this
> category just by looking at the cover art.
>
> Now, is this heirachy the result of common descent or intelligent
> design?

It's the result of imposing a hierarchy on non-hierarchical data (the
books themselves), same as the alphabetical order example.

> To be honest, I'm coming to the opinion that an OEC
> doesn't really need to be an omphalist in order to have no fear
> of the nested heirarchy evidence, per se.

You will have to explain more clearly why this is.

> Of course, the actual
> sequence data provides too many examples of non-adaptive
> features that also fit the heirarchy.

Why should that matter? And why do you emphasize "non-adaptive"?

> Those do indeed tend to argue
> against ID. But I think we need another name for these bits
> of evidence - another name beyond Nested Heirarchy.

I'm still at a loss to determine why you think so.

Ernest Major

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Feb 27, 2008, 5:19:14 PM2/27/08
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In message <uakxj.16846$0w....@newssvr27.news.prodigy.net>, Perplexed
in Peoria <jimme...@sbcglobal.net> writes

Pigeon-holing books into genre categories, except as somewhat arbitrary
marketing labels, is not to my mind as clear cut as you appear to think.
The inability of people to agree whether books are science fiction or
fantasy is a perennial topic of discussion over as rec.art.sf.written.
More specifically there was a person lamenting the "romance" cover on a
mil-SF book.

Is Gemmell's Troy trilogy fantasy or historical fiction? Is Narnia
fantasy or religious allegory? Is 1984 science fiction? Is Animal Farm
fantasy? Is Frankenstein horror or science fiction? When do historical
mysteries finish, and vanilla mysteries start? Why is alternative
history classified as science fiction?

(BTW, you seem to have a minor brainworm - it's hierarchy, not
heirarchy.)

>
>Now, is this heirachy the result of common descent or intelligent
>design?

Or neither? It seems to me not unreasonable to draw an analogy between
genres and colours - both are rather arbitrary divisions of a continuum,
and both can be presented as a nested hierarchy (e.g. phylum red, family
scarlet).


>
>To be honest, I'm coming to the opinion that an OEC
>doesn't really need to be an omphalist in order to have no fear
>of the nested heirarchy evidence, per se. Of course, the actual
>sequence data provides too many examples of non-adaptive
>features that also fit the heirarchy. Those do indeed tend to argue
>against ID. But I think we need another name for these bits
>of evidence - another name beyond Nested Heirarchy.
>

Commonalities, similarities, vestiges and contrivances.
--
alias Ernest Major

KlausH

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Feb 28, 2008, 8:08:54 AM2/28/08
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I detest the ambiguity between fact and fiction. I think all books,
films, and television programs that extensively blend historical
personages and events with fiction should sport very prominent
disclaimers at the beginning. Disney movies like Anastasia and
Pocohontas are very good examples, as well as Braveheart.

<snip rest>

Perplexed in Peoria

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Feb 28, 2008, 8:49:41 AM2/28/08
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"KlausH" <badgerbad...@badger.net> wrote in message news:Gnyxj.15192$Ch6....@newssvr11.news.prodigy.net...

Whoops. <blush>

> I detest the ambiguity between fact and fiction. I think all books,
> films, and television programs that extensively blend historical
> personages and events with fiction should sport very prominent
> disclaimers at the beginning. Disney movies like Anastasia and
> Pocohontas are very good examples, as well as Braveheart.

Hmmm. This thread seems to be setting a record for speed of
shift in focus. Well, your diatribe - however far from the original
thread and newsgroup topic - has its own interest and deserves
comment.

I understand your concern about historical fiction, but I would
like to see an even more prominent warning lable on historical
non-fiction.

Warning! While some care was take in getting the facts
right, be forewarned that this story, like all history, got here
after transmission from generation to generation by people
with agendas. Apart from any distortion that this might have
caused, you should also note that the current author is only
passing on this story because she considers it to be didactically
valuable, dramatically interesting, politically relevant, or of some
other commercial value. It just might be fact, but it is selected
fact.

Perplexed in Peoria

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Feb 28, 2008, 8:52:07 AM2/28/08
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"John Harshman" <jharshman....@pacbell.net> wrote in message news:jXkxj.8176$xq2....@newssvr21.news.prodigy.net...

<Smile> I took this objection seriously enough to think long and hard
about what feature of the biological nested heirarchy protects it from the
charge that it too is 'arbitrary'. And the answer I came up with is that
in the case of biology there is a 'true tree' - however difficult it may be
to discern the true tree given the evidence available.

But this observation is a bit useless (and circular) in the never-ending
struggle against Pitman. </smile>

>> Is it predictive? I can probably
>> make a pretty good guess as to whether a book belongs in this
>> category just by looking at the cover art.
>>
>> Now, is this heirachy the result of common descent or intelligent
>> design?
>
> It's the result of imposing a hierarchy on non-hierarchical data (the
> books themselves), same as the alphabetical order example.

And the same as the biology example. The hierarchy is ALWAYS
imposed - but one hopes it is imposed using 'natural' criteria. And
that the hierarchy may be able to tell us something about the original
source of our data. My impression is that this genre classification
of books suggests the hypothesis that authors frequently write with
a particular genre in mind.

>> To be honest, I'm coming to the opinion that an OEC
>> doesn't really need to be an omphalist in order to have no fear
>> of the nested heirarchy evidence, per se.
>
> You will have to explain more clearly why this is.

I hope I have made it a little clearer.

>> Of course, the actual
>> sequence data provides too many examples of non-adaptive
>> features that also fit the heirarchy.
>
> Why should that matter? And why do you emphasize "non-adaptive"?

Because people who like the ID hypothesis have a perfectly
adequate explanation for why adaptive features might prove to fit
naturally into a hierarchy. But they are stuck with omphalism as the
non-common-descent explanation for the natural fit of non-adaptive
features into a hierarchy.

>> Those do indeed tend to argue
>> against ID. But I think we need another name for these bits
>> of evidence - another name beyond Nested Heirarchy.
>
> I'm still at a loss to determine why you think so.

I hope you are a bit less lost now. ;-)

TomS

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Feb 28, 2008, 10:04:09 AM2/28/08
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"On Thu, 28 Feb 2008 13:52:07 GMT, in article
<b0zxj.14274$R84....@newssvr25.news.prodigy.net>, Perplexed in Peoria
stated..."
[...snip...]

>Because people who like the ID hypothesis have a perfectly
>adequate explanation for why adaptive features might prove to fit
>naturally into a hierarchy. But they are stuck with omphalism as the
>non-common-descent explanation for the natural fit of non-adaptive
>features into a hierarchy.
[...snip...]

No, the pro-ID people do not have an explanation.

They have nothing which distinguishes between "this" and
"that". And distinguishing is one of the things that an
explanation does. An explanation tells us why things are
this way, rather than something else.

Any pattern fits with ID just as well as does the
nested hierarchy. There is no reason, for example, why
the features of the world of life are not arranged in
the same way that the periodic table of the elements
are arranged (isn't that a product of "design", too?);
or in a symmetry such as displayed by some crystals
(maybe like a snowflake); or (to get historical about
this, see "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation"),
in a scheme of pentads; or in the "Great Scale of Being".

(There are other signature traits of explanations which
ID doesn't even come close to having, but this one lack
seems most appropriate to this discussion.)

Greg Guarino

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Feb 28, 2008, 10:35:39 AM2/28/08
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On Thu, 28 Feb 2008 13:52:07 GMT, "Perplexed in Peoria"
<jimme...@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

>Because people who like the ID hypothesis have a perfectly
>adequate explanation for why adaptive features might prove to fit
>naturally into a hierarchy.

I disagree. Birds that fly, birds that don't fly, and even birds that
swim use feathers for locomotion and insulation. Why doesn't even one
mammal have them? Why do humans and fish, who occupy very different
environments, share a basic eye design, while fish and octopi do not?

The only ID hypothesis that makes any sense at all to explain this
pattern is what I call the Tinkerer, which still includes Common
Descent, albeit with the odd advantageous mutation thrown in.
Otherwise you're reduced to the "God can do anything he wants"
defense.

Greg Guarino

John Harshman

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Feb 28, 2008, 11:34:27 AM2/28/08
to

It's more useless than you imagine. Pitman agrees that there is a nested
hierarchy of life, and that it's non-arbitrary. So you are not arguing
with Pitman at all here. You're arguing with me about something we both
(Pitman and I, that is) agree on.

And the answer *I* come of with is that in the case of biology the data
really are hierarchal, and that this hierarchy is discovered rather than
imposed, and that it can be approached from many directions with the
same result. Now it's true that some aspects of the tree are easier to
find and agree upon than others. So? There are enough easy problems for
our purposes, including the all-important (to creationists) question of
human relationships.

>>> Is it predictive? I can probably
>>> make a pretty good guess as to whether a book belongs in this
>>> category just by looking at the cover art.
>>>
>>> Now, is this heirachy the result of common descent or intelligent
>>> design?
>> It's the result of imposing a hierarchy on non-hierarchical data (the
>> books themselves), same as the alphabetical order example.
>
> And the same as the biology example. The hierarchy is ALWAYS
> imposed - but one hopes it is imposed using 'natural' criteria. And
> that the hierarchy may be able to tell us something about the original
> source of our data. My impression is that this genre classification
> of books suggests the hypothesis that authors frequently write with
> a particular genre in mind.

All very nice. But the hierarchy of life is *not* imposed. It's inherent
in the data.

>>> To be honest, I'm coming to the opinion that an OEC
>>> doesn't really need to be an omphalist in order to have no fear
>>> of the nested heirarchy evidence, per se.
>> You will have to explain more clearly why this is.
>
> I hope I have made it a little clearer.

A little. Not enough, though. And not to the extent that I find your
claims valid.

>>> Of course, the actual
>>> sequence data provides too many examples of non-adaptive
>>> features that also fit the heirarchy.
>> Why should that matter? And why do you emphasize "non-adaptive"?
>
> Because people who like the ID hypothesis have a perfectly
> adequate explanation for why adaptive features might prove to fit
> naturally into a hierarchy. But they are stuck with omphalism as the
> non-common-descent explanation for the natural fit of non-adaptive
> features into a hierarchy.

What is that perfectly adequate explanation?

>>> Those do indeed tend to argue
>>> against ID. But I think we need another name for these bits
>>> of evidence - another name beyond Nested Heirarchy.
>> I'm still at a loss to determine why you think so.
>
> I hope you are a bit less lost now. ;-)

We're making some progress.

Seanpit

unread,
Feb 29, 2008, 10:21:43 AM2/29/08
to
> > Sean Pitman wrote:
> > Your efforts to presuppose limits on all intelligent designers, even
> > ones you do not know, reduces your hypothesis to a position of non-
> > falsifiability. Given the way you describe your position, it is true

> > by definition. It cannot be challenged, even in theory, because you
> > defined what a designer can and cannot do.

> John Harshman wrote:
> No, in fact I haven't. Consider this in a likelihoodist framework: A
> designer (hey, can I save typing by calling him "god" from now on?
> Thanks.) has a flat probability distribution of expected result,
> infinitely wide -- i.e. he could do anything. This means that the
> probability of any one outcome -- e.g. a nested hierarchy -- is
> arbitrarily close to zero. The likelihood of the data given the god
> model is almost nil. Then again, the distribution for common descent is
> sharply peaked; we strongly expect a nested hierarchy and little else.
> So the likelihood of the nested hierarchy data given the common descent
> model is quite high. In a likelihoodist framework we clearly pick common
> descent as an explanation of the data. Similar reasoning would produce
> similar results in bayesian or frequentist frameworks.

Sean Pitman wrote:
Let's say that we know the nested hierarchical pattern (NHP) was in
fact designed, but we don't know the method of design. Given this
scenario, you seem to be suggesting that, even given that ID produced
the NHP, odds are the creative method chosen by the intelligent
creator was common descent (CD)? - because only CD has a sharp
likelihood peak given a NHP?

What is interesting here is that this notion is testable and it's
outcome is not "almost nil" as you suggest. For example, give a bunch
of people, from artists to housewives, a piece of paper and a pencil
and tell them to sketch out various objects according to a NHP. Do
you actually think that none of them will use any other method besides
common descent to produce the NHP?

Not according to Michael Leyton, Dept. of Psychology, Rutgers
University. In his book, Lyton argues that the "human perceptual
system is organized as a nested hierarchy of symmetries." He goes on
to argue that "architects exploit this psychological fact in the
structure of their buildings" . . . and that the "same is true of
painters, and of composers."

http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~mleyton/arch0.html

It seems only natural then that we humans tend to use NHP in our own
creations without being told to do so and that we do not always use CD
to produce our buildings, paintings, or other "compositions". In
other words, the odds that a NHP, that is known to be designed, is the
produce of CD is not "essentially 100%" as you suggest.

> Or we could talk about specified information. A nested hierarchy is
> specified information. If we see a particular pattern that we expect to
> find resulting from X, we don't invoke some other process that has no
> expectation. The probability of getting that specified result from
> chance, or from an unpredictable god, are close to zero.

Not if you know that ID was *required* to produce the NHP. We know
enough about the abilities of our own intelligence to know that we can
easily skip the common descent steps and produce the NHP directly - de
novo. In fact, this is often done in various creations that exhibit
the NHP (as noted above).

> You actually use this reasoning yourself in other contexts. You only
> invoke god when convenient, and reject one when you think a natural
> model applies.

I wouldn't call this "convenient". I would call this a necessity. I
invoke ID only when it seems to me that there is no other viable
option. This is in fact the basis of the ID-only hypothesis - the same
basis used by SETI scientists in their search for ID in the form of ET-
produced "artifacts".

> Recently you claimed that the geological record is
> clearly the product of a catastrophic event. I said you couldn't rule
> out god creating the record. And your response was that since natural
> processes could explain the record, god was unnecessary.

What I reject is the notion that only ID could produce such a
phenomenon. I do not reject the possibility that ID was involved. It
is just that this notion cannot be adequately supported by the
available data in this particular case.

> You reject god
> as an explanation purely because there is a natural explanation, because
> the probability of god producing a result that happens to mimic a
> natural process is, in your mind, very low.

That's not my reasoning at all. The probability of an intelligent
agent mimicking a non-deliberate process of nature is not "essentially
nil" as you suggest. We humans do it all the time. We make "natural
gardens" and "natural rocks" to go in these gardens and paint natural
scenes and produce the sounds of nature. We copy nature all the time
- deliberately. So, unlike you, I do not reject the potential of ID
for any phenomenon. What I reject is the notion that only ID could
have done the job for certain phenomena - like the Grand Canyon or the
geologic column. Other non-ID mechanisms could also do the job
without my being able to tell the difference.

> And this reasoning doesn't
> come from a constraint put on god; quite the opposite: it comes from a
> total lack of constraint, which makes the probability of any particular
> result almost zero.

Nope.

> Similarly, you have already agreed that nested hierarchies are a
> predicted product of common descent;

Only given that non-deliberate natural processes could produce the
various key differences in the various elements that make up the NHP.

> we have no need of god to explain
> that hierarchy just as we have no need of god to explain the
> stratigraphic record.

Not all NHP are created equal in that not all of them can be explained
without the use of ID. For example, the NHP observed in certain
architectural structures, paintings, and compositions require ID. They
cannot be produced without ID. Such creations which demonstrate NHPs
are demonstrably independent of the need for CD much of the time.

> Yet you reject common descent but accept stratigraphy. Why the
> difference? Simple, it's the elephant in the room that you won't
> mention. You have a prior template into which all conclusions must fit:
> biblical inerrancy. You know that common descent is false because
> Genesis says kinds were separately created. But you know strata weren't
> created because Genesis says (or is interpreted as implying) that the
> strata formed naturally from the Flood. All your argument is in service
> to that hidden agenda. And that's where the difference comes from.
> Nowhere else. Have the honesty to realize that.

I know that the key differences between the various "kinds" of
creatures required ID. This is not true of stratigraphy. The various
aspects of stratigraphy do not *require* ID. That's the difference.

This observation has nothing to do with the Bible. I'd be an IDist
without the Bible. In fact, I thought that the ToE was quite
reasonable for quite some time. It wasn't until after medical school
when I was in the army that I discovered that the evolutionary
mechanism simply didn't work beyond very low levels of functional
complexity. It wasn't until then that I really started reconsidering
the ToE.

< snip repetitive >

> > The difference between the nested pattern in living things and the
> > stratigraphic pattern is that all the key differences in the nested
> > pattern of life require ID.
>
> Irrelevant even if true, because we are talking about an aspect (the
> nested hierarchy itself) that we both agree doesn't require ID. Unless
> you are arguing for guilt by association, everything you say about this
> doesn't matter.

It is not irrelevant if true. All you have to do to see the relevance
is ask a bunch of people to deliberately create something that
expresses a NHP and see if they use CD as a mechanism. You see, when
ID is known to be involved, it is also known that NHPs are often
produced without the need for CD.

< snip >

> > This is quite different from the "tree of life" pattern where just
> > about all the branches of the tree require intelligent input. Given
> > that intelligent input is in fact required to produce most of the
> > differences in the tree, the overall pattern is in fact the result of
> > ID.
>
> Sorry, that doesn't follow. It's like saying that because apples grow on
> trees, and an apple pie is mostly apples, then apple pies must grow on
> trees.

Nope. It is like saying that when a NHP is a known product of ID,
common descent is often bypassed to get to the final creation faster.
You see, intelligent minds can progress through all the CD steps to
the end product within the mind - without having to produce each step
separately. The end product that exhibits a NHP can be produced right
away without the need to physically use the process of CD.

< snip >

> > One is known to require intelligent design to produce the pattern
> > while the other does not require intelligent design to produce the
> > pattern.
>
> Again, you make this work only by confusing what pattern we're talking
> about. No intelligent design is required to produce the pattern of
> nested hierarchy, as you yourself admit.

Again, not all phenomena that exhibit a NHP can be produced without
the input of ID. Those creations the exhibit NHP and are also that
are known to require ID can be and often are produced without the use
of CD.

< snip repetitive >

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

Greg Guarino

unread,
Feb 29, 2008, 12:16:26 PM2/29/08
to
On Fri, 29 Feb 2008 07:21:43 -0800 (PST), Seanpit <sea...@gmail.com>
wrote:

>It seems only natural then that we humans tend to use NHP in our own
>creations without being told to do so and that we do not always use CD
>to produce our buildings, paintings, or other "compositions". In
>other words, the odds that a NHP, that is known to be designed, is the
>produce of CD is not "essentially 100%" as you suggest.

Could you give concrete examples of buildings, paintings or other
compositions that exhibit a nested hierarchical pattern without a
common descent scenario? Because I am hard-pressed to think of any.

We may find such a pattern in human cultural creations where tribes
split from time to time and afterward have little contact with each
other. Thus their spear points, basket patterns, hut designs and
language will tend to have features that follow lineages, and are not
found in other lineages. Thie is a direct result of common descent
without (much) horizontal transfer.

To whatever degree horizontal transfer exists, it corrupts the
hierarchical structure. So we find words like "kamikaze" or
"zeitgeist" used in English. Likewise noodles outside of China and
hamburgers inside of China.

Wherever contact exists, the only intelligent designers we know (homo
sapiens) quickly incoporate ideas from outside their own "lineage".
This inevitably happens even when we put deliberate impediments into
the process (secrecy, patents).

To take architecture for an example, there have been "schools" of
architecture, whose progressions and splits into subgenres can tend to
form a nested hierarchy, at least when viewed from a certain limited
perspective. But but beneath the stylistic details specific to each
school, once an innovation proves useful, e.g. 1.6 gallon toilets,
they will quickly be found in buildings of every style. Lithium
batteries have spread to products of various types made by hundreds of
manufacturers.

Such horizontal transfer, the incorporation of ideas and technologies
from various sources, is the hallmark of design, at least where
communication allows the designer to see technologies outside his
company, field, or locality.

This would certainly be the case in the case of a single Designer,
designing all the "kinds" of creatures Himself. Yet we don't see the
sort of mixing of advantageous features that we would expect when it
comes to living things. Feathers are used by birds that fly, swim and
run, yet no mammal has them in any environment. No (multicellular)
animal uses photosynthesis.

Looked at from different perspective, no known designer would
restrict himself to making GPS units by repurposing auto radio parts,
so it is dificult to see why any sort of designer would fashion
inner-ear components from reshaped jaw bones. Some people seem to
believe that that is exactly what the Designer did, but even they
believe He did so gradually, following lines of common descent.

>> Or we could talk about specified information. A nested hierarchy is
>> specified information. If we see a particular pattern that we expect to
>> find resulting from X, we don't invoke some other process that has no
>> expectation. The probability of getting that specified result from
>> chance, or from an unpredictable god, are close to zero.
>
>Not if you know that ID was *required* to produce the NHP. We know
>enough about the abilities of our own intelligence to know that we can
>easily skip the common descent steps and produce the NHP directly - de
>novo.

I don't think so. How would we keep such a system straight in our
heads without at least imagining a branching lineage? And moreover,
except to "fake" common descent, who would do such a thing?

>In fact, this is often done in various creations that exhibit
>the NHP (as noted above).

Noted, perhaps, but no examples given. Can you think of any?

Greg Guarino

John Harshman

unread,
Feb 29, 2008, 4:30:12 PM2/29/08
to
Seanpit wrote:
>> > Sean Pitman wrote:
>> > Your efforts to presuppose limits on all intelligent designers, even
>> > ones you do not know, reduces your hypothesis to a position of non-
>> > falsifiability. Given the way you describe your position, it is true
>> > by definition. It cannot be challenged, even in theory, because you
>> > defined what a designer can and cannot do.
>
>> John Harshman wrote:
>> No, in fact I haven't. Consider this in a likelihoodist framework: A
>> designer (hey, can I save typing by calling him "god" from now on?
>> Thanks.) has a flat probability distribution of expected result,
>> infinitely wide -- i.e. he could do anything. This means that the
>> probability of any one outcome -- e.g. a nested hierarchy -- is
>> arbitrarily close to zero. The likelihood of the data given the god
>> model is almost nil. Then again, the distribution for common descent is
>> sharply peaked; we strongly expect a nested hierarchy and little else.
>> So the likelihood of the nested hierarchy data given the common descent
>> model is quite high. In a likelihoodist framework we clearly pick common
>> descent as an explanation of the data. Similar reasoning would produce
>> similar results in bayesian or frequentist frameworks.
>
> Sean Pitman wrote:
> Let's say that we know the nested hierarchical pattern (NHP) was in
> fact designed, but we don't know the method of design.

Stop right there. Once more you are conflating the nested hierarchy with
the character differences that make it up. You seem unable to avoid
this. I agree that if the nested hierarchy were designed, it would be
designed. But I don't agree that if differences among species were
designed, that means the nested hierarchy was designed. It just means
that god dropped certain mutations (perhaps even macromutations or whole
sequences of mutations) into the tree at certain points. That says
nothing about the tree, except that it gives us an idea of the tree
structure, just as random mutations would do.

> Given this
> scenario, you seem to be suggesting that, even given that ID produced
> the NHP, odds are the creative method chosen by the intelligent
> creator was common descent (CD)? - because only CD has a sharp
> likelihood peak given a NHP?

No, this is a silly way of stating the problem, because you are still
conflating two separate questions.

> What is interesting here is that this notion is testable and it's
> outcome is not "almost nil" as you suggest. For example, give a bunch
> of people, from artists to housewives, a piece of paper and a pencil
> and tell them to sketch out various objects according to a NHP. Do
> you actually think that none of them will use any other method besides
> common descent to produce the NHP?

I will agree that human beings can simulate common descent, if indeed
the goal is to produce a simulation of common descent. Similarly, a
deceitful god is always a live hypothesis if you want to go there.

> Not according to Michael Leyton, Dept. of Psychology, Rutgers
> University. In his book, Lyton argues that the "human perceptual
> system is organized as a nested hierarchy of symmetries." He goes on
> to argue that "architects exploit this psychological fact in the
> structure of their buildings" . . . and that the "same is true of
> painters, and of composers."
>
> http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~mleyton/arch0.html

Google is a wonderful thing. It lets you find all manner of stuff using
keywords, even if the keywords are used in quite different ways from
what you're looking for. And this is just such a case. This is not at
all the sort of thing we're talking about here when we say "nested
hierarchy". (By the way, I would like to point out that, even in the
example Leyton uses, one could arrange the hierarchy in multiple
different ways to produce the same end result; this is not a natural
hierarchy that arises from examination of the elements themselves.)

> It seems only natural then that we humans tend to use NHP in our own
> creations without being told to do so and that we do not always use CD
> to produce our buildings, paintings, or other "compositions". In
> other words, the odds that a NHP, that is known to be designed, is the
> produce of CD is not "essentially 100%" as you suggest.

Again, you conflate the design of features of species with the design of
the nested hierarchy. That's merely assuming what you intend to prove.

>> Or we could talk about specified information. A nested hierarchy is
>> specified information. If we see a particular pattern that we expect to
>> find resulting from X, we don't invoke some other process that has no
>> expectation. The probability of getting that specified result from
>> chance, or from an unpredictable god, are close to zero.
>
> Not if you know that ID was *required* to produce the NHP. We know
> enough about the abilities of our own intelligence to know that we can
> easily skip the common descent steps and produce the NHP directly - de
> novo. In fact, this is often done in various creations that exhibit
> the NHP (as noted above).

No, the article you noted above has nothing to do with nested hierarchy
in the sense we're using it here. Google is not always your friend.

>> You actually use this reasoning yourself in other contexts. You only
>> invoke god when convenient, and reject one when you think a natural
>> model applies.
>
> I wouldn't call this "convenient". I would call this a necessity. I
> invoke ID only when it seems to me that there is no other viable
> option. This is in fact the basis of the ID-only hypothesis - the same
> basis used by SETI scientists in their search for ID in the form of ET-
> produced "artifacts".

Again, this reasoning only works if you assume that all aspects of life
must be created if any aspects are created. Why make that assumption?

>> Recently you claimed that the geological record is
>> clearly the product of a catastrophic event. I said you couldn't rule
>> out god creating the record. And your response was that since natural
>> processes could explain the record, god was unnecessary.
>
> What I reject is the notion that only ID could produce such a
> phenomenon. I do not reject the possibility that ID was involved. It
> is just that this notion cannot be adequately supported by the
> available data in this particular case.

How could that notion be supported, or, more importantly, rejected, by
any data whatsoever?

>> You reject god
>> as an explanation purely because there is a natural explanation, because
>> the probability of god producing a result that happens to mimic a
>> natural process is, in your mind, very low.
>
> That's not my reasoning at all. The probability of an intelligent
> agent mimicking a non-deliberate process of nature is not "essentially
> nil" as you suggest. We humans do it all the time. We make "natural
> gardens" and "natural rocks" to go in these gardens and paint natural
> scenes and produce the sounds of nature. We copy nature all the time
> - deliberately. So, unlike you, I do not reject the potential of ID
> for any phenomenon. What I reject is the notion that only ID could
> have done the job for certain phenomena - like the Grand Canyon or the
> geologic column. Other non-ID mechanisms could also do the job
> without my being able to tell the difference.

So why is ID necessary for the nested hierarchy, which we both agree
could have resulted naturally through a process of common descent?

>> And this reasoning doesn't
>> come from a constraint put on god; quite the opposite: it comes from a
>> total lack of constraint, which makes the probability of any particular
>> result almost zero.
>
> Nope.

Now that was a convincing argument.

>> Similarly, you have already agreed that nested hierarchies are a
>> predicted product of common descent;
>
> Only given that non-deliberate natural processes could produce the
> various key differences in the various elements that make up the NHP.

Why? I must remind you that it's quite possible for deliberate processes
to produce key differences even if the hierarchy is a product of common
descent. We simply end up with a model in which god intervenes at
various points in the tree to produce particular mutations. Again, you
seem unable to avoid conflation of hypotheses.

>> we have no need of god to explain
>> that hierarchy just as we have no need of god to explain the
>> stratigraphic record.
>
> Not all NHP are created equal in that not all of them can be explained
> without the use of ID. For example, the NHP observed in certain
> architectural structures, paintings, and compositions require ID. They
> cannot be produced without ID. Such creations which demonstrate NHPs
> are demonstrably independent of the need for CD much of the time.

This is all irrelevant, since we both agree that the nested hierarchy of
life could be produced by common descent. (Note that this does not
require a non-deliberate source for differences among species.)

>> Yet you reject common descent but accept stratigraphy. Why the
>> difference? Simple, it's the elephant in the room that you won't
>> mention. You have a prior template into which all conclusions must fit:
>> biblical inerrancy. You know that common descent is false because
>> Genesis says kinds were separately created. But you know strata weren't
>> created because Genesis says (or is interpreted as implying) that the
>> strata formed naturally from the Flood. All your argument is in service
>> to that hidden agenda. And that's where the difference comes from.
>> Nowhere else. Have the honesty to realize that.
>
> I know that the key differences between the various "kinds" of
> creatures required ID. This is not true of stratigraphy. The various
> aspects of stratigraphy do not *require* ID. That's the difference.

Again, this makes sense only if you conflate the source of variation
with the process of descent and branching, which is an invalid thing to do.

> This observation has nothing to do with the Bible. I'd be an IDist
> without the Bible. In fact, I thought that the ToE was quite
> reasonable for quite some time. It wasn't until after medical school
> when I was in the army that I discovered that the evolutionary
> mechanism simply didn't work beyond very low levels of functional
> complexity. It wasn't until then that I really started reconsidering
> the ToE.

Please try not to strain my credulity too much. It's delicate. At any
rate, your reasoning was faulty. If RM + NS don't work beyond yadda
yadda that says nothing at all about the presence or absence of common
descent. You have to glue them together in some way to make your case,
and so far all you're using for glue is the assertion that they're
connected. (Or, most often, just the tacit assumption that they're the
same thing.)

> < snip repetitive >
>
>> > The difference between the nested pattern in living things and the
>> > stratigraphic pattern is that all the key differences in the nested
>> > pattern of life require ID.
>>
>> Irrelevant even if true, because we are talking about an aspect (the
>> nested hierarchy itself) that we both agree doesn't require ID. Unless
>> you are arguing for guilt by association, everything you say about this
>> doesn't matter.
>
> It is not irrelevant if true. All you have to do to see the relevance
> is ask a bunch of people to deliberately create something that
> expresses a NHP and see if they use CD as a mechanism. You see, when
> ID is known to be involved, it is also known that NHPs are often
> produced without the need for CD.

Actually, I'd like to see this experiment. I bet the most common method
used would be to make an "ancestral" pattern, vary it, and keep varying
it some more until you had a nested set of variations. I doubt you would
be likely to end up with such a detailed simulation of common descent in
any other way. Of course, god can do anything.

> < snip >
>
>> > This is quite different from the "tree of life" pattern where just
>> > about all the branches of the tree require intelligent input. Given
>> > that intelligent input is in fact required to produce most of the
>> > differences in the tree, the overall pattern is in fact the result of
>> > ID.
>>
>> Sorry, that doesn't follow. It's like saying that because apples grow on
>> trees, and an apple pie is mostly apples, then apple pies must grow on
>> trees.
>
> Nope. It is like saying that when a NHP is a known product of ID,
> common descent is often bypassed to get to the final creation faster.
> You see, intelligent minds can progress through all the CD steps to
> the end product within the mind - without having to produce each step
> separately. The end product that exhibits a NHP can be produced right
> away without the need to physically use the process of CD.

You are still failing to make the necessary connection between the idea
that intelligence has been active in the history of life and the idea
that common descent was not involved. We agree that god could have
bypassed any steps he wanted. He can do anything. That's not relevant.

>> > One is known to require intelligent design to produce the pattern
>> > while the other does not require intelligent design to produce the
>> > pattern.
>>
>> Again, you make this work only by confusing what pattern we're talking
>> about. No intelligent design is required to produce the pattern of
>> nested hierarchy, as you yourself admit.
>
> Again, not all phenomena that exhibit a NHP can be produced without
> the input of ID. Those creations the exhibit NHP and are also that
> are known to require ID can be and often are produced without the use
> of CD.

Please present some examples. Your architectural find doesn't really
show nested hierarchy in the sense we mean it here, and your
extrapolations to all aspects of human existence are without foundation.
Let's see a nested hierarchy (a natural one, not one artificially
imposed) that's produced without common descent.

And again you are conflating the nested hierarchy of life with the
phenomena (organisms?) that exhibit that hierarchy. It's still guilt by
association, and you have provided no reason why we should accept this
conflation.

Seanpit

unread,
Feb 29, 2008, 6:20:31 PM2/29/08
to
On Feb 29, 1:30 pm, John Harshman <jharshman.diespam...@pacbell.net>
wrote:

That' isn't the question here. The question is: If you know a
particular NHP is designed, what is the likelihood that the designer
used CD as the mechanism of design?

In short, the creative methods to which mindless nature is limited are
not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents - even
when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?

> But I don't agree that if differences among species were
> designed, that means the nested hierarchy was designed.

It certainly is possible to use the method of CD by design to produce
the NHP - but not overwhelmingly likely. Given that the NHP was in
fact designed, the question is, would most designers choose to produce
a NHP with the use of CD?

I think not. I think that most intelligent designers would choose to
skip the whole time consuming process of actually using CD to create
the overall pattern. This is especially true for those designers who
are primary interested in the final outcome of the overall creation.

> It just means
> that god dropped certain mutations (perhaps even macromutations or whole
> sequences of mutations) into the tree at certain points. That says
> nothing about the tree, except that it gives us an idea of the tree
> structure, just as random mutations would do.
>
> > Given this

> > scenario, you seem to be suggesting, even given that ID produced
> > the NHP, that the odds overwhelmingly favor the choosing of
> > common descent (CD) as the creative method? - because only


> > CD has a sharp likelihood peak given a NHP?
>
> No, this is a silly way of stating the problem, because you are still
> conflating two separate questions.

Not at all . . . You are in fact saying that even given knowledge
that ID was used to produce the key aspects of the NHP in question,
that the method the designer used would be CD in *every* instance -
that the odds of the designer using any other method are "essentially
nil". That is in fact your basic argument - as far as I can tell.

> > What is interesting here is that this notion is testable and it's
> > outcome is not "almost nil" as you suggest. For example, give a bunch
> > of people, from artists to housewives, a piece of paper and a pencil
> > and tell them to sketch out various objects according to a NHP. Do
> > you actually think that none of them will use any other method besides
> > common descent to produce the NHP?
>
> I will agree that human beings can simulate common descent, if indeed
> the goal is to produce a simulation of common descent. Similarly, a
> deceitful god is always a live hypothesis if you want to go there.

The goal is not to simulate common descent. That's a method. The
goal here is to produce a NHP with any *method* the intelligent
designer chooses. Given that the goal is to produce a NHP will an
intelligent designer always choose to use the CD method? I think
not. You seem agree with this last point.

So, given that we know a particular NHP was in fact designed, I do not
accept the notion that it was clearly designed via CD. That notion is
demonstrably not very reliable.

> > Not according to Michael Leyton, Dept. of Psychology, Rutgers
> > University. In his book, Lyton argues that the "human perceptual
> > system is organized as a nested hierarchy of symmetries." He goes on
> > to argue that "architects exploit this psychological fact in the
> > structure of their buildings" . . . and that the "same is true of
> > painters, and of composers."
>
> >http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~mleyton/arch0.html
>
> Google is a wonderful thing. It lets you find all manner of stuff using
> keywords, even if the keywords are used in quite different ways from
> what you're looking for. And this is just such a case. This is not at
> all the sort of thing we're talking about here when we say "nested
> hierarchy". (By the way, I would like to point out that, even in the
> example Leyton uses, one could arrange the hierarchy in multiple
> different ways to produce the same end result; this is not a natural
> hierarchy that arises from examination of the elements themselves.)

How is that? How is a highly symmetrical column, or colonnade made up
of a bunch of columns, in high symmetry, not an example of a true NHP?
- arising from examination of the elements themselves?

> > It seems only natural then that we humans tend to use NHP in our own
> > creations without being told to do so and that we do not always use CD
> > to produce our buildings, paintings, or other "compositions". In
> > other words, the odds that a NHP, that is known to be designed, is the
> > produce of CD is not "essentially 100%" as you suggest.
>
> Again, you conflate the design of features of species with the design of
> the nested hierarchy. That's merely assuming what you intend to prove.

Tell me, how can you deliberately design every single distinguishing
feature in every aspect of a system and not be responsible for the
design of the overall pattern as well?

> >> Or we could talk about specified information. A nested hierarchy is
> >> specified information. If we see a particular pattern that we expect to
> >> find resulting from X, we don't invoke some other process that has no
> >> expectation. The probability of getting that specified result from
> >> chance, or from an unpredictable god, are close to zero.
>
> > Not if you know that ID was *required* to produce the NHP. We know
> > enough about the abilities of our own intelligence to know that we can
> > easily skip the common descent steps and produce the NHP directly - de
> > novo. In fact, this is often done in various creations that exhibit
> > the NHP (as noted above).
>
> No, the article you noted above has nothing to do with nested hierarchy
> in the sense we're using it here. Google is not always your friend.

You're mistaken - on at least the first account . . .

> >> You actually use this reasoning yourself in other contexts. You only
> >> invoke god when convenient, and reject one when you think a natural
> >> model applies.
>
> > I wouldn't call this "convenient". I would call this a necessity. I
> > invoke ID only when it seems to me that there is no other viable
> > option. This is in fact the basis of the ID-only hypothesis - the same
> > basis used by SETI scientists in their search for ID in the form of ET-
> > produced "artifacts".
>
> Again, this reasoning only works if you assume that all aspects of life
> must be created if any aspects are created. Why make that assumption?

I don't assume that all aspects of every living thing required ID. My
position is that only those functional aspects that required at least
1000 specified aa working together at minimum clearly required ID.

> >> Recently you claimed that the geological record is
> >> clearly the product of a catastrophic event. I said you couldn't rule
> >> out god creating the record. And your response was that since natural
> >> processes could explain the record, god was unnecessary.
>
> > What I reject is the notion that only ID could produce such a
> > phenomenon. I do not reject the possibility that ID was involved. It
> > is just that this notion cannot be adequately supported by the
> > available data in this particular case.
>
> How could that notion be supported, or, more importantly, rejected, by
> any data whatsoever?

By showing a process which is agreed to be non-deliberate in nature
giving rise to the phenomenon in question. That demonstration would
neatly falsify the ID-only hypothesis. The same thing is true of the
radiosignal SETI scientists are looking for. All you have to do to
falsify their hypothesis that such a signal would be clear evidence of
ET would be to show a non-deliberate natural process producing the
same type of signal.

> >> You reject god
> >> as an explanation purely because there is a natural explanation, because
> >> the probability of god producing a result that happens to mimic a
> >> natural process is, in your mind, very low.
>
> > That's not my reasoning at all. The probability of an intelligent
> > agent mimicking a non-deliberate process of nature is not "essentially
> > nil" as you suggest. We humans do it all the time. We make "natural
> > gardens" and "natural rocks" to go in these gardens and paint natural
> > scenes and produce the sounds of nature. We copy nature all the time
> > - deliberately. So, unlike you, I do not reject the potential of ID
> > for any phenomenon. What I reject is the notion that only ID could
> > have done the job for certain phenomena - like the Grand Canyon or the
> > geologic column. Other non-ID mechanisms could also do the job
> > without my being able to tell the difference.
>
> So why is ID necessary for the nested hierarchy, which we both agree
> could have resulted naturally through a process of common descent?

ID isn't necessary for the NHP, but for the key differences of the
various elements that make up the pattern. Given that ID is required
for every key aspect of what makes up the overall pattern in question,
in this particular case, the overall NHP itself is logically the
result of ID. The question is, did this NHP, which is know to be
deliberately produced by ID, the product of the CD mechanism? Was the
intelligent agent required, statistically, to use CD as his only
option to create such a NHP? - as you suggest?

> >> And this reasoning doesn't
> >> come from a constraint put on god; quite the opposite: it comes from a
> >> total lack of constraint, which makes the probability of any particular
> >> result almost zero.
>
> > Nope.
>
> Now that was a convincing argument.

It was a response to a repetitive statement that was already answered
earlier . . .

> >> Similarly, you have already agreed that nested hierarchies are a
> >> predicted product of common descent;
>
> > Only given that non-deliberate natural processes could produce the
> > various key differences in the various elements that make up the NHP.
>
> Why? I must remind you that it's quite possible for deliberate processes
> to produce key differences even if the hierarchy is a product of common
> descent.

How possible is "quite possible"? Hmmmmm? Initially you indicated
that it wasn't just quite possible, it was "virtually certain" - i.e.,
~100%. Are you backing off of this assertion just a bit here by uses
the equivocation "quite possible"? That sounds a bit more wobbly to
me.

> We simply end up with a model in which god intervenes at
> various points in the tree to produce particular mutations. Again, you
> seem unable to avoid conflation of hypotheses.

Again, you seem unable to see that there is no "conflation".

> >> we have no need of god to explain
> >> that hierarchy just as we have no need of god to explain the
> >> stratigraphic record.
>
> > Not all NHP are created equal in that not all of them can be explained
> > without the use of ID. For example, the NHP observed in certain
> > architectural structures, paintings, and compositions require ID. They
> > cannot be produced without ID. Such creations which demonstrate NHPs
> > are demonstrably independent of the need for CD much of the time.
>
> This is all irrelevant, since we both agree that the nested hierarchy of
> life could be produced by common descent. (Note that this does not
> require a non-deliberate source for differences among species.)

The thing is, it is known that non-deliberate sources can only produce
NHPs via CD. It is also known that CD is not required or even
commonly used by intelligent agents to produce NHPs. That's the
difference in a nutshell.

> >> Yet you reject common descent but accept stratigraphy. Why the
> >> difference? Simple, it's the elephant in the room that you won't
> >> mention. You have a prior template into which all conclusions must fit:
> >> biblical inerrancy. You know that common descent is false because
> >> Genesis says kinds were separately created. But you know strata weren't
> >> created because Genesis says (or is interpreted as implying) that the
> >> strata formed naturally from the Flood. All your argument is in service
> >> to that hidden agenda. And that's where the difference comes from.
> >> Nowhere else. Have the honesty to realize that.
>
> > I know that the key differences between the various "kinds" of
> > creatures required ID. This is not true of stratigraphy. The various
> > aspects of stratigraphy do not *require* ID. That's the difference.
>
> Again, this makes sense only if you conflate the source of variation
> with the process of descent and branching, which is an invalid thing to do.

It is not invalid at all. Given that the source of variation for a
particular NHP is known to include non-ID processes, CD is the only
known option. However, given that the source of the all variation in
a NHP is *known* to *require* ID, CD is not the only known or even the
most common mechanism used.

> > This observation has nothing to do with the Bible. I'd be an IDist
> > without the Bible. In fact, I thought that the ToE was quite
> > reasonable for quite some time. It wasn't until after medical school
> > when I was in the army that I discovered that the evolutionary
> > mechanism simply didn't work beyond very low levels of functional
> > complexity. It wasn't until then that I really started reconsidering
> > the ToE.
>
> Please try not to strain my credulity too much. It's delicate.

Whatever - it's the truth.

> At any
> rate, your reasoning was faulty. If RM + NS don't work beyond yadda
> yadda that says nothing at all about the presence or absence of common
> descent.

It says a great deal. It says that all the key differences between
different living things definitely required ID. If one agrees to
this, the notion that CD was definitely the mechanism used to produce
these differences is no longer the only reasonable default assumption
because it is know that intelligent agents can and do use other
methods besides CD to produce NHPs.

I repeat: The creative methods to which mindless nature is limited
are not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents -
even when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?

> You have to glue them together in some way to make your case,
> and so far all you're using for glue is the assertion that they're
> connected. (Or, most often, just the tacit assumption that they're the
> same thing.)

You are the one who is asserting, without any appeal to a falsifiable
test, that there is no association. You argue that it doesn't matter
if every aspect of a NHP is known to be designed, CD is still the
clear method that was used simply because it is the overwhelming
choice of mindless nature? That's just nonsense given the known
requirement for ID to produce a particular NHP.

> > < snip repetitive >
>
> >> > The difference between the nested pattern in living things and the
> >> > stratigraphic pattern is that all the key differences in the nested
> >> > pattern of life require ID.
>
> >> Irrelevant even if true, because we are talking about an aspect (the
> >> nested hierarchy itself) that we both agree doesn't require ID. Unless
> >> you are arguing for guilt by association, everything you say about this
> >> doesn't matter.
>
> > It is not irrelevant if true. All you have to do to see the relevance
> > is ask a bunch of people to deliberately create something that
> > expresses a NHP and see if they use CD as a mechanism. You see, when
> > ID is known to be involved, it is also known that NHPs are often
> > produced without the need for CD.
>
> Actually, I'd like to see this experiment.

Me too! I'm betting the outcome would not be nearly the 100% like you
originally suggested.

> I bet the most common method
> used would be to make an "ancestral" pattern, vary it, and keep varying
> it some more until you had a nested set of variations.

Well, that certainly is a falsifiable hypothesis. Good luck with the
actual test and your prediction of essentially 100% use of the CD
method.

> I doubt you would
> be likely to end up with such a detailed simulation of common descent in
> any other way. Of course, god can do anything.

Your doubts are not backed up by any actual test. I doubt that most
intelligent designers would go through all the hassle of going through
all the CD steps to produce the final pattern. I sure wouldn't want
to do it this way. That's what's so neat about having access to an
intelligent mind. You can skip many steps that non-intelligent
natural processes cannot skip. Why then would anyone feel forced to
used the same mindless mechanism that nature is forced to use? That's
what your brain is for . . . to skip steps.

< snip rest >

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

Perplexed in Peoria

unread,
Feb 29, 2008, 9:13:51 PM2/29/08
to

"Greg Guarino" <gr...@risky-biz.com> wrote in message news:47jds3hj64tdj3tec...@4ax.com...

I'm not sure that is the *only* ID hypothesis that makes sense.
I offered the analogy of literary genres. In some sense, it can
be said that all Gothic romances are 'descended' directly or
indirectly from Wurthering Heights. But this is a kind of intellectual
common descent rather than a physical one. There was not
actual plagiarism (with an odd advantageous mutation thrown in).
Only some ideas and patterns were taken and reused. A tinkering
Designer - yes. A designer who doesn't do all of His creating at
the same time - definitely. But not necessarily one who makes
use of common descent.

In fact, if it weren't for Wallace's 'Sarawak law', it is not clear that
the biological nested hierarchy would convince anyone of common
descent. In fact, before Wallace published this law in 1855, there
was apparently only one rather reticent fellow who was convinced.

But once Wallace pointed out that the Designer had apparently
only created new species in *the same location* as the preexisting
species which had provided the inspiration, then the inference to
common physical descent becomes strong and the alternative
hypothesis of mere intellectual inspiration becomes hard to
maintain.

To get a convincing case for common descent, you need *both*
the nested hierarchy (visible in the current biosphere) and
the Sarawak Law (visible primarily in the fossil record).

John Harshman

unread,
Feb 29, 2008, 9:35:15 PM2/29/08
to
You are harder to convince than I am, apparently. Though I'm not sure
why. The designer could of course create species sequentially ex nihilo,
using each previous species as an exact template to which to add some
variations. But that would be an exact simulation of common descent,
whose only purpose would be a simulation of common descent. Now since he
could also do this ex nihilo creation in the same spot as the template
species was living, I don't see why the Sarawak Law would convince you
if the hierarchy itself were not already convincing.

John Harshman

unread,
Feb 29, 2008, 9:58:35 PM2/29/08
to

There again you are conflating separate phenomena. Whether a particular
NHP is designed is what we're arguing about. You don't say you know the
NHP is designed. You only say you know some of the differences beteween
species out of which the NHP is made (though in fact not even the bulk
of those differences) are designed. The fact that you can't see the
difference is frustrating.

> In short, the creative methods to which mindless nature is limited are
> not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents - even
> when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
> happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
> painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?

No, not by my argument.

>> But I don't agree that if differences among species were
>> designed, that means the nested hierarchy was designed.
>
> It certainly is possible to use the method of CD by design to produce
> the NHP - but not overwhelmingly likely. Given that the NHP was in
> fact designed, the question is, would most designers choose to produce
> a NHP with the use of CD?

Why is it given that the NHP was designed? You have never made that
claim, nor could you back it up if you tried. You have only claimed that
certain complex features of various organisms were designed. I say that
it's simpler to suppose that if so, they were designed once, somewhere
on a tree of common descent. Why not?

> I think not. I think that most intelligent designers would choose to
> skip the whole time consuming process of actually using CD to create
> the overall pattern. This is especially true for those designers who
> are primary interested in the final outcome of the overall creation.

Ah, so you are constraining the operation of god. Why should god care
about how time-consuming a process was? Who are you to tell him he has
to work by the fastest possible method?

>> It just means
>> that god dropped certain mutations (perhaps even macromutations or whole
>> sequences of mutations) into the tree at certain points. That says
>> nothing about the tree, except that it gives us an idea of the tree
>> structure, just as random mutations would do.
>>
>>> Given this
>>> scenario, you seem to be suggesting, even given that ID produced
>>> the NHP, that the odds overwhelmingly favor the choosing of
>>> common descent (CD) as the creative method? - because only
>>> CD has a sharp likelihood peak given a NHP?
>> No, this is a silly way of stating the problem, because you are still
>> conflating two separate questions.
>
> Not at all . . . You are in fact saying that even given knowledge
> that ID was used to produce the key aspects of the NHP in question,
> that the method the designer used would be CD in *every* instance -
> that the odds of the designer using any other method are "essentially
> nil". That is in fact your basic argument - as far as I can tell.

No, god doesn't have to "use" common descent. Common descent just
happens. He merely has to intervene whenever he feels like it. Rather
than a painstaking simulation of common descent, he can just let the
real thing happen. Why not?

>>> What is interesting here is that this notion is testable and it's
>>> outcome is not "almost nil" as you suggest. For example, give a bunch
>>> of people, from artists to housewives, a piece of paper and a pencil
>>> and tell them to sketch out various objects according to a NHP. Do
>>> you actually think that none of them will use any other method besides
>>> common descent to produce the NHP?
>> I will agree that human beings can simulate common descent, if indeed
>> the goal is to produce a simulation of common descent. Similarly, a
>> deceitful god is always a live hypothesis if you want to go there.
>
> The goal is not to simulate common descent. That's a method. The
> goal here is to produce a NHP with any *method* the intelligent
> designer chooses. Given that the goal is to produce a NHP will an
> intelligent designer always choose to use the CD method? I think
> not. You seem agree with this last point.

I agree that we can't say what god would or would not do. So why are you
so sure he didn't use common descent?

> So, given that we know a particular NHP was in fact designed, I do not
> accept the notion that it was clearly designed via CD. That notion is
> demonstrably not very reliable.

That's only because you are conflating separate issues and can't seem to
separate them even for an instant.

>>> Not according to Michael Leyton, Dept. of Psychology, Rutgers
>>> University. In his book, Lyton argues that the "human perceptual
>>> system is organized as a nested hierarchy of symmetries." He goes on
>>> to argue that "architects exploit this psychological fact in the
>>> structure of their buildings" . . . and that the "same is true of
>>> painters, and of composers."
>>> http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~mleyton/arch0.html
>> Google is a wonderful thing. It lets you find all manner of stuff using
>> keywords, even if the keywords are used in quite different ways from
>> what you're looking for. And this is just such a case. This is not at
>> all the sort of thing we're talking about here when we say "nested
>> hierarchy". (By the way, I would like to point out that, even in the
>> example Leyton uses, one could arrange the hierarchy in multiple
>> different ways to produce the same end result; this is not a natural
>> hierarchy that arises from examination of the elements themselves.)
>
> How is that? How is a highly symmetrical column, or colonnade made up
> of a bunch of columns, in high symmetry, not an example of a true NHP?
> - arising from examination of the elements themselves?

Because I could have performed the same operations in several different
orders and arrived at the same result. The hierarchy he chooses is
arbitrary. For example, I could have made a circle on the ground,
duplicated it in a plane in two directions (in either order), and then
raised each column in the third dimension. Same operations, different order.

>>> It seems only natural then that we humans tend to use NHP in our own
>>> creations without being told to do so and that we do not always use CD
>>> to produce our buildings, paintings, or other "compositions". In
>>> other words, the odds that a NHP, that is known to be designed, is the
>>> produce of CD is not "essentially 100%" as you suggest.
>> Again, you conflate the design of features of species with the design of
>> the nested hierarchy. That's merely assuming what you intend to prove.
>
> Tell me, how can you deliberately design every single distinguishing
> feature in every aspect of a system and not be responsible for the
> design of the overall pattern as well?

Easily. One watches organisms reproduce and arranges to be the sole
source of mutation. But of course not even you claim that every single
feature of every aspect is designed. Even you think there are random
mutations...don't you? And even you think that some features could
easily have evolved through random mutation and natural
selection...don't you?

>>>> Or we could talk about specified information. A nested hierarchy is
>>>> specified information. If we see a particular pattern that we expect to
>>>> find resulting from X, we don't invoke some other process that has no
>>>> expectation. The probability of getting that specified result from
>>>> chance, or from an unpredictable god, are close to zero.
>>> Not if you know that ID was *required* to produce the NHP. We know
>>> enough about the abilities of our own intelligence to know that we can
>>> easily skip the common descent steps and produce the NHP directly - de
>>> novo. In fact, this is often done in various creations that exhibit
>>> the NHP (as noted above).
>> No, the article you noted above has nothing to do with nested hierarchy
>> in the sense we're using it here. Google is not always your friend.
>
> You're mistaken - on at least the first account . . .

Perhaps if you actually read the article?

>>>> You actually use this reasoning yourself in other contexts. You only
>>>> invoke god when convenient, and reject one when you think a natural
>>>> model applies.
>>> I wouldn't call this "convenient". I would call this a necessity. I
>>> invoke ID only when it seems to me that there is no other viable
>>> option. This is in fact the basis of the ID-only hypothesis - the same
>>> basis used by SETI scientists in their search for ID in the form of ET-
>>> produced "artifacts".
>> Again, this reasoning only works if you assume that all aspects of life
>> must be created if any aspects are created. Why make that assumption?
>
> I don't assume that all aspects of every living thing required ID. My
> position is that only those functional aspects that required at least
> 1000 specified aa working together at minimum clearly required ID.

Exactly. So why assume that if those 1000 specified yadda yadda are
created, then so was the nested hierarchy?

>>>> Recently you claimed that the geological record is
>>>> clearly the product of a catastrophic event. I said you couldn't rule
>>>> out god creating the record. And your response was that since natural
>>>> processes could explain the record, god was unnecessary.
>>> What I reject is the notion that only ID could produce such a
>>> phenomenon. I do not reject the possibility that ID was involved. It
>>> is just that this notion cannot be adequately supported by the
>>> available data in this particular case.
>> How could that notion be supported, or, more importantly, rejected, by
>> any data whatsoever?
>
> By showing a process which is agreed to be non-deliberate in nature
> giving rise to the phenomenon in question. That demonstration would
> neatly falsify the ID-only hypothesis. The same thing is true of the
> radiosignal SETI scientists are looking for. All you have to do to
> falsify their hypothesis that such a signal would be clear evidence of
> ET would be to show a non-deliberate natural process producing the
> same type of signal.

But you have agreed that nested hierarchies can be produced by
non-deliberate processes. Doesn't your argument then disappear?

>>>> You reject god
>>>> as an explanation purely because there is a natural explanation, because
>>>> the probability of god producing a result that happens to mimic a
>>>> natural process is, in your mind, very low.
>>> That's not my reasoning at all. The probability of an intelligent
>>> agent mimicking a non-deliberate process of nature is not "essentially
>>> nil" as you suggest. We humans do it all the time. We make "natural
>>> gardens" and "natural rocks" to go in these gardens and paint natural
>>> scenes and produce the sounds of nature. We copy nature all the time
>>> - deliberately. So, unlike you, I do not reject the potential of ID
>>> for any phenomenon. What I reject is the notion that only ID could
>>> have done the job for certain phenomena - like the Grand Canyon or the
>>> geologic column. Other non-ID mechanisms could also do the job
>>> without my being able to tell the difference.
>> So why is ID necessary for the nested hierarchy, which we both agree
>> could have resulted naturally through a process of common descent?
>
> ID isn't necessary for the NHP, but for the key differences of the
> various elements that make up the pattern. Given that ID is required
> for every key aspect of what makes up the overall pattern in question,
> in this particular case, the overall NHP itself is logically the
> result of ID.

Not unless you can give a reason for why it's "logically" so. Just
proclaiming that it's logical isn't a reason.

> The question is, did this NHP, which is know to be
> deliberately produced by ID, the product of the CD mechanism? Was the
> intelligent agent required, statistically, to use CD as his only
> option to create such a NHP? - as you suggest?

Again, you seem to rely wholly on guilt by association, but selectively.
God created life, therefore he created the nested hierarchy of life. But
you reject the identical syllogism that god created the earth, therefore
he created the stratigraphic layering of the earth.

>>>> And this reasoning doesn't
>>>> come from a constraint put on god; quite the opposite: it comes from a
>>>> total lack of constraint, which makes the probability of any particular
>>>> result almost zero.
>>> Nope.
>> Now that was a convincing argument.
>
> It was a response to a repetitive statement that was already answered
> earlier . . .

Nope.

>>>> Similarly, you have already agreed that nested hierarchies are a
>>>> predicted product of common descent;
>>> Only given that non-deliberate natural processes could produce the
>>> various key differences in the various elements that make up the NHP.
>> Why? I must remind you that it's quite possible for deliberate processes
>> to produce key differences even if the hierarchy is a product of common
>> descent.
>
> How possible is "quite possible"? Hmmmmm? Initially you indicated
> that it wasn't just quite possible, it was "virtually certain" - i.e.,
> ~100%. Are you backing off of this assertion just a bit here by uses
> the equivocation "quite possible"? That sounds a bit more wobbly to
> me.

No. You are merely very confused about what I just said, specifically
about what's the "if" and what's the "then" of an if-then clause.

>> We simply end up with a model in which god intervenes at
>> various points in the tree to produce particular mutations. Again, you
>> seem unable to avoid conflation of hypotheses.
>
> Again, you seem unable to see that there is no "conflation".

I certainly am unable. Why don't you provide a reason?

>>>> we have no need of god to explain
>>>> that hierarchy just as we have no need of god to explain the
>>>> stratigraphic record.
>>> Not all NHP are created equal in that not all of them can be explained
>>> without the use of ID. For example, the NHP observed in certain
>>> architectural structures, paintings, and compositions require ID. They
>>> cannot be produced without ID. Such creations which demonstrate NHPs
>>> are demonstrably independent of the need for CD much of the time.
>> This is all irrelevant, since we both agree that the nested hierarchy of
>> life could be produced by common descent. (Note that this does not
>> require a non-deliberate source for differences among species.)
>
> The thing is, it is known that non-deliberate sources can only produce
> NHPs via CD. It is also known that CD is not required or even
> commonly used by intelligent agents to produce NHPs. That's the
> difference in a nutshell.

It's clear that CD is not required, since god can do anything by any
means he likes. But who says that intelligent agents (meaning, of
course, humans, those being the only intelligent agents we know of)
commonly produce NHPs without common descent? Let's see the examples.

>>>> Yet you reject common descent but accept stratigraphy. Why the
>>>> difference? Simple, it's the elephant in the room that you won't
>>>> mention. You have a prior template into which all conclusions must fit:
>>>> biblical inerrancy. You know that common descent is false because
>>>> Genesis says kinds were separately created. But you know strata weren't
>>>> created because Genesis says (or is interpreted as implying) that the
>>>> strata formed naturally from the Flood. All your argument is in service
>>>> to that hidden agenda. And that's where the difference comes from.
>>>> Nowhere else. Have the honesty to realize that.
>>> I know that the key differences between the various "kinds" of
>>> creatures required ID. This is not true of stratigraphy. The various
>>> aspects of stratigraphy do not *require* ID. That's the difference.
>> Again, this makes sense only if you conflate the source of variation
>> with the process of descent and branching, which is an invalid thing to do.
>
> It is not invalid at all. Given that the source of variation for a
> particular NHP is known to include non-ID processes, CD is the only
> known option. However, given that the source of the all variation in
> a NHP is *known* to *require* ID, CD is not the only known or even the
> most common mechanism used.

Repetitive.

>>> This observation has nothing to do with the Bible. I'd be an IDist
>>> without the Bible. In fact, I thought that the ToE was quite
>>> reasonable for quite some time. It wasn't until after medical school
>>> when I was in the army that I discovered that the evolutionary
>>> mechanism simply didn't work beyond very low levels of functional
>>> complexity. It wasn't until then that I really started reconsidering
>>> the ToE.
>> Please try not to strain my credulity too much. It's delicate.
>
> Whatever - it's the truth.

Let's merely assume I don't believe you and leave it at that.

>> At any
>> rate, your reasoning was faulty. If RM + NS don't work beyond yadda
>> yadda that says nothing at all about the presence or absence of common
>> descent.
>
> It says a great deal. It says that all the key differences between
> different living things definitely required ID. If one agrees to
> this, the notion that CD was definitely the mechanism used to produce
> these differences is no longer the only reasonable default assumption
> because it is know that intelligent agents can and do use other
> methods besides CD to produce NHPs.

Please give an example.

> I repeat: The creative methods to which mindless nature is limited
> are not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents -
> even when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
> happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
> painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?

Only if it were intended to fool us into thinking it was a natural
event, and the penalty for thinking so were eternal damnation.

>> You have to glue them together in some way to make your case,
>> and so far all you're using for glue is the assertion that they're
>> connected. (Or, most often, just the tacit assumption that they're the
>> same thing.)
>
> You are the one who is asserting, without any appeal to a falsifiable
> test, that there is no association. You argue that it doesn't matter
> if every aspect of a NHP is known to be designed, CD is still the
> clear method that was used simply because it is the overwhelming
> choice of mindless nature? That's just nonsense given the known
> requirement for ID to produce a particular NHP.

I'll keep trying, but your inability to separate two different
phenomena, even for an instant, makes it hard to argue with you.

>>> < snip repetitive >
>>>> > The difference between the nested pattern in living things and the
>>>> > stratigraphic pattern is that all the key differences in the nested
>>>> > pattern of life require ID.
>>>> Irrelevant even if true, because we are talking about an aspect (the
>>>> nested hierarchy itself) that we both agree doesn't require ID. Unless
>>>> you are arguing for guilt by association, everything you say about this
>>>> doesn't matter.
>>> It is not irrelevant if true. All you have to do to see the relevance
>>> is ask a bunch of people to deliberately create something that
>>> expresses a NHP and see if they use CD as a mechanism. You see, when
>>> ID is known to be involved, it is also known that NHPs are often
>>> produced without the need for CD.
>> Actually, I'd like to see this experiment.
>
> Me too! I'm betting the outcome would not be nearly the 100% like you
> originally suggested.

Go to it. (Of course we still must wonder why the subjects are being
called upon to produce a nested hierarchy rather than the infinite
variety of other potentially pleasing patterns.)

>> I bet the most common method
>> used would be to make an "ancestral" pattern, vary it, and keep varying
>> it some more until you had a nested set of variations.
>
> Well, that certainly is a falsifiable hypothesis. Good luck with the
> actual test and your prediction of essentially 100% use of the CD
> method.

I thought you were doing the test.

>> I doubt you would
>> be likely to end up with such a detailed simulation of common descent in
>> any other way. Of course, god can do anything.
>
> Your doubts are not backed up by any actual test.

Nor are your non-doubts.

> I doubt that most
> intelligent designers would go through all the hassle of going through
> all the CD steps to produce the final pattern. I sure wouldn't want
> to do it this way. That's what's so neat about having access to an
> intelligent mind. You can skip many steps that non-intelligent
> natural processes cannot skip. Why then would anyone feel forced to
> used the same mindless mechanism that nature is forced to use? That's
> what your brain is for . . . to skip steps.

I agree. What intelligent designer who wanted to produce miles of
geological strata would go through the primitive mechanism of a
worldwide catastrophic flood when he could just have laid them down in
the beginning?

R. Baldwin

unread,
Feb 29, 2008, 10:05:51 PM2/29/08
to
"Seanpit" <sea...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:686d010d-7202-4130...@s13g2000prd.googlegroups.com...

Having spent a quarter century in design engineering, I can tell you from
direct personal experience and broad reading on the subject that design does
result in a nested hierarchy, but that the nested hierarchy is not designed.
The human acts that produce the nested hierarchy are most often random with
respect to each other and not well planned.

Designers reuse features all the time. This saves time and trouble. Reuse
equals descent, and a nested hierarchy results. A complete designed
hierarchy of reusable features, however, requires such investment and
foresight to create that it would be obsolete by the time it was created.
Sometimes bits and pieces of one are planned, but this is not the general
rule.

[snip rest]


Seanpit

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 9:01:05 AM3/1/08
to
On Feb 29, 7:05 pm, "R. Baldwin" <res0k...@nozirevBACKWARDS.net>
wrote:
> "Seanpit" <sean...@gmail.com> wrote in message

It may not be the general rule, but it is often seen in carefully
planned creations - like Greek architecture. The Parthenon, for
example, exhibits nested hierarchy in its construction. So do the
great cathedrals of Europe.

So, while a nested pattern is not always directly created when design
is involved, it often is directly used in creative works without the
aid of common descent.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com


Seanpit

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 9:53:48 AM3/1/08
to
On Feb 29, 6:58 pm, John Harshman <jharshman.diespam...@pacbell.net>
wrote:
>

> > That' isn't the question here. The question is: If you know a
> > particular NHP is designed, what is the likelihood that the designer
> > used CD as the mechanism of design?
>
> There again you are conflating separate phenomena. Whether a particular
> NHP is designed is what we're arguing about. You don't say you know the
> NHP is designed. You only say you know some of the differences between

> species out of which the NHP is made (though in fact not even the bulk
> of those differences) are designed. The fact that you can't see the
> difference is frustrating.

All the key differences, the overwhelming "bulk", require ID. That
means that every key aspect of the pattern was designed. Now, does
this mean that the overall NHP was also designed? No. Not
necessarily. The overall pattern could still have involved the use of
CD. But, you don't know that the original goal wasn't to create a NHP
from the get go. We humans often start out with the goal to create
an aesthetically pleasing work that often incorporates a NHP. And,
when this overall pattern is the goal, CD is not usually used.

In fact, those who first classified living things and discovered the
overall nested pattern thought that the overall order, symmetry, and
beauty of the pattern itself reflected the order, symmetry, and beauty
of the creator's mind itself.

> > In short, the creative methods to which mindless nature is limited are
> > not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents - even
> > when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
> > happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
> > painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?
>
> No, not by my argument.

You're the one who suggested that a designer who incorporates any
aspect of what can happen naturally into a particular work is being
"deceptive". You did use that word, "deceptive" - did you not?

> >> But I don't agree that if differences among species were
> >> designed, that means the nested hierarchy was designed.
>
> > It certainly is possible to use the method of CD by design to produce
> > the NHP - but not overwhelmingly likely. Given that the NHP was in
> > fact designed, the question is, would most designers choose to produce
> > a NHP with the use of CD?
>
> Why is it given that the NHP was designed? You have never made that
> claim, nor could you back it up if you tried. You have only claimed that
> certain complex features of various organisms were designed. I say that
> it's simpler to suppose that if so, they were designed once, somewhere
> on a tree of common descent. Why not?

I think that the minute detail required to produce the differences
between living things, and the overall beauty of their shared
interaction, took a great deal of care and creative genius. Whoever
created vast range of different interacting creatures in an overall
system that works and interacts with itself very closely, was very
interested in every aspect of this creation. I do not see it as being
very likely that such obvious interest in minute detail and vast
creative genius would dilly dally around to figure things out as it
went along. I think it far more consistent that such a work would
have been completed in the "drawing room" first and then created
without the need to use common descent - to tweak things slowing over
time in a fumbling muddled sort of way that only mindless nature is
required to follow. An genius mind is not required to use such a slow
cumbersome method of creation that is, by the way, extremely painful
given that this genius mind actually cared about the feelings of the
sentient creatures being manipulated.

> > I think not. I think that most intelligent designers would choose to
> > skip the whole time consuming process of actually using CD to create
> > the overall pattern. This is especially true for those designers who
> > are primary interested in the final outcome of the overall creation.
>
> Ah, so you are constraining the operation of god. Why should god care
> about how time-consuming a process was? Who are you to tell him he has
> to work by the fastest possible method?

You are also constraining the designer. Why should he not care about
how he created sentient creatures? I mean really, wouldn't you care
if you set off to create sentient creatures? - or even a highly
complex interactive system of any kind? It is only reasonable, from a
human perspective, that if we would care about the actual process used
that the one who created us would also care in at least a similar
manner.

> > Not at all . . . You are in fact saying that even given knowledge
> > that ID was used to produce the key aspects of the NHP in question,
> > that the method the designer used would be CD in *every* instance -
> > that the odds of the designer using any other method are "essentially
> > nil". That is in fact your basic argument - as far as I can tell.
>
> No, god doesn't have to "use" common descent. Common descent just
> happens. He merely has to intervene whenever he feels like it. Rather
> than a painstaking simulation of common descent, he can just let the
> real thing happen. Why not?

Common descent doesn't "just happen". That's the problem. All of the
key differences of every living thing require ID. That means that if
the designer created life in its vast diversity over millions and
billions of years, it would have been a very painstaking process
indeed - pain being the key word here (for both the creator and the
created).

> > The goal is not to simulate common descent. That's a method. The
> > goal here is to produce a NHP with any *method* the intelligent
> > designer chooses. Given that the goal is to produce a NHP will an
> > intelligent designer always choose to use the CD method? I think
> > not. You seem agree with this last point.
>
> I agree that we can't say what god would or would not do. So why are you
> so sure he didn't use common descent?

Why are you so sure that he did? I mean really, I've just explained
to you that we humans tend to skip the CD steps when we create since
we do not have to follow the methods nature is *required* to use. We
can copy a certain feature of nature without using the same method
nature used. I dare say that any intelligent designer wouldn't feel
obligated to use the natural CD method either when producing an
otherwise "natural" pattern.

> > So, given that we know a particular NHP was in fact designed, I do not
> > accept the notion that it was clearly designed via CD. That notion is
> > demonstrably not very reliable.
>
> That's only because you are conflating separate issues and can't seem to
> separate them even for an instant.

You are separating issues that are very much related - and you can't
seem to realize that for an instant.

> > How is that? How is a highly symmetrical column, or colonnade made up
> > of a bunch of columns, in high symmetry, not an example of a true NHP?
> > - arising from examination of the elements themselves?
>
> Because I could have performed the same operations in several different
> orders and arrived at the same result. The hierarchy he chooses is
> arbitrary. For example, I could have made a circle on the ground,
> duplicated it in a plane in two directions (in either order), and then
> raised each column in the third dimension. Same operations, different order.

It's still a NHP given the order that is observed in a highly
symmetrical colonnade. It doesn't matter if you can use the same
operations to produce a non-NHP. The fact is that many of the
patterns that are observed in human-made structures, paintings, and
other creations do indeed produce NHP without the use of CD.

> > Tell me, how can you deliberately design every single distinguishing
> > feature in every aspect of a system and not be responsible for the
> > design of the overall pattern as well?
>
> Easily. One watches organisms reproduce and arranges to be the sole
> source of mutation. But of course not even you claim that every single
> feature of every aspect is designed. Even you think there are random
> mutations...don't you? And even you think that some features could
> easily have evolved through random mutation and natural
> selection...don't you?

Yes, I do believe that some minor functional differences can evolve.
But, that really isn't the point here. The point is that if the vast
majority of all the features of a pattern were designed, you are
suggesting that the designer had to follow the mechanism of CD.
That's nonsense. Not even we humans use CD all the time in the
formation of NHPs. In fact, we predictably skip the exhausting steps,
the trial and error, of CD to go straight to the finished NHP
directly.

> >> No, the article you noted above has nothing to do with nested hierarchy
> >> in the sense we're using it here. Google is not always your friend.
>
> > You're mistaken - on at least the first account . . .
>
> Perhaps if you actually read the article?

> > I don't assume that all aspects of every living thing required ID. My


> > position is that only those functional aspects that required at least
> > 1000 specified aa working together at minimum clearly required ID.
>
> Exactly. So why assume that if those 1000 specified yadda yadda are
> created, then so was the nested hierarchy?

Because that is how we humans often create - without having to use
trial and error all the time - unlike what mindless nature is required
to do.

> > By showing a process which is agreed to be non-deliberate in nature
> > giving rise to the phenomenon in question. That demonstration would
> > neatly falsify the ID-only hypothesis. The same thing is true of the
> > radiosignal SETI scientists are looking for. All you have to do to
> > falsify their hypothesis that such a signal would be clear evidence of
> > ET would be to show a non-deliberate natural process producing the
> > same type of signal.
>
> But you have agreed that nested hierarchies can be produced by
> non-deliberate processes. Doesn't your argument then disappear?

Radiosignals can also be produced by non-deliberate processes - just
not the type of radiosignals SETI is looking for. The same thing is
true of NHPs. It is true that NHPs can be produced by nature - but
not the type of NHP that is seen in living things. The NHP of living
things carry other particular aspects that cannot be produced
naturally and obviously required ID. Like the radiosignals SETI
scientists are looking for, this aspect of the pattern of living
things strongly indicates the careful involvement of a highly
intelligent mind for every key difference of every living thing. This
aspect of the NHP is what requires ID and ID only. The same thing is
true for SETI. It is this aspect that would be falsified if any non-
deliberate process of nature could be found producing these particular
features of the overall NHP.

< snip repetitive >

> > The question is, did this NHP, which is known to be


> > deliberately produced by ID, the product of the CD mechanism? Was the
> > intelligent agent required, statistically, to use CD as his only
> > option to create such a NHP? - as you suggest?
>
> Again, you seem to rely wholly on guilt by association, but selectively.
> God created life, therefore he created the nested hierarchy of life. But
> you reject the identical syllogism that god created the earth, therefore
> he created the stratigraphic layering of the earth.

As I've explained to you before, the ID-only hypothesis is falsified
in your latter example, but not the former. God created life because
only God could have created life. God might also have created the
stratigraphic layering of the Earth, but it seems quite clear that God
isn't the only one able to produce such a phenomenon. Therefore, the
ID-only hypothesis is falsified in this case. How is that such a hard
concept to grasp for you?

> >>>> And this reasoning doesn't
> >>>> come from a constraint put on god; quite the opposite: it comes from a
> >>>> total lack of constraint, which makes the probability of any particular
> >>>> result almost zero.
> >>> Nope.
> >> Now that was a convincing argument.
>
> > It was a response to a repetitive statement that was already answered
> > earlier . . .
>
> Nope.

Yep . . . ; )

< snip >

> > The thing is, it is known that non-deliberate sources can only produce
> > NHPs via CD. It is also known that CD is not required or even
> > commonly used by intelligent agents to produce NHPs. That's the
> > difference in a nutshell.
>
> It's clear that CD is not required, since god can do anything by any
> means he likes. But who says that intelligent agents (meaning, of
> course, humans, those being the only intelligent agents we know of)
> commonly produce NHPs without common descent? Let's see the examples.

I've already given you some. It is far greater than "essentially nil"
- that's for sure.

> > I repeat: The creative methods to which mindless nature is limited
> > are not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents -
> > even when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
> > happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
> > painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?
>
> Only if it were intended to fool us into thinking it was a natural
> event, and the penalty for thinking so were eternal damnation.

See, you just said it again - creating any aspect of what nature can
also produce is defined by you as being "deceptive" - a deliberate
effort to be somehow sinister. That's nonsense. We humans
incorporate various features of nature all the time in our creations
without anyone being accused of sinister motives.

Also, where on Earth do you get this idea of some sort of "penalty" of
"eternal damnation" for believing in common descent or any other
aspect of evolutionary thought? That's also nonsense. No God that is
actually worth worshiping would be so petty. No one is going to be
lost for being honestly tricked into believing the wrong thing. The
only evil that someone can be truly accused of is the evil of knowing
what is right and deliberately doing the opposite. For example, say
that you know it is wrong to murder, but you decide that your wife's
life insurance is just too tempting so you do it anyway. Now that, my
friend, is evil by anyone's definition of the term.

It is for true evil, not for honestly believing the wrong thing that
we will be judged.

> >> Actually, I'd like to see this experiment.
>
> > Me too! I'm betting the outcome would not be nearly the 100% like you
> > originally suggested.
>
> Go to it. (Of course we still must wonder why the subjects are being
> called upon to produce a nested hierarchy rather than the infinite
> variety of other potentially pleasing patterns.)

Why design a colonnade in a NHP when there are so many other ways to
do it? Yet, we humans have done it and continue to use this pattern
all the time.

> >> I bet the most common method
> >> used would be to make an "ancestral" pattern, vary it, and keep varying
> >> it some more until you had a nested set of variations.
>
> > Well, that certainly is a falsifiable hypothesis. Good luck with the
> > actual test and your prediction of essentially 100% use of the CD
> > method.
>
> I thought you were doing the test.

You are the one claiming I'm wrong here. Go ahead and prove me
wrong. Falsify my position.

> >> I doubt you would
> >> be likely to end up with such a detailed simulation of common descent in
> >> any other way. Of course, god can do anything.
>
> > Your doubts are not backed up by any actual test.
>
> Nor are your non-doubts.

At least mine are in fact falsifiable - yours are not. So, at least
my position meets the requirements of a scientific proposal while
yours does not.

> > I doubt that most
> > intelligent designers would go through all the hassle of going through
> > all the CD steps to produce the final pattern. I sure wouldn't want
> > to do it this way. That's what's so neat about having access to an
> > intelligent mind. You can skip many steps that non-intelligent
> > natural processes cannot skip. Why then would anyone feel forced to
> > used the same mindless mechanism that nature is forced to use? That's
> > what your brain is for . . . to skip steps.
>
> I agree. What intelligent designer who wanted to produce miles of
> geological strata would go through the primitive mechanism of a
> worldwide catastrophic flood when he could just have laid them down in
> the beginning?

Nothing about stratigraphy requires ID. That's the difference. It is
easy to make something when no thought is really required. It is a
different story when a great deal of thought and effort is required.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

Perplexed in Peoria

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 10:08:39 AM3/1/08
to

"John Harshman" <jharshman....@pacbell.net> wrote in message news:Df3yj.5475$Mh2...@nlpi069.nbdc.sbc.com...

Yes. An omnipotent Creator who carefully simulates common descent
without actually practicing it is a logical possibility. But not one that a
serious person would ever prefer to common descent.

But the notion of a non-omnipotent but nearly omniscient creator or
class of creative entities may be a more reasonable hypothesis. On
the analogy of the creation of books on this planet, by intelligent
authors who steal ideas from their predecessors, and thus create
something that looks a bit like a nested hierarchy without any
omphalist malice at all - on that analogy I can hypothesize that
our biosphere was intelligently designed by a series of designers
who simply and repeatedly improved upon prior designs. However,
beyond the sheer Linnaean fact of a nested hierarchy, there are
two other bits of evidence available. One is the Sarawak law -
which fits better with the common descent hypothesis than with
the incremental design hypothesis. The other is the fact - obvious
in the sequence data - that a lot of non-functional (junk) information
has been preserved along with the functional stuff in the structure
of the hierarchy. Again, it is easy to see how this would happen
under the common descent hypothesis, but much harder to shoehorn
into an incremental design hypothesis.

So my claim is that nested hierarchy, by itself, is not strong and
conclusive evidence for common descent. But add in either the
Sarawak law or the existence of junk in the phylogenetic 'signal' -
with either of those added you have a much more convincing
case for common descent.

Surely you have noticed that our friend Glenn is eager to deny
that 'junk' even exists. And surely you already instinctively
grasp why he is eager. Because a nested heirarchy composed
of junk is strong evidence for common descent and evolution
under natural selection. But a nested hierarchy, all parts of
which have subtle functions, might be just as well explained
by an incremental designer.

John Harshman

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 10:36:18 AM3/1/08
to

This is something Sean found on the web, always a dangerous practice.
It's nonsense, really. What it means is that the shape of the Parthenon
can be generated through a series of operations involving the
replication of features, which some guy on the web is calling a nested
hierarchy. Of course there are many different sequences that could be
used to generate the same shape, so the nested hierarchy, if any, is
arbitrary.

> So, while a nested pattern is not always directly created when design
> is involved, it often is directly used in creative works without the
> aid of common descent.

This is unfortunately expanding the meaning of "nested hierarchy" far
beyond what is useful, and certainly a much different sort of thing than
the hierarchy of life. I'm sure this momentary enthusiasm of Sean's will
pass, but we have to deal with it while it lasts.

John Harshman

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 10:56:48 AM3/1/08
to

Sure. But you also have to postulate designers who only rely on a single
prior design as the template for each improvement. Why this limitation?
Human designers steal from multiple sources and combine them, which
doesn't give a nested hierarchy. Books do *not* form a nested hierarchy
for precisely this reason.

> However,
> beyond the sheer Linnaean fact of a nested hierarchy, there are
> two other bits of evidence available.

I agree that there is other information available. But you seem to think
that without the other information, there is no convincing case for
common descent. And this is what I object to.

> One is the Sarawak law -
> which fits better with the common descent hypothesis than with
> the incremental design hypothesis.

Why? All you have to postulate is that the designer is limited in space
as well as in time. All your objections to the nested hierarchy itself
as evidence apply equally well, which is to say equally poorly, to the
Sarawak Law.

> The other is the fact - obvious
> in the sequence data - that a lot of non-functional (junk) information
> has been preserved along with the functional stuff in the structure
> of the hierarchy. Again, it is easy to see how this would happen
> under the common descent hypothesis, but much harder to shoehorn
> into an incremental design hypothesis.

I believe Sean's approach is to deny that there is any such thing as
non-functional information. But why should functional information follow
a nested hierarchy either, absent common descent?

> So my claim is that nested hierarchy, by itself, is not strong and
> conclusive evidence for common descent. But add in either the
> Sarawak law or the existence of junk in the phylogenetic 'signal' -
> with either of those added you have a much more convincing
> case for common descent.

I know what your claim is. I'm merely asking what argument you have to
support that claim, which so far seems to be, I'm afraid, none.

> Surely you have noticed that our friend Glenn is eager to deny
> that 'junk' even exists. And surely you already instinctively
> grasp why he is eager. Because a nested heirarchy composed
> of junk is strong evidence for common descent and evolution
> under natural selection. But a nested hierarchy, all parts of
> which have subtle functions, might be just as well explained
> by an incremental designer.

Only by an extraordinarily myopic incremental designer, who asks how he
can adapt a particular design to some new function without reference to
any other designs he may also have produced. Human designers just don't
limit themselves to nested hierarchies. As I've said, you have to
postulate an extremely odd and limited designer for this trope to work,
and what you end up in essence is a strict simulation of common descent,
which characteristics hypothesized purely because they simulate common
descent.

John Harshman

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 11:36:49 AM3/1/08
to
Seanpit wrote:
> On Feb 29, 6:58 pm, John Harshman <jharshman.diespam...@pacbell.net>
> wrote:
>>> That' isn't the question here. The question is: If you know a
>>> particular NHP is designed, what is the likelihood that the designer
>>> used CD as the mechanism of design?
>> There again you are conflating separate phenomena. Whether a particular
>> NHP is designed is what we're arguing about. You don't say you know the
>> NHP is designed. You only say you know some of the differences between
>> species out of which the NHP is made (though in fact not even the bulk
>> of those differences) are designed. The fact that you can't see the
>> difference is frustrating.
>
> All the key differences, the overwhelming "bulk", require ID. That
> means that every key aspect of the pattern was designed.

No it doesn't. The pattern arises not from the designed elements
themselves, but from the way they are distributed among species. You are
once again conflating particular changes with the nested hierarchy into
which they can be sorted. They are not the same thing. You can't equate
them.

> Now, does
> this mean that the overall NHP was also designed? No. Not
> necessarily. The overall pattern could still have involved the use of
> CD. But, you don't know that the original goal wasn't to create a NHP
> from the get go. We humans often start out with the goal to create
> an aesthetically pleasing work that often incorporates a NHP. And,
> when this overall pattern is the goal, CD is not usually used.

We do no such thing. Give an example if you disagree. The Parthenon is
not an example of a nested hierarchy in any relevant sense.

> In fact, those who first classified living things and discovered the
> overall nested pattern thought that the overall order, symmetry, and
> beauty of the pattern itself reflected the order, symmetry, and beauty
> of the creator's mind itself.

Yes, because they couldn't immediately think of another explanation, and
because their preconceptions were directed that way. But of course so
did the Quinarians and various other schools that proposed different
sorts of beautiful patterns that were not nested hierarchies. The
problem is that the creator's orderly, symmetrical, and beautiful mind
could be reflected in an infinite number of patterns, of which a nested
hierarchy is just one, and one that happens to be the expectation of
common descent.

>>> In short, the creative methods to which mindless nature is limited are
>>> not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents - even
>>> when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
>>> happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
>>> painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?
>> No, not by my argument.
>
> You're the one who suggested that a designer who incorporates any
> aspect of what can happen naturally into a particular work is being
> "deceptive". You did use that word, "deceptive" - did you not?

Yes, but not in quite the way that your strawman above does it.

>>>> But I don't agree that if differences among species were
>>>> designed, that means the nested hierarchy was designed.
>>> It certainly is possible to use the method of CD by design to produce
>>> the NHP - but not overwhelmingly likely. Given that the NHP was in
>>> fact designed, the question is, would most designers choose to produce
>>> a NHP with the use of CD?
>> Why is it given that the NHP was designed? You have never made that
>> claim, nor could you back it up if you tried. You have only claimed that
>> certain complex features of various organisms were designed. I say that
>> it's simpler to suppose that if so, they were designed once, somewhere
>> on a tree of common descent. Why not?
>
> I think that the minute detail required to produce the differences
> between living things, and the overall beauty of their shared
> interaction, took a great deal of care and creative genius. Whoever
> created vast range of different interacting creatures in an overall
> system that works and interacts with itself very closely, was very
> interested in every aspect of this creation.

Though not, apparently, in its geology. I wonder why that would be.

> I do not see it as being
> very likely that such obvious interest in minute detail and vast
> creative genius would dilly dally around to figure things out as it
> went along.

So you are placing limits on god's creative process.

> I think it far more consistent that such a work would
> have been completed in the "drawing room" first and then created
> without the need to use common descent - to tweak things slowing over
> time in a fumbling muddled sort of way that only mindless nature is
> required to follow. An genius mind is not required to use such a slow
> cumbersome method of creation that is, by the way, extremely painful
> given that this genius mind actually cared about the feelings of the
> sentient creatures being manipulated.

What evidence do you have that this unspecified designer cared about the
feelings of sentient creatures?

>>> I think not. I think that most intelligent designers would choose to
>>> skip the whole time consuming process of actually using CD to create
>>> the overall pattern. This is especially true for those designers who
>>> are primary interested in the final outcome of the overall creation.
>> Ah, so you are constraining the operation of god. Why should god care
>> about how time-consuming a process was? Who are you to tell him he has
>> to work by the fastest possible method?
>
> You are also constraining the designer.

By using the word "also", you are apparently agreeing that you have
placed such limits. Right? But you have claimed previously that doing so
is invalid.

> Why should he not care about
> how he created sentient creatures?

Why should he? What evidence is there that he would? I thought your
designer was an unspecified entity or entities, possibly even space aliens.

> I mean really, wouldn't you care
> if you set off to create sentient creatures? - or even a highly
> complex interactive system of any kind? It is only reasonable, from a
> human perspective, that if we would care about the actual process used
> that the one who created us would also care in at least a similar
> manner.

Objection. Calls for speculation. And on a subject that you have
explicitly claimed (when I tried it) that we can't speculate about.

>>> Not at all . . . You are in fact saying that even given knowledge
>>> that ID was used to produce the key aspects of the NHP in question,
>>> that the method the designer used would be CD in *every* instance -
>>> that the odds of the designer using any other method are "essentially
>>> nil". That is in fact your basic argument - as far as I can tell.
>> No, god doesn't have to "use" common descent. Common descent just
>> happens. He merely has to intervene whenever he feels like it. Rather
>> than a painstaking simulation of common descent, he can just let the
>> real thing happen. Why not?
>
> Common descent doesn't "just happen". That's the problem. All of the
> key differences of every living thing require ID.

You really can't separate the two in your mind, even for an instant, can
you? Key differences are not common descent. Common descent is the tree.
The key differences are events sprinkled over the tree. The key
differences don't create the tree, and the tree doesn't create the key
differences.

> That means that if
> the designer created life in its vast diversity over millions and
> billions of years, it would have been a very painstaking process
> indeed - pain being the key word here (for both the creator and the
> created).

Your use of multiple meanings of "pain" makes this sentence nearly
impossible to interpret. What sort of pain is a creator feeling? If he's
omnipotent, surely the sense of "taking pains" is irrelevant, since he
would not find any procedure at all to be more difficult than any other.
If we're talking about suffering, what evidence is there that the
unspecified designer cares about suffering? (I'll have to say that he
seems to have incorporated a lot of it into his designs. Doubtless the
caterpillar parasitized by wasp larvae is learning a valuable lesson
through being eaten alive.)

>>> The goal is not to simulate common descent. That's a method. The
>>> goal here is to produce a NHP with any *method* the intelligent
>>> designer chooses. Given that the goal is to produce a NHP will an
>>> intelligent designer always choose to use the CD method? I think
>>> not. You seem agree with this last point.
>> I agree that we can't say what god would or would not do. So why are you
>> so sure he didn't use common descent?
>
> Why are you so sure that he did?

Simply because that's the simplest interpretation of the evidence,
notably that nested hierarchy.

> I mean really, I've just explained
> to you that we humans tend to skip the CD steps when we create since
> we do not have to follow the methods nature is *required* to use. We
> can copy a certain feature of nature without using the same method
> nature used. I dare say that any intelligent designer wouldn't feel
> obligated to use the natural CD method either when producing an
> otherwise "natural" pattern.

This leads directly to Last Thursdayism, unfortunately. But we don't
have to go all the way along that path. It's enough to note again that
this applies equally to stratigraphy; why should an intelligent designer
feel obligated to go through all that tedious erosion, deposition, etc.
when producing the otherwise "natural" pattern of layered rocks?

>>> So, given that we know a particular NHP was in fact designed, I do not
>>> accept the notion that it was clearly designed via CD. That notion is
>>> demonstrably not very reliable.
>> That's only because you are conflating separate issues and can't seem to
>> separate them even for an instant.
>
> You are separating issues that are very much related - and you can't
> seem to realize that for an instant.

You must explain why they are related, which you have so far been unable
to do. All you can say is that the nested hierarchy and the "key
differences" are both aspects of life and must therefore have the same
cause. But "therefore" doesn't work in that sentence.

>>> How is that? How is a highly symmetrical column, or colonnade made up
>>> of a bunch of columns, in high symmetry, not an example of a true NHP?
>>> - arising from examination of the elements themselves?
>> Because I could have performed the same operations in several different
>> orders and arrived at the same result. The hierarchy he chooses is
>> arbitrary. For example, I could have made a circle on the ground,
>> duplicated it in a plane in two directions (in either order), and then
>> raised each column in the third dimension. Same operations, different order.
>
> It's still a NHP given the order that is observed in a highly
> symmetrical colonnade. It doesn't matter if you can use the same
> operations to produce a non-NHP. The fact is that many of the
> patterns that are observed in human-made structures, paintings, and
> other creations do indeed produce NHP without the use of CD.

You are confused. The point is that you can use the same operations in a
different order to produce the same result. That means it *isn't* a
nested hierarchy in the same way that life is. It's an arbitrary
hierarchy. We can't reconstruct the hierarchy by observing the end
product. We can reconstruct a great many different hierarchies, none of
them preferable to another. Drop this momentary obsession; it leads nowhere.

>>> Tell me, how can you deliberately design every single distinguishing
>>> feature in every aspect of a system and not be responsible for the
>>> design of the overall pattern as well?
>> Easily. One watches organisms reproduce and arranges to be the sole
>> source of mutation. But of course not even you claim that every single
>> feature of every aspect is designed. Even you think there are random
>> mutations...don't you? And even you think that some features could
>> easily have evolved through random mutation and natural
>> selection...don't you?
>
> Yes, I do believe that some minor functional differences can evolve.
> But, that really isn't the point here. The point is that if the vast
> majority of all the features of a pattern were designed, you are
> suggesting that the designer had to follow the mechanism of CD.

No, I'm suggesting that the simplest explantion for the pattern is that
the designer (if any) did follow CD. He of course didn't have to do
anything.

> That's nonsense. Not even we humans use CD all the time in the
> formation of NHPs. In fact, we predictably skip the exhausting steps,
> the trial and error, of CD to go straight to the finished NHP
> directly.

So you claim, but you have presented no examples of such a practice,
despite numerous requests.

>>>> No, the article you noted above has nothing to do with nested hierarchy
>>>> in the sense we're using it here. Google is not always your friend.
>>> You're mistaken - on at least the first account . . .
>> Perhaps if you actually read the article?
>
>>> I don't assume that all aspects of every living thing required ID. My
>>> position is that only those functional aspects that required at least
>>> 1000 specified aa working together at minimum clearly required ID.
>> Exactly. So why assume that if those 1000 specified yadda yadda are
>> created, then so was the nested hierarchy?
>
> Because that is how we humans often create - without having to use
> trial and error all the time - unlike what mindless nature is required
> to do.

If you're using humans as an analogy (and thus limiting the creator), we
seldom create nested hierarchies at all, simply because they are so
limiting. When we make new things, we borrow and combine elements from
whatever seems useful or appropriate. When anyone brings this up, you
disclaim all analogies to human processes. You are selective indeed in
your use of analogy; apparently it only works when you do it.

>>> By showing a process which is agreed to be non-deliberate in nature
>>> giving rise to the phenomenon in question. That demonstration would
>>> neatly falsify the ID-only hypothesis. The same thing is true of the
>>> radiosignal SETI scientists are looking for. All you have to do to
>>> falsify their hypothesis that such a signal would be clear evidence of
>>> ET would be to show a non-deliberate natural process producing the
>>> same type of signal.
>> But you have agreed that nested hierarchies can be produced by
>> non-deliberate processes. Doesn't your argument then disappear?
>
> Radiosignals can also be produced by non-deliberate processes - just
> not the type of radiosignals SETI is looking for. The same thing is
> true of NHPs. It is true that NHPs can be produced by nature - but
> not the type of NHP that is seen in living things. The NHP of living
> things carry other particular aspects that cannot be produced
> naturally and obviously required ID. Like the radiosignals SETI
> scientists are looking for, this aspect of the pattern of living
> things strongly indicates the careful involvement of a highly
> intelligent mind for every key difference of every living thing. This
> aspect of the NHP is what requires ID and ID only. The same thing is
> true for SETI. It is this aspect that would be falsified if any non-
> deliberate process of nature could be found producing these particular
> features of the overall NHP.

Once again, you confuse the hierarchy with the various characters that
display it. They are separate. We can easily produce a model in which
the hierarchy is entirely natural though all the characters are
designed. You have provided no reason to reject this model except that
it doesn't seem right to you.

> < snip repetitive >
>
>>> The question is, did this NHP, which is known to be
>>> deliberately produced by ID, the product of the CD mechanism? Was the
>>> intelligent agent required, statistically, to use CD as his only
>>> option to create such a NHP? - as you suggest?
>> Again, you seem to rely wholly on guilt by association, but selectively.
>> God created life, therefore he created the nested hierarchy of life. But
>> you reject the identical syllogism that god created the earth, therefore
>> he created the stratigraphic layering of the earth.
>
> As I've explained to you before, the ID-only hypothesis is falsified
> in your latter example, but not the former. God created life because
> only God could have created life.

We aren't talking about life. We're talking about the nested hierarchy
of life, which is a different thing.

> God might also have created the
> stratigraphic layering of the Earth, but it seems quite clear that God
> isn't the only one able to produce such a phenomenon.

Ah, but god created the earth, right? Only god could have created the
earth, so the stratigraphic layering, being a feature of the earth (and
impossible without the existence of the earth itself) must also have
been created. QED.

> Therefore, the
> ID-only hypothesis is falsified in this case. How is that such a hard
> concept to grasp for you?

Because you are incapable of noticing your own bait-and-switch here. If
we accept that only god could have created life, that says nothing about
creation of the nested hierarchy. We all agree that even if god created
life, and even if he created every single difference among species, the
nested hierarchy could be wholly natural. We agree that given an
omnipotent designer, it could be wholly non-natural too. But we agree
that the ID-only hypothesis is indeed falsified in the case of the
nested hierarchy of life. This is true even if the ID-only hypothesis is
not falsified in the origin of life itself.

>>>>>> And this reasoning doesn't
>>>>>> come from a constraint put on god; quite the opposite: it comes from a
>>>>>> total lack of constraint, which makes the probability of any particular
>>>>>> result almost zero.
>>>>> Nope.
>>>> Now that was a convincing argument.
>>> It was a response to a repetitive statement that was already answered
>>> earlier . . .
>> Nope.
>
> Yep . . . ; )
>
> < snip >
>
>>> The thing is, it is known that non-deliberate sources can only produce
>>> NHPs via CD. It is also known that CD is not required or even
>>> commonly used by intelligent agents to produce NHPs. That's the
>>> difference in a nutshell.
>> It's clear that CD is not required, since god can do anything by any
>> means he likes. But who says that intelligent agents (meaning, of
>> course, humans, those being the only intelligent agents we know of)
>> commonly produce NHPs without common descent? Let's see the examples.
>
> I've already given you some. It is far greater than "essentially nil"
> - that's for sure.

For some reason I can't remember any of these examples. Could you repeat
them. Please don't use the Parthenon, because it isn't an example.

>>> I repeat: The creative methods to which mindless nature is limited
>>> are not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents -
>>> even when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
>>> happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
>>> painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?
>> Only if it were intended to fool us into thinking it was a natural
>> event, and the penalty for thinking so were eternal damnation.
>
> See, you just said it again - creating any aspect of what nature can
> also produce is defined by you as being "deceptive" - a deliberate
> effort to be somehow sinister. That's nonsense. We humans
> incorporate various features of nature all the time in our creations
> without anyone being accused of sinister motives.

This is a digression. Motives are sinister if they are sinister. If, for
example, you make a diamond in the lab and try to sell it as a natural
diamond, that's a sinister motive. A god who creates a pattern that is
most easily interpreted as being natural is hiding his existence; if
acceptance of that existence is important to us, that's sinister behavior.

> Also, where on Earth do you get this idea of some sort of "penalty" of
> "eternal damnation" for believing in common descent or any other
> aspect of evolutionary thought? That's also nonsense. No God that is
> actually worth worshiping would be so petty.

I agree. But creationists generally don't. I'm pleasantly surprised that
you don't believe in Hell.

> No one is going to be
> lost for being honestly tricked into believing the wrong thing. The
> only evil that someone can be truly accused of is the evil of knowing
> what is right and deliberately doing the opposite. For example, say
> that you know it is wrong to murder, but you decide that your wife's
> life insurance is just too tempting so you do it anyway. Now that, my
> friend, is evil by anyone's definition of the term.
>
> It is for true evil, not for honestly believing the wrong thing that
> we will be judged.

That seems like heresy to me. I thought that nobody who didn't believe
in Jesus as his own personal savior could go to heaven, regardless of
good works. But this is a digression.

>>>> Actually, I'd like to see this experiment.
>>> Me too! I'm betting the outcome would not be nearly the 100% like you
>>> originally suggested.
>> Go to it. (Of course we still must wonder why the subjects are being
>> called upon to produce a nested hierarchy rather than the infinite
>> variety of other potentially pleasing patterns.)
>
> Why design a colonnade in a NHP when there are so many other ways to
> do it? Yet, we humans have done it and continue to use this pattern
> all the time.

Mere repetition of elements is not a nested hierarchy. Sorry.

>>>> I bet the most common method
>>>> used would be to make an "ancestral" pattern, vary it, and keep varying
>>>> it some more until you had a nested set of variations.
>>> Well, that certainly is a falsifiable hypothesis. Good luck with the
>>> actual test and your prediction of essentially 100% use of the CD
>>> method.
>> I thought you were doing the test.
>
> You are the one claiming I'm wrong here. Go ahead and prove me
> wrong. Falsify my position.

You're the one making the positive claim. It's actually your job to
present evidence for that claim.

>>>> I doubt you would
>>>> be likely to end up with such a detailed simulation of common descent in
>>>> any other way. Of course, god can do anything.
>>> Your doubts are not backed up by any actual test.
>> Nor are your non-doubts.
>
> At least mine are in fact falsifiable - yours are not. So, at least
> my position meets the requirements of a scientific proposal while
> yours does not.

?

>>> I doubt that most
>>> intelligent designers would go through all the hassle of going through
>>> all the CD steps to produce the final pattern. I sure wouldn't want
>>> to do it this way. That's what's so neat about having access to an
>>> intelligent mind. You can skip many steps that non-intelligent
>>> natural processes cannot skip. Why then would anyone feel forced to
>>> used the same mindless mechanism that nature is forced to use? That's
>>> what your brain is for . . . to skip steps.
>> I agree. What intelligent designer who wanted to produce miles of
>> geological strata would go through the primitive mechanism of a
>> worldwide catastrophic flood when he could just have laid them down in
>> the beginning?
>
> Nothing about stratigraphy requires ID. That's the difference.

But it's not a difference. We both agree that nothing about nested
hierarchy requires ID.

> It is
> easy to make something when no thought is really required. It is a
> different story when a great deal of thought and effort is required.

What? You seem to be claiming that some things are easy for god while
others are difficult. I don't understand.

R. Baldwin

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 2:08:14 PM3/1/08
to
"Seanpit" <sea...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:34d857d9-5ce5-497d...@i29g2000prf.googlegroups.com...

Try reading for comprehension. I already stated that design results in
nested hierarchy, didn't I?

>
> So, while a nested pattern is not always directly created when design
> is involved, it often is directly used in creative works without the
> aid of common descent.
>

Again, try reading for comprehension. Small pieces of a design hierarchy may
be planned, but most of a design hierarchy is random.

This might help you understand why: the designers of the Parthenon used
principles and techniques developed over centuries by other designers who
were already dead and could not be consulted. They depended on countless
design choices initially made for forgotten reasons, which were uncorrelated
to the design choices made during the design of the Parthenon. The Parthenon
is the culmination of Doric order architecture. It's features relied on
previous Doric order buildings, most of which were in wide use long before
the designers of the Parthenon were born. The earliest Doric order buildings
had to rely on older techniques for erecting columns, laying supports,
leveling floors, and other design choices derived from older architectures.

MOST of the features in ANY nested hierarchy for a human design are
uncorrelated and random with respect to each other. No designer has the time
or energy to go back through (mostly unavailable) history to ask such
questions as why is the diameter of a #4 screw the way it is, why is 9600
baud one of the data rates for RS-232, why aircraft fuselages are
semi-monocoque, etc. They use shortcuts and adopt existing standards and
common practices, rather than coming up with a complete hierarchy of
decisions on their own. To design any other way is uneconomical. Except for
the very simplest of objects, which were generally designed in pre-history,
every design derives from older designs in a non-designed nested hierarchy.

There is an apocryphal story about the Space Shuttle and Roman war chariots
that, while largely untrue, effectively illustrates this phenomenon:
http://www.snopes.com/history/american/gauge.asp

R. Baldwin

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 2:55:33 PM3/1/08
to
"John Harshman" <jharshman....@pacbell.net> wrote in message
news:RHeyj.4387$pl4....@newssvr22.news.prodigy.net...

I went back and looked at the article - it seems rather specious. The
transormations Leyton described are only one path out of many possible paths
capable of generating the symmetry he described. He has not demonstrated
that the geometric hierarchy is nested. He just says it is. Neither has
Leyton demonstrated that architechts actually generate designs by making the
series of transformations he describes. Nor has he demonstrated that the
series of geometric transformations in a building design is entirely the
work of the architect. Usually, it is not - most of them are derived from
the work of previous architects, and some of them are for physical reasons.

But, even if we allow Leyton's argument, Sean seems to have leaped to the
conclusion that, because architects and painters exploit "perceptual
organization as nested control", they must be doing so consciously and
deliberately. Leyton does not seem to make that point, and his description
of his psychological experiments in the 1980's imply that this is more of an
unconscious process based on association - so even if there is a nested
hierarchy of geometric tansformations, the hierarchy itself is probably not
designed.


Seanpit

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 8:12:45 PM3/1/08
to
On Mar 1, 11:08 am, "R. Baldwin" <res0k...@nozirevBACKWARDS.net>
wrote:

>
> > It may not be the general rule, but it is often seen in carefully
> > planned creations - like Greek architecture. The Parthenon, for
> > example, exhibits nested hierarchy in its construction. So do the
> > great cathedrals of Europe.
>
> Try reading for comprehension. I already stated that design results in
> nested hierarchy, didn't I?

Yes, you did, but how is a colonnade or the Parthenon "mostly random"?

> > So, while a nested pattern is not always directly created when design
> > is involved, it often is directly used in creative works without the
> > aid of common descent.
>
> Again, try reading for comprehension. Small pieces of a design hierarchy may
> be planned, but most of a design hierarchy is random.
>
> This might help you understand why: the designers of the Parthenon used
> principles and techniques developed over centuries by other designers who
> were already dead and could not be consulted. They depended on countless
> design choices initially made for forgotten reasons, which were uncorrelated
> to the design choices made during the design of the Parthenon. The Parthenon
> is the culmination of Doric order architecture. It's features relied on
> previous Doric order buildings, most of which were in wide use long before
> the designers of the Parthenon were born. The earliest Doric order buildings
> had to rely on older techniques for erecting columns, laying supports,
> leveling floors, and other design choices derived from older architectures.

The Parthenon shows a nested hierarchy relative to itself - not just
to previous buildings or designs. It matters not that various
designed techniques may have been borrowed. The building of a
colonnade, for example, demonstrates, within itself, a nested
hierarchy of geometric design.

> MOST of the features in ANY nested hierarchy for a human design are
> uncorrelated and random with respect to each other.

Not true of certain types of NHP of human design - like the design of
the military power structure, mathematically designed fractals (like
Sierpinski's Gasket or the Monger Sponge).

> No designer has the time
> or energy to go back through (mostly unavailable) history to ask such
> questions as why is the diameter of a #4 screw the way it is, why is 9600
> baud one of the data rates for RS-232, why aircraft fuselages are
> semi-monocoque, etc. They use shortcuts and adopt existing standards and
> common practices, rather than coming up with a complete hierarchy of
> decisions on their own. To design any other way is uneconomical. Except for
> the very simplest of objects, which were generally designed in pre-history,
> every design derives from older designs in a non-designed nested hierarchy.

You don't seem to understand the concept of designing a NHP without
reference to past patterns. The NHP that I'm talking about exists
entirely within the system itself. For example, living things that
are alive right now are said to show a short of nested hierarchical
pattern right now - without reference to their history or actual
origin. The same thing is true of a colonnade, military
infrastructure, or the Monger Sponge.

> There is an apocryphal story about the Space Shuttle and Roman war chariots
> that, while largely untrue, effectively illustrates this phenomenon:
> http://www.snopes.com/history/american/gauge.asp

This is really besides the point at hand.

Sean Pitman
www.DetectingDesign.com

R. Baldwin

unread,
Mar 1, 2008, 8:34:45 PM3/1/08
to
"Seanpit" <sea...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:5ecdeaa8-1343-4965...@s37g2000prg.googlegroups.com...

> On Mar 1, 11:08 am, "R. Baldwin" <res0k...@nozirevBACKWARDS.net>
> wrote:
>>
>> > It may not be the general rule, but it is often seen in carefully
>> > planned creations - like Greek architecture. The Parthenon, for
>> > example, exhibits nested hierarchy in its construction. So do the
>> > great cathedrals of Europe.
>>
>> Try reading for comprehension. I already stated that design results in
>> nested hierarchy, didn't I?
>
> Yes, you did, but how is a colonnade or the Parthenon "mostly random"?

I didn't say they were. I said design hierarchies are.

Baloney. The building of a colonnade demonstrates that ancient architects
once cut down trees.

>
>> MOST of the features in ANY nested hierarchy for a human design are
>> uncorrelated and random with respect to each other.
>
> Not true of certain types of NHP of human design - like the design of
> the military power structure, mathematically designed fractals (like
> Sierpinski's Gasket or the Monger Sponge).

The military power structure is a perfect example of a design lineage.
Current military power structures derive from older, simpler ones.

Are you trying to suggest the Parthenon is fractal?

>
>> No designer has the time
>> or energy to go back through (mostly unavailable) history to ask such
>> questions as why is the diameter of a #4 screw the way it is, why is 9600
>> baud one of the data rates for RS-232, why aircraft fuselages are
>> semi-monocoque, etc. They use shortcuts and adopt existing standards and
>> common practices, rather than coming up with a complete hierarchy of
>> decisions on their own. To design any other way is uneconomical. Except
>> for
>> the very simplest of objects, which were generally designed in
>> pre-history,
>> every design derives from older designs in a non-designed nested
>> hierarchy.
>
> You don't seem to understand the concept of designing a NHP without
> reference to past patterns. The NHP that I'm talking about exists
> entirely within the system itself. For example, living things that
> are alive right now are said to show a short of nested hierarchical
> pattern right now - without reference to their history or actual
> origin. The same thing is true of a colonnade, military
> infrastructure, or the Monger Sponge.

You are being quite silly.

>
>> There is an apocryphal story about the Space Shuttle and Roman war
>> chariots
>> that, while largely untrue, effectively illustrates this phenomenon:
>> http://www.snopes.com/history/american/gauge.asp
>
> This is really besides the point at hand.
>

Facts always are, when it is your point at hand.


Seanpit

unread,
Mar 2, 2008, 12:26:37 AM3/2/08
to
On Mar 1, 8:36 am, John Harshman <jharshman.diespam...@pacbell.net>
wrote:

>
> > All the key differences, the overwhelming "bulk", require ID. That
> > means that every key aspect of the pattern was designed.

< snip >

> > Now, does
> > this mean that the overall NHP was also designed? No. Not
> > necessarily. The overall pattern could still have involved the use of
> > CD. But, you don't know that the original goal wasn't to create a NHP
> > from the get go. We humans often start out with the goal to create
> > an aesthetically pleasing work that often incorporates a NHP. And,
> > when this overall pattern is the goal, CD is not usually used.
>
> We do no such thing. Give an example if you disagree. The Parthenon is
> not an example of a nested hierarchy in any relevant sense.

Nested hierarchies involve levels which consist of, and contain, lower
levels. Non-nested hierarchies are more general in that the
requirement of containment of lower levels is relaxed. A common
example of a nested hierarchy (outside of biology) is an army. An army
consists of a collection of soldiers and is made up of them. "Thus an
army is a nested hierarchy". After this, it is also commonly pointed
out that "the general at the top of a military command does not
consist of his soldiers and so the military command is a non-nested
hierarchy with regard to the soldiers in the army." But this isn't
exactly true.

http://www.isss.org/hierarchy.htm

As some have pointed out, this illustration isn't entirely coherent.
A military general is "in some sense made up of his men. As a set of
power relations - a realm of semiotics - an army is a nested
hierarchical system." In this sense then, the power structure of the
military is a good example of an intelligently designed nested
hierarchy that does not require the use of CD to achieve. A military
hierarchy can be created, de novo, without having to use CD. The same
thing is true of mathematically designed fractals (like Sierpinski's


Gasket or the Monger Sponge).

http://www.dichotomistic.com/hierarchies_intro.html

This last point is especially interesting. Fractals form nested
hierarchies because each higher level in a fractal contains every
aspect of every lower layer. This is not true of living things. While
it certainly is true that living things form a sort of "Tree of Life",
it isn't quite like a real tree in its fractal appearance. With a
real tree I can take of a few twigs, given them to you, and ask you to
tell me where on the tree those twigs would have to be placed. Of
course, since there is no essential difference between one twig and
the next on the tree, you really couldn't tell me. This is unlike the
tree of life were one twig would look way out of place it were to
replace a twig on the opposite side of the tree (at the same
hierarchical level). You just can't mix and match the branches or
twigs of the tree of life without really screwing things up. This is
not true of a true fractal where any part at a given level can replace
any other without a noticeable difference in the appearance of the
fractal.

You see, every different kind of living thing has unique features
about it that no other living thing has. What is "nested" and
"hierarchical" about living things are their similarities. Their
differences, on the other hand, are not always maintained from one
level to the next as is the case for a fractal hierarchical system.

For example, Wikipedia explains that the term "nested hierarchy refers
to the way taxonomic groups fit neatly and completely inside other
taxonomic groups. For instance, all bats (order Chiroptera) are
mammals. All mammals are vertebrates. Likewise, all whales (order
Cetacea) are also mammals, and thus also vertebrates."

http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Nested_Hierarchy

Notice that this list is a list of similarities, not differences. The
similarities do fit fairly well into other taxonomic groups - but not
so much the differences. For example, not all "mammals" have flippers
or hooves or the ability to use sonar. These differences are not part
of the hierarchical classification of mammals.

The Wikipedia article continues:

"Taxonomic groups are defined by traits and it should be possible
to mix traits from multiple defined groups. An example from classical
mythology is the Pegasus, a creature with features defined as both
mammal (produces milk like a horse) and bird (has feathers). Mammals
and birds are both orders, so, if Pegasus existed, it would be a
violation of the nested hierarchy, a creature that belonged to two
separate groups. Likewise for satyrs (human torso, goats legs),
jackalopes (rabbit body with an antelope head) and crocoducks
(crocodile head, body of a duck)."

Of course, this article fails to mention the platypus. The platypus is
classified as a mammal - the "monotreme" version. The monotremes are
the only order of mammals to lay eggs; in this, the platypus is
similar to reptiles. Also like reptiles, platypus produce vitamin C in
the liver and has poisonous spurs on its feet. Yet, because the
platypus produces milk to feed its young (like all mammals) and has
fur (also like mammals) it is classified as a mammal - even though it
has a few traits of reptiles and a bill like a duck. Given this, I'm
not so sure if Pegasus would actually be thought of as violating
"nested hierarchy" like this Wiki article indicates.

The Wiki article goes on to suggest that "Life, however, shows a
clear nested hierarchy, at least with regards to multicellular
organisms. An animal that produces milk (Mammals), will also have
hair, have four limbs, be endothermic (warmblooded) plus possess many
other characteristics. Why should this be? Why do no other animals or
plants produce milk? Why do no mammals have four limbs plus a pair of
wings, like the Pegasus or angels? This fits easily with the idea of
common descent, but is not what would be expected from special
creation (although it isn't completely at odds with creation either,
as the creator(s) could create life in any configuration
imaginable)."

What is interesting here is that other creatures, besides mammals, do
produce milk to feed their young. Some species of cockroach, for
example, produce milk to feed their young in utero and deliver their
young live. Also, the platypus produces milk while having features
that are usually associated with other non-mammalian species.

Of course, the overall similarities of various groups do nest fairly
well. Again though, this is a classification based on shared
similarities without taking into account the unique differences that
are not shared or that may be shared with other vastly different "non-
mammalian" creatures.

> > In fact, those who first classified living things and discovered the
> > overall nested pattern thought that the overall order, symmetry, and
> > beauty of the pattern itself reflected the order, symmetry, and beauty
> > of the creator's mind itself.
>
> Yes, because they couldn't immediately think of another explanation, and
> because their preconceptions were directed that way. But of course so
> did the Quinarians and various other schools that proposed different
> sorts of beautiful patterns that were not nested hierarchies. The
> problem is that the creator's orderly, symmetrical, and beautiful mind
> could be reflected in an infinite number of patterns, of which a nested
> hierarchy is just one, and one that happens to be the expectation of
> common descent.

Again, common descent is only a fairly perfect expectation given a NHP
of the type that can be produced by a non-deliberate process. A
highly symmetrical Monger Sponge carved into the material of, say,
granite would be an example of a NHP that could only have been the
result of ID and is unlikely to have required the use of common
descent in the development of the NHP in this particular situation.

So, you see, a NHP, by itself, is not enough to assume common
descent. Some NHPs require the extensive input of ID for most if not
all of their key features. Such NHPs do not require the use of CD -
the laborious steps of which are often bypassed in real life.

> >>> In short, the creative methods to which mindless nature is limited are
> >>> not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents - even
> >>> when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
> >>> happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
> >>> painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?
> >> No, not by my argument.
>
> > You're the one who suggested that a designer who incorporates any
> > aspect of what can happen naturally into a particular work is being
> > "deceptive". You did use that word, "deceptive" - did you not?
>
> Yes, but not in quite the way that your strawman above does it.

What is the key difference in your use of the term "deceptive"?

> > I think that the minute detail required to produce the differences
> > between living things, and the overall beauty of their shared
> > interaction, took a great deal of care and creative genius. Whoever
> > created vast range of different interacting creatures in an overall
> > system that works and interacts with itself very closely, was very
> > interested in every aspect of this creation.
>
> Though not, apparently, in its geology. I wonder why that would be.

Geology does not *require* ID. You don't seem to understand the
concept of the ID-only hypothesis. The requirement for ID is
different than the potential for ID. The key differences of all
living things require ID while the key differences in geology do not.

> > I do not see it as being
> > very likely that such obvious interest in minute detail and vast
> > creative genius would dilly dally around to figure things out as it
> > went along.
>
> So you are placing limits on god's creative process.

Not at all. God could have dilly dallied around all he wanted. I
just don't see that as likely given that we are the way we are and he
created us. I wouldn't like dilly dallying around too much if I was
actually interested in the final product of my interactive creation -
would you?

> > I think it far more consistent that such a work would
> > have been completed in the "drawing room" first and then created
> > without the need to use common descent - to tweak things slowing over
> > time in a fumbling muddled sort of way that only mindless nature is
> > required to follow. An genius mind is not required to use such a slow
> > cumbersome method of creation that is, by the way, extremely painful
> > given that this genius mind actually cared about the feelings of the
> > sentient creatures being manipulated.
>
> What evidence do you have that this unspecified designer cared about the
> feelings of sentient creatures?

One doesn't usually put a great deal of creative effort into something
one doesn't care a lick about.

> >>> I think not. I think that most intelligent designers would choose to
> >>> skip the whole time consuming process of actually using CD to create
> >>> the overall pattern. This is especially true for those designers who
> >>> are primary interested in the final outcome of the overall creation.
> >>
> >> Ah, so you are constraining the operation of god. Why should god care
> >> about how time-consuming a process was? Who are you to tell him he has
> >> to work by the fastest possible method?
>
> > You are also constraining the designer.
>
> By using the word "also", you are apparently agreeing that you have
> placed such limits. Right? But you have claimed previously that doing so
> is invalid.

You are claiming that a God would have to create using the very same
mechanism that limits non-deliberate natural processes. I'm showing
you reasons why an intelligent designer could use a different process
besides common descent - reasons why an designer wouldn't necessarily
be as limited as you suggest. You're the one suggesting limitations
here. I'm the one suggesting that not only can CD be used by ID,
other processes can and indeed are often used by ID to produce NHPs.
Your notion is that the odds an intelligent designer would use any
other process besides CD are "essentially nil" are not backed up by
what we know of ID. Intelligent agents, even human ones, are not
limited by what limits non-deliberate processes of nature. Even we
humans can go beyond the restricted us of CD to produce NHP - and we
often do. Why? Because, obviously, it's quicker and less wasteful of
resources. From the perspective of God, it seems reasonable that it
would also be less wasteful of unnecessary pain and suffering of the
sentient creatures he had spent a great deal of creative effort
producing.

> > Why should he not care about
> > how he created sentient creatures?
>
> Why should he? What evidence is there that he would? I thought your
> designer was an unspecified entity or entities, possibly even space aliens.

Could be - but not very likely given the degree of effort that went
into producing the vast array of life that exists and has existed on
this planet.

> > I mean really, wouldn't you care
> > if you set off to create sentient creatures? - or even a highly
> > complex interactive system of any kind? It is only reasonable, from a
> > human perspective, that if we would care about the actual process used
> > that the one who created us would also care in at least a similar
> > manner.
>
> Objection. Calls for speculation. And on a subject that you have
> explicitly claimed (when I tried it) that we can't speculate about.

Your "speculation" was that an intelligent designer would have to be
limited to the same mechanism from producing a NHP that non-
intelligent natural processes must use. I'm only showing you that
this notion of yours isn't necessarily true or even likely. It
certainly isn't true for humans.

> > Common descent doesn't "just happen". That's the problem. All of the
> > key differences of every living thing require ID.
>
> You really can't separate the two in your mind, even for an instant, can
> you? Key differences are not common descent. Common descent is the tree.

No. Common descent is a mechanism. It isn't the tree.

> The key differences are events sprinkled over the tree. The key
> differences don't create the tree, and the tree doesn't create the key
> differences.

The tree is made up of the key differences - which do indeed define
the tree. Common descent is not the tree. The NHP is the tree.
Common descent is a mechanism that could have been used to produce the
tree. It isn't the tree itself. And it isn't the only mechanism that
could be used to produce the tree.

What are you talking about when you say that I can't separate the
"two" in my mind? You don't seem to understand a key point here -
that CD is NOT the tree. It is just one possible method of producing
a NHP or "tree".

< snip >

> >> I agree that we can't say what god would or would not do. So why are you
> >> so sure he didn't use common descent?
>
> > Why are you so sure that he did?
>
> Simply because that's the simplest interpretation of the evidence,
> notably that nested hierarchy.

That is indeed the overwhelming interpretation of the evidence only
from a non-intelligent perspective - not from an ID perspective.

> > I mean really, I've just explained
> > to you that we humans tend to skip the CD steps when we create since
> > we do not have to follow the methods nature is *required* to use. We
> > can copy a certain feature of nature without using the same method
> > nature used. I dare say that any intelligent designer wouldn't feel
> > obligated to use the natural CD method either when producing an
> > otherwise "natural" pattern.
>
> This leads directly to Last Thursdayism, unfortunately.

You are talking about the evidence of the pattern alone here - not any
additional evidence of apparent time. Given the pattern of a NHP
alone, Last Thursdayism doesn't apply.

> But we don't
> have to go all the way along that path. It's enough to note again that
> this applies equally to stratigraphy; why should an intelligent designer
> feel obligated to go through all that tedious erosion, deposition, etc.
> when producing the otherwise "natural" pattern of layered rocks?

Because, as I've explained several times before now, no aspect of the
layered rocks requires ID - unlike the key differences in the pattern
of life.

> >>> So, given that we know a particular NHP was in fact designed, I do not
> >>> accept the notion that it was clearly designed via CD. That notion is
> >>> demonstrably not very reliable.
> >> That's only because you are conflating separate issues and can't seem to
> >> separate them even for an instant.
>
> > You are separating issues that are very much related - and you can't
> > seem to realize that for an instant.
>
> You must explain why they are related, which you have so far been unable
> to do. All you can say is that the nested hierarchy and the "key
> differences" are both aspects of life and must therefore have the same
> cause. But "therefore" doesn't work in that sentence.

You don't seem to understand that CD is not the tree - it is the
mechanism. The key differences are what form the NHP. They create
the tree. Whoever created these key differences created the NHP as
well. Could an intelligent creator have also used CD as the chosen
mechanism to produce the tree? Sure. But, is an intelligent creator
limited to this mechanism so that any other option is "essentially
nil"? - not remotely. CD is by no means the only viable option for ID
when it comes to NHPs.

> You are confused. The point is that you can use the same operations in a
> different order to produce the same result. That means it *isn't* a
> nested hierarchy in the same way that life is. It's an arbitrary
> hierarchy. We can't reconstruct the hierarchy by observing the end
> product. We can reconstruct a great many different hierarchies, none of
> them preferable to another. Drop this momentary obsession; it leads nowhere.

Say you observe the end product of a fractal. How do you
"reconstruct" the hierarchy so that one is most "preferable" to the
others? You seem to be defining the pattern of life as a unique kind
of NHP that has a "preferable" construct while other NHPs do not have
a preferable construct. Is that correct? You think that there would
be no other reasonable way to build the NHP of the Tree of Life? -
Nothing that could "done first" instead of second in forming a
reasonable tree? Think again. Ever hear of non-rooted trees? It all
depends upon what features you are considering in your building of the
pattern or classification system. Often genetic classifications have
contradicted morphologic classifications - even when it comes to
fairly major branches of the tree. Making circles first before
columns can indeed happen in building a pattern to represent the Tree
of Life.

The thing is, you can't build a circle until you have a point and you
can't build a column until you have a line (geometrically). In other
words, you can't go 2D before you have 1D and you can't go 3D before
you have the right 2D shape. You might be able to build a bunch of 2D
circles before you build the columns, but this is just one step that
happens to be interchangeable with another step. And, you can't build
on top of the columns with other columns in horizontal or vertical
arrangement until you have the first layer columns in place.

The same thing is true in representing the Tree of Life. Some things
have to come before others, but not everything.

> > Yes, I do believe that some minor functional differences can evolve.
> > But, that really isn't the point here. The point is that if the vast
> > majority of all the features of a pattern were designed, you are
> > suggesting that the designer had to follow the mechanism of CD.
>
> No, I'm suggesting that the simplest explantion for the pattern is that
> the designer (if any) did follow CD. He of course didn't have to do
> anything.

You are doing a bit more. You are suggesting that it is essentially
impossible for an intelligent designer to have chosen any other method
besides CD to produce a NHP. You said that any other option had a
probability that is "essentially nil" - right? Well, that's
demonstrably false given that humans produce NHP's without common
descent with a rate that isn't "essentially nil".

> > That's nonsense. Not even we humans use CD all the time in the
> > formation of NHPs. In fact, we predictably skip the exhausting steps,
> > the trial and error, of CD to go straight to the finished NHP
> > directly.
>
> So you claim, but you have presented no examples of such a practice,
> despite numerous requests.

The NHP of military command or other forms of government or political
organization, fractals like Sierpinski's Gasket or the Monger Sponge,
and yes, colonnades, the Parthenon, and other geometrically based
architectural designs, paintings, and even musical compositions. Even
language systems are build on a NHP and can be produced without the
use of CD. Sure, most language systems have elements of CD. However,
language can be developed without the use of CD. For example, twin
infants have been known to develop their own language system de novo,
without the need for the slow evolution of meaning for words and
phrases over time. It is done by arbitrary definition. Sounds are
used to build words which are used to build phrases which are used to
build sentences - all in a NHP which doesn't need CD to achieve.

> >>>> No, the article you noted above has nothing to do with nested hierarchy
> >>>> in the sense we're using it here. Google is not always your friend.
> >>> You're mistaken - on at least the first account . . .
> >> Perhaps if you actually read the article?
>
> >>> I don't assume that all aspects of every living thing required ID. My
> >>> position is that only those functional aspects that required at least
> >>> 1000 specified aa working together at minimum clearly required ID.
> >> Exactly. So why assume that if those 1000 specified yadda yadda are
> >> created, then so was the nested hierarchy?
>
> > Because that is how we humans often create - without having to use
> > trial and error all the time - unlike what mindless nature is required
> > to do.
>
> If you're using humans as an analogy (and thus limiting the creator), we
> seldom create nested hierarchies at all, simply because they are so
> limiting. When we make new things, we borrow and combine elements from
> whatever seems useful or appropriate. When anyone brings this up, you
> disclaim all analogies to human processes. You are selective indeed in
> your use of analogy; apparently it only works when you do it.

I have never disclaimed analogies to human processes. I used such
analogies all the time myself since it is the most at-hand example of
ID that we have. Also, you don't seem to mind when elements are
borrowed and combined between creatures in evolutionary story
telling. You don't seem to mind the story of reptiles gaining
feathers. You wouldn't mind if some "mammals" had feathers either.
You'd just come up with some story about how they also shared an
original common ancestor with birds and split off from the rest of the
mammalian group early on closer to the most recent common ancestor
(MRCA). I mean really, you don't mind when mammals lay eggs, have
bills like a duck, or poison spurs. You see, evolution is a marvelous
story that can really predict anything - any "tree" in any NHP.

Beyond this, humans, when they do create NHP, do not limit themselves
to the use of CD to produce such patterns. That notion is what is
extremely restrictive and simply not likely given humans as examples
of creative intelligences.

> > Radiosignals can also be produced by non-deliberate processes - just
> > not the type of radiosignals SETI is looking for. The same thing is
> > true of NHPs. It is true that NHPs can be produced by nature - but
> > not the type of NHP that is seen in living things. The NHP of living
> > things carry other particular aspects that cannot be produced
> > naturally and obviously required ID. Like the radiosignals SETI
> > scientists are looking for, this aspect of the pattern of living
> > things strongly indicates the careful involvement of a highly
> > intelligent mind for every key difference of every living thing. This
> > aspect of the NHP is what requires ID and ID only. The same thing is
> > true for SETI. It is this aspect that would be falsified if any non-
> > deliberate process of nature could be found producing these particular
> > features of the overall NHP.
>
> Once again, you confuse the hierarchy with the various characters that
> display it. They are separate. We can easily produce a model in which
> the hierarchy is entirely natural though all the characters are
> designed. You have provided no reason to reject this model except that
> it doesn't seem right to you.

You cannot produce a model where are the differences in the emergent
pattern are designed while the overall pattern is natural. We aren't
talking about design of just the basic building-block characters
here. We are talking about the requirement for design of every
emergent step of the ladder of the NHP.

> >>> The question is, did this NHP, which is known to be
> >>> deliberately produced by ID, the product of the CD mechanism? Was the
> >>> intelligent agent required, statistically, to use CD as his only
> >>> option to create such a NHP? - as you suggest?

> >> Again, you seem to rely wholly on guilt by association, but selectively.
> >> God created life, therefore he created the nested hierarchy of life. But
> >> you reject the identical syllogism that god created the earth, therefore
> >> he created the stratigraphic layering of the earth.
>
> > As I've explained to you before, the ID-only hypothesis is falsified
> > in your latter example, but not the former. God created life because
> > only God could have created life.
>
> We aren't talking about life. We're talking about the nested hierarchy
> of life, which is a different thing.

You don't seem to realize that they are connected. The pattern of
life wouldn't exist without ID. This is not true of the pattern of
stratigraphic layering - which would exist without the requirement of
the input of ID into each step in the layering process. Do you really
not see the difference?

> > God might also have created the
> > stratigraphic layering of the Earth, but it seems quite clear that God
> > isn't the only one able to produce such a phenomenon.
>
> Ah, but god created the earth, right? Only god could have created the
> earth, so the stratigraphic layering, being a feature of the earth (and
> impossible without the existence of the earth itself) must also have
> been created. QED.

The stratigraphic layering is not a feature of the Earth that
*requires* ID. Life is a feature of this Earth that does *require* ID
at every emergent step.

> > Therefore, the
> > ID-only hypothesis is falsified in this case. How is that such a hard
> > concept to grasp for you?
>
> Because you are incapable of noticing your own bait-and-switch here. If
> we accept that only god could have created life, that says nothing about
> creation of the nested hierarchy.

Yes, it does. It says that CD is not the only possible mechanism or
even the overwhelming choice for an intelligent agent to use. Without
the ID *requirement* CD is the only viable option for the NHP that we
see. You see, with one there is a viable choice while with the other
there isn't any viable choice.

> We all agree that even if god created
> life, and even if he created every single difference among species, the
> nested hierarchy could be wholly natural. We agree that given an
> omnipotent designer, it could be wholly non-natural too.

If by "wholly natural" you mean "random", we agree. The overall NHP,
even if each individual emergent step were designed, could be the
result of a random use of CD. Could such a pattern be the result of
a deliberate use of CD acting in a random way that did not have the
end-pattern in mind? Yes. Is this the only viable or reasonable
mechanistic option in this case? No.

> But we agree
> that the ID-only hypothesis is
> indeed falsified in the case of the
> nested hierarchy of life.
> This is true even if the ID-only hypothesis is
> not falsified in the origin of life itself.

Again, ID need not deliberately direct the formation of the pattern
itself when producing each emergent step. That's true. The overall
pattern, in this sense, could be the result of the random application
of CD. That's also true. The question is: Is this the only viable
option given the required involvement of ID in each emergent step?
No. That's not true. It is only true for those cases of a NHP where
ID is not required in each step.

So, it is your position that CD is the only viable option for those
cases of NHPs requiring ID in each emergent step that is not supported
by the evidence at hand. It is based on your notion that God would be
limited to using a mechanism that mindless nature is required to use.
That notion depends upon your placing limitations on God which aren't
even placed on humans. How reasonable is that notion?

< snip >

> >>> I repeat: The creative methods to which mindless nature is limited
> >>> are not the same methodological limitations of intelligent agents -
> >>> even when it comes to deliberately simulating natural creations (which
> >>> happens all the time). By your argument a "natural garden" or a
> >>> painting of a "natural scene" would be an evil deception?
> >> Only if it were intended to fool us into thinking it was a natural
> >> event, and the penalty for thinking so were eternal damnation.
>
> > See, you just said it again - creating any aspect of what nature can
> > also produce is defined by you as being "deceptive" - a deliberate
> > effort to be somehow sinister. That's nonsense. We humans
> > incorporate various features of nature all the time in our creations
> > without anyone being accused of sinister motives.
>
> This is a digression. Motives are sinister if they are sinister. If, for
> example, you make a diamond in the lab and try to sell it as a natural
> diamond, that's a sinister motive. A god who creates a pattern that is
> most easily interpreted as being natural is hiding his existence; if
> acceptance of that existence is important to us, that's sinister behavior.

LOL - Was Michelangelo hiding his existence by carving the statue of
David? Or is a painter who paints a natural scene "hiding" his/her
existence? Please! That's a bizarre argument. God's existence is
clear in his creation, especially of life, because of those elements
of life that cannot be explained or "copied" by nature - which are
numerous. Looking at just one aspect of a creation and saying that
the entire creation is obviously natural is unreasonable. Do SETI
scientists only look at one aspect of radiosignals in their search for
ETI? Of course not.

> > Also, where on Earth do you get this idea of some sort of "penalty" of
> > "eternal damnation" for believing in common descent or any other
> > aspect of evolutionary thought? That's also nonsense. No God that is
> > actually worth worshiping would be so petty.
>
> I agree. But creationists generally don't. I'm pleasantly surprised that
> you don't believe in Hell.

I do believe in Hell. I don't believe in Hell like many who call
themselves Christians believe in Hell, but I do believe in a final
judgment of evil people. I just don't believe that being honestly
wrong is evil.

> > No one is going to be
> > lost for being honestly tricked into believing the wrong thing. The
> > only evil that someone can be truly accused of is the evil of knowing
> > what is right and deliberately doing the opposite. For example, say
> > that you know it is wrong to murder, but you decide that your wife's
> > life insurance is just too tempting so you do it anyway. Now that, my
> > friend, is evil by anyone's definition of the term.
>