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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.