• Intelligent Design – From the Horse’s Mouth

    My internet stalker says (here) that the people of Intelligent Design insist that Intelligent Design is not religious.  Well, let’s see.

    “We are taking an intuition most people have [the
    belief in God] and making it a scientific and
    academic enterprise. We are removing the most
    important cultural roadblock to accepting the role
    of God as creator.”
    – Phillip Johnson quoted, Enlisting Science to Find the
    Fingerprints of a Creator, The LA Times, 3/25/2001.

     

    “If we take seriously the word-flesh Christology of
    Chalcedon (i.e. the doctrine that Christ is fully
    human and fully divine) and view Christ as the
    telos toward which God is drawing the whole of
    creation, then any view of the sciences that leaves
    Christ out of the picture must be seen as
    fundamentally deficient.”
    – William Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between
    Science & Theology, Downers Grove, InterVarsity Press,
    1999.

     

    “There’s a difference of opinion about how
    important this debate [advocating intelligent
    design] is. What I always say is that it’s not just
    scientific theory. The question is best understood
    as: Is God real or imaginary?”
    – Phillip Johnson quoted, The Search for Intelligent Design
    in the Universe, Silicon Valley Magazine, January 9 2000.

     

    “The world is a mirror representing the divine
    life…Intelligent design readily embraces the
    sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed,
    intelligent design is just the Logos theology of
    John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information
    theory.”
    – William A. Dembski, Touchstone Magazine, July/August
    1999.

     

    Well, I’ve said that quite a number of times. I think I said that at the beginning of my testimony yesterday, that I think in fact from — from other perspectives, that the designer is in fact God.  Michael Behe Kitzmiller trial testimony

    I could go on, but I don’t need to.

    Here’s the problem.  If the authors of ID have said the things above AND the authors of ID have stated the things that Joe claims…

    Then what does it all mean?

    It means that Intelligent Design proponents are fundamentally dishonest.  The answer you get (if you get one at all) will depend on the location or person asking.  If the location is a church or the questioner is a Christian, then the response is that ID is religious, specifically Christian.  If the location is not a church or the questioner is a scientist, politician, or court of law, then ID is not religious.

    So, which is it?  Well, that’s really been settled.  Joe does not get to decide, even Dembski does not get to decide.  The US federal court (Kitzmiller trial) has determined that ID is fundamentally religious in nature.  No one has argued the point in a court, so as far as everyone is concerned, the concept is settled.  Until ID starts actually doing science, then there really isn’t any argument about it.

    Until ID presents a valid, testable, falsifiable, and discriminatory hypothesis, then it doesn’t matter.  ID can’t be science.  I guess it could be a philosophy, but as we see from the quotes above, the creators of the notion of ID all say that ID is religious and in fact, Christian.

    Again, all it means is that the proponents of ID will say anything to try to influence someone.  They aren’t scientists or even clerics, they are salesmen.  That’s all.

    Aside: I do NOT want to spend this entire blog arguing with JoeG.  I’ve had this conversation with him literally dozens of times.  In fact, we actually had a formal debate about whether ID is anti-evolution or not (here).  Joe is fundamentally incapable of admitting error.  He’s spent years trying to support his claim that hail is not made out of water.  Some of the latest funnies are when he thought that “mol” was short for “molecule” thereby missing the entire point of a discussion on thermodynamics and entropy.  He has made the claim that the “m” in “Mya” stands for “millienia”.  Then he gets mad and starts cursing at us.  My original blog has dozens of comments that begin with “F*** you” and other similar comments.

    I want this blog to be a place where people can have discussions and relate information about science, creationism, skepticism, etc.  I do NOT want this to be me arguing with Joe.  He’s a jerk.  I’ve spent years on the After the Bar Closes forum talking past him.  I don’t want the blog to go that route.  A forum is better place for that, but he refuses to stay on the forum for long.  I think, mainly, because we keep asking questions that he can’t answer.

    Honestly, if I had evidence that one of the fundamental theories of modern science is wrong, no one would get me to shut up about it.  I’d be sending it out to every peer-reviewed journal in existence.  I’d be on every forum, with the full evidence, the full explanation, and be available to answer anyone’s questions.  With ID proponents, we get comments like “you’re too stupid to understand” and “I’ve done this already” (no link though).

    ID, as a friend says, is just a fish flopping in the bottom of the boat waiting to die.  That fish may think it’s going to stand up, kill all the humans, steal the boat, and ride off into the sunset… but everyone knows the truth.  The fish just isn’t willing to admit it.

    Category: Creationism

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    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat

    • And BTW, I would leave you alone if you would just stop lying

      • Smilodon’s Retreat

        You make claims, you support it. You have nothing and you know it. You know I never say anything that I can’t back up and when I use the words of ID proponents, it’s their words, not mine.

        You don’t get to do this again.

      • No Such Thing As Blasphemy

        Care to point out a lie in this post?

    • No Such Thing As Blasphemy

      When someone makes the deceitful claim that intelligent design is about science and not religion, direct them to DI’s “wedge strategy”.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

    • Does JG deny evolution?

      If so, on what basis (or is he an acceptor in ways like Dembski)?

      In my books, anyone who denies evolution simply hasn’t read enough (of the right stuff). It’s that simple.

      • Smilodon’s Retreat

        I honestly don’t know. Like most creationists, his position varies depending on when you ask.

        He has said, in the past, that he has no problem with evolution, but then he fully denies that evolution can produce complex structures. Of course, he’s also stated that termites are intelligent, neatly side-stepping the whole non-intelligence creating complex specified structures.

    • Sonny Moonie

      I’m interested in ID arguments because they allow using my imagination about design by aliens or time-travelers or circular time or Platonic forms or morphic fields or something else, maybe something humans haven’t thought yet. It’s an alternative to thinking that humans have answered the questions of evolution and origins once and for all with randomness and natural selection, and that anyone really knows what randomness is and that it exists. Then it bothers me when ID proponents conclude by assuming there was one designer that was one being, and slide from that through a bunch of theological terms that they pull out of their hat without reasons (e.g. I just listened to “The Argument for Design in Cosmology” the October 19 episode of ID the Future at http://www.idthefuture.com that repeatedly says the designer must be “transcendent,”) sliding through vagueness and connotations of their words to implying they’re only talking about the monotheistic God. (There are Muslim proponents of Creationism too, e.g. http://www.darwinism-watch.com.) Part of that argument from ID the Future stated by Casey Luskin was that an intelligent brain can’t pop into existence out of nothing, but then he describes the designer by the end of the interview as “self-existent” and a “mind.” It’s a terrible clunker of inconsistency, and of course a straw man argument against all other hypotheses on the origin of intelligent life, because it’s only the whale created by the infinite improbability drive in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that he’s referencing and arguing against, which was a parody of Creationist ideas of origins ex nihilo and origins from quantum randomness mixed together.

      So it is fishy, but it’s not a fish, it’s a mammal.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        I’m interested in ID arguments too, but only because the science is settled and science wins over non-science. Like you said, ID (and all other forms of creationism) are purely attempts to justify a theological belief.

        On, the other hand, the science is settled. Mutational events are effectively random (there are some situations where mutational events in one area of a genome are increased). Chromosome selection in sex cells are effectively random. Crossing over and other genetic changes are effectively random.

        What we mean by effectively random is that it is impossible to predict what genes an offspring will get or what piece of a genome will be changed in any mutation event. So, that’s pretty much what we mean by random in evolution. This has been and continues to be accurately represented by computer simulations of evolution.

        We haven’t answered all the questions, but science (evolution) is the only one looking for answers.

        You might be interested a post I wrote that shows the Designer of Intelligent Design must be a deity.

        • Sonny Moonie

          All right, this is progress. I read your article on ID from October 6, to which you seemed to be referring. I’m a philosophical skeptic (not believing anything, and holding what I directly experience more certain than any philosophical principle, and philosophy as usually wrong,) so I’m trying to make room for not having to believe in evolution, and you’re a scientific skeptic trying to make a rock-solid case for evolution and science. You’re dealing in philosophy, in trying to go beyond a merely probabilistic case (i.e. a for-all-we-know sort of argument for evolution being probable, or a pragmatic argument that science can know at least a little about evolution but anything else might as well be nonsense because it doesn’t make testable predictions.) So I’m going to try to find chinks in your wall of perfect certainty in science and I guess you’ll want to fill them.

          “For example, if the meddler is what makes the mutations in genomes happen, then again, the designer is no different from evolution and one may as well say that evolution is the designer.”

          I disagree with the logic of this. Meddling by a designer, if possible and effective, would produce mutations that are otherwise improbable, at least greatly accelerating the rate of evolution, maybe making evolution of a greater number of more capable species possible rather than devolution to fewer and more sickly ones.

          I agree the hypothesis of aliens (extraterrestrial visitors) meddling in Earth evolution only defers the problem of the source of design or information by a step. However, combined with an eternal physical universe, it could be an infinite regress of aliens visiting aliens without any logical contradiction. (I would side with Hubble that expansion of the universe is not the only possible explanation of redshift, just a rather probable one. If we haven’t investigated other explanations, then we shouldn’t even claim probability for expansion.)

          Circular causation or accidental time-travel: Only a small fraction of cells, one in a trillion or less, slipping back in time to influence earlier evolution would totally clobber the evolution from random mutation and natural selection theory and its predicted rates of change being valid. There’s no way anyone can prove that doesn’t happen. It’s a philosophical belief or unexamined bias that causation is only forward in time and that time travel does not happen.

          Platonic forms or morphic fields could in some yet-to-be-explained way do the meddling. Ask Rupert Sheldrake followers about morphic fields, if you can find any intelligent ones.

          Here’s a good one I’ve thought through: Molecules quantum mechanically strive to find a stable state. A stable state means one that lasts a long time. A successful, helpful mutation may be passed on for millions of years. So that’s what DNA molecules tend to mutate into, in otherwise highly improbable chemical accidents. (That’s just on the edge of conventional evolutionary theory, but I don’t think it counts as standard materialism.)

          A problem with the concept of randomness itself is something I just found out that Donald Knuth has covered (and as a defense of his belief in design and Christianity.) If I were going to blindly follow anyone on the subject of randomness, I couldn’t have wished for an expert more interesting to me. However, being a skeptic, I distrust the idea for that very reason, plus I’ve only read it second-hand so far.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Sort of. I don’t have to make a rock solid case for evolution, the science is settled. As far as science, there isn’t any other method for gaining new information.

            If you disagree with science, then there are bigger issues. Let’s put it this way, the technology that you are using to type and send these messages to this blog is less well supported than evolution is.

            I disagree with the logic of this. Meddling by a designer, if possible
            and effective, would produce mutations that are otherwise improbable, at
            least greatly accelerating the rate of evolution, maybe making
            evolution of a greater number of more capable species possible rather
            than devolution to fewer and more sickly ones.

            You really can’t say this. “Improbably” doesn’t mean impossible. For example, if you have a possibly of a mutation occurring in a species of bacteria as 1 in 100 trillion, well, you have to realize that there may be well over a trillion bacteria in a ton of soil. There are many, many tons of soil on the Earth. Each bacterial generation is between 8 and 24 hours. So in 10 years, across the Earth, 1 in 100 trillion odds looks pretty darn likely.

            Now, what mutation would be sufficiently improbably to require a designer? Name a mutation that is improbable. Do you mean a single mutation or a sequence of mutations that results in a new protein or biochemical pathway? Why is that mutation so improbable?

            There’s no such thing as ‘devolution’. Evolution is not a directed process working towards a particular goal. It is directed in the sense that whatever adaptations are most beneficial at the particular moment are the ones that tend to get passed on to offspring.

            You seem to (and I’m not entirely sure) find the process of evolution somewhat… unlikely. Yet your proposing time travel, morphic fields, etc. Do you have any single bit of evidence to support any of it?

            Here’s the thing, science, now, has the ability to study changes in populations at the DNA level. That’s what Richard Lenski’s lab has ended up doing over the last 23 years. They have a mutated strain of E. coli that has developed the ability to metabolize citrate. By definition, that’s not something that E. coli can do. It’s so well know that it can’t use citrate that the test to determine E. coli from other bacteria involves citrate.

            Yet, in less than 50,000 generations, no fewer than 4 major mutations have happened in that strain of bacteria. Including one that was described by the author as almost a wholesale rearrangement of that part of the genome.

            Is that sufficiently improbable for you? Now, Lenksi and the team have analyzed that genome and genomes in related strains from there lab and they have samples every 500 generations (75 days) for the last 23 years of every strain.

            What should they be looking for to identify the meddling of an intelligent designer? Like the wind, we can’t see the thing, but we can see the effects.

            If a designer can affect the material world, then it must exist, at least partially, in the material world. So, what things would indicate that the designer exists and has interacted with those bacterial cultures (but not bacterial cultures sitting right next to them on the shelf)?

            • Sonny Moonie

              You don’t have to make a case that all other ideas about how things evolve or arise besides random mutation and natural selection are ruled out by not making sense, but it looked to me like you were trying to do that. If there isn’t any other method for gaining new information than science, are you suggesting that organisms have practiced science when they’ve accumulated new information in their genomes?

              The technology I’m using to send and receive messages is well supported in at least two senses better than evolution: It’s in my direct experience that it works. (It’s not something that merely produces a picture that’s plausible despite disconnection from the real world, like a scientific theory about the deep unobserved past.) It’s in my direct experience that it’s intelligently designed and repaired.

              A set of tRNA for a complete genetic code arising by chance mutations before being used is an example of something extremely improbable that probably wouldn’t have happened by chance even if every star in the observable universe had an Earth-like planet covered with amino and nucleic acids for 12 billion years. That’s an origin of life issue though. It’s a problem for origin of life research, and might never be solved.

              The devolution issue applies even with life already existing. By devolution I mean when deleterious mutations outpace beneficial ones in a species. How do you know there’s not something supernatural or magical or very bizarre and unknown to current science that favors the production of beneficial mutations over deleterious ones? How can you prove that?

              The citrate consuming E. coli mutated to do something other bacteria do, and mutates to do so at a predictable rate contingent on exposure to citrate for a prior number of generations. That doesn’t seem like a very good example for proving that mutations are really random.

              It’s not required for me to prove that a designer or time-travel or something else meddling in evolution (before bioengineering) exists or has evidence supporting it, if all I’m trying to do is to defend philosophical skepticism or probabilism. I merely have to point to some hypotheses that are just barely logically possible or conceivable, besides conventional evolution. If you want to prove scientific skepticism with absolute certainty about evolution is correct, you have to prove that nothing else but evolution as currently conceived is possible.

              I hope you’re having fun and don’t mind me being weird. If you don’t want to continue debating that would be all right with me. Thank you for your responses so far. It’s been educational for me to look up what you’re writing about sometimes.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Sorry for jumping into your discussion, I´d just like to add some comments:

              The technology I’m using to send and receive messages is well supported in at least two senses better than evolution: It’s in my direct experience that it works.

              There are many cases where a scientific approach is much more reliable than direct experience, think optical illusions for example. Our minds and perceptions are highly biased in many ways (we do not understand large numbers, probability and exponential growth intuitively, for example) and science is a good way to correct for these biases.

              A set of tRNA for a complete genetic code arising by chance mutations before being used is an example of something extremely improbable that probably wouldn’t have happened by chance even if every star in the observable universe had an Earth-like planet covered with amino and nucleic acids for 12 billion years

              There are many of these chicken and egg problems in evolutionary biology. The origin of the translation apparatus is probably the most challenging one. But the history of Biology so far has shown that most of the biochemical systems we try to explain can be broken up into subsystems that can be assembled step by step. For the origin of the translation apparatus, all explanatory models at the moment are highly speculative, here is an overview:
              http://www.biology-direct.com/content/2/1/14 (extremely long and technical paper, but I´m not aware of a more accessible summary…)

              The devolution issue applies even with life already existing. By devolution I mean when deleterious mutations outpace beneficial ones in a species. How do you know there’s not something supernatural or magical or very bizarre and unknown to current science that favors the production of beneficial mutations over deleterious ones? How can you prove that?

              The most convincing evidence for mutations being random comes from the fact that the fitness changes that are caused by a mutation do not change the probability of the occurence of this particular mutation. In other words, a mutation being beneficial or deleterious does not predict the likelihood of the occurence of the mutation. What does predict the likelihood of the occurence of mutations however, is chemistry. Certain mutations are much more likely than others (methylated Cysteines frequently change to Thymines by deamination, for example), and this can be predicted based on our knowledge of DNA chemistry.

              The citrate consuming E. coli mutated to do something other bacteria do, and mutates to do so at a predictable rate contingent on exposure to citrate for a prior number of generations. That doesn’t seem like a very good example for proving that mutations are really random.

              The rates are not predictable because the evolution of the Cit+ strains relied on the fixation of several (nearly) neutral mutations by genetic drift. Once these mutations are in place, it is very easy to evolve the Cit+ trait in Lenski´s experiment (with some assumptions about fitness changes you could even calculate reasonable precise estimates for the number of generations it will take based on population genetics), but getting the potentiating mutations in place is based on genetic drift and it is not predictable how long it will take until you get those.

            • Sonny Moonie

              Thank you Andy for the link to that study (Wolf and Koonin, 2007.) It was very educational and entertaining, to read where scientists are working on the subject I was mentioning (which I learned was a difficult problem in the first place from Douglas Hofstadter’s Metamagical Themas.) It sounded like it might be a plausible story of steps that are consistent with conventional materialism and evolution, but I’m not an microbiologist, so for all I know the field might be within a few years of proving most of those steps possible with RNA-world experiments or the story might not hold up and might be displaced in the opinion of microbiologists by some other story of a series of intermediate steps.

              The article says: “It might not be much of an exaggeration to note that, at least, at first glance, the origin of the translation system evokes the scary specter of irreducible complexity.” So I wasn’t mistaken to mention it as an example of a development that seems improbable. Also, Koonin wrote another paper in 2007, http://www.biology-direct.com/pubmed/17540027 which they link in the article, where he uses the problem as an excuse for speculating on an infinite inflationary multiverse and the anthropic principle combining to overcome the improbability.

              Science is not more reliable than direct experience, because if I can’t trust my experience that I’m reading or listening to something in the real world, like a computer that really works and is not just my imagination running wild, then where am I supposed to get the science to judge my experience? When there’s an optical illusion or inconsistency in my perception, I figure out how to work around it and see what’s really there for myself. Sometimes an attempt at scientific explanation is written alongside an engineered optical illusion, but those are usually unreliable speculations and usually don’t give instructions about how to defeat the illusion and to what extent that’s possible.

              It doesn’t seem serious that anyone would not learn by their own experiences of “large numbers, probability, and exponential growth” if they need to deal with those things or concepts, but instead trust science to tell them what to think about those things, just reading psychological science about it that tells them all humans are biased. Reasonable or curious people learn about those things and play with them for themselves, to develop skills and “intuition” about them, then if they come across psychological science about those things, judge its quality by their experience rather than the other way around. I’ve noticed sometimes people do just repeat opinions that have been published by authorities they support and put those ahead of anyone’s personal experience including their own, if it serves some political or ideological purpose.