CHartsil has now earned UD objector poster-child status, regarding a talking point he used to try to divert a News thread:
If ID is science, then put it through the scientific method. You don’t just get to say it’s a valid alternative when evolution has been put through the wringer and ID proponents have failed to produce so much as a single mechanism of design.
Let’s take this in steps of thought:
>> If ID is science, then put it through the scientific method.>>
1 –> This raises the issue as to what science properly understood is, and what its methods are. As there has been a recent agenda to redefine science as applied materialism dressed up in a lab coat, a useful reference is high-quality dictionaries from before this imposition was attempted:
science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990 — and yes, they used the “z” Virginia!]
scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster’s 7th Collegiate, 1965]
2 –> So, let us remind ourselves of a flowchart presentation of the design inference process in the context of seeking to identify causal explanations of an entity, phenomenon or process, step by step:
3 –> Quite plainly, as the design inference works based on systematic observation, formulates the issue of cause in a way amenable to empirical investigation and to empirical testing (is the design inference on sign reliable — yes), it is patently scientific. Regardless of the many fallacious talking points to the contrary.
4 –> We need not detain ourselves on the technical point that there is, strictly speaking, no one size fits all and only science method. The school science approach of observation, hypothesis, inference and prediction then comparison with further observation is good enough for present purposes.
5 –> So, as was drawn to CH’s attention immediately but predictably ignored, the design inference has been “put through” the scientific method long since; indeed it is founded on it:
cf here at UD for [longstanding] record on how the design inference process applies methodical scientific reasoning (though there is no one size fits all sci method . . . ) . . . design is a cognitive, intentional, intelligent creative process that shapes objects, systems, processes, networks etc conceptually to achieve a purpose, generally reflecting as well forces, materials and constraints of nature and other constraints such as energy, economic cost-effectiveness, socio-cultural acceptability etc. Design is simply not to be reduced to mechanism, but on trillions of examples it often leaves strong signs that are observable and not credibly explicable on blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. If you would doubt or dismiss this, simply ponder that to compose an objection to design thought you were forced to create another case in point of such, the functionally specific complex organisation and associated information in the s-t-r-i-n-g of glyphs in your comment. That is, the very act of objecting exemplifies the main point.
>>You don’t just get to say it’s a valid alternative>>
6 –> Strawman caricature. Design thinkers from the 1980’s on have addressed technical issues in responsible detail . . . as CHartsil full well knows or ought to know but has willfully chosen to misrepresent . . . and such have credibly (or at minimum arguably) warranted their conclusions. On the cosmological side the work traces to the 1950’s. Any responsible observer would acknowledge this.
>>when evolution has been put through the wringer>>
7 –> Rhetorical exploitation of a broad envelope of meaning for the term “evolution.”
8 –> Evolution can mean everything from minor variations with finch beaks or the like, to a grand narrative of the origin and diversification of life, usually on claimed blind chance plus mechanical necessity only. Microevolution is empirical, the extrapolation of that to a grand metaphysically tinged macroevolutionary narrative of the origin and diversification of life is not observed or observable, and the problem of imposed a priori materialism has often biased conclusions that are too often presented to students and the public as indisputable facts comparable to for example the roundness of the earth.
9 –> The objection is limbering up, how dare you include origin of life, Evolution is not about origin of life. ANS: Tell that to the authors of ever so many school and college textbooks that present this as a package deal, and especially tell that to the Smithsonian, which has long since presented the following tree of life icon:
10 –> In fact, a better picture in light of developments in recent years would be:
11 –> In fact, it can be confidently asserted that there is no macroevolutionary mechanism that has been warranted by observation as accounting for origin of major body plans or features of such plans. If there is an objection simply demand the actual observations (as opposed to ideologically loaded reconstructions).
12 –> To see why I say this, let me contrast the well known remarks of Lewontin and Johnson. Let us clip from the post on Marks’s reply to the war between science and religion thesis, a few days back:
I think we need to also compare Lewontin:
. . . to put a correct view of the universe into people’s heads we must first get an incorrect view out . . . the problem is to get them [hoi polloi] to reject irrational and supernatural explanations of the world, the demons that exist only in their imaginations, and to accept a social and intellectual apparatus, Science, as the only begetter of truth [[–> NB: this is a knowledge claim about knowledge and its possible sources, i.e. it is a claim in philosophy not science; it is thus self-refuting]. . . .
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, thatwe are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes [[–> another major begging of the question . . . ] to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute[[–> i.e. here we see the fallacious, indoctrinated, ideological, closed mind . . . ], for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [ “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis and notes added. If you wish to dismiss this as “quote-mined” . . . an implication of calculated or at least willful dishonesty, kindly cf the wider cite and notes here.]
. . . and, seminal ID thinker, Philip Johnson in reply:
There are some very serious things the new atheists, rationalists and fellow travellers have to answer for.
13 –> BTW, this raises the issue, what is a mechanism? AmHD:
14 –> Note carefully, meaning 3 in the context of meanings 1 and 2. An intelligent process by which something is done or comes into being can be termed a mechanism. However, as there is the problem of colouring from meaning 7, method, technique or process is a more useful, less ambiguous, less loaded phrasing.
15 –> This instantly makes mincemeat of the following:
>>and ID proponents have failed to produce so much as a single mechanism of design. >>
16 –> If mechanism can be, with due cautions, used to describe how things are done or come into being, then — absent question-begging Lewontinian a priori materialism — the mental in action is as much a “mechanism” as the physical. And if technique is what is meant, intellectual techniques are techniques.
17 –> So, as was pointed out and predictably dismissed, Dembski’s opening words — yes, his opening words — in his preface to No Free Lunch, p. ix, do in fact describe a general “mechanism” . . . let’s break it out in pointwise steps:
How a designer gets from thought to thing is, at least in broad strokes, straightforward:
(1) A designer conceives a purpose.
(2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan.
(3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions.
(4) Finally, the designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials.
What emerges is a designed object, and the designer is successful to the degree that the object fulfills the designer’s purpose.
18 –> Where also (as cited and also just as predictably ignored) Wikipedia in its article on Design, notes:
Design is the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system (as in architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, business processes, circuit diagrams and sewing patterns). Design has different connotations in different fields (see design disciplines below). In some cases the direct construction of an object (as in pottery, engineering, management, cowboy coding and graphic design) is also considered to be design.
More formally design has been defined as follows.
(noun) a specification of an object, manifested by an agent, intended to accomplish goals, in a particular environment, using a set of primitive components, satisfying a set of requirements, subject to constraints;
(verb, transitive) to create a design, in an environment (where the designer operates)[2 . . . expanding: Ralph, P. and Wand, Y. (2009). A proposal for a formal definition of the design concept. In Lyytinen, K., Loucopoulos, P., Mylopoulos, J., and (Robinson, W.,) editors, Design Requirements Workshop (LNBIP 14), pp. 103–136. Springer-Verlag, p. 109 doi:10.1007/978-3-540-92966-6_6.]
Another definition for design is a roadmap or a strategic approach for someone to achieve a unique expectation. It defines the specifications, plans, parameters, costs, activities, processes and how and what to do within legal, political, social, environmental, safety and economic constraints in achieving that objective.
Here, a “specification” can be manifested as either a plan or a finished product, and “primitives” are the elements from which the design object is composed.
19 –> So, if a mechanism for design is wanted, it has been given, and is familiar from our own experience of ourselves as designers. Indeed, to object, CHartsil and others of like ilk have had to compose designs, using mechanisms that are instantly familiar from the above.
20 –> But perhaps what was meant is techniques of design.
21 –> That, too has long since been discussed but ignored in the rush to make and repeat, over and over again, favourite, hobby-horse talking points. Let me use the latest summary presented in the thread:
The computers of various types being used to compose and read comments, the comments, the Internet we are using and the wider world of technology are replete with cases in point. Such demonstrate to the willing mind how design is inherently intelligent, creative, cognitive, a fruit of rational and purposeful contemplation (as opposed to blindly mechanical GIGO limited algorithmic computation though the aid of such devices is common). There are techniques, systems and even a science of design, TRIZ, the theory of inventive problem solving.
Were you seriously interested, such could and would have long since been investigated or at least reflected on.
Designers often uses specialised techniques, especially in processing primitives to produce the entities reflecting the underlying thought.
In the case of the world of cell based life, I pointed to cases of actual first baby steps intelligent design of life forms, through molecular nanotechnologies, by Venter et al. Beyond, lie the general techniques of biochemistry and organic chemistry.
That is insofar as “mechanism” — technique is a more correct term — is applicable, design techniques relevant to the world of life are an empirically established fact in a world of genetically modified organisms.
We could go on, highlighting how built-in ability to undergo at least some degree of incremental adaptation to environment by chance variation and differential reproductive success would manifest the design goal and technique of robustness in the face of a variable environment. Including, some degree of graceful degradation rather than brittle designs overly prone to catastrophic failure on slight variation leading to extinction.
22 –> But in a more fundamental sense, all of this is a chasing after red herrings led away to strawman caricatures.
23 –> For, the focal issue in design theory is not mechanisms but signs that (per inductive investigation and linked analysis) reliably point to design as cause. Notice, how Dembski and Witt define, explain and argue regarding Intelligent Design as a scientific enterprise:
We know from experience that intelligent agents build intricate machines that need all their parts to function [–> i.e. he is specifically discussing “irreducibly complex” objects, structures or processes for which there is a core group of parts all of which must be present and properly arranged for the entity to function (cf. here, here and here)], things like mousetraps and motors. And we know how they do it — by looking to a future goal and then purposefully assembling a set of parts until they’re a working whole. Intelligent agents, in fact, are the one and only type of thing we have ever seen doing this sort of thing from scratch. In other words, our common experience provides positive evidence of only one kind of cause able to assemble such machines. It’s not electricity. It’s not magnetism. It’s not natural selection working on random variation. It’s not any purely mindless process. It’s intelligence . . . .
When we attribute intelligent design to complex biological machines that need all of their parts to work, we’re doing what historical scientists do generally. Think of it as a three-step process: (1) locate a type of cause active in the present that routinely produces the thing in question; (2) make a thorough search to determine if it is the only known cause of this type of thing; and (3) if it is, offer it as the best explanation for the thing in question.
[[William Dembski and Jonathan Witt, Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy, pp. 20-21, 53 (InterVarsity Press, 2010). HT, CL of ENV & DI.]
24 –> Likewise, Stephen Meyer outlines:
The central argument of my book [Signature in the Cell] is that intelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form [–> note the terms he uses]). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power [–> i.e. in any reasonably attempted examination of an origin of life setting]. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . .
25 –> That is, we are doing an origins related scientific investigation and seek to inductively infer to best explanations on tested, adequate, reliable signs. Where it turns out that functionally specific complex organisation and associated information (FSCO/I) have but one empirically reliably known causal explanation, intelligently directed configuration aka design.
26 –> So, we are entitled to infer on that induction that where we see FSCO/I, and particularly digitally coded complex functionally specific information, its best current scientific explanation is design. That immediately implies that the best, empirically grounded, inductive, scientific explanation of the living cell and key mechanisms in it such as protein synthesis:
. . . is design.
27 –> Absent, ideological a priorism that imposes evolutionary materialism before the actual facts are allowed to speak for themselves.
The remaining question, then is whether we will allow the facts to speak for themselves, and whether we will adhere to the principle that “mechanisms” used to explain traces form the unobservable deep past of origins, must first be shown to be causally adequate before being admitted as serious candidate explanations. If that is applied, the design inference is the only serious explanation for the FSCO/I and especially the dFSCI in life. END
PS: In light of onward discussions, Mar 9, I give a concrete, simple case in point of FSCO/I, an Abu 6500 C3 fishing reel exploded view (cf discussion here) that shows complex, functionally specific organisation, implying associated information that describes the particular clusters of configs that will work properly:
The same nodes-arcs, specific configuration to achieve function is seen in the protein synthesis process illustrated above, starting with the coded algorithmic (step by step) instructions in the DNA transferred to the mRNA and used to control protein chain assembly in the ribosome. In turn, proteins must fold and fit to function, often in ways that require key-lock fitting of parts.