Saturday, November 10, 2018

Signalled Diffusion Book I - Foundations

I'm bringing out a series of short books on the subject signalled diffusion.The first book can be found here. Below I have reproduced the introduction.  I hope that this introduction will explain why I call it Signalled Diffusion and where I hope this project is taking me. 


The one-dimensional elementary diffusion equation can be written as:


…where Y is the “diffusing” quantity, a quantity which is a function of time t and spatial coordinate x and where D is the diffusion constant.

In terms of modelling real situations this equation can be used to represent a statistical description for the transport of particulate matter, where chaotic interactions ensure that each particle of matter is, to all intents and purposes, subject to random walk. If we are dealing with large numbers of randomly walking particles then Y is a statistical quantity which gives a measure of the density of matter at a point in space and time. However, if we are talking about a small number of randomly walking particles Y breaks down as a density value and must then be used as a measure of the probability of finding a particle at a particular point in space and time. In this latter case Y is no longer a literal physical variable since for lone particles it corresponds to no measurable quantity; rather it encapsulates the level of information we as observers have about a particle’s movements. When interpreted as a probability Y is not just about the ontology of the world beyond, but also about the observer and his relation to the world via the information he holds about it.

When used as a probability envelope Y is a cognitive projection onto reality: For if a particle moves around according to random walk there is no literal curve Y to be observed out there; rather it is more akin to a shadowy background influence which has the potential to be used to predict statistical outcomes of a large aggregate of particles. Therefore if Y is a probability it is less a direct ontological reality than it is an epistemic device facilitating the calculation of statistics.

In this series of books, however, I will be exploring what happens if we treat the envelopes in Y as ontologically real and particles as the cognitive projection. To this end I envisage diffusion not as the statistical outcome of the literal stepping of randomly walking particles but rather a result of signals being sent between the points in space and those points accumulating the values received in such a way as to give us a quantity Y which replicates the diffusion equation. I believe that by using this approach it becomes possible to make sense of quantum mechanics as a form of signalled random walk. How this works out in practice I hope will become clearer as I proceed.

This series of books explores the foundations of signalled diffusion and supplements my book Gravity and Quantum Non-Linearity and its more concise version Gravity from Quantum Non-linearity. In both works the emphasis was to arrive at an explanation of gravity. In this series of short books, however, I hope to explore the fundamentals of the subject more thoroughly and remedy some of the faults and short falls in my first book. But whether any of this is going to lead me onto anything significant as the series develops remains to be seen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Creation is Time and Time is Creation

I was recently messaged the following question by a friend on Facebook :

I was chatting with someone yesterday who is intelligent but seems to have an issue with the nature of time, and a 14 billion year old universe, and doesn't understand why God would take so many billions of years to create so much mathematical spillage.

I know you've been interested in this, but have you ever written anything on this subject - on the nature of an old universe and what God might be trying to tell us by having so much excess space and time?

This was my quick message back:

Clearly the creation, even if it is "instantaneous" to us, would involve a huge number of events in God's mind as he assembled it. Using critical path analysis it is clear that there must be dependencies between the events: e.g atoms must be created before you create molecules, molecules before you create cells, cells before you create cell communities, cell communities before you create differentiated multi cell animals etc etc. Hence the critical path must be composed of M stages where M is going to be very large indeed for such a complex construction as the cosmos. The big question is this: Has God left evidence of the length of the critical path? I suggest he has and that he has given us a metric of, say, value "tau" seconds between the events on the critical path. Hence M x Tau = billions of years. In contrast,  for the quasi-pagan fundie, God simply "speaks" stuff into existence, "Hey presto!" style. I suppose this article I have written is relevant: 

For more on the concept of the "Critical Path" see here. It is my guess that at some super-microscopic level the apparent continuity of Cosmic change is actually a sequence of discrete events - that is, the cosmos is infinitely divisible in neither time nor space*1.  For the moment let's call the minimum time and minimum length "tau" and "epsilon" respectively although if I am right we don't know, of course, at what dimensions this discreteness kicks in.

The SI unit system is defined from standard macroscopic behaviours and objects. Therefore, we could derive tau and epsilon in SI units if we knew the number of fundamental discrete units per SI unit.  We define our standards of length and time from the macroscopic world, but this macroscopic world is built out of the conjectured discrete "bricks" of time and space. Therefore it is the count of these discrete "bricks" which really define our macroscopic standards rather than the other way round; that is, these bricks don't have some absolute dimension of "tau" and "epsilon" apart from standards taken from the very macroscopic world they make up. We find a similar situation in computation: From a purely mathematical perspective the absolute "time" of a computation can only be measured in terms of the discrete number of critical path operations the computation takes.  Ultimately time is only absolutely measured as the count of a discrete sequence of distinguishable events.

Let me contrast the foregoing considerations with the thinking of many fundamentalists on this subject where for them "supernatural instantaneity" is the name of the creation game. As an example I quote below young earth fundamentalist Stuart Burgess from his squalid little book "He made the stars also" (2001). For many fundamentalists like Burgess the following kind of intellectual debauchery is par for the course and may be regarded as an all but mandated belief for Christians if they want to lay claim to God's grace*2 (My emphases):

".. the Bible teaches that the stars were created in an instant of time at the verbal command of God (Psalm 33:9). It is an awesome thought that God needed only to speak a word and billions upon billions of stars instantly appeared." (p15)
"... God supernaturally and instantaneously created the stars on the fourth day of creation" (p24)
"When we read of God's supernatural and instantaneous method of creation we must stand in awe of Him." (p34)
"When we consider God speaking the vast Universe of stars into existence, we can do nothing but stand in awe of Him" (p34) (See also  pages 46 & 48)

To Burgess commands are commands and that's the end of it and the truly devout are encouraged to ask no more probing questions! But as we know commands are invariably just at the pinnacle of a huge mountain of lower level causation and action which can be analysed.

Now, let's look at another quote from Burgess where he misses the obvious and makes a mother of a faux pas. After quoting Prov 8:27-30, verses which talk of God as a craftsmen, Burgess somehow manages to cough up this piece of half digested intellectual vomit (My emphases):

"The description of God as a great craftsman measuring out the dimensions of the foundations of the earth supports the conclusion that God did not use evolution because a craftsman carries out instantaneous and deliberate actions whereas evolution involves long random processes".(p31)*3

I don't think even Burgess is stupid enough to interpret the Biblical word for "foundations" so literally that he thinks the Earth is flat. But even if we are to interpret the concept of "craftsman" literally Burgess' argument completely unravels.  Craftsmen don't do things instantaneously - whatever a fundamentalist like Burgess may think, craftsmen are certainly not hey presto! magicians: The activity of a truly creative craftsman will entail a lot of thought and trial & error as (s)he implements his/her designs. In fact I would go as far as to suggest that all thought is in large part a seek, reject and select process, a process which probably involves mathematical chaos. This creative process, which consists of an extended sequence of countable events, marks creative time for the craftsmen. So, the craftsman metaphor teaches us that creation is exactly the opposite of what Burgess is suggesting; namely, that it is a process, a process which entails a critical path of events and this critical path entails time, creative time.

Among many of a religious persuasion there is a premium on a belief in divine omnipotence as naked undressed power; in fact a belief in the indivisible power of divine fiat is taken as a sign of abject faith and therefore evidence of utter self-abasement, a shibboleth of unquestioning awe and devotion. For these people God is Great because His sheer power means that the divine "mouth" can get whatever it wants just by speaking it; Viz: God speaks stuff into existence with little or no intervening effort/work/thought. It is as if God is either a lazy despot who commands others to do his bidding or a super-magician who is so powerful that he doesn't even need to think and act in regard to what he wants done - he just does it by uttering a single command, just like that! In this fawning devotional context any suggestion that God needs time to do His stuff is, for the abject devotionalist, considered an affront to God's indivisible power. In fact implicit in my friend's encounter with the young earthist we see a person who just could not understand why omnipotence would require so much time; after all, it would seem from daily experience that speed equates to power. But this is no so! This equation is a delusion: If time is proportional to the count of discrete events on a critical path we find that true power involves the sustenance of processing that adds up to huge amounts of time.*4

For me the fawning devotionalist has a childish magical view of God's omnipotence and I would suggest that the very opposite of their opinion is actually the case; processing sustained over huge amounts of time is the epitome of omnipotence.

*1 I suspect that the dimensions at which this limit occurs is in the order of magnitude of the famous 10-40 figure. In any case think of the implications of absolute continuity: It would mean that the real variables of physical measure would likely have infinite numbers of digits when expressed in macroscopic SI units. In fact disorder theory teaches us that there are far more real numbers with random sequences of digits than ordered combinations of digits. This would open up a version of the multiverse where every possible configuration has some kind of reification somewhere.

*2 For example see my article on holy bad mouthing here as evidence of a  close connection between salvation and belief in young earth in the mind of Ken Ham.

*3 Burgess repeats the old canard of implicating evolution as a random process. Even (intelligent) atheists don't believe this! See here

*4 "Time" in the sense that I have defined it in this post  (Viz; as the count of events taken along a critical) means that any creative process will take time; lots of it, in fact, if the task is complex. Hence "Time" is logically inherent in all creative activities. The question remains for the Christian, however, as to whether this logically obliged time has been revealed to us. Hence, the question of whether the cosmos has taken billions of years is thus a question, not of logical necessity (since time is a logical necessity), but of revelation. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Tribal Britannia

The xenophobic fears behind  fascist  tribal herding
instincts are not just confined to war time Germany. 
Those fears are alive and just as sick in the UK today.

We've all heard of those Japanese soldiers isolated on a Pacific island who have been found still  thinking they are fighting WWII many years after that war had ended. Well, I have found some people on an island on the edge of the Atlantic who are still fighting the war against the Germans. That island is called "Great Britain". You can find these people on a Facebook page called "EU -  I voted leave". This page seems to bring out the most jingoistic, belligerent, and bellicose individuals this small island has the misfortune to harbour.  For example "EU - I voted leave" posted the following text:

Here is another sample to keep the embattled warrior instinct alive:

Yes, that's right, they are not just fighting WWII but also all the wars this country has had with France, Spain and European powers in general. It is one thing to object to the EU on the basis of its inefficient and domineering bureaucracy, but quite another to object to it on the basis of a xenophobic fear of the motives of Germans, French, Spanish etc and to dwell under the illusion that somehow the UK doesn't host the same potentiality for corruption and absolutism; that's a propensity which can be found at home as well as abroad. This is the stuff of deluded fascist paranoia which majors in egotistical "great nations versus the scum" myths.

Anyway, below is a sample of the aggressive anti-Europeanism, in particular anti-Germanic sentiment, that this squalid Facebook page incites in its commenters. I've changed names, of course.


Bert Beefboard  The Germans are trying again to rule Europe but this time by using the EU Community. We see through this to the 4th REICH which has never died but has been in hiding. Now they are back. We must win this battle again and have complete Sovereignty. Brexit the Hard way is the ONLY way.

MY COMMENT: Another commenter on the FB page sensibly asks if Bert has any evidence for his claim. We then get this answer:

Bert Beefboard: Born and lived through the Germans and the wish to rule everything. Not more to say as I can tell from your comment you dont care for Sovereignty and are a remainer. Foolish boy!

MY COMMENT:  Note the nationalist grouping here: Beefboard uses the generic term "Germans" and not "The Nazis". In Beefboard's mind all Germans are under suspicion of tribal and nationalistic hegemony. This dehumanises them into a collective. I was under the impression that WWII was fought against the Nazi philosophy which had taken root in Germany and not against the Germans per see.

Craig Crackabump The last 2 attempts were stopped by bullets and blood. This attempt hopefully will be stopped by the ballet box

MY COMMENT: Presumably Craig is ready with his gun if the ballot's don't go his way!

Russell Rotter: Sadly a lot of people who lived through WW11 were conned into voting for the Common Market they thought it would stop another attempt by the Germans to rule Europe. My Mum would be turning in her Grave.

MY COMMENT:  Note once again the failure to distinguish between the corrupt human philosophy of Nazism and a national group. 

Dafty Duckit It's said that many SS and scientists relocated to Ireland and America to escape Nuremberg trials for crimes against humanity... One I think was caught and punished... alphabet soups were created using the very people who escaped and today we have their projects inhumane and otherwise still playing out Europe being one of them...

MY COMMENT: The conspiracy theorist speaks! Very reminiscent of the views that Hitler had; just replace "SS" with "Jews"!

Now here's a guy who seems to still be fighting the war against the American colonists! 

Benny Bumfrey  Just a quick reminder the U.S screwed us royaly. They literally stole islands and money before they joined the war. We had to give up so much just to get planes and tanks made. Henry Ford of Ford motors gave an entire years salary to hilter to build military trucks and tanks. The yanks also sold oil to to hilter before selling to the British as well. They may have joined in the end but they screwed us before they did.

MY COMMENT: Keep those grudges alive! Heck, you idiot Benny we had better not take on the American military as well; we won't stand a chance!

Terry Terrible:  this report tells all, you try and convince people that being ruled by a band of nobodies, a drunk and a mad Herman woman a little Napoleon type upstart that this the way to go I don't think so

MY COMMENT: I was wondering when Napoleon would come up! Better relaunch "HMS Victory" and send it to France!

Dafty Duckit: I've swatted since 2014 at five subjects a night...I've watched world.war two code breakers I've watched historians etc...I've read the national archives which state that war one was started because of "pirates" in European waters holding boats carrying food and all sorts.(minus liquorice) hostage and looting then Ferdinand etc... looking at our fight over fish today has Europe changed in any way? No it hasn't in or out there's still."pirates" in the water...the archives are very telling but withhold cross were sent to Europe to help the injured and the ill during both wars...for a fee! United Nations were known as league of nations...they changed their name to hide again their corruption...and so it goes on.

MY COMMENT: Very reminiscent of the kind of paranoid hyper-nationalist sentiment that Hitler stirred up in order to start WWII: Recall that Hitler played on the grudges stemming from WWI. To Dafty Duckit history is all about remembering and keeping alive grievance. 

Now, below we have the commenter Jane Pain  who starts by telling us that what Duckit has just written is "All true": 

Jane Pain: All true. I need to add one thing. Noah built an Ark to save many people from the flood. Today Jesus is the Ark. Not religion! But a relationship with our creator. I'm not religious, religion is what turns thousands away from Christ. JOHN 3:16

MY COMMENT: Not too surprising really: This looks like a Christian fundamentalist. Christian fundamentalism, hyper-nationalistic based paranoia and fascism are linked it seems, perhaps via the idea of the leader-patriarch. In fact it was actually one of my Christian fundamentalist FB friends who approvingly shared the "EU - I voted leave" post which drew my attention to it in the first place. She added the following comment to her shared post:

Tina Breadcrust Our Europhile Parliamentarians don't know their history! They don't have confidence in us as a nation. We sometimes feel like saying "Why don't you emigrate to Europe?" The deal our Prime Minister is seeking seems to be a halfway between being in and out from the noises Brexiteer MPs are making!  😢 ⛈Looks like stormy weather ahead!!! God gave this nation the Gifts it needed to survive on its own. Just as he gave Israel the necessary Gifts to overcome and survive alone. Confidence is all that's needed.*

MY COMMENT: Fancy Tina Breadcrust accusing Parliamentarians of not knowing history! How ironic! I know Tina personally and I try not to be too hard on her as she's a nice but vulnerable person. Frankly, however, she's as impressionable and gullible as they come, completely lacking in critical faculties!  See here. But nevertheless she holds hyper-nationalistic sentiments allied to a fundamentalist sense of utter conviction absent of any epistemic humility, a mix which I regard as potentially toxic. One of Tina's Trump supporting right-wing American FB friends then pipes up:

Patsy Storedump: Sounds like the deceived are doing in America. Why come here. To be free. To worship as one chooses. Now we are finally fighting back. People first Citizens first Politicians out. Get a man like TRUMP and get rid of all your professional politicians. He is not done with America yet. We can only pray and fill our alters with repentant hearts. Let God lead and take back your country from the enemy. We will Pray for you as you pray for us. Allies in the Lord.

MY COMMENT:  We begin to see here how just how in tune Christian fundamentalism is with the fascist exhilaration over the concept of the "great leader & saviour":  "Stuff parliament and the Magna Carta. Stuff the constitutional monarchy and 1688. We want a Fuhrer great leader!There is something about the fundamentalist psyche which has a worrying resonance and emotional connection with hyper-nationalism, bordering on fascism**

I couldn't resist responding to Patsy as follows:

Timothy V Reeves ...but perhaps not get a man like CROMWELL. He got rid of all our professional politicians within an hour or two. When he didn't like what he saw he cleared the house of commons with his army!. That proved to be a lot more effective than the gun powder plot! But I wouldn't recommend this to Donald as a way of "draining the swamp"! It's too banana republic!

I got no reply!

I think I've had enough of all this, so let's finish with just two more examples of "Brexit" chauvinism (My emphases):

Dafty Duckit: Philip Codpiece it's tough though isn't it because we won't give them another ballot...I'm glad we have maybe a couple of people who had this all to deal with in the 70's I was only four when all this started I only remember my mum having ago at me for asking questions about it because it made her mum said "your grandad died for your freedom just for the Germans to come through the back door".. I don't like dictatorship so I stood up against it not just for myself and children but my family who are no longer with me

Jonny Bilgewater: Who are you kidding Mrs Merkel if you think old Englands done. We are the boys who will stop your little game etc etc. They don't like it up em. SOD Mrs Hitler Merkel and her French white flag waving sissies. We don't need EU it's a dying flawed institution and will collapse within a few years. We want OUR country back.


What a horrible lot! These views are such a self-send up that I did wonder if we had tongue-in-cheek trolls abroad. If so Poe's law strikes  again!  But to think that I might be trapped on a small island on the edge of the Atlantic with these people! It's enough to make one emigrate to Europe! But then Europe's got these bellicose right-wingers as well! I've never thought of myself as xenophobic but when I come across such people I sense more than a touch of xenophobia as I realise just how alien and how utterly irreconcilable their world-view is to mine. Perhaps, I wonder, there is some kind of mathematical limit which stops many humans from extending tribal entitlement to the whole of the human race; you need some people left to blame for your problems! Xenophobia breeds xenophobia as civilisation collapses under the weight of international distrust and infighting.These people are far more alien to me than the open minded Europeans with whom I have had contact and with whom I feel  much more at home. If the views of the above people become popular they would be the kindling that inflames war. It never occurs to them that there are also hyper-nationalists in the countries they so fear and that these extremists are finding similar excuses to justify their xenophobia, and if necessary to wage war. 

Below are some pictures of the people we really need to fear and you don' find them only in Germany or Europe. In fact you find them everywhere, unfortunately: the USA the UK


So, once again we find a worrying juxtaposition of Christian fundamentalism, hyper-nationalism bordering on fascism and conspiracy theorism. It is interesting to note that the "Intelligent Design" correspondent Denise O'leary who writes for the ID web site "Uncommon Descent" also had a similar view on Europe to the people I have quoted above; as with the above she conflated the war with Nazism with a war on the German people itself. See here:

* Tina holds a romantizied and nostalgic view of the UK's past as a once "Great Nation".   Viz: No one seems to remember that we were once a great country in the days before the Common Market turned Economic Community turned European Union. What a stupid comment!  I think you will find that most people, even with a casual acquaintance of history, will remember when the small Kingdom of Britain had a vast empire and, unlike Tina, many have at least some inkling as to why things have changed for this relatively small country. What Tina doesn't grasp is that this country achieved its imperial "greatness" (not that it was always very "great" in the moral sense of the word) via a complex of circumstances that really no one understands; from the Anglo-Norman social ethos, through its isolated island status, to the confluence of the many factors which came together in the industrial revolution, a myriad conditions played their part in the rise & rise of Great Britain. But now that the advanced nations have industrialised or are industrialising the advantages of being a "first-in-nation" have run their course. You would think that being a Christian who subscribes to the apostolic authority of the book of Romans Tina would understand that fundamentally human beings are pretty much the same paradoxical mix of good and bad where ever you are.

** The Nazis weren't Christian: In fact underneath it they despised its apparent untermensch style "weakness" which contrasted to the "strength" of Nietzsche's Godless concept of the "ubermensch". However, Hitler exploited the conservative, tribal and authoritarian tendencies of the church in Germany to his advantage and that church bears some culpability for the outcome.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Dualism and De facto ID's Subliminal Gnosticism

The subliminal paradigm of de-facto ID is not much more sophisticated than this!

The "Intelligent Design" website "Uncommon Descent" posted a quote from one of its authority figures  (See here). This quote betrays an underlying classically dualist mind vs body, spirit vs matter, ghost vs the machine, God vs natural forces paradigm. Dualism is the knee-jerk philosophy of many who write for Uncommon Descent. Here is the quote:

There is a fallacy about the human mind that regularly appears in research on animal behavior, and this fallacy is related to the pervasive misunderstanding about machine “intelligence.”

It is a misunderstanding about the most basic characteristic of the human mind—that the human intellect and will are immaterial. That the human intellect and will are immaterial abilities is supported by a mountain of logic and empirical research. It is precisely this immateriality that animals and machines lack.

Now I'd accept that machines, as we currently construct them and conceive them, can be no more than crude simulations of conscious cognition and they will never attain consciousness itself for the reason that they are not using the qualities of "matter" in a way which exploits its God given potential for conscious cognition.  Conscious cognition is more than just formal structure

It is almost as if the writers at Uncommon Descent are in thrall to a kind of subliminal Gnosticism which conceives a ghostly world of "spirits" distinct from "matter" and where the material brain of human beings somehow traps the human ghost in the machine. For the Christian there is, of course, always a sharp God vs Creation distinction but apart from that we must concede that God created everything (but Himself!). Let's not succumb to theologies which suggest an "immaterial third world" over and above "material" creation where the latter is thought of as an inferior and profane world; this is gnostic dualism! In any case let the IDists try and define "matter" in way that itself doesn't look suspiciously "immaterial"! .....unless they fall for the naive model of matter as hard, gritty, billiard ball like stuff, which may, in fact, be what the IDists have in mind!

God is the creator, sustainer and sovereign manager of our world and therefore we should never underestimate its propensity for the miraculous. Given this theology and given that God it the creator, sustainer and sovereign manager of the animal kingdom it likely follows that animals, to a greater or lesser degree, possess conscious cognition. After all, the neural technology they reify is very similar to our own. This immediately gives us a reason to treat animals with the greatest respect and not as the logic of the UD correspondent would lead us believe; that is, to treat them as machines. (See also here)

I'm not going waste any more of my time going over the errors of UD's dualist writers. But here are some relevant links:

...and it goes on and on!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Is it a bird? Is it a dinosaur? Or did God just do it like that?

I receive an interesting emailed news letter from an atheist called Ashley Haworth-Roberts. He has chosen  to singlehandedly take on the entire corpus of fundamentalist  anti-science. He reminds me of a terrier who spends his time sniffing around looking for places where fundamentalists have been urinating on science. And when he finds the scent he barks his head off thereby successfully drawing attention to their work. The fundamentalists don't like it one little bit; some of them, in particular one who calls himself "Cowboy Sorensen", barks back simply creating more noise.

This activity has actually proved to be very revealing and Ashley's newsletters often contain interesting material about the latest anti-science musings of the fundamentalists, although I don't usually have time to study the material in depth. One of his latest bulletins informs us that some fundamentalists are now taking on the "feathered dinosaur" fossil finds with some even going as far as denying that there were any feathered dinosaurs; others, however, are not so sure.

Fundamentalists tend to think in black & white categories anyway, but fossil finds which ostensibly appear to be a blend between dinosaur and bird make them feel uncomfortable. As a consequence of their insistence on an immutable taxonomy, different "kinds" must remain distinct and therefore as far as they are concerned fossil finds must fall unambiguously into strict taxonomic categories. In fundamentalist taxonomy "a bird is a bird is a bird" and "a dinosaur is dinosaur is a dinosaur"; the idea that the boundaries of distinction between species and kinds are blurred is anathema because to the fundamentalist mind this would reek of evolutionary thought. Therefore when fossils have features which might be interpreted as a blended phenotype (like feathered dinosaurs) the fundamentalist black vs white categorisation machine goes into over-drive in order to prove to themselves that the fossil is either unambiguously a bird or unambiguously a dinosaur - it can't be both/and. However, I must add the caveat here that the evidence for feathered dinosaurs is compelling enough for some fundamentalists to be unsure about the status of the apparently feathered dinosaur fossils; more about that later

For the record I reproduce below Ashley Haworth-Roberts bulletin. As it seems that once again fundamentalist anti-science, as with the star-light problem, is on a hiding to nowhere I thought I would keep my eye on the feathered dinosaur developments, although I don't have time to get into the technicalities (I only have time for fundamentalist cosmology in that respect!). In the piece below Ashley's words are in Arial and fundamentalist quotes are in Courier.

From the Conclusion:
"Believers in biblical creation agree ... on biblical grounds that if there were feathered dinosaurs, then God must have directly made them that way or designed them with the potential to develop that way."
"The evidence for feathered dinosaurs is very flimsy and based more on ideology rather than the evidence."
I don't think so.
"At least five families of theropod dinosaurs are claimed to have true pennaceous feathers like modern birds... Unfortunately, many dinosaur finds are claimed to have feathers when no pennaceous feathers are found. One such example is in the theropod Ornithomimosaurid group. Some fossil specimens only show marks on bony surfaces thought to be attachment points for feathers and detached filaments, while others show pennaceous feathers.

 Wikipedia is somewhat more balanced than AiG:
"Unambiguous evidence of feathers is known from Ornithomimus/Dromiceiomimus, of which there are multiple specimens preserving feather traces. Deinocheirus and Pelecanimimushave been speculated to be feathered as well, the former due to the presence of a pygostyle, and the later due to possible impressions (otherwise taken to be collagen fibers). There is a debate on whereas ornithomimids possessed the pennaceous feathers seen in Pennaraptora."

Says Menton:
"These issues are persistent across most of the “theropod” families (or clades) that are claimed to have had feathers, which include Trooidontidae, Oviraptosauria, and Dromaeosauridae. Many members of these families do indeed have well-developed pennaceous feathers, but in each case the fossils appear to be birds and not dinosaurs." 
Says WHO (apart from creationists)?

"The clade of “theropod dinosaurs” known as Avialae clearly have pennaceous feathers, but this shouldn’t come as a surprise because the Avialae are in fact birds."
And many theropods are still considered to have been dinosaurs not birds.

From the Conclusion:
"Based on current evidence, there is no compelling reason to believe that true dinosaurs had feathers ...".  

If the Bible clearly suggested feathered dinosaurs, or if there were no evolutionary scientists inferring that birds are descended from some dinosaurs which probably developed feathers first, Menton would not be saying that I don't think.   


The second link Ashley quotes from is taken from an Creation Ministries International article. This article ends with the following conclusion (My emphases):

As mentioned in the movie review, we do not have problems with God creating dinosaurs with feathers, but the evidence just doesn’t seem to support such a conclusion.

Also noteworthy is Ashley's first fundamentalist quote which also comes from Creation Ministries International, the ministry which  fell out with Ken Ham's friend and ex-business partner, the nasty John Mackay. Here's the whole paragraph from which it comes (My emphases):

Differences among creation researchers over ‘feathered dinosaurs’ should not trump agreement on larger issues. Believers in biblical creation agree, on solid anatomical grounds, that dinosaurs did not evolve into flying birds. We also agree on biblical grounds that if there were feathered dinosaurs, then God must have directly made them that way or designed them with the potential to develop that way. Disagreement arises over whether any candidate fossil demands feathered dinosaur status

Unlike AiG's tame scholar David Menton, CMI are hedging their bets. Menton is more dogmatic and he finishes his article with this (my emphasis):

Finally, feathers appear to be as unique to birds as hairs are to mammals. Fossilized impressions of dinosaur skin resemble the skin of an alligator, not feathers on birds. Based on current evidence, there is no compelling reason to believe that true dinosaurs had feathers, or that they were related to birds.

This rather puts Menton in a hole as more evidence for feathered dinosaurs comes to light. In contrast to Menton CMI  reserves for itself the last resort of the anti-scientist: That is, if established science on the subject of feathered dinosaurs can't be picked apart by fundamentalist anti-scientists, it can always be claimed that God created them miraculously during the "creation week"! This is the anti-science methodology of fundamentalism: If the science can't be undermined, just claim "God did it....."

ADDENDUM 28/9/2018

In post on  PZ Myers blog here:

We find this diagram which depicts Answer in Genesis' concept of the evolution of cats from their posited feline "kind" which came out of the ark:

Myers remarks that although this picture  is clearly a cartoon depiction designed for children  it is, nevertheless, a reasonable simplification of how palaeontologists would depict cat evolution. But the big difference are the time scales: 20 million years for paleontologists and probably a lot less than 4000 years for the AiG fundamentalists!

The key to the fundamentalist thinking here is the label "Genetic potential" just above their "original created kind". I think you will find that they would posit this "kind" to have been created with all the genes needed for the diversification shown in their picture. Whether or not, even given the existence of these genes, the diversification would follow so quickly I don't know (possibly less than 1000 years!). However, it's another case of the fundamentalist claiming that "God just spoke it into existence!" during the creation week. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Conspiracy Theorism on Facebook

Like the rest of the Wild Web Facebook is the stamping ground for a lunatic fringe who promote all sorts of off-the-wall ideas, in particular, need I say it, conspiracy theorism. They are exploiting a general malaise of counter-culture disaffection and distrust of the establishment, political and academic. In fact I have two Facebook friends who, although far from being originators of this claptrap, have nevertheless been attracted by and toyed with these ideas in their posts. So, let me introduce my two FB friends Frank Saucepan and Fred Shed (not real names of course) whose posts, with my comments, I reproduce below. It may be that their posts are no more than trollish mischief, hence some of my comments are themselves a little tongue-in-cheek. In response I used the simplest and most straightforward argument against conspiracy theorism; Viz: that it has a self-referencing instability; i.e.: If you accept the world view of conspiracy theorism then it becomes possible to continue multiplying entities to the point where any particular conspiracy theory itself is believed to be a false idea put about by another covert conspiracy for purposes of their own! What you might call a conspiracy of conspiracy theorism! See here for more on conspiracy theorism.

1st May 2017
Frank posts on Flat Earth, an idea he is getting into!
The following is a partial repeat of the discussion on Frank's FB page I blogged on here

Frank Saucepan: All I did was say this flat earth business has caught my interest!

Timothy V Reeves It caught mine too, but it only works if you add huge dollops of conspiracy theorism. But conspiracy theorism has inner contradictions: Once you believe conspiracy theory A you can always find conspiracy theory B which explains conspiracy theory A as a product of a conspiracy of deception. In short conspiracy theorism completely phux-up any attempt to arrive at the truth. Any so called "truth" arrived at via conspiracy theory A is easily undermined by conspiracy theory B. Here's a video showing how easy it is to invent fanciful but plausible conspiracy theories :

5 July 2017

Frank posts a "Loose Change" video on the 9/11 conspiracy theory and adds the comment

Frank Saucepan: And people think others are mad for questioning things (My Comment: That's exactly what conspiracy theorism doesn't ask you to do - question things!)

Timothy V Reeves: "Luke's Change"

Timothy V Reeves Just because you can construct theory which joins the known data dots by multiplying entities doesn't make it true.

Timothy V Reeves I'm not against conspiracy theorism for the sake of it but because it's a crap epistemic and can be evoked to explain away absolutely anything even itself: Its problems are: a) it arbitrarily multiplies entities and players as the pattern of data dots gets more complex to join. b) It doesn't take cognizance of randomness c) It requires a very water-tight cooperation between its imagined players - very unlikely with human beings d) It is motivated by human tribal and identification factors - "I don't identify with those guys, they are not in my tribe, therefore they are lying" e) Conspiracy theorism can be evoked in so many ways that it's possible to invent completely conflicting theories which "explain" the same facts.

Timothy V Reeves See "Luke's Change" for a very plausible sounding conspiracy theory, which of course in this case we know must be a piece of imagination. Just shows what the imagination can do! i.e. concoct crapola!

Jul 18th 2018
Frank posts the "matrix" meme: 

Frank Saucepan: What if!?!

Timothy V Reeves WHAT IF I TOLD YOU: There are covert web agents putting these thoughts into people's heads in order to sow despair, disillusionment, disaffection and defection, thus promoting social breakdown and Apocalypse, from which point they will grab the opportunity to take control! 🤔🤔😁😁

Timothy V Reeves careful: nothing in this world operates as you think it does:🤣

Timothy V Reeves Can't you see Frank that the kind of critique that this thesis is offering can be called upon itself? It is self-undermining! That is, it is liable to disappear up its own a*se!

June 10th 2018
Fred Shed posted on the moon landings. In this case I opted to "play the game"!

Fred Shed: Moon landing is fake:

Timothy V Reeves Must have been! We all expected them to bring back cheese: What did we get? Just a bit of dirt! I can get that from my back yard!

Fred Shed: Also in a vacuum there would be no way to stear.

Timothy V Reeves Rockets work in vacuum so that argument doesn't work; it's all to do with Newtons 3rd law. But the absence of quality Moon cheese is sufficient to clinch it as far as I'm concerned.

Fred Shed: Timothy V Reeves how do the rockets work though coz there's zero friction in space so surely rockets would not work.

Fred Shed: I get you could launch a rocket and generally aim it at the moon but that would be about all.

Timothy V Reeves Have you designed an experiment to show that rockets need friction in space? If rockets didn't work, neither would your motor bike.

Fred Shed Timothy V Reeves my motorbike is attached to the ground by gravity though.

Timothy V Reeves ....but your internal combustion engine pistons aren't attached to the ground!

Fred Shed Timothy V Reeves true but They are in a different type off vacuum

Timothy V Reeves ...what do you mean?

Fred Shed In space there is nothing in engine pistons there is everything.

Timothy V Reeves OK, so you're in space and you light up a barrel of gunpowder right in front of your space helmeted face (gun powder doesn't need oxygen, since it's got its own supply of oxygen). What do you think is going to happen to your space helmet?

Timothy V Reeves PS: Don't try this at home!!

Fred Shed Timothy V Reeves not a lot really

Timothy V Reeves .....OK, so now try lighting up a stick of dynamite that is INSIDE your helmet! What's going to happen?

Fred Shed: Head would get blown up

Timothy V Reeves ...right! So one bit of your head will travel toward the earth, another bit will travel toward the moon, another toward alpha centauri etc..... and so voila! We have succeeded in spreading the contents of your head to the four corners of the galaxy and it's all done in a vacuum!

Fred Shed Timothy V Reeves spose.

Timothy V Reeves There's a rumour going about that the Illuminati are creating youTube videos to make us believe that the moon landings were a faked: After all , they want us to believe that the Earth is flat and screw up our understanding of science so that they alone have access to valid science.

Fred Shed That I can believe  (Woops! I didn't mean him to respond like that!)

Timothy V Reeves As I always say: Kill a conspiracy theory with another conspiracy theory and so on ad infinitum!

June 15 2018

Fred Shed mischievously posted the following  picture from "Flat Earth Research": 

This picture can be found on FB "Flat Earth Research" here: In a response to a query as to why the dinosaurs appeared on this picture two Young Earthers left these comments on Flat Earth's FB page:

Michael McCarrey Leviathan and Behemoth. We called them "dinosaurs" There are more. They were on the Ark, probably as eggs. Some called them Dragons. Most died from being hunted or because the climate was different after the Flood. But, when half the FE proponents can't even figure out how to use a camera, this is not unexpected.

Reuel Zaire In ancient times they were called dragons and they are also mentioned in the holy scriptures. The term dinosaur was only created in the mid 19th century and its from the greek deinos(terrible)+sauros(lizard). Dinosaur theory was also used to support the fossil fuel term. And now they control the oil, whoever they are...

Reuel Zaire In ancient times they were called dragons and they are also mentioned in the holy scriptures. The term dinosaur was only created in the mid 19th century and its from the greek deinos(terrible)+sauros(lizard). Dinosaur theory was also used to support the fossil fuel term. And now they control the oil, whoever they are... Sam Clark Dinosaurs existed, they just didn’t go extinct MILLIONS of years ago like mainstream “science” says. They only died out thousands of years ago, which goes hand in hand with the biblical creation account.

However back on Fred Shed's FB page I responded as follows:

Timothy V Reeves ...ahh Fred me ole son! Those Flat Earth web sites are just part of a fake news conspiracy perpetrated by the Illuminati in order to befuddle your thinking and prevent you from grasping science. After all if you don't grasp science it means that you become less of a threat to their rule!

Timothy V Reeves ...What you've got to wrap you head around Fred is that there is big conspiracy to get us to believe in conspiracies. This is called "meta-conspiracy theory". That makes me a meta-conspiracy conspiracy theorist!

Timothy V Reeves ....but some hold the theory that meta-conspiracy theory is itself a conspiracy to stop us believing in conspiracies. But others point out that this can't be true because a meta-conspiracy theorist believes in a conspiracy theory, namely the big meta-conspiracy!

Timothy V Reeves ...hope you got all that Fred .....because I've totally confused myself!


Interestingly, the QAnon conspiracy theorists in the following YouTube video used their conspiracy theory to dismiss the  Flat Earth conspiracy in a way similar to the way I sketched out above!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Intelligent Design and God of the Gaps

The following appeared on the Intelligent Design website "Uncommon Descent" in a post entitled: "Frequently raised but weak arguments against Intelligent Design" (See here:

39] ID is Nothing More Than a “God of the Gaps” Hypothesis
Famously, when his calculations did not quite work, Newton proposed that God or angels nudged the orbiting planets every now and then to get them back into proper alignment. Later scientists were able to show that the perturbations of one planet acting on another are calculable and do not in aggregate skew the calculations.  Newton’s error is an example of the “God of the gaps” fallacy – if we do not understand it, God must have done it.
ID is not proposing “God” to paper over a gap in current scientific explanation. Instead ID theorists start from empirically observed, reliable, known facts and generally accepted principles of scientific reasoning:
(a) Intelligent designers exist and act in the world.
(b) When they do so, as a rule, they leave reliable signs of such intelligent action behind.
(c) Indeed, for many of the signs in question such as CSI and IC, intelligent agents are the only observed cause of such effects, and chance + necessity (the alternative) is not a plausible source, because the islands of function are far too sparse in the space of possible relevant configurations.
(d) On the general principle of science, that “like causes like,” we are therefore entitled to infer from sign to the signified: intelligent action.
(e) This conclusion is, of course, subject to falsification if it can be shown that undirected chance + mechanical forces do give rise to CSI or IC.  Thus, ID is falsifiable in principle but well supported in fact.
In sum, ID is indeed a legitimate scientific endeavor: the science that studies signs of intelligence

The foregoing is just a rehash of the "explanatory filter" epistemic used by IDists. I have criticized this rather simplistic epistemic before:

It's not that I particularly disagree with any of the above; the problem lies in where it stops: Once we identify the presence of intelligence, explanation doesn't stop there. For example, we find an object buried in the earth and identify it as of archaeological interest. But then some effort is made to take the matter further: Viz: What kind of minds created it and why? What was the social milieu in which the object was made? What was its purpose? How was it made? Taking the questions even deeper, we may ask ourselves what is it about an entity that classifies it as intelligent? Above all, what processes are entailed by intelligence?

It is questions like this that lead me on to the subject of "intelligent creation", an endeavor which involves at least making an attempt to take the question of intelligence and the nature of the processes behind it a little further. In contrast the IDists have explicitly stated that their task ends once intelligence has been detected, thus leaving a hiatus or "gap"; hence their work very comfortably fits a "natural forces vs divine agency" dualist philosophy (See links below).

The irony is that even atheist evolutionists will tell us that evolution is far from a random process thus implicitly admitting to an information gap an: See here here and here:  This is, in fact, consistent with William Dembski's work. See here. Thus, so-called "natural forces" as conceived by standard evolutionary theory can hardly be classified as "undirected chance and mechanical forces" (sic) if they are sufficiently resourced to do the job of life creation.

As I have said before information can be created, provided we allow exponentially expanding parallelism and teleology to occur "naturally".  For example, the human mind is a "natural object" (sic) which generates such information on a routine basis. See here. I also touch on the subject of "Complex Specified Information" (CSI) in the same link.

Links on De Facto ID
De facto ID's God-of-the-Gaps (Small sample)