• ID Swings and Misses… Again.

    Klinghoffer has written a post introducing the new ID video. This video is supposed to explain ID in a “an easily accessible twenty-minute crystallization of ID’s major argument”.

    Sorry Dude, we all know what the ID argument is. Things are complicated, therefore design. It’s the exact same argument that William Paley promoted in 1802. In more than 200 years, Christian apologists still haven’t realized that this is flawed argument.

    The first 2 minutes of the video are just some shiny music, some text questions.  Then the big question “Where does information come from?” Then, the mistakes start. The video states that before the Cambrian Explosion, the “oceans were almost completely void of animal life”. That’s simply not true. As I have discussed at length, Meyer (and Klinghoffer since he says he wrote the script) are lying about the existence of species before the Cambrian Explosion. Further, they ignore the research that shows the genetic basis for the new body plans were present millions of years prior to the Cambrian.

    The video goes on about how ten million years later, the water were “suddenly alive”. Again, totally not true. The mystery of the Cambrian has only deepened to people who haven’t kept up with current research on the topic. I’ve debunked most of what Meyer has said about the Cambrian.

    There’s a nice false equivalence in the video too. Yes, when you change letters in a language or code in a computer it’s almost always bad. But that is not true for biology, which is significantly more fault tolerant than anything constructed by an intelligence that we know about. In fact, the vast majority of mutations are neutral… that is, they have no effect on anything. Meyer continues talking about this idea as if it hasn’t already been tested. It’s a big question… no, it’s not. You’re several decades behind current research… still.

    Oh good, the “historical” scientific method and how it’s different from the “observable” scientific method. Another attempt to discredit science. That’s all it is. Nothing is done in historical science that isn’t done in modern science. I’ve talked about this before as well. And here too.

    Having watched the entire (yes, I took the shot for you), there is no definition of “information” in this video. Which is a huge problem… or an advantage. If it’s not defined, then the definition can change depending on who you talk to and what they say. I’ve seen this before and I think anyone with experience dealing with ID advocates can say the same. First there was Complex Specified Information. Then there was Function Complex Specified Information. Then they created the Law of Conservation of Information.

    But again, without defining information in a meaningful, mathematically rigorous way, it’s all meaningless.

    But that’s all old stuff. I really want to talk about what Klinghoffer says in his blog post. It’s really interesting. He says this right after the video…

    ID stands out from other scientific ideas in a couple of ways. First, unlike other theories, it asks an ultimate question: Does life bear witness to being the product of intelligence, wisdom, purpose? Is your life, my life, therefore potentially also the object of care, even love on the part of a designer standing outside nature?

    First, it is arguable that ID is science. If it is, then it has failed miserably and should be regarded with the aether theory of light and astrology as mistaken and severely flawed attempts to understand reality.

    Second, science (and this still seems to confuse creationists) doesn’t deal with things “outside of nature”. If it’s not a part of the material (including energy) universe, then science doesn’t deal with it. Yes, science is a purely naturalist system, because that’s all that has ever been shown to exist. If something is ever able to interact with the natural universe, then it becomes part of that natural universe.

    Third, I read that paragraph and I’m struck by how non-sciency it sounds. “Wisdom”, “purpose”, “love”, “life is the object of care” (and isn’t that an unnecessarily complex phrase?) You know where I remember hearing things like that? I’ve never heard those things in any biology class (except animal behavior), but I heard a lot of that in church. Klinghoffer (and the rest of the ID team) are heavily promoting the Christian faith. That’s the purpose of ID. There is no difference between ID and scientific creationism, which sought to explain Noah’s Flood and other such Bible stories.

    Just as an example, of the 10 speaking events listed on Meyer’s homepage, 7 are in churches or sponsored by Christian organizations. There is not a single speaking event at a scientific society conference or event listed.

    Klinghoffer continues…

    Or on the other hand, do blind, unguided, natural forces fully explain the fact that I, a biological creature, am writing this while you, another biological creature, decode and understand the alphabetic characters I have arranged?

    This is a very good and subtle, false equivalency error. We know that languagea are created systems (that have evolved) because humans created them. This is a critical point for ID proponents that they refuse to acknowledge. They don’t know if their designer even exists. Indeed, almost by definition, they cannot know. First, they absolutely refuse to look for the designer. They will not discuss the designer. They will not consider the designer’s abilities, tools, knowledge, wisdom, lifespan, etc.  Second, the designer (as they keep saying) is a supernatural entity. They mean God, but they don’t know and can’t know whether it was Allah, Jesus, Cthulhu, Odin, Quetzalcoatl, or any other of a million deities.

    Another thing that they refuse to acknowledge is that the systems that they say require a designer, consistently are found to have plausible paths in the know processes of evolution. I say plausible, because that’s what they are. We may never know exactly how these things happened. And before my ID readers pounce on that sentence, I will remind you that you have yet to even show that your designer is plausible.

    Second, while other theories are far more difficult to grasp — general relativity, for example — no one sets out to invert Einstein’s meaning, turning his account of curved spacetime into a sinister parody to scare away independent-minded scientists and thoughtful laypeople. ID uniquely faces squads of activists committed to a rival idea, Darwinism, who specialize in confusing the public, casting ID as “creationism” or “science denial.”

    Apparently Klinghoffer has never read a history of general relativity. Einstein published the information on general relativity in 1915 and in 1925, there were still people who tried to discredit the idea.

    There are some huge differences between general relativity (and Einstein) and intelligent design. First, Einstein presented his ideas to the science community… not, for example, in popular books and youtube videos. Second, he accepted criticism of his ideas and worked to make them better (making some mistakes and correcting them is an inherit strength of the process of science. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a creationist ever admit to a mistake (especially when they are pointed out with detailed explanations), much less actually discuss the ideas of intelligent design with an eye for correcting it’s flaws. Third, Einstein’s theory (eventually) made multiple predictions, all of which have been confirmed to very high statistical accuracy. Intelligent design has never made a prediction… prior to a discovery being announced.

    ID faces squads of activists because ID proponents have attempted, on multiple occasions to try to get intelligent design creationism taught in secondary schools prior to an actual theory of ID being formed… That’s theory in the scientific sense meaning an idea that has lots and lots of supporting evidence. Combine that with the obvious religious status of the pro-ID movement and you should be able to see why ID has activists against it. In this way, it is not science. It is a socio-religious movement whose goal is to get Biblical creationism into schools. The court records verify this.

    Yet the evolutionary defense force is sometimes aided — let’s be honest — by the density of the scientific case for ID. Darwinian theory is actually a far easier idea to hold in the mind. I believe that The Information Enigma comes as close to simplifying ID down to the essentials, while remaining true to the science, as anyone has done before.

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read. The “density” of the case for ID. I’m more concerned with the “thickheadedness” of the ID proponents.

    To have a case for ID, one must have evidence, not flawed analogies.

    We’ve already talked about information. Klinghoffer will mention something else later on which I will crush as well.

    Until now, when journalists and other Darwin advocates rolled out the silly definition of ID as the notion that “life is too complicated” to be the product of Darwinian evolution, we have responded by suggesting they study up on the work of Stephen Meyer, Douglas Axe, Ann Gauger, Michael Behe, and other ID scientists.

    So now journalists are Darwin advocates. That’s funny too. I would like to remind Klinghoffer and other ID creationists that Darwin is not the patron saint of evolution. Darwin, would marvel at the strides we’ve made in changing and improving his ideas. He would be stunned by the level of detail we know about the evolution of life on this planet. But his ideas, while very good, were also very general and highly improved upon over the last 150 years. To continue to talk about Darwin, just shows how confused ID proponents are.

    As far as the scientists that he mentions here, I should point out that Meyer has never published an article in a peer-reviewed journal (well, he did once, but it was revoked).  Then Meyer lied about Sternberg. That link also points to a strong critique of one of Axe’s papers.

    To be honest, there is more work supporting evolution, published every month than all the ID scientists combined have published in their lifetimes. While quantity does not reflect quality (or accuracy), it does not help support the ID case. Yes, Galileo went against the majority and ended up being right. But he had evidence.  The papers that ID people do publish are either so flawed as to be meaningless or do not do what they say they do.

    Now the information argument for ID is on YouTube, instantly available to anyone in the media, in education, in science, or anybody at all with an open mind and a few minutes to spare.

    I love this so much. I’ve said it again and again. If there was evidence for ID, it would not first appear on youtube. I also note how he mentions “an open mind”. It’s good to have an open mind. But when ID has been crushed again and again for two decades, it’s time to hang it up. But the promoters can’t. Many of them make their living off of lying. And, of course, they have a socioreligious agenda to promote over reality.

    In the past 3.5 billion years, only 10 to the 40th power (1040) organisms have ever lived. Each such individual organism represents a potential trial of the creativity of unguided evolution. If we grant the exceedingly generous (and highly unrealistic!) assumption that random mutations gifted every single organism in Earth’s history with an entirely new peptide sequence 150 amino acids long, then that figure, 1040, is still just a tiny fraction — one ten trillion, trillion, trillionth — of the earlier figure, 1077, which quantifies the space to be searched to produce a lone functional protein. Sufficient time is just not available for Darwinian evolution to do the job. Not even close.

    And here it is. Klinghoffers argument. One that is so fundamentally flawed that I’d be embarrassed to use it.

    First of all, this is the argument from big scary numbers. IF (and that’s a huge “if”) what Klinghoffer (and others who use this argument) said was all true, it would be a problem. But it’s not quite true.

    What he’s assuming here is that every new protein sequence just appears in the organism fully formed and working perfectly. Which is faulty on a couple of accounts. First, there are multiple proteins, for example, that can accomplish the same task. In a recent blog post, I talked about an experiment in which a random library of one trillion proteins were assembled. Of those one trillion, 4 of them could bind with ATP. Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but there are trllions of trillions of random sequences, if even a fraction of a percent can do a particular job then the “odds” are significantly reduced. Plus, there are many proteins that can bind with multiple substrates.

    Further, no one, not one single actual biologist thinks that any protein was magically formed, from scratch. Biologists think, and have significant evidence to support, the idea that all proteins come from something called DNA (in a relatively simple process). That DNA is capable of changing. These changes are called mutations. And the mutations are fairly common. Plus (and this will destroy the idea that biological processes can’t create information), sometimes the DNA is copied. So that there are multiple copies of DNA producing the same protein. Of course, one of those DNA sequences can change, producing a new protein.  One that is new, with potentially new binding abilities, but very closely related to the previous one. We have many examples of this.

    And that’s why Klinghoffer’s big scary number is a red herring. Because it does not reflect how biological systems work. These system reproduce themselves and sometimes the copies are different from the original. Thus, A) increasing the information content of the population and B) generating diverse new DNA and/or proteins.

    In our video, Meyer points out the great scientific revelation of the second half of the 20th century is the discovery that life, like the article you are presently decoding, is composed of something like an alphabetic string, one that conveys meaning in just the same way that alphabetic code does. Intelligent design’s simplest and most powerful insight is to show that coded information, whether in a book, a blog post, or a DNA molecule, invariably derives from a purposeful arrangement of characters.

    The first phrase is true enough. The rest is wrong.

    It is possible, for a young child, or someone with no knowledge of biology to need an analogy to understand the complexity of DNA. But the analogy is not an argument for or against. It is a teaching tool and must always include the caveat that it is just an analogy and will fail at some point.

    DNA is not like a code of letters. We frequently use letters to represent the chemical bases that are a small part of DNA. But there is so much else going on. Some parts of DNA modify other parts of DNA that may be hundreds or thousands of letters away. An analogy for that is if the author intended for a particular paragraph near the front of the book to change a paragraph near the end of the book. Not interpret it differently, but make it not visible to you. It’s a dynamic book. If you read paragraph 12, then paragraph 200 will disappear entirely.

    There are also dozens of different chemicals that change how DNA is interpreted. These chemicals can come from the environment or be generated by the body. This can be imagined as if someone spilled a coke on your book, half of the “a”s in the book suddenly turned to “e”s. Radiation can damage the code. But enzymes can fix the code… most of the time. Sometimes damage to one section of DNA can radically alter how the rest of the DNA in the cell works. For example, accidentally tearing the corner of a page of your book can cause more and more books to appear on your shelf.

    Sometimes other factors can also interfere with DNA. Viruses can insert DNA into a cell. If that DNA is subsequently damaged, then the remnant will stick around. These are called ERVs. It’s like if someone wrote some notes in your book, then every version of the book after that will have those notes in them.

    I could go on and on about this. These are not simple processes. And it is trivial to show that many of them are random or nearly random. Those random changes might result in bad changes or good changes.

    And that last bit is the ultimate argument against design. We can actually see these changes. We can watch them happen, take the organisms, extract their DNA, and show what mutation happened and when it happened. In all the times that this type of experiment has been done, no one has ever seen a hint of a designer’s activity. Everything has been possible through known natural processes. Every. Single. Time.

    The video is just a regeneration of Darwin’s Doubt. Which is so wrong, it’s not worth reading.

    Their entire argument is based on a flawed analogy. Still…

    If this is Intelligent Design in a Nutshell, then intelligent design is flawed, full of bad arguments, poor analogies, shockingly bad research and offers no explanation for anything that actually happens in the real world.


    Category: CreationismEvolutionfeaturedScienceSkepticism


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat

    • Klinghoffer has written several books including ‘How Would God Vote?: Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative’, ‘Why the Jews Rejected Jesus: The Turning Point in Western History’, ‘The Discovery of God: Abraham and the Birth of Monotheism’ and ‘The Lord Will Gather Me In’…but no science books, alas.

      You can see why Klinghoffer would support intelligent design creationism instead of science. Just more proof that, as Phillip Johnson said, this is about religion, not science.

      • Doc Bill

        Klinkleklankle supports ID only because it is a contrarian POV and Krumpleschlumple is a contrarian POS. He was a contrarian at Brown, and was punished; he was a contrarian at the National Review, and was punished (fired); and he’s found a warm home with a bunch of malcontents, misanthropes and miscreants at the Disco Tute where he fits right in. At least he’s in the shabby building on the seedy side of Seattle, not outside.

      • Fred

        And Phillip Johnson was saying that your position is religious as it is clearly not science.

    • christine janis

      re the DI’s output. I, as a scientist of fairly modest publishing levels, have published more scientific research papers in the past 5 years (15 —- many of my colleague publish than many a year), in fact almost twice as many, as the research content of BioComplexity for the past 5 years (9 research papers).

      • Fred

        How many of your research papers support undirected evolution?

    • Fred

      Things are complicated, therefore design.

      Wrong again, Smilodon. ID agrees tat complex things cab happen without a designer.

      The genetic code is a real code, complete with codons that represent amino acids. There isn’t any physiochemical connection between the mRNA codons and the amino acids they represent. The genetic code is neither a metaphor or analogy. It is quite real.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        So, again, you have a SERIOUS problem.

        If complex things can happen without a designer, then the appearance of complexity, even functional complexity, cannot be the determining factor in the existence of designed things.

        Again, the only difference between evolution (i.e. complex things that happen without an intelligent designer) and ID (complex things that can only happen with an intelligent designer) is the existence of the designer.

        Therefore, to show that ID is valid, pro-ID people have to do the one thing that they absolutely refuse to do… produce the designer.

        BTW: This is not a new issue. This has been an issue ever since Behe admitted that evolution works.

        • Fred

          The problem is all yours. There is a huge difference between mere complexity and functional complexity. A pile of stones is complex, a stone building is functionally complex. Nature can produce the former but not the latter.

          Again, directed evolution is modeled with genetic and evolutionary algorithms. Undirected evolution cannot be modeled.

          And again, ID is OK with evolution.

          Nice of you to ignore the genetic code.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            Again, if ID is ok with evolution, then the only thing that will help you is the existence of the designer.

            You aren’t helping your case.

            What you have done is say, “If the designer exists, then MAYBE he did something. If the designer does not exist, then natural causes account for everything.”

            The only difference is the designer. Produce the designer or you have absolutely zero.

            I can’t believe that your “argument” is so easy. This should be listed on the “things ID proponents should never use” page.

            The genetic code has natural origins. Shown in research papers.

            It’s up to you to show how the designer created the DNA sequences AND the ribosomes AND mRNA AND introns AND all the enzymes… if you say that any one of those can exist without the designer, then you are admitting that the designer is not needed for any of them.

            I expect YOU to provide, at a minimum, equivalent evidence for the origin of DNA that you demand from science. I’ll expect a DETAILED report.

            Since we both know that you can’t provide one, then there is evidence that supports a designer… STILL.

            • Fred

              Again, if ID is ok with evolution, then the only thing that will help you is the existence of the designer.

              ID is OK with DIRECTED evolution. Undirected evolution is impotent. And the design is evidence for a designer.

              What you have done is say, “If the designer exists, then MAYBE he did something. If the designer does not exist, then natural causes account for everything.”

              That just proves that you are twisted, smilodon, as I have not said any such thing. The evidence for design says a designer existed.

              Produce the designer or you have absolutely zero.

              That proves that you don’t understand science. We have produced the design and your position has nothing that can account for it.

              The genetic code has natural origins. Shown in research papers.

              Nonsense. All anyone has is speculation. Yarus tried to show that the genetic code wasn’t required but he failed. No one knows how nature could produce it. You are lying or deluded.

              It’s up to you to show how the designer created the DNA sequences AND the ribosomes AND mRNA AND introns AND all the enzymes.

              No, it isn’t. There are many artifacts that we don’t know how they were made and yet they are all still artifacts. You have no idea how science works.

              I expect YOU to provide, at a minimum, equivalent evidence for the origin of DNA that you demand from science.

              Your position isn’t science. and all I expect is for your position to fulfill its claims. It claims to have a step-by-step process for producing the diversity of life. ID does not make such a claim. So again you prove to be ignorant of science.

              ID claims to have a methodology for determining whether or not intelligent design exists and we have produced it.

              So it appears that you are deluded and ignorant. Not a very good position to debate from.

              There is STILL a $3.1 million award to anyone who can show a natural origin to the genetic code- any code actually. I am sure many scientists could use $3.1 million and yet no one has tried to claim it.

            • SmilodonsRetreat

              Of course you never directly said it. You, like all other creationists, never say anything directly or fully that you can’t weasel your way out of.

              What is the “director” for evolution? Provide evidence that it exists.

              I will add that biologists do think that there is a director for for evolution. Which basically means that the “unguided” evolution argument is also a strawman. I’ll bet 10:1 you can’t name that “director”.

              Provide the page number and journal where the evidence for design exists. To be evidence for design, you must prove that it CANNOT have appeared via non-intelligent systems. It must be a living thing or a part of a living thing. God of the gaps arguments will be laughed at.

              ID claims a lot of things. That birds appeared with wings fully intact and fish with fins. ID also claims that a designer exists. ID claims that some things are too complex to evolve.

              All of those things have been shown to be untrue.

              As far as the prize money thing. One, you don’t have a link, so I have no idea what you’re talking about. This might help you with the explanation. http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2013/04/08/creationism-and-biases/

              I will note that you keep SAYING that ID has evidence, what you keep not DOING is actually providing that evidence.

              Tell me, do you know a complete moron name Joe Gallian?

            • Fred

              The genetic code is such evidence, Smilodon. The director is the programming of the organism just as genetic and evolutionary algorithms are directed. Are you really that stupid?

              ID claims that some things are too complex to evolve.

              No it doesn’t.

              Provide the page number and journal where the evidence for design exists.

              Why don’t YOU provide the evidence for undirected evolution? Why are you so afraid? Show us some testable hypotheses for undirected evolution. Tell us how to model it. Without that you don’t have any science.

              Tell me, are you really just a cry-baby loser?

              award for showing nature can produce the genetic code

              I am sure you will choke on it…

            • SmilodonsRetreat

              Good bye Joe.

              Another sock bites the dust.

      • josh

        A “real code” has a coder and a code book. Feel free to produce them.

        • Fred

          It is a real code, science has made that determination. And your position doesn’t have anything that can explain it.

    • Carol Sperling

      Hey Kevin, I was hoping you might consider reviewing “Evolution 2.0” by Perry Marshall. I watched part of his 1-hour video from 4 years ago and it starts out sounding reasonable, but then it vomits up a bunch of logical fallacies. If his book is anything like the video, it might be fun for you to dissect. His web site is here: http://cosmicfingerprints.com/

      Video is here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwDnH9hhGXw

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Thanks Carol. I may take a look.

        I’m at something of a decision point. ID is dead and these people (like this Marshall guy) don’t understand just what they have to do. But I don’t know what to do with myself now.

        P.S. There’s a contact button near the top right of the page and I can get e-mails sent via that.

        • Carol Sperling

          I don’t blame you a bit if you pass on it. You have already done plenty to call ID’ers on their B.S. I wouldn’t be surprised if Larry Moran at Sandwalk takes it up. Marshall is poking the bear by effectively calling Larry incompetent in his blog at cosmicfingerprints. Cheers.

          • SmilodonsRetreat

            I read the Amazon reviews of the book. I think it can be summed up with no evidence.

            I think that ID is becoming more and more marginalized. Not that it was every anything but fringe, but now it’s on the deep fringes of the fringe. It’s almost to the Flat Earthers.