Rejoinder To Some Comments Regarding Presuppositionalism & Christianity

To DormantDragon:

Hi,

There are any number of misconceptions in these replies.  Given that we shall be posting other front page responses on our respective blogs I shall confine myself to correcting only the main problems.  This post was intended to go under “comments” but is just too long.

You say I have a “version of” the answers to the Big Questions”, but then go on to aver the fact “that we keep asking.”  The presuppositionalist says that the Bible has the only worldview that doesn’t reduce down to nonsense when its underbelly is uncovered.  Thus, Christians who know their Bibles are not among the seekers you refer to.  Further, the Christian-biblical position states that you will always be searching for answers to the Big Questions because you are willfully looking passed the Answer – Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

The Bible declares your difficulty as being of an ethical rather than an intellectual nature.  One will not be able to provide the preconditions upon which any of your assertions are based (see below) because your interpretation of the world does not match reality.  This term “preconditions of understanding” or “of intelligibility” connotes that which is necessarily the case in order for us to say something true and base it on a something that does not undermine the truth claim being made.  Hence you have misunderstood what presupper’s mean by it.

You provide a good example:
You state, “our reason evolved in this universe, so it should not come as a surprise to us that we find the universe intelligible to our reason.”  This is the position you are reasoning from.   You call this “consistent.”  But by tying the laws of logic to the “evolving universe” you are strongly implying the mutability of logic.  If the “laws” of logic are mutable (changing) then they are not static.  If they are not static they are not “law-like.”  Thus, you are building your worldview on the shifting sands of unlaw-like logic!  If you believe logic is changeable it is a wonder you appeal to it.  If you don’t you will have to explain how laws of logic evolve yet remain static.

I would respectfully say that the reason you “see no reason to apply a Biblical framework around the world in order to somehow make it intelligible” is because you have not analyzed your worldview and its adequacy to account for what you assert.  I deny that “[there are many things in the world we experience that simply are not accounted for in scriptures”, since that would contradict the biblical framework itself (and you would not expect me to do that 🙂 )

The biblical worldview does give the preconditions for all states of affairs.  I just don’t think you understand the ramifications of the biblical outlook on God, man and the world.  Your worldview outline (which I thank you for) provides no preconditions at all – it simply assumes them (e.g. order) and goes from there.  But what I am trying to get at is not that you and I know order is there in the universe.  It is the question of how to account for that order (among other things) from our most central presuppositions.  To claim the universe “behaves in an orderly and predictable fashion” is to state the obvious.  It is not to account for it.
You then say that you “can’t demonstrate that I’m not a brain in a vat, but taking a Biblical view wouldn’t help me with that either.”  Well, yes it would.  Why?  Because it is the Word of your Creator to you, and that same Word describes what must be the case if our truth claims are to make sense.

Of course, I don’t expect you to agree with me here, but as I said, try to do it without borrowing from the biblical description.
Next, your corralling the God of Scripture in with other gods shows me that you neither understand what the Bible says about the God of Scripture nor the false deities He commands against.  To save time here I will refer you to my review of an excellent book on the subject, plus (if you’re a sucker for punishment) these articles on ANE creation-myths (here, here, and here).  It is simply not possible to take your position once one compares the different sets of propositions on God as opposed to pagan gods.
You say “presuppositional apologetics assumes that… there is no way that humans can trust their senses and reason without Biblical grounding – whilst at no stage does it demonstrate that this is so.  Yes it does!  It demonstrates it by providing the only context in which human truth claims are not reduced to absurdity.  This is a transcendental type of argument.  It seeks, as I said, for what must be so in order for our knowledge to be knowledge.  Kant’s version of it, being centered in man, actually brought everything within the realm of subjective impressions.  Van Til’s Christian version finds the only solid foundation for knowledge in the self-revealing God of Scripture.
You ask where “things like fossils and gravity and quantum mechanics fit into your worldview?”  Well, most fossils were formed in the global flood and quantum mechanics (which I know hardly anything about) deals with things so elusive that it is not possible for anyone to be sure what they are dealing with.  However, what appears to be random at the subatomic level is placed there by the Creator in as a part of creation.
In human experience to have order (never mind the mindblowing specified complex order like ones sees in the most basic cell) there has to be an Orderer.  You have no orderer; hence you have no explanation for order.  The explanation you do offer is by way of non-explanation.  It actually reduces to “it’s there!” (see my original piece).
One may derive some kinds of order without an orderer (e.g. crystals), but this is Shannon Information, not (pre)-specified complex information.  This is what you must explain.
Again you say I seem to think that numbers “must be consciously or deliberately produced, rather than being simple characteristics of material things.”  That is not quite right.  I am saying numbers, which are immaterial (neither you nor Sye T. can go and get me three…you would have to ask “three what?”), are there because God has put them in there and has given us minds whereby we can discover them.  How does Sye T. account for the correspondence between his mind and the physical world outside?  You ask, “If there were no material objects, what could there ever be three of?”  Well, there would be at least one instance of three Persons in the Christian God – who is immaterial!  There would be at least three laws of thought – immaterial.
There is more to be said, but it seems clear enough to me that you have seriously undermined your ability to produce the preconditions I am asking for, especially now you have straddled your logic with the burden of mutability.  Perhaps one day the illogical will be logical?

Now I shall look into your blog posts.  Though I first must write on another matter.

Kind regards,

Paul

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60 comments

  1. Few can track the issues and lay them bare at their core like you’ve done here brother Paul. Bravo. I love how you cut through the smoke to expose the fallacy of reasoning masquerading as sophistication. Keep up the great work!

    1. Many thanks Tony. I am pretty busy but as long as the discussion continues along the same lines it started I shall try to show this individual (DD) that she is only able to assert anything by ignoring her stated outlook and borrowing (or pilfering) from ours.

  2. Paul, on the whole, I like the Presuppositional approach you use.

    One question:

    “Well, most fossils were formed in the global flood”

    Is this a conclusion you have reached on the basis of biblical exegesis?

    1. Matthew,

      It is what I would call a strong inference given that the flood is without doubt the greatest natural catastrophe ever to be brought on the planet. So much so that God refers to the pre-flood world as “the world that then was” (2 Pet. 3:6). As you know, the global flood would have buried millions of lifeforms instantaneously. No other upheaval of such magnitude is known in Scripture (or history).

      1. What might falsify your belief that the bulk of the fossil record formed in a global flood?

        My answer: If it could be shown exegetically and theologically that I have misinterpreted the Bible. – Paul

  3. The ‘laws’ of logic, such as they are, are by no means set in stone. For one thing, they are intimately bound to language, and natural language – that is, language as it is used in its normal everyday context – is rarely of that exact nature required by classical logic, where any statement must be either true or false. This is why things like fuzzy logic were formulated, to allow for some statements being partly true.

    This is a question I put to Dan over at Debunking Atheists, and for which I did not receive a response. If one presupposes that the world is ordered according to absolutes, according to the ‘nature’ of a perfect supernatural being, how does one account for things like paradoxes and paraconsistent logics?

    There is more on the relationship between experience, language and truth in my upcoming post, so I’ll leave off here for now. This is turning into quite an interesting discussion!

    1. DD (I hope I may refer to you this way?),

      By continuing to make comments here you are making me busier than I need to be. I cannot work my job, fulfill other commitments, read and respond to your blog AND answer every comment you make here; particularly as I am supposing I will meet the same sorts of arguments on your blog.

      I am also wary of getting off the point, which is whether you can sustain your assertions contra Biblical Christianity from your stated worldview. True paradoxes are, from the biblical standpoint, only apparent not real or total. Further, even non-biblical approaches assume material paradoxes are resolvable.

      But this is beside the point, which is, in my worldview there is an Absolute Mind from whom the laws of logic derive. He has created the human mind and given it the ability to detect and express these laws. “Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish CORRECT reasoning from INCORRECT reasoning…If the premisses do provide adequate grounds for accepting the conclusion – that is, if asserting the premisses to be true does WARRANT asserting the conclusion also to be true – then the reasoning is correct. Otherwise it is incorrect.” – Irving M. Copi & Carl Cohen, “Introduction To Logic” (11th ed.), 3. When analyzing propositions of logic one seeks to establish both meaningfulness and truth. I do not see how your outlook can, 1. provide the preconditions for logic, and, 2. provide the preconditions for meaningful or true propositions. As I said, if the laws of logic are unlaw-like it is a wonder you try to use them. More than this, if you believe everything comes from ultimate chaos (e.g. gases from the Big Bang with no orderer) this means you found rationality upon ultimate irrationality. Also, being a materialist monist you must believe the laws of logic and morality are material. How does matter formulate logic and ethics? And as these come from the purposeless course of unconscious matter in the first place, why should we bother with them? You clearly do bother with them – enough to write objections on this blog – but for what reason? Surely your worldview entails you believing in a strict determinism whereby your thoughts are reducible to the electro-chemical impulses in the brain (i.e. you cannot believe anything other than what you believe)?

      Before you wax eloquent about “fuzzy logic” you must tell me whether you hold that there actually ARE laws of logic, and then explain how this can be so if logic is mutable. If you reject the laws of logic AS LAWS then I must ask you why you are bothering to reason?

  4. One more quick point:

    You then say that you “can’t demonstrate that I’m not a brain in a vat, but taking a Biblical view wouldn’t help me with that either.” Well, yes it would. Why? Because it is the Word of your Creator to you, and that same Word describes what must be the case if our truth claims are to make sense.

    Firstly, ‘truth’ is a measure of the correspondence of any statement or claim to what really is the case, so I’m not sure what you mean by something ‘having to be the case’ if our truth claims are to make sense – of course our statements must correspond to reality if they are to be adjudged true, but that does not speak to what the reality in question actually is, only to our ability to discern it.

    Hence the problem of the brain in the vat. Of course the computer programmer would include the Bible in the simulated world – why wouldn’t they? So if you believe in the Bible, what is there in your experience that guarantees it is not part of an elaborate simulation to which you are hooked up?

    What is there in our collective experience, furthermore, that should lead us to trust that the Bible is the genuine word of god, and not simply a collection of stories? We know from vast collective experience that humans make up stories. We don’t know that supernatural deities communicate with humans, nor that they even exist.

    1. Here you advocate the correspondence theory of truth. That’s all well and good, except I cannot see how you arrive at it through the epistemological channels available to your pantheistic naturalism. Now if you are “not sure what you mean by something ‘having to be the case’ if our truth claims are to make sense” I seriously question your comprehension of presuppositional apologetics. This impression is heightened by my reading of your false description of it on your blog.

      You say, “of course our statements must correspond to reality if they are to be adjudged true, but that does not speak to what the reality in question actually is, only to our ability to discern it.” “Of course”? That sounds like you are taking it for granted! Isn’t that exactly what I described the atheist doing in my original post (using Hitchens as an example)? What you must do is make sense of the correspondence theory of TRUTH from your avowed standpoint – materialistic monism. How come we have the “ability to discern it” if your worldview is correct? My worldview answers that question easily. With respect, I don’t yet see how you’ve even tried to answer it.

      IF the alleged computer programmer included the Bible in his “simulated world” he would be including the only worldview that makes sense among all the other competitors. Hence, he would be the Author of that worldview = the God of Scripture. Ergo he would not be the programmer you envisage.

      Truth-claims are not to be judged by collective experience (or counting noses). In the Christian worldview “truth” is first personal, coming from the nature of the God of Truth. I confess I don’t see how your outlook can deliver up veridical truth at all. Your last question again demonstrates you have missed the presuppositionalist challenge. It may be summarized thus: Unless the biblical picture of God, man and the world are presupposed (either via assent or dissent) it is not possible to make final sense of anything. A person who rejects the biblical worldview ought not to use elements of that worldview to prove their arguments. They should (but cannot) only use arguments which can be validated and supported by their worldview. That is what I’ve been trying to get you to see.

  5. Well, most fossils were formed in the global flood…

    This claim almost always makes me laugh, simply because it seems to hang so much on not only millions of animal species having been on earth at the same time, and presumably having missed out on a spot on the ark for some reason, since they’re not around now, and also because it shows a remarkable ignorance of the operation of geophysical laws – laws which, according to your view, only exist because of your god.

    Considering the rock formations in which many fossils have been found, the tectonic upheavals during and since the flood must have been immense – on a scale that would make the 2004 tsunami look like a ripple. It also provides no explanation of why fossils turn up in specific rock strata, which remain consistent wherever they have been found across the globe.

    The usual counter I’ve heard to this argument is that god is able to do anything, so could have brought all this about. But this is kind of the point, really. If your god can play fast and loose with physical laws, then we really don’t have any reason to think that the world will behave in the same way tomorrow as it does today.

    1. Your laughter is at your own absurdity. You need to study the Bible more before you say things like this. Mac is right, these kinds of asides have been answered thoroughly by scientists with PhD’s from secular universities in all the pertinent fields – including geophysics! You ought to ask them your questions. Try this guy: http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/ISD/baumgardner.asp

      If the usual answer has been God can do anything I suppose you have not been asking in the right places. Sadly, many Christians do not take time to study out these questions much. Perhaps they came to Christ a different route to myself. Every true Christian has their own story of how they once believed “X” and were convicted of their sin and converted.

      But your last sentence again shows your ignorance of the Bible. The Noahic Covenant in Genesis 8-9 provides God’s covenanted promise regarding the uniformity of nature. I have several lectures on this covenant, but a quick reading ought to suffice to correct your assertion.

      But this is a little off subject. Let’s get back to the preconditions of intelligibility!

      1. Paul, at the risk of providing further distraction to both of us, this, I feel, cannot go unanswered. I looked briefly at Baumgardner’s page, and quite frankly I would immediately dispute the credentials and reliability of any scientist who has thrown in his lot with Answers in Genesis, which has a blatantly creationist agenda and reverses the process of science by attempting to squeeze the evidence into a predetermined conclusion.

        I quote:

        Just as materialist biologists have erroneously assumed that material processes can give rise to life in all its diversity, materialist geologists have assumed that the present can fully account for the earth’s past. In so doing, they have been forced to ignore and suppress abundant contrary evidence that the planet has suffered major catastrophe on a global scale.

        How does he know that this is an erroneous assumption? He cannot, with a degree of accuracy greater than that of ‘materialist biologists’, that he knows how life originated. He can reference his Bible, sure, but the evidence speaks against it. Geologists and paleontologists do not ignore ignore evidence of global catastrophe. An example is what is known as the KT boundary, the marker of the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. Here is evidence not only of catastrophic impact, but of resultant fires that burned across the globe, in the form of an enormous crater near the Gulf of Mexico, and a layer of carbon that has been noted in the same position in all rock strata studied. So to say that scientists ignore evidence is a blatant falsehood – unless the scientists in question are employed by creationist ministries.

      2. You might as well have said:

        I would immediately dispute the credentials and reliability of any scientist who has thrown in his lot with National Geographic (or the Smithsonian or …), which has a blatantly materialistic/Darwinistic agenda and reverses the process of science by attempting to squeeze the evidence into a predetermined conclusion. 🙂

  6. DD, I can’t see how you read the entire article and came away saying what you said. Baumgartner was referring to uniformitarianism – without which evolutionism and “the geological column” are worthless. Thus, in context, he was saying that geologists (whom he does say have had to come to terms with catastrophic happenings in the past), cannot introduce evidence which will jeopardize conclusions based on uniformitarian beliefs.

    Do you believe in uniformitarianism? I do not. I believe in a global flood.

    1. Uniformitarianism does not cancel out catastrophism. Global catastrophes have been found to have happened, without altering the essential physical processes that continue to operate in the universe. It’s just that these global catastrophes, like the KT event, leave evidence. You believe in a global flood although there is no physical evidence that such an event happened.

      Tony Garland, it is not so easy to reverse my comment as you suggest. The process of science is following the evidence and arriving at new conclusions if the previous ones are found lacking. Could a creationist arrive at a new conclusion when they think all the answers are already laid out in the bible? Hardly.

      1. You seem to think that only non-creationists are unbiased. This is hardly correct. Having been a indoctrinated in evolutionary dogma for decades, I know only to well how this typically works: those with a non-biblical worldview are “doing real science” and those who base their worldview (presuppositions) upon the bible are “obviously biased.”

        You might be able to convince naive people that this is the real dichotomy, but those of us who have seen both sides know better.

        Those who are committed to a materialistic explanation for everything are no better at “following the evidence” than those who see better explanations elsewhere.

        The complexity of biological systems is a perfect demonstration of such a bias. The materialist is so dedicated to his or her view that intelligence cannot be involved (or even measured) that the overwhelming evidence of intelligence is completely suppressed in a blind allegiance that ‘nothing must produce complexity’ whereas every shred of daily experience cries out just the opposite.

        So much for the supposed neutrality of ‘true scientists’ who follow the evidence wherever it leads . . . NOT!

        This is the main point that Paul is trying to make: nobody does science or rational thinking in a vacuum and we all bring a worldview with us through which we interpret what we see. In the case of presuppositionalism, this worldview begins with God’s revelation to man and builds from there. With materialism, it begins with nothingness and posits organization and infers logic and entire mental constructs which have no basis from random processes.

        I agree that true science follows the evidence “if the previous ones are found lacking.” If this is one of the measures of true science, then Darwinism/materialism fails the test because it steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the complete lack of evidence of ‘goo to you’ evolution as well as the overwhelming evidence of intelligence behind biological systems.

        As an electrical engineer and software designer of many years, it was this evidence of information that was one of the important things which “I followed” to arrive a new conclusions: that there is a Grand Designer and that atheism/materialism cannot account for reality.

        Atheists assert that the evidence leads them to conclude there is not intelligent Agent — God — and that they are ‘unbiased’. But in reality they are strongly biased.

        Its not a matter of evidence, it is an issue of morality and sin: atheists can’t find God for the same reason that criminals can’t find policemen. 🙂

  7. “Its not a matter of evidence, it is an issue of morality and sin: atheists can’t find God for the same reason that criminals can’t find policemen.”

    May I borrow that line, Tony?

    1. Hi Mac,

      The last phrase I first heard from an audio teaching of an awesome teacher of God’s word: Charlie Clough. If you are not familiar with him, I recommend googling his name for his teaching website. One of the best teachers out there in our generation.

      I thought it really got to the heart of the issue as Jesus might have expressed it. 🙂

  8. The complexity of biological systems is a perfect demonstration of such a bias. The materialist is so dedicated to his or her view that intelligence cannot be involved (or even measured) that the overwhelming evidence of intelligence is completely suppressed in a blind allegiance that ‘nothing must produce complexity’ whereas every shred of daily experience cries out just the opposite.

    It’s not so much the notion that intelligence ‘cannot be involved’, Tony, as that we have no reliable means of testing for the involvement of said intelligence. How would you distinguish between intelligent design and complex natural processes? What are the hallmarks of input from a supernatural mind? In order to study something, there must be something to study – either your god leaves fingerprints, or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, why is he even relevant to scientific endeavour?

  9. I will try to post my response to DD’s First Blog Post plus some observations on things she has said since then asap. DD, you are more productive than I and I ask your indulgence until I can I rejoin the debate.

    Btw, you are not going to convince Tony or I that “we have no reliable means of testing for the involvement of said intelligence.” This work HAS been done and “field tested” and is available for reading in such works as Dembski’s “The Design Inference” and Meyer’s “The Signature in the Cell.” Evolutionists are being more and more hard pressed to explain the presence of specified complex information in the world.

    PS Though I detect a strong angst against the God of the Bible in your writing, it should be noted that one does not have to be a Christian-theist to see the facts Dembski and Meyer have set out. They have followed the pattern of scientific inference to the tee.

    I shall include some observations along this line in my response/s, but do not intend to divert the discussion in this direction (as legitimate as such a discussion may be).

    P.

    1. …we have no reliable means of testing for the involvement of said intelligence.

      Well, Paul beat me to the punch. The above assertion is without basis. Information theory, a product of relatively recent origin, has provided ample tools to do just this.

      At the risk of repeating a well-worn, but still very straightforward analogy, those who would assert we can’t detect the fingerprints of God in His creation are like tourists who look at Mt. Rushmore gazing upon the faces of the presidents, but are unable (unwilling) to acknowledge any evidence of intelligence behind what is plainly in view — that of the sculptors who did the work. Attributing the specified complexity of biological systems to chance materialistic processes is akin to concluding that Mt. Rushmore is a uniformitarian production.

      As an aside, I’m really encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive reviews of Meyer’s work “Signature in the Cell” at Amazon.com as it shows that the average person on the street still knows how to think!
      God has left His fingerprint in the material creation and in history (e.g., prophecy within His written self-revelation to man).

      So, again, evidence is not the issue, but a heart and mind which are predisposed to reject God’s revelation in all its forms. And this is the reason why the presuppositionalist will never begin with evidence because evidence has to be rightly interpreted and will never be so long as the bedrock of God’s statements concerning the nature of material reality, spiritual reality, and the state of man (anthropology) are rejected.

      If I may borrow for the Apostle Paul:

      Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1Cor. 2:12-14).

      The materialist has no room for God the Spirit and so the revelation of God the Spirit remains foolishness to him. And no amount of mathematics, space telescopes, microscopes, and meditation can bring him over this speed bump. It requires birth from above (John 3).

      But, of course I’m babbling pure foolishness now — according to the materialist! 🙂

  10. At the risk of repeating a well-worn, but still very straightforward analogy, those who would assert we can’t detect the fingerprints of God in His creation are like tourists who look at Mt. Rushmore gazing upon the faces of the presidents, but are unable (unwilling) to acknowledge any evidence of intelligence behind what is plainly in view — that of the sculptors who did the work. Attributing the specified complexity of biological systems to chance materialistic processes is akin to concluding that Mt. Rushmore is a uniformitarian production.

    We see sculptors at work on sculptures, and know the processes by which they are made.

    Do you or Dembski or Meyer know the processes by which a supernatural entity interacts with the world and manufactures DNA?

    I note that the catchphrase has become ‘specified complexity’, now that ‘irreducible complexity’ has been shown not to be irreducible. Interesting.

    And attributing evolutionary processes to ‘chance’ is inaccurate. These are not random processes, but sequences of cause and effect. Dembski and Meyer are only employing an elaborate version of an argument from ignorance – they can’t detect god’s handiwork in any direct manner, so they fall back on saying, “well, it just couldn’t have happened naturally”, and all the while, the real scientists are getting on with the business of discovering just how it could have happened naturally.

    1. Do you or Dembski or Meyer know the processes by which a supernatural entity interacts with the world and manufactures DNA?

      In detail? No. In general, more and more is being understood each year. And what is being understood shows a close analogy to
      information processing systems developed by humans. In other words, it has all the attributes of a system developed
      by intelligent agents. Moreover, the complexity and sophistication which are evident clearly point to
      an intelligent agent of great sophistication — considerably higher than our own.

      Here we see the soft underbelly of materialism for what it is: a refusal to accept anything that won’t bow
      before man’s puny intellect. Unless a Super Intellect works in a way which his lowly creatures find ‘reasonable’,
      then evidence of His handiwork is not allowed into the discussion.

      But this is akin to a dog’s inability to understand that his dog house was designed using a CAD system because
      he is unable to grasp the complexities of computer systems — or even know of their existence. This doesn’t altar the fact
      that the dog’s master did such a design. It’s reality and function, thankfully, do not depend upon the acceptance and mental limitations of the dog.
      Moreover, the production of the doghouse using CAD was neither miraculous or “non-science” simply because the process
      refuses to reduce to the mental level of a canine.

      I note that the catchphrase has become ‘specified complexity’, now that ‘irreducible complexity’ has been shown not to be irreducible.

      I’m happy to stick with irreducible complexity (I have yet to see that its been shown wanting.)
      ‘Specified complexity’ is another aspect of complexity which differs from irreducibility — both are powerful nails in the coffin of Darwinism.
      As a practicing engineer with some 3 decades of experience, I’m only too well aware of the two main competing elements in all communication
      systems: information and noise. That is exactly what the SETI people are on to as well. They are sifting through
      mountains of noise looking for a needle of information in the haystack which is the universe. When and if they find it, you can
      be sure they won’t toss out the data and conclude that because they are unable to immediately crack some sophisticated coded
      signal that they are engaged in “non-science” by studying it and inferring that the only known explanation is an intelligent source.

      The entire enterprise of the SETI folks is founded on the same plank as ID: true information is the signature of intelligence.
      There is no known source of information in the universe aside from intelligence and no person on earth has ever experienced
      it arising from non-intelligence. To continue to hold that it must arise from non-intelligence can only be
      understood as a gross unwillingness to face the music of where the evidence leads.


      And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
      For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
      (John 3:19-20)

      Well it is clear that we are on completely different pages in that you make claims which I find unsupportable
      (e.g., irreducible complexity having been reduced, we lack a reliable means of detecting intelligence, no evidence of a global flood).
      And I have little doubt that my Biblical references are mostly irritating if not considered foolish from your point of view.

      But the discussion does serve to underscore the importance of suppositions.
      So long as our starting points are diametrically different, we won’t arrive at the same world view — not even close.

      1. In general, more and more is being understood each year. And what is being understood shows a close analogy to
        information processing systems developed by humans.

        Only by downplaying the manifest differences between DNA and computer software.

        In other words, it has all the attributes of a system developed by intelligent agents.

        And many more attributes of a gradually evolved system shaped by natural forces and a long process of trial and error. If there was indeed a designer, he/she/it must have been an incorrigible tinkerer.

        Moreover, the complexity and sophistication which are evident clearly point to an intelligent agent of great sophistication — considerably higher than our own.

        That’s a fair assumption, given that no human scientist has yet been able to design and build a living organism from scratch. But we also know of natural processes of astonishing subtlety and beauty that are apparently undirected by any conscious agent, such as the formation of snowflakes and crystals, or the stunning limestone formations in caves – the latter being accumulations resulting from a long, slow, repetitive and elegantly simple process, much like the process of evolution.

        Here we see the soft underbelly of materialism for what it is: a refusal to accept anything that won’t bow
        before man’s puny intellect. Unless a Super Intellect works in a way which his lowly creatures find ‘reasonable’, then evidence of His handiwork is not allowed into the discussion.

        If we’re not expecting to be able to comprehend such things, why bother doing science at all?

        I’m happy to stick with irreducible complexity (I have yet to see that its been shown wanting.)

        The classic example is the eye, but that was abandoned pretty rapidly after a plausible sequence of evolutionary steps was laid out. Even the origins and functions of DNA and RNA are proving susceptible to scientific explanation.

        ‘Specified complexity’ is another aspect of complexity which differs from irreducibility — both are powerful nails in the coffin of Darwinism.

        See above for irreducible complexity. From what I’ve read, ‘specified complexity’ is just another way of saying, “this is too complex to have occurred by random chance” – when we already know that random chance is not the driving force of evolution.

        When and if [SETI] find it, you can
        be sure they won’t toss out the data and conclude that because they are unable to immediately crack some sophisticated coded
        signal that they are engaged in “non-science” by studying it and inferring that the only known explanation is an intelligent source.

        That would be because they are looking specifically for technologically advanced intelligence of a kind similar to that which humans possess.

        There is no known source of information in the universe aside from intelligence and no person on earth has ever experienced
        it arising from non-intelligence.

        That’s a pretty sweeping statement, and one that almost certainly leads to an infinite regress – who designed the designer, if information can only come from intelligence?

        Well it is clear that we are on completely different pages in that you make claims which I find unsupportable
        (e.g., irreducible complexity having been reduced, we lack a reliable means of detecting intelligence, no evidence of a global flood).
        And I have little doubt that my Biblical references are mostly irritating if not considered foolish from your point of view.

        Naive and a bit pointless, perhaps – but you’re entitled to appreciate ancient literature.

        But the discussion does serve to underscore the importance of suppositions.
        So long as our starting points are diametrically different, we won’t arrive at the same world view — not even close.

        Interesting that you should say so. I was brought up with the supposition that the Christian god exists, and as I grew up, that notion was progressively abandoned as reality kept proving to be at once more fascinating and more beautiful and magnificent than anything claimed for the – surprisingly anthropomorphic – god of scripture.

  11. “Although it’s worth pointing out that Flew went to his grave as a deist, not a Christian…”

    You’re correct…in fact it speaks volumes, which is why I included him. C S Lewis also began as a deist.

  12. In general, more and more is being understood each year. And what is being understood shows a close analogy to
    information processing systems developed by humans./i>
    Only by downplaying the manifest differences between DNA and computer software.

    One just can’t win an argument with these materialists! 🙂 First, they tell us that their computer simulations demonstrate “evolution” as a close analogy to how life must have evolved.
    Through genetic programming simulations they have ‘proven’ that life arose in a similar way. Then, when I point out the
    obvious and undeniable similarities between computer systems (which encode and process information) and biological systems, I’m told that it isn’t a good analogy because DNA isn’t like computer software! I beg to differ. As somewhat of an expert on computer technology and software development I can readily assert there are overwhelming similarities between the biological systems and computers. Others, who are less trained in the field of computers have remarked similarly. The similarities have to do with their common denominator: information processing. This, at its core, is immaterial which is why it poses such a threat to materialism. That which is material serves merely as an expression of the deeper reality of information (and intelligence) which exists outside the realm of the material. Material is the carrier in the same way a music staff carries the information and concepts of the composer — concepts and arrangements which are not subject to the bounds of materialism. This is closely akin to computer encoding systems where the hardware systems cannot achieve anything without information in the form of software, microcode, programmed gate arrays, etc. But Meyer and a host of others do a much better job on this and if you reject them then I’m wasting my time here.

    Moreover, the complexity and sophistication which are evident clearly point to an intelligent agent of great sophistication — considerably higher than our own.
    That’s a fair assumption, given that no human scientist has yet been able to design and build a living organism from scratch. But we also know of natural processes of astonishing subtlety and beauty that are apparently undirected by any conscious agent, such as the formation of snowflakes and crystals, or the stunning limestone formations in caves.

    Are we to suppose that snowflakes, crystals, and limestone formations provide adequate explanatory power for what we see today in biological systems? That’s about as far a stretch as saying that struggling to derive a few ingredients for amino acids from natural chemicals in the lab (by careful application of intelligence, by the way) explains how life came from none-life. Snowflakes and crystals display the regularity they do precisely because they are non-random and reflect physical “laws” which infer, in turn, a law-maker. This is what Paul’s been on about: you keep appealing to law and regularity in natural processes as if they explain logic and complex materialism, but deny any law-maker or law-giver behind it all. Besides: random limestone formations can hardly be said to represent “information.” If they do, what sort of message is encoded in them?

    When and if [SETI] find it, you can
    be sure they won’t toss out the data and conclude that because they are unable to immediately crack some sophisticated coded
    signal that they are engaged in “non-science” by studying it and inferring that the only known explanation is an intelligent source.

    That would be because they are looking specifically for technologically advanced intelligence of a kind similar to that which humans possess.

    Wasn’t it you that said, ‘there is no reliable means of testing for the involvement of intelligence’? If they are looking for intelligence, even a type of intelligence like ours (and what other could we know of anyway?), how will the know the difference between a needle (information) and the haystack (background noise)? And when we ‘look for God’ we are also looking for a ‘technologically advanced intelligence of a kind similar to that which humans possess’ so I don’t see how your comment applies. Especially those of us who accept that mankind was created in His image.

    There is no known source of information in the universe aside from intelligence and no person on earth has ever experienced
    it arising from non-intelligence.

    That’s a pretty sweeping statement, and one that almost certainly leads to an infinite regress – who designed the designer, if information can only come from intelligence?

    This is the classic, “Mommy… how was God born?” question.
    Of course, as a materialist, you will flee to this question as if it provides a retreat from the problem at hand.
    Moreover, you will never accept an answer involving ultimate realities such as God because you won’t allow for the immaterial!

    Science will always reach boundaries which are beyond our reach. The ‘singularity’ which materialists suppose began the Big Bang isn’t any more adequate or explanatory than my appeal to an ultimate intelligence Who has no necessary precondition, but IS the First Cause. (Interestingly, the Bible refers to Him as “I AM”!) I might as well ask you to explain where the singularity came from or the infinitesimal time within which it “did it’s thing”? But I would never ask you a question like that which presses the boundaries of human logic as if it proved something one way or the other. I made that sweeping statement for a reason: materialists have yet to produce a single bona fide example where information (not patterns that simply reflect physical laws, but true encoded complexity) arises from something other than information.

    That makes two huge questions by my count which materialism cannot even begin to address: 1) how life arose (from non-life)? 2) how information arises apart from intelligence?

    1. Does the theory of evolution not offer an answer to your second question, Tony?

      Not that I necessarily believe the theory of evolution, but I do think evolutionists offer a scientific explanation for that particular problem you cite.

      1. Tony wrote: That makes two huge questions by my count which materialism cannot even begin to address: 1) how life arose (from non-life)? 2) how information arises apart from intelligence?

        Matthew C asks:Does the theory of evolution not offer an answer to your second question, Tony?

        If you are asking whether I believe that the theory of evolution offers a scientific explanation for how information arises apart from intelligence, then my answer is NO.
        This is the entire thrust of the ID movement — that materialism and especially Darwinism (evolution in any of its proposed variations) cannot account for the origin of information.

        Evolution, at its core, relies upon mutation which is inherently a degrading process (which reduces/damages information content) in a similar way that alpha particles gradually erase information within a memory storage part. Even what some might refer to “microevolution” is not what I would refer to as evolution because it is always “downhill” (e.g., loss of eyes in cave fish, loss of wings in beetles).
        You don’t have structures which require complex information (e.g, wings, eyes, brains) arising from selection operating on mutation because mutation and selection are not driven by intelligence so they cannot produce information.

        See Meyer’s book mentioned above (and many other standard works countering evolution) for more on this.

    2. I should also correct a mistake I made above:


      materialists have yet to produce a single bona fide example where information (not patterns that simply reflect physical laws, but true encoded complexity) arises from something other than information [intelligence].

    3. When you think about it, it’s really quite unsurprising that the comments here have diverted into a discussion regarding intelligent design. It’s telling on a couple of levels. First of all, Dembski – who has stated that as Christians, he and his fellow ID proponents “know” that naturalism is false – et al have essentially yielded to an empiricist understanding of the world by attempting to push their ‘evidence’ of intelligent design. Secondly, and more importantly, it highlights the differences I mentioned in my first blog post about presuppositionalism, between the theistic and the atheistic worldview.

      I’m going to break this down to basics – which, by the way, is what research in the biological sciences seeks to do, in order to increase our understanding of how life works.

      There is a fundamental difference between human-designed computer systems and gradually evolved biological systems – apart from differences in patterns and arrangements and behaviour of components – and it’s this: computer programmers, even those who design simulations of evolutionary processes, always begin with the end in mind. This, not complexity by itself, ‘specified’ or otherwise, is the hallmark of intelligent design. Until ID proponents can demonstrate with concrete data that there is or was a designer who envisioned the outcomes we find in nature and designed the mechanisms accordingly, they won’t convince genuine scientists by simply throwing up their hands and declaring, “Well, we just can’t see how complex systems could build up from simpler components all by themselves.”

      The example of limestone formations offers a decent basic analogy with what happens in biological systems – pretty much because both have to do with chemistry and the properties of the substances in question. Simple processes, acting within particular conditions over long periods of time, produce spectacular results – but no-one assumes that the water and calcium carbonate molecules had a plan (or were following someone’s plan) to get together and form stalactites. That’s just what happens when these two chemical compounds interact in the conditions that lead to cave formation. Moving up the complexity and intricacy scale, the formation of amino acids, the essential components of proteins, happens through chemical bonding, which occurs naturally, undirected by any conscious intervention. It is the interactions between simpler components that give rise to more complex phenomena.

      Essentially, ID proponents are succumbing to something akin to the anthropic principle – they look at life in the world the way it is now, and find it hard to imagine that such an intricate and complex result could not have been foreseen and intended at the moment, say, of the first bonding of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen to form the first amino acids.

      And here’s the deep-level problem with intelligent design: observation of the way the world works indicates that intelligence itself is a product of long, slow accumulation and natural evolution of collections of simpler processes acting naturally under local conditions. To posit intelligence as the origin of the simpler components that lie at the core of complex biological systems is essentially to throw out the ultimate goal of scientific inquiry – to understand how things work – and it still leaves the origin of the designing intelligence unexplained. One gets the feeling that ID proponents, hesitant though some of them are to name any supernatural deity as their designer, would be quite content to leave it that way…at least until – and unless – they think they’ve achieved their goal of getting scientists to admit that certain things must have been designed, at which point they’ll leap straight to the Christian god as the likely candidate, like the good little creationists they are at heart.

      I would recommend reading this article for an overview of the issues surrounding intelligent design as a scientific, political and religious movement.

      1. DD wrote:


        The example of limestone formations offers a decent basic analogy with what happens in biological systems – pretty much because both have to do with chemistry and the properties of the substances in question. Simple processes, acting within particular conditions over long periods of time, produce spectacular results – but no-one assumes that the water and calcium carbonate molecules had a plan (or were following someone’s plan) to get together and form stalactites.

        While I can appreciate that you may think snowflakes and limestone formations (both which are mere manifestations of underlying physical laws underlying the creation) sufficient as an explanation for the rise of information by undirected forces, but they hardly qualify. We are talking about information as defined by information science (populated by “real scientists” — which even you would accept, as opposed to those who don’t share your views) are to be found. Snowflakes and limestone formations do not contain information because they do not convey any message. As I asked above, “what message do limestone formations encode”? They don’t! All they ‘encode’ is arrangements which reflect the laws of physics (and back we are to the question of where do these laws come from in an undirected system like you posit?).

        But this is to be expected. I’ve yet to see anyone who believes in the idea that complexity and information “had to” evolve in our universe put forth any convincing explanation for how it happened?
        All we get is repetition about patterns in nature–but these are not information. This gap between pattern and information is HUGE.

        If you were lost on a trail system and, at a fork in the trail where you were trying to choose which way to go, saw a beautiful limestone formation which happened to be present, would you look to it for an indication as to which way to go? Of course not! What you are looking for, short of a printed sign post, is not just a pattern, but something which encodes information. For example, some rocks in an uncharacteristic pattern which conveys information — like an arrow. And why would you pay attention to an arrow made of rocks on the ground which pointed to one of the trails? Because you know from everyday experience that rocks do not “self organize” into arrows. The fact that these rocks stand out (catch your attention) is proof that their arrangement is uncharacteristic (or why would one notice?). The information encoded in the specified pattern of an arrow cries out, intelligence was here! It is the same sort of signpost, (be it in rocks, sounds, radio signals, light signals, or what have you) that the SETI folks are on the watch for. And they aren’t for a moment going to be snowed into thinking that snowflakes or limestone on a distant planet is a sign of intelligent agents!

        Maybe the media (and the school system) have drunk so heavily at the waters of materialism that they buy this stuff, but I’m not having any of it.
        And, judging from http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org there are many scientists (or, to borrow your definition: “non-scientists”) who share my unbelief!

  13. Matthew C,

    How would you respond to Tony’s challenge regarding the introduction of new information in genetics?

    It’s already been responded to, quite some time ago, by Richard Dawkins.

  14. Tony,

    All we get is repetition about patterns in nature–but these are not information.

    Depends what you’re looking to find out…

  15. And why would you pay attention to an arrow made of rocks on the ground which pointed to one of the trails? Because you know from everyday experience that rocks do not “self organize” into arrows. The fact that these rocks stand out (catch your attention) is proof that their arrangement is uncharacteristic (or why would one notice?).

    Not merely uncharacteristic, but indicative of abstract, symbolic thought of the kind in which humans typically engage. Can you or any other creationist explain how the coding of DNA is indicative of abstract thought rather than long evolution?

    Remember also that given enough time (some 8 billion years between the Big Bang and the first indications of primitive life) even highly improbable occurrences become near certainties.

    1. DD,

      (I notice you still haven’t been answering any of the hard questions above. Instead, we’re getting one or two sentences which skirt the issues. Not very convincing!)


      Not merely uncharacteristic, but indicative of abstract, symbolic thought of the kind in which humans typically engage. Can you or any other creationist explain how the coding of DNA is indicative of abstract thought rather than long evolution?

      Well, to borrow an adjective from your question, DNA employs relatively few symbols, but the arrangement of those symbols is what is of real significance, not the symbols themselves.
      Arranging relatively few symbols to convey information is indicative of abstract, symbolic thought of the kind in which humans typically engage. In fact, we doing that
      very thing right now, right here! If I was a limestone formation or a snowflake, I’d be typing sentences like this:

      AABBCCCAABBCCCAABBCCCAABBCCC or maybe like this azMMazMMaaaMMazMMazMMaaaMMaz. Nice sequences of symbols and even patterns! But no information or message, and hence no intelligence there! 🙂
      Snowflakes, crystals, and limestone formations are certainly beautiful, but they don’t communicate.

      And we know of no other source which arranges a set of symbols to convey information other than purposeful intelligence. Moreover, we’ve never seen chance, time, and natural selection do anything remotely similar.

      You say, Can you or any other creationist explain how the coding of DNA s the product of … rather than long evolution! I might as well say, Can you or any other creationist explain how DNA is the product of … rather than pink elephants on mars? By your same logic, you can’t absolutely guarantee that DNA wasn’t encoded by a team of pink elephants on mars. But, in reality, we can be certain that neither pink elephants or long evolution produced DNA because the probabilities involved in either scenario are vanishingly small, despite your repetition of the false mantra that “given enough time . . . even highly improbably occurrences become near certainties”. [You need to become more familiar with the difference between Shannon and specified information. If someone rolls the dice 100 times an incredibly unlikely sequence of numbers will occur — every time! But that doesn’t cut it as information because the sequence isn’t specified — has no meaning to convey.] How long are you willing to calculate in might take until the extremely unlikely scenarios that DNA is made by pink elephants becomes certain? According to your mantra, after all, given enough time it is “certain”: guaranteed to happen – no matter how unlikely. (And if you still doubt it, just wait even longer!)

      This is the same “don’t look too closely at the shells” game that evolutionists are always playing. When facing the box canyon of improbability, they always appeal to infinite (deep) time as if it explains anything. It does not follow that whatever is extremely impossible will in fact happen given enough time. It has been shown by numerous folks that there are not enough probabilistic resources available in the observable universe (particles nor enough time, even granting your deep time which I do not) for complex information such as DNA to happen by a however-unlikely, undirected sequence of events.

      Evolution today is generally sold by some variation of this recipe:

      Start with a very weak example (e.g., snowflakes and crystals, so-called (degenerative) “micro-evolution”, a few acids in a test-tube, a handful of fossils with shared animal characteristics).
      Boldly extend the weak example by orders of magnitude (e.g., true encoded information like DNA, life from non-life, macro-evolution from goo to you via the zoo).
      When questions arise — and they always do because of the huge leap from 1 to 2 which rightly triggers the “baloney sensor” for most people — “just add deep time.”
      If scepticism still hasn’t been overcome: add even more time — so much time that our analytical processes “check out” because we can’t conceive of that much time.
      Repeat the preceding story over and over from supposedly authoritative sources such as “real scientists” and trusted scientific institutions (e.g., National Geographic, numerous museums of natural history) until it just seems like it “must be so.”

      The problem with the recipe is that the gap between 1 and 2 cannot be bridged by 3. Information science and mathematics, especially the science of probability, say otherwise.

  16. “…now that ‘irreducible complexity’ has been shown not to be irreducible.”

    The thing is that Behe has responded to the Miller rebuttal found in the link provided in a previous comment. In fact he’s responded to several attempts to rebut irreducibility. So the above statement is questionable.

    1. Thanks for posting the helpful link Mac. Maybe it will help some readers to clarify the difference between what randomness can produce vs. intelligence and why a random event — however unlikely — does not qualify as information. (As I mentioned above, if one rolls a die 100 times there will be an outcome every time which represents one in 6.53 followed by 77 zeros possible outcomes — 6 to the 100th power.)

      DD challenges the idea that DNA is similar to how computers store information. Yet the high priest of evolution (Dawkins) is quoted in this article as having written, “DNA carries information in a very computer-like way, and we can measure the genome’s capacity in bits too, if we wish.”

  17. It’s interesting, Tony, that you should suggest that I have failed to rise to the challenge of your “hard questions”, since you either missed or ignored the main point of my previous comment.

    But no matter. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of your argument. You liken DNA to a computer information storage mechanism, as does Dawkins. I sense some equivocation going on here, since in the sense you claim this, it is done specifically to infer that DNA, like computer hardware, is designed to store information rather than happening to store what we think of as information by virtue of what it is and does.

    RationalWiki quotes H.F. Nijout who says,

    In biology the term information is used with two very different meanings. The first is in reference to the fact that the sequence of bases in DNA codes for the sequence of amino acids in proteins. In this restricted sense, DNA contains information, namely about the primary structure of proteins.

    Thus far, what we have is biochemical processes, not abstract or symbolic coding.

    On the subject of your argumentum ad absurdum regarding probability, we already know that chemical bonding occurs to form complex molecules. The formation of self-replicating molecules (such as RNA and DNA), leading to life as we know it, is in principle no less probable than any other complex chemical bonding process, hence the observation that given sufficient time, even highly improbable events may be expected to occur. We might well infer that it is rare for life to arise in a naturalistic universe, but it only had to happen once in order for us to be here discussing it.

    As for your Martian pink elephants, if you can demonstrate that they exist, then we can consider their likely abilities. The same goes for your proposed intelligent designer.

    1. DD said: I sense some equivocation going on here, since in the sense you claim this, it is done specifically to infer that DNA, like computer hardware, is designed to store information rather than happening to store what we think of as information by virtue of what it is and does.

      Your claim that DNA just so “happens” to store “what we think of as” information is breathtaking. Can you give me another definition of “information” than “what we think of”? When I point to simple analogies which most folks in both fields (be it computers of biology) readily admit, you want us to believe that although DNA just happens to be the most dense storage media known to man that what it stores isn’t necessarily information — but only “what we think of as information.” More than that, just because it happens to store what we think of as information we should not infer any possible design inference. Yet you remain unable to provide a viable alternative for how it came to be other than pointing to crystals, snowflakes, and the like. We only “think of it as information by virtue of what it is and does.” Well, when it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… 🙂

      DD said: Thus far, what we have is biochemical processes, not abstract or symbolic coding.

      Really? DNA isn’t a form of symbolic coding? Then how is it that every paper I’ve read on the topic uses specific symbols to represent elements within DNA, not to mention their sequences? Symbols arranged in specific orders which carry information are a code. The American Heritage Dictionary says, concerning code:

      “… 3.a. A system of signals used to represent letters or numbers in transmitting messages. b. A system of symbols, letters, or words given certain arbitrary meanings, used for transmitting messages requiring secrecy or brevity. 4. A system of symbols and rules used to represent instructions to a computer. 5. Genetics. The genetic code.” [emphasis mine]

      Or how about wikipedia:

      “The genetic code is the set of rules by which information encoded in genetic material (DNA or mRNA sequences) is translated into proteins (amino acid sequences) by living cells.” [emphasis mine]

      The folks who sequence genomes would also be surprised to know they aren’t investigating a form of symbolic coding.

      If you choose to believe that DNA is not information nor represents abstract or symbolic coding that’s up to you. But don’t expect others to follow you in your denial of the obvious.

      DD said: As for your Martian pink elephants, if you can demonstrate that they exist, then we can consider their likely abilities. The same goes for your proposed intelligent designer.

      Actually, I don’t think you followed my point above. You have held that evolution can produce information, but are unable to give any real example where it has done so. Then you said that given enough time even the most unlikely things become certain. My analogy with the pink elephants was meant to point out the absurdity of your claim. And the fact that you obviously think my analogy is absurd merely underscores my point. According to your world view, as crazy as it might appear at first glance, it actually is possible that pink elephants once existed on mars. I can’t demonstrate they ever did, but then you can’t demonstrate that evolution ever produced information either. My pink elephants obviously didn’t create DNA, but I could just as easily hold that given enough time and multiverses (providing a handy unlimited probabilistic resource) pink elephants have to pop into existence and could be the agents behind DNA. Do I believe that? No. Do you believe essentially the same thing about evolution: yes. That was my point.

      Now obviously, you don’t see my point because in your mind pink elephants and evolution are obviously different. After all, everybody knows pink elephants don’t exist while everyone also knows that evolution does exist. Really? Only if we fail to see how evolutionists constantly equivocate in order to promote their flawed thesis. To clarify, I’ll use two different forms of the word: evolution (lowercase) and EVOLUTION (uppercase). So here’s the two ways this term is often bandied about:

      1. evolution – Any change in a living organism which can be observed. Examples which are often given: insects adapting to poisons, fish losing their yes, breeding of dogs to produce specific traits. This involves the degradation (damage, isolation, loss, or reduction in information) of the genetic information store which the parent organism once had. It is a “downhill” process and no new information is added to the genetic store. The specialized organism will no longer revert back to its general form because it lost genetic information in the process.

      2. EVOLUTION – One organism changes into a completely different organism involving a long process of time. Examples: dinosaurs evolved into birds, sea animals evolved into land animals, wolves evolved back into whales (probably not a favorite anymore), apes evolved into men. This is the supposed “uphill” change where information, of incredible complexity, unavoidably and incrementally accrues with time. This has never been observed. Anywhere. Ever.

      The equivocation comes about because evolutionists are constantly mixing the two terms, both explicitly and implicitly and it only serves to muddy the waters. Most often it starts out with a conversion about evolution and then, at some point when the skeptic is unwary, it jumps to EVOLUTION. That’s what DD has just done. Notice she refutes my pink elephant example because, unlike her case, she assumes I must first demonstrate that pink elephants exist. Obviously, if they don’t exist, then I can’t argue that they produced genetic information such as DNA. But the same logical problem applies for EVOLUTION which she holds, when given enough time, is “certain” to produce incredibly improbably results.

      The fact is, she has jumped ship from evolution (which I’d call adaptation within the created kind due to environmental factors) — something we can point to and know is real — to EVOLUTION which has never been observed or demonstrated. In reality, although evolution exists, EVOLUTION has no more been observed than my hypothetical pink elephants! But she is hoping we won’t notice how she’s skipped from evolution (which we admit exists–although, again, I wouldn’t use that term) to EVOLUTION which is unknown to operational science. She is arguing that the microbe-to-man EVOLUTION, however unlikely it may seem, is sure to happen given enough time. And she assumes she has proved its existence which she has not. Because evolution (lowercase) is not EVOLUTION (uppercase) which she has just as much a duty to prove exists as my pink elephants on mars.

      So I am justified in saying that, given enough time, the incredibly unlikely event that pink elephants on mars arose and coded the genetic code is as good an explanation as her EVOLUTION. Both are incredibly unlikely and have never have been observed — and may not even exist (since no one has seen either). The difference is that I don’t believe in pink elephants and she does believe in EVOLUTION.

  18. Your claim that DNA just so “happens” to store “what we think of as” information is breathtaking. Can you give me another definition of “information” than “what we think of”?

    Can you? How do you define information? Who is being informed? Who is doing the informing? Do you distinguish between the ‘information’ in DNA that is a sequence of bases from which proteins are built and the information we derive from DNA regarding the organism subsequently built from those proteins?

    More than that, just because it happens to store what we think of as information we should not infer any possible design inference.

    Specify a designer and the characteristics of that designer, and we can look for evidence of the designer’s signature and intention in the ‘design’.

    Yet you remain unable to provide a viable alternative for how it came to be other than pointing to crystals, snowflakes, and the like.

    By what criteria do you judge ‘viability’?

    Really? DNA isn’t a form of symbolic coding?

    Symbolic of what? DNA provides chemical means of communication for carrying out the synthesis of protein. This seems actual, rather than representative. How is the structural base for a protein a ‘symbol’ or an ‘abstract’ code for that protein?

    Then how is it that every paper I’ve read on the topic uses specific symbols to represent elements within DNA, not to mention their sequences?

    Because we are the ones who require symbols in order to make sense of the processes and functions carried out by DNA.

    If you choose to believe that DNA is not information nor represents abstract or symbolic coding that’s up to you. But don’t expect others to follow you in your denial of the obvious.

    What is DNA abstracted from, if you think it is abstract information?

    You have held that evolution can produce information, but are unable to give any real example where it has done so.

    Again, you’re equivocating about the nature of information. The processes of replication and mutation produce differences in gene sequences, resulting in differences in phenotype which are then selected by their differential survival rates. In this regard, new information is introduced. You are inadvertently, perhaps, drawing on that old chestnut about evolution violating the second law of thermodynamics which, according to creationists, demands a decrease in order and increase in chaos. This only holds in closed systems, and the earth isn’t one.

    I’ll use two different forms of the word: evolution (lowercase) and EVOLUTION (uppercase). So here’s the two ways this term is often bandied about:

    In scientific parlance, there is no difference between evolution and evolution. The mechanisms of evolution are the same regardless of scale. If you’re claiming that the mechanisms of evolution happen on a small scale but not on a larger scale, it seems that you’re attempting to shut the gate after the horse has bolted.


    1. In scientific parlance, there is no difference between evolution and evolution. The mechanisms of evolution are the same regardless of scale. If you’re claiming that the mechanisms of evolution happen on a small scale but not on a larger scale, it seems that you’re attempting to shut the gate after the horse has bolted.

      No, I’m not “claiming that the mechanisms of evolution happen on a small scale but not on a larger scale”. Again, you’ve missed my point. I’m claiming that the mechanisms which have been shown to occur (variation within a kind, observable changes in organism characteristics with time and environmental factors) are not evolution. If anything, they could be referred to as de-evolution because the organism is lead downward in genetic richness. Evolutionists point to these examples as if they were evolution, but they are not because molecules-to-man evolution requires movement in the opposite direction, from low complexity toward greater complexity with a net result of increase in genetic diversity. That is what macro-evolution claims and it is not the same mechanism which produces so-called micro-evolution (which is a misnomer since it does not produce what evolution claims at all). Again, we hear the claim that “new information is introduced” by evolution — but as before, you can’t meet the challenge to give a single example where such new information occurs. What you mean by “new information” is actually damage to an existing information store which results in a loss of genetic richness and leads downward. (And please don’t put words in my mouth about the second law when I’ve made no such mention.) Yes, “differences” occur, but they aren’t productive differences — you just hope and believe so because of your mantra, “given enough time . . . even highly improbable occurrences become near certainties.”

      How about if we try this experiment? 1) take a copy of Microsoft Word (word.exe); 2) randomly change a single byte anywhere in the program; 3) run the program — if it even will run — and evaluate it to see if it has improved ‘by accident’; 4) if it has improved (survival of the fittest), go to step 2, if not, go back to step 1 and try again. Now, according to DD’s approach — given a long enough time Microsoft Excel will emerge. In fact, its almost certain. But I say it won’t because information doesn’t arise by willy-nilly tweaks at random followed by subsequent evaluation — especially subsequent evaluation by a non-rational influence like survival of the fittest where the vast majority of changes introduced–which could lead to something beneficial according to people like DD–are neither visible nor preserved by survival of the fittest. What we would find is that we’d have to multiverses (about as demonstrable as macro-evolution) here because the probabalistic resources of this universe would indicate this experiment could not complete in the history of deep time. 🙂

      Well, with all due respect, I’m through communicating with DD on this topic. She has largely ignored the points I’ve made preferring to cast doubt on the use of commonly accepted terms (symbols, information, etc.) and generally respond with somewhat trite single-liners: Information isn’t really information. Symbolic coding isn’t really a code — despite two sources I quoted which say otherwise, nor is it abstract (hey, *every* code is abstract because it is an abstraction of the information content which it merely carries).
      In short, its clear the discussion isn’t productive — we simply are not communicating.

      I’m also mindful of ignoring the instructions of the Apostle Peter in regard to apologetics:


      But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear

      (1 Peter 3:15)

      Peter wasn’t exhorting believers to engage in protracted argumentation with people who have their heart hardened against God and His Truth.
      Rather, he is instructing us, as believers, to be ready to give a reason for what we believe to those who ask. DD is clearly neither asking or interested.
      Thus, I’ll bow out and let others who read the exchange decide for themselves where the truth might be in regard to the topics discussed.

  19. Tony,

    Your exchange with DD shows why evidential apologetics doesn’t often work. It boils down to worldview issues and self-deception. The atheist mantra is 1.”God does not exist” and 2. “I hate Him!” Thus, we are dealing with someone who is rather like a mother who has been told little Johnny is a terror at school and will just not hear of it.

    I’ve enjoyed your comments and I’m sure others will too. My purpose in interacting with DD is to provide a test-case for presuppositionalism for my readers and students. DD is an intelligent person, but her animosity towards God controls her agenda and cuts out anything she doesn’t want to see. Hence, she is culpable before God for her unbelief.

  20. “If anything, they could be referred to as de-evolution because the organism is lead downward in genetic richness.

    I was thinking the same thing, Tony.

  21. The atheist mantra is 1.”God does not exist” and 2. “I hate Him!”

    Interesting. Why bother to hate something that doesn’t actually exist?

    You’re quite correct though in saying that I find the biblical god to be extremely distasteful, but my feelings towards that god are pretty much the same as my feelings towards Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights – both thoroughly unpleasant characters, as they’re respectively portrayed.

  22. What you mean by “new information” is actually damage to an existing information store which results in a loss of genetic richness and leads downward.

    Downward from what, exactly? Are you a kind of Platonic idealist who thinks that any deviation from a pure form is a degradation? Evolution doesn’t operate in this way. As I said before, it’s about differential survival rates of organisms in the context of their environment. Populations evolve, individuals don’t. Over time, the gene pools of populations demonstrate different gene frequencies. This is where your ‘new information’ is to be found.

    (And please don’t put words in my mouth about the second law when I’ve made no such mention.)

    I don’t recall saying that you’d mentioned the second law of thermodynamics. I merely opined that this particular hackneyed misunderstanding might have influenced your position.

    Yes, “differences” occur, but they aren’t productive differences — you just hope and believe so because of your mantra, “given enough time . . . even highly improbable occurrences become near certainties.”

    If differences result in increased rates of survival and reproduction for the organisms concerned, then they are productive differences in evolutionary terms. As for my ‘mantra’ – which is nothing of the kind – this only applies to things that we have observed as possibilities. Genetic change over time is something that happens in populations of organisms, so over vast amounts of time, vast amounts of change are indeed possible, even likely where the environment that influences survival and reproduction rates of organisms is also changing.

    But then, what would I know about any of this? I have absolutely no interest in biology or genetics or natural history, and I don’t really care about discovering how the world really works – I just have an abiding and all-encompassing hatred for a god who likes to play least-in-sight. What a ridiculous picture I must present to believers…

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