Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Today at The Design of Life: Can animals do math?

How much should we believe of what we read about animal number sense? Hype aside, the evidence points away from the assumption that abstract mathematics is simply the outcome of squabbles over bones. There is a gap that is simply not bridged by the studies of animal number sense, nor do available studies shed much light on the gap. For more, go here.

Intelligent design: Do the “unfalsifiables” get along with the “falsifieds”? If so, WHY?

Now and then I am assailed by people who insist that “intelligent design is not falsifiable.”

Well, put that way, it isn’t, right?

Politics, economics, and religion are not falsifiable either. Anything can escape falsification if it is put in broad enough terms. That’s because we all have overlapping – but not identical – definitions of what these abstractions mean.

However, specific ID hypotheses such as Mike Behe’s irreducible complexity, Bill Dembski’s specified complexity, and Guillermo Gonzalez’s privileged planet hypothesis can all be falsified by showing that the condition that cannot exist according to the theorist’s postulates does in fact exist.

So a specific hypothesis is – of course – falsifiable. That’s a key part of what a hypothesis is: A statement so specific that its contrary would falsify it.

But now here is something I would really like to know: Do people who claim to have falsified various intelligent design hypotheses ever get angry with the people who claim that intelligent design hypotheses are not falsifiable? Read More ›

Epistemology. It’s What You Know

BarryA’s definition of a philosopher:  A bearded guy in a tweed jacket and Birkenstocks who writes long books explaining how it is impossible to communicate through language without apparently realizing the irony of expressing that idea through, well, language. 

Seriously, I have read a lot of philosophy, and I find some of the philosophers’ ideas valuable (that is, when I can decipher them though the almost impenetrable thicket of jargon in which they are usually expressed).  In particular, epistemology (the theory of what we know and how we know it) is one of the most useful philosophical ideas for the ID – Darwinism debate.  Indeed, many of the discussions on this blog turn on questions of epistemology.  So I thought it would be helpful to give a brief overview of the subject in the ID context.  So here goes – 

Read More ›

Yet another layer of complexity

Plant study reveals a “deeply hidden” layer of transcriptome regulation. “Cells keep a close watch over the transcriptome – all parts of the genome that are expressed in any given cell at any given time. Before RNA transcripts can guide protein synthesis or take on regulatory functions, they have to undergo a strict mRNA surveillance system that degrades defective, obsolete, and surplus transcripts. By stopping the function of the exosome, a multi-unit complex molecular machine in charge of controlled RNA degradation, researchers found evidence for widespread exosome-mediated RNA quality control in plants and a ‘deeply hidden’ layer of the transcriptome that is tightly regulated by exosome activity. The common notion was that the exosome plays a central role in bulk Read More ›

Pack your bags the “truth” is out!

“Creationist” Perspectives p37-45 selections from Science Evolution and Creationism NAP 2008  “A creationist is someone who rejects natural scientific explanations of the known universe in favour of special creation by a supernatural entity. Many believers as well as many mainstream religious groups accept the findings of science, including evolution. (Creationists) want to replace scientific explanations with their own religion’s supernatural accounts of physical phenomena. Views of creationists typically have been promoted by small groups of politically active religious fundamentalists who believe that only a supernatural entity could account for the physical changes in the universe and for the biological diversity of life on Earth. Old Earth creationists accept that the Earth may be very old but reject other scientific findings Read More ›

[OFFTOPIC:] The Lesson of Tonight’s Iowa Caucuses

My wife’s family is from Iowa, and we got to listen to a lot of the presidential candidates in person during our visit there this December. Here’s our daughter with two of the more successful candidates: The lesson of tonight is that people are tired of business as usual. How far does that disaffection extend? To the uncritical teaching of Darwinian evolution?

Questions in evolution: How do jellyfish, crustaceans and beetles just suddenly appear?

Animals suddenly appear … and after that nothing much happens. Why? How? Read the latest post, linked above, at The Design of Life blog and help me think about this. (Currently, I am learning to cope with the fact that Alley Oop has been lying to me for, like, tens of thousands of years, so I can use the help wth thinking.) The comments facility has been enabled, but for best results, read the blog FAQs first.

Antony Flew, God and the Evidence: A review of There Is a God

On December 9, 2004, an Associated Press story story went out on the wires, “Famous Atheist Now Believes in God: One of World’s Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less, Based on Scientific Evidence.”

More? Or less? As it turns out, neither. He believes in God simply on the scientific evidence. Many might consider that thin gruel, but he is entitled to cite the evidence in his defense. And there is a lot of it.

Go here for more:

Introduction: Antony Flew, God, and the Evidence: A review of There IS a God Read More ›