Explanatory Filters and Intelligent Design

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Keith Woodard

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
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On 8 Aug 1998 "Wesley R. Elsberry" <w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com>
wrote:

<snip>

>This assumes that the Explanatory Filter produced by Dembski
>is the One True Explanatory Filter. Other filters are not
>only possible, but preferable. Let me illustrate by
>constructing a different Explanatory Filter and making a
>case for its superiority.

>Given a phenomenon to be explained, pass it through the
>following Explanatory Filter:

>1) If the phenomenon can be ascribed to random processes,
>no further explanation is necessary. (The first condition
>represents a null hypothesis. The random process hypothesis
>serves admirably as a null hypothesis, and is to be preferred
>as a null hypothesis to either law-like physical process or
>intelligent causation.)

>2) If the phenomenon can be traced to the action of known laws
>regarding physical processes, no further explanation is
>necessary. (Law-like physical processes posit fewer entities
>than intelligent causation, and should be considered prior to
>intelligent causation.)

>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
>which we have past experience of having been produced by
>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
>explanation is necessary.

<snip>

Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?

Kind regards,

Keith

Replace nospam with att


Wesley R. Elsberry

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
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In article <365b3c41....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 8 Aug 1998 "Wesley R. Elsberry" <w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com>
>wrote:

KW><snip>

WRE>This assumes that the Explanatory Filter produced by Dembski
WRE>is the One True Explanatory Filter. Other filters are not
WRE>only possible, but preferable. Let me illustrate by
WRE>constructing a different Explanatory Filter and making a
WRE>case for its superiority.

WRE>Given a phenomenon to be explained, pass it through the
WRE>following Explanatory Filter:

WRE>1) If the phenomenon can be ascribed to random processes,
WRE>no further explanation is necessary. (The first condition
WRE>represents a null hypothesis. The random process hypothesis
WRE>serves admirably as a null hypothesis, and is to be preferred
WRE>as a null hypothesis to either law-like physical process or
WRE>intelligent causation.)

WRE>2) If the phenomenon can be traced to the action of known laws
WRE>regarding physical processes, no further explanation is
WRE>necessary. (Law-like physical processes posit fewer entities
WRE>than intelligent causation, and should be considered prior to
WRE>intelligent causation.)

WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by
WRE>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
WRE>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
WRE>explanation is necessary.

KW><snip>

KW>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
KW>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?

I don't see that this poses any difficulty for my EF. Humans
routinely produce IC systems. In these cases, our prior
experience leads to our classifying something as having been
designed. However, ICness is neither necessary to nor
sufficient for a conclusion of design to be made upon that
attribute alone. Humans also design systems that are not IC,
which means that ICness is not a necessary attribute of
design. Evolutionary processes are capable of producing IC
systems, which means that ICness is not a sufficient condition
upon which one may conclude design.

I'm trying to understand in what sense ICness could have an
impact upon the operation of my EF, and I haven't been able
to figure out just what might have been intended. Care to take
another shot at it?

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.
"Close my eyes\And I am there"-BOC


Keith Woodard

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
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On 24 Nov 1998 21:41:04 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

>In article <365b3c41....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>On 8 Aug 1998 "Wesley R. Elsberry" <w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com>
>>wrote:

<snip>


>WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
>WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by
>WRE>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
>WRE>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
>WRE>explanation is necessary.
>
>KW><snip>
>
>KW>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
>KW>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?
>
>I don't see that this poses any difficulty for my EF. Humans
>routinely produce IC systems. In these cases, our prior
>experience leads to our classifying something as having been
>designed. However, ICness is neither necessary to nor
>sufficient for a conclusion of design to be made upon that
>attribute alone. Humans also design systems that are not IC,
>which means that ICness is not a necessary attribute of
>design. Evolutionary processes are capable of producing IC
>systems, which means that ICness is not a sufficient condition
>upon which one may conclude design.

It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.

>I'm trying to understand in what sense ICness could have an
>impact upon the operation of my EF, and I haven't been able
>to figure out just what might have been intended. Care to take
>another shot at it?

ICness would be caught by filter three, and you'd thereupon ascribe
intelligent agency, if I understand you correctly.

Keith Woodard

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
to

<snip>

intelligent agency. You might change the wording of filter three to:

If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for which we have
past experience of ONLY having been produced by the action of an
intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe intelligent agency as
a cause, and no further explanation is necessary.

Wesley R. Elsberry

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
to
In article <365b726b....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 24 Nov 1998 21:41:04 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>>In article <365b3c41....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>>On 8 Aug 1998 "Wesley R. Elsberry" <w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com>
>>>wrote:

KW><snip>

WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by
WRE>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
WRE>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
WRE>explanation is necessary.

KW><snip>

KW>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
KW>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?

WRE>I don't see that this poses any difficulty for my EF. Humans
WRE>routinely produce IC systems. In these cases, our prior
WRE>experience leads to our classifying something as having been
WRE>designed. However, ICness is neither necessary to nor
WRE>sufficient for a conclusion of design to be made upon that
WRE>attribute alone. Humans also design systems that are not IC,
WRE>which means that ICness is not a necessary attribute of
WRE>design. Evolutionary processes are capable of producing IC
WRE>systems, which means that ICness is not a sufficient condition
WRE>upon which one may conclude design.

KW>It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided
KW>evolutionary processes could produce relatively simple IC
KW>systems, under circumstances where distinct, successive
KW>functions could serve as "bridges," but with complex systems
KW>where no one can imagine what the intervening functions could
KW>be, this could begin to seem unlikely.

Behe makes the claim that indirect routes to IC are
increasingly unlikely as the complexity of the system gets
higher. Behe, however, fails to establish that this assertion
is true.

WRE>I'm trying to understand in what sense ICness could have an
WRE>impact upon the operation of my EF, and I haven't been able
WRE>to figure out just what might have been intended. Care to take
WRE>another shot at it?

KW>ICness would be caught by filter three, and you'd thereupon
KW>ascribe intelligent agency, if I understand you correctly.

Kevin does not understand me correctly. I just established
above that ICness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient
attribute to conclude design by. If ICness is the only
attribute under consideration at filter three, I would move
the event under consideration to the fourth class -- "unknown
causation".

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"There's More Than One Way To Do It"-Perl Slogan, PP


Keith Woodard

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
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On 24 Nov 1998 22:37:17 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

I've added an element to Behe's argument. And, while neither of us
has established their validity, they both seem reasonable, at least to
me, that some argument should be advanced before rejecting them.

>WRE>I'm trying to understand in what sense ICness could have an
>WRE>impact upon the operation of my EF, and I haven't been able
>WRE>to figure out just what might have been intended. Care to take
>WRE>another shot at it?
>
>KW>ICness would be caught by filter three, and you'd thereupon
>KW>ascribe intelligent agency, if I understand you correctly.
>
>Kevin does not understand me correctly. I just established
>above that ICness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient
>attribute to conclude design by. If ICness is the only
>attribute under consideration at filter three, I would move
>the event under consideration to the fourth class -- "unknown
>causation".

I'm afraid I wasn't quite quick enough at cancelling this. I posted a
revision suggesting you change the wording of filter 3 to:

"If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for which we have
past experience of ONLY having been produced by the action of an
intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe intelligent agency as
a cause, and no further explanation is necessary."

As it stands, it says nothing to suggest the requirement of
sufficiency.

Keith Woodard

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Nov 24, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/24/98
to
On 24 Nov 1998 22:59:27 -0500, qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith Woodard)
wrote:

>On 24 Nov 1998 22:37:17 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

<snip>

>>Kevin does not understand me correctly. I just established
>>above that ICness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient
>>attribute to conclude design by. If ICness is the only
>>attribute under consideration at filter three, I would move
>>the event under consideration to the fourth class -- "unknown
>>causation".
>
>I'm afraid I wasn't quite quick enough at cancelling this. I posted a
>revision suggesting you change the wording of filter 3 to:
>
>"If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for which we have
>past experience of ONLY having been produced by the action of an
>intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe intelligent agency as
>a cause, and no further explanation is necessary."
>
>As it stands, it says nothing to suggest the requirement of
>sufficiency.

But I predict even my suggested revision will ultimately make you
extremely unhappy. Because there must have been a time when all IC
systems we knew of were known to be artificial. And, in that context,
we must ascribe the first flagellum we encounter to intelligent
agency.

And so, too, the second ...

Matt Silberstein

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
Woodard):

[snip]
>
>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?
>
Does not help. We can find six classes of systems:

1) IC system designed by a designer
2) non-IC systems designed by a designer
3) IC systems with no designer
4) non-IC systems with no designer
5) IC systems with an unknown origin
6) non-IC systems an unknown origin

That systems of class 1 exist does not tell us that systems of class 5
belong to class 1. And when we replace "designer" with "H.S.", then
the claim collapses completely.

Matt Silberstein
-------------------------------------------------------
I am alone because I want to be alone.
And the fingerprints on the gun ... let's not forget that.

From _Mister Boff: Unclear on the Concept_ by Tony Martin


Matt Silberstein

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
Woodard):

[snip]

>It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
>processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
>circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
>"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
>intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.
>
And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?

[snip]

Matt Silberstein

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
Woodard):

[snip]
>


>I'm afraid I wasn't quite quick enough at cancelling this. I posted a
>revision suggesting you change the wording of filter 3 to:
>
>"If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for which we have
>past experience of ONLY having been produced by the action of an
>intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe intelligent agency as
>a cause, and no further explanation is necessary."
>
>As it stands, it says nothing to suggest the requirement of
>sufficiency.
>

Since we can find IC system that did not have a designer, this does
not apply. And since the whole point of Paley's watch is that life
does not look like machines, I can't see how to make you extension
work.

Wesley R. Elsberry

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In article <365b8a4e....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 24 Nov 1998 22:59:27 -0500, qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith Woodard)
>wrote:
>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:37:17 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
>><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

KW><snip>

WRE>Kevin does not understand me correctly. I just established
WRE>above that ICness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient
WRE>attribute to conclude design by. If ICness is the only
WRE>attribute under consideration at filter three, I would move
WRE>the event under consideration to the fourth class -- "unknown
WRE>causation".

KW>I'm afraid I wasn't quite quick enough at cancelling this. I posted a
KW>revision suggesting you change the wording of filter 3 to:

KW>"If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
KW>which we have past experience of ONLY having been produced by
KW>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
KW>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
KW>explanation is necessary."

KW>As it stands, it says nothing to suggest the requirement of
KW>sufficiency.

I don't see that it would improve the alternate EF I proposed.

I'll append my alternate EF below.

KW>But I predict even my suggested revision will ultimately
KW>make you extremely unhappy. Because there must have been a
KW>time when all IC systems we knew of were known to be
KW>artificial. And, in that context, we must ascribe the first
KW>flagellum we encounter to intelligent agency.

KW>And so, too, the second ...

No, that's a non sequitur. ICness doesn't mean design. Is
there some way for me to state that more clearly? Even if
Kevin were to establish that at some time t the implication
"design -> IC" held true, that does not mean that "IC ->
design" at any time, not even t.

For everybody else, here's my alternate EF one more time.
See the whole post at
http://x2.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=383732124

Given a phenomenon to be explained, pass it through the

following Explanatory Filter:

1) If the phenomenon can be ascribed to random processes, no
further explanation is necessary. (The first condition


represents a null hypothesis. The random process hypothesis

serves admirably as a null hypothesis, and is to be preferred

as a null hypothesis to either law-like physical process or

intelligent causation.)

2) If the phenomenon can be traced to the action of known laws

regarding physical processes, no further explanation is


necessary. (Law-like physical processes posit fewer entities

than intelligent causation, and should be considered prior to

intelligent causation.)

3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
which we have past experience of having been produced by the


action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe
intelligent agency as a cause, and no furtherexplanation is
necessary.

4) If no known random, law-like physical, or intelligent
causes can be identified, then the phenomenon can only be said
to be the result of a currently unknown process.

Note that my Explanatory Filter introduces a fourth
classification not present in Dembski's filter, that of a
phenomenon having an unknown cause.

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"Redeemed from the cell\Into which he'd been thrown" - BOC


Wesley R. Elsberry

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In article <365b7f68....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 24 Nov 1998 22:37:17 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>>In article <365b726b....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>>On 24 Nov 1998 21:41:04 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
>>><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>>>>In article <365b3c41....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>>>>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>>>>On 8 Aug 1998 "Wesley R. Elsberry" <w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com>
>>>>>wrote:

KW><snip>

WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for

WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by
WRE>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
WRE>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
WRE>explanation is necessary.

KW><snip>

KW>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
KW>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?

WRE>I don't see that this poses any difficulty for my EF. Humans
WRE>routinely produce IC systems. In these cases, our prior
WRE>experience leads to our classifying something as having been
WRE>designed. However, ICness is neither necessary to nor
WRE>sufficient for a conclusion of design to be made upon that
WRE>attribute alone. Humans also design systems that are not IC,
WRE>which means that ICness is not a necessary attribute of
WRE>design. Evolutionary processes are capable of producing IC
WRE>systems, which means that ICness is not a sufficient condition
WRE>upon which one may conclude design.

KW>It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided
KW>evolutionary processes could produce relatively simple IC
KW>systems, under circumstances where distinct, successive
KW>functions could serve as "bridges," but with complex systems
KW>where no one can imagine what the intervening functions could
KW>be, this could begin to seem unlikely.

WRE>Behe makes the claim that indirect routes to IC are
WRE>increasingly unlikely as the complexity of the system gets
WRE>higher. Behe, however, fails to establish that this assertion
WRE>is true.

KW>I've added an element to Behe's argument.

What was the added element?

KW>And, while neither of us has established their validity, they
KW>both seem reasonable, at least to me, that some argument
KW>should be advanced before rejecting them.

I'm having trouble attaching referents to the phrases.
What is it that is being rejected, and what is the topic
of the argument that should be advanced?

WRE>I'm trying to understand in what sense ICness could have an
WRE>impact upon the operation of my EF, and I haven't been able
WRE>to figure out just what might have been intended. Care to take
WRE>another shot at it?

KW>ICness would be caught by filter three, and you'd thereupon
KW>ascribe intelligent agency, if I understand you correctly.

WRE>Kevin does not understand me correctly. I just established
WRE>above that ICness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient
WRE>attribute to conclude design by. If ICness is the only
WRE>attribute under consideration at filter three, I would move
WRE>the event under consideration to the fourth class -- "unknown
WRE>causation".

KW>I'm afraid I wasn't quite quick enough at cancelling this.

KW>I posted a revision suggesting you change the wording of
KW>filter 3 to:

KW>"If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
KW>which we have past experience of ONLY having been produced by
KW>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
KW>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
KW>explanation is necessary."

KW>As it stands, it says nothing to suggest the requirement of
KW>sufficiency.

As noted in another message, the amendment doesn't seem to
change anything that needs changing.

My original alternate EF post can be read at
http://x2.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=383732124

A collection of links to past messages of mine on the topic
of Dembski's arguments for ID can be found at
http://inia.cls.org/~welsberr/evobio/evc/argresp/design.html

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"But you've gotta blame someone\For your own confusion"-RR


Wesley R. Elsberry

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In article <365b784a....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 24 Nov 1998 21:41:04 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>>In article <365b3c41....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>>On 8 Aug 1998 "Wesley R. Elsberry" <w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com>
>>>wrote:

[Big snip]

I've already handled the issues presented in this message.

See
http://x4.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=415400212

and

http://x4.dejanews.com/getdoc.xp?AN=415388993

A list of my messages on the topic of Dembski's arguments is at
http://inia.cls.org/~welsberr/evobio/evc/argresp/design.html

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"we dropped freddy off the fire escape into the alley with military honors" -a.


Keith Woodard

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:52 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>Woodard):
>
>[snip]
>>

>>I'm afraid I wasn't quite quick enough at cancelling this. I posted a
>>revision suggesting you change the wording of filter 3 to:
>>
>>"If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for which we have
>>past experience of ONLY having been produced by the action of an
>>intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe intelligent agency as
>>a cause, and no further explanation is necessary."


>>
>>As it stands, it says nothing to suggest the requirement of

>>sufficiency.
>>
>Since we can find IC system that did not have a designer, this does
>not apply. And since the whole point of Paley's watch is that life
>does not look like machines, I can't see how to make you extension
>work.

I don't think it works either. But please explain how Wesley's
wording implies the requirement of sufficiency.

Keith Woodard

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>Woodard):
>
>[snip]
>

>>It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
>>processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
>>circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
>>"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
>>intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.
>>
>And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?

It doesn't, of course. But we humans traditionally judge explanations
for which we can easily imagine mechanisms as more liklely than those
for which we can't. It's not that we think our imagination
"constrains the universe." But we do think it can, in this sense,
give us an indication of what is possible.

If we can't imagine how a defendant could have committed a crime,
we're more likely to acquit. If we can't imagine how natural
astronomical processes can broadcast a long series of prime numbers,
we're more likely to ascribe it to intelligence.

Keith Woodard

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Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
On 25 Nov 1998 01:04:08 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

>In article <365b8a4e....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,


>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:59:27 -0500, qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith Woodard)

>>wrote:
>>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:37:17 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
>>><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>
>KW><snip>


>
> WRE>Kevin does not understand me correctly. I just established
> WRE>above that ICness is neither a necessary nor a sufficient
> WRE>attribute to conclude design by. If ICness is the only
> WRE>attribute under consideration at filter three, I would move
> WRE>the event under consideration to the fourth class -- "unknown
> WRE>causation".
>

>KW>I'm afraid I wasn't quite quick enough at cancelling this. I posted a
>KW>revision suggesting you change the wording of filter 3 to:


>
>KW>"If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
>KW>which we have past experience of ONLY having been produced by
>KW>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
>KW>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
>KW>explanation is necessary."
>

>KW>As it stands, it says nothing to suggest the requirement of
>KW>sufficiency.
>
>I don't see that it would improve the alternate EF I proposed.
>
>I'll append my alternate EF below.
>
>KW>But I predict even my suggested revision will ultimately
>KW>make you extremely unhappy. Because there must have been a
>KW>time when all IC systems we knew of were known to be
>KW>artificial. And, in that context, we must ascribe the first
>KW>flagellum we encounter to intelligent agency.
>
>KW>And so, too, the second ...
>
>No, that's a non sequitur. ICness doesn't mean design. Is
>there some way for me to state that more clearly?

I never thought you believed it did, Wesley. That's been clear to me
all along. My major point is not about your beliefs, but about the
language of your third filter. It seems to me to imply that ICness
means design, and you have yet to explain why you think it does not.

>Even if
>Kevin

Keith :-)

>were to establish that at some time t the implication
>"design -> IC" held true, that does not mean that "IC ->
>design" at any time, not even t.

Again, I'm not making that claim myself. I'm just surprised to see
that implication in the language of your third filter.

<snip>

>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
>which we have past experience of having been produced by the


>action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe
>intelligent agency as a cause, and no furtherexplanation is
>necessary.

According to this, if phenomenon P is a member of a class for which we
have past experience of having been produced by the action of an
intelligent agency, we are justified in ascribing P to intelligent
agency.

You seem to agree that ICness is a class for which we have past
experience of having been produced by the action of an intelligent
agency.

So if P is an IC system, how do you escape the implication that we can
reasonably ascribe it to intelligent agency? I want to be clear that
I'm not referring in any way to your personal beliefs about whether
ICness implies design. I know very well you reject that proposition.
Let's restrict this discussion to the implications of the language of
your third filter.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:49 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>Woodard):
>
>[snip]
>>

>>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
>>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?
>>
>Does not help. We can find six classes of systems:
>
>1) IC system designed by a designer
>2) non-IC systems designed by a designer
>3) IC systems with no designer
>4) non-IC systems with no designer
>5) IC systems with an unknown origin
>6) non-IC systems an unknown origin
>
>That systems of class 1 exist does not tell us that systems of class 5
>belong to class 1.

Matt, I'm making a point about the language of Wesley's third filter.
Please examine that and explain why you disagree with me.

<snip>

Matt Silberstein

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
Woodard):

>On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>wrote:
>
>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>Woodard):
>>
>>[snip]
>>

>>>It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
>>>processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
>>>circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
>>>"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
>>>intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.
>>>
>>And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?
>
>It doesn't, of course. But we humans traditionally judge explanations
>for which we can easily imagine mechanisms as more liklely than those
>for which we can't. It's not that we think our imagination
>"constrains the universe." But we do think it can, in this sense,
>give us an indication of what is possible.
>
>If we can't imagine how a defendant could have committed a crime,
>we're more likely to acquit. If we can't imagine how natural
>astronomical processes can broadcast a long series of prime numbers,
>we're more likely to ascribe it to intelligence.

And so, if we can't imagine how life could have formed naturally, it
must have been by some unknown, unevidenced, unconstrained being
because we can imagine such a being. If you say so.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
On 25 Nov 1998 09:16:38 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to teleology,
observed features of life, the more likely the teleological
explanations become. Or so it seems to me.

Matt Silberstein

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to

If someone told you that the world had to be comprehensible, they
lied.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
On 25 Nov 1998 12:28:50 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

I agree it isn't necessarily comprehensible. But science more or less
assumes that it is.

Mark Isaak

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In article <365b784a....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
>processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
>circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
>"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
>intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.

Not to me.

>>I'm trying to understand in what sense ICness could have an

>>impact upon the operation of my EF, and I haven't been able

>>to figure out just what might have been intended. Care to take

>>another shot at it?
>
>ICness would be caught by filter three, and you'd thereupon ascribe

>intelligent agency. You might change the wording of filter three to:
>
>If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for which we have
>past experience of ONLY having been produced by the action of an


>intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe intelligent agency as
>a cause, and no further explanation is necessary.

The logically equivalent flip side of that filter is that, for the class
of phenomena for which we have NO past experience of having been produced
by an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to rule out such an agency.
--
Mark Isaak atta @ best.com http://www.best.com/~atta
"That which you know, you ignore because it is inconvenient. That
which you do not know, you invent." - J. Michael Straczynski


Mark Isaak

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In article <365be87c....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>If we can't imagine how a defendant could have committed a crime,
>we're more likely to acquit. If we can't imagine how natural
>astronomical processes can broadcast a long series of prime numbers,
>we're more likely to ascribe it to intelligence.

Only because it's easier for us to imagine the intelligence, since many of
us have had first-hand experience with it. We're not likely to ascribe
the cause to something we can't imagine in the first place, even though
that's most likely.

Matt Silberstein

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
Woodard):

>On 25 Nov 1998 12:28:50 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
>wrote:
>
>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>Woodard):
>>

[snip]

>>>The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to teleology,
>>>observed features of life, the more likely the teleological
>>>explanations become. Or so it seems to me.
>>>
>>If someone told you that the world had to be comprehensible, they
>>lied.
>
>I agree it isn't necessarily comprehensible. But science more or less
>assumes that it is.
>

No, it does not. And you can't just assert an answer in order to make
it comprehensible. Science is a search for that which is
comprehensible based on the observation such searches have had success
in the past. No assumptions about how the world works. Even the
assumption that the rules that operate here and now does not assume
that rules operate or that everything follows rules.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/25/98
to
On 25 Nov 1998 19:43:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>Woodard):
>
>>On 25 Nov 1998 12:28:50 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
>>wrote:
>>
>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>Woodard):
>>>
>[snip]
>
>>>>The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to teleology,
>>>>observed features of life, the more likely the teleological
>>>>explanations become. Or so it seems to me.
>>>>
>>>If someone told you that the world had to be comprehensible, they
>>>lied.
>>
>>I agree it isn't necessarily comprehensible. But science more or less
>>assumes that it is.
>>
>No, it does not.

You sound very sure. I'm curious just how certain you are about this.

>And you can't just assert an answer in order to make
>it comprehensible.

Not clear what you're referring to.

>Science is a search for that which is
>comprehensible based on the observation such searches have had success
>in the past.

Yes...

>No assumptions about how the world works.

I can think of several just off the top of my head:

That the future will tend to resemble the past.

That our senses provide decent information about the objective world.

That our memory provides a decent indication of past real events.

That no "supernatural forces" ever suspend the laws of nature.

The assumption that the world is governed by strict causation was once
a huge assumption. Quantum mechanics thrashed it, and I don't think
the problem of how exactly to salvage causation has yet been solved.
But I think it's still assumed that most macro events -- even chaotic
ones -- are governed by causation, and that even quantum events are
governed by some sort of probabilistic causal laws.

Now, it's true that regularities are observed, not assumed. But it
turns out that's not the same thing as causation. While we can
observe B regularly following A, we can't observe A *causing* B. To
this day, the question of what causation actually means remains a
philosophical controversy with nothing close to a consensus.

>Even the
>assumption that the rules that operate here and now does not assume
>that rules operate or that everything follows rules.

Again, I'm not clear what you mean by this.

Wesley R. Elsberry

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
In article <365be87c....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)

>wrote:
>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>Woodard):

KW>[snip]

KW>It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
KW>processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
KW>circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
KW>"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
KW>intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.

MS>And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?

KW>It doesn't, of course. But we humans traditionally judge
KW>explanations for which we can easily imagine mechanisms as more
KW>liklely than those for which we can't. It's not that we think
KW>our imagination "constrains the universe." But we do think it
KW>can, in this sense, give us an indication of what is possible.

KW>If we can't imagine how a defendant could have committed a crime,
KW>we're more likely to acquit. If we can't imagine how natural
KW>astronomical processes can broadcast a long series of prime numbers,
KW>we're more likely to ascribe it to intelligence.

What do either of these have to do with IC?

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"We understand, we understand\Fear is real but so do I" - BOC


Wesley R. Elsberry

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
In article <365be8f2....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 25 Nov 1998 01:04:08 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>>In article <365b8a4e....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

>>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:59:27 -0500, qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith Woodard)
>>>wrote:
>>>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:37:17 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
>>>><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

[...]

WRE>No, that's a non sequitur. ICness doesn't mean design. Is
WRE>there some way for me to state that more clearly?

KW>I never thought you believed it did, Wesley. That's been clear
KW>to me all along. My major point is not about your beliefs, but
KW>about the language of your third filter. It seems to me to imply
KW>that ICness means design, and you have yet to explain why you
KW>think it does not.

It doesn't seem to me to imply any such thing, which means that
I don't see anything to explain.

WRE>Even if Kevin

KW>Keith :-)

Ooops.

WRE>were to establish that at some time t the implication
WRE>"design -> IC" held true, that does not mean that "IC ->
WRE>design" at any time, not even t.

KW>Again, I'm not making that claim myself. I'm just surprised
KW>to see that implication in the language of your third filter.

I'd be surprised, too, since AFAICT it isn't there.

KW><snip>

WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by the
WRE>action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe
WRE>intelligent agency as a cause, and no further explanation is
WRE>necessary.

KW>According to this, if phenomenon P is a member of a class for
KW>which we have past experience of having been produced by the
KW>action of an intelligent agency, we are justified in
KW>ascribing P to intelligent agency.

KW>You seem to agree that ICness is a class for which we have
KW>past experience of having been produced by the action of an
KW>intelligent agency.

Not that I see. IOW, no, I do not agree with that. IC is
an *attribute* of a system, not a *class* of phenomena.

KW>So if P is an IC system, how do you escape the implication
KW>that we can reasonably ascribe it to intelligent agency?

"IC -> design" is false if for any system X, X has the IC
attribute but is not due to design. Biological production of
IC means that such systems exist, thus "IC -> design" is
false.

Beyond that, Dembski distinguishes between "design" and
"agency".

[Quote]

These two moves - ruling out regularity, and then ruling out
chance - constitute the design inference. The conception of
design that emerges from the design inference is therefore
eliminative, asserting of an event what it is not, not what it
is. To attribute an event to design is to say that regularity
and chance have been ruled out. Referring Caputo's ballot line
selections to design is therefore not identical with referring
it to agency. To be sure, design renders agency plausible. But
as the negation of regularity and chance, design is a mode of
explanation logically preliminary to agency. Certainly agency
(in this case cheating) best explains Caputo's ballot line
selections. But no one was privy to Caputo's ballot line
selections. In the absence of an exact causal story, the New
Jersey Supreme Court therefore went as far as it could in the
Caputo case.

[End Quote - WA Dembski, The Design Inference, pp.19-20]

KW>I want to be clear that I'm not referring in any way to
KW>your personal beliefs about whether ICness implies design.
KW>I know very well you reject that proposition. Let's restrict
KW>this discussion to the implications of the language of
KW>your third filter.

Right. There is no endorsement of "IC -> design" in what
I wrote. That was a short discussion.

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"to resist the insidious process of assimilation" - archy


Wesley R. Elsberry

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
In article <365beada....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:49 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)

>wrote:
>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>Woodard):

KW>[snip]

KW>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
KW>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?

MS>Does not help. We can find six classes of systems:

MS>1) IC system designed by a designer
MS>2) non-IC systems designed by a designer
MS>3) IC systems with no designer
MS>4) non-IC systems with no designer
MS>5) IC systems with an unknown origin
MS>6) non-IC systems an unknown origin

MS>That systems of class 1 exist does not tell us that systems of
MS>class 5 belong to class 1.

KW>Matt, I'm making a point about the language of Wesley's third
KW>filter. Please examine that and explain why you disagree with me.

Because it doesn't say anything that could be remotely construed
to endorse the implication Matt shows is invalid above?

[Quote]

WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by the
WRE>action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe
WRE>intelligent agency as a cause, and no further explanation is
WRE>necessary.

[End Quote]

KW><snip>

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"yours for less justice and more charity" - archy


Wesley R. Elsberry

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
In article <365c1d93....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 25 Nov 1998 09:16:38 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)

>wrote:
>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>Woodard):
>>>On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)

>>>wrote:
>>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>>Woodard):

[...]

KW>The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to
KW>teleology, observed features of life, the more likely the
KW>teleological explanations become. Or so it seems to me.

Let me pose an alternative phrasing.

"The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to

teleology, observed features of life, the less obviously
invalid the teleological explanations become. Or so it
seems to me."

--

Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"any mutt can write plays for this london public" - archy


may...@andrews.edu

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
In article <1998112502...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com>,

"Wesley R. Elsberry" <w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
> In article <365b3c41....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
> Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
> >On 8 Aug 1998 "Wesley R. Elsberry" <w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com>
> >wrote:
>
> KW><snip>
>
> WRE>This assumes that the Explanatory Filter produced by Dembski
> WRE>is the One True Explanatory Filter. Other filters are not
> WRE>only possible, but preferable. Let me illustrate by
> WRE>constructing a different Explanatory Filter and making a
> WRE>case for its superiority.
>
> WRE>Given a phenomenon to be explained, pass it through the
> WRE>following Explanatory Filter:
>
> WRE>1) If the phenomenon can be ascribed to random processes,
> WRE>no further explanation is necessary. (The first condition
> WRE>represents a null hypothesis. The random process hypothesis
> WRE>serves admirably as a null hypothesis, and is to be preferred
> WRE>as a null hypothesis to either law-like physical process or
> WRE>intelligent causation.)
>
> WRE>2) If the phenomenon can be traced to the action of known laws
> WRE>regarding physical processes, no further explanation is
> WRE>necessary. (Law-like physical processes posit fewer entities
> WRE>than intelligent causation, and should be considered prior to
> WRE>intelligent causation.)

>
> WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
> WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by
> WRE>the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
> WRE>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
> WRE>explanation is necessary.

>
> KW><snip>
>
> KW>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
> KW>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?
>
> I don't see that this poses any difficulty for my EF. Humans
> routinely produce IC systems. In these cases, our prior
> experience leads to our classifying something as having been
> designed. However, ICness is neither necessary to nor
> sufficient for a conclusion of design to be made upon that
> attribute alone. Humans also design systems that are not IC,
> which means that ICness is not a necessary attribute of
> design. Evolutionary processes are capable of producing IC
> systems, which means that ICness is not a sufficient condition
> upon which one may conclude design.
>
> I'm trying to understand in what sense ICness could have an
> impact upon the operation of my EF, and I haven't been able
> to figure out just what might have been intended. Care to take
> another shot at it?

I don't think IC is the problem as much as functional complexity (although
all IC systems are functionally complex); functional complexity is so closely
associated with design that we call natural selection a "design-mimicking"
law because it produces functional complexity. If natural selection can be
ruled out (although obviously this has never happened) we must suspect
something rather bizarre, like design theory or a teleological law. How do we
know when to favor design over teleological laws? Probably when the
teleological law resembles a conscious entity in any respect other than the
fact that it's teleological.

--vince

-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own


may...@andrews.edu

unread,
Nov 26, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/26/98
to
In article <366f9bf3...@nntp.ix.netcom.com>,

mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein) wrote:
> In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
> Woodard):
>
> [snip]

>
> >It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
> >processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
> >circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
> >"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
> >intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.
> >
> And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?

Keith is right; it's unlikely that many of these bridges would be around.
That's why we need the concept of IC developing at the same time as the system
(or after the system develops) to show how IC systems could have evolved. I
think some people call it coevolution.

Matt Silberstein

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from may...@andrews.edu:

>In article <366f9bf3...@nntp.ix.netcom.com>,
> mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein) wrote:
>> In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>> Woodard):
>>
>> [snip]
>>
>> >It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
>> >processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
>> >circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
>> >"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
>> >intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.
>> >
>> And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?
>
>Keith is right; it's unlikely that many of these bridges would be around.

Really? So we go from "I can't imagine how" to "It is unlikely". You
both seem to think that your ability to imagine says something about
how things work.

>That's why we need the concept of IC developing at the same time as the system
>(or after the system develops) to show how IC systems could have evolved. I
>think some people call it coevolution.
>

Or change in function. Or ...

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
On 26 Nov 1998 03:18:51 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

>In article <365be87c....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>>wrote:
>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>Woodard):
>

>KW>[snip]
>
> KW>It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
> KW>processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
> KW>circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
> KW>"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
> KW>intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.
>
>MS>And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?
>
>KW>It doesn't, of course. But we humans traditionally judge
>KW>explanations for which we can easily imagine mechanisms as more
>KW>liklely than those for which we can't. It's not that we think
>KW>our imagination "constrains the universe." But we do think it
>KW>can, in this sense, give us an indication of what is possible.
>
>KW>If we can't imagine how a defendant could have committed a crime,
>KW>we're more likely to acquit. If we can't imagine how natural
>KW>astronomical processes can broadcast a long series of prime numbers,
>KW>we're more likely to ascribe it to intelligence.
>
>What do either of these have to do with IC?

They're simply illustrations of the principle in the paragraph above.

Aside: I'll respond to all your posts as quickly as I can. Work,
family and the need for sleep are interfering, but I'm spending all my
free time thinking about this. Part of the problem is my ideas are
changing (dare I say "evolving"?) and it sometimes takes me a while to
slog through their ramifications.

For example, right now I'm thinking: why bring regularity into it at
all? Why not just one filter: complexity-specification?

I find your illustrations involving Mercury and pulsars powerful, but
I think Demski's critics in general underestimate the power of his
"Made by Yahweh" and SETI illustrations.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
On 26 Nov 1998 03:16:23 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

>In article <365be8f2....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>On 25 Nov 1998 01:04:08 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
>><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>>>In article <365b8a4e....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,


>>>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:59:27 -0500, qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith Woodard)
>>>>wrote:

>>>>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:37:17 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"


>>>>><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>
>[...]
>
>WRE>No, that's a non sequitur. ICness doesn't mean design. Is
>WRE>there some way for me to state that more clearly?
>
>KW>I never thought you believed it did, Wesley. That's been clear
>KW>to me all along. My major point is not about your beliefs, but
>KW>about the language of your third filter. It seems to me to imply
>KW>that ICness means design, and you have yet to explain why you
>KW>think it does not.
>
>It doesn't seem to me to imply any such thing, which means that
>I don't see anything to explain.
>
>WRE>Even if Kevin
>
>KW>Keith :-)
>
>Ooops.
>
>WRE>were to establish that at some time t the implication
>WRE>"design -> IC" held true, that does not mean that "IC ->
>WRE>design" at any time, not even t.
>
>KW>Again, I'm not making that claim myself. I'm just surprised
>KW>to see that implication in the language of your third filter.
>
>I'd be surprised, too, since AFAICT it isn't there.
>
>KW><snip>
>

>WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for

>WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by the
>WRE>action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe
>WRE>intelligent agency as a cause, and no further explanation is
>WRE>necessary.
>
>KW>According to this, if phenomenon P is a member of a class for
>KW>which we have past experience of having been produced by the
>KW>action of an intelligent agency, we are justified in
>KW>ascribing P to intelligent agency.
>
>KW>You seem to agree that ICness is a class for which we have
>KW>past experience of having been produced by the action of an
>KW>intelligent agency.
>
>Not that I see. IOW, no, I do not agree with that. IC is
>an *attribute* of a system, not a *class* of phenomena.

It seems to me it defines a class. Would you agree that systems with
the attribute of ICness fall into the class of IC phenomena?

>KW>So if P is an IC system, how do you escape the implication
>KW>that we can reasonably ascribe it to intelligent agency?
>
>"IC -> design" is false if for any system X, X has the IC
>attribute but is not due to design. Biological production of
>IC means that such systems exist, thus "IC -> design" is
>false.

I argue below that this runs counter to your third filter.

>Beyond that, Dembski distinguishes between "design" and
>"agency".
>
>[Quote]
>
>These two moves - ruling out regularity, and then ruling out
>chance - constitute the design inference. The conception of
>design that emerges from the design inference is therefore
>eliminative, asserting of an event what it is not, not what it
>is. To attribute an event to design is to say that regularity
>and chance have been ruled out. Referring Caputo's ballot line
>selections to design is therefore not identical with referring
>it to agency. To be sure, design renders agency plausible. But
>as the negation of regularity and chance, design is a mode of
>explanation logically preliminary to agency. Certainly agency
>(in this case cheating) best explains Caputo's ballot line
>selections. But no one was privy to Caputo's ballot line
>selections. In the absence of an exact causal story, the New
>Jersey Supreme Court therefore went as far as it could in the
>Caputo case.
>
>[End Quote - WA Dembski, The Design Inference, pp.19-20]

I don't see the relevance of this to your third filter. However, as
an aside, I think you're correct Dembski is backtracking here. It
implies to me he doesn't think regularity, chance and agency exhaust
the possibilities.

>KW>I want to be clear that I'm not referring in any way to
>KW>your personal beliefs about whether ICness implies design.
>KW>I know very well you reject that proposition. Let's restrict
>KW>this discussion to the implications of the language of
>KW>your third filter.
>
>Right. There is no endorsement of "IC -> design" in what
>I wrote. That was a short discussion.

I hope we can prolong it a bit more. I hope this is a clearer outline
of my argument. Perhaps you can identify its fallacy.

Premise: If a phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
which we have past experience of having been produced by the
action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe
intelligent agency as a cause, and no further explanation is
necessary. [Your filter.]

Premise: The class of IC systems is a class of phenomena for
which we have past experience of having been produced by the
action of an intelligent agency. [You seem to agree.]

Premise: Phenomenon P falls into the class of IC systems. [By
hypothesis.]

Conclusion: P is a phenomenon for which it is reasonable to ascribe
intelligent agency as a cause, and no further explanation is
necessary.

Matt Silberstein

unread,
Nov 27, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/27/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
Woodard):

>On 25 Nov 1998 19:43:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>wrote:
>
>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>Woodard):
>>

>>>On 25 Nov 1998 12:28:50 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>>>wrote:
>>>
>>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>>Woodard):
>>>>

>>[snip]


>>
>>>>>The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to teleology,

>>>>>observed features of life, the more likely the teleological


>>>>>explanations become. Or so it seems to me.
>>>>>

>>>>If someone told you that the world had to be comprehensible, they
>>>>lied.
>>>
>>>I agree it isn't necessarily comprehensible. But science more or less
>>>assumes that it is.
>>>
>>No, it does not.
>
>You sound very sure. I'm curious just how certain you are about this.
>
>>And you can't just assert an answer in order to make
>>it comprehensible.
>
>Not clear what you're referring to.
>
>>Science is a search for that which is
>>comprehensible based on the observation such searches have had success
>>in the past.
>
>Yes...
>
>>No assumptions about how the world works.
>
>I can think of several just off the top of my head:

And I really mis-spoke. Science makes assumptions, but they are
rebuttable for the most part. And any assumptions made by science are
made by people who look for their car keys and eat breakfast because
they are hungry.

>That the future will tend to resemble the past.

Which is support.

>That our senses provide decent information about the objective world.

Interesting phrasing. I agree, but I have to think about the
implications.

>That our memory provides a decent indication of past real events.

No, I don't think so. Or, rather, I don't make assumptions about your
memory. I certainly make what seem to you assumptions about my own
mental state, but I don't think that is particular to science.

>That no "supernatural forces" ever suspend the laws of nature.
>

Not at all. All science says is that it won't propose such an
explanation. Faced with the occurrence of such an event all science
could say is "we don't understand this". Which, btw, contradicts you
claimed assumption that the world is comprehensible.

[snip without cause ;-) ]

>>Even the
>>assumption that the rules that operate here and now does not assume
>>that rules operate or that everything follows rules.
>
>Again, I'm not clear what you mean by this.
>

This is my wording of your first assumption above. I think mine is a
bit more accurate and helpful. Maybe not.

Anyway, getting back to your claim that science assumes the world is
comprehensible. I would say that science divides the world into
comprehended stuff and non-comprehended stuff. It does not assume that
non-comprehended will end up an empty set.

may...@andrews.edu

unread,
Nov 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/28/98
to
In article <3679f9e4...@nntp.ix.netcom.com>,

mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein) wrote:
> In talk.origins I read this message from may...@andrews.edu:
>
> >In article <366f9bf3...@nntp.ix.netcom.com>,
> > mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein) wrote:
> >> In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
> >> Woodard):
> >>
> >> [snip]
> >>
> >> >It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
> >> >processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
> >> >circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
> >> >"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
> >> >intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.
> >> >
> >> And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?
> >
> >Keith is right; it's unlikely that many of these bridges would be around.
>
> Really? So we go from "I can't imagine how" to "It is unlikely". You
> both seem to think that your ability to imagine says something about
> how things work.

Well, I don't necessarily agree with his reasoning, but I agree with his
conclusion. The bridges are unlikely to the extent that the systems are
composed of many highly specified components. If there are a few highly
specified components, or if there are many components of low specificity,
chance could easily be a factor. But as both of these variables increase, you
get closer and closer to making a 747 airplane out of a hurricane: so you need
something other than chance, namely natural selection.

> >That's why we need the concept of IC developing at the same time as the
system
> >(or after the system develops) to show how IC systems could have evolved. I
> >think some people call it coevolution.
> >
> Or change in function. Or ...

Change in function is the same as function bridges, so it has the same
problems as those discussed above.

Mark Isaak

unread,
Nov 28, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/28/98
to
In article <365f0b32....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>I hope this is a clearer outline
>of my argument. Perhaps you can identify its fallacy.
>
>Premise: If a phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
>which we have past experience of having been produced by the
>action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe
>intelligent agency as a cause, and no further explanation is
>necessary. [Your filter.]

As stated, this premise says that it's reasonable to ascribe everything to
an intelligent agency, since everything has something in common with
something that people have made. You need to add another qualifier here,
and change the conclusion slightly:

Premise: If a phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for which we
have past experience of having been produced by the action of an

intelligent agency AND ONLY BY ACTION OF AN INTELLIGENT AGENCY, it is
reasonable to ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, ALTHOUGH A DIFFERENT
EXPLANATION MAY SHOW UP WITH FURTHER INVESTIGATION.

>Premise: The class of IC systems is a class of phenomena for
>which we have past experience of having been produced by the
>action of an intelligent agency.

However, we have a little experience of IC systems occurring without help
of an intelligent agency, and no reason to expect that such occurrence is
not commonplace.

Personally, I think that the defining characteristic of design is a
designing agent, and that the way to test design is to find the agent.
Design theorists don't like this definition, though, because it doesn't
give them the answers they want.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/29/98
to
On 27 Nov 1998 17:04:58 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>Woodard):
>

>>On 25 Nov 1998 19:43:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>>wrote:
>>
>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>Woodard):
>>>

>>>>On 25 Nov 1998 12:28:50 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>>>>wrote:
>>>>
>>>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>>>Woodard):
>>>>>
>>>[snip]
>>>

>>>>>>The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to teleology,
>>>>>>observed features of life, the more likely the teleological
>>>>>>explanations become. Or so it seems to me.
>>>>>>
>>>>>If someone told you that the world had to be comprehensible, they
>>>>>lied.
>>>>
>>>>I agree it isn't necessarily comprehensible. But science more or less
>>>>assumes that it is.
>>>>
>>>No, it does not.
>>
>>You sound very sure. I'm curious just how certain you are about this.

<snip>

>>That our memory provides a decent indication of past real events.
>
>No, I don't think so. Or, rather, I don't make assumptions about your
>memory. I certainly make what seem to you assumptions about my own
>mental state, but I don't think that is particular to science.

Not saying these are particular to science.

Actually, though, the extent to which science relies on human memory
is an interesting question. So much today is recorded automatically.
It's not like the old days, when astronomers would periodically pull
their eyes from the telescope as they sketched the canals.

>>That no "supernatural forces" ever suspend the laws of nature.
>>
>Not at all. All science says is that it won't propose such an
>explanation.

What exactly is the difference?

It happens, from time to time, that an experiment leads to an
anomalous outcome. This has even occurred in attempts to measure
fundamental constants.

If a dozen outcomes form a close grouping, but one is quite different,
two possibilities leap to mind:

* Something went wrong with the anomalous experiment.

* There was a fluctuation in the fundamental constant at the
time/place of the anomalous experiment.

I contend that scientists will embrace the former every time. But
why? What is the justification for this behavior? I submit it is
simply the assumption I mentioned.

You're doubtless familiar with the experiment published in the April
1907 issue of AMERICAN MEDICINE concerning "soul substance."

http://www.artbell.com/duncan.html

It seems that Dr. Duncan MacDougall weighed some folks in the process
of dying, and found that a significant fraction of an ounce seemed to
unaccountably vanish from the body at the point of death.

I have no doubt fault can be found with Dr. MacDougall's procedures.
But what's revealing is that this experiment has apparently never been
replicated. Why? In my opinion, this is because scientists simply
assume such phenomena don't occur.

Of course, unless we define "supernatural" more precisely, it's not
clear soul substance falls into that category. But I think it's fair
to say that evidence of phenomena that seem incongruent with the
mainstream scientific paradigm won't be taken seriously by scientists
in general, even if, as in the MacDougall case, there's no scientific
evidence against it. In an important sense, this is an assumption by
science about how the world works.

>Faced with the occurrence of such an event all science
>could say is "we don't understand this". Which, btw, contradicts you
>claimed assumption that the world is comprehensible.

To say that the world is comprehensible is not to say it's entirely
comprehended at the present time.

[snip without cause ;-) ]

[snip because 2 can play this game ;-)]

>Anyway, getting back to your claim that science assumes the world is
>comprehensible. I would say that science divides the world into
>comprehended stuff and non-comprehended stuff. It does not assume that
>non-comprehended will end up an empty set.

Once again, we don't want to confuse "comprehensible" with
"comprehended."

Matt, the comprehensibility of the universe is widely recognized as
one of the founding assumptions of modern science. Hmmm...what kind
of a quote do I have for you on this? Let's see...well, here are a
few: "The modern practice of science is premised upon the radical
assumption that the physical universe is comprehensible to humans."
Also, "...the implied limit on human comprehension is profoundly
anti-scientific." And, "In education as well as practice, the axiom
of comprehensibility should be emphasized as the wellspring of
scientific endeavor."

I could go on, but that should suffice.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 29, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/29/98
to
On 26 Nov 1998 05:14:25 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

>In article <365c1d93....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>On 25 Nov 1998 09:16:38 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>>wrote:
>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>Woodard):

>>>>On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:51 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>>>>wrote:
>>>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>>>Woodard):
>

>[...]
>
>KW>The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to
>KW>teleology, observed features of life, the more likely the
>KW>teleological explanations become. Or so it seems to me.
>
>Let me pose an alternative phrasing.
>

>"The more difficult it is to explain, without recourse to

>teleology, observed features of life, the less obviously
>invalid the teleological explanations become. Or so it
>seems to me."

I think it goes too far to say teleological explanations are obviously
invalid. If we ignore the issue of possible counter-evidence (IC
sysems, etc.), I think it's fairer to say that Occam's razor indicates
teleological explanations are less likely to be valid.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/30/98
to
On 26 Nov 1998 03:22:56 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

>In article <365beada....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>On 25 Nov 1998 00:50:49 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)


>>wrote:
>>>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>>Woodard):
>

>KW>[snip]
>


> KW>Couldn't Dembski argue that we have past experience of IC systems
> KW>having been produced by the action of an intelligent agency?
>
>MS>Does not help. We can find six classes of systems:
>
>MS>1) IC system designed by a designer
>MS>2) non-IC systems designed by a designer
>MS>3) IC systems with no designer
>MS>4) non-IC systems with no designer
>MS>5) IC systems with an unknown origin
>MS>6) non-IC systems an unknown origin
>
>MS>That systems of class 1 exist does not tell us that systems of
>MS>class 5 belong to class 1.
>
>KW>Matt, I'm making a point about the language of Wesley's third
>KW>filter. Please examine that and explain why you disagree with me.
>
>Because it doesn't say anything that could be remotely construed
>to endorse the implication Matt shows is invalid above?
>
>[Quote]
>
>WRE>3) If the phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena for
>WRE>which we have past experience of having been produced by the
>WRE>action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to ascribe
>WRE>intelligent agency as a cause, and no further explanation is
>WRE>necessary.
>
>[End Quote]
>
>KW><snip>

I've handled this on another post.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Nov 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM11/30/98
to
On 27 Nov 1998 14:12:41 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

>In talk.origins I read this message from may...@andrews.edu:
>
>>In article <366f9bf3...@nntp.ix.netcom.com>,


>> mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein) wrote:
>>> In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>>> Woodard):
>>>

>>> [snip]
>>>
>>> >It seems reasonable that non-intelligently-guided evolutionary
>>> >processes could produce relatively simple IC systems, under
>>> >circumstances where distinct, successive functions could serve as
>>> >"bridges," but with complex systems where no one can imagine what the
>>> >intervening functions could be, this could begin to seem unlikely.
>>> >
>>> And how does your ability to imagine constrain the universe?
>>
>>Keith is right; it's unlikely that many of these bridges would be around.
>
>Really? So we go from "I can't imagine how" to "It is unlikely". You
>both seem to think that your ability to imagine says something about
>how things work.

<snip>

I should clarify and expand on this. Imagination does play a role,
but I think the term "intuition" would be closer to the mark. And,
yes, I do think it tells us something about how things work.

Let's consider Wesley's LGM-1 and Dembski's SETI examples side by
side. (We'll refer to Dembski's hypthesized source as DHS-1.)

To the extent that LGM-1's signal is regular (it repeats every 1.34
seconds) it lacks complexity. It does show complex variations in
intensity, but these match no independently specified pattern anyone
can identify. We'll assume a state of knowledge such that no one can
imagine what lawlike mechanism could explain the signal's properties.


DHS-1 puts out a signal matching the pattern of a long series of prime
numbers. No one can think of a lawlike mechanism for this either.

Despite the failure of imagination in both cases, confidence in the ID
theory would be justified only for DHS-1. I think Dembski is correct
that this is due to its specified complexity.

But no matter what degree of specified complexity is present, how can
we ever justify any degree of confidence that no unknown lawlike
mechanism could produce such a signal?

I don't believe we have anything more than the human intuitive
judgement that this would be unlikely in the extreme.

Whether this intuition is hard-wired or the result of experience is
difficult to say, but my vote would be for elements of both. A
capacity for a reasonably accurate intuitive sense of how the world
operates would certainly have survival value.

I think this same intuition is especially well-developed in those
responsible for major scientific breakthroughs.

Wesley R. Elsberry

unread,
Dec 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/1/98
to
In article <365f0b32....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 26 Nov 1998 03:16:23 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>>In article <365be8f2....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>>On 25 Nov 1998 01:04:08 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
>>><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:
>>>>In article <365b8a4e....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>>>>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>>>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:59:27 -0500, qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith Woodard)
>>>>>wrote:
>>>>>>On 24 Nov 1998 22:37:17 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
>>>>>><w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

[...]

KW>You seem to agree that ICness is a class for which we have

KW>past experience of having been produced by the action of an
KW>intelligent agency.

WRE>Not that I see. IOW, no, I do not agree with that. IC is
WRE>an *attribute* of a system, not a *class* of phenomena.

KW>It seems to me it defines a class.

Yes, the class "systems that have the attribute of ICness".
That is *not* the class "phenomena that have been produced via
intelligent agency", which is the class that my item 3 deals
with.

KW>Would you agree that systems with the attribute of ICness
KW>fall into the class of IC phenomena?

Yes, but as I show above, it doesn't really make any difference
whether a class can be constructed around ICness, since that
is not the class under discussion.

KW>So if P is an IC system, how do you escape the implication
KW>that we can reasonably ascribe it to intelligent agency?

WRE>"IC -> design" is false if for any system X, X has the IC
WRE>attribute but is not due to design. Biological production of
WRE>IC means that such systems exist, thus "IC -> design" is
WRE>false.

KW>I argue below that this runs counter to your third filter.

I don't believe that the argument holds, and I point out a
fallacy, as was requested. See below.

WRE>Beyond that, Dembski distinguishes between "design" and
WRE>"agency".

WRE>[Quote]

WAD>These two moves - ruling out regularity, and then ruling out
WAD>chance - constitute the design inference. The conception of
WAD>design that emerges from the design inference is therefore
WAD>eliminative, asserting of an event what it is not, not what it
WAD>is. To attribute an event to design is to say that regularity
WAD>and chance have been ruled out. Referring Caputo's ballot line
WAD>selections to design is therefore not identical with referring
WAD>it to agency. To be sure, design renders agency plausible. But
WAD>as the negation of regularity and chance, design is a mode of
WAD>explanation logically preliminary to agency. Certainly agency
WAD>(in this case cheating) best explains Caputo's ballot line
WAD>selections. But no one was privy to Caputo's ballot line
WAD>selections. In the absence of an exact causal story, the New
WAD>Jersey Supreme Court therefore went as far as it could in the
WAD>Caputo case.

WRE>[End Quote - WA Dembski, The Design Inference, pp.19-20]

KW>I don't see the relevance of this to your third filter.

It was additional commentary.

KW>However, as an aside, I think you're correct Dembski is
KW>backtracking here. It implies to me he doesn't think
KW>regularity, chance and agency exhaust the possibilities.

Not "agency"; "design". And he explicitly states that the
alternatives are exhausted.

[Quote]

Defining design as the set-theoretic complement of the
disjunction regularity-or-chance guarantees that the three
modes of explanation are mutually exclusive and exhaustive.

[End Quote - WA Dembski, TDI, p.36]

KW>I want to be clear that I'm not referring in any way to
KW>your personal beliefs about whether ICness implies design.
KW>I know very well you reject that proposition. Let's restrict
KW>this discussion to the implications of the language of
KW>your third filter.

WRE>Right. There is no endorsement of "IC -> design" in what
WRE>I wrote. That was a short discussion.

KW>I hope we can prolong it a bit more. I hope this is a
KW>clearer outline of my argument. Perhaps you can identify
KW>its fallacy.

KW>Premise: If a phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena
KW>for which we have past experience of having been produced
KW>by the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
KW>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
KW>explanation is necessary. [Your filter.]

KW>Premise: The class of IC systems is a class of phenomena
KW>for which we have past experience of having been produced
KW>by the action of an intelligent agency. [You seem to agree.]

This is where the fallacy lies, and I object to the
characterization of even "seeming" to agree to this. I have
explicitly stated my disagreement with each opportunity given.
The class defined as "systems having the attribute of ICness"
(Class-IC) is *not* the class "phenomena for which we have


past experience of having been produced by the action of an

intelligent agency" (Class-IA). Keith would have to show that
there was no *possibility* that any instance in Class-IC could
fall outside membership in Class-IA for his further argument
to stand. Now, one way to make the argument valid would be to
restrict Class-IC further, so that it was the class of
"systems with the attribute of ICness that are known by prior
experience to have been produced by an intelligent agent"
(Class-IC-IA). This, though, does not introduce any problem
for my filter.

KW>Premise: Phenomenon P falls into the class of IC systems.
KW>[By hypothesis.]

KW>Conclusion: P is a phenomenon for which it is reasonable to
KW>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
KW>explanation is necessary.

This is fallacious because Class-IC has not been shown to have
no possibility of an instance outside of Class-IA. My filter
is not prone to the problem that Keith has been talking about
concerning ICness.

--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"You know they all see, but most of them pass" - BOC


Matt Silberstein

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
Woodard):

>On 27 Nov 1998 17:04:58 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
>wrote:
>
[snip]

>Matt, the comprehensibility of the universe is widely recognized as
>one of the founding assumptions of modern science. Hmmm...what kind
>of a quote do I have for you on this? Let's see...well, here are a
>few: "The modern practice of science is premised upon the radical
>assumption that the physical universe is comprehensible to humans."
>Also, "...the implied limit on human comprehension is profoundly
>anti-scientific." And, "In education as well as practice, the axiom
>of comprehensibility should be emphasized as the wellspring of
>scientific endeavor."
>
>I could go on, but that should suffice.
>

Ok. I don't like it and I disagree with it, but my want and desires
are irrelevant. I will accept that plenty of people do take as an


assumption that the world is comprehensible.

Matt Silberstein

Wesley R. Elsberry

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to
In article <36610269....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,

Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>On 27 Nov 1998 17:04:58 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
>wrote:

[...]

KW>Once again, we don't want to confuse "comprehensible" with
KW>"comprehended."

KW>Matt, the comprehensibility of the universe is widely
KW>recognized as one of the founding assumptions of modern
KW>science. Hmmm...what kind of a quote do I have for you on
KW>this? Let's see...well, here are a few: "The modern practice
KW>of science is premised upon the radical assumption that the
KW>physical universe is comprehensible to humans." Also, "...the
KW>implied limit on human comprehension is profoundly
KW>anti-scientific." And, "In education as well as practice, the
KW>axiom of comprehensibility should be emphasized as the
KW>wellspring of scientific endeavor."

KW>I could go on, but that should suffice.

Well, Matt might not accept my say-so as a relevant authority.
Those are from my "Enterprising science needs naturalism" essay,
aren't they?


--
Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
Visit the Online Zoologists page (http://www.rtis.com/nat/user/elsberry)
Email to this account is dumped to /dev/null, whose Spam appetite is capacious.

"Priests are expendable," said Simony. "There's too many of them."-SG


Matt Silberstein

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to
In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
Woodard):

[snip]


>
>I should clarify and expand on this. Imagination does play a role,
>but I think the term "intuition" would be closer to the mark. And,
>yes, I do think it tells us something about how things work.
>
>Let's consider Wesley's LGM-1 and Dembski's SETI examples side by
>side. (We'll refer to Dembski's hypthesized source as DHS-1.)
>
>To the extent that LGM-1's signal is regular (it repeats every 1.34
>seconds) it lacks complexity. It does show complex variations in
>intensity, but these match no independently specified pattern anyone
>can identify. We'll assume a state of knowledge such that no one can
>imagine what lawlike mechanism could explain the signal's properties.
>

Remember that the patterns of a snowflake and the Mandelbrot Set are
also the product of a "regularity".


>
>DHS-1 puts out a signal matching the pattern of a long series of prime
>numbers. No one can think of a lawlike mechanism for this either.
>
>Despite the failure of imagination in both cases, confidence in the ID
>theory would be justified only for DHS-1. I think Dembski is correct
>that this is due to its specified complexity.
>
>But no matter what degree of specified complexity is present, how can
>we ever justify any degree of confidence that no unknown lawlike
>mechanism could produce such a signal?
>
>I don't believe we have anything more than the human intuitive
>judgement that this would be unlikely in the extreme.
>
>Whether this intuition is hard-wired or the result of experience is
>difficult to say, but my vote would be for elements of both. A
>capacity for a reasonably accurate intuitive sense of how the world
>operates would certainly have survival value.
>

Hubris, as well, could have that survival value.

>I think this same intuition is especially well-developed in those
>responsible for major scientific breakthroughs.
>

And for major blindness.

Try this, instead. For some phenomenon X I will grant you that it
could not have been produced by chance and could not have been
produced by a regularity (natural law). I will even grant you that X
was produced by some designer billions of years ago. I will give you
all that. Now what? We all accept it was designed. What does that tell
us? What do we now know about the designer? AFAICT, nothing.

Mark Isaak

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to
In article <3691d8bc...@nntp.ix.netcom.com>,

Matt Silberstein <mat...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>Woodard):
>>Matt, the comprehensibility of the universe is widely recognized as
>>one of the founding assumptions of modern science. Hmmm...what kind
>>of a quote do I have for you on this? Let's see...well, here are a
>>few: "The modern practice of science is premised upon the radical
>>assumption that the physical universe is comprehensible to humans."
>>[etc.]

>>
>Ok. I don't like it and I disagree with it, but my want and desires
>are irrelevant. I will accept that plenty of people do take as an
>assumption that the world is comprehensible.

Science is based on the premise that more of the universe is
comprehensible than is currently comprehended. How many scientists,
though, believe that *everything* will someday be comprehended? Not me,
and I suspect very few others.

Keith Woodard

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to
On 2 Dec 1998 00:58:31 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>Woodard):
>

>>On 27 Nov 1998 17:04:58 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
>>wrote:
>>

>[snip]


>
>>Matt, the comprehensibility of the universe is widely recognized as
>>one of the founding assumptions of modern science. Hmmm...what kind
>>of a quote do I have for you on this? Let's see...well, here are a
>>few: "The modern practice of science is premised upon the radical
>>assumption that the physical universe is comprehensible to humans."

>>Also, "...the implied limit on human comprehension is profoundly
>>anti-scientific." And, "In education as well as practice, the axiom
>>of comprehensibility should be emphasized as the wellspring of
>>scientific endeavor."


>>
>>I could go on, but that should suffice.
>>

>Ok. I don't like it and I disagree with it, but my want and desires
>are irrelevant. I will accept that plenty of people do take as an
>assumption that the world is comprehensible.

I'm afraid you're a bit too much of a gentleman and a scholar for my
taste. You were supposed to self-righteously demand a source for my
quotes. My response would have been great, trust me.

Why can't I get any cooperation around here?

Keith Woodard

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to
On 1 Dec 1998 00:56:58 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

I'll assume the phrase "phenomena that have been produced via
intelligent agency" is not intended to remove the reference to past
experience, and that it refers to the same class as "phenomena for


which we have past experience of having been produced by the action of

an intelligent agency."

In this context, my answer is that, at some point in our history, all
known IC systems were artificial. At that point, Class-IC would have
to be considered a wholly included subclass of Class-IA, which is the
class your item three deals with.

>KW>Would you agree that systems with the attribute of ICness
>KW>fall into the class of IC phenomena?
>
>Yes, but as I show above, it doesn't really make any difference
>whether a class can be constructed around ICness, since that
>is not the class under discussion.

It would seem to me a wholly included subclass of the class under
discussion.

<snip of now-superfluous text>

>KW>However, as an aside, I think you're correct Dembski is
>KW>backtracking here. It implies to me he doesn't think
>KW>regularity, chance and agency exhaust the possibilities.
>
>Not "agency"; "design". And he explicitly states that the
>alternatives are exhausted.

Only because of his odd definition of design. That's my point. I'm
speculating he chose it because "agency" -- the traditional meaning of
design -- did *not* lead to possibility exhaustion. This is an
inconsequential point, but I wanted it clear I was paying attention --
at least on this point.

<snip>

> KW>I want to be clear that I'm not referring in any way to
> KW>your personal beliefs about whether ICness implies design.
> KW>I know very well you reject that proposition. Let's restrict
> KW>this discussion to the implications of the language of
> KW>your third filter.
>
>WRE>Right. There is no endorsement of "IC -> design" in what
>WRE>I wrote. That was a short discussion.
>
>KW>I hope we can prolong it a bit more. I hope this is a
>KW>clearer outline of my argument. Perhaps you can identify
>KW>its fallacy.
>
>KW>Premise: If a phenomenon falls into the class of phenomena
>KW>for which we have past experience of having been produced
>KW>by the action of an intelligent agency, it is reasonable to
>KW>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
>KW>explanation is necessary. [Your filter.]
>
>KW>Premise: The class of IC systems is a class of phenomena
>KW>for which we have past experience of having been produced
>KW>by the action of an intelligent agency. [You seem to agree.]
>
>This is where the fallacy lies, and I object to the
>characterization of even "seeming" to agree to this. I have
>explicitly stated my disagreement with each opportunity given.

Well, you did agree that "humans routinely produce IC systems." And,
while you skipped ahead and deemed this insufficient to consider IC
systems designed, you haven't yet specifically addressed this
interposing premise.

(However, just as I wouldn't want readers unintentionally left with
the impression I was ignoring your stated disagreements, I wouldn't
want to suggest you've been ignoring my premise. What happened was
that, in my last post, I made explicit this previously implicit
premise, precisely because you were rejecting the conclusion. I did
not, and still do not, see what justification you could have for
rejecting the premise, yet, without rejecting it, its hard to see how
you could reasonably reject the conclusion.)

You hadn't, until now, explicitly said that the fact that humans
routinely produce IC systems is insufficient to consider them a class
for which we have past experience of having been produced by
intelligent agency. I was foolish enough to think you would not hold
this position, and I apologize.

I do think most folks would consider the routine human production of
IC systems sufficient to consider them a class for which we have past
experience of having been produced by intelligent agency. While you
have explained why you don't think IC systems warrant a design
inference, I don't think you've advanced a justification for the
position that human production of IC systems is insufficient to
consider them a class for which we have past experience of having been
produced by intelligent agency.

>The class defined as "systems having the attribute of ICness"
>(Class-IC) is *not* the class "phenomena for which we have
>past experience of having been produced by the action of an
>intelligent agency" (Class-IA).

The issue isn't whether Class-IC is identical with Class-IA, but
whether Class-IC is a wholly included subclass of Class-IA. I
maintain that, at least before we discovered biological IC systems, it
was.

>Keith would have to show that
>there was no *possibility* that any instance in Class-IC could
>fall outside membership in Class-IA for his further argument
>to stand.

First, this appears to be a new requirement. At least, I can't find
it anywhere in your EF.

Second, consider its implications. Presently, all known occurrences
of the element americium form a wholly included subclass of Class-IA.
Now, suppose a future interstellar probe encounters americium far, far
away. One would have thought stage three of your filter would compel
us to assign this to Class-IA.

The concept underlying stage three was, I thought, that if we're
convinced every known representative of a class is artificial, the
class is considered a wholly included subclass of Class-IA. Hence, on
encountering a phenomenon not of our manufacture, but whose attributes
qualify it for membership in this subclass, we'd be honor-bound to
assign it to Class-IA.

But apparently not. Another requirement now stands in our path.
Possession of the attributes defining a wholly included subclass of
Class-IA is no longer sufficient for inclusion in Class-IA. We must
also show the absence of any *possibility* an unknown lawlike or
random process could have produced the phenomenon. Your EF, with this
requirement, would therefore bar the distant americium from membership
in Class-IA.

Nor would it allow us to ascribe Dembski's "Made by Yahweh" and SETI
cases to intelligence. This seems to me a major drawback, since most
folks would think it unreasonable not to invoke intelligence under
those circumstances.

How could science ever disprove the possibility that *any* phenomenon
-- including one whose attributes define a wholly included subclass of
Class-IA -- could be produced without IA? I'm frankly unable to
conceive of any circumstance under which your stage three could ever
be triggered. Could you provide an illustration?

>Now, one way to make the argument valid would be to
>restrict Class-IC further, so that it was the class of
>"systems with the attribute of ICness that are known by prior
>experience to have been produced by an intelligent agent"
>(Class-IC-IA). This, though, does not introduce any problem
>for my filter.

I, of course, imagine I've just refuted your attempt to refute my
argument. :-)

>KW>Premise: Phenomenon P falls into the class of IC systems.
>KW>[By hypothesis.]
>
>KW>Conclusion: P is a phenomenon for which it is reasonable to
>KW>ascribe intelligent agency as a cause, and no further
>KW>explanation is necessary.
>
>This is fallacious because Class-IC has not been shown to have
>no possibility of an instance outside of Class-IA. My filter
>is not prone to the problem that Keith has been talking about
>concerning ICness.

This "no possibility" requirement, which I can't find in the wording
of your EF, would presumably apply not only to Class-IC, but to any
wholly included subclass of Class-IA. If the Hubble telescope were to
detect an enormous Rolex in orbit around Sirius, this requirement
would preclude its membership in Class-IA. Since science is incapable
of proving the absence of any possibility that unknown lawlike
processes could create a given phenomenon, this would seem to set the
bar unreasonably high.

A reflection on our debate so far. Whichever of us is wrong has
certainly marshaled some ingenious and wonderfully persuasive
arguments on behalf of his untenable position.

I'm not yet sure who that is, but my hat is off to him.

Keith Woodard

unread,
Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to
On 2 Dec 1998 11:40:32 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
wrote:

>In talk.origins I read this message from qwoo...@nospam.net (Keith
>Woodard):
>

>[snip]
>>
>>I should clarify and expand on this. Imagination does play a role,
>>but I think the term "intuition" would be closer to the mark. And,
>>yes, I do think it tells us something about how things work.
>>
>>Let's consider Wesley's LGM-1 and Dembski's SETI examples side by
>>side. (We'll refer to Dembski's hypthesized source as DHS-1.)
>>
>>To the extent that LGM-1's signal is regular (it repeats every 1.34
>>seconds) it lacks complexity. It does show complex variations in
>>intensity, but these match no independently specified pattern anyone
>>can identify. We'll assume a state of knowledge such that no one can
>>imagine what lawlike mechanism could explain the signal's properties.
>>
>Remember that the patterns of a snowflake and the Mandelbrot Set are
>also the product of a "regularity".

Yes... ?

>>DHS-1 puts out a signal matching the pattern of a long series of prime
>>numbers. No one can think of a lawlike mechanism for this either.
>>
>>Despite the failure of imagination in both cases, confidence in the ID
>>theory would be justified only for DHS-1. I think Dembski is correct
>>that this is due to its specified complexity.
>>
>>But no matter what degree of specified complexity is present, how can
>>we ever justify any degree of confidence that no unknown lawlike
>>mechanism could produce such a signal?
>>
>>I don't believe we have anything more than the human intuitive
>>judgement that this would be unlikely in the extreme.
>>
>>Whether this intuition is hard-wired or the result of experience is
>>difficult to say, but my vote would be for elements of both. A
>>capacity for a reasonably accurate intuitive sense of how the world
>>operates would certainly have survival value.
>>
>Hubris, as well, could have that survival value.

Doesn't seem to me hubris would have quite the survival value as a
capacity for an intuitive sense of how the world works.

>>I think this same intuition is especially well-developed in those
>>responsible for major scientific breakthroughs.
>>
>And for major blindness.

I don't follow.

>Try this, instead. For some phenomenon X, I will grant you that it


>could not have been produced by chance and could not have been
>produced by a regularity (natural law). I will even grant you that X
>was produced by some designer billions of years ago. I will give you
>all that. Now what? We all accept it was designed. What does that tell
>us? What do we now know about the designer? AFAICT, nothing.

You are correct, sir.

Ivar Ylvisaker

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to

Keith Woodard wrote:

Are you implying that children in America's public schools should be taught
that intelligent design is an authentic scientific concept?

Ivar


Keith Woodard

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98
to
On 2 Dec 1998 01:41:08 -0500, "Wesley R. Elsberry"
<w...@cx33978-a.dt1.sdca.home.com> wrote:

>In article <36610269....@netnews.worldnet.att.net>,
>Keith Woodard <qwoo...@nospam.net> wrote:
>>On 27 Nov 1998 17:04:58 -0500, mat...@ix.netcom.com (Matt Silberstein)
>>wrote:
>


>[...]
>
>KW>Once again, we don't want to confuse "comprehensible" with
>KW>"comprehended."
>
>KW>Matt, the comprehensibility of the universe is widely
>KW>recognized as one of the founding assumptions of modern
>KW>science. Hmmm...what kind of a quote do I have for you on
>KW>this? Let's see...well, here are a few: "The modern practice
>KW>of science is premised upon the radical assumption that the
>KW>physical universe is comprehensible to humans." Also, "...the
>KW>implied limit on human comprehension is profoundly
>KW>anti-scientific." And, "In education as well as practice, the
>KW>axiom of comprehensibility should be emphasized as the
>KW>wellspring of scientific endeavor."
>
>KW>I could go on, but that should suffice.
>
>Well, Matt might not accept my say-so as a relevant authority.
>Those are from my "Enterprising science needs naturalism" essay,
>aren't they?

Well, why not start at the top, I always say. Indeed two of them were
from your excellent paper at:

http://inia.cls.org/~welsberr/zgists/wre/projs/ntatse.html

The one about "profoundly anti-scientific" was actually from a 18 Feb
1997 T.O. post in a thread in which Matt was participating.

Keith Woodard

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Dec 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM12/2/98