Thursday, June 27, 2013

Intellectuall Impoverishment

The above trailer advertises an anti-evolution video produced by North American fundamentalists. According the trailer top evolutionists were interviewed “Until” as it says, “it is clear there is no evidence for Darwinian evolution”. The trailer shows various tongue tied establishment academics trying to think of evidential one liners in favour of evolution; they have apparently been stumped by the request for "one" piece of evidence!

Stupidity, crass stupidity. So called “evidence” can only ever be a limited set of data samples strung together with what is often a huge theoretical background narrative. This embedding of data into a theoretical structure is achieved with greater or lesser degrees of success. Except in the most elementary ontologies, (in fact, if any at all) the scientific epistemic actually works from theory to the evidence:  That is,“evidence” only becomes evidence for a theory if  the theoretical structure of that theory can be shown to successfully embed the “evidence”.  Therefore a theory has to be understood before it is possible to assess just how good it is as a sense making structure for the consensus data samples.

The trailer betrays the scientific naivety of its fundamentalist producers: What do they expect in answer to their questions? “Oh yes, I did an experiment only the other day and a fish evolved into an amphibian”. The huge theoretical narrative of evolution, like any other grand theoretical structure, can only ever be evidentially illuminated at a relatively small set of points. The case for evolution, or even anti-evolutionism for that matter, is likely going to be by and large cumulative, something that is justified by weight of evidence and not just a few compelling samples. There is an epistemic naivety in the very request for just one item of evidence; the case for evolution, if it has a case, is not going to be found in single pieces of evidence, but a suite of evidence.If the producers of this video understood this they wouldn't be asking such boorish questions.

In some ways atheist evolutionists have set themselves up for this embarrassment. They have made too strong claims about the compelling nature of the evidences explained by evolution - as if the meaning of evidence is obvious or easily interpreted.  Evidence is seldom (if ever) direct “proof” of the object it purports to be a manifestation of, or seldom has a very close relation to the object-in-itself. However, as I'm sure these scientists are aware, their conviction of evolution’s truth comes from an acquaintance with a large field of data (plus the accompanying theoretical narrative for that data) and not just one or two killer evidences.

I certainly couldn't give an evidential one liner for the existence of God, or even, for that matter, the existence of some simple ontology taken from test tube precipitating and spring extending science such as Hooke’s law. It is certainly untrue that there is no evidence for evolution just as it is untrue to say there is no evidence for God; the believers in both objects will endeavour to assimilate at least some data points into their respective supporting narratives, thus being able to claim those data points to be evidence. But, of course, evaluating whether or not these data points constitute very compelling evidence will be moot.

The title of the trailer, “Evolution vs. God", tells me immediately that its producers hold another boorish opinion. That is, they think of God as an ancillary explanatory agent to be set against law and disorder explanations. Here we have another manifestation of the North American God-of-the-Gaps paradigm.

On the whole I would say that this video is a sign of the intellectual bankruptcy of fundamentalism and the polarization encouraged by God-of-the-Gaps thinking.

Addendum 3/7/13
The beginning of the video below advertising the "Evolution vs. God" film tells us something about Richard Dawkins' theology. He may be an atheist but that doesn't stop him having a theological template with which to compare reality. The irony is that his theological categories look to be similar to that of the film's major sponsor, Ray Comfort; namely "God of the Gaps" thinking. Dawkins, of course, thinks that evolutionary theory fills a gap, and therefore "God didn't do it". Comfort, on the other hand, thinks that evolution can't fill the gap because it's false and therefore "God did it". In short both agree on the theology of God as an ancillary gap filler. Presumably, if it could be shown that evolution is false, Dawkins would no longer be an "intellectually satisfied atheist" and God would be back on the agenda. Conversely, if evolution was shown to be true Comfort would have to review his theism. It is ironic that on one level Dawkins and Comfort have a lot in common.

Ok PZ you may be a cousin of bananas but how would you have replied if he asked you, "Are you a close cousin of Ray Comfort"?

Addendum 05/7/13

The following quote taken from a Christian Fundamentalist is classic false dichotomy zone:

For Christians who believe in evolution (“theistic evolutionists”), the film should be challenging. They will  be forced to choose one or the other: God or evolution. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

North American Intelligent Design Theory in Disarray

Picture from 
There are plenty of gaps in Dr V. J. Torley's arguments!

This post on Uncommon Descent descends into a glorious muddle as its writer, Dr. V. J. Torley, slowly becomes aware of the ill-formation of some of his concepts.

Let me state in advance from whence come Dr. Torley’s conceptual problems: They stem from the North American Intelligent Design community’s huge and irreversible intellectual investment in one candidate only; namely, the belief  that our physical regime did not and cannot generate life. They have burnt their bridges on this one and there is no going back. If North American ID has got it wrong then they go to the execution wall, probably taking theists like myself along with them; in such a polarized and belligerent debate people are in no mood to make fine distinctions. I support Intelligent Design, but I'm not exactly uncritical of the North American neo-god-of-the-gaps version of it. Ironically, then, I frequently find myself on the side of atheists and evolutionists.

Let me start with this quote from Torley:

Mark Frank appears to be confusing the term, “generated,” with the term. “described.” here.

In an appendix to his main post Torley backs down on this point as a result of criticism from Jeffery Shallit:

Which brings me to Professor Shallit’s remarks in a post over at The Skeptical Zone, in response to my earlier (misguided) attempt to draw a distinction between the mathematical generation of a pattern and the verbal description of that pattern:

This is what Shallit says:

In the Kolmogorov setting, “concisely described” and “concisely generated” are synonymous. That is because a “description” in the Kolmogorov sense is the same thing as a “generation”; descriptions of an object x in Kolmogorov are Turing machines T together with inputs I such that T on input I produces x. The size of the particular description is the size of T plus the size of I, and the Kolmogorov complexity is the minimum over all such descriptions.

That’s music to my ears! Clear and rigorous! Torley rightly accepted Shallit’s correction, but he goes on to shift his concept of “descriptive complexity as used by the ID movement” by defining it in the intuitive terms of “function” – that is, in terms of purpose. For example, a knife is for the function of cutting. He says that Shallit’s rigorous mathematical concepts are:

…an inappropriate (not to mention inefficient) means of determining whether an object possesses functionality of a particular kind – e.g. is this object a cutting implement? What I’m suggesting, in other words, is that at least some functional terms in our language are epistemically basic, and that our recognition of whether an object possesses these functions is partly intuitive.

The foregoing rather clouds the issue in that it is telling us that an object does not intrinsically possess the property of function by virtue of the intrinsic properties of its configuration but only by way of its relation to its context; that is “function” is an extrinsic property. Fair enough, I can accept that, but let me comment, as I have commented many times before, this is not hard science. Because North American ID conceives the role of intelligence as an ancillary agent supplementary to and to be contrasted over and against “natural agencies”, it is therefore more akin to the soft and imaginative science of archaeology than it is to the physical sciences.

If I understand Torley aright then the extrinsic property of functionality that gives an object it specificity is relatively easy to describe even if the configuration of the object needed to fulfil this function is complex. Hidden in Torley’s concept of functionality is, in fact, an implicit allusion to purpose. I’ll accept this, as it fits in with North American ID’s archaeological paradigm of intelligent design. However, we must bear in mind that evolutionary/OOL ideas do not make use of this very human concept of specificity: In evolution/OOL “function” is based on the simply described “purpose” that organisms are able to survive through self-perpetuation by replication; organisms serve less a context than their own intrinsic requirement to persist.

In the main body of Torley’s post we find this:

…..a pattern exhibits order if it can be generated by “a short algorithm or set of commands,” and complexity if it can’t be compressed into a shorter pattern by a general law or computer algorithm……The definition of order and complexity relates to whether or not a pattern can be generated mathematically by “a short algorithm or set of commands,” rather than whether or not it can be described in a few words. The definition of specificity, on the other hand, relates to whether or not a pattern can be characterized by a brief verbal description. There is nothing that prevents a pattern from being difficult to generate algorithmically, but easy to describe verbally. Hence it is quite possible for a pattern to be both complex and specified.

That is undoubtedly wrong! It is quite likely that any pattern can be generated by some algorithm or other, if given enough time. After all, even the simple binary counting algorithm ultimately generates every pattern. This would mean that according to Torley no pattern is complex and all patterns are ordered! What Torley seems to have neglected here is the role of execution time in computation: His idea does work if one requires the generating algorithm to be not only short in terms of commands but also short in terms of execution time. Although all patterns can ultimately be computer generated, only a relatively small subset can be generated in a realistically short time with short algorithms.  But reading between the lines we can see what Torley is after here: He is leading up to claiming that living configurations are “complex”, therefore cannot be generated by “mindless” algorithms, and therefore must require “intelligent agency” to set them up! Basically this is the God Intelligence did it vs. nature did it” dichotomy rearing its ugly head again!

But in his appendix to the main post Torley admits that what I have just quoted above is wrong and he shifts his ground again:

This, I would now say, is incorrect as it stands. The reason why it is quite possible for an object to be both complex and specified is that the term “complex” refers to the (very low) likelihood of its originating as a result of physical laws (not mathematical algorithms), whereas the term “specified” refers to whether it can be described briefly – whether it be according to some algorithm or in functional terms.

So, we see here that Torley is defining complexity in relation to the ability or lack of ability of the particular algorithms that constitute the physics of our universe to generate patterns; that is, he is defining a pattern to be “complex” if there is a very low probability of our universe's physical algorithms generating this pattern. Once again we can see Torley is trying to move in the same direction. He is setting up the definition of complexity so that he can eventually claim that life is “complex” and therefore impossible to generate via the physics we know; ergo, it must be an ancillary archaeological intelligence that did it!

But at least we have a concession here. At least Torley isn't denying that perhaps in principle there is a possibility of the patterns of life being generated by some algorithm or other, even if he doesn't think our own particular physics is capable of doing so. In the light of his realising that there is a difference between the capabilities of algorithms in general and our specific physical algorithms, Torley goes on to admit that Stephen Meyer has made a similar mistake to himself. He quotes Meyer as follows (Signature in the Cell l Harper One, 2009, p. 106):

Complex sequences exhibit an irregular, nonrepeating arrangement that defies expression by a general law or computer algorithm (an algorithm is a set of expressions for accomplishing a specific task or mathematical operation). The opposite of a highly complex sequence is a highly ordered sequence like ABCABCABCABC, in which the characters or constituents repeat over and over due to some underlying rule, algorithm or general law. (p. 106)
[H]igh probability repeating sequences like ABCABCABCABCABCABC have very little information (either carrying capacity or content)… Such sequences aren’t complex either. Why? A short algorithm or set of commands could easily generate a long sequence of repeating ABC’s, making the sequence compressible. (p. 107) (Emphases mine – VJT.)

Torley spots the issues with Meyers work:

There are two problems with this definition. First, it mistakenly conflates physics with mathematics, when it declares that a complex sequence can be generated by “a general law or computer algorithm.” I presume that by “general law,” Dr. Meyer means to refer to some law of Nature, since on page 107, he lists certain kinds of organic molecules as examples of complexity. The problem here is that a sequence may be easy to generate by a computer algorithm, but difficult to generate by the laws of physics (or vice versa). In that case, it may be complex according to physical criteria but not according to mathematical criteria (or the reverse), generating a contradiction.
Second, the definition conflates: (a) the repetitiveness of a sequence, with (b) the ability of a short algorithm to generate that sequence, and (c) the Shannon compressibility of that sequence. The problem here is that there are non-repetitive sequences which can be generated by a short algorithm. Some of these non-repeating sequences are also Shannon-incompressible. Do these sequences exhibit order or complexity?

In consequence Torley goes on to say:

What I’d like to propose is that the term 'order' should be used in opposition to high probabilistic complexity. In other words, a pattern is ordered if and only if its emergence as a result of law-governed physical processes is not a highly improbable event. More succinctly: a pattern is ordered if it is reasonably likely to occur, in our universe, and complex if its physical realization in our universe is a very unlikely event.

Thus on this definition a fractal which can be generated by a simple algorithm becomes complex because:

The same line of argument holds true for fractals: when assessing whether they exhibit order or (probabilistic) complexity, the question is not whether they repeat themselves or are easily generated by mathematical algorithms, but whether or not they can be generated by law-governed physical processes.

So, although Torley does allow that in principle mathematics can generate “complex” patterns, perhaps even life itself, true to the North American ID dualistic paradigm that sets “intelligence” over and against “natural processes” he doesn't want to believe that our particular physical regime is capable of generating the complexity of life. It is this outlook, I suggest, which motivates the whole of North American ID and any contrary suggestion is resisted tooth and nail.

We know that at the back of Torley's mind is the dichotomised belief that physics didn't do it but rather God did it! Consequently he finishes this post with this:

In the meantime, can you forgive us in the Intelligent Design community for being just a little skeptical of claims that “no intelligence was required” to account for the origin of proteins, of the first living cell (which would have probably required hundreds of proteins), of complex organisms in the early Cambrian period, and even of the appearance of a new species, in view of what has been learned about the prevalence of singleton proteins and genes in living organisms?

Given the polarised nature of the debate, then should it turn out that life has been generated by our physical regime then in Torley's dualistic paradigm this entails “no intelligence was required”. North American IDists would then have to go to the wall to be shot!

Torley’s post is in fact a continuation of a previous post. Toward the end of this previous post he really betrays why he is a neo-god-of-the gaps IDist:

….it is possible to argue that the very existence of laws of Nature which generate this order, constitutes powerful evidence for an Intelligent Creator. But that’s a metaphysical argument, not a scientific one. Since Intelligent Design is a scientific quest for patterns in Nature that are best explained as the product of intelligent agency, such an argument would fall outside the ambit of Intelligent Design theory.….. it is rather silly for Harry McCall to use the Chladni plate experiment to argue that “a man made dumb frequency generator can create many different detailed intricate designs”, when the designs actually arise as a consequence of the laws of Nature, which humans did not create. I conclude that McCall’s attempted refutation of Intelligent Design misses the mark badly.

Although I don’t accept Torley’s view that there is clear cut demarcation between the metaphysical and the empirical, I get his point here: The eminent and immanent God of Christianity is a much more abstruse concept than North American ID's “nuts and bolts” style archaeological intelligence that is ancillary to the physical regime and works within that regime. True, such a homunculus creator would be a little more amenable to scientific epistemology than a transcendent and yet immanent God and so perhaps we can understand the motivation behind North American ID. But conversely we can understand the hostility of much of the scientific establishment who see ID replacing a "law and disorder" science by a soft science of the archaeology of a very alien intelligence.

My own gut feeling, as per Genesis 1, is that our cosmos is a product of a single covenant and therefore I doubt that replicating life was somehow “supernaturally” patched in by God. After all, the ID community by and large accepts an old Earth natural history if not the “natural” mechanisms of evolution/OOL. That natural history shows evidence of being phased into developmental periods not unlike human history suggests to me that some other providential "natural" mechanism may be at work to explain this phased history without recourse to ad-hoc patching. The creation looks to be a single seamless robe, a kind of covering for God that can be folded up at any time (Hebrews 1:10ff). As such the immanent living God is only just under the surface of this covering, a covering that is more akin to the skin of a living thinking thing than a mechanism. These are just my current feelings and the direction in which my thoughts are tentatively moving.

Some previous posts relevant to the foregoing:

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Theology and North American ID. Part 2

In part one I made some general comments on the above YouTube video by IDist Stephen Meyer. In this part I want to comment more specifically on the content of the video. IDist detractors refer to people like Meyer as “creationists”, which in fact they are, but the term is probably deployed for its pejorative connotation, a connotation gained from its association with the anti-science Young Earthists. But unlike the Young Earthists not only are people like Meyer worthy thinkers they are also evangelical moderates who are less inclined to ease their case through using moral intimidation, impugning consciences and trying to get convictions for heresy.

The italicized sections below are not direct quotes from the video but are my digest of what I think Meyer is trying to tell us.

In attendance were several members of the House of Lords, University vice-chancellors and many journalists, politicians, philosophers and scientists.

My Comment: The video starts with the foregoing caption. The defacto-ID community have been generally cold shouldered by the scientific establishment, an establishment who regard them as peddlers of non-science (unjustifiably in my opinion). It’s not surprising then that IDists need to make the most of their connections with the mainstream.

Does nature, particularly biological nature, owe its origins to undirected processes or has mind played a role.

My Comment: In a nutshell that’s the North American ID paradigm; that is, framing the debate using an “undirected natural processes vs. intelligent design” dichotomy. I've commented critically plenty enough on this subject (see part 1 for example).

Meyer accepts natural selection has played a role in a long Earth history, The big question is whether natural selection explains all that we see. Is an undirected process mimicking design? Is it Darwin or design?

My Comment:  IDists like Meyer accept much about the established view of natural history. It is this that makes them a difficult target for the scientific establishment to shoot down: Unlike the Young Earthists  they don’t bend over backwards to prop up bizarre ideas based on a set-in-stone reading of scripture. Rather they focus on the intricacies of the evolutionary engine of change. Like bugs they are attracted to the bits they think are rotten! Notice once again Meyer mentions the paradigm through which he sees the whole issue: Viz. The undirected process vs. design dichotomy. He just can’t think round it.

Origin of Life: This is the question of whether chemical evolution produced the first life; essentially it is about the origin of the cell. Darwin didn't explain this with an undirected materialistic process.

My Comment: Advantage Meyer: OOL is the weak point of evolutionary theory.

Why did people think that with the advent of evolution the origin of apparent design had been explained? The answer: Because they thought cells were simple enough for the question of their origins to be consigned to a footnote. Cf. Ernst Haeckel “The cell is a simple homogenous globule of plasm”.

My Comment: This is an interesting and revealing historical point: Because cells, at one time, had a beguiling and deceptive simplicity it was taken for granted that an explanation of their origin could be left as an afterthought!  But Meyer’s whole neo-god-of-the-gaps paradigm hinges on the fact that cells are far from “simple”! They are very complex pieces of replicating molecular machinery.

There are two kinds of information: Shannon information ( = – log[probability] ) and complex specified information (CSI). CSI is not mere improbability but includes the ability to perform a function. The origins questions becomes the question of the origin of CSI.

My Comment: What Meyer really means here is that without an interpretative context the information in a sequence is meaningless; that is, for a configuration like DNA to be meaningful it needs an accompanying machinery of interpretation. So called CSI is simply recognition that for sequences of information to be meaningful they must be are part of a much wider configurational context. The question of the origin of CSI, is then equivalent to the question of the origin of certain classes of total configuration that includes both “information” sequences and translating machinery. The question can then be posed as to the Shannon information content of these wider contextualizing configurations. This information content will arise not just as a result of a single value of probability value p, because p is likely to resolve into a product of probabilities like p1 x p2 x p3 ..etc.,  where each pi refers to the probability of a configurational element. It is considerations like this that lead me to question the distinctive usefulness of the concept of CSI; if anything it gives a misleading mystique to the concept of information by taking biopolymers out of their configurational context.

In the face of a lack of explanation for the origin of the first life we can ask whether this life is due to chance, necessity or intelligence. The combinatorial explosion makes chance a very unlikely explanation. The work of Doug Axe  has shown that functional protein sequences are very rare and hence a random search is swamped.

My Comment: IDists tend to labour fairly obvious lessons about how the combinatorial explosion makes spontaneous formation of life’s configurations extremely unlikely and Meyer goes with the flow here. However, Doug Axe’s work sounds very interesting and it is clearly very relevant to the question of evolution/OOL. But rarity of functionality is not completely decisive; also highly relevant is the arrangement of functionality in configuration space (See my series on configuration space). Unfortunately, however, the polarization of this debate means that Axe’s work is unlikely to get justice from the scientific establishment.

Does natural selection solve the problem of life?  But natural selection presupposes a replicating form of life –  that is Natural Selection requires life to exist  in the first place!

My Comment: Fair comment. As Meyer says, this takes us back to the question of OOL and “chemical evolution” from elementary matter.

Self-organization ( =“necessity”): Is bio-information the result of some  kind of “crystallization” process?  Is there a biological predestination?  Do the amino acid and DNA sequences have a tendency to crystallize?  But experiments show that there is no bias - all sequences are equally likely. Therefore physics and chemistry (i.e. “necessity”) does not explain biopolymers.

My Comment: This is where I find the IDist analysis wanting; their concept of self-organization is too specialized: Studies of self-organization must also seriously engage the question of the layout of self-perpetuating configurations in configuration space. Granted, intuitively it seems unlikely that objects as combinatorially rare as self-perpetuating structures can populate configuration space in a way that facilitates evolutionary diffusion. But the fact is this case has not yet been rigorously eliminated and this gives room for world-view bias to influence beliefs here. At this point in the talk Meyer thinks that he has satisfactorily eliminated “chance and necessity” (sic) as explanations and consequently the God intelligence did it vs. naturalism did it dichotomy now rears its ugly head once again, as Meyer concludes:

What then is the “Best” explanation? Following Lyle’s uniformitarianism we look at which present day causes now in operation could explain the origin of life. We see intelligence generating information today – therefore  we hypothesise this cause as the best explanation. Using inference to the best explanation (abduction) we are left with intelligent causes as the best explanation.

My Comment:  Nice one! Meyer is using the scientific establishment’s acceptance of uniformitarianism to justify his case! I like it! Under any other circumstances I would call this nifty reasoning! But the trouble is that because we know that Meyer’s model of ID is that of an ancillary intelligence, (but theologically he believes in the totalizing and immanent intelligence of God) Meyer’s neo-God-of-the gaps paradigm holds an obvious weakness: If well motivated atheists manage to show that there is a developmental pathway by which self-perpetuating structures have emerged from elemental matter then Meyer’s brand of ID starts to look problematical. The North American ID paradigm which habitually contrasts “chance and necessity” (sic) against intelligence is OK for ancillary intelligence but falls over in Christian theology where the teaching is that God is both eminent and immanent. North American ID is playing a dangerous game, and consequently we can see why North American IDists are so adamant that “chance and necessity” (sic) did not and perhaps cannot in principle generate life; they refer to belief that it did as “naturalism”, a term probably deployed for its spiritually pejorative connotation, a connotation gained from its association with atheism. As I have said so many times before, if our physical regime has generated life, then we have a very rare system on our hands. North America ID is doing us a disfavour in not making this clear to us.

Some Thoughts
The rules of chess considerably constrain the possible games that can played, but not sufficiently to ensure that moving chess pieces at random within the rules will generate a coherent game. Likewise, my own gut feeling – and at this stage I have to admit it is only a gut feeling – is that current physics isn't sufficient to explain the generation of life; I submit that other physical factors not yet appreciated need comprehension. If we take Divine Immanence seriously and eschew the North American dualistic categories of naturalism vs. Intelligence, then the way is cleared for understanding the processes of our physical regime as intelligence in operation; at least in so far as it represents an ability to solve computational problems. If Intelligent Design is an aspect of a precisely selected law and disorder system capable of generating life then there is perhaps more chance of reviving the science of origins. For it is clear that North American ID, with its dualistic paradigm, is not likely to be very fruitful or productive as a science: This paradigm conceives intelligence in the manner of an ancillary intelligence that generates artefacts within a physical regime. It is therefore more akin to the soft science of archaeology where the inscrutable purposes of distant ancestors compromises both comprehension and prediction. (See here : )

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Pareidolia: Why we see faces in hills, the Moon and toasties

Faces in the landscape of eastern Russia's Magadan region

The following BBC article is worth reading.

There core idea here may have explanatory applications from fundamentalism to conspiracy theory.

The Face in Mars photo from 1976, and a more recent close-up

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Once more unto the breach dear friends: The False Dichotomy Zone.

The polarization between academic establishment evolutionists and North American IDists is apparent in the following quotes taken from the blog of IDist Cornelius Hunter. (See Being an Evolutionist, on Darwin's God, June 1)

Do you think the world arose spontaneously? No one would agree with that, not even an evolutionist. But that is, in fact, what evolutionists believe. Indeed they say it is a fact. A fact as much as gravity or the round Earth. There must be no design, no final causes, no teleology. The world must have arisen by itself—spontaneously. And no, natural selection does not change that. There is no magic ratchet or feedback loop to make the hypothesized evolutionary process not a spontaneous process
And what is evolution per se? That the species arose according to random events and natural law—chance and necessity. Biology had no guiding hand, no design or final causes. It must have arisen spontaneously. That, as Lakatos would have put it, is evolution’s hard core.

The dichotomy of choice being forced upon us here is between a something-for-nothing, random, blind spontaneity and the guiding hand of an eminent homunculus designer. The concept that physics is replete enough to provision the generation of life via “chance and necessity” (sic – better: law and disorder) registers with Hunter as evolution’s hard core sin and in Hunter’s mind the antithesis of the guiding hand of design and final causes. Of course, he has no proof that physics is unable to provision evolution (...let alone proof that in Platonic space there are no law and disorder systems capable of generating life). Actually, however, he may just be right about this and more physics may be needed. But to Hunter that is anathema because that’s just more “chance and necessity” (sic), what Hunter calls evolution’s hard core and therefore it can’t entail design and final causes! To him it’s either an ancillary designer or the nonsense of nothing generating something; he's not giving us a third way.

I was also interested to read this:

But be careful. Evolutionists never really meant that neoDarwinism was a fact. I know that is what they said, and quite forcefully. But they said that only because neoDarwinism was the current version of evolutionary theory. What they really meant was that evolution, broadly construed, is a fact. NeoDarwinism, like all particular hypotheses of evolution, was always forfeitable. Hypotheses of evolution can be thrown under the bus at any time. What cannot be questioned is evolution broadly construed, or as Ernst Mayr used to put it, evolution per se.

Is evolution the specific conjectured mechanisms of change or, broadly construed, is it simply a description of the changes in natural history over large tracts of time?  If it is the latter then William Dembski is an evolutionist as Ken Ham claims he is, and ironically so is Old-Earth Hunter! But according to Hunter the hard core of evolution is “chance and necessity” (sic), something his ropey category system won’t allow to be identified with design and teleology. Hunter is pushing people into polarized boxes; if you believe that law and disorder have generated life then you can’t be an IDist! He has defined evolution as lacking in design. This is the major category error I have talked about many times before on this blog.

If one is out to refute the academic establishment’s understanding of  evolution, or even the efficacy of any law and disorder system to generate life, one needs to do so for the right reasons and not because of some fancied homunculus philosophy that by definition  force fits people into the only categories that Hunter understands.