Friday, August 26, 2005

Naturalism Nonsense...

New exhibit at London Zoo - humans, per Yahoo! News.
"We have set up this exhibit to highlight the spread of man as a plague species and to communicate the importance of man's place in the planet's ecosystem," London Zoo said. The scantily-clad volunteers will be treated as animals and kept amused at the central London zoo with games and music. ...Brendan Carr, 25, from Aylesbury, southern England, wrote a poem in his bid to get on the mountain.
Mankind as a plague species, communicating importance, kept amused with games and music, the use of poetry? It continues to amaze me how believers in naturalism ignore the implications of the reality of the abstract. Sometimes I wonder why I should take the time to develop arguments against naturalism when all one needs to do is let the naturalists do it themselves.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

On detecting bad design...

The process employed in an oil refinery is, essentially, a very simple one. Crude oil is placed into large vessels which heat the crude and cook the various products out of it (be it jet fuel, diesel, etc.). Of course, the quality of the crude, plays a major role in determining just how it is cooked.

Connecting the many vessels and tanks in an oil refinery is a labyrinth of piping. This piping is not, as you might imagine, of the type you would find at your local Home Depot. It is specialized piping made of specialized materials, depending on the particular application in the refinery. While many of the components of a refinery are similar, their configuration is typically unique. As such, the piping required is designed specifically for the refinery. These pipe pieces are referred to as spools because they have flanges at both ends and, consequently, resemble a common spool.

A cross-section of a typical pipe spool.

Certainly, the complexities found in a refinery will result in pipe spools of various lengths and sizes. It is also not unusual to find pipe spools with bends in them, such as shown below.

Now, due to the nature of unique design, as found in virtually all refinery construction, one would expect that a methodology that employed a common template to be a better design, as compared with a methodology that designed many, if not all, of the spools individually. For example, if one were confronted with several design problems in which the solution turned out to be a common pipe spool of the size and configuration shown above, wouldn't it make sense to keep that configuration? After all, it would save money in terms of design and fabrication time.

Conversely, if one found out that, instead of employing a common template, a unique configuration was used for certain spools, would that be cause to infer bad design?

No. It would not. And the reason why is that one may not have complete access to the design parameters at hand.

Recently there was an explosion at a BP plant in Texas City, Texas. In BP: Wrong type of pipe caused plant explosion, we read,

The installation of the wrong type of pipe spool is believed to have caused last week’s explosion and fire at the same BP plant where 15 people were killed in March, company officials said Monday.

An 8-inch section of heavy steel pipe, located between a compressor and heat exchanger on the Resid Hydrotreater Unit, failed on Thursday. No one was injured during the resulting blast and blaze. The section failed because workers installed the wrong type of steel pipe spool on the outlet of the heat exchanger, BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell said. The elbow-shaped pipe spool, believed to have been mistakenly installed when the unit underwent routine maintenance in February, is not designed to withstand higher temperatures.

Carbon steel pipe is used for lower temperature operations, while stainless steel pipe is used for higher temperature operations. Installing a carbon steel pipe spool in place of a stainless steel pipe spool will result in pipe failure.

Installation procedures should have prevented the installation of the wrong pipe spool. But human error is a tricky thing. So tricky, in fact, that one would expect a better design to be one that takes into account the possibility that a pipe spool of the wrong material type might be inadvertently installed due to its identical configuration with the correct spool.

The lesson here is not that it's difficult to detect design. No, that's the easy part. What's difficult is to conclusively determine that the design detected is truly a bad design.

Keep that in mind whenever you hear evolutionists make claims that certain biological systems or organisms exhibit inherently bad design.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Imago Articulus has moved...

I've moved my Photo-blog, Imago Articulus, over to Typepad. Posts are now categorized, for easier navigation.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Intelligent Confusion...

It's amazing that normally intelligent people, when presented with the prospect of the teaching of Intelligent Design, lose the use of their cognitive faculties. Consider the incident related to by Instapundit in which George Bush was asked about the teaching of Intelligent Design.
Bush wants to teach Intelligent Design in schools. That's just pathetic.

It's not going over well in some places on the right, either. Rick Moran at Right-Wing Nuthouse writes:

Alright then, I’ve got a few more “ideas” that students should probably be exposed to as long as we’re talking about filling their heads with a bunch of nonsense like ID:.

1. The earth is actually a bowl sitting on the back of elephants. Hey! If its good enough for the Hindus, why not us?

2. The God Manitou took pity on a mother bear who had lost her cubs while swimming across Lake Michigan and turned the cubs into islands (the Manitou islands) and the mother into a sand dune (Sleeping Bear Sand Dune).
...Now if I were a White House spinmeister I'd say this was just about teaching children the shape of the debate. But I feel sure that Bush wouldn't be satisfied by a curriculum that exposed the many fallacies of Intelligent Design (the biggest being that its proponents start with a particular Designer in mind and then try to marshal the evidence). And certainly the constituency that he's trying to satisfy wouldn't be. Nor would various other hypotheses (e.g., that our universe is actually a computer model itself, being run by unknown others for unknown purposes) satisfy, I suspect, even though there's more evidence for them -- we see computer models every day -- than for creation by a deity.
At once we have comparisons to various creation myths - has the concept of a "strawman" ever been explained to these people? Or we have claims that a particular Designer is chosen first and then the evidence patterned around said Designer. Such claims only expose the ignorance of the writer to the actual claims of ID proponents. And is it really beyond the horizon line of these people to see that a computer model was generated by a designer? Has it ever occurred to these individuals that the issue should be what is the correct explanation and not what is science? You know - whether or not something is true should trump whether or not it fits within a particular category. You see, the issue really isn't whether or not we should also teach various culture's creation myths or whether or not ID is really science. No, the issue is an a priori assumption that only determinism and chance can explain the reality of our world (including the reality of the abstract). Hence the super-natural, by their imposed definition, is not now, and can never be allowed to be, a possible explanation. Indeed.

Back again...

Well the last 3+ weeks have been hectic, to say the least. Included in one of those weeks was a trip to northern New Mexico, which was very beautiful. I hope to post pics at Imago Articulus soon.