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January 27, 2016

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To answer the OP, bad design IS a bad argument against intelligent design.

Mike,
All I'm trying to do is show you that you yourself believe in objective morality.

There are only two options in a universe such as ours.

[1] It is a universe void of inherent intentionality, it is a universe void of inherent design.

[2] It is a universe constituted of, soaked through with, Final Causes.

scbrownlhrm,

Well said. Being consistent is key in everything, and I'd say that [2] is the more consistent worldview which can explain everything that is. Thanks for sharing that insightful, to-the-point truth.

On Design:

Gerald,

As we are both realists about intentionality, it seems that we both come upon that which is “Inherently Intentional – Full-Stop”. Or at least that is what “realists” is taken to mean.

Whether or not this or that X is in fact designed is a statement which must rest on top of language, and language either gets us to the bottom of things or it does not. The intention-less ipso facto begets the purposeless – and if “design” is going to be thusly begotten, well then a universe such as ours is void of inherent intention and we awake in a dream, an illusion, inside of a universe void of inherent design.

“In saying that thinking is not matter I am not suggesting that there is anything mysterious about it. In one sense, thinking is the simplest thing in the world. We do it all day long. We know what it is like far better than we know what matter is like. Thought is what we start from: the simple, intimate, immediate datum. Matter is the inferred thing, the mystery.

In the second place, to understand that logic must be valid is to see at once that this thing we all know, this thought, this mind, cannot in fact be really alien to the nature of the universe. Or, putting it the other way round, the nature of the universe cannot be really alien to Reason.”(C.S. Lewis)

If one is going to be a realist about intentionality, and should physicalism (or whatever) fail us, then the question at hand is this: Has Mind become necessary? The only way out of a conclusion in the affirmative seems to be to assert that there is [Non-Mind] which is in fact [Inherently Intentional]. What such a thing would look like or in fact be is, honestly, inconceivable. “Philosophical Idealism and Christian Theology” by James H. Snowden in “The Biblical World”, Vol. 46, No. 3 (if the link fails it is also at at JSTOR.ORG) touches on some aspects of this. The full blown Berkeley Idealism is neither intended nor embraced.


Design, Privation, Theistic Evolution, Final Causes, EAAN, and EAAE:

Gerald’s look at Adam Smith is interesting in that he attempts to infer teleos within evolutionary morality from it. Gerald is “in part” perfectly correct. From earlier:

“The best account of the source of morality which I have read is by Adam Smith. Before he wrote the economics classic "The Wealth of Nations" he wrote "The Theory of Moral Sentiments". Smith's account is quite complicated, but it begins with the human tendency to feel for and with others, which he calls 'sympathy'. Add to this our cognitive abilities to imaginatively put ourselves in another's place, and to see ourselves as others see us, and the fact that we are brought up in a society where people are continually making moral judgments of each other, and the fact that we wish to be well-regarded. With these and like materials Smith builds an account of how we come to have a conscience, which is a kind of imaginary impartial observer of our own and others' actions and moral qualities.

I've not read the whole book, but what I have read impressed me greatly. Adam Smith was a theist, and he believed the creator endowed us with these tendencies and capacities, which give rise to morality, for man's benefit, that he might thrive. It seems to me that an atheist can embrace the same system, only substituting that evolution has produced this combination of capacities in us as social animals which give rise to our ability and inclination to make moral judgments that we might thrive (so to speak). I say "so to speak" or "as it were" because evolution does not literally pursue goals. Rather, traits which give rise to patterns of behavior which promote survival are selected for. But the result is that, objectively, these capacities and inclinations allow human individuals and societies to thrive. Which is what Smith said God's goal was in endowing us with moral sentiments.” (by Gerald)

That’s circular but we must not give up on it yet – for the Evil, or the Privation of Good, which Tooth and Claw is soaked through with – literally from the ground up – cannot be (ontic) Evil unless there is in fact that full and final (ontic) Good which cannot be found in any paradigm but for Final Causes. Even the term “human nature” is, in Non-Theism, entirely illusory once we realize just what final causes, well, “cause”. Gerald is correct in his observation of direction, of goal, of teleos amid reciprocity summing to the nuance of a singularity inside of e plusibus unum. Obviously epistemological ends void of ontological means are simply insolvent and, also, in the case of evolutionary morality as such, entirely circular given that the Non-Theist must pull up short, or must cut off his regress short of his own definition of “reality’s rock bottom” such that his epistemology is left floating in space wholly disconnected from reality, void of ontological means.

Teleos amid love’s three explanatory termini:

Remember, we are talking about the “what if” of Theistic evolution. Final causation, it turns out, lives and breathes in *all* of Man’s Possible Paradigms / Possible Worlds given that the “Adamic” necessitates the immaterial and given that it is the landscape of ceaseless reciprocity within the immutable love of the Necessary Being which constitutes the Imago Dei in all of Man’s “possible state of affairs”. Recall that we are interacting with Christianity. We are carried into the Non-Theist’s appeal to reciprocity as he shakes his fist at God and shouts, “E Pluribus Unum” in anger – “Because too much evil!” – and hopes for, wants, strives towards, attempts to define reality by, tells us all of nature gazes towards – love's reciprocity.

To which the Christian replies:

Yes, your gaze towards love's three explanatory termini in the elemental and ceaseless reciprocity amid Self/Other (that’s two of love’s explanatory termini) constituting unicity's Singular Us (that’s love’s third distinct) is testifying of that which you cannot claim given your means – and yet claim given the means of others. Those three explanatory termini within the immutable love of the Necessary Being saturate all your own intonations and thereby even your own truth predicates deliver to the world a sonnet which proclaims the Triune God of love you claim you cannot see.

How uncanny that the Non-Theist appeals to reciprocity, to love's three explanatory termini, in all of his vacuous and failed attempts to establish "objective evolutionary morality". Though he is mistaken, he is mistaken not by imprecision but rather by an inescapable lack of the whole without which his "part" (which he gets right/correct) cannot withstand logic's relentless demands for lucidity not in this or that artificial slice of “reality” but through and through . From the ground up, Tooth and Claw emerges within the pains of Good’s Privatization. In all Possible Paradigms / Possible Worlds the Non-Theist painfully lacks the sure and inflexible ends of Final Causes – themselves constituted of the peculiarity of a triune and ceaseless reciprocity within the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

*IF* one were to ascribe to theistic evolution, *then* Adam Smith + Final Causes finds Tooth and Claw not only summing to Privatized Good (to Evil), but also – being soaked through with final causes – agreeing with the proverbial evolutionary morality and its observations (excluding its many fallacious moves) of all of nature straining towards "E Pluribus Unum". Of course, the *same* also holds true if we do *not* ascribe to full blown theistic evolution, but, this is dealing with the “what-if”.

[A]: EAAN: The Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism finds Alvin Plantinga and related concepts emerging in this thread as his EAAN ties into, on several levels, those problematic interfaces of Mind, Intentionality, and Design.

[B]: EAAE: Evil’s Argument Against (non-theistic) Evolution. Natural evil and the evil of tooth and claw, from the ground up, affirm the incoherence of *non*-theistic evolution.

[C]: EAAE: Evolutionary Argument Against Evil. Insects which make sex-slaves in their colonies do so because Non-Theistic evolution counts such as good because it works and where Man too makes sex-slaves well all the same benefits were, over eons, first invented, and then chosen, and then cherished, and then refined, and then polished, and then retained for that which is good is found from the ground up. Literally. That which is purely epistemic, and void of the ontic, just won’t do. Not “really”. Sam Harris and that Moral Landscape fail for reasons.

"The West’s [human rights] ideals in a secular/atheist framework are practically mysticism. This idea of a “fundamental human right” in an evolutionary context is, as Bentham stated, “nonsense on stilts.” This is going beyond the otherwise humble claims of the skeptic that morality is just a thing we have built into us, and is good for our evolutionary benefit. That’s fine, I can handle that and say “Ok well, good luck!” But then they go on to appeal to some concept of equality among individuals, which is utterly and perfectly contradictory to the fitness paradigm of the evolutionary future which we are bound to. The question to the skeptic is, how can you assert equality into a future that you anticipate will involve conditions requiring unfitness of certain types of individuals in the species? How can you begin to guess that our current, or ANY, pursuit of happiness is the scientifically verified insurance of survival and fitness for the species in the context of fundamental human rights and equality? I certainly don’t advocate judging the truth of a claim based on its consequences. However, for all the times that I am accused of cognitive dissonance, which I may be guilty of, I cannot imagine living under the volume of cognitive dissonance in saying incidental meat robots called humans have “fundamental human rights” while KNOWING those human rights could cause conditions that would be evolutionarily disastrous.” (by “GM”)

On Theistic Evolution as such:

First the esoteric:

The Privatized Good that is Tooth and Claw from the ground up – Genesis’ dirt to body – truthfully informs us, and, Eden's Possible Paradigms / Possible Worlds reveal a Fall that is not merely volitional, not merely intentional amid love’s interfaces between “Man/God”, between love’s interfaces amid Self/Other, but, also, a Fall which is utter, total, and complete. The Privatized Self is, we find, unavoidably void of the whole which just is Genesis’ uncanny unicity of the singular Us. And yet that unicity just is the Imago Dei as final causes (thereby) become Man’s fate in all possible state of affairs. Necessity: E Pluribus Unum – if it has metaphysical actuality (and it does) – is, it turns out, inescapably triune as Self/Other/Us constitute reality’s “rock bottom”. In all worlds it cannot be anything other than All-Sufficiency / Insufficiency given what the terms “Necessary Being” and “Created” actually entail and therefore in all worlds it will be love’s acquiescence as Man spies – in all worlds – love’s eternally sacrificed self there in the contours of Christ – of All-Sufficiency pouring – of Insufficiency being filled. Love’s motions amid Self/Other stream without First / Last there in the Triune and whichever path the “Adamic” volitionally motions into will unavoidably run face first into the Face of God as the triune’s Eternally Sacrificed Self sums to his (Man’s) only hope in all possible state of affairs.

Secondly, the concrete:

We find that, given the inescapable necessities amid essence, it is the case that, as per Genesis, *both* Eternal Life *and* The Privation of Good are, as per Genesis, Paradigms away from Eden – that is to say – Worlds away from Eden. The "Adamic" is, here inside of the landscape of theistic evolution, literally Paradigms away from, Worlds away from, Eden even as Eden itself is found to be (literally) Worlds away from Eternal Life. In all of those “states of affairs” it turns out that the "Adamic" is never void of and in fact cannot be void of final causes as the Imago Dei is, literally, soaked through with, constituted of, such means and such ends as the Face of God vis-à-vis final causes in Man’s final good, Man’s true felicity.

This brings us back around to a key deficit in knowledge which blurs Non-Theism’s vision as it (unjustifiably) makes truth claims about “not designed / is designed” and that is that Non-Theism, and hence Non-Theists, fail to define evil as evil and indeed cannot rise to the ontological there. Natural Evil and Moral Evil both hit us in the face within our brutally repeatable experience of each. Living things ripping living things apart literally from the ground up through eons of Tooth and Claw constitutes what both Christian truth predicates and reality itself affirms in the claim that all such contours of Tooth and Claw [....every bit of it, from the ground up...] sum to Evil, that is to say, all such contours of Tooth and Claw sum to Privatized Good. In Man we consider such a World as comprising Moral Evil whereas at various other levels we consider such a World as comprising Natural Evil, a term which also envelops Natural Evil as such in nonliving matter over inside of her labile, unhinged, and ever capricious “state of affairs”. Tooth and Claw, Natural Evil – and so on – present hard evidence affirming the all-encompassing terrain found in Genesis (and nowhere else).

Staying focused:

Man is found in Eden between Possible Paradigms, between Possible Worlds and, as described earlier, such is not only feasible with the reach of “physics” vis-à-vis the linked essay to Hawking’s God Particle, and such is not only coherent with model dependent realism as all truth predicates in all possible worlds necessarily reduce to "Abstraction / Mind", and such is also not simply a metaphor, but such is literal, as in actual and that from the ground up. The volitional motions of “The Adamic” amid Possible Paradigms / Possible Worlds leaves the entire concept of Ontological Design completely upside down in all of the Non-Theist’s short-sighted and anthropometric (and unjustified) attempts to “define” various contours of this particular world (from genomic alterations to the means and ends thereof to w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r) – and so on – as either “designed or not designed”. Even worse is that Non-Theists seem to mistakenly source God as the immediate causation there when in dialogue with Christians about such things when in fact The Adamic subsumes the seat of the soul – the volitional causation into such a World of Privatized Good.

Too often it is the case that definitions fail to accommodate the fact that love’s topography is unavoidably triune amid the interfaces of that which we all know: the Self, and, the Other, and, unicity’s singular Us – as per Scripture’s triune God Who is love – from Genesis’ singular Us to the NT and the transposition of Logos. It’s not complicated and yet the Non-Theist stumbles. That is why they just don’t get what Eden *is*. They thereby get the necessities of love’s acquiescence all wrong as they try to interpret [1] the creative act of God in creating Man/Eden and [2] the Imago Dei decreed in that creative act and [3] the necessity that Man, who is ipso facto insufficiency, has only one possible means to immutability / all-sufficiency in *any* state of affairs he should happen to find himself within – from Eden outward.

Only in and by the Triune God is it the case that Christ’s Cross does not determine the nature of divine love, but rather manifests it:

“In him there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning because he is wholly free, wholly God as Father, Son, and Spirit, wholly alive, and wholly love. Even the cross of Christ does not determine the nature of divine love, but rather manifests it, because there is a more original outpouring of God that – without needing to submit itself to the order of sacrifice that builds crosses – always already surpasses every abyss of godforsakenness and pain that sin can impose between the world and God: an outpouring that is in its proper nature indefectible happiness.” (David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite – The Aesthetics of Christian Truth)

Avoiding the Non-Theist’s fantasies:

Non-Theists on occasion seem to like fantasy and so on occasion seem to believe (and hence ridicule Christians about) their mistaken belief that Eden’s Fruit of either Eternal life (on the one hand) or of Privatized Good / Evil (on the other hand) must reduce to something akin to the movie “The Matrix” wherein it is, truly, factually, literally some sort of a “Pill” that one “swallows” and which then proceeds to cause “shifts” within “molecular motions” within the “Corporeal / Body” of “Man” over inside of “actualization”.

While cute, it is a bit droll.

The beauty of intellectual coherence and truth correspondence with observational reality and science is that such affords the Christian the luxury of not having to “Know-It-All”. The Christian can simply follow evidence and reason. Whatever we find “The Adamic” undergoing there in Eden’s Possible Worlds, the curious and even uncanny fact is that we find, in all worlds, that Final Causes follow him from A to Z. That just happens to fit given that God is the A and Z of all of his “definitions”. Given final causes we find that Privatized Good, from the ground up, houses final causes as both Privation (Evil) and Final Causes (Good) saturate the Imago Dei should Eternal Life be either ruined, or refused, and so on. What that may or may not look like we can only infer, but we have several immutable and unshakable vectors informing us from the ground up, such as, say, final causes, or such as, say, A-T’s four causes, or such as, say, formal and final causes, or such as, say, scripture’s a priori of dirt to body, and so on.

There are only two options in a universe such as ours:

[1] It is a universe void of inherent intentionality, it is a universe void of inherent design.

[2] It is a universe constituted of, soaked through with, Final Causes.

C.S. Lewis and D.B. Hart intersecting Design, Privation, Theistic Evolution, Final Causes, EAAN, and EAAE:

“In saying that thinking is not matter I am not suggesting that there is anything mysterious about it. In one sense, thinking is the simplest thing in the world. We do it all day long. We know what it is like far better than we know what matter is like. Thought is what we start from: the simple, intimate, immediate datum. Matter is the inferred thing, the mystery. In the second place, to understand that logic must be valid is to see at once that this thing we all know, this thought, this mind, cannot in fact be really alien to the nature of the universe. Or, putting it the other way round, the nature of the universe cannot be really alien to Reason.”(C.S. Lewis)

Adding layers:

The relations which arise at that frontier are indeed of a most complicated and intimate sort. That spearhead of the Supernatural which I call my reason links up with all my natural contents — my sensations, emotions, and the like — so completely that I call the mixture by the single word “me.” Again, there is what I have called the unsymmetrical character of the frontier relations [between God and Nature]. When the physical state of the brain dominates my thinking, it produces only disorder. But my brain does not become any less a brain when it is dominated by Reason: Nor do my emotions and sensations become any less emotions and sensations. Reason saves and strengthens my whole system, psychological and physical, whereas that whole system, by rebelling against Reason, destroys both Reason and itself. The military metaphor of a spearhead was apparently ill-chosen. The supernatural Reason enters my natural brain not like a weapon — more like a beam of light which illuminates or a principle of organization which unifies and develops. Our whole picture of Nature being “invaded” (as if by a foreign enemy) was wrong. When we actually examine one of these invasions it looks more like the arrival of a king among his own subjects or a mahout visiting his own elephant. The elephant may run amuck, Nature may be rebellious. But from observing what happens when Nature obeys it is almost impossible not to conclude that it is her very “nature” to be a subject. All happens as if she had been designed for that very role.

To believe that Nature produced God, or even the human mind, is, as we have seen, absurd. To believe that the two are both independently self-existent is impossible: at least the attempt to do so leaves me unable to say that I am thinking of anything at all. It is true that Dualism has a certain theological attraction; it seems to make the problem of evil easier. But if we cannot, in fact, think Dualism out to the end, this attractive promise can never be kept, and I think there are better solutions of the problem of evil. There remains, then, the belief that God created Nature. This at once supplies a relation between them and gets rid of the difficulty of sheer ‘otherness’. This also fits in with the observed frontier situation, in which everything looks as if Nature were not resisting an alien invader but rebelling against a lawful sovereign. This, and perhaps this alone, fits in with the fact that Nature, though not apparently intelligent, is intelligible— that events in the remotest parts of space appear to obey the laws of rational thought. Even the act of creation itself presents none of the intolerable difficulties which seem to meet us on every other hypothesis. There is in our own human minds something that bears a faint resemblance to it. We can imagine: that is, we can cause to exist the mental pictures of material objects, and even human characters, and events. We fall short of creation in two ways. In the first place we can only re-combine elements borrowed from the real universe: no one can imagine a new primary color or a sixth sense. In the second place, what we imagine exists only for our own consciousness— though we can, by words, induce other people to build for themselves pictures in their own minds which may be roughly similar to it. We should have to attribute to God the power both of producing the basic elements, of inventing not only colors but color itself, the senses themselves, space, time and matter themselves, and also of imposing what He has invented on created minds. This seems to me no intolerable assumption. It is certainly easier than the idea of God and Nature as wholly unrelated entities, and far easier than the idea of Nature producing valid thought.

I do not maintain that God’s creation of Nature can be proved as rigorously as God’s existence, but it seems to me overwhelmingly probable, so probable that no one who approached the question with an open mind would very seriously entertain any other hypothesis. In fact one seldom meets people who have grasped the existence of a supernatural God and yet deny that He is the Creator. All the evidence we have points in that direction, and difficulties spring up on every side if we try to believe otherwise. No philosophical theory which I have yet come across is a radical improvement on the words of Genesis, that ‘In the beginning God made Heaven and Earth’. I say ‘radical’ improvement, because the story in Genesis—as St Jerome said long ago—is told in the manner ‘of a popular poet’, or as we should say, in the form of folk tale. But if you compare it with the creation legends of other peoples—with all these delightful absurdities in which giants to be cut up and floods to be dried up are made to exist before creation—the depth and originality of this Hebrew folk tale will soon be apparent. The idea of creation in the rigorous sense of the word is there fully grasped. (by C.S. Lewis)

That's peculiar:

“No philosophical theory which I have yet come across is a radical improvement on the words of Genesis, that ‘In the beginning God made Heaven and Earth’. I say ‘radical’ improvement, because the story in Genesis—as St Jerome said long ago—is told in the manner ‘of a popular poet’, or as we should say, in the form of folk tale. But if you compare it with the creation legends of other peoples—with all these delightful absurdities in which giants to be cut up and floods to be dried up are made to exist before creation—the depth and originality of this Hebrew folk tale will soon be apparent. The idea of creation in the rigorous sense of the word is there fully grasped.” (by C.S. Lewis)

A little further:

What we can understand, if the Christian doctrine is true, is that our own composite existence is not the sheer anomaly it might seem to be, but a faint image of the Divine Incarnation itself — the same theme in a very minor key. We can understand that if God so descends into a human spirit, and human spirit so descends into Nature, and our thoughts into our senses and passions, and if adult minds (but only the best of them) can descend into sympathy with children, and men into sympathy with beasts, then everything hangs together and the total reality, both Natural and Supernatural, in which we are living is more multifariously and subtly harmonious than we had suspected. We catch sight of a new key principle — the power of the Higher, just in so far as it is truly Higher, to come down, the power of the greater to include the less. Thus solid bodies exemplify many truths of plane geometry, but plane figures no truths of solid geometry: many inorganic propositions are true of organisms but no organic propositions are true of minerals; Montaigne became kittenish with his kitten but she never talked philosophy to him. Everywhere the great enters the little — its power to do so is almost the test of its greatness. In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders. Or one may think of a diver, first reducing himself to nakedness, then glancing in mid-air, then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to color and light, his lungs almost bursting, till suddenly he breaks surface again, holding in his hand the dripping, precious thing that he went down to recover. He and it are both colored now that they have come up into the light: down below, where it lay colorless in the dark, he lost his color too. In this descent and reascent everyone will recognize a familiar pattern: a thing written all over the world. It is the pattern of all vegetable life. It must belittle itself into something hard, small and deathlike, it must fall into the ground: thence the new life reascends. It is the pattern of all animal generation too. There is descent from the full and perfect organisms into the spermatozoon and ovum, and in the dark womb a life at first inferior in kind to that of the species which is being reproduced: then the slow ascent to the perfect embryo, to the living, conscious baby, and finally to the adult. So it is also in our moral and emotional life. The first innocent and spontaneous desires have to submit to the deathlike process of control or total denial: but from that there is a reascent to fully formed character in which the strength of the original material all operates but in a new way. Death and Rebirth— go down to go up— it is a key principle. Through this bottleneck, this belittlement, the highroad nearly always lies.

The doctrine of the Incarnation, if accepted, puts this principle even more emphatically at the center. The pattern is there in Nature because it was first there in God. All the instances of it which I have mentioned turn out to be but transpositions of the Divine theme into a minor key. I am not now referring simply to the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. The total pattern, of which they are only the turning point, is the real Death and Rebirth: for certainly no seed ever fell from so fair a tree into so dark and cold a soil as would furnish more than a faint analogy to this huge descent and reascension in which God dredged the salt and oozy bottom of Creation. (by C.S. Lewis)


We discover there, as elsewhere, that only in and by the Triune God is it the case that Christ’s Cross does not determine the nature of divine love, but rather manifests it:

“In him there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning because he is wholly free, wholly God as Father, Son, and Spirit, wholly alive, and wholly love. Even the cross of Christ does not determine the nature of divine love, but rather manifests it, because there is a more original outpouring of God that – without needing to submit itself to the order of sacrifice that builds crosses – always already surpasses every abyss of godforsakenness and pain that sin can impose between the world and God: an outpouring that is in its proper nature indefectible happiness.” (David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite – The Aesthetics of Christian Truth)

A great deal has been said here since practical demands tore me away from my computer screen, and they are still insistent. I have not had a chance to read scbrownlhrm's voluminous entries. I despise C. S. Lewis, but I will force myself to read him. But not right now.

Daniel's short-but-sweet entry caught my eye:
"To answer the OP, bad design IS a bad argument against intelligent design."

I went back and reread the OP. Tim Barnett's second point was: "bad design is not the same thing as no design." Well, true, but I thought we were talking about *intelligent* design, not dumb design! If the designer were an idiot, that would explain a lot. And in fact, isn't that pretty much the alternative hypothesis? Evolution is not just dumb, it has no intelligence at all (the way we normally think of it). It just stumbles along, but -- give it a few billion years and the logic of the situation (what works gets passed on, what doesn't dies off) -- it will produce all kinds of complicated patterns that seem almost miraculously good at doing what they're doing. Hence the illusion of design. But on close inspection, it's the kind of design that only a bumbling idiot with eons of time on his hands would produce.

It occurred to me that a Bayesian approach might help. A quick Google search of "Bayes theorem and intelligent design" shows I'm not the first to think of this, but it just occurred to me as a sketchy thought, so let me sketch it out quickly.

Bayes theorem is about probability. Formally, it is:
P(A|B) = (P(B|A)*P(A) / P(B)
Read aloud, it goes "The probability of A given B equals the probability of B given A times the probability of A all over the probability of B. The last term is just a normalization term, to make the probability come out to be a quantity between 0 and 1 as it should, and can be ignored.

A paraphrase of the way the theorem is often used goes:

"The probability of a theory given the evidence equals the probability of the evidence given the theory times the probability of the theory."

The last term is the probability you begin with that the theory is true, before you evaluate the evidence. It's called "the prior". Bayes theorem tells you how your evaluation of that probability should change given new evidence.

Take any example of seemingly bad design, say the human esophagus/windpipe arrangement that allows people to choke to death while eating, which Barnett mentioned. This will be our evidence, B. Call the hypothesis of an intelligent designer A. Ignoring the normalization term, Bayes theorem states:

"The probability of an intelligent designer given this seemingly bad design equals the probability of this seemingly bad design given an intelligent designer times the probability of an intelligent designer."

The important term from my point of view is P(B|A), the probability that, given an intelligent designer, he would design THAT! (As I recall vaguely from past reading, other animals don't have this choking/suffocation problem. An evolutionary story involves the lowering of the human larynx as an adaptation for speech, which led to this inconvenient problem of dying. I could be mistaken, but take any seemingly bad design example of your choice. I previously mentioned hernias stemming from our evolutionary lineage from fish.)

I think most people would say that it seems improbable that somebody intelligent would purposely design something so evidently (or if you like, seemingly) flawed. So that term should REDUCE the prior, the probability you estimated in the first place of an intelligent designer. That is, seemingly bad design is evidence AGAINST intelligent design.

That's also of interest, the prior. Drawing attention to the prior is a virtue of Bayesian approaches. Theists and atheists obviously have vastly different priors regarding the probability that an intelligent designer of earth's life forms exists. If you have a very high prior, then you will regard it as highly probable that there is an intelligent designer given all the examples of seemingly/glaringly bad design. But you will do so *despite* the evidence.

As a contrast, apply Bayes' Theorem to the theory of evolution. Just for fun and parallelism, call it the "idiot designer" theory:

"The probability of an idiot designer given this seemingly bad design equals the probability of this seemingly bad design given an idiot designer times the probability of an idiot designer."

If there were an idiot designer, who gets things right only by stumbling around in small steps for eons, this seems like just the kind of thing it would do. That is, given an idiot designer, seemingly bad designs are probable. So bad designs should INCREASE our prior belief in (our estimated probability of the truth of) evolution. That is, seemingly bad design is evidence FOR evolution. Theists will still regard the probability of the truth of evolution as small, even given this evidence. Evolutionists should, according to Bayes theorem, be MORE confident in their theory.

I think I can summarize by saying that bad design is a GOOD argument against intelligent design, but not a conclusive one.

I hope that was intelligible. Was it helpful?

That the Non-Theist argues against Non-Christian truth predicates is obvious, though what fuels such odd fervor is anything but obvious.

In Eden we find that, given the inescapable necessities amid essence, it is the case that, as per Genesis, *both* Eternal Life *and* The Privation of Good are, as per Genesis, (literally) Paradigms away from Eden – that is to say -- Worlds away from Eden. The "Adamic" is, here inside of the eons of Privatized Good within the landscape of theistic evolution, literally Paradigms away from, Worlds away from, Eden even as Eden itself is found to be (literally) Worlds away from Eternal Life.

That Non-Theists count God as "Causation" inside of said Privation when in fact "causation" within Privatized Good sums to a whole array of other, Non-God causations, is intellectually and theologically inexplicable. Sure, "Occasionalism" is interesting, but it is expressly Non-Christian.

The intention-less ipso facto begets the purposeless – and if “design” is going to be thusly begotten, well then a universe such as ours is void of inherent intention and we awake in a dream, an illusion, inside of a universe void of inherent design. The absurdities of Un-Designed Designers and Illusions constituted of the wads of irrationally conditioned neuronal reflex inside of skulls just won't do -- for painfully obvious reasons -- for the task of getting us to successful truth claims on ontological design. Terms such as Stupid/Clever are, epistemically speaking, intellectually lazy methods of defining ontologically intentionless systems. In the end such ontological claims sum to epistemic effervescence constituted of exactly nothing.

That said:

Non-Theists faithfully affirm the all encompassing metaphysical landscape of Genesis all while simultaneously missing the obvious.

They do so when observing that unmistakable straining towards E Pluribus Unum from the ground up through eons of Tooth and Claw, just as they do so when observing the schizophrenic array of causations within Privatized Good through those same eons. Their thoroughness in describing such a painful mess is uncanny as they affirm Christianity's metaphysical landscape.

An entire Paradigm, an entire World -- Universe -- soaked through with Tooth and Claw, soaked through with Privitized Good and thereby Evil, Lack, Brokenness, Thirst, Striving -- from A to Z -- soaked through with Final Causes and thereby Good, Reach, Teleos, Hope, Becoming -- from A to Z, is precisely the World we all affirm, both Non-Theist and Christian.

All the rants of our Non-Theist friends testify on behalf of Scripture's God.

In fact, such is the case here as well:

Our [Numerator] is nothing less than the unfathomable expanse that is the monstrous ocean of an entire universe of physical constants exploding outward into impossibly narrow outcomes. It approaches infinity. Our [Denominator] is the grain of sand spied as a blue planet. Non-Theists feign interest in Bayes', not "really" putting their faith in probability. For if massive backgrounds of mammoth improbability drive the show -- then God.

Bayes' is a ploy. A con.

Just like "Design".


"effervescence constituted of exactly nothing" -- so often that's exactly the impression I get from reading scbrownlhrm's heady flights.

However, he did manage to offend me with "Bayes' is a ploy. A con."

I don't con. I'm earnest. (I would love to be shown my errors. When scbrownlhrm accused my take on evolution and Adam Smith of being "circular" I got my hopes up -- How was it circular? Please tell me! -- but they were immediately dashed as scbrownlhrm, instead of deigning to describe the fault, immediately turned to his colorful, figurative, undecipherable private language. When will he learn that an error somebody else makes is not as obvious to him as it is to scbrownlhrm? Otherwise he would not have made it. Or perhaps all this talk of obvious errors which are never named is itself a con. Maybe the hyper-inflated, almost-meaningful language is a con job too.)

The reason I said I despise C. S. Lewis is that he does con. He's a master. But then Christian apologetics is nothing but the highly developed art of convincing people to believe without real evidence what their reason should tell them is outlandish poppycock.

"A con.

Just like "Design".

Then why scbrownlhrm, does Intelligent Design keep claiming that biological organisms were designed??????

Sam Harris. Moral Landscape.

Circular.

Adam Smith void of teleos, void of final causes, and the same biology.

Circular.


Google it. It's uninteresting.


And:


[Numerator] / [Denominator] approaches infinity.

________________________________


As there were sooooo many sloppy typos on the last post, a repost:


Often our Non-Theist friends will rant about Stupid/Clever design and about Bayes’ Theorem as hard evidence against Un-Intelligent Design. That the Non-Theist argues against Non-Christian truth predicates is obvious, though what fuels such odd fervor is anything but obvious.

As noted already on those fronts: "The Adamic" is found in Eden between Possible Worlds and, just the same, in Eden we find that, given the inescapable necessities amid essence, it is the case that, as per Genesis, *both* Eternal Life *and* The Privation of Good are, as per Genesis, (literally) Paradigms away from Eden – that is to say -- Worlds away from Eden. Literally. From the ground up. “The Adamic” is, here in this World, inside of the eons of Privatized Good within the landscape of theistic evolution, literally Paradigms away from, Worlds away from, Eden. And, too, Eden itself is found to be (literally) Worlds away from, Paradigms away from, both this World of Privatized Good amidst theistic evolution and also that which is a World of Eternal Life.

That Non-Theists count God as "Causation" inside of said Privation (“stupid/clever” design and so on) when in fact "causation" within Privatized Good sums to a whole array of other, Non-God causations, is intellectually and theologically inexplicable. Sure, "Occasionalism" is interesting, but it is expressly Non-Christian.

The intention-less ipso facto begets the purposeless – and if “design” is going to be thusly begotten, well then a universe such as ours is void of inherent intention and we awake in a dream, an illusion, inside of a universe void of inherent design. The Non-Theist’s tool box of absurdities of Un-Designed Designers and of Illusions both constituted of wads of irrationally conditioned neuronal reflex inside of skulls just won't do – for painfully obvious reasons – for the task of getting us to successful truth claims on ontological design. Terms such as Stupid/Clever are, epistemologically speaking, intellectually lazy methods of defining ontologically intention-less systems. In the end such ontological claims sum to epistemic effervescence locating exactly nothing, no-design. All that such epistemology does locate is factually, as in ontologically, void of inherent intention, and thus of inherent purpose -- inherent teleos -- leaving the Non-Theist with the absurdity of "Design equals non-intentional purposeless collocations of material." Even if the Non-Theist is a realist about Inherent Intentionality, he is left with Man as an Un-Designed Designer. His metric of design is, literally, the un-designed.

Non-Theistic metrics always collapses into this or that reductio ad absurdum.

That said, our Non-Theist friends (aside from their fallacious moves, which are many) do in fact get it right/correct in their locating of the following:

Non-Theists faithfully affirm the all-encompassing metaphysical landscape of Genesis and they do so both when observing nature’s unmistakable straining along that incline towards E Pluribus Unum from the ground up through eons of Tooth and Claw, and they do so when observing the schizophrenic array of causations within Privatized Good through those same eons. Their thoroughness in describing such a painful mess is uncanny as they affirm Christianity's metaphysical landscape.

An entire Paradigm, an entire World -- Universe -- soaked through with Tooth and Claw, soaked through with Privatized Good and thereby Evil, Lack, Brokenness, Thirst, Striving -- from A to Z -- soaked through with Final Causes and thereby Good, Reach, Teleos, Hope, Becoming -- from A to Z, is precisely the World we all affirm, both Non-Theist and Christian.

All the rants of our Non-Theist friends testify on behalf of Scripture's God.

In fact, such is the case here as well:

In Bayes’ Theorem our [Numerator] is nothing less than the unfathomable expanse that is the monstrous ocean of an entire universe of physical constants exploding outward into impossibly narrow outcomes. It approaches infinity. Our [Denominator] is the grain of sand spied as a blue planet. Non-Theists feign interest in Bayes', not "really" putting their faith in probability. For if massive backgrounds of mammoth improbability drive the show -- then God.

Bayes' is a ploy. A con.

Just like "Design".

There are only two options in a universe such as ours:

[1] It is a universe void of inherent intentionality, it is a universe void of inherent design.

[2] It is a universe constituted of, soaked through with, Final Causes.

First paragraph:

Often our Non-Theist friends will rant about Stupid/Clever design and about Bayes’ Theorem as hard evidence for Un-Intelligent Design. That the Non-Theist argues against Non-Christian truth predicates is obvious, though what fuels such odd fervor is anything but obvious.

Gerald,

You may enjoy knowing there are a few people reading these posts that appreciate your clear and lucid thoughts.

I think it is also worth noting that the discussion is really a much wider gap than just bad design and intelligent design. When Christian, and I assume Muslim's, use the term intelligent design what they are inferring is even more than just intelligence, they are invoking a belief of a deity that is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.

Therefore Gerald's argument is even more persuasive given that we are not really contrasting bad design to intelligent design but to an *omniscient* designer.


Fully agree.

Totally.

That makes the failure of the Non-Theist's argument that much more concrete. There's just no intellectual wiggle room to squeeze in a hedge about Un-Designed Designers. Nor is there room (given the same concrete bottom) to subtlety attempt retractions of the often repeated observation of nature’s unmistakable straining along that incline towards E Pluribus Unum from the ground up through eons of Tooth and Claw nor of the often repeated observation of the schizophrenic array of causations within Privatized Good through those same eons. Nor does such a concrete stopping point allow math to be fudged. Near-Infinity ÷ 1-ish is what it is.

Of course, if Islam was to diverge from such a painfully literal Fall and such a painfully literal Redemption (and they do), well then this discussion may, then, leave Christianity's metaphysical landscape in better shape than both the Non-Theist and the Muslim.

Typo:

The last paragraph should read:

Of course, if Islam were to diverge from such a painfully literal Fall and such a painfully literal Redemption (and it does), well this discussion may, then, leave Christianity's metaphysical landscape in better shape than both the Non-Theist’s and the Muslim’s metaphysical landscapes.

Our Non-Theist friends often seem to have some sort of Pantheism, perhaps of the Hindu variety or of Spinoza's variety, in mind. On occasion they seem to have some sort of Occasionalism in mind.

Non-Christian truth claims are certainly interesting, if not irrelevant.

Islam
Pantheism (Hindu)
Pantheism (Spinoza)
Judaism
Occasionalism
___________________________


Perhaps a look at C.S. Lewis and D.B. Hart intersecting Design, Privation, Theistic Evolution, Final Causes, EAAN, and EAAE (as discussed so far etc.) in the comment time stamped "February 12, 2016 at 07:17 AM" would help avoid the move of looking through Non-Christian lenses.

Thanks, Talking Donkey. Much appreciated.

I just dumped this whole thread into Word so I could find things. Counting the OP (which was very short) it now contains over 62,000 words!

I just broke down & ordered the Feser book. Reading philosophy of mind written by a Christian apologist with an ax to grind is not my idea of a holiday, but -- it should be educational.

Adam, Eden, World:

Of course Adam existed. The (longstanding BTW) questions about the nature of Eden and about the nature of Adam and about the nature of those peculiar Doors into Eternal-Life and into Good-Evil (Privation) do not change that. Besides, Man is not, on Christianity's premises, entirely material based. So no amount of Dirt / Molecular Cascades can ever "finish" said picture.

Think about those peculiar Doors in Eden, and, then, think about what they necessarily entail with respect to what the nature of “Adam” must in fact “be” should Adam be that which is constitutionally soaked through with *neither* the elemental substrates of Eternal-Life *nor* with the elemental substrates of Good-Evil (Privation). We speak here of Man and World as Man is, it seems on all fronts, found in Eden standing between Possible Worlds vis-à-vis God’s freely created Imago Dei.

Off topic, sort of:

[…In all such Worlds vis-à-vis God’s freely decreed Imago Dei (given what that necessarily entails and promises) it is the case that All Sufficiency (God) must pour, be debased, transpose, instantiate, and, per love’s free decree amid reciprocity’s landscape, glorify the Insufficient (glorify the created Imago Dei / Man), just as in all such Worlds Insufficiency (Man) must acquiesce, must at least initially (whether in Eden or out of Eden) come to know his own innate insufficiency and lack and volitional motion and mutability and therein love either the Mutable Self or else the Immutable Other within reciprocity’s landscape, must be filled, be glorified in and by All Sufficiency’s (God’s) timeless reciprocity, and, thereby, per love’s reciprocity, glorify All Sufficiency (glorify God)……but such brevity is left off there in this comment and it is enough to say for now that Christ is unavoidable in all Worlds given the decreed Imago Dei….]

Back to Eden/Man/World:

If the Door into Eternal Life and if the Door into Good-Evil (Privation) are (were) both a molecular (physical, this universe) Pill (fruit) on a molecular (physical, this universe) Tree akin to The Matrix wherein one swallows it and thereby the Actualizations of both of those Doors come about by altering molecular motion, well then one had better be prepared to take a stand and equate the current nature of the current universe with those other natures through those other Doors. Just think about that. Indeed. Whatever the nature of Adam (or of “The Adamic”) was, whatever the nature of “Eden” was, such natures (Eden/Adam) where *not* those irreducible essences which we find inside of Eternal Life *nor* were they (Eden/Adam) those irreducible essences which we find inside of this nature of this world. *IF* Tooth and Claw and the pains of Natural Section are in fact Evil, and *IF* design is in fact soaked through with not only Good but also with all the pains of Good-Minus-Some-Thing (Privation), well *THEN* the various forms of EAAE (from thread comments here at STR’s Bad Design Is A Bad Argument and not to be confused with the EAAN) come crashing through the sky in and by and through what must be paradigm-shifting necessities from the ground up such that even if it turns out (and there is evidence both in science and in Scripture with echoes of such) that the entire show of natural selection is, simply, all the pains of Good-Evil (vis-à-vis final causes and an obviously paradigm shifting privation) well then the Christian genre alone finds the needed solvency for the Non-Theist to painfully borrow from in all his own claims, as in:

Non-Theists faithfully affirm the all-encompassing metaphysical landscape of Genesis and they do so both when observing nature’s unmistakable straining along that incline towards E Pluribus Unum from the ground up through eons of Tooth and Claw, and they do so when observing the schizophrenic array of causations within Privatized Good through those same eons. Their thoroughness in describing such a painful mess is uncanny as they affirm Christianity's metaphysical landscape. [Oh dear…..Christians (of which I am one) don’t panic over the descriptive / prescriptive “E Pluribus Unum”, but, rather, see the *disclaimer* at the end….]

An entire Paradigm, an entire World – Universe – soaked through with Tooth and Claw, soaked through with Privatized Good and thereby Evil, Lack, Brokenness, Thirst, Striving – from A to Z – soaked through with Final Causes and thereby Good, Reach, Teleos, Hope, Becoming – from A to Z – is precisely the World we all affirm, both Non-Theist and Christian.

All the rants of our Non-Theist friends testify on behalf of Scripture's God as whatever mechanism of creation we find employed, including presenting the entire show of natural selection as, simply, all the pains of Good and Evil (vis-à-vis final causes and an obviously paradigm shifting privation), well the Non-Theist just cannot speak coherently about *any* of it *even* on his own terms, whether from the perspective of pain, or suffering, or design and the good, or design and good-minus-some-thing, or the inescapable reductio ad absurdum which the entire materialist project suffers within inherent intentionality, qualia, and Mind, or teleos vis-à-vis purpose, and so on. The Non-Theist cannot comment on any nuance, at all, which necessitates either inherent intentionality or which necessitates design of any degree as even the phrases good design, bad design, stupid design, or great design fall into incoherence. The Non-Theist’s epistemic is insolvent and hence his entire epistemological body just does ride upon the coattails of the only genre on Planet Earth wherein such terms and definitions are actually solvent. That singular genre being, obviously, none other than the singular metanarrative of the Christian paradigm.

We find here that there is a convergence of all things when it comes to Christianity’s metaphysical landscape, necessity, science, and facts. By that we mean two things.

First:

“The universe, however physics and scientific cosmology end up describing it – even if it turned out to be a universe without a temporal beginning, even if it is a four-dimensional block universe, even if Hawking’s closed universe model turned out to be correct, even if we should really think in terms of a multiverse rather than a single universe – will, the Aristotelian argues, necessarily exhibit just these features (potentialities needing actualization, composition, contingency, etc.). And thus it will, as a matter of metaphysical necessity, require a cause outside it. And only that which is pure actuality devoid of potentiality, only what is utterly simple or non-composite, only something whose essence or nature just is existence itself, only what is therefore in no way contingent but utterly necessary – only that, the classical theist maintains, could in principle be the ultimate terminus of explanation, whatever the specific scientific details turn out to be.” (E. Feser)

Second:

Regarding the topic at hand, the landscape of Adam, Eden, and World, our ultimate terminus of explanation, whatever the specific scientific details turn out to be, find only two options in a universe such as ours:

[1] It is a universe void of inherent intentionality, it is a universe void of inherent design.

[2] It is a universe constituted of, soaked through with, Final Causes.


------------


*Disclaimer* regarding “E Pluribus Unum” syntax:

Lest those of us who are Christian begin to panic at the descriptive / prescriptive of “E Pluribus Unum”, be assured that such is *not* an express referent to that which *is* “Father, Eternally Begotten Son, Spirit” and so on. *Rather*, such is to help address (in part), among other things, the painfully misinformed presuppositions about Christianity and about Reality which seem to fuel our Non-Theist friend’s struggle with equating “Being Itself” to that which is, irreducibly, “Goodness Itself”. Such carries us into necessary interfaces within all that is perception and within all that is mind and within all that is love and within all that is reciprocity amid the elemental substrates of personhood and thereby force both reason and logic into the embrace of the true over inside of the contours of (stay focused), first, the unavoidable interfaces of Self/Other [.….as in personal interfaces….. I/You….. Self/Other…. Me/You… Knower/Known…. those interfaces and elemental substrates constituting two of our three inescapable distinctions…..]. Then we keep moving for we have not accounted for the whole show just yet as all moral semantics converge within perception’s and within mind’s and within love’s third and inescapable distinction in unicity’s E Pluribus Unum there in the “Singular-Us” embedded in Scripture’s God from A to Z from Whom streams all conceivable means/ends related to Self-Other-Us. No claims upon Goodness Itself are even possible but for the uniquely Christian Archetype which “is” the categorical and unavoidably triune set of interfaces comprising Trinity’s irreducible reciprocity amid the elemental pouring/filling discovered within the simplicity that is the immutable love of the Necessary Being.

Perhaps I may get back to this, but I just don't have the time right now. Maybe in a couple weeks.

It strikes me that scbrownlhrm is thinking mythologically. He speaks of Adam and Eden in the present tense, as if they existed in some eternal now, and were a way of understanding, not our origins, but our present circumstances. He has his own version of Genesis. His metaphysical language seems to be a part of this mythological world, together with characters like "Tooth and Claw" and "E Pluribus Unum". This is not a river I can swim in. Perhaps it's a form of literature, or, for all I know, theology, but it is not the kind of thing that can be argued over. He even quotes Feser to the effect that no possible scientific finding could prove him wrong. Religionists tend to like this kind of invulnerability to counter-evidence. Scientific types hate it, because they know it means they can never learn whether such invulnerable-to-facts claims are mistaken. No risk, no gain, they hold. And the gains won with this philosophy have transformed our world and our understanding of it (or at least the understanding of some of us). scbrownlhrm's fantasy world is at no risk from anything I could possibly say. That's fine with me. Mythology has a role to play too, for those who like that sort of thing. I prefer science -- and a careful, rational style of philosophy that obeys the law of noncontradiction, where at least argument has the potential to teach me I'm wrong.

-- Well, that's already more time than I have.

Tooth and Claw?

It's natural selection.

Odd that one does not know that.

Eden?

It's Eden. Literally.

Odd that one does not know that about Scripture.

Adam is Adam, the first Man. Literally.

Odd that one does not know that about Scripture.

Scientism?

It's nonsense.

Odd that one still believes in it.

A-T metaphysics?

It's fairly common fare. And easily accessible.

Odd that one misses the point.

E Pluribus Unum? Cooperation.

Odd that the folks who insist evolutionary cooperation counts for objective morality can't connect such simple dots.

The (theological) debate on the “nature” not only of Adam (or of “The Adamic”) but also of Eden isn’t anything new of course, and stands as an expressly theological question – immune to scientism though fully coherent with the physical sciences – but it is odd that the Non-Theist rushes for the proverbial mythology option all while exhibiting so much unawareness on so many topics.

Interesting.

When it comes to our “respective terminus of explanation” with respect to actuality’s irreducible causation(s) and when it comes to inherent intentionality within said irreducible causation(s) – as opposed to as-if intentionality – (and therefore to any intelligible explanatory terminus of the terms “design / design-ing / design-er” – within our respective causal paradigms with respect to those same irreducible causations, and when it comes to Final Causes in actuality’s irreducible causation(s), and when it comes to our Universe being soaked through with [A] what is at bottom a causal paradigm soaked through with the Non-Rational, the Non-Intentional, the Indifferent, or to our Universe being soaked through with [B] what is at bottom a causal paradigm soaked through with Inherent Intentionality and Final Causes, well the Non-Theist must resort to the discomforts of a self-negating Scientism to make any comment at all – even as he must appeal to the unavoidable reductio ad absurdums which force an ultimately deflationary view of truth-value in any causal paradigm constituted of [A] from earlier, which is just any Non-Theistic paradigm.

An apparent lack of awareness on these fronts leads the Non-Theist to attempt philosophy, only, such seems to be missing a few critical components, as the following two quotes discuss:

As “Debilis” notes:

Quote:

We can’t simply insist, without evidence, that all evidence is physical then make proud declarations about what evidence does or doesn’t exist. This is assuming materialism in order to “prove” atheism, making it a circular argument. Rather, we first need to give a reason why all evidence is physical.

But this leads the materialist into a very difficult corner, because there’s absolutely no physical evidence to support the idea that all evidence is physical.

Generally, the response I get is further insistence that I “show” some non-physical things – as if the person asking doesn’t believe a mind, free will, moral truth, or even logical principles exist. What I never get is a bona fide reason to believe that all evidence is physical.

So, summing this up……. we haven’t seen any reason at all to be a materialist. The reasons for belief in God, if they have any weight at all, will be the stronger case.

Of course, I’ve argued (and will continue to argue) that such reasons have substantial weight…….

……I can elaborate, but the point is that scientific tests and “because it seems obvious” aren’t the only possibilities for determining the truth of a premise.

And that is part of a running theme here. As with my argument from moral truth, and my refutation of the argument for materialism, one simply can’t cram these kinds of questions into a scientific model. The entire point of what the theist is saying is that there are things which don’t fit that model. One is free to disagree, but it makes no sense to argue against the truth of those claims by pointing out that science doesn’t find them.

Of course it doesn’t – that’s the theist’s point. The debate is over whether or not science gives us an exhaustive picture of all reality.

End quote.

And, secondly along that same theme:

Quote:

Wanda: But you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?

Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy.

Wanda: Yes, they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it.

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

One cannot help but think of A Fish Called Wanda when one reads Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion; or at least I can’t. You might think this is because the movie prominently features a snobbish Englishman or two, but that isn’t the reason. It’s rather (of all people) Otto, Kevin Kline’s boorish American diamond thief, who most brings to mind the good professor.

Dawkins may well be a fine biologist – I really have no idea, though I suppose the fact that he teaches at Oxford might say something in his favor. But then, I teach at a community college, so what the hell do I know? Well, this for starters: that where philosophy is concerned, Richard Dawkins evidently knows about as much as Richard Dawson, though I admit that this may be an insult to Mr. Dawson. The one certain difference between them is that Dawson has never had the temerity to think his proficiency in his own field – hosting television game shows – qualified him to speak on philosophical matters. Yet the ideas on which Professor Dawkins’s reputation with the general public rests are not biological ones, but philosophical ones – even if, in some cases, they are philosophical ideas disguised as biological ones.

Which brings us back to A Fish Called Wanda. Otto fancies himself a thinker; in particular, a philosopher. The trouble is, he is absolutely innocent of any real understanding of philosophy, though also clueless about his own cluelessness, which is where the comedy comes in. It is left to Jamie Lee Curtis’s character Wanda to disabuse him of his delusions of competence. “Aristotle was not Belgian,” she informs him; “the central teaching of Buddhism is not ‘Every man for himself’”; and so on.

Had Wanda been looking over Dawkins’s shoulder as he wrote The God Delusion, she might have let him in on a few things too: “Aquinas never rested any of his arguments for God’s existence on the claim that ‘There must have been a time when no physical things existed’; indeed, rather famously, he deliberately refrains from doing so”; “It isn’t true that Aquinas gives ‘absolutely no reason’ to think that the First Cause of the universe is omnipotent, omniscient, good, etc.; in fact he devotes many hundreds of pages, across several works, to proving just this”; “The Fifth Way has nothing to do with Paley’s ‘watchmaker’ argument; actually, even the most traditional followers of Aquinas often reject Paley with as much scorn as evolutionists do”; “St. Anselm was not trying to prove God’s existence to God Himself”; and so on. And on, and on. Indeed, Ms. Curtis could have filmed a whole sequel to her movie, filled with nothing but philosophy jokes of which Dawkins and his ridiculous book are the butt. Let us hope that she would have been kinder to Dawkins than she was to poor, dumb Otto. Anyway, devout evolutionist that he is, Dawkins, like his hero T.H. Huxley, would presumably not take too great offense at being compared to an ape.

Among the delusions of Richard Dawkins, then, is that he has anything of any interest whatsoever to say about philosophical matters, such as: whether talk about biological functions can be reduced to talk about patterns of efficient causation; what the nature of the human mind is; or in this case, whether God exists. (We will be looking at the first two questions ourselves in later chapters, and at the last one in this chapter.) One is almost tempted to think Dawkins’s research for the philosophical chapters of his book consisted entirely of a quick thumbing through of Philosophy for Dummies. Almost, except for this: Though I haven’t read Philosophy for Dummies, I would not want to insult its author, Thomas Morris, who is a very capable philosopher indeed, and the author of several rigorous and widely esteemed academic works on technical philosophical subjects. In recent years he has turned to writing for a popular audience. But since even the work in question seems not to have been “dumbed down” enough for the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, Dr. Morris might want to consider a simplified sequel aimed at the “New Atheist” audience. He could call it Philosophy for Dawkins.

End quote.

(From E. Feser, “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism”)

On the questions of:


[1] It is a universe void of inherent intentionality, and therefore, it is a universe void of any inherent design, from top to bottom. The word “design” describes, in all uses, a fiction.....

and....

[2] It is a universe constituted of and soaked through with Inherent Intentionality, with Final Causes....


E. Feser takes a look at Teleology verses Teleonomy vis-à-vis irreducible causality:


Quote:


At The Philosophers’ Magazine online, Massimo Pigliucci discusses teleology and teleonomy. His position has the virtues of being simple and clear. Unfortunately, it also has the vices of being simplistic and wrong. His remarks can be summarized fairly briefly. Explaining what is wrong with them takes a little more doing.

Teleology, as Pigliucci says, is actual purposefulness, whereas teleonomy is the mere appearance of purposefulness. The former, he claims, always involves either divine or human agency. The sciences can in Piglucci’s view be distinguished by their relationships to teleology and teleonomy. “[P]hysics, chemistry, astronomy and geology,” he says, “are neither teleonomic nor teleologic.” At the other extreme, with psychology, sociology and economics it is “mandatory” that we understand the phenomena they study in teleological terms. In the middle stands biology, which he says is not teleological but is teleonomic. Why is teleonomy “indispensible” to biology? Because, Pigliucci says, “natural selection… truly does mimic goals and purposes” whereas the phenomena studied by physics, chemistry, etc. do not. And what accounts for the difference between merely teleonomic phenomena and truly teleological ones? In Pigliucci’s view it is consciousness, the science of which “is still waiting for its Darwin.”

Pigliucci is a smart and interesting guy, but as we’ve seen before (here and here), like too many other contemporary philosophers he often seems unable or unwilling to think outside the box of what everyone “knows.” In this case, like most people who comment on the subject these days (whether naturalists, ID theorists, or whoever), he overlooks several crucial distinctions where teleology is concerned -- distinctions I spelled out in my article “Teleology: A Shopper’s Guide” (with further, more recent relevant discussion at pp. 88-105 of Scholastic Metaphysics). Though these are distinctions which come naturally to us Thomists, they are also (as I discuss in the writings just referred to and have discussed in many other places as well) distinctions some of which you will find recapitulated by some contemporary non-Thomist and even naturalistic philosophers.

I won’t repeat here everything I’ve said in those earlier writings. Suffice it to note that there are at least five approaches one could take to the question of whether teleology is (or is not) real, and at least five levels in nature at which one might (or might not) identify a distinct sort of teleology.

As I’ve noted before, the first set of distinctions roughly corresponds to the five sorts of position one could take on the problem of universals: nominalism, conceptualism, and the three brands of realism (Platonic, Aristotelian, and Scholastic). Teleological eliminativism (which roughly parallels nominalism) holds that there is no teleology at all in the natural world. Teleological reductionism holds that there is teleology in the natural world, but that it is entirely reducible to non-teleological phenomena. Platonic teleological realism holds that teleology is real and irreducible but that it does not exist in natural, non-mental phenomena in any intrinsic way. Rather, it exists only relative to some mind (say, human or divine) which imparts teleology to otherwise purposeless phenomena. Aristotelian teleological realism holds that teleology is real and irreducible and that it does exist in natural, non-mental phenomena in an intrinsic way, without having to be derived from any mind. Scholastic teleological realism is something of a middle ground position between Platonic and Aristotelian teleological realism. It holds that teleology is real and irreducible, and that it has a proximate ground in the intrinsic natures of things (as the Aristotelian view holds) but that it also has its ultimate source in the divine intellect (as the Platonic view holds). Platonic teleological realism is the view reflected in arguments like Paley’s design argument and ID theory. Scholastic teleological realism is the view one finds in Aquinas’s Fifth Way. (See my article “Between Aristotle and William Paley: Aquinas’s Fifth Way.” Both that article and “Teleology: A Shopper’s Guide” are reprinted in Neo-Scholastic Essays. The distinction between Platonic and Aristotelian teleological realism has been emphasized in recent analytic philosophy by writers like Christopher Shields and Andre Ariew.)

The second set of distinctions, between levels in nature at which teleology may or may not exist, goes as follows. First, teleology might exist (indeed, as everyone but eliminative materialists agrees, does exist) at the level of human thought and action, where the ends toward which thought and action are directed are grasped conceptually. Second, teleology exists in non-human animals in a way that does not involve conceptualization, but is still conscious. Third, teleology exists in merely vegetative forms of life (in the technical, Aristotelian sense of “vegetative”) in a way that is completely unconscious, but still involves processes which are directed toward the flourishing of the whole organism. (Scholastics call this “immanent causation,” as opposed to the “transeunt causation” to which non-living things are confined.) Fourth, teleology might be claimed to exist in inorganic phenomena in a way that does not involve the flourishing of a whole substance (as in living things) but still involves complex causal processes. David Oderberg proposes the rock cycle and the water cycle as examples. Fifth, teleology might exist at the simplest level in the form of an efficient cause’s mere “directedness” toward its characteristic effect or range of effects. Contemporary philosopher Paul Hoffman has called this last kind the “stripped-down core notion” of teleology, and it is essentially what contemporary metaphysicians like John Heil, George Molnar, and U.T. Place have in mind when they attribute “physical intentionality” or “natural intentionality” to causal powers.

Now, the first mistake Pigliucci makes is matter-of-factly to suppose that teleology, if it is real, must “either [be] the result of a supernatural cause (‘god’) or, more obviously, of human activity.” This essentially assumes that the only options are either teleological eliminativism or Platonic teleological realism. Yet surely Pigliucci is familiar with versions of teleological reductionism (for example, attempts in the philosophy of biology to analyze the notion of biological function in “naturalistic” terms), which makes it odd that he doesn’t even mention these in passing. Perhaps he supposes (rightly, in my view) that such reductionism inevitably collapses into some other view about teleology. But Pigliucci seems completely unaware that there is such a thing as the Aristotelian teleological realist position -- which is also a bit odd, since Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos brought some attention to it recently (nor is Nagel the only naturalist to take such a view). Naturally, someone unaware of the Aristotelian teleological realist position would also be unfamiliar with the Scholastic teleological realist position (which can really only be understood by contrast to the Aristotelian and Platonist positions). Perhaps Pigliucci would say that all of these views end up collapsing into the Platonic position. But justifying such a claim would require argument. Pigliucci not only gives no argument, he shows no awareness that there is even a dispute here.

Pigliucci’s second mistake is in assimilating all teleology to the sort exhibited (or apparently exhibited) either in human action or in biological phenomena. This is a very common assimilation, but it is wrong, and manifests Pigliucci’s tendency (which we have seen before) to take the metaphysical conventional wisdom for granted. Again, teleology of a sort that is much more rudimentary than the sort one finds in biological and specifically human phenomena might arguably be found in inorganic cyclical phenomena (as in Oderberg’s examples) or in basic causal relations (as in the phenomena that writers like Hoffman, Heil, Molnar, Place, et al. have in mind). And in that case, even if one denies that “physics, chemistry, astronomy and geology” are concerned with truly teleological phenomena, they would still be teleonomic phenomena -- which would undermine Pigliucci’s proposed way of classifying the sciences, and also undermine his claim that it is natural selection that accounts for teleonomy (since natural selection does not exist at the level of the inorganic phenomena in question).

Pigliucci says: “It makes no sense to ask what is the purpose or goal of an electron, a molecule, a planet or a mountain.” But the remark is either aimed at a straw man or begs the question. If by “the purpose of an electron etc.” Pigliucci has in mind something like the kind of purposes that a heart or an eyeball has (which can only be understood by reference to the flourishing of the organism of which these organs are parts), or the kind that an artifact has (which can only be understood by reference to the human purposes for which the artifact was made), then he is of course correct that electrons, molecules, planets and mountains lack such purposes. But not all teleology need in the first place involve the kinds of purposes we see in bodily organs and artifacts, and those who attribute teleology to inorganic phenomena are not attributing to them those specific kinds of teleology. What they have in mind instead is mere directedness toward an end.

Now, anything with irreducible causal powers arguably has that sort of mere directedness -- what Hoffman calls the “stripped-down core notion” of teleology -- insofar as it has a typical sort of effect or range of effects. Contemporary “new essentialist” powers theorists willing to countenance something like “physical intentionality” would attribute this sort of teleology to physical particles. Planets and mountains (to cite Pigliucci’s other examples) are trickier, since it might be argued that their causal powers are reducible to those of their parts. If so, then they would have what the Scholastic would call mere “accidental forms” rather than “substantial forms,” and thus not be true substances, and thus not be candidates for the sorts of thing having irreducible teleology in the first place. I don’t intend to get into all that here. Suffice it to say that Pigliucci is not only ignoring distinctions between kinds of teleology, but also running together examples of very different sorts which would require careful case-by-case treatment in the application of the relevant metaphysical notions. (See Scholastic Metaphysics for exposition and defense of all the relevant notions.)

It is also surprising that a philosopher of science like Pigliucci should overlook a famous example of purported teleology within physics, viz. least action principles. (See Hawthorne and Nolan’s paper “What Would Teleological Causation Be?” for a recent brief discussion by philosophers.) Of course, whether such principles ought really to be regarded as teleological is a matter of controversy, but that is irrelevant to the present point. What is relevant is, first, that if they are teleological, they would not have the kind of teleology that bodily organs and artifacts have. Hence they would be good examples of the more rudimentary, sub-organic kind of purported teleology that Pigliucci entirely overlooks. Second, the very fact that least action principles at least seem to many people to be teleological is another good illustration of how even physics is arguably teleonomic even if one were to concede to Pigliucci that it is not teleological. Once again, that would undermine Pigliucci’s attempt to explain teleonomy in terms of natural selection.

A further problem with Pigliucci’s remarks is that he supposes that a reference to natural selection suffices to show that teleology has been banished from biology. But that is not the case. As various thinkers with no ID theoretic or otherwise theological ax to grind (e.g. Marjorie Grene, Andre Ariew, J. Scott Turner) have pointed out, natural selection by itself only casts doubt on teleology where questions of adaptation are concerned. Whether some sort of teleology is necessary to make sense of developmental processes within an organism is another question. (Keep in mind that whether such teleology would require reference to some sort of designer is, contrary to what Pigliucci seems to suppose, a yet further question -- and one which would require settling the dispute between Platonic teleological realism, Aristotelian teleological realism, Scholastic teleological realism, and teleological reductionism.)

Finally, Pigliucci overlooks some obvious problems with his remarks about consciousness. By his own admission, apparently, phenomena that involve consciousness are irreducibly teleological and not merely teleonomic. So far so good; I think that is certainly true. But in that case it is quite silly to pretend (as Pigliucci rather glibly does) that explaining consciousness merely requires that cognitive science find its own Darwin. The way Darwin accounts for adaptation is precisely by arguing that it is not really teleological at all but merely teleonomic. Naturally, then, if consciousness is irreducibly teleological, it is not even in principle going to be susceptible of that kind of reductionist or eliminativist explanation.

Of course, Pigliucci might respond that he didn’t mean to imply that consciousness would ever be explained in exactly the kind of manner Darwin employed, but only that it would require a scientist of Darwin’s stature to account for it. Fair enough, but even on this interpretation his remark is still much too glib. Darwin, and the other great names in modern science, are considered great largely because they are thought to have found ways to eliminate teleology from the phenomena they dealt with. In particular, they’ve treated teleology as a mere projection of the mind rather than a real feature of nature. Obviously you can’t apply that approach to conscious teleological processes without implicitly denying the existence of the thing you’re supposed to be explaining rather than actually explaining it. (And into the bargain, taking an incoherent position, since scientific theorizing, weighing evidence, etc. are themselves all teleological conscious processes.)

So, a “Darwin” of the science of consciousness would have to be as unlike Darwin, Newton, and Co. as they were unlike Aristotle. In particular, he’d have to reverse the anti-teleological trend of modern scientific theorizing. Or at any rate, he’d have to do so for all Pigliucci has said, or all he plausibly could say given what he’s willing to concede vis-à-vis the centrality of genuine teleology (not just teleonomy) to the understanding of human phenomena.

Hence to write many paragraphs about the scientific banishment of teleology from everywhere else in nature while insisting that teleology is real in the case of human beings, and then casually to insinuate that the history of that banishment gives hope that someday a scientific explanation of the teleology of human consciousness will also be possible… to do that is something of a conjuring trick, a bit of sleight of hand. To appeal to an analogy I’ve used many times before, it’s like someone who has gotten rid of all the dirt in every room in the house by sweeping it under a particular rug, when asked how he’s now going to get rid of the dirt under the rug, responding: “Why, I’ll get rid of it the same way I got rid of the dirt in all the rooms, of course! That method worked in all those other cases -- why wouldn’t it work in the one case of the dirt under the rug?” This only sounds plausible if you don’t think very carefully about what has just been said. The minute you do think about it, you see that in fact it’s absurd. Naturally, the past success of the sweep-it-under-the-rug method gives no reason whatsoever to think that that method offers hope of getting rid of the dirt under the rug itself. And by the same token, the past success of the treat-teleology-as-a-mere-projection-of-consciousness method gives no reason whatsoever to think that people using essentially the same method will succeed in explaining the teleology of consciousness itself.

(For more detailed discussion of these and related issues, see my series of posts on Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos and on Alex Rosenberg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality.)


End quote.


FWIW:

http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2016/03/are-vestigial-eyes-evidence-of-evolution.html


At the link here http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2016/03/oderberg-on-final-causes.html#more E. Feser comments on David Oderberg’s recent essays on causation, teleology, and intentionality:

“Readers interested in final causality and its relationship to the current debate in analytic metaphysics about the purported “physical intentionality” of causal powers will definitely find it of interest.”

David Oderberg obviously has many essays on many topics (here: http://www.davidsoderberg.co.uk/home/articles ) although the two which Feser introduces are these links to the respective PDFs:

[1] “Finality revived: powers and intentionality” http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-016-1057-5?wt_mc=internal.event.1.SEM.ArticleAuthorOnlineFirst

[2] “Contemporary Perspectives on Natural: Law as a Limiting Concept Natural Law” with the PDF of chapter 16 which is “Teleology: Inorganic and Organic, by David S. Oderberg” https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieVTFjS21PNHc3TjA/edit?pref=2&pli=1

Of note is Feser's observation of the obvious in the comment here time stamped: March 15, 2016 at 06:26 AM,, which directly impacts and necessarily defines all claim-making vis-à-vis mind:

"Hence to write many paragraphs about the scientific banishment of teleology from everywhere else in nature while insisting that teleology is real in the case of human beings, and then casually to insinuate that the history of that banishment gives hope that someday a scientific explanation of the teleology of human consciousness will also be possible… to do that is something of a conjuring trick, a bit of sleight of hand."

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