The Instigator
Envisage
Con (against)
Winning
40 Points
The Contender
v3nesl
Pro (for)
Losing
4 Points

Life is Intelligently Designed

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/11/2014 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,879 times Debate No: 58828
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (64)
Votes (10)

 

Envisage

Con

This debate challenge has been forwarded to v3nesl.

Leave a message if you need debate settings/parameters changed.

Intelligent Design is an umbrella term, as it encompasses several methods, or attempts to demonstrate the intelligent design of life. Pro needs to present one or more of these arguments to fulfill their BoP to demonstrate the notion of intelligent design.

The format is reversed, since the accepting party has the burden of proof, therefore:

10,000 Words, 72 hours.

Round 1: Rules, Opening Arguments
Round 2: Arguments/Rebuttals
Round 3: Rebuttals (Closing from Pro)
Round 4: Rebuttals & Closing from Con, Pro will type "No Round as agreed"

The format is to ensure the same number of argument/rebuttal rounds.

Good Luck!
v3nesl

Pro

I am arguing that life was designed by some intelligence. The difficulty in making this argument is that I don't know exactly what intelligence is. It is perhaps easier to start by saying what intelligence is not: It is not a purely physical thing. If our thinking were purely physical, we would be machines. We would be analogous to a computer, which, no matter how complicated the program, is only executing finite state logic of the sort "If A and/or B, then C". A machine can only be reactive - it can never change matter, except by deterministic reactions to deterministic stimuli. Action/reaction, deterministic cause/effect - that's the physical world. Intelligence is something else. Intelligence is *about* the physical, not just a reaction to it. And true intelligence can change the physical, for no physical reason. I can decide to type letters here, and they get typed - not because of what I ate for breakfast, but because I *want* to do it. And if we humans do not have intelligence, then we cannot have a true debate either, so a presumption of the existence of a metaphysical reality called 'intelligence' is a prerequisite of having this debate.

So, my position presumes a dichotomy, an ancient dichotomy that most of mankind has always recognized - the distinction between mind and matter. And I am here claiming that life, while formed of matter, must have been originally conceived by mind. The conception might be far removed from life - if one buys a factory made watch from Wal-Mart, the original designer may be quite unknown and his direct input impossible to trace, yet no one would argue that the watch is designed.

There are two reasons to suppose life has a designer: One, it bears features common to things known to be designed, and secondly, there are no demonstrable physical causes that could by themselves have produced life as an effect. Here are a few of the traits of designed things:

Purpose: Try to step back and imagine a lifeless earth and a lifeless universe. Now ask yourself: "Why should life exist?". Is there any tendency in the laws of nature towards life? Apparently not, since all else that we can observe through our telescopes is barren. No, the rock of Gibralter is surely as fit to survive as the human race is, maybe more so. There is an obvious physical reason why things fall to earth, but no physical reason for life to exist. So it is logical to guess that the purpose of life comes from the mind realm, not the physical. Somebody *wanted* there to be life on earth, and that's why there is life.

Un-natural forms: If you find a rock in the (American) woods in a certain shape, you will know right off that you have found an Indian arrowhead. Why? Because rocks do not form in that shape naturally. It is sort of begging the question to ask if life can be a natural form, but I would argue that it is not. I argue that it is not because no one has ever observed nature spontaneously forming life. At one time scientists thought it did, btw, but learned that microscopic eggs were getting into things, it wasn't abiogenesis at all. So this leads to the other side of my argument:

There is no demonstrable means by which life could have arisen naturally. Technically, you couldn't demonstrate a natural means, since demonstration requires intelligence, but I'd certainly accept pseudo-random demonstrations of the origin of life. But, of course, no such demonstrations exist, and not for lack of trying! No, the complexity of even the simplest single-celled lifeforms is beyond the scope of current technology to synthesize by ANY means, much less experiments intended to simulate the random activity of a sterile planet.

So, I think that lays out the basic case for design, so I'll leave it at that for an opening salvo.
Debate Round No. 1
Envisage

Con

I. Preface

My opponent' opening round has somewhat caught me off guard. Remember the purpose of the debate here, which is the question of whether or not life is intelligently designed. I feel that Pro has somewhat shot himself in the foot by immediately advocating for some metaphysical entity, as I will demonstrate.

II. Arguing for Intelligent Design

Virtually every Intelligent Design (ID) argument I have seen, and my opponent's opening round is no exception, argues that there is a dichotomy between naturalistic and personal (intelligent) causation.

This is a perfectly valid way of arguing, but it is virtually impossible for ID proponents to demonstrate the required premises in order to fulfil the conclusion that life is lost likely intelligently designed.

There are two explicit, but fundamentally two very different formulations of such, first there is a deductive route:

P1) Life is either arose purely naturally, or designed intelligently
P2) Not purely naturally
C) Life was designed intelligently

And then there is the inductive route:

P1) Life is either arose purely naturally, or designed intelligently
P2) Probably not purely naturally
C) Life was probably designed intelligently

Both are perfectly valid. The first formulation gives the answer with certainty, which means if both premises are true, then the conclusion (that life was designed intelligently) will necessarily follow. That's fine. Moreover I have absolutely no problem with the first premise, my main contest is going to be with the second premise, that like did not, or could not arise naturally.

In order for the first argument to work, Pro needs to demonstrate that life has precisely 0% intrinsic probability of occurring naturally in the absence of a probability of it occurring intelligently. The reason being is even if the intrinsic probability is extremely low (for it to arise naturally), the conclusion doesn't follow if the intrinsic probability for ID is even lower, or zero.

Therefore, in this debate, I intend to demonstrate that life indeed can occur naturally, and in fact is driven to occur naturally, and that the probability of such is much higher than the intrinsic probability of it occurring via. ID.

III. Intrinsic vs Epistemic Probability of ID

There is a clear distinction between the intrinsic and epistemological possibility of something occurring. An Epistemological possibility is essentially the saying "for all I know X might be possible", it is a position of ignorance which says nothing about the physical (I.e. Intrinsic) probability of something occurring, only that it's possibility has not been established either way.

In the case of ID, Pro is proposing a metaphysical being, which currently being beyond the purview and experience of evidence based science and reason, can be safely assigned a physical probability of zero. I will freely grant that such a being is epistemically possible, but Pro needs to actually provide positive reasons why we should accept it as a *physical* possibility. Note that physical possibility only means 'what's possible in our world'.

As such, according to the inductive arguments, we can formulate the inductive argument as follows:

P1) Life is either arose purely naturally, or designed intelligently
P2) Not intelligently
C) Life arose naturally

The reason being, that even with an exceptionally small natural probability, given that the ID probability is zero, then natural causation is literally the only possible solution. Not that the inductive version also works for this:

P1) Life is either arose purely naturally, or designed intelligently
P2) Probably not purely designed intelligently
C) Life probably arose naturally

Where P2 is the comparative *intrinsic* probabilities of life arising naturally vs the intrinsic probability of life arising intelligently.

If P(nat) > P(int), then I have satisfied P2 of the argument for naturalism. Given that the intrinsic probability of P(int) = 0, then this argument is valid. Pease do not forget the distinction between intrinsic and epistemic probability/possibility, it is very important in this argument.

IV. We should reject the physical possibility of an ID

Therefore, in addition to demonstrating a low p naturalistic probability, Pro also needs to demonstrate a non-zero intrinsic ID probability, or even possibility. I argue that this is something Pro will struggle to do. Therefore, no matter how hard he argues that the naturalistic explanation is unlikely, he will not get any closer to demonstrating that intelligence is any more likely. I notice he has attempted out make some way on dualism, but his conclusion has yet to follow.

First let's clear some reasons why an ID should not be considered as a physical possibility

1. Begs the question

If we argue that the designer was a natural one (which Pro doesn't advocate), then it begs the question of it's own origin. Given the state of life in the early Earth, which contained much simpler life, we can rule out that the designer was physical, especially considering the finite age of the universe

2. A non physical designer is of questionable epistemological possibility

We absolutely no compelling evidence of such an entity existing in physical reality, and I implore Pro to provide it if it exists. Moreover postulating such a being violates Occums razor, as it makes a multitude of assumptions about non-physical intelligence that intervenes in the universe. Such a being needs to first be demonstrated to be possible, lest I make comparable claims that 'naturalistic miracles' brought forth life. Pro needs to demonstrate why such an entity provides good explanatory power with a low number of assumptions for it to be considered a physical possibility. Or he needs to demonstrate such a being is metaphysically necessary, and gets around problems such as the interaction problem etc.[3]

V(i). Life is driven to arise naturally

With the intrinsic possibility of ID negated, I will lay down the case for naturalistic causation. First let me list some Pro's for naturalistic causation:

1. Naturalistic causes actually exist

We clearly know the natural world exists, and that chemistry, geology, physics etc are a plethora of potential mechanisms for the origin of life under naturalism. Ergo a naturalistic cause is prima facie plausible, and at worst should be granted a minimal intrinsic possibility, since we know it exists (unlike ID).

2. Naturalism need not propose additional entities to explain the evidence.

3. Life is thermodynamically driven

Life is driven by a very important force in Earth, the second law of thermodynamics. That is, life as it is is converting high energy dense molecules and energy sources (UV light) into lower energy molecules with a release of heat and hence increase in overall entropy.

In a system that is not at equilibrium, then the system will be under 'thermodynamic stress' and exert a tendency to push towards equilibrium. This is very much akin to a river dam with a crack in it, the water in the reservoir is not in thermodynamic equilibrium, with the water behind the dam at a higher energy than the water after the dam. Any crack, or opening in the dam will be quickly exploited and exaggerated at the water rushes to achieve equilibrium (the levels will equalise).

Similarly, life catalyses many processes which work to 'relieve' this thermodynamic 'stress', and allows the system to much more easily flow down to equilibrium. Life is much like that crack in the dam, and receives a large 'usable energy' incentive when it does perform it's catalysis.

V(ii) Life is autocatalytic

To draw a very simplistic model of life, we have the following schematic of live & replication.

[Food] + [Other stuff] + [Cell] ---> [Cell] + [Cell] + released heat (increase in entropy) + waste (increase in entropy)

Where you can see that the 'food' & 'other stuff' are converted into additional copies of itself, with a release of heat and waste, which provides the thermodynamic drive. Such a system is a *very good* catalyst for these processes, and moreover such a system is capable of adapting since the extra copies of cells that are produced are not identical to the original. This is important for evolutionary purposes (next round).

This system is very closely related to an autocatalytic system, which is a special type of catalytic reaction in chemistry where the catalyst reproduces, shown below:

[A] + [B] + [Catalyst] ---> [Catalyst] + [Catalyst] + released heat (increase in entropy)

These types of reactions are well-known in chemistry, and are special since that the reaction proceeds faster & faster as the concentration of catalyst increases.[1]

A catalyst is a chemical agent which increases the rate of reaction, as well as reduces the 'activation barriers' for these conditions to occur at lower temperatures. Taking my dam analogy, a catalyst effectively provides those 'cracks' in the dam wall where the water can leak through, since it's too difficult for water to 'jump over' the dam, it is much easier to go through a hole instead. This is the reason why siphons work, and why water does not jump out of your teacup onto the table. The water WANTS to hit the table, but the walls of the cup prevent it.

The message is, life is very much akin to known chemistry, and is a special case of an autocatalytic system which does not produce itself perfectly. This is all that is needed to seed life.[2]

VI. Summary:

So we have:
1. A naturalistic 'drive' for the formation of life
2. A naturalistic 'process' for the formation of life
3. Which demonstrates that a naturalistic OOL is physically possible, and very plausible.

Moreover I have highlighted that Pro has yet to demonstrate an ID is even physically possible, and therefore should be immediately rejected on those grounds

VII. References
1. http://tinyurl.com...
2. http://tinyurl.com...
3. http://tinyurl.com...
v3nesl

Pro

Con says I caught him off guard with my opening argument. I, in turn, was surprised by how much time he spent telling me how I should argue. Seems to me Con's job is simple: Show me where life has been observed to arise naturally, or else devise an experiment that shows how it might have happened. Let me jump down to Con's closing sentence: "...Pro has yet to demonstrate ID is even physically possible, and therefore should be immediately rejected on those grounds". Well, lol, has it been demonstrated that the alternative is physically possible? So shall we just reject the debate right now since neither option can be demonstrated? And ironically, we are far closer to demonstrating ID than spontaneous generation. We have a rapidly developing field of genetic engineering that may well synthesize a cell from scratch at some point, thus demonstrating the feasibility of intelligent design. A demonstration of abiogenesis or Darwinian evolution is no closer today than it was 150 years ago.

Let's get back to the surprise about "metaphysical", Con even claiming I have shot my in the foot. First, any good sophist must define his terms, so that's where I started. I perhaps didn't show that my definition is in fact necessary: If intelligence is not metaphysical (i.e. 'after, beside, or beyond physical') then arguing for Intelligent Design is in fact arguing for a physical origin of life. It would be a different theory from Darwin's, but still a theory of a natural origin for life.

To invert the equation, to argue for intelligent design is to argue for genuine intelligence in humans, while arguing for an evolved brain is to argue for the mere illusion of intelligence. If Darwin is right, we only have debates like this because it somehow promotes the reproduction or survival of our species. And the paradox that always escapes the naturalist: Darwin can only be right or wrong if man in fact has a metaphysical intelligence, otherwise our opinions about Darwin are the product of mutations that are either being selected or eliminated from the species. Darwin can only be right or wrong if Darwin is wrong.

Next issue: We should immediate eliminate the word probability from this debate. Probability can only be done on data sets, and there is one and only one ecosystem in play here. What people often mean when they talk about the likelihood of this or that is actually a description of how we narrow down the options presented by our subconscious. We weight them, and often call that scoring "likely" or "unlikely". But let's be clear: When we talk like that we're talking about intuition, not any sort of science or field of mathematics.

Ok. Con says "We clearly know the natural world exists... potential mechanisms [exist]" So yes, a naturalistic cause is prima facie plausible, and I don't reject the possibility out of hand. But then Con makes a grave blunder: he says of naturalism "we know it exists (unlike ID)." So Con leaps from rightly claiming that a naturalistic cause should be given a hearing because nature exists to saying "it exists", "It" being the natural mechanisms that could create life. In fact, we don't know "it" exists, that's begging the question. It has NOT been shown that natural mechanisms can create or differentiate life. And conversely, we most certainly DO know ID exists - where would we get the concept of 'Intelligent Design' if we didn't know of intelligence and design?? So in fact we're on more or less equal footing here: We are extrapolating from observed causes to a possible historical cause. I would claim, as above, that ID is in fact demonstrated in a way that spontaneous generation has not been. Spontaneous generation and evolution remain the wildest of speculation, in fact.

As to "thermodynamically driven" - that's clever, to try to turn the 2nd law argument on its head, but I frankly don't see what it has to do with proposing a naturalistic origin of life. The ID argument is not that life violates any laws of nature, just that the laws of nature are insufficient to explain it's origin. A ball rolls down a hill by simple obedience to gravity. We're debating how the ball got on the top of the hill in the first place - hurricane, glacier, or did somebody carry it up there.

I would point out, though: Con makes the analogy to multiplicative chain reactions, and the problem is that such reactions typically run out of fuel quickly. Think of TNT, for instance. So, as in all of life, it takes extreme sophistication - a system! - to keep the exponential growth aspect of living things in balance. Species must not only reproduce, but feed themselves, and many feed on other living organisms.

I love statements like this "This is all that is needed to seed life". Well, if it's simple as all that, then demonstrate it already! But of course it's as far from simple as anything could be. I often say - the best inoculation against Darwin is to learn all you can about life. Life is such an elegantly designed system that it can seem simple and inevitable, but is anything but.

So, here's how I see the score:
1) We have the speculation that some unknown natural causes might have produced life. Some experiments have suggested some building blocks, but no one has come within a thousand light years of producing anything like observable life.
2) Intelligent Design is a well known phenomenon, which has taken man to the moon. We have not yet created anything with the complexity and sophistication of life, but it requires far less imagination to suppose a superior intelligence might have made life. Life looks like the kind of thing that is designed, not like the kind of thing that happens when you shake a bag of rocks.

Those who want some kind of certainty here are out of luck, and will likely fall into all sorts of bad thinking if they pretend they can get it.
Debate Round No. 2
Envisage

Con

Preface

I hardly think Pro has actually addressed any of my points in his previous rounds. Also I am not sure if Pro's immaterial intelligence claim is even topical. I will address it, but he just hasn't been linked to the ID of life.

II. Rebuttal to ID

It is not sufficient for Pro to merely to attack natural causation for life. The positive case for intelligence needs to actually be presented. I have seen precious few arguments from Pro in the way of positively affirming that an ID is a physical possibility.

Pro argues for intelligence and matter being fundamentally different, for which I presented the interaction problem. I present a more formal refutation below:

P1. If mind and matter are not one in the same, then mind interacts with matter
P2. If mind and matter are not one in the same, then mind does not interact with matter
C. 1 & 2 form a contradiction, therefore mind & matter are one in the same.

Pro has already affirmed P1 for me in his opening round. In defence of P2, in order for two different substances to interact need to share properties, like a magnet and piece of iron share a disturbance in the electromagnetic field. However, if they share properties, then they are no longer different substances, mind and matter are essentially one in the same. Similarly the magnet and piece of iron are the same type of 'stuff', material stuff. To propose that immaterial intelligence is like asserting a ghost with no physical properties can move a car, to which I must ask, how? Magic?[3]

Pro says that assuming natural process also assumes an illusion of intelligence. But has provided zero reasons to accept this. I can just assert that intelligence is emergent, and is quantitative, not qualitative. The evidence will be on my side given we have quantitatively less intelligent species, such as chimpanzees, cats, mice and bacteria. [1]

Pro asserts that intelligence very conceivably is capable of producing life. I do not deny this at all. But we are talking about non-organic intelligence, which we simply do not have any evidence for it's existence. So we have an unknown 'intelligence', which arguably provides minimal explanatory power, with a very large number of assumptions. It's a bad hypothesis.

Pro concedes he cannot do much in the way of determining probability. This is fine, but remember the BoP is on him in his debate, and provisions should be granted because his job is hard. Also, I made arguments that the physical 'possibility' of ID should be rejected altogether, due to it violating Occums Razor and being a positive assertion. We simply do not have a metaphysical intelligence as a possibility to present, the possibility first needs to be demonstrated, and THEN it needs to be shown likely.

This should address Pro's assertion:
"So in fact we're on more or less equal footing here"

We're definitely NOT on equal footing here. Natural causation is known to actually exist, chemistry exists, thermodynamics exists, the physical universe exists. Metaphysical intelligent causation outside the human species is NOT known to actually exist. There is absolutely no reason to make additional appeals to the unknown.

III. Arguments against ID/IA

ID provides no explanatory power on how life would look like, and doesn't even explain WHEN the 'intelligent intervention' occurred/occurs. However there are two formal arguments against ID:

P1) If life was ID, then the IA would have left other designed systems
P2) There are no other designed systems
C) Life was not ID

To defend P1, if there was a working IA, then we would expect non-reproducing side-productions, such as we see with humans, with the cars, electronics etc in abundance. Such systems would be significant and easy to identify. Yet none exist on Earth.

P1) If life was ID, then life would possess telos
P2) Life does not possess intelligent telos
C) Life is not ID

In defence of P1, cars computers etc. clearly possess telos (an 'end'), the system as a whole has purpose for a higher intelligence. Yet the only thing life does is reproduce, metabolise, and die. It's been billions of years since life first emerged, therefore any purpose that was originally in place would have just as long to arise, which is absurd given a physical IA.

IV. Naturalistic Case for OOL

Evolution:
First consider all life, as well as the simplest of cells. We know of one source of life, which is via. replication of existing life. Indeed all life today is distantly descended from their original forms, regardless of which view one takes on the matters. We also know that species both come in, and out of existence, via speciation and extinction. Moreover we know large variations occur across species, such as in dogs, which are naturally biased in natural selection.

Therefore, the message is that I can assert with absolutely no confidence that the life that exists today is ANYTHING like the life at the origin of life (OOL), and it appears anyone who does is rather foolish. Moreover, our earliest examples of life appear to be very, very simple in their morphology, and complex life as we know it today only arose after 600 million years. Therefore the origin of life I propose will be of comparably very, very simple chemical origins.[4]

Everything at this point has naturalistic drives, which are known and tangible with today's methods and supported by evidence, unlike those of 'intelligent' origins.

Abiogenesis:
A natural source of life is most certainly very simple, far simpler than a halobacteria, and existing evidence seems to support this. What's needed is a system that self-replicates in a way which allows for such in a autocatalytic manner, with the additional feature exhibiting tolerance to modification every cycle. Which is the equivalent to mutations.

I argued in my opening that an autocatalytic system would likely accomplish this. Essentially any system that templates itself would fulfil both the role of catalyst, and as a template. That means we just need something akin to DNA, or RNA, which replicates in a self-sustained manner. Indeed one of the mainstream OOL fields is the RNA World hypothesis, which from RNA originates, lead to the increased sophistication that life is today.

Autocatalytic chemical reactions as discussed are a special type of catalytic chemical reaction. The products of the reaction are identical to the catalyst itself (see diagrams linked). Because the catalyst gets generated in higher and higher concentrations, the system becomes self-sustaining and increasingly more rapid, a runaway reaction.

Ordinary catalytic system:
http://tinyurl.com...

Autocatalytic system:
http://tinyurl.com...

Such reactions are greatly favoured by thermodynamics, especially on a planet with lots of high-energy 'stuff', like carbon monoxide, hydrogen, methane, sulfides etc, which are essentially gas & liquid clouds of TNT that want to explode. Once any sustaining chemical system that allows for these chemicals to reach 'lower' energies is found, then the system becomes driven. To achieve a sustaining system, a system that adapts is required, and thus exhibits plasticity to changing conditions, or to variable 'food sources'. An autocatalytic system that becomes adaptable, is essentially the jackpot when it comes to life!

III. Counter-Rebuttals on Natural Case
Pro's again attacks on 'spontaneous generation'. I have already affirmed has nothing to do with what I presented. Abiogenesis is a completely different hypothesis to spontaneous generation, and attacking it is a strawman.[2]

"Seems to me Con's job is simple: Show me where life has been observed to arise naturally..."

As I said, it's not something I claimed would be observable. Lab conditions can only replicate small portions of the early Earth for only a slither of the timescales, and are difficult to simulate. I made the case that it is accessible with known chemistry and it need only occur once, in the whole history of ALL planets, to be a strong possibility.

It would be absurd to expect such would occur today, as any 'new life' that originated today would be rapidly out-competed by existing life. Also, the chemicals that would have filled the Earth in abundance are now at low concentrations since they are rapidly metabolised by existing life. Other chemicals which would likely have destroyed early life, such as O2, are now present in abundance.

Pro makes a point on multiplicative chemical reactions running out of fuel quickly, which is very true, especially in autocatalytic systems, the input of reagents is limited. However on a sterile Earth, not only are these chemicals present in absolute abundance, but there would be continuous replenishing sources of these such as from hydrothermal vents, or from atmospheric generation etc. to name a few.

What this provides though is a pressure, where more efficient, faster replicating and more durable examples of primitive life will outcompete and survive over weaker ones (due to the limited 'food sources'), hence sparking an 'arms race' leading to evolution of increasingly sophisticated versions of life. Life that is adapted for a larger range of 'food sources', for mobility, and for tolerating other environments' conditions will quickly reap large benefits from the relief of those respective 'thermodynamic stresses', similarly to how life does today.

IV. Conclusion

I demonstrated both the drives, and the mechanisms by which life can and will arise via. natural processes. Moreover it utilises physical mechanisms that are already familiar, and hence very plausible to occur eventually on a planet whose conditions permit them to, such as the Earth, and without the need of intelligence.

Pro has not identified that there is a single reasonably, physically possible demonstrated ID candidate, and a hypothetical ID candidate has failed reasonable inferences, such as the presence of advanced artefacts, or ultimate telos.

V. References
1. http://tinyurl.com...
2. http://tinyurl.com...
3. http://tinyurl.com...
4. http://tinyurl.com...
v3nesl

Pro

Well, well, who'd a thunk it, that this would be end up being a philosophical argument. Con is being drug kicking and screaming into recognizing his own intelligence. Hopefully he'll thank me eventually.

So Con again says "I'm not sure if Pro's immaterial intelligence claim is even topical". Really? How can I argue for intelligent design if I'm not allowed to assert the existence of genuine intelligence? If intelligence is an emergent property of the brain, then obviously it didn't create the brain. So look, if Con wishes to actually debate my position, he has to be willing to at least understand my position, he has to be willing to let his intelligence explore my world.

And the "formal refutation" is just a tad bizarre. First, do you mean "one *and* the same" - ? I'll assume so. So, Con lists two statements that he claims are mutually exclusive, then simply picks the one of the two he prefers. And then he proceeds to give an example of how two things that are not the same CAN interact - magnetic field and iron. Con assumes magnetism is material, but if you really think it through, he only does so because it interacts with matter, and in a predictable way. So his P1/P2/C dichotomy is in fact given a priori, coming either from a long series of random mutations, or from the intuition of his own genuine intelligence.

So I get that becoming aware of one's one awareness can be a bit of an LSD trip for someone who has been indoctrinated in a post-modern mindset, but you can't just run away from new ideas because they upset you. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy". I don't know that I have the space or skill to lay out a good defense of a metaphysical intelligence here, so I'd just recommend "Miracles" by C.S. Lewis. Don't let the title throw you off - the beginning of the book is a brilliant introduction to thinking-about-thought and does not directly address the issue of miracles.

So, let me just state what we must take from my philosophy in order to have this debate. It is not necessary to think of intelligence as completely immaterial, but it is necessary to admit something that is not limited by the laws of nature. There must be something that is not the strict effect of physical causes and nothing else. Such a thing is untamed, and therefore a bit frightening to us.

Con says "we are talking about non-organic intelligence, which we simply do not have any evidence for its existence". But if intelligence is essentially immaterial and the physical is only its medium, like music being carried by mp3 bits, then we have abundant evidence for its existence. Con needs to see how circular his reasoning is, how he is mistaking his default conceptions for fact. The truth about intelligence can only be learned by an intelligence that is willing to examine itself in the mirror. Intelligence cannot be explored by first ruling out the use of intelligence.

Then, sigh, Con simply doubles down on what I called his 'grave error'. Didn't impress him much, I see. He once again claims "Natural causation is known to exist". Sure, lots of things are known to exist, but the question here is what is known to be able to cause life. And 'Natural causation for life' is most certainly NOT known to exist. That's just begging the question.

But again, the fact that so many brilliant minds have been unable to produce any evidence of how natural causes produce life is the best scientific evidence we have that natural causes cannot produce life. Remember - we're talking about a purposeless planet producing life, so a natural cause for life would be more a matter of discovery than scientific skill. So that fact that no such causes have been found is, as I say, the best scientific evidence we have that a natural origin for life is not possible. Someone may discover something tomorrow, but as of today, there is zero scientific evidence that raw vibrations of our cosmos can produce an ecosystem.

And a version of Con's pseudo logic: If natural causes produced life, they should do it again, if we could identify the right conditions. We should be able to reassemble the conditions, get behind the glass observation panel, and say "See, thar she blows!" Some people think they've made a brick this way, but nobody has figured out how to assemble them into the pyramids without having somebody to carry the bricks.

And I say "pseudo-logic", because "If life was ID, then IA would have left other designed systems". First of all, the ecosystem is in fact comprised of an uncountable number of different designs. Again, Con is not recognizing that he's starting from his assumption that everything in the ecosystem are distant cousins to all other life. But before that, speculating about the intentions of an unknown designer is of little value. We humans can get great pleasure from the existence of ourselves and the rest of the ecosystem, it's quite natural to expect the designer does the same. So any one potential purpose answers Con's objection, there's no need for me to know exactly what God is/was up to.

Ok, down to the paragraph "Evolution". I definitely do NOT agree that I "know that species ... come in ... [to] existence". The primary scientific aspect of the ID/evolution debate is that IDers distinguish genetics from mutation. We would define genetics as selection from existing information, while evolution proper is the self-creation of new information. So the many variations of dogs are presumably all latent in the original dog DNA, by ID thinking. It is the self-creation of new species and new features that I consider to be black magic and unscientific.

And here we go again: "Everything at this point has naturalistic drives, which are known and tangible with today's methods and supported by evidence, unlike those of 'intelligent' origins". This is just so badly wrong, on two counts: Number one, THERE IS NO KNOWN WAY THAT LIFE COULD HAVE ARISEN BY NATURAL CAUSES. I think Con simply doesn't want to face this reality. A purely natural origin of life is pure speculation. Pure speculation. Secondly, intelligence is in fact very much in evidence and it is every bit as reasonable as Darwin to suppose intelligence could have produced life.

Abiogenesis: "A natural source of life is most certainly very simple". How do you know this? Is Con really this unaware of the fact that he's just stating what he hopes is true as fact? "Existing evidence seems to support this". No. It doesn't. Look, we have to be honest if we're going to have a debate here. Again, there is no way known that natural causes could have produced life. You've got to stop medicating yourself with this nonsense about evidence because there isn't any. It's pure speculation. You are certainly welcome to speculate about autocatalytic systems, but until you've shown that any such system can provide life you're just shooting the breeze over a beer. Speculate away, experiment away. I wholeheartedly endorse both. But don't call speculation science until you've got experimental verification.

And, I knew as soon as I typed it that Con would object to "spontaneous". Spontaneous means "without outside cause". That is what you are proposing, no, that life arose without outside intervention?

Con then goes on to tell me it's absurd to expect scientific verification of the origin of life. Fine, then it's absurd to call your ideas science. If Con can be honest that a natural origin of life is pure speculation, a.k.a. "wild guess", then perhaps we could get to having a real debate about the origin of life.

Con makes a concluding claim: "I demonstrated both the drives, and the mechanisms by which life can and will arise via natural processes". Con has done no such thing, In fact, as I say, he just got done explaining why it's impossible to demonstrate. So I'd call this a lie, but I don't think Con intends to lie. Perhaps it's a start to realize that pop science is lying to us, though, and none of us really has a choice but to try and think this stuff through ourselves. Many find themselves caught between a religion that seems out of date and a science culture that is lying to us. It's a tough place to find one's self, but my instincts tell me the pursuit of truth is the right path. (And I'm not, btw, saying that Christianity IS out of date, but I very much understand the thought that it is, that science has flat out disproved it. But that's for another debate :-)
Debate Round No. 3
Envisage

Con

Thanks Pro.

I. Preface

I will like to begin with the pleasantries, indeed thanks to Pro for his participation in this debate. My thoughts are that if he wanted a full out debate on what constitutes intelligence, and whether or not naturalism can account for intelligence then I am glad to take it, but this debate is about life and whether or not it is intelligently designed.

Anyway, this concludes my second in this series of ID debates, and I welcome future ID proponents to ask me for one. In any case, best of luck to Pro in the voting!

II. Immaterial Intelligence:

My original argument against intelligence and matter being separate entities has gone largely unaddressed by Pro. The argument is logically valid so he actually needed to contest the premises to avoid the conclusion, which debunks his entire notion of intelligence causing physical stuff to form.

Note that this doesn't debunk the notion of ID altogether, but it does debunk the assertion that our own intelligence mandates a special explanation. Remember, I never at all denied that we (humans) are intelligent, I only contested the means by which we are intelligent. Pro has provided zero reasons for accepting his assertions that naturalism cannot account for intelligence and I have provided several reasons that to assume they are different substances is completely false.

Recall my argument:

P1. If mind and matter are not one in the same, then mind interacts with matter
P2. If mind and matter are not one in the same, then mind does not interact with matter
C. 1 & 2 form a contradiction, therefore mind & matter are one in the same.

My support for P2 was actually for the stronger premise:

P2*. If mind and matter are not one in the same, then mind CANNOT interact with matter

The interaction problem is a well known problem in philosophy that demonstrates that by assuming dualism leads to insurmountable problems with interaction. The mind MUST interact with matter, yet mind CANNOT interact with matter, since it has no ability to. There needs to be some sort of 'medium', or transmitting entity, which given the laws of physics will require shared properties, which have been ruled out by definition in dualism.

At no point must I deny that mind, and thus intelligence exists in naturalism, I only contest the causation/nature of mind. Which Pro has yet to provide a shred of evidence for.

"It is not necessary to think of intelligence as completely immaterial, but it is necessary to admit something that is not limited by the laws of nature."

In which case why make the extra assumptions if you now assert they do share properties? And asserting it's not limited to the laws of nature is the equivalent to advocating for magic, and if that is the case then I have absolutely no idea how Pro can even pretend to think he can make claims about the intelligence's nature, and what it has done in the natural world.

An appeal to something that cannot possibly be understood is a self-defeating proposition.

"Con says "we are talking about non-organic intelligence, which we simply do not have any evidence for its existence". But if intelligence is essentially immaterial and the physical is only its medium, like music being carried by mp3 bits, then we have abundant evidence for its existence. "

1. Pro has yet to even begin to demonstrate that intelligence is immaterial
2. Runs head-first into the interaction problem
3. This is not evidence, this is speculation

III. Case for ID:

Pro has largely missed the point on my refuting arguments against ID and IA, the arguments from telos and from lack of collateral evidence (non reproducing intelligent remnants, such as cars, phones, etc.). To attack my assertion of there being a lack of other intelligent remnants Pro asserts:

"First of all, the ecosystem is in fact comprised of an uncountable number of different designs. "

Two issues here, first I grouped life as a single example, as they are roughly the same type of thing, reproducing organisms based on DNA/RNA. I was attacking the lack of non-reproducing examples, which would not leave open the possibility of evolution, since many ID theorists only assert that the original life was ID, and then life today evolved from that.

Of we are to follow Pro's reasoning, just WHERE and WHEN did ID occur if every living organism was ID??

"Speculating about the intentions of an unknown designer is of little value."

Excellent, if that is the case then I don't see how Pro can begin to assert that life was ID if he cannot speak for how it would be ID, which would require an understanding of it's thought process. He basically forfeits any right to say what an IA would do, and subsequently, what an IA has done.

Furthermore, this is special pleading, since he has applied known stuff about human intelligence to an IA, yet does not equally apply this standard to other things if we follows his line if reasoning.

Pro has also completely ignored my argument from telos.

Existence of an IA:

"A purely natural origin of life is pure speculation. Pure speculation. Secondly, intelligence is in fact very much in evidence and it is every bit as reasonable as Darwin to suppose intelligence could have produced life."

It is beyond my means to present all the evidence in favor of such, as there are many hypothesis', and all with evidence to affirm their case. But I would like to call attention of Pro's equivocation of 'intelligence' with 'intelligent agent/designer'.

We simply do not have evidence of the existence of an IA (which Pro now resorts to calling on God), and hence the physical possibility of such doing ID. Equivocating human 'intelligence' with the metaphysical 'intelligence' needed for OOL is just patently absurd. The existence of one example does not support the existence of the other.

IV. Case for Naturalism

Note that I never advocated for a specific type of natural process that would generate life, as there are many such pathways, such a lipid world hypothesis, RNA world, metabolism first, etc. all are active areas of research, with their own states of progress. It could also be that all the specific hypothesis' for the OOL under investigation are wrong, but that would not rule out naturalistic causation. A large range of chemical processes can fit the bill of what I presented in this debate so far.

An adaptive autocatalytic system is all that is needed, such as one that does not copy itself perfectly, and very, conceivably within reach of known natural processes. Note that what Pro attacks my position saying 'life has not been produced naturally', he is actually referring to life as it exists today, such as the modern halobacteria. But I have already argued that abiogenesis does not address the formation of these organisms, as they are far more sophisticated that what abiogenesis would yield. Abiogenesis only yields a system which is capable of leading to such a system's formation via. evolution. That is all that is needed.

Pro constantly attacks my inability to present a case of life 'emerging', but as you have see so far in this debate, life 'emerging' is not a 'bang, it's done' type of thing, but instead is more of a continuous process which takes a long period of time, and has numerous variables influencing the rate and versatility of such. It is not something that would even take place in one set of conditions, it may require multiple different environments and a long time to produce a tangible system.

The difficulty of replicating this are obvious, since the early Earth's conditions are up for debate, and the Earth is not a uniform planet, there are many different environments on Earth, ranging from hydrothermal vents, to the polar ice caps, to the Sahara desert. All have unique chemistry as a result. A very large set of plausible conditions for life to originate from.

Pro dismisses my presentation as evolution as an explanation for the diversification of life, but offers no reasons why we should reject it. Remember the BoP is on him and I have presented a very plausible, and physically possible route by which life could occur today. Also remember he has yet to demonstrate the physical possibility of an IA, so this point remains valid.

"You've got to stop medicating yourself with this nonsense about evidence because there isn't any. It's pure speculation."

I would like to refer you to several excellent reviews on the field of abiogenesis. [1,2] This statement is flat out false.

"You are certainly welcome to speculate about autocatalytic systems... but don't call speculation science until you've got experimental verification."

Autocatalytic systems are very much well known in chemistry, and many OOL studies (with results) have been based on this principle. Speculation (forming tangible hypothesis'/theories is very much science).

Given that I have presented a case which has gone barely addressed by Pro, we can conclude that it is a strong possibility, that is both driven to occur (via. thermodynamic stress), and has a large scale of opportunities to occur (the whole history of earth, and all planets in the universe).

V. Conclusion:

Let us not forget the purpose of by his debate. Pro has spent a long time attacking and asserting that naturalistic causes cannot account for the OOL and the diversification of life. But remember, this debate is about ID, and is demonstrated that it simply isn't enough to attack naturalistic causation, because if it is physically possible, then it becomes a certainty given enough trials.

Personally I think I have done enough to affirm the naturalistic case in earnest, but it is unnecessary to win this debate. Pro has not done enough to independently affirm the existence of an IA, and therefore the physical possibility of ID.

This debate has little to do with religion, and I can affirm there are many theists who accept both abiogenesis and evolution, it is just non topical, so to theists and atheists alike, vote Con!

VI. References:
1. http://tinyurl.com...
2. http://tinyurl.com...
v3nesl

Pro

Ok, I think this debate has devolved into a classic case of talking past each other. Let me jump down to a quote near the very end: "Pro has spent a long time attacking and asserting that naturalistic causes cannot account for the OOL". But I haven't. I've spent a lot of time pointing out that a naturalistic cause is pure speculation, and I've only spent a lot of time on it because Con doesn't seem to be getting the point. I feel that I'm still trying to get to the starting line: Con doesn't want to agree to a useable definition of intelligence, and wants to pretend he's arguing from a scientific vantage, when in fact there isn't any science involved. The tools of science, perhaps, but no science. No one living was an eyewitness to what we're debating, and we'll get nowhere if one side affects a certainty that doesn't exist. Seems to me that Con is being the dogmatic one here, pretending he knows stuff that no one could possibly know.

Let me go ahead and address Con's next point while I'm here: It is NOT necessary to observe or even speculate about the designer in order to recognize design. I have absolutely no idea who carved the faces on Mt. Rushmore, or how they did it, but I'm quite certain it's ID.

Let me quote a sentence from Con's reference #1: "It should be possible to recreate life, but it will not be easy". Note the future tense. As I have been saying, it has not been recreated at this point in history. But the very next sentence just shouts the incredible tunnel vision of Con's sources: "It should only require clutches of chemists... designing amino acid and nucleic acid sequences to synthesize and assemble...". Really? Did Con not notice the word "design" In there? The author, and Con, somehow manage to miss the fact that they are talking about verifying the concept of intelligent design!!!! Clutches of scientists deliberately assembling molecules is not modeling the effects of random noise, it is modeling intellligent design.

Let me just quote the Abstract of Con's reference #2: "Three popular hypotheses attempt to explain the origin or prebiotic molecules... It is not possible to decide which is correct". Well, folks, if it's not possible to decide which is correct, it's not possible to know if ANY of them are correct.

So, I'm just going to summarize: As I see it, there is a profound tunnel vision on the part of the sources Con is listening to. They have, a priori, decided certain options are acceptable and others are not. This is the antithesis of honest inquiry. They have flattered themselves with a notion of their own mental superiority, a notion which ironically is not consistent with their acceptable hypotheses of origin. It's just a mess, a tangled web of illogic that's difficult to even begin to negotiate with, as this debate, in its own small way, has illustrated. Wild guesses, dressed up as science, refusing to even listen to philosophy. Yet every scientist must be a philosopher first of all, as he must assume he can actually think.

So, if I seem to have dodged anything, my defense is that I was trying to get to the starting line, where two broad hypotheses of origin would get a fair hearing. If we are to consider intelligent design, then we must admit the possibility of intelligence that is physically causitive, otherwise it's mere words masquerading as meaning. And if we are to compare the evidence for each possibility, we must be honest about the evidence - what it is, and equally important, what it is not. We cannot mistake the arrogant certainty of an inbred science community for the scientific method.

So, I rest my case. It's been real.
Debate Round No. 4
64 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Adam_Godzilla 2 years ago
Adam_Godzilla
I withdraw my comment. Do forgive me, I was drunk at the time. Forget I was even here! Carry on with your lives because it seems i myself am involved in a creation debate. So do forgive the hypocrisy and have a great day!
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
Lol ArcTimes
Posted by ArcTImes 2 years ago
ArcTImes
The facepalms.
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
"If its not bias then what?"

Maybe he just lost.

And there are many God debates which are won by theists, a very large fraction. I don't know about ID because I am one of the only people who debates against ID proponents and I am quite familiar with them.
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
@Adam

This isn't strictly a God debate. Also if you were interested in something else then you might be interested in my debate vs Zarroette: www.debate.org/debates/It-is-better-to-have-never-been/1/

And I am guessing it's about as likely to win as any other conspiracy theory....
Posted by Adam_Godzilla 2 years ago
Adam_Godzilla
And yet another debate where someone loses defending the point that life was intelligently designed. If its not bias then what? Name me one debate where anyone has won the postion that god exists or that life is intelligently designed. If a bunch 'cons' keep wimning such debates then such debtes eventualy become dull and old quickly. I am not saying that this debate was not well done or well debated but it is hardly a unique or new topic. Yet for some reason these sort of debates almost always gain popularity and im wondering what it is that make this debate seem more interesting than debates like is killing immoral, do animals deserve rights or even something as cliche and difficult to answer as this debate topic like the meaning or purpose of life. Maybe even debate the meaning and purpose of death when it is possible to be almost immortal. I just dont understand why god debates consistently dominate the front page every week.
Posted by v3nesl 2 years ago
v3nesl
Love this from Con: " Intelligence is such an asinine generalisation ". You really don't get that if you bash intelligence, you are basing your own intelligence? Takes a certain amount of intelligence to see that, I guess. Takes a lot of intelligence to deduce one's origins, and I guarantee you don't see the implications of that!
Posted by johnlubba 2 years ago
johnlubba
@Enji A spell checker will not pick up mistakes where you mean to spell one word but spell another,

Why not try actually reading through the debate to affirm my position before you throw around accusations about any mis-conduct on my behalf.

I could very well point out the mistakes but as Envisage actually agrees and is also man enough to agree, I won't bother.

And for the record Envisage, My spelling and grammar is absolutley appalling.
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
Envisage
@Enji

Lol, it's okay, my S&G isn't that great anyway, especially since my laptop broke and I'm stuck using my iPad...
10 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Siladheil 2 years ago
Siladheil
Envisagev3neslTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro broke the rules so better conduct goes to Con. No sources from Pro also leads to more reliable sources to Con. Due to the lack of sources from Pro, Con as able to validate his claims efficiently. Pro didn't fulfill his BoP.
Vote Placed by Codedlogic 2 years ago
Codedlogic
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro completely failed to advance an argument for ID and refused to assume any burden of proof. When Con pointed this out, Pro accused con of being "indoctrinated." Con stated in the opening round that Pro would have the BoP. Pro didn't just lose this debate . . . they failed to even attempt to make a case.
Vote Placed by ArcTImes 2 years ago
ArcTImes
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro was not able to meet his BoP and didn't use any source or evidence to back up his claims, his amazing claims.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 2 years ago
johnlubba
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Reasons for voting decision: I didn't read through the whole debate, but to affirm, Envisage your spelling and grammar is absolutely awful and many mistakes were made which put me of reading further.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 2 years ago
9spaceking
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Reasons for voting decision: pro made lots of good arguments, but they didn't necessarily apply to the positive part of the resolution
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 2 years ago
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
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Reasons for voting decision: Firstly, conduct points go to Con as Pro violated the rules of the debate in the last round. Moving onto arguments, Pro failed in providing any evidence for intelligent deign or an intelligent designer that was claimed. As such Pros arguments failed even before Con poked multiple holes into them. Regarding source points, these have to go to Con, as Pro didn't provide any and rather made appeals to what seemed to me is a humans desire to be special above other things. Over all, I found the debate dissatisfying as it drifted too far from the resolution.
Vote Placed by rings48 2 years ago
rings48
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Reasons for voting decision: "Well, well, who'd a thunk it, that this would be end up being a philosophical argument. Con is being drug kicking and screaming into recognizing his own intelligence. Hopefully he'll thank me eventually." Conduct to Con. Both have a S&G error here or there. Con had sources (deeper explanation of the science he presents), Pro no sources. Con uses premise based logic to sufficiently rebuttal that Con's Mind and Matter argument, the basis of his presented ID. Con then presents scientific mechanisms explaining life after origin point. Only wish was that either was able to better find an origin point for life. BoP though was on Pro for this and Con rebuttals Pro's arguments on it.
Vote Placed by YYW 2 years ago
YYW
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO made a lot of arguments against naturalistic explanations for all the birds in the sky and fishes in the sea. But the resolution was about intelligent design. PRO's argument's were, largely, beyond the scope of the resolution. CON made some fairly typical arguments against intelligent design, and noted the problems with the arguments PRO made as well as offered an alternative to ID. Both were sufficient to overcome PRO's case.
Vote Placed by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
bladerunner060
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.