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May 19, 2016



If you are claiming brains are designed, please explain.


Sorry, to clarify, I asked that because you responded "No, no, no...." to the claim that Non-Theism counts Man, and Man's brain, to be undesigned. Hence, if brains *are* designed, please explain.

Non-designed things can't design things.

Interesting. Sounds like a kind of conservation law.

How do you know this?

So you can't answer simple, reasonable and pertinent questions either.

I didn't understand the rest of your post. There are English words in there but the order in which they are arranged does not make sense.

Where is your evidence that "living things are best explained by an intelligent cause"? Where is it?

Non theism has nothing to say about biology. That's why it had nothing to say about whether brains are designed or not.

Very simple. If you think otherwise, feel free to demonstrate.

RonH, Mike,

If you claim brains are not designed, but design things, it's not clear what you mean by "design".

Can you explain?

And, if brains are designed, please explain.

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

The difference between us Mike, is that I would believe that a car is designed even if I'd never seen one before.

You claim you wouldn't.

I find this claim implausible.

Do you think that in the 19th century, people who really never had seen a car before wondered whether what they were seeing sprang up out of the grass? Or do you think they imagined that it was designed?


Jeeps? Seriously?


Well..... just saying....


Let me explain what I mean:

On a man stumbling upon a Ford Edge sitting in a field in, say 300 BCE, he would certainly think it unnatural to say the least, and of course made by something or someone. Now, if we replace the F.E. with, say, a Jeep, well then, he shall think the gods have come down and visited us.

So goes the thought experiment at least.

Of course, if you have *evidence* to the contrary, please do share ;-)

PS: Wittgenstein-esc language games do not count as *evidence* ~~ here or anywhere else for that matter.....

If you claim brains are not designed, but design things, it's not clear what you mean by "design".

I use the word just like everybody else.

When others use the word, I think I know what they mean without asking if they think brains are designed.

But it was your turn!

You claimed that the undesigned can't design.

I asked: How do you know that?


What does everyone else mean by "design"?

Let us assume, with Mike, that I am either too ignorant or too stupid to know what it means.

Help me out.

On your challenge to scblhrm, we can all agree on two types of designers.

1. Computer Programs
2. Human Beings

Now, I suppose that we all agree that Computer Programs are designed.

Of course, I suppose that the issue is whether Human Beings are also designed. This is the unknown.

Where we do have knowledge we all agree: the designer required a designer.

Now, you are right to point out the embarrassment for scblhrm: If human beings are also designed, and if his principle is correct, then their designer must also have been designed.

And so on to infinity.

I'm not sure, how or whether this regress can be avoided.

As such, I'm not sure whether his principle is true or not.

I'll let him expand on it though. Maybe I missed a point he was at pains to make.

Yes, Christianity and the causal paradigm which maps to physics concur in that the regress is found within contingent state of affairs, which are not infinite, and which do not, for obvious reasons, label *God* as designed. But now we've gone around over to the Non-Theist's painful regress to....the undesigned.... ad infinitum. Which is a problem given his causal paradigm void of a designer. Whatever "design" means in that paradigm, it's opaque pending some meaningful explanation.

scbrownlhrm, Wisdom Lover

Im going to try again despite the glaringly obvious avoidance of answering any questions.

In lieu of you both refusing to answer these questions:

1. Evidence for WL being "not remotely tempted to think that life is not the product of design"

2. scbrown claiming biological organisms are designed but refusing to define what he means by design and instead passing the buck to me - classic shift of burden of evidence. scbrownlhrm - remember, im not the one claiming biological organisms are designed. You are. My thoughts about the provenance of biological organisms are irrelevant

3. scbrown claims that only designed things can design things but then makes an exception for God. Just lolz. Logically therefore, undesigned things can design things. So therefore its just as reasonable to assume that nature can produce biological organisms. In fact more so because of Occams Razor - *snip*

Evolution news agree with this definition of ID:

"the idea that certain features of the natural world are better explained as the product of a guiding transcendent intelligence than as the result of unguided natural processes."

Why do you think that?

WL -

" being vastly more complex."

Ok, thats interesting. What do you mean by complex?

As for this: "The difference between us Mike, is that I would believe that a car is designed even if I'd never seen one before."

I dont see the relevance of this comment.



"My thoughts about the provenance of biological organisms are irrelevant"

Aren't they relevant in trying to determine what would or would not convince you?

Come on Mike, we're too ignorant or stupid to understand what design is.

I mean, I think that I can just see it in things like Ford Edges.

Help us out.

Wisdom Lover

"I mean, I think that I can just see it in things like Ford Edges."

Look - YOU are claiming biological organisms are designed so YOU should be defining what you mean by design in that case.

Its not up to me

Ford Edges are not the subject of the debate and you have already agreed with me that artefacts - like ford edges are quantitatively different to biological organisms.

It seems all you are good for is avoiding answering reasonable questions.

To the Non-Theist,

This is all about causation.

It's about what causes what to actualize.

"X designed Y" just is "X caused Y".

It’s about the unintelligibility of, the opaqueness of, all of the Non-Theist’s design claims amid his muddy and incomprehensible non-designed designers given that they all painfully reduce to "non-designed causations caused non-designed causations". Sodium pumps inside of neurons are not only void of inherent intentionality but they, also, are not the end of the causal explanatory trail given that they themselves factually reduce to that which is yet further down (causally), more fundamental, and ultimately irreducible in naturalism’s rock-bottom territory which maps to physics. “Causally non-designed designers run about causing the causally designed……” is both epistemologically and ontologically opaque, unintelligible.

The Non-Theist, the Naturalist, has no other map outside of physics affording him any appeal to any other territory. Quantum indeterminism fails to sum to, grant, or even mean inherent intentionality or any other component of the Christian’s wide repertoire of, wide collection of, causal substrates with which to draw factual (ontic) lines of causal differentiation.

The causal substrate which maps to physics constitutes the Non-Theist's causal paradigm, constitutes the Non-Theist’s only building block. Block, as in singular. The Non-Theist has no such thing as a set of blocks, plural. Causal differentiation therefore sums not to factual/ontological lines but to epistemological lines. And that painfully forces his final, or ultimate reductio ad absurdum as he traverses his explanatory trail to its inevitable end there in the only causal terminus he can ever find.

The Non-Theist is *not* being asked about appearances nor about level of complexity. To be sure those things matter and come into play further upstream, and WL and others are over in that end of the causal river.

In this end of the causal river:

The Non-Theist is being asked to differentiate where and how in his physics, in his causal paradigm (in which in all causal regresses or explanatory trails of all X's map finally to the non-designed cause..... ad infinitum) that which causes the non-designed X is fundamentally, factually, and irreducibly different (at the causal level) than that which causes the designed X.

What does the Non-Theist mean (at the causal level) when he claims “X caused Y to actualize” as he claims "X designed Y" given that X and Y reduce to unity when it comes to causation? The causations which constitute X are the same causations which constitute Y, hence the absurdity of, the opaqueness of, the unintelligibility of, "X designed Y" for it reduces (at the causal level) to “X caused Y” which reduces (at the causal level) to "non-designed causations caused non-designed causations".

Ad infinitum.

And that holds throughout all regressions, or reductions, or explanatory trails within the Non-Theist's toolbox.

Meanwhile, the causal substrate of the Christian paradigm:

The inherent intentionality constituting an irreducible causal substrate which maps to, not physics (for physics itself reduces to something further down, more fundamental in efficient, formal, final, and etc., causations), but to Mind, to God, to Designer, is found amid a differentiation of causations which these two help to explain at a basic level:



Hence, as before:

Christianity and the causal paradigm which maps to physics converge and concur in that the explanatory trail, or the regress, is found within contingent states of affairs which themselves reduce to causations which physics itself reduces to – that is to say – the stopping point of the explanatory trail is not the non-designed causation of physics (as per the Non-Theist's causal paradigm).

Such states of affairs (contingent) are not infinite, and do not, for obvious reasons, label *God* as designed but as Root, as Wellspring, as Designer, as Creator.

That then carries us all the way around over to the Non-Theist's painful regress to, explanatory trail of.... at every turn.... the non-designed.... the un-designed cause…. ad infinitum.

That is a problem given that his causal paradigm is void of a designer.

Inherent intentionality and designed causations are nowhere in sight. Anywhere. Ever. "It" must always be parasitic upon, unfree from, tethered to, and hence driven by, the non-intentional and irrational causal substrate which maps to physics. Unfortunately for the Non-Theist that fact holds true throughout the entirety of physics/causation found both inside and outside of our skulls, our neurons. There is no “ontological seam” inside our skulls or anywhere else for that matter at which the rock-bottom causal substrate of reality “changes” and breaks free of, is found untethered to, un-driven by, the irreducibly non-intentional and irrational causal substrate which maps to physics.

Whatever "design" means in that paradigm, it is opaque and unintelligible pending some meaningful explanation or else the Non-Theist must attempt a kind of Wittgenstein-esc language game of giving us a complete re-definition of what we mean when we say, "X designed Y" given that X and Y reduce to unity when it comes to causation within the Non-Theist’s causal paradigm as all such claims are found summing then to “X caused Y” summing then to “un-designed causation caused un-designed causation”.

In the Non-Theist’s singular block there is *no* factual (ontic) difference between X and Y as far as what causes what to actualize. Rock, laptop, brain, tree, river, earthquake, Ford Edge, snowflake, and so on down, and down, and ever downward to the singular causal terminus there at the end of all explanatory trails. Whatever that terminus ends up being, it is not, on Non-Theism, irreducibly intentional, irreducibly rational, and is not, therefore, in any ontologically intelligible sense, and in fact in any non-absurd sense, the causal root of, or the causal wellspring of, that which sums to design. It is not, as D.B. Hart notes, “…..the infinite wellspring of being, consciousness, and bliss that is the source, order, and end of all reality…..

As for the proverbial finger of God and where the Non-Theist is cautioned to avoid the error of thinking the Christian paradigm reduces to "Occasionalism", that God is the only cause that is ever in play, well he can save himself from making that error with:




On "Occasionalism", God is the only cause, whereas, on Christianity proper, God is the first cause.

There's a difference, which the links help define.


Your post starts badly:

"It’s about the unintelligibility of, the opaqueness of, all of the Non-Theist’s design claims"

My assumption is that Im the Non-Theist here.

But thats not the basic and shocking error here.

Im not making any claims of design here. Let me type that again just so you are clear. I am not making any cliams about design here.

Therefore, your post simply does not apply to me.

Get your facts straight. Try actually engaging in a debate instead of copying and pasting reams of gobbledigook that you dont understand.



You don't claim brains design Ford Edges.


"You don't claim brains design Ford Edges."

This is irrelevant.

What have ford edges got to do with Biological Organisms? Nothing.

One more time.

You claim biolgical organisms were designed? If so, why?

Seeing as that is your claim, you need to define what is meant by design in that context.


If you don't know what the term "causal paradigm" means and also necessitates, and you don't seem to, then you won't understand the profound depth of the Non-Theist's problem.

This is about causation, not design.

I can't help you if you think the former is irrelevant to the latter, or if you can't see how the former in fact defines the latter.

If you're not interested in causation vis-a-via one's paradigm, if you're not interested in that end of the explanatory trial, of the causal river in question, then it seems we've nothing else to dialogue about.

Typo.... not "vis-a-via" but rather "vis-a-vis" , or with respect to, or etc...,

You obviously cant answer simple questions scbrown.

This is about design, because you are claiming it and wont provide any explanation of what you mean for biological organisms to be designed nor why you hold that opinion.

These are simple, straightforward questions that do not require a retreat to metaphysics.


It's about causation, not design.

I guess we're done then.


A retreat to physics is all we need.

Besides, Christians like physics.

No need for meta..... just as there's no need for Wittgenstein-esc language games.... not until, that is, the Non-Theist's definitions within physics carry us into a reductio ad absurdum..... Only then do the Non-Theist's language games and the Christian's metaphysics emerge....

"Ford Edges are not the subject of the debate and you have already agreed with me that artefacts - like ford edges are quantitatively different to biological organisms."

Mike, that is seriously rich.

"YOU are claiming biological organisms are designed so YOU should be defining what you mean by design in that case.

Its not up to me"

No, God forbid that you contribute anything to the discussion.

Mike, I sympathize. I spent many hours trying to fathom and have a rational conversation with scbrownlhrm, but finally had to give up.

"A retreat to physics is all we need"

You are a comedian! What utter rubbish. Justify that statement.

The only person playing language games here is you - a game called scrambled word salad. A classic theist philosophese tactic called "creating problems where there are none" as a form of distraction away from your inability to ANSWER SIMPLE QUESTIONS!


Again, the term causal paradigm, as in that which maps to physics, if you think it is irrelevant well then so it is.

"No, God forbid that you contribute anything to the discussion"

Oh wow. Just wow.

So first you refuse to answer straightforward, polite and honest questions that simply seek to determine your reasons for holding a position. Point blank refusal.

Then I have to define terms that are central to your claims?!

This is ridiculous.

I suppose on the bright side you don't resort to metaphysics like that's an automatics win

I simply would like to try to understand why you think biological organisms are designed, or alternatively, why you think "that certain features of the natural world are better explained as the product of a guiding transcendent intelligence than as the result of unguided natural processes." Please.

Mike, I'm not willing to answer you unless I know what would satisfy you.

My sense is that NOTHING would.

So why should I bother?

Can you help me out? What meaning can we agree to for the word "design" such that I can provide you evidence for design in anything?

Or does the word convey no meaning?

I mean, the point is Mike, I could say that to exist is to be designed. Therefore my evidence that, for example, organisms are designed is that they exist.


Well, I suspect that you would not be satisfied with that, and that your problem would be with my definition of "design".

My point in this and other posts has been first to get on the same page as you regarding that simple question.

You have stalwartly refused to get on that page with me.

So now what?

Wisdom Lover

So on what basis do you claim that biological organisms are designed??????

Alternatively, and by IDs own definition, why do you think "that certain features of the natural world are better explained as the product of a guiding transcendent intelligence than as the result of unguided natural processes"

The latter gets you away from having to say what you mean by design.

When I say cars/spoons/lawn mowers/laptops are designed I would say design means something like "purpose and planning that exists behind an object"

Whether Christian or Non-Theist, whatever "causation" or "causal paradigm" we bring to the table ultimately defines what each of us *can* mean and in fact *do* mean when we say "design". We cannot escape our respective causal paradigms. There are countless books on causations, plural, within within the Christian paradigm and the earlier links look at such definitions as per standard A-T metaphysics. But that's our Christian "causal rock bottom". What is completely undefined by the Non-Theist is his own "causal explanatory trail" from dirt to Ford Edge wherein he must do the impossible: causally differentiate between [A] physics' causal rock bottom and [B] physics' causal rock bottom, and therein factuall change from [A] non-design's causation to [B] design's causation. In all reductions, in all explanatory trails, the Non-Theist finds, per naturalism's paradigm, as he moves further down, and down yet again into the fundamental causal nature of reality, that, in fact, [A] = [B].


Why dont you break the habit of a lifetime and actually engage in the debate?

In order for anyone to take you seriously, you actually need to demonstrate WHY these things are problems - in a rigorous way - rather than simply say they are then string lots of words together.

What you are dong at the moment is asserting. And its all guff.

Lets see what other say about scbrownlhrm?

"Well, imagine you had a piece of software that takes random articles from Feser, David Bentley Hart or WLC, extracts random quotes from those articles, spices them up with poorly written juvenile taunts and pure gibberish (like "The very concept of one deflationary vector "informing" another deflationary vector is absurd") - and you have scbrownlhrm in a nutshell. I have honestly no idea why Christian mods tolerate his trolling, but they do."


Here is another from the same url:

"If you actually attempt to discuss the issues he pretends to talk about, he responds with the same gibberish. Sad and annoying at the same time."

Then we have Gerald - independently - drawing the same conclusions!


We already established that you feel that causation of any kind, particularly physics and the fundamental causal nature of reality, is irrelevant to the question of defining "design".

There's nothing left for us to discuss.

Look scbrownlhrm, why don't you actually define what you mean by design? You could give it a go. Not s bad idea seeing as you are the one that is claiming biological organisms were designed?!

It's clear for all to see what your modus operandi is.


It's about causation, not design.

Appearances and level of complexity are all secondary to something far more fundamental.

Causation gets us to our definitions, to design.

That you seem to be unaware that the former in fact defines the later is fine, or, if you're just uninterested in it, that's fine too.

So we've nothing to discuss.

Thank you.

The proverbial "causal river" from cosmology to life to Ford Edges:

The universe is not designed.

Earth is not designed.

Dirt is not designed.

Man is not designed.

Brains are not designed.

Mind is not designed.

Brains, Minds, design Ford Edges.

It's an interesting assertion of an even more interesting segue of sorts by our Non-Theist friends, especially at the level of reality's fundamental causal nature.

There appears to be an ontological seam somewhere at which that fundamental causal nature of reality changes, or transforms, or embraces Wittgenstein's language games, or something.

It's an opaque ontic-mess.

"X is designed" = "Purpose and planning exist behind X"


I agree.

Now, how do we detect that purpose and planning exist behind X?

That, Mike, I agree, does not rest on the person who says of a given X that he doesn't see the purpose and planning that exists behind it. That question has to be answered by the person who claims that he can detect such purpose and planning.

Caveat: the previous paragraph is premised on the idea that it is clear that both sides are in agreement about what purpose and planning are. If that becomes doubtful, then it is incumbent upon both sides to come to agreement. There would be no point in proceeding else.

Now, I think it is a mistake to suppose that the only evidence that will show that a thing is planned for a purpose is to see a thing being actually planned and purposed.

To require that is to say that the only evidence that will be accepted for planning and purpose is the planning and purpose itself.

I don't mean that directly witnessing X is not evidence for X...of course it is. I mean that that's not the only kind of evidence there is, and typically, directly witnessing X is pretty rare.

Now, here is how I think we could detect, for example that purpose is behind my Ford Edge (without having to directly witness the purpose behind it): I can get into it and through fairly simple actions use it to do something I never would be able to do without it. For example, I can get from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a day.

I did not have to go to a factory or to Ford's engineering facilities to know that. I don't need to know what makes the car work. I don't even have to have any beliefs at all about how it works. I just had to put my key in the car and drive.

I detect planning is behind it because there are many similar Ford Edges for which work the same. I also find that there are Ford Explorers, Chevy Camaros, and yes, Jeeps, where the same sets of activities on my part will lead to the same sorts of results.

Not only does my Edge have a purpose (getting from A-to-B lickety-split) it's apparent that there are well-thought out mechanisms that produce all these marvelous but highly similar things to serve that purpose.

BTW, I don't know what the mechanism is. For all I know there might be different...quite different mechanisms that produce them. But to systematically achieve that uniformity of purpose, it seems that only planning will do.

I've run out of time for a bit, and this is a natural breaking point. I've given some examples of the kinds of evidence that I think there is for believing that an automobile, like my Ford Edge is planned for a purpose (there may well be other examples of such list is not exhaustive).

Later on, I'll talk about why I think that some things in nature (at least some things) are planned for a purpose.

What about purpose in nature?

I think there you have a lot of evidence like we had for more Ford Edge.

You see lots of natural processes being used to achieve specific ends. For example, DNA for transmitting information on how an organism is to be built up from material taken in from the outside world.

We don't see any individual actually having that purpose. But again, if we only allow direct evidence for things, there's a lot of stuff we're not going to know that we in fact know.

If you think about it, indirect evidence for purpose is really all over the place. (Like my indirect evidence for purpose in my Ford Edge...I can put my key in and drive.) The geared legs of the planthopper. The eye. Wings. Livers. etc.

All of these things serve a purpose.

But the question is: Is that purpose planned?

One reason to think that they are is the interlocked character of the whole system of nature. There are whole communities of organisms that would fall apart if even one member lacked even one of the seemingly purposive traits that it has. But even though this is so, the whole of the natural order will often adapt to such failures and answer something else will emerge to replace the broken sub-system in the overall system. This sort of thing happens all the time automatically. Almost like clockwork.

Is this direct evidence of a plan? No.

Is it evidence of a plan? I think it is.

Suppose that I have a piece of software that behaves this way:

1. It needs certain uncorrupted data in order to perform its main function.

2. It has protections against data corruption.

3. It is designed so that, if data corruption happens anyway, other systems will kick in to repair the problem.

4. In some cases, whole new pieces of code are automatically written by the software itself to achieve the purpose mentioned in 3.

If you find a program that behaves that way, I suppose that, yes, it's possible that it could happen without planning.

Direct evidence of planning in that case would be sitting in on the software architecture discussions by the design team that decided to implement those features and how they would do it.

Nonetheless, you would know it's planned even without sitting in on the discussion.


What's a good way to figure out that something is not designed? In other words, what are some characteristics or indicators that something isn't designed?

See, I deal mostly with designed objects. How can I spot an imposter?

I know it's unwise to engage again with scbrownlhrm, since I know it's bound to be a frustrating experience, but...

In his May 26 3:40 PM comment, after making a list that ends "Dirt is not designed. Man is not designed. Brains are not designed. Mind is not designed. Brains, Minds, design Ford Edges," he says, "There appears to be an ontological seam somewhere at which that fundamental causal nature of reality changes, or transforms.... It's an opaque ontic-mess."

Brownie always goes straight for the "fundamental", the ground floor, dismissing all else as unreal. But we live in a hierarchically structured physical universe in which new types of realities emerge at each higher level. That doesn't mean that the "fundamental causal nature of reality changes," but it is supplemented. Each type of generalization holds at its own level, without contradicting the ones below.

Take heat. Individual protons and electrons are not hot or cold. Neither are molecules. They move. They vibrate. But they don't have temperature. Heat is a property of large collections of particles. Profound differences emerge at this higher level. At the lower level, of individual particles, the laws of motion are reversible. There is no arrow of time. If the motion of a system at that level were recorded and then played backwards, you couldn't tell that time had been reversed. But at the higher level, the laws of thermodynamics hold. The arrow of time emerges. Physical processes have preferred directions. Backwards movies look weird. But the atoms, viewed individually, are still obeying the same physical laws. Does that mean "there is an ontological seam somewhere"? Is thermodynamics "an ontic-mess"? I'll leave that to metaphysicians. If they can't make sense of it, maybe they need to supplement their conceptual apparatus.

It is no more unbelievable that phenomena like planning and design can emerge with sufficiently large and complicated brains than that thermodynamic phenomena like heat can emerge with sufficiently large collections of particles.


"What's a good way to figure out that something is not designed? In other words, what are some characteristics or indicators that something isn't designed?"

Nope. If you are claiming biological organisms are designed then you need to stump up the evidence. You can't just claim design by default!


Nope. I never claimed that. I'm asking you to provide characteristics or indicators of objects that aren't designed. I never specified anything, biological or otherwise.

Fill me in.

The way I understand the Intelligent Design project, its purpose is to prove, using only secular assumptions about the natural world, that non-goal-oriented natural processes are not adequate to explain the existence of living organisms, and that instead it is necessary to call on the action of an intelligent agent to explain the origin of various biological structures. This purported proof relies on the claim that certain criteria can be devised to reliably discriminate structures that were designed by an intelligent agent from those that weren't.

That is, the Intelligent Design argument is meant to be fought on secular turf, under assumptions acceptable to those with a scientific worldview, the goal being to show that that worldview is inadequate to explain life without assuming an intelligent designer (whose nature is left open).

KWM seems, judging from his comment indicating that he believes that snowflakes and stars are designed, to believe that everything without exception is designed by God. He says, "I deal mostly with designed objects," which could not be true if virtually everything in the natural world -- animal, vegetable, mineral, water and air, food and excrement -- were not designed. But that is a theological claim, not one that would cut any mustard with scientists. (Not that ID is taken seriously by many serious scientists, but its sponsors certainly try to get it taken seriously.) Perhaps KWM means by "designed" "a product of God's providence." One can argue against universal divine providence with the problem of evil. But if someone believes that everything is designed because everything is the product of God's will, he will accept no characteristic as an indicator of an absence of design, so it is pointless to propose any.

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