Thursday, January 28, 2010

Calvinism is evil, but calling God unjust is just fine

DavidW can't stop digging his own grave. It's sad to watch, actually, and I mean that. I am seriously sad for him.

Me: So the lawbreaking of the forgiven is not punished?

DavidW: No. I don't mean to get personal at all, as I don't like personal and familial references in arguments and debates, so excuse me please: if your son dropped a glass of milk on the floor and then said he's sorry and started to wipe it up -- would you spank him for it? Of course not. "If you who are evil give good gifts to your children..." -- well, you know the rest.

Me: Is God, then, unjust?

DavidW: Yes, essentially. And are you unjust not to spank the son who drops the milk even though he's apologized and started to wipe it up? God is not a slave to his own nature. Above all, he is merciful. One of the Fathers, I can't remember which, said it very well once. We should never pray for God's justice, he said, as God's justice is our condemnation -- we should continually pray and hope for his unjustness.

Me: Does He just ignore the law, broken by the sinner?

DavidW: Yes -- that would be the definition of "forgiven." If a bank forgives your debt are you still obligated to pay them something? If you forgive your neighbor for talking bad to you -- do you still harbor hostility or require that he exact some kind of penance or pay some debt? Of course not.
You've said that the Orthodox don't take sin seriously -- I think the problem is that Calvinists don't take God's mercy and lovingkindness seriously. In fact, you don't take God seriously. He says he forgives -- you say he still requires a debt to be paid; the two statements stand in contradiction. You make God a liar yet again. (source, emph mine)

So apparently God just ignores His holy, righteous law whenever He wants to.
Apparently sinning against God's law is like spilling a glass of milk and then starting to wipe it up.
Apparently the sinner, even though the Bible says numerous times that he is God's enemy, is actually a son.
Apparently God can change His nature when He wants to.
You know who he sounds exactly like? The mostly-secularised N African Muslims with whom I shared the Gospel of grace this summer. I mean exactly like them, no difference, except I couldn't get many of them to admit that God is unjust. They just kind of ignored the contradiction.

See, this is when the substitutionary atonement would come in mighty handy for him, but he just can't bear to admit to himself or anyone else the serious problem here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The monolithic early church

DavidW, my EO debate opponent, keeps asking me things like this in the various threads in which we've been informally debating things (mostly on his blog):

And for the umpteenth time I ask you kindly to show me a single Father who disagreed concerning essential matters of Faith. Baptismal regeneration? Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? The visible unity of the Church? Anything, really. Better yet, show me one that agrees with you on any of these matters.
I of course take issue with artificially restricting such questions to pet issues of his like baptismal regeneration, visible church unity, and Eucharistic dogma, and I've told him that, but helpfully this time he adds "anything, really". With that in mind, I'd like to give a few summary links and demonstrate where I've already done so.

My first comment is to note that he seems to be labeling these three issues as essential matters of Faith. That's very interesting indeed. Me, I'd've picked, I don't know, the Gospel, the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the guilty status of a sinner before a holy God. Like I said, that's just me. Maybe I'm just being too Western, or too Protestant, or (gasp!) too Calvinist.
Which leads to another salient point, because DavidW and other EOx and RCs like to challenge Sola Scripturists to point out "just one" place where our theology and ECF theology agree. So the answer is very easy, and it exposes the disingenuous nature of the challenge - we agree with the entire content of the Apostles' Creed. So, what does that contain?

-Who is Almighty
-Who made heaven and earth,
-Jesus Christ
-The Father's only Son
-Who is our Lord
-Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost
-Who was born of the virgin Mary
-Who suffered under Pontius Pilate
-Who was crucified
-Who died
-Who was buried
-Who descended into Hades
-Who arose again from the dead on the third day
-Who ascended into heaven
-Who now sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty
-Who thence shall come to judge the quick and the dead
-The Holy Ghost
-The holy catholic (ie, universal) church
-The communion of saints
-The forgiveness of sins
-The resurrection of the body
-The life everlasting

That's a lot of agreement! Oh, that's not what the EO or RC questioner meant? Well, maybe they should have asked a question they meant instead of the question they asked!
The question they of course meant was: Who in the early church believed in the distinctive doctrines of Calvinism? And of course our answer is: Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the other NT authors including most certainly the author of Hebrews, who had a particular interest in the Penal Substitutionary Atonement and Covenant theology.

Anyway, on to the list of places where I've already answered DavidW's challenge, and which he has so far refused to take into account.

Athanasius, Chrysostom, and the modern EOC
More disunity in Eastern Orthodoxy, in which I quote official EO clergy anathematising other self-labeled EOdox for such crazy important and essential matters as which calendar one uses and what kind of bread one uses in the Eucharist. I mean, crucial stuff, "concerning essential matters of Faith", as DavidW would say.
Taking sin seriously, or, the Gospel, in which DavidW exposes his clear disagreement with a fairly important Early Church Father - Jesus Christ.
1st Clement on sola fide, in which I quote the very early letter of 1st Clement extolling the doctrine of sola fide, and with which DavidW misleadingly protests that he agrees in its totality.

Also, I just thought I'd go ahead and throw in the testimony of Epiphanius with respect to iconoclasm. And a link to Jason Engwer's helpful Catholic But Not Roman Catholic index (not that EOC is the same as RCC, but many of the entries are relevant).

Plenty more could be said, but I've tried to narrow my focus to mostly what I've said, to be as specific as possible to DavidW's challenge.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Societal consensus for morality

Never hurts to go over this kind of thing again.

marhaban said...

Torture is immoral according to the definition I know because it does not conform to the patterns of conduct USUALLY ACCEPTED or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics. Social consensus is required.

But, you don't agree with my definition so to show that it is immoral on your terms, I need to know how you align your moral compass. I am assuming that if it is considered bad in the Bible, then you also would consider it bad and immoral. Is this correct or are you using your atheist definition of morality for this discussion?

Your definition according to social consensus is completely insufficient when it comes to bigger questions than the ones we generally encounter in the sedate, peaceful West, in the modern pax americana.
Take a look at my scenario and I'd like to know your reaction to it given your measurement of morality.

And let me try to clarify my own position. The Bible is God's very self-revelation to humanity. He didn't tell us everything about Himself, but He told us an awful lot, and plenty to know what His law is and what is good and what is bad. Best of all, it's objective; good things are good no matter whether anyone believes they are good, b/c good is grounded in God's character, which does not change and is eternal. That which is bad is that which runs contrary to God's law. Thus raping little girls for fun is evil even if everyone in the entire world believes that raping little girls for fun is actually good. Similarly, refusing to worship Jesus is evil even if everyone in the entire world believes that worshiping Jesus is not good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The CIA isn't Jack Bauer

Some interesting thoughts on the real live practices involved in interrogating and de-briefing, among others, jihadists including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appeared in the recent National Review article Meet the Real Jack Bauers.

The tidbits that most intrigued me were:

"...there is a difference between “interrogation” and “de-briefing.” Interrogation is not how we got information from the terrorists; it is the process by which we overcome the terrorists’ resistance and secure their cooperation — sometimes with the help of enhanced interrogation techniques.

Once the terrorist agreed to cooperate, I was told, the interrogation stopped and “de-briefing” began, as the terrorists were questioned by CIA analysts, using non-aggressive techniques to extract information that could help disrupt attacks."

"Just the experience of being brought into CIA custody — the “capture shock,” arrival at a sterile location, the isolation, the fact that they did not know where they were, and that no one else knew they were there — was enough to convince most of them to cooperate. Others, like KSM, demonstrated extraordinary resistance. But even KSM’s interrogation did not take long before he moved into debriefing. He had been captured in early March, they said, and before the end of the month he had already provided information on a plot to fly airplanes into London’s Heathrow airport."

"...interrogations involved strict oversight. There was no freelancing allowed — every technique had to be approved in advance by headquarters, and any deviation from the meticulously developed interrogation plan would lead to the immediate removal of the interrogator."

"He said that the interrogators’ credo was to use “the least coercive method necessary” and that “each of us is put through the measures so we can feel it.” He added: “It is very respectful. The detainee knows that we are not there to gratuitously inflict pain. He knows what he needs to do to stop. We see each other as professional adversaries in war.” (Indeed, Mike Hayden told me years later that K[halid] S[heikh] M[ohammed] referred to Harry as “emir” — a title of great respect in the jihadist ranks.)

Critics have charged that enhanced interrogation techniques are not effective because those undergoing them will say anything to get them to stop. Soufan, the FBI agent and CIA critic, has written: “When they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time, they will lie, make up anything to make you stop hurting them. . . . That means the information you’re getting is useless.”

What this statement reveals is that Soufan knows nothing about how the CIA actually employed enhanced interrogation techniques. In an interview for my book, former national-security adviser Steve Hadley explained to me, “The interrogation techniques were not to elicit information. So the whole argument that people tell you lies under torture misses the point.” Hadley said the purpose of the techniques was to “bring them to the point where they are willing to cooperate, and once they are willing to cooperate, then the techniques stop and you do all the things the FBI agents say you ought to do to build trust and all the rest.”

"CIA interrogators like Harry would ask detainees questions to which the interrogators already know the answers — allowing them to judge whether the detainees were being truthful and determine when the terrorists had reached a level of compliance."

And most interesting of all:

"Several senior officials told me that, after undergoing waterboarding, Zubaydah actually thanked his interrogators and said, “You must do this for all the brothers.” The enhanced interrogation techniques were a relief for Zubaydah, they said, because they lifted a moral burden from his shoulders — the responsibility to continue resisting." (emph. mine)

Very interesting, this last part. Even jihadists who are hardened to the murder of women and children feel the weight of God's law on their hearts, convicting them of guilt. May the Holy Spirit be pleased to bring them all to repentance, not just conviction of moral burden.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sola Scriptura Debate - Third cross-ex question

I am sure you would affirm that you and the EOC are under the authority of Scripture (with the understanding, of course, that Scripture is not your only authority, final authority, or only final authority).

Yet your position posits that the Church is responsible for deciding/determining (in my experience, EOdox and RCs, yourself included, use the two terms interchangeably and sloppily) the contents and extent of the Canon of Scripture. In what way, then, is the Church of God subject to the teaching and instruction of Scripture, since the Church is in fact the infallible interpreter of what Scripture says?

If you would deny the original given, I hope you'll correct my misunderstanding and explain what role Scripture actually plays in your position.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A little satire at Darwinists' expense

zilch said:

All I can say, Rho, is that if you think "goddidit that way" counts as an "explanation", then it's just as well you're not a scientist, or an engineer, or even attending a science class. I can just imagine the examination:

Why does gold exhibit a cubical face-centered crystal structure?


Why does the Sun shine?


Why is grass green?



But, but, I explained everything!

Many, many scientists throughout history have realised that God has put natural processes in place, and you're not taking that into acct. Fail on *you*.
Further, "God did it" IS an explanation, but not the ONLY explanation. Your assumptions make you dense.
Besides, ask a Darwinian the same things:

Why does the sun shine?
Mammy Nature did it.
How did the sun get there?
Mammy Nature put it there.
How did Mammy Nature get there?
Stop asking questions, you!! What are you, a fundamentalist!?!?! No tenure for you!!!!!

How did this sea slug "steal genes"?
Mammy Nature did it.
Yeah, but HOW?
We don't know, but Mammy Nature did it, and by the way, there is no God.
How do you know there is no God?
I haven't seen any evidence for God.
Have you ever seen any evidence for evidence?
I insist that we now change the subject.

Satire's fun for EVERYbody!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Discussing competing paradigms to explain historical fact

Responding to the comments from Damion starting here.

I missed the part of the article where you explained

YOU keep framing the issue in terms of "A Designer would've ___". That's what the BEAR article discusses, and yes the atavisms and vestiges are genera of the same question.

I’m asking someone who believes in an intelligent designer (anyone on the thread, really, not just you) to explain a particular pattern that actually exists in the data. Common descent makes sense of this pattern, but so far as I can tell, the design hypothesis does not.

The Designer made them that way. That makes sense of it, and explains it.
Now, I predict based on nearly innumerable past experiences that you're going to come back with "the Designer wanted to make it look like common descent?" Which I've already answered in at least two ways, which I will repeat here so everyone can keep score, and so maybe you'll actually advance the convo.
1) Your failure to recognise the many other sound and devastating refutations to Darwinism coupled with its total lack of evidence should help you understand that the fault lies with YOU for imposing the common descent paradigm on the facts, even though (by your own admission) the CD hypothesis doesn't explain all of them.
2) No, I don't know why the Designer did it that way, and neither do you, but it doesn't get us anywhere to keep asking that question over and over, esp when you admit you don't know anythg about the Designer.

Now, I hope that's the last time we ever have to discuss this.

Okay, then, what exactly should we expect to find on this hypothesis?

Meyer lists a dozen predictions on ID (scanned here for your convenience).
I listed quite a few in my BEAR1 article. I commend the Bible to your reading.

Refusing to engage in pointless name-calling counts as a defense, now?

Far from pointless. But clearly you can't bring yourself to bring one of y'all's heroes down a few notches. Fawning duly noted.

Of course there is a distinction between retrodictions and predictions, but both are necessary to get a working theory off the ground.

Not for historical questions. I'm sure PREdictions would be nice, but just b/c I posit George Washington crossed the Delaware as a conclusion of research, I don't need predictions about that to conclude it's true.

Is there any evidence from the tree of life or its fossils that might not be explainable under creation, on your view?

1) That's your job, really, as the skeptic.
2) One of the reasons I continue to blv in Christianity is that it succeeds in answering far more questions than other competing worldviews.

A creator can do anything it wants, up to and including speciation by common descent.

CAN, sure. But DID He? The Bible says He didn't. There's no evidence in CD's favor. the case doesn't look good.

Massive assumptions such as:

1) Individuals within a species exhibit new variations over time
2) Some variations are less adaptive to the environment than others
3) The Earth is really rather mind-bogglingly

Of all those, only #3 is an assumption. 1 and 2 are OBSERVATIONS.
The assumptions include the circular dating schemes you engage in, the interpretive grid you force onto the rocks you find in the ground, including ones that look like former life forms, dirt and water mixing together can somehow develop into elements of life that can convey vast amounts of information, that rocks mixed with water can produce information out of nowhere, and assuming that finch beaks getting larger and then going back to their original size means that rocks can become giraffes, given enough time.
That's more what I had in mind.

1. Does your concept of creationism have anything to say about how and why pseudogenes are distributed in species?

How, sure - God created and microevol affects the creation.
Why, not particularly, beyond the obvious, such as "God did it b/c He liked it and for His glory". Same for the other questions.

Well you can always posit that God supernaturally made the die come up six every single time, but there is a much simpler explanation to hand.

1) Simple is not always true. In fact, it's often NOT true.
2) How do you know it's simpler? God doing it seems to me a lot simpler than quintillions upon quintillions of coincidental occurrences. Maybe I'm missing sthg. If God is involved, it's not chance at all. You know that, right? So you have a workman in a workshop, or you have 10^gazillion rolls of the dice. I'm gonna go with the former as simpler.

I do not assume a given framework apriori.

Sure you do. You assume laws of science and mathematics exist. You assume your senses are reliable, that there really is an outside world and other minds. You assume your dating methods are correct. You commit the fallacy of affirming the consequent every single time you conclude something on the basis of observation, but that doesn't bother you. Your assumptions go on and on.

Surely you are not claiming that atavistic tails and GULOP pseudogenes (neither of which are at all functional in humans) are part of a deliberate design?

Damion, am I a creationist? Do creationists believe that God created everything?

If you think that God did in fact make some junk, on purpose, feel free to say so.

Ah, some Darwinism of the gaps! It's junk, you think, b/c you don't know what function it could possibly perform. So, since you know all, it's junk!

Micro-evolution cannot account for any of these elements, because they are exhibited across different species within clades.

You, a Darwinist, are objecting to coincidence? Please!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Sola Scriptura Debate - My second cross-ex answer

(Question here.)
First of all, that wasn't the only response I made to the Sola Ecclesiaist misutilisation of those passages to suit their own ends, but anyone can read back to what's already been said.

Second, I may not have communicated this well or DavidW may have misread me, but I don't think it's necessary at all to say that every single thing that the apostles taught to these local churches ended up being inscripturated.
A few things to note on this point:

1) God apparently didn't want to preserve those teachings with certainty for the church, else He would have provided for their preservation, in Scripture. Another definition for "Scripture" is "the stuff God said and intended His church to have forever", and another definition for "non-Scripture" is "the stuff God didn't say". We have one source given in Scripture for God's communication, His revelation: The Scripture. Nothing else.

2) Lest DavidW jump around with glee at this "admission" on my part, I simply challenge him the same as with any other Sola Ecclesiaist out there - prove the doctrine you're advancing (whichever it might be) came from the apostles. Proving it came from an early church writer is not equivalent. Appealing to ignorance or silence, as in "Well, this guy was a direct protegé of a direct protegé of an apostle. Why would he have gotten it wrong? How could he have, since he was there?", is not equivalent. Plenty of people in the NT heard Paul preach many times and got it wrong. Plenty of people heard Jesus preach many times and got it wrong. One of them even betrayed Him. The rest abandoned Him. Their "coryphaeus", Peter, had to be rebuked by Paul b/c he was aiding and abetting a "gospel" that was anathema. Virtually all the churches addressed in the epistles of the NT were struggling with false teachers and false teaching, tempting them. The majority held to very serious errors and had to be corrected. Some never recovered, like Laodicaea. Other struggled for decades if not longer with heresies such as Gnosticism, and Judaising (which finds its rebirth in modern semi-Pelagian systems such as RCC, EOC, strict Church of Christ, as well as numerous cults).
But ALL of these were churches who themselves were direct protegés of (a) direct protegé(s) of an apostle. Some were themselves direct protegés of an apostle. I'm sure it was helpful to have received direct man-to-man teaching from an apostle, but was that alone enough to keep them out of serious error, even heresy? Clearly not.

3) Appealing to an undefined and unproven mass of "uninscripturated tradition", which is his reason for quoting 2 Thess 2:15, is not equivalent to proving your doctrine came from the apostles.

4) Jesus gave us very clear direction as to how we are to test alleged divine teachings. I refer the reader back to the discussion of Mark 7:1-13 from my opening statement. Looking back, DavidW badly mistook the meaning of Mark 7 and what I was drawing out of that passage in his first cross-ex answer and his first rebuttal. For example, from the cross-ex answer:
Using Mark 7 as our point of reference, Christ is not even condemning all "traditions of men." He's condemning specifically those "traditions of men" which "make the word of God of no effect." And certainly not all "traditions of men" "make the word of God of no effect." National holidays like Independence Day and Thanksgiving are "traditions of men" but I doubt that Rhology would submit that they somehow violate the commandments of God.
That is not at all the point of Mark 7, but it's the most common Sola Ecclesia response, and it's a bad one. Jesus in Mark 7 takes a tradition that the Pharisees claimed they could trace all the way back to Moses(!) and says of it: 7 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
8 “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” 9 He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition...13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

This is nothing less than the standard by which we can know that a tradition is acceptable. As DavidW has "gotten" me to "concede", I'm sure Christ celebrated Hanukkah. He certainly participated in synagogue worship, which finds its basis in Jewish tradition, not the Old Testament. So what? He made sure to communicate the standard by which we are to judge good tradition vs bad tradition. It's not that He's only condemning bad, human tradition in Mark 7; He tells us WHY, and the WHY is no less relevant and necessary today.
Notice how DavidW tries to adjudicate between competing traditions, all throughout our debate so far. He cites Vincent de Lérins with all confidence and then, when questioned about it, retreats with blinding speed: "It's not really ALL when it says 'all'". Or "a church council is ecumenical and infallible when the church comes over time to accept its conclusions". So, which is it? Descriptive or prescriptive? How can it be a command, a dividing line between godly and ungodly doctrine, when its acceptance by the people whose behavior and doctrine it's supposed to define is the determining factor of its alleged authority?

Third, DavidW forgets that the earliest churches had access also to the Old Testament, by which the Bereans of Acts 17 approved Paul's preaching (and were commended for that practice).

Fourth, is not DavidW simply questioning the prevailing paradigm from God's dealings with the Old Testament people of God? Did Moses write Deuteronomy first or speak it in a lecture? He spoke it - it was oral tradition, and later it was written down. Moses no doubt also said at some point in his life "I have to go to the bathroom". That was not authoritative tradition, and we know because it wasn't inscripturated. Do you think Moses ever made a lighthearted joke about how stubborn the Israelites were? Didn't make "the cut"; it wasn't from God.
Did God explicitly say in the OT: "Write this stuff down BECAUSE 'the dual expression of the Faith via both Scripture and Tradition will end'"? It's inferred, it's assumed, b/c God does say some things, and He doesn't say other things. So when we're talking about distinguishing between theopneustos and non-theopneustos, there's no other reasonable expectation than that it will be knowable one way or the other.

So, to answer the question directly, from the Scripture I know that the Scripture is the means by which we are commanded and exemplified to test that which is not Scripture. With so many competing candidates for "Sacred Tradition" that want to have my allegiance out there, by what standard can I distinguish between them, on DavidW's system, if not by assuming the EO position and then proving the EO position correct? Anyone can claim that Doctrine X is a tradition "passed down by the apostles", to try to enjoin my obedience and allegiance. That is extremely easy, and one of the evidences for its ease is how many groups operate precisely that way and then try to get you to ignore all the others by hand-waving, whining about how "disunified" "Protestants" are, and misdirection to secondary issues if you should be stubborn enough to ignore the first two strategies. God, having seen the dilemma beforehand (indeed, having planned it out, so as to make very clear the divide between the true faith and question-begging man-centered systems like EOC and RCC), made clear what is His speech and the implications of divine revelation, all conveniently accessible in your KJV.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

ERV and me, face to face

After the evening lecture by Stephen Meyer at the local university back in late Sept 09, I had a conversation with the blogger known as ERV, Professor Broughton ("Rich" in the recording, around the 30 second mark), as well as Vox Veritatis and a bystander I don't know. I thought the conversation went well, both in terms of the attitude and tone of all involved and in the way that it turned out for my position. In case you care to listen, feel free.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

More special pleading

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

St John Damascus also thought his theology biblical. Okay, if I ask you why your theology is more correct than Damascene's, you will likely say because you are following the Bible, right?? Okay, for argument's sake, let's say that Damascene said the same thing--that he, too, is following the Bible. Who's correct now? Who arbitrates this discussion? Remember, you can't say "the bible" because that's the issue under discussion.

And I apologize for any misrepresentations. You say that a lot when we discuss these issues. I felt it easier to just apologize in advance.

Rhology said...

Hi Jacob,

Well, I try to only say it when it's true. Anyway...

Let's look at this from a different angle. Pope Benedict XVI thinks his theology is fully supported by the Fathers and Sacred Tradition. Okay, if I ask you why your theology is more in line with the Fathers than his, you will likely say because you are following the Fathers, right?? Okay, for argument's sake, let's say that Benedict said the same thing--that he, too, is following the Fathers. Who's correct now? Who arbitrates this discussion? Remember, you can't say "the Fathers" because that's the issue under discussion.

Let's look at this from another different angle. Old Calendarists think their theology is fully supported by the Fathers and Sacred Tradition. Okay, if I ask you why your theology is more in line with the Fathers than theirs, you will likely say because you are following the Fathers, right?? Okay, for argument's sake, let's say that they said the same thing--that they, too, are following the Fathers. Who's correct now? Who arbitrates this discussion? Remember, you can't say "the Fathers" because that's the issue under discussion.

This is precisely the kind of special pleading that makes me hold Sola Ecclesia as a position in such contempt.


(Please leave any comments at the Beggars All post.)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Salvaging the Darwinian wreckage

Dr Funkenstein offered some more thoughts on Darwinian evolution. He provoked me to check out TalkOrigins some, which is usually a stimulating activity and one I wish I had more time for, b/c it's highly regarded among Darwinists.

in the 1st i'm asking you if things have tell-tale signs of design, yet everything is designed, what is the point of comparison you are using for these tell tale signs if no undesigned thing exists?

On the one hand, I recognise the failure of the atheist worldview, so I conclude that everything is designed - everythg is created by God.
On the other, ToE provides no answer to the problem of information in organisms, specifically the origin of that info. It also fails to provide any mechanism that can be observed to take care of the problem of variety of organisms arising from an allegedly common ancestor. That is, I ask for examples of evol at work and I get mosquitoes evolving into mosquitoes, lizards into lizards, bacteria into bacteria, etc. Or question-begging appeals to "the fossil record".

But getting back to the foundation of this point, it goes like this:
1) ID-ist says he sees design.
2) ToE-ist says oh yeah? This and that are BAD design (aka BEAR 3).
3) ID-ist responds that bad design
That this is a response to an attempted Darwinian rebuttal is important to remember. It's not really well-suited as a positive argument for ID.

On the 2nd I'm saying that even if we accept everything is designed, how are we deciding what constitutes good and bad design?

I don't see how that's relevant in the slightest.
Besides, YOU are the one who brought up "bad design". Why don't you tell me? Make sure you're providing a consistent logical standard for knowing.

If our point of comparison for design is human designed things (and from the words of the ID crowd it often is - eg Watches, Mt Rushmore etc), then we can quite easily point out things that a human designer would avoid were they designing an organism.

I doubt any ID-ist has ever hypothesised that the Designer always did everything perfectly well and also preserved it perfectly in line with that perfection. (Sin, the Fall, remember?)
Besides, I hate to have to keep saying this, but bad design is still design. And humans have designed quite a few things badly, only to go back later and improve them. I mean, why were computer monitors originally all in green and black? Didn't their designers know that it would be far better just to use plasma flat screens at 1080p resolution and full color?

Apparently very few philosophers are out and out materialists

Good, b/c materialism is beyond ridiculous.

Which Dembski has no consistent description or metric for.

Meyer does, in his Signature In the Cell book. Page 86 says:
"Webster's, for instance, has a second definition that defines information as 'the attribute inherent in and communicated by alternative sequences of arrangements of sthg that produce specific effect.' Info, according to this definition, equals an arrangement or string of characters, specifically one that accomplishes a particular outcome or performs a communication function." I'd recommend his book to you, chapter 4 in particular on that count.

Only if you ignore hundreds of examples from the real world

This article gets it wrong b/c it includes crystals and gasoline explosions as "information". Meyer's, and I'm pretty sure Dembski's, specifies that info is not endlessly repetitive. What do crystals and explosions communicate, exactly?

This article is unintentionally funny.
1) One's inability to find an answer to a question does not imply that the question has no answer.
Are you serious? This is Darwinism of the gaps (aka BEAR 2) Maybe I'll just use that response for the rest of my blogging career.

2) Even if the arrangement consists of shattering a glass into tiny pieces, that means assembling new information.

Really? What info would that be?

3) In abiogenesis, it is observed that complex organic molecules easily form spontaneously due to little more than basic chemistry and energy from the sun or from the earth's interior.

a. Abiogenesis has not been observed.
b. "Complex organic molecules" are a very, very long way from even the simplest life form.
c. So...if I leave some inanimate object out in the sun long enough, I can expect its information content and its organisation to INCREASE? Like a newspaper...will it tell me a different frontpage story after a couple decades of sun exposure or exposure to heat? Cool! Who did that experiment?

This article gets the following wrong:
1) rejecting chance requires a complete list of all chance processes that might apply to the event.

Darwinism of the gaps, again.

2) Individually, (regularity, chance, and design) were due to chance, but collectively they were governed by laws, and all of this was planned by God (Ruse 2001, 121).

Um, so God designed that scenario, right?

3) And what the filter actually detects is copying, not intelligent agency.

What other process have you observed that copies information?

4) Thus, the design process must have another design process to produce it, which needs a design process of its own, ad infinitum, or somewhere along the way there must be no process at all and design must come out of nowhere.

Now I'm just laughing. All of a sudden, TalkOrigins forgot that the ID-ist thinks there was a Designer, who sort of started everything. Or you might say who designed everything. Crazy!
IOW, don't project your own problem of infinite regress onto ID.

(it seems rather bizarre, since as Paul C pointed out your criteria are self-refuting to start with (eg asking for experimental evidence with the proviso that no experimenter can be involved in the study)

Correct. The big, big problem you're overlooking is that YOU are the one who is trying to leave a designer out of the equation. And then you try to prove it by designing experiments. It's showing the absurdity of your position on its own merits. You can see the self-refuting nature of it, why don't you apply it all the way thru?
Let me try to explain it from another angle. You posit all-natural unguided processes that got life where it is today, w/o an intelligent designer. You attempt to prove the existence and power of these processes by intelligently designing a lab, intelligently designing tools, intelligently designing a hypothesis, intelligently designing a means to test, intelligently, that hypothesis, intelligently manipulating the control and the test groups which you intelligently grouped, intelligently limiting the environment to which the subjects of the test are exposed, and intelligently figuring an intelligent conclusion. Then you come back and say, "Voilà! Unguided processes are proven! No need for an intelligent designer!" No, you've shown nothing of the kind. In reality, you have no hope of ever performing an experiment that could bolster your case for unguided processes. You can thus never observe this unguided process doing what you claim it can do and did do, for which there's some mountain of evidence. The problem is all yours. I'm just pointing out the inconsistency in your claims vs what you can actually deliver, and so it's for that reason that Paul C was correct.
See, it's times like this where we see just what you value, and it's always evolution over truth. Your faith, your religion, is threatened, so you circle the wagons.

the fact that letting an experiment free run to a conclusion that occurs independent of the experimenter's wishes/preferences is about as opposite from ID as you can get

1) Not an experiment that is, to repeat the obvious and beat the dead horse, designed by intelligent agents in a lab that was intelligently designed and constructed and which was launched by intelligent agents.
Any reader should be able to see here the living, beating heart of your presuppositions behind the scenes, clouding your reason and turning you against the obvious. Behold the power of presuppositions, if you doubt them! Dr Funk will not accept anything outside of his materialistic presuppositions, despite the obvious reasons for doing just that.
2) Which would, worst case for me, fit under the ID umbrella as the equivalent of a deistic scenario. But you're dead set against ID. Another problem for your position.

you've assumed something along the lines of "the more uniform and longer a sequence is, the more information it has"

No, I don't think that's Meyer's argument. ISTM the most important element of information is its direction towards function, towards producing a specific effect or communicating so as to create something that functions.

in info theory the complete opposite is true as the more random a sequence it is the more difficult it becomes to compress and a longer sequence can be less complex than a short one

Well, sure. But no one's arguing that length is the only component here. Information can be short.
"I'm out back" contains the same # of characters (incl spaces) as "jffngikd87ff", and fewer than "dfafaiqwu340quefnqelrnqwflnad;f435q345243543", but it communicates sthg.

DNA's high information content is prima facie evidence it resulted, in part, from an essentially random process.

Sorry, I don't see why I should accept that given that my entire experience indicates that intelligent agents and only intelligent agents produce information.

there are mutations that insert bases as well as delete or swap them. this is 1st year level genetics/mol biol knowledge

Yes, I know that, but they're almost never useful or helpful. And even when they are, they are not numerous, and combined with a bunch of other nonhelpful ones, why should anyone think they'd lead to benefit?

duplication of genes/chromosomes (eg polyploidy) isn't unusual either (especially in organisms like plants)

Photocopying a page of a book doesn't increase information at all.