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Discovery of the Aerodynamic Principles of Bee Flight Prove ID Wrong…Huh?

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Proponents of intelligent design, which holds that a supreme being rather than evolution is responsible for life’s complexities, have long criticized science for not being able to explain some natural phenomena, such as how bees fly.
Proponents of intelligent design, or ID, have tried in recent years to promote the idea of a supreme being by discounting science because it can’t explain everything in nature.

“People in the ID community have said that we don’t even know how bees fly,” Altshuler said. “We were finally able to put this one to rest. We do have the tools to understand bee flight and we can use science to understand the world around us.”

This story was picked up verbatim by Fox News and MSNBC:



Perplexing is an understatement. Propaganda a good description of the article? Exactly who has said that science is incapable of explaining the physics of bee flight was not named…and notice that there was no mention of how these flight mechanisms evolved. The journalist also had an interesting choice of words for the subtitle: “Robotic wings mimic insects’ rapid beat and could inspire new DESIGNS.” I’m assuming this would involve the work of intelligent engineers?

[...] Krauze and Patrick are following the developments of this story, so do we. [...] Teleological Blog » Douglas Altshuler needs to document his claims or to issue a public retraction!
Stephen E. Jones has taken a stand for ID to make Altshuler to document his claim or to retract himself: http://teleological.org/WPblog/?p=163 Fer
Amazing post. I couldn't help but noticing the "scientists" vs "ID" presentation. Talk about poisoning the well. Mats
"But again, the test is “prove me wrong”. Find evidence that shows the flagellum was incrementally made throughout history. There is no way to test the hypothesis in the positive. What predictions does ID make about the flagellum that we can test and say, yes this supports ID?" ID is fairly limited in scope; it's all about design detection (as in, you should read the literature...). The problem with answering that question is that in order to adequately answer it we'd have to know the designer and its characteristics/abilities. The reason of course is because an intelligence is capable of taking many possible routes in order to reach a design goal. So we can speculate on possible methods a designer might choose but personally (other ID proponents might disagree) I'd hesitate to call them "predictions". Even then it's very hard to test these "predictions" since how could you say with certainty that a designer couldn't use a particular route unless you knew its characteristics/abilities? Now we could attempt to make detailed "predictions" based upon what we'd expect to find in DNA but that would also presume to know the design goals of the designer. The positive case lies on what we know of engineering and the design characteristics of it. Now your question would be valid if addressed to Creationism, since that question would fall within the scope of Creationism (Genesis 1, etc). EDIT: Now Dembski is a Christian. He believes that an unembodied designer can influence the natural world by co-opting random processes (indeterministic quantum states) and inducing them to produce specified complexity, thus interacting with the material universe without changing/overriding natural laws. So you could take on one of the implications of ID (not ID itself) by testing that particular idea. Now onto testability...with ID all you have to do is find ONE instance of non-intelligence producing IC or CSI by means of the modern synthesis in order to invalidate ID (I'm not going to get into the technicalities of proving something completely false). The problem with testing the modern synthesis is that there are so many possible indirect Darwinian pathways. We might be able to test some to our satisfaction but then people could just say "well, it must have occurred by another pathway". You said it yourself: "we’ve only cultured less than 0.5% of all bacteria, so there are a lot of potential “steps along the way”." Patrick
Cholera, I am merely pointing out that the "fittest" class of a species is impossible to identify with certainty without looking at the survivors. Looking to the survivors to determine the fittest is not a scientific theory. For example, what are the characteristics of today’s “fittest" dog? What attributes can you scientifically identify that will allow certain dogs to increase their chance of survival? How in the world would you test the characteristic of fittest without looking at the survivors? Your having to "predict" and guess at the fittest attributes illustrates my argument. Perhaps there is some "fitness" data of which I am unaware that can identify "fitness" independently of "survival". If you are aware of any information in that area I would be interested. I am not arguing that this tautology, posing as a theory, debunks evolution. I am, however, arguing that evolution through the "survival of the fittest" is not a scientific theory using the guidelines of scientific theory formation. Thanks, Saxe saxe17
But again, the test is "prove me wrong". Find evidence that shows the flagellum was incrementally made throughout history. There is no way to test the hypothesis in the positive. What predictions does ID make about the flagellum that we can test and say, yes this supports ID? cholera
Saxe17, Natural selection is not a tautology. This was discussed on an earlier comment thread: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/index.php/archives/590#comments It was discussed. Unilateral declarations of victory notwithstanding, no one conceded NS is not a tautology. -ds bradcliffe1
Excellent. Thanks Patrick. That link is a very good article. In regards to the bacterial flagellum, we've only cultured less than 0.5% of all bacteria, so there are a lot of potential "steps along the way". cholera
"And at least we CAN test or try to debunk evolution. Something that is impossible with ID." "The Design Revolution", Chapter 39: Testability, page 280 Also: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/01/intelligent_design_is_empirica.html#more I've been saying to myself for a while I need to compile a list of common assertions and then all the relevant discussion of those assertions in the literature. Call it the "ID FAQ". That way I don't have to waste my time responding at length and instead say "See point xx on the FAQ." Patrick
And at least we CAN test or try to debunk evolution. Something that is impossible with ID. cholera
Geoffrobinson, I could not agree more. I would be the first to admit much of this discussion is difficult to understand, and particularly hard for me to put into words. Saxe, I see the problem with differentiation fitness and survival, but you can't tell me it's impossible to make hypotheses on adaptive fitness. In your example, if prey are fast then I would predict the faster dogs would be better adapted to catching prey. I am trying to understand. cholera
I appreciate the comments that have been made in this thread. On another thread I posted popular article from an airline magazine in which a scientist explained that evolution had produced a human body that could survive without food for long periods. He said that evolution produced this characteristic because hunter-gatherers had to do without food for days at a time. But why is evolution necessary for this? All he seemed to be saying (in my mind anyway) was that the human body is able to survive under the conditions that most people throughout most of history have had to survive under. We're not dead because we have physiological characteristics that are compatible with conditions on planet earth. We're not dead, therefore evolution is true. Am I oversimplifying or is this another example of the "tautology" discussed above? russ
When I was a philosophy major in college, one of the most important things I learned was to be able to accurately represent the arguments of others before I critiqued them. One of the main things I am learning is that scientists aren't the greatest philosophers (in the most generic sense) in the world. Logical and reasoning mistakes abound. Multiverse inconsistensies. The inability to grasp what the other side is even saying, let alone critique it properly. It's going to be hard to have a discussion on the merits of ID, until a lot of sloppy thinking is cleaned up. Disagreement, even on facts, is to be expected. The inability to comprehend what we are saying is frustrating, to say the least. Scientists may be great at their specialized field, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are good thinkers. geoffrobinson
choleraa, This so-called theory of “survival of the fittest” is a mere tautology. It is not, however, a scientific theory. For a theory relating two classes to be scientific, doesn’t it need to be testable? In other words, when relating two classes such as fitness and survivability, ones need to be able to test each class independently from one another. If this is not possible, then you don’t have a theory. The problem with this is that Darwin and all other scientists have no criteria for “fittest”. You’ll find that ALL scientists who have tried to determine fitness criteria have failed and they always will. For example, one may theorize that the dog with the strongest, largest legs would be faster and therefore be able to get to food faster making him the fittest. However, the stronger, larger legs may cause undue burden on the heart and cause it to die out early. This is one example of how it is impossible for man to determine fitness independently of the survivors. The inter-related and dependent components of the body make it impossible for man to determine “fitness”. If you have data to prove otherwise, please provide. When one then looks at survivors to determine fitness, it becomes absurd to call this a scientific theory. Yet, this so-called theory seems to be thrown around as the panacea causal agent. My point is that the “survival of the fittest” is NOT a scientific theory because its classes are not independently testable. It is, as Watchman said, a mere tautology. Saxe saxe17
But saxe17, that is the point. Natural selection is unguided and is not predetermined. With a billion rolls of the dice, you WILL get one die to land on top of the other. How many bees have existed before one flew? And why can't we believe that we don't understand everything yet? New discoveries are uncovered every day. Just read an article that ants actually teach themselves how to locate food. How long have we been watching these little guys walking around? And we just figured this out? cholerae
[quote]How is it possible to test these two classes (survivors and fittest) independently of one another?[/quote] No need, really. Since the qualifications (and therefor definition) of "fitness" will vary by species and environment, one judges fitness by an organism's ability to survive. The ones that survive are the most fit. "Survival of the fittest" is another way of phrasing the tautology "Survival of the survivors". Watchman
Let's see, knowing "how" bees fly equals debunking ID. This is interesting logic to say the least. Now let's see them explain how it is even possible for an unguided, uncaused agent to guide the evolution of a bee and its flight. A miraculous agent (natural selection) that has no intelligence and therefore has no way of predicting what may be necessary to create its next working part. These people are warped. Also, can anyone explain to me how natural selection even passes for a theory? How is it possible to test these two classes (survivors and fittest) independently of one another? Let’s take dogs, for example. Where can I find scientific data on what is absolutely the “fittest” dog at this point in its own evolution? In other words, where can I find a scientist who lays out for us what parts of the dog make it most fit to survive? Is it the dog with the strongest legs or perhaps the strongest heart or the strongest lungs? What is it? This theory seems to the “survival of the survivors” theory. This seems to be nothing more than a trivial verbal truth posing as a theory. What am I missing here? Saxe saxe17
I agree with crandaddy, that was funny. With that said, it seems some "political" bloggers like the following one fell for the propoganda... http://blisteringcheese.com/index.php/weblog/comments/11292/ "It’s another head-to-head match up between science and ID. As usual, sciences comes out on top. " "Wow, amazing isn’t it. Just because science doesn’t have all the answers to everything right this second doesn’t mean that the gaps have to be filled in by some nebulous, faceless “designer”. You know, a nebulous, faceless designer who just happens to be the Christian God of the Bible." eldinus
LOL!!! Thanks for the laughs, Patrick. You do have a talent for comming up with funny stuff! crandaddy
Altshuler and the media are again misrepresenting Intelligent Design. Good is that the ones with eyes to see can tell the differences as well as how to use the wonderful designs present in nature in our own robotics. A smaller engineer learning from the biggest engineer! Isn't that what ID with support will be doing, making a free and most friendly environment for development and progress than the current one? Fer

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