Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

How not to argue against ID?


A friend offers this vid of Ken Miller, a Brown U biochemist and author of Finding Darwin’s God, talking to the BBC:

Fact is, if you are a Darwin tenure bore talking to Tax TV, you can say anything you want and the hair model will treat it as wisdom. Actually, a hair model for almost any medium …

Just for fun, is there any anti-ID argument so stupid that it might give a hair model pause for thought? Might give the regular viewers pause for thought?

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Do tell, has anyone got an actual observation -- not gross extrapolation or inference -- of a new body plan or even a new major organ emerging through chance variation largely on mutation, plus natural selection? A new protein domain? A self replicating, metabolising entity? KF kairosfocus
Petrushka, Evolution and the origin of life are directly connected as in if living organisms were designed then it is a safe bet that they were also designed to evolve- as in Intelligent Design Evolution. IOW you cannot separate the two even though dishonest people try. Joe
I found another one- how not to argue against the Flood This guy has obviously never heard of genetic recombination because that is how we get many alleles from a few in several generations. And he won't post my comments that expose his ignorance. Joe
That's a fair question, but it's about the origin of life, not about evolution. Petrushka
It has been possible to build machines that are stronger than human or animal muscle, and it will eventually be possible to build machines that can solve design problems better than humans. I am not arguing about the origin of life or the origin of GAs. I am discussing their behavior and the fact that GAs seem to be the best way to solve complex, multidimensional problems. The bigger the numbers and the greater the complexity, the more likely it is that an evolutionary approach will be the fastest and most efficient. There are, of course, functional spaces that cannot be navigated by GAs. Cryptograms are a prime example. The whole point of cryptology is to build spaces for which there are no shortcuts to navigation. Gpuccio has said that I know what's at stake, so I will put what's at stake in a nutshell: 1. The functional space of genomes must be navigable by small steps. If this isn't true, evolution is impossible. that's the area of research being investigated by Thornton. It's related to the research of Douglas Axe, but Axe did not look for functional bridges. He simply looked for the percentage of changes that do not degrade function. He did not do this with the kinds of sequences that would represent early, barely functional sequences. 2. My own view is that functional space has no shortcuts, no way to predict the effect of small code changes on utility. This is not crucial to evolution, but its inverse is crucial to ID. If shortcuts to predicting utility cannot be found, then evolution becomes the only way to build coding sequences (other than miracles by an omniscient, omnipotent designer). Petrushka
Except that the environmental response (at least in microbes) is to increase the rate of mutations, not to produce specific mutations that anticipate need. Check out the latest Shapiro book, or any research paper on the topic. Petrushka
Petrushka, You are obviously confused as that one-two punch you are talking about belongs to Intelligent Design. Genetic/ evolutionary algorithms prototype and test variants via intelligent design.
When you do evolution in the laboratory, as Lenski is doing, yu find that a tiny colony of bacteria are capable of making and testing every possible point mutation variant in a matter of years. It does not matter how or why a variant is useful. It only matters that it can be found.
Right via built-in responses to environmental cues- ie more intelligent design (See "Not By Chance" Spetner 1997) Joe
You don’t like the explanation, but it exists. It has stood up to 150 years of hostile examination.
I don't like it, and it doesn't exist. Correct me by using this 150-year old explanation to explain something more than colored cichlid fishes. Think about that. Think about what an incredibly simple thing I'm asking. And I can issue this challenge without even the slightest concern that you will rise to it. If it's an explanation, then explain something. ScottAndrews2
It connotes, “It’s impossible for intelligence to engineer a living system.” Such cannot be demonstrated, and thus crudely hedges in favor of ignorance, based on our present inability to engineer life.
There are things unlikely to be done, regardless of improvements in technology. Perpetual motion machines as power generators, time travel to the past and back, travel faster than light. Finding a shortcut to protein design appears to belong on that list. Billions of dollars are spent each year on the design of biologically active molecules that are much simpler than proteins. The current methodology involves making a bunch of variations and sieving them. Gpuccio seems to think that the problem is limited to finding function or biological activity, but that is actually the simplest part. Utility involves total safety and effectiveness, and how do you even know what that means until you try it out in a living ecosystem? There are thousands of dimensions to utility. When you do evolution in the laboratory, as Lenski is doing, yu find that a tiny colony of bacteria are capable of making and testing every possible point mutation variant in a matter of years. It does not matter how or why a variant is useful. It only matters that it can be found. The next question is whether small incremental change can get you from here to there, and that is what Thornton has been testing. Testing whether two known "wild" variants can be bridged by a viable intermediate. Together you have a one-two punch. You have a mechanism capable of prototyping variants and testing them for utility. That constitutes a working hypothesis. Something that ID does not have. Petrushka
and use our present inability to replicate it as evidence, without even offering an alternative explanation.
You don't like the explanation, but it exists. It has stood up to 150 years of hostile examination. It is consilient with the age of the earth, with the fossil record, with the nested tree in the genomic record, with thousands of years of selective breeding of plants and animals, with countless laboratory experiments, including long term observation of adaptive evolution, with the medical evidence of drug resistance, with the rapid evolution of the AIDS virus, With the rapid evolution of malaria. What an amazing bit of projection on your part, that you would bring up lack of an alternative. ID has no agent. no theory of how an agent would design, and no theory of how an agent would implement design. It has nothing but an imaginary agent having unspecified imaginary powers. Assuming your agent isn't God (which would at least account for the infinite powers) you have no way for your agent to come into existence or acquire the powers necessary to design and implement design. I will grant that if the designer is God, the problem of design is solved. But my argument is that that the only alternative is evolution. Intelligent selection is evolution. It requires the same kind of functional landscape required by natural selection. And it doesn't involve the regress implied by a designer that isn't God. Petrushka
...and then when I'm on the Today show and someone tells me that I'm a genius for writing a program that told me how to make a billion dollars, I'll correct them. After all, my input isn't even worth mentioning. I didn't even do anything clever. It was all the GA. ScottAndrews2
I second that one. They are far too complex for any one or them to ever design. But if you subtract the who or them then it becomes quite reasonable. That's why, when we want advanced technology, we design it. But when we want really, really advanced technology, everyone knows that we just sit back and wait for it to happen. The universe is one big feedback loop, etc., etc., so it's always churning out really handy stuff. It occurred to me that I'd really like to have a billion dollars, but I just can't figure out how to get it. So I'm going to write a GA to figure it out for me. It will doubtless innovate something I never would have imagined, perhaps a new invention that I can sell. After all, that's how all the greatest innovations have come about. ScottAndrews2
Does anybody know what series this came from? julianbre
The current mainstream science community could never come up with the idea of in built evolutionary possibilities. It is against their religion. So when people come up with this hypothesis they do need to name it. Mytheos
Being proud of your ignorance is not a good thing. Unfortunately that ain't so rare amongst your ilk... Joe
So are you saying the people in the field of evolutionary biology purpsely defined "evolution" so vaguely as to allow telic and non-telic mechanisms? And do these people in biology have any testable hypotheses for their position? Can you please reference them? Common sense and all- or does your position have no currency at all? BTW it is also common sense to understand your opponent's position BEFORE engaging them. For example for biology and the theory of evolution I have read Darwin, Dawkins, Gould, Mayr, Futuyma, Carrol, Shubin, and numerous textbooks. So when someone sez I don't understand biology or evolution because I got X wrong I just reference the expert that supports my claim about X. So obviously you are all talk about common sense because you just don't seem to understand the concept. Joe
To Petrushka and Timbo- Besides your continued equivocation what is the evidence that "evolution" can design a protein without existing proteins, ie existing design? Joe
Are not all definitions made up?
Exactly. Design definitions denote design ideas. Nomenclature is necessary for communicating ideas effectively and succinctly. It doesn't do much good to exercise a paradigm without inviting associated definitions. The burden is on the interlocutors to try and understand the definitions, and upon the proponents to make them meaningful and available. material.infantacy
Timbo, it's not much of a hypothesis, because it's a declaration of impossibility. It connotes, "It's impossible for intelligence to engineer a living system." Such cannot be demonstrated, and thus crudely hedges in favor of ignorance, based on our present inability to engineer life. It's not just an argument from incredulity, it's a blatant denial that proposes no empirical alternative. Design advocates do not promote the notion that, "Life is too complex to have evolved," because framing an argument that way is ludicrous. In that regard, to say that, "Life is too complex to have been designed," is a rather droll retreat necessitated by the utter lack of a demonstrable, materially causal mechanism required to explain the origin of a sophisticated, integrated system that must be in place before "evolution" can even begin to do anything at all. I'm surprised it's put forward as an argument in the least -- but ironically, might be the best thing that the anti-design crowd has going for it at the moment, "Well you can't show how life was designed, therefore you can't prove that it was." Fortunately, we don't need to prove that life was designed, the evidence is in favor of it. When an empirically validated mechanism for the spontaneous generation of functionally integrated complexity comes round, the quite apparent design in nature will indeed be revealed as merely illusory. material.infantacy
Mytheos, yes that's true but certain definitions are in common usage amongst people working in a particular field and their precise meaning is very well known and universally understood by people in that field. If you want to come into a field (ie biology) and want people already in that field to take the time to evaluate your hypothesis and models, you need to use the terms that have currency. Common sense. Timbo
Thanks Joe, I appreciate the compliment. They are so rare these days. Timbo
M.I: What you believe is at issue because you are the person I am talking to right now. "It's too complex to be designed" is not an evasion, its an hypothesis. You do not believe the hypothesis to be true. But the only way to prove its not true is to demonstrate how to design functioning sequences (without using evolution). And no, that is not what OOL researchers are doing. They are investigating whether the mechanisms we know of in the right circumstances can generate self replicators. Joe, no, you can't help me with anything else, but thanks for asking. Timbo
Timbo, Thank you. You are a fine example for this thread. You don't have any idea how to argue against ID because you don't have any idea what ID is. Joe
Well I mean, they are your made-up definitions aren’t they?
Nope. As I said you really should educate yourself- for one Dawkins defined "blind watchmaker" evolution. Timbo:
If you want to discuss science, you need to use phrases that are properly defined and understood by the scientific community.
Actually to discuss science you need to know what science is and obviously you are totally clueless and unable to hold such a discussion. Intelligent Design is NOT anti-evolution. Ya see this "scientific community" you speak of apparently doesn't have a clue as to what ID is. And obviously neither do you. So if you want to discuss Intelligent Design, which obviously you do not, then you first have to understand it, which you don't. Can I help you with anything else? Joe
Timbo, what I believe is not at issue. The item that's on the table is a DNA-based self-replicator. This functionally integrated system has subsystems which are analogous to artifice employed by intelligent agents, and which are non-analogous to anything else observed in nature, ever. By abduction, intelligence wins. The assertion, "It's too complex to have been designed," is an evasion, and nothing more. It seeks to distract from the fact that intelligence -- not random, law-driven processes -- presents the best solution for developing a de novo, functionally integrated self replicator (which is exactly what OOL researchers are trying to accomplish, BTW, engineering life in the lab.) m.i. material.infantacy
Which Timbo is now making. Are not all definitions made up? Mytheos
Upright Biped I see you have put up that invaluable link again. It is a great refutation to the accusation made against exclusive terms. Mytheos
I hope Timbo will stick around as he has a good philosophical head on his shoulders, makes good points and is obviously willing to learn. I dont know if Pet is willing to learn. But then I dont know if Pet is just a devil's advocate. Mytheos
Well I mean, they are your made-up definitions aren't they? If you want to discuss science, you need to use phrases that are properly defined and understood by the scientific community. But I'm not sure that is really your intention. material.infantacy: you likewise, have not shown how "intelligence" can cause the system either. Or do you believe that the thing exhibiting intelligence is omniscient and omnipotent? Timbo
Timbo, evolution (heritable traits) require the recording and transfer of genomic information. That task is not possible without semiosis. So until one can get to the symbol system that is required for the recording and transfer of information, there is no evolution. In other words, design is evident at the very core of the system. Petrushka's anthropomorphic debating points will not change this observed fact. Upright BiPed
Pet, all you have to do is show that the immaterial qualities observed (and required) in the transfer of genetic information can be intsantiated by material means. Until you do that, you have no evolution at all. One requires the other, NOT the other way around. Upright BiPed
Well, Timbo has at least admitted his ignorance of the subject. But Petrushka knows the stakes very well! gpuccio
Not as far as I can tell, but in the interest of full disclosure, the only MTV I usually see is its listing in the channel directory. xp Most of my TV time is spent on more educational viewing, like watching season 1 of Nikita on Netflix. ;-&#41 material.infantacy
The evolution that I witness changes good variable designs into less good and variable descendants. I have never witnessed evolution upgrading any design. Fitness = Fitness-cost Mytheos
MTV- a music video channel that barely ever plays music videos- or do they even play music videos anymore? Joe
Wow, how convenient and logic-proof.
All you have to do to refute that is demonstrate that something like a protein domain can be designed without using evolution.
Present the most astounding technology ever witnessed, assert that it happened without any intent or intelligence, and use our present inability to replicate it as evidence, without even offering an alternative explanation. Take all the semiotic information which by its very nature requires a mind that forms abstract concepts and set that aside. It cannot exist without being intelligently imagined and implemented, does not fit your preconceptions, and therefore is excluded from consideration. Learning that you can discard any evidence that doesn't fit is the hard part. Once you get past that you can believe anything. Having erected a fort against reason and filled a moat to drown whatever reality might breach it, your belief system is now impenetrable, unassailable. You may hide in it forever if you wish. ScottAndrews2
lol. I guess it could also be asked why "The Real World" is on MTV. material.infantacy
Evolution can't operate until the system is in place, so it cannot be invoked as a cause for the system under consideration. Intelligence produces functionally specific, integrated, purposeful, irreducibly complex systems -- albeit not of the same calibre as living systems. Regardless, abduction favors intelligence. The creation of information storage, processing, and retrieval systems for manufacture are artifacts of intelligence, and specifically not artifacts of any known material processes. material.infantacy
Then perhaps you should get an education and come back when you understand what ID is. IOW what are you doing here? Obviously you don't belong in a place that wants to promote serious discussions about Intelligent Design. So what gives? Joe
And speaking of cards- why is poker on ESPN? Playing poker is now considered a sport? Joe
I don't know what any of those phrases really mean, sorry. Timbo
And more equivocation- what kind of evolution can design- Is it A) Intelligent Design Evolution B) Front-loaded Evolution C) Blind watchmaker Evolution? And what is your evidence? Joe
Timbo, Do you have reading comprehension issues? Petrushka's "challenge" is an equivocation as highlighted by my post, which you responded to. And I have flat-out stated that GAs would be a great DESIGN mechanism. So again, what is your problem? Joe
Actually it's my own rendition of Miller's comments. It illuminates the absurdity of his example. It looks a lot like Miller's, but there's a significant difference -- I call for a predetermined sequence to be established before dealing the cards. material.infantacy
But the point is that nor can design. It is seemingly physically impossible to design functioning sequences without using evolution. Timbo
Petrushka has been making this challenge for a long time and no one has taken him up. Of course, if you think an omniscient and omnipotent god is responsible then its not a problem for you, but that's not what ID claims right? Timbo
Evolution can't "design" anything until the systems which it's purported to devise are already in place. Since evolution can't logically explain the thing that's required in order for evolution to work (a DNA-based self-replicator) it can't possibly explain the system under consideration. material.infantacy
Umm that is the asnine "explanation" Miller gave. And it is refuted by my post- the one you responded to Joe
What kind of "evolution" are you talking about? uis it A) Intelligent Design Evolution, B) Front-Loaded Evolution or C) Blind watchmaker Evolution? Joe
All you have to do to refute that is demonstrate that something like a protein domain can be designed without using evolution. Petrushka
"Just for fun, is there any anti-ID argument so stupid that it might give a hair model pause for thought? Might give the regular viewers pause for thought?"
Biological systems are too complex to have been designed. material.infantacy
The best example I can give is to sit down with four friends, shuffle a deck of 52 cards, and announce in advance a sequence in which the cards will be dealt. Then deal them out, and keep an exact record of the order in which the cards were dealt. We could then look back and say, "My goodness, how improbable this is. We could play cards for the rest of our lives, and we would never deal the cards out in that preestablished sequence." You know what, that's absolutely correct. Nonetheless, you dealt them out, and nonetheless, you didn't get the predetermined arrangement. xp material.infantacy
I know. That's the point lol. Scootle
It's a strawman- PZ is totally clueless as to what ID claims. Joe
How about PZ Myers' driftwood argument? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNbTgUl8rNs Scootle
Consider- If you are getting dealt some cards the odds that you will get some cards is 1. The same goes for all subsequent occurances of you getting dealt cards. Joe
The cards were not randomly dealt to us. They were fearfully and wonderfully chosen and given to us. Dembski's math is only unfair if we know we got the cards by a random deal. We don't know that Mytheos
Man, what a load of self-serving illogical nonsense. Stu7
The sad part about Miller is that he claims to be a christian. Unfortunately his words and actions betray him. Joe

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