Re: Numerics (was Re: Comments on Snoke's approach)

From: Vernon Jenkins <vernon.jenkins@virgin.net>
Date: Mon Aug 15 2005 - 18:44:51 EDT

Randy,

You raised the question, "How do we determine the dividing line between a pattern that can appear spontaneously, though with low probability, and a pattern that we all agree is derived from an agent transmitting a message?" It seems to me that this largely depends upon one's personal tolerance of coincidence; however, reason suggests that this cannot be _unlimited_. A prime example arises in my own field of interest, viz the coordinated numerical geometries which inhabit the opening Hebrew words of Scripture. These present the atheist and skeptical believer alike with a major problem - for such is their intensity. I invite you to examine a concise pictorial account of these which you may find at http://homepage.virgin.net/tgvernon.jenkins/Astounding.htm

You went on to say, "Some people use gematria or similar approaches to find numerical or other geometrical patterns in texts such as the Bible. They are persuaded that this is an indication of a message conveyed by an intelligent being. The only basis for their claim seems to be the low probability of such a pattern occurring and that the best explanation of that pattern is an intelligent author with divine skills. I don't find such arguments compelling, largely because they are a posteriori determinations of patterns without any a priori basis for believing an intelligent author intends to communicate in that manner." But the proof of the Lord's intention to communicate in this way is surely signalled in Revelation 13:18 - as I recently pointed out in "Balancing the Books" (http://homepage.virgin.net/tgvernon.jenkins/Balancing_Books.htm).

Vernon

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Randy Isaac
  To: asa@calvin.edu
  Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2005 5:22 PM
  Subject: Re: Comments on Snoke's approach

  Thanks, George. I fully agree with all your comments. I felt Dave's paper stopped short of addressing any real issues which is why I wanted to follow up with him.
  After thinking about my response to him, I sent him an addendum which I append here:

  Dave,

      I've been intrigued with some of your comments in your previous notes.
  Permit me to add a few more comments to my response. I've been particularly
  thinking about what appears to be the crux of the ID issue, namely how to
  distinguish between patterns that only appear to convey information and
  patterns that really do represent information transmitted by an intelligent
  being of some type. That is, how do we detect design?

        How do we determine the dividing line between a pattern that can
  appear spontaneously, though with low probability, and a pattern that we all
  agree is derived from an agent transmitting a message? I think we would all
  agree that finding the alphabet in nature would be the former case. We've
  probably all seen the butterfly alphabet poster. It's remarkable but few of
  us would conclude from those observations that God speaks English or
  invented the alphabet long before we discovered it. (Is there a Chinese
  character butterfly poster? or an Arabic one somewhere?). At the other end
  of the spectrum (I'll avoid the over-used extreme hypothetical case of
  finding a Shakespeare volume) you mention finding your name in the
  luminescent rings which would indeed be quite stunning but for now that's a
  hypothetical example. More realistically there have been discoveries of
  hieroglyphs in ancient caves and there are scientists who are adept at
  determining patterns that convey information as opposed to random scratches.

      Some people use gematria or similar approaches to find numerical or
  other geometrical patterns in texts such as the Bible. They are persuaded
  that this is an indication of a message conveyed by an intelligent being.
  The only basis for their claim seems to be the low probability of such a
  pattern occurring and that the best explanation of that pattern is an
  intelligent author with divine skills. I don't find such arguments
  compelling, largely because they are a posteriori determinations of patterns
  without any a priori basis for believing an intelligent author intends to
  communicate in that manner. Furthermore, I believe that the message of the
  Bible transcends its linguistic implementation. That is, God's Word is
  largely independent of the language in which it is translated, though
  understanding of the original is important for nuances and as an aid to
  proper translation.

      If I understand you and many of the ID authors correctly, the heart of
  the argument that science can detect the mark of an intelligent designer is
  that the biochemical information in a living cell is of such a unique
  character that, by analogy to what we know from intelligent human design, we
  can justify the claim of an intelligent designer of organic life. I think I
  speak for many when we express concern that "God seems pulled out of a
  hat" as you put it for the case of postulating intelligent design for your
  luminescent rings. What is the basis for the claim that in the case for
  biomolecules the "data seems personal" in contrast to the impersonal data of
  luminescent rings?

      I wonder if it might not be possible to weave an argument that there is
  such a fundamental difference between DNA-based information and information
  from intelligent beings that we might be forced to admit there is no
  evidence of personal data. The key, as I briefly mentioned in my previous
  note, is the relationship between information and its physical embodiment.
  As the late Rolf Landauer pointed out in his seminal work on information
  theory, information is physical. That means it must always have a physical
  embodiment. More than that, the information is independent of the
  particular physical embodiment that conveys the information. The physical
  medium can change from one system to another without loss of information.
  Any physical system is merely a means for conveying the intended
  information. By contrast, DNA-based information that is conveyed from one
  cell to another or from one organism to another is of a different character.
  It does indeed have a physical embodiment but it is not independent of that
  embodiment. In fact, it is so intricately connected with and dependent on
  the physical system, that one might even argue that it is NOT evidence of a
  personal communicator or designer. I won't say it is evidence that there is
  not a designer but it seems clear that it is inherently unlike any personal
  information with which we have experience. Hence, the extrapolation from
  human design fails.

      I would certainly appreciate any insight you might be able to share with
  me to help me understand why ID believes that there is evidence of an
  intelligent designer.

      Randy

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: George Murphy
    To: ASA list
    Sent: Saturday, August 13, 2005 8:43 PM
    Subject: Comments on Snoke's approach
    ..........

     In summary: David described some interesting science but the support that his work gives to ID is negligible.

    Shalom
    George
    http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
Received on Mon Aug 15 18:47:56 2005

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