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May 19, 2016


Tim says, “This challenge annoys me a little bit”. I can identify : )

The challenge: “Snowflakes Are Complex without a Designer”

Tim didn’t start off by saying, “Right, snowflakes don’t have a designer, but let me explain the difference between humans and snowflakes…”. Perhaps he should have to be clear. Watching the video, I have to believe that Tim thinks snowflakes aren’t designed.

To highlight this, Tim says at 3:40, “…highly repetitive sequence easily producible by natural phenomena like stars….”


Does Tim think stars are not designed?

What else is undesigned natural phenomena?

Again, it seems Tim thinks snowflakes aren’t designed. Perhaps Tim thinks they are designed but decides not to address it thinking it lends more credibility to drawing the necessary distinction between snowflakes and humans. But it's necessary to address it.

I got lost somewhere in there. Seems that a more simple yet adequate explanation would be some thing like this: An individual snowflake doesn't have to be individually specifically designed by a designer, because it is the natural product of a system, and the system itself shows overwhelming evidence of a designer. Once the designed system is in place, anything it produces shows the work that the designer put into the system, even if the designer didn't give specific attention to any individual product of the system.


Once the designed system is in place, anything it produces shows the work that the designer put into the system, even if the designer didn't give specific attention to any individual product of the system.

My son came from something that was in existence before he was – did The Designer give specific attention to my son?

Does God not have authority over heaven and earth?

A strand of human DNA is the result of billions of years of natural selection. The original bits of "life" were probably not much more complex than a snowflake. Once one of these strands exhibited the ability to reproduce itself, it was off to the races...

Nick Lane talks about the original forms of life being nothing more than some sort of chemical proton pumping mechanism in his most recent book "The Vital Question". Given the right conditions, most likely near deep-sea thermal vents, certain chemical processes that would likely result in primitive "life" are inevitable.

Tim makes a distinction between ordered complexity and specified complexity.

The example he gives of ordered complexity is a computer program that simply loops on printing "ab".

Specified complexity is more akin to printing the works of Shakespeare.

While I don't necessarily want to deny this distinction, it does seem to me that even ordered complexity calls for a designer...a program that loops on the printing of "ab" would not write itself.

"While I don't necessarily want to deny this distinction, it does seem to me that even ordered complexity calls for a designer...a program that loops on the printing of "ab" would not write itself."

Given an infinite amount of time and a finite number of atoms in the universe, eventually these atoms will be ordered in such a way to appear designed.

Is it so unbelievable that several billion years ago, a collection of molecules under the right chemical conditions came together in such a way that a primitive self-replicating machine was the result? Once you have a replicator that can create near-perfect copies of itself, the copies (offspring) will be subject to the pressures of natural selection. After that, all you need is a lot of time.

It is not just unbelievable. It is impossible.

Time cannot be the solution to the problem of complexity. First, we know from relativity that we don't have an infinite amount of time to work with. Secondly, even with an infinite amount of time one still needs to contend with the laws of thermodynamics. Order, even the order of a snowflake, is easily destroyed. Just add a little heat to your snowflake and watch the order vanish. Even without heat a snowflake will evaporate, shedding atoms one at a time until the crystal disintegrates.

Natural law (like the laws governing the formation of crystals) creates repeating patterns. Random chance creates static. Those are the only two tools in the atheist's toolbox. But life is neither random formations of atoms, nor repeating patterns of matter. It is ordered and complex networks of interconnected and interdependent systems that all have to work or the whole organism dies.

Even the simplest cells are far more than replicators. A replicator that can create a near-perfect copy of itself has to have a system in place to insure that the copy doesn't deviate too far from the original, especially since most of those deviations will create a non-functional copy, and the organism only has limited amounts of energy. It cannot waste time and energy making bad copies. It has to have systems that can appropriate materials from the surrounding environment, while protecting against elements (like oxygen) that will bugger the whole process. It has to have systems that can take energy from the surrounding environment to fuel the replication process, without taking too much or the wrong kind, which will also disrupt the replication process. These systems all have to function with precision, in concert with one another. This level of order defies everything we know about chemistry.

In all of these steps, in all of these interdependent systems, time is an enemy. Over time oxygen, UV radiation, and entropy breaks the organism down. Evolution claims that over time increasingly complex organisms, with even more complicated and precise systems accidentally develop. As I mentioned, random chance generates static, not increasing levels or organization. Chemistry teaches us that in time all chemical systems corrode, decay, and collapse.

The semantics of " such a way to appear designed...." is, on the one hand, correct as appearance is the best the Non-Theist can grant from "bottom to top" given his paradigm's means, and, on the other hand, it is an ontic-cheat which pretends as-if the causally closed paradigm which maps to Physics mystically breaks free of itself once inside neuronal sodium pumps. The Golden Calf of inherent intentionality is begotten. Don't ask how. Just believe. That way we (the Non-Theists) can pretend that some things really are designed and some things really are not designed, that our laptops actually are designed and that our brains actually are not designed.

Non-designed designers.

Un-designed design.

That epistemological/ontological mysticism is the Golden Calf of the Non-Theist. It is the why of the Non-Theist's "....just believe our assertions..."

Don't ask questions.

Just believe.


Un-designed design and non-designed designers unfold to final, or to ultimate, or to "Cosmic" ontic-nonsense, and are unpacked a bit more at:


There are two problems with the monkeys-and-typewriters argument you suggest.

1. We don't have infinite time.
2. It presupposes typewriters.

The grant of finite atoms, themselves incredibly complex constructions, is far too much to grant to the no-design hypothesis.

Dembski offers an 'explanatory filter' that looks for 'complex specified information'.

It is supposed to work by checking, in order, if a thing's existence is explained by law, chance, or design.

Something like this...

Explain snowflakes.

Is the probability of a snowflake forming very high?

Yes. (Under the right, but common circumstances).

So snowflakes are explained by law.

Also, while they are specified, they require little info to specify, so they are simple, not complex.

(Chance explains the variety of snowflakes, but law explains the existence of such things.)

Done with snowflakes.

Explain a living things.

Is a living thing highly probable?

No. So not explained by law.

Is it moderately probably?

Not even! So rule out chance.

Is a living thing specified / highly improbable?


So, design is inferred for living things.


The 'ordered complexity' Tim talks about a snowflake having appears to be what Dembski would call 'simplicity'.


Some of the commenters don't seem to buy into Dembski's claim that law and chance do explain some things in this world.

Seems like these commenters would see design in everything in whatever world you show them.

Should they not, then, attack ID since...

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

I added the bold to 'certain' there. The rest is from here.


Read about A-T causations, plural.

Dualism will help too on drawing proper distinctions.

The Non-Theist running to conflate final causes (etc.) with "God's finger did this" in the relevant sense referenced here, and running to conflate the metaphysical reach of "Being Itself" for the same, and running to conflate all of the above for the nonsense of "Occasionalism", doesn't free him of his paradigm's epistemological/ontological mysticism bound up in his causally closed system of un-designed designers and non-designed design by which he means to assert that some things in the universe really are designed and some things in the universe really are not designed. As touched on earlier, etc.


I will Read what you Wrote And what you suggest after you read this.



Please tell us how this rescues the Non-Theist from the mysticism of non-designed design.

Quantum indeterminacy equates to the observer's inherent intentionality within his frame of reference -- is that it? Something else?

Please explain.

you read it?

Even the bits about feminism, elitism, and politics. Well, not really those parts. The footnotes were tedious and therefore skipped.

Do you mean to annihilate the observer? The frame of reference?

Please explain where *your* causal paradigm's requirements for design fit in.



Quantum indeterminacy equates to the observer's inherent intentionality within his frame of reference -- is that it? Something else?

Please explain.



Clever and I do apologize for not recognizing that you were not serious.

But you must understand my inclination to take the paper seriously:

When one such as yourself presents us with something and that something defends terms you yourself so often agree with when it comes to adopting whatever linguistic convention we fancy, well, one takes it both in good faith and seriously.

And since you do defend the premise that we can adopt whatever linguistic convention we fancy, well, I believed what appeared to be an effort on your part to actually get somewhere through that segue if nothing else. After all, your segues are a bit unexpected (in a thoughtful, intelligent sense) at times and Ludwig Johann Wittgenstein’s language games loomed large (appearances fooled me obviously).

Of course, if you want to disagree with the paper, and therein disagree with yourself, well then we cannot just adopt whatever linguistic convention we fancy in assigning meanings to things, whether a rock or a laptop or the word design, regardless of Wittgenstein-esc language games. Again, clever on the paper, but, given that you agree with the required premises which make the paper do its “work”, as in this conversation between you and WisdomLover ( ) the inclination to follow your lead felt justified such that (here’s your gift) I never gave it a second thought.

Nonetheless: the questions of perception, frame of reference, observer, quantum indeterminism, and the Non-Theist’s causal paradigm’s requirements for “design” remain in play.

And unanswered.

The Non-Theist has not presented us with anything that sums to causally relevant content which can even allow him to join the conversation on “design”. Well, unless he means to apply his own working rock-bottom causal substrate as "that which constitutes design", in which case there is (on his own terms) no factual difference between a laptop and a rock.


It occurred to me that, perhaps, given your interests in your own first principles, you should, next time around, play it with a built in reminder to the person you're dialoging with to actually read the parts about education, feminism, elitism, and politics, as well as those tedious footnotes ;-)

By chance....

Given that chance is such a commonplace "thread" in the topic at hand as it relates to God's proverbial finger, it's helpful to remember that efficient and final (and etc.) causation(s) allow, include, and affirm chance.

A few brief comments just to introduce that concept of causes and chance occurrences, such that the Christian need not (and ought not) head down the silly road of "Occasionalism",


"If you’re going to commit yourself anyway to the idea that the universe is just an unintelligible Brute Fact, why not simply say that the universe just exists and that’s all that can be said and leave it at that? Why posit, between the universe on the one hand and sheer Bruteness on the other, some intermediate “process” of “selection” which in some sense accounts for the existence of the universe but itself operates in an unintelligible way? What’s the point of positing such a “process” in the first place if one doesn’t think that it or anything else can do any real explanatory work where the sheer existence of the universe is concerned?

Second, why call something a “process” which functions to “select” the universe if one thinks it is not something whose operation is ultimately intelligible? Other things we call “processes” are not like that, including processes that involve an element of chance. For example, the way a population is molded by natural selection is a kind of process, and chance plays a role, but that does not make any of its results unintelligible. Given such-and-such a variation within a certain population (larger beaks in certain birds within a group of birds, say) under such-and-such environmental circumstances (hard seeds being the main local food source), it is perfectly intelligible why there would be a change in the population (the larger sort of beak would be much more common in later generations of birds).

(As Aquinas argues, chance always presupposes the convergence of lines of causation which are not the result of chance. To take a stock example, when a farmer finds buried loot while he is out plowing his field, that is a chance occurrence. But that a robber decided to bury his loot there and that the farmer decided to plow the field that day were not chance occurrences. All chance occurrences are like that in that they resolve themselves, at some level, into a convergence of non-chance occurrences.)

So, what we ordinarily describe as “processes” of “selection” are intelligible even when they involve an element of chance. So why call what Parfit is describing -- something which is chance all the way down, as it were, and the operation of which is not intelligible -- a “selection process,” or indeed a “process” of any kind?" (from

And second:

“For example,” says Spinoza in expanding on this objection, “if a stone falls from a roof on to some one's head and kills him, [defenders of final causality] will demonstrate by their new method, that the stone fell in order to kill the man; for, if it had not by God's will fallen with that object, how could so many circumstances (and there are often many concurrent circumstances) have all happened together by chance?” If it is suggested instead that the wind blew the stone off of the roof while the man happened to be walking by, the defender of final causes will ask why the stone fell at exactly that time. And so on. The only explanation the defender of final causes will accept is one that appeals to the inscrutable will of God. And yet this, Spinoza says, is no explanation at all.

Here again there are several problems. First, Spinoza’s scenario is a complete travesty of the Scholastic understanding of final causes. The view of writers like Aquinas, anyway, was not that nothing ever happens due to chance. Stones sometimes do indeed fall off of roofs and kill hapless passersby, entirely by accident. It is true that the Scholastic view was that even chance events presuppose final causality, but not in the sense Spinoza imagines." (from

Lastly, the error of "occasionalism" as it relates to causes and God's proverbial finger, at


"So, what we ordinarily describe as “processes” of “selection” are intelligible even when they involve an element of chance. So why call what Parfit is describing -- something which is chance all the way down, as it were, and the operation of which is not intelligible -- a “selection process,” or indeed a “process” of any kind?"


I had little doubt that the probability of snowflakes, given all the factors that produce them, is high.

Then again, the probability of my Ford Edge is high, given the Atlanta assembly facility that produced it.

This does not tempt me to think that my Ford edge requires no designer.

As for disagreeing with Dembski and the ID-ers, I suspect that this quote:

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
Is not incompatible with anything I said. The fact that certain things are X does not imply that there is anything that is non-X.

Suppose that I think that there's not a single aspect of the world that can be explained (forget about best explained) without reference to a designer. I therefore automatically agree with everything in the weaker quote above.

What the quote above represents is a common enough rhetorical device. He's leaving to one side an area of discussion that he does not want to engage in. He doesn't want to talk about snowflakes. He does want to talk about cell internals. And that's all he's doing. old Ford Taurus was built in Atlanta...the Edge was built in Oakville, Ontario (not that it much matters).

Tim says that "complexity combines high probability with an independently given pattern”. But he never argued explicitly for the existence of "an independently given pattern." He merely said that DNA sequences serve functions. But he didn't argue that the functions were independently given as opposed to being the joint result of chance and natural selection.

An example of a function is drug resistance in cancers and bacteria. Biological science holds that these new functions arise by chance from random genetic mutations. Does Intelligent Design hold that they could only be specified by an intelligent designer, and therefore must be intentionally created?

I have to wonder, listening to Tim, how much he knows about DNA. For instance, the genetic code (the three-letter DNA code that specifies amino acids) is degenerate. That means that most amino acids have multiple combinations of nucleotides that can specify them. As a consequence, it often doesn't matter what the third letter of the triplet is, so it is free to vary randomly, and it does. So alter his book of Shakespeare example. In this Shakespeare every third letter varies randomly. You can track this randomness, which specifies nothing, across generations and across species, and see the history recorded of when a mutation first occurred and then was passed down. Did the designer just design some of the code, and then let the rest vary?

But of course we know that mutations occur that do change the amino acid coded for, thus producing a different protein, and therefore a slightly different gene, called an allele. The human population carries many alleles of most genes. Some work better than others. Some are problematic, like the ones that increase the probability of breast cancer. What is the intelligent design story to account for all this genetic variation, which is easily explained as the product of random variation? Are all these alleles designed? Or is there one perfect genome and the rest of us are ... what? Corrupted by sin? Is sin part of the intelligent design story?

Then again, the probability of my Ford Edge is high, given the Atlanta assembly facility that produced it.

The factors leading to snowflakes are taken as givens (high probability) by Demski (at least in the context of his 'ef') while factories are not.

Even if Demski ultimately thinks the factors that lead to snowflakes are designed, he takes them as givens in this context.

Otherwise, even he would see that his 'ef' is pointless on its face (instead of merely being pointless on examination).

It's always amazing to see the hedges and 180's of our Non-Theist friends on something as droll as probability and its "weight". Resurrection, tons of weight. Emotive fussing. But then: the universe we have, with the minded observer, either minimal weight and a poorly feigned shrug or else the silliness of many worlds theory just to hedge yet again.

Of course, the [sum] of the minded observer in the universe just *is* the [sum] of the resurrection in the blue sphere. In fact, our own hands are far more familiar with dabbling with the later than the former.


I wouldn't say that Dembski's explanatory filter is pointless either on its face or on examination.

Its point is to focus the discussion on cell internals (for example) rather than snowflakes.

Why is that pointless?

The obvious (ontic, not useful fiction) evil of natural selection's tooth and claw reveals the truth of exactly what we expect to find in a universe soaked through with final causes (Good) *and* privation (Good minus something), or evil. It's always amazing to see the Non-Theist's complete failure to expunge all semantics of teleology from his own argument against teleology. Perhaps it is a limit of language. Perhaps it is Wittgenstein-esc language games. Or at least we hope so. Otherwise, the Non-Theist merely races into the pains of a reductio ad absurdum.


The obvious (ontic, not useful fiction) reality of the desirable (Good) and the undesirable (Good minus something) conjoined in all things genomic reveals the truth of exactly what we as Christians expect to find in a universe soaked through with..... as per the previous comment....

As with the ontology of "design", so too with these other state of affairs: the Non-Theist's causal paradigm lacks the necessary causal substrate to even join the conversation.

I already said when the 'ef' is pointless on it's face: When you assume everything is designed you don't (ultimately) attribute anything to law OR chance.

The 'ef' is pointless on even the slightest examination because it attacks a straw man: The theory of evolution doesn't claim that evolution happens by exceeding probability.

It's the same straw man that's attacked when Meyer compares evolution to opening his silly combination locks.

It's the same straw man that's attacked when you talk about evolution proceeding by (exceedingly improbable) simultaneous changes.

My previous post here was a reply to Tim Barnett's challenge response. This is a reply to Liljenborg's comment.

Liljenborg writes, "Order, even the order of a snowflake, is easily destroyed. Just add a little heat to your snowflake and watch the order vanish... Random chance generates static, not increasing levels or organization. Chemistry teaches us that in time all chemical systems corrode, decay, and collapse."

What Liljenborg has left out of the picture in his consideration of thermodynamics is the concept of dissipative systems as developed by Ilya Prigogine. These are open systems operating far from thermodynamic equilibrium which exhibit self-organization. With a flow of energy and matter through them, these systems can maintain themselves, resisting the tendency to "decay and collapse." Living organisms are of this type.

Self-organizing systems of swirling clouds of photons (or whatever) called planets are better at resisting decay than human beings are. Physics is physics, big cloud or small cloud, cloud-A or cloud-B. In fact, some even say there is self-replication at galactic (or cosmic!) levels. It's all "one system" at the end of the day after all. It's all one map. Our arbitrary and inconsequential little lines in the sand between a leaf and an ant and a rock and the fifth moon of planet X are myopic to the point of absurdity. Everything is "self" organizing to the point of unity. It's not like there is 1.00000897 "systems/realities", or 0.9999999958 "systems/realities". Multiverse or Universe, its all the same convergence to the perfect 1.0 which seems to be doing just fine organizing and replicating and "keeping on". I mean, it's still here after all! And it always has been!

Now that is reproductive power.

Sorry Ron, when did I say that evolution exceeds probability?

I think my point was that even if a natural mechanism existed to bring about all those simultaneous changes, that would be evidence of design.

Just like a factory that makes all the simultaneous changes needed to make a Ford Edge is evidence of design.

It's ok, no need to apologize.

I should have been more explicit.

You claimed evolution exceeded probability when you referred to 'all those simultaneous changes.

I figured that what you meant was more than one or maybe two changes in a given context in some small fraction of all the individuals in a generation.

Or was I wrong?

how many mutations?

Do the activities that occur in a Ford Assembly plant exceed probability?

No doubt an organism assembly facility is about the same.

Was I wrong?

Look at it this way Ron, if you just started throwing together auto parts in a haphazard manner, the chances of a Ford Edge are low.

But the factory in Ontario manages to build Ford Edges reliably.

I've little doubt that there's a similar mechanism in the world that builds up, or has built up, organisms with all their marvelous variety and complexity.

Nature isn't just throwing proteins or even simpler molecules together in a haphazard fashion.

(I believe that you were thinking that I endorsed the idea that Nature was just throwing things together and 'getting lucky'...or at least that without God that's what we'd be saying.)

Nevertheless, I am not remotely tempted to think that life is not the product of design.

"I am not remotely tempted to think that life is not the product of design"

No surprises. But based on what evidence?

A simple discussion on the "part" of reasoning through processes which we term "probability" is, well, fine.

That part is pretty cool. It's not everything. But it's a part of the whole.

Unfortunately, the "weight" which that "part" brings to the table is only embraced by Non-Theists in their typically emotive and heated rage for the need for EXTRA.... evidence in discussing the Resurrection.

Then, as if by magic, all the rules change, and getting the Non-Theist to do the same when it comes to the "weight" applied to [the universe and the minded observer] streaming from the epicenter of big bang cosmology is a task doomed to fail. Suddenly all the emotive heat vanishes and that "part" is simply taken off the table of evidence.

Funny that.


Are you tempted to think Ford Edges are not the result of design?

Wisdom Lover

You have a belief that biological organisms were designed. Why?

Instead of answering the question you ask me a question.

In answer to your question - no I am not. And I hold that position because it is uncontroversial that cars are designed by humans. I've actually visited a car factory so there is empirical evidence to rely on.

I'd also note that biological organisms are qualitatively different to cars, spoons, lawn mowers or other artefacts.

Thanks, Mike

So...if someone develops a DNA molecule in the laboratory, then we have reason to think it's designed...but not before.

Got it.

Wisdom Lover

Why can't you answer my question?



You have to first define "design" because the answer by WL depends on *that*.

This isn't hard.

Our brains are not designed, on Non-Theism.

Non-designed things can't design things. Not in any intelligible sense.

So equivocate: The stuff which non-designed things "do" is the "definition" of "design".

Enter absurdity and a reductio ad absurdum at the end of the assembly line.

Erase said absurdity by equivocating again: The physics which drive reality outside of neurons is qualitatively different than the physics inside neuronal sodium pumps.

You'll have to define the physics which drive, and therefore constitute, what you must mean by "design".

Until then we cannot be sure what you are asking, given the wide open door to absurdity.

Here's a question for you:

Do you believe non-designed things designed and built WL's Ford Edge?

No scbrownlhrm. You brought up design, you need to define it.

As for this: "Our brains are not designed, on Non-Theism."

No no no no no. Utterly wrong.

"Non-designed things can't design things"

Is your God designed?

I'll leave it at that. It's impossible to have any kind of reasonable conversation with you. And you make no sense.

We don't need you to answer, Mike.

Your own terms are forced on you by your own causal paradigm.... your terms of non-designed things, like brains, designing? and building WL's F.E., and even designing? machines to help other non-designed brains build them. Lots of them. Sure, Jeeps are "better", but let's not get into WL's questionable value system......

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