Education Intelligent Design

Agnostic Pro-ID vs. Theistic Anti-ID

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This from the Faraday Institute Newsletter (No 32 | September 2008):

The Faraday Course entitled “Science and Religion for Church Leaders”, also intended for those training for ministry, will take place Nov 4-6th . As usual full details are up on the Faraday web-site (www.faraday-institute.org). . . .

Those in the Birmingham UK area might be interested to know that on Saturday, 27th September, at 4.0 p.m. in the George Hotel, Lichfield, the Institute Director will be in debate with Prof. Steve Fuller (Prof. of Sociology at Warwick University) at the Lichfield Literary Festival (hwww.lichfieldfestival.org) on the subject of Intelligent Design. This is a somewhat counterintuitive debate in that Prof. Fuller, an agnostic, is an ID supporter whereas the Director, a theist, is a critic of ID. Hopefully the exchange of views will clarify rather than further obfuscate a topic perennially surrounded by a thick fog of confusion.

Denis Alexander, Bob White
[Director, Faraday Institute] [Associate Director]

One way to dispel the thick of confusion surrounding ID is for opponents as well as supporters to represent it accurately.

31 Replies to “Agnostic Pro-ID vs. Theistic Anti-ID

  1. 1
    DaveScot says:

    Liz Lizard

    Professor Fuller is wrong about his assertion that belief in ID is religiously motivated. A number of ID proponents, myself included, have no religious motivation. I’m as agnostic as Professor Fuller, if not moreso. The whole point of ID is that there’s no need for religious motivation in belief that the universe and life is the result of design. There is ample empirical evidence to support this view.

  2. 2
    Charlie says:

    Hi DaveScot,
    Liz’s remark mislead you a little.
    Fuller on ID:

    . Yes, indeed, because it seems to me that one of the things that’s at stake here is the idea that intelligent design, as it were, is something more than just a kind of a fig leaf for the idea of God or some other kind of religious entity.

    And the point here about Herbert Simon, who has no very clear, no theistic views whatsoever, is that he actually thought it was possible to have a universal science of design, and that was what the sciences of the artificial were about. And bounded rationality was a key kind of inference and form of reasoning within that.

    ===

    Q. Dr. Fuller, as we begin your direct examination, which is my opportunity to elicit your opinions, I want to ask you a few questions, which we’ll go back and explain. Do you have an opinion concerning whether intelligent design is science?

    A. Yes.

    Q. What is that opinion?

    A. It is.

    Q. Do you have an opinion concerning whether intelligent design is religion?

    A. It is not.

    Q. Do you have an opinion concerning whether intelligent design is inherently religious?

    A. It is not.

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    What happened to Liz Liaard’s comments. I was just about to respond and they are gone?

  4. 4

    Liz Lizard is no longer with us.

  5. 5
    Charlie says:

    Similarly, Liz seems confused by Fuller’s distinction between the discovery and the justification aspects of ID.
    Whereas he lauds the heuristic value of a worldview amenable to ID this is a separate issue from the scientific, evidential side in which the justification is found.

  6. 6
    DaveScot says:

    My apologies to Professor Fuller for taking Liz Lizard’s assertion at face value.

  7. 7
    Larry Fafarman says:

    One way to start eliminating the confusion would be cessation of use of the term “ID creationism” by critics of Intelligent Design. ID is based solely on scientific observations and scientific reasoning whereas pure creationism is based on religious sources. It is OK to consider the religious or philosophical implications of ID, but ID should not always be associated with its religious and philosophical implications. Evolution has religious and philosophical implications too, but critics of evolution don’t use terms like “evolutionary atheism” or evolutionary materialism.” Smug, overconfident Darwinists brazenly use the term “IDC,” not seeming to care that their use of the term could hurt their credibility. Also, Darwinists who use the term “IDC” have a real rotten nerve complaining about the D-words “Darwinism” and “Darwinist,” which are fairly accurate because evolution theory is still basically just random genetic variation plus natural selection, just as it was when Darwin proposed it. Also, as I have said many times, there needs to be more recognition of the fact that there are also non-ID scientific (or pseudoscientific to some) criticisms of evolution.

    I am disappointed that Liz Lizard’s comment was censored — several commenters here responded to Liz’s comment and I would like to know exactly what she said.

  8. 8
    Jack Krebs says:

    Larry writes,

    <blockquote… because evolution theory is still basically just random genetic variation plus natural selection, just as it was when Darwin proposed it.

    A small point: Darwin knew nothing about genetic variation. Knowledge about genes and the way they produce variation are some of the main things that have been discovered by scientists since Darwin’s time.

  9. 9
    Jack Krebs says:

    Pardon my hasty posting – this is what the previous post should look like.

    Also, I see that my post, like Larry’s comment to which I responded, are off topic. Sorry.

    Larry writes,

    … because evolution theory is still basically just random genetic variation plus natural selection, just as it was when Darwin proposed it.

    A small point: Darwin knew nothing about genetic variation. Knowledge about genes and the way they produce variation are some of the main things that have been discovered by scientists since Darwin’s time.

  10. 10
    Larry Fafarman says:

    Jack Krebs said (#9) —
    Also, I see that my post, like Larry’s comment to which I responded, are off topic.

    How is my comment off-topic? The topic is possible misinterpretation of the term “Intelligent Design,” and I started talking about possible misinterpretation of the terms “Darwinism” and “Darwinist.” Seems right on-topic to me.

    A small point: Darwin knew nothing about genetic variation. Knowledge about genes and the way they produce variation are some of the main things that have been discovered by scientists since Darwin’s time.
    Darwin had to assume that organisms change with time, even though he did not know exactly how organisms change with time.

    Advances in a field do not necessarily change fundamental principles. Consider, for example, Fourier’s Law, which is truly the “fundamental concept underlying all analyses of heat conduction in solids” (which the Florida science standards falsely say about evolution in relation to biology). According to Wikipedia, Fourier’s Law was first proposed in 1822. This was probably just the one-dimensional steady-state form. A logical extension of this form, the three-dimensional transient form, was then introduced, with the addition of the concept of heat capacity in addition to thermal conductivity. The analysis of heat conduction in solids advanced with new mathematical solutions, analog computer simulations, and digital computer analyses of discrete nodal models. But it is all just an extension of the basic three-dimensional transient form of Fourier’s Law, which was derived from the one-dimensional steady-state form.

  11. 11
    Charlie says:

    Another professor of philosophy (and law), and atheist to boot, thinks that ID is science.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

  12. 12
    Larry Fafarman says:

    I originally defined Darwinism as consisting of random mutations plus natural selection. But the Darwinists complained that this definition ignores other causes of genetic change, e.g., genetic drift and gene flow, so I redefined Darwinism as consisting of natural genetic variation plus natural selection. However, the Darwinists finagled that this still does not represent Darwin’s theory because Darwin did not know the mechanisms of genetic change. So now I am just going to say that Darwinism consists of heritable changes plus natural selection — IMO that makes clear that basically evolution theory has not changed since it was introduced by Darwin.

  13. 13
    bFast says:

    Larry Fafarman, you are going through an interesting struggle that we have beat into the ground many times.

    Darwinist will correctly point out that some of the variation that has played important evolutionary roles are not genetic. They point, for instance, to a certain asteroid that theoretically struck earth about 70 mya.

    So we extend our claim to random variation plus natural selection.

    However, they point out, somewhat correctly, that some areas of DNA are more subject to random mutation than others. It has something to do with the folding patterns and such.

    So we modify the definition to non-foresighted variation and natural selection.

    They still try to explain that there’s a lot more to mutations than just point mutations. At that point you just have to claim that they are being argumentitive, and are suggesting that you are stupid. However, you do have to get there, or you get nowhere.

    Once you get this far, you have to stick to your guns. Every feature of the modern evolutionary theory, except technologies ostensibly developed via NFV+NS which includes human technologies, fits within the parameters of NFV+NS.

    Its really hard to pin these guys down, but the theory is pretty simplistic.

  14. 14
    Larry Fafarman says:

    bFast said,

    Its really hard to pin these guys down, but the theory is pretty simplistic.

    Right. Here is an example of where a Darwinist used bibliography bluffing to try to make the theory look like much more than what it really is.

    Steven Schafersman, the president of Texas Citizens for Science, acts like the poster child of the Darwinist propagandists. Unfortunately, he is now a blogger on the new Evo.Sphere blog of the Houston Chronicle. He used bibliography bluffing to respond to one of my statements:

    You state, “Evolution theory has hardly changed at all since Darwin’s time — it still basically consists of just heritable changes plus natural selection, so I think it is appropriate to call it ‘Darwinism.'” This is so totally erroneous that it is almost inconceivable to me that a literate, sapient individual would write this. I reject your statement unconditionally. But since it would take too much of my valuable time to explain it just to you, I won’t bother. Just consult Wikipedia or a biology textbook or something.

    — from http://www.chron.com/commons/r.....fc4e747c3e

  15. 15
    DaveScot says:

    larry

    Darwinism is descent with modification causing new taxons to form.

    You’re right, nothing has changed in 150 years except the details.

  16. 16
    Larry Fafarman says:

    DaveScot said (#15) —
    Darwinism is descent with modification causing new taxons to form.

    I always wondered what is meant by that definition, “descent with modfication” — of course there is going to be modification in evolution. IMO any definition of Darwinian evolution should at least include the ideas of (1) natural selection and (2) genetic or hereditary change.

  17. 17
    jerry says:

    Darwin had no ideas what caused the modification or what happened with sexual reproduction, hence the vague wording “with modification.” He assumed the ability of sexual reproduction to create modification to be extremely wide ranging. That was his basic mistake. Because his ideas work very well for the more limited theory of micro evolution.

    The discovery of genes etc and how they are expressed were just adding pieces to the puzzle of how the modification was accomplished and then adding genetic drift or gene flow was really just a trivial addition to his basic theory. In no way did this change the basic concepts that Darwin proposed. The real Achilles Heel of Darwin’s ideas are that the modifications are really very limited and are no where near what Darwin or his immediate followers envisioned. And none since have been able to solve this limitation.

    So modern proponents are really not much further along then Darwin was despite the mumbo jumbo of assorted processes that do affect modification and selection and they still cannot justify the really extensive modification that Darwin insisted was there. The main argument for extensive modification was and still is, deep time, and current analysis of biological processes has so far ruled this out as ever happening.

    So Darwin’s theory has not really changed much despite the hullabaloo that evolutionary biologists make about how far the theory has progressed.

  18. 18
    DaveScot says:

    Darwin, like Lamarck, believed that characters acquired during the life of the organism were heritable. That was his biggest mistake. His theory was credible until the central dogma of molecular biology was discovered. His theory has been slowly coming apart at the seams ever since. Nothing about creative evolution now makes sense except in the light of front loading.

  19. 19
    Larry Fafarman says:

    jerry said (#17) —

    Darwin had no ideas what caused the modification or what happened with sexual reproduction, hence the vague wording “with modification.”

    Now I am really confused — I thought “descent with modification” was the modern definition of evolution, not Darwin’s definition.

    It wasn’t so long ago that there appeared to be a consensus that evolution was defined as random mutation plus natural selection, often abbreviated RM + NS. The Discovery Institute’s letter “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism,” introduced in 2001 and reaching over 700 signatures by 2007, describes evolution as just RM + NS:

    “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

    But then the Darwinists complained that that’s no good because things like genetic drift and gene flow are not included, even though those things are random too. So to try to make the Darwinists happy, I started defining evolution as “random genetic variation” plus natural selection. But then the Darwinists complained that that’s no good because their big hero Darwin did not know the mechanisms of genetic variation, so to try to make the Darwinists happy, I defined evolution as “hereditary changes” plus natural selection in order to be consistent with Darwin’s original theory. But then the Darwinists complained that that’s no good because it implies that there has been no progress in evolution theory since Darwin. There is just no satisfying the Darwinists. They can just go to hell so far as I am concerned — I am going to go back to using the old definition of RM + NS.

    Trying to please the Darwinists is like that old Aesop’s fable about the man, the boy, and the donkey.

  20. 20
    Larry Fafarman says:

    DaveScot said (#18) —

    Nothing about creative evolution now makes sense except in the light of front loading.

    But the co-evolution of total co-dependence of two different kinds of organisms (i.e., obligate mutualism) is a problem for front-loaded evolution as well as Darwinian evolution. For totally co-dependent organisms, it would be necessary to trigger the front-loaded mutations in both kinds of organisms at the same time in the same place.

  21. 21
    DaveScot says:

    larry

    For totally co-dependent organisms, it would be necessary to trigger the front-loaded mutations in both kinds of organisms at the same time in the same place.

    And this is a problem for front-loading how, exactly?

  22. 22
    jjcassidy says:

    bfast:

    Its really hard to pin these guys down, but the theory is pretty simplistic.

    You can choose to be either elusive or dogmatic. Often dogmatists who are situationally elusive can be exposed by examining their operational assumptions. It’s often draining but you should think about not only what the principles say, but what they imply about how truth is decided.

    Words are squirrelly, though. We don’t know of a “descent” that doesn’t take place without some “modification” otherwise, we’d consider you a clone of your father. And although you can show that “Descent with modification/variation” means very little definite besides what we expect from “descent”, it’s harder to “refute” from a summary position. But it’s still important to engage in this line to be able to disqualify any subsequent positivistic treatment anywhere in the counter line of argument. If they object to the vagueness of “design(??)”, it can still have a meaning despite the vague word chosen for the summary, because they are representing the same thing against the poorly chosen definition for evolution. But they are making the operational assumption that “vagueness” points to illusion. (It shouldn’t surprise us when quasi-positivistic proponents use positivistic methodology.)

  23. 23
    Larry Fafarman says:

    DaveScot said (#21) —

    larry

    For totally co-dependent organisms, it would be necessary to trigger the front-loaded mutations in both kinds of organisms at the same time in the same place.

    And this is a problem for front-loading how, exactly?

    I am assuming that there is obligate mutualism — i.e., neither of the two different organisms can survive without the other. Hence, both co-dependent forms of the two different kinds of organisms would have to suddenly appear in the same place at the same time. John A. Davison, a proponent of front-loaded evolution (he calls it “prescribed evolution”), said in a comment on my blog that “the involved organisms were both reading a common prescribed blueprint and the interdependencies were probably produced instantaneously,” but he did not propose any mechanism for producing the interdependencies instantaneously:

    There is no evidence that any form of mutualism ever came about through the agency of natural selection. The involved organisms were both reading a common prescribed blueprint and the interdependencies were probably produced instantaneously. Show me otherwise. You can’t because that sort of evolution isn’t even occurring any more and probably never will again. It is all over folks. Get used to it. All we see now is rampant extinction without a single documented replacement. (emphasis added)

    — from
    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....0879516952

    Strong examples of obligate mutualism are buzz pollination and orchid-wasp pollination by sexual mimicry. These examples are discussed in my following blog posts —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....vable.html

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....rchid.html

    Complex parasitic relationships — sometimes involving more than one host — might also require simultaneous mutations in different organisms —

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....ge-to.html

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....ycles.html

  24. 24
    Larry Fafarman says:

    In my preceding comment, I erroneously stated,

    Strong examples of obligate mutualism are buzz pollination and orchid-wasp pollination by sexual mimicry.

    Actually, the orchid-wasp relationship is not really mutualistic, because only the orchid benefits. However, the orchids are entirely dependent on the wasps — in fact, there is a species of orchid that is pollinated by just one species of wasp.

  25. 25
    DaveScot says:

    Larry

    A trigger can work to cause a predetermined, simultaneous change in disparate organisms. I don’t see what the problem is for front-loading although I certainly see where there might be a problem for Darwinian evolution.

    However, one example you gave (the first and only one I thought about) isn’t a problem for Darwinian evolution, per se, either. Just because there is only one species of wasp that pollinates an orchid today it doesn’t follow there was only one species in the past. Perhaps there were many and they simply became extinct one by one. I don’t think you’ve laid out a serious problem for gradualism.

    Also, Davison has indeed proposed a mechanism for saltation. It’s not his fault you don’t know about it. I’ve had it here on the sideboard for years. It was published IIRC in 1984 and is called “semi-meiosis”. I’ve collected and reformatted for the web, as required, all Davison’s papers on evolution. They may be found on the right sideboard here under his name.

  26. 26
    Larry Fafarman says:

    DaveScot said (#25) —

    Also, Davison has indeed proposed a mechanism for saltation.

    Dave,

    John A. Davison’s paper on semi-meiosis was of no help to me. It seems that the “trigger” would have to be something external to both co-dependent organisms — bacteria or viruses, perhaps? And how did co-dependent species — e.g., bees and flowers — live and look like before they became co-dependent? Of course, sometimes co-dependence could develop incrementally — for example, bees and flowers could already be co-dependent and then the flowers could develop new colors or scents and the bees could develop the ability to detect those colors or scents.

    IMO co-evolution has not gotten the attention it deserves — it is often treated as a sideshow or afterthought and it is often just taken for granted. And when co-evolution is discussed in general, the examples of co-evolution chosen are often those that present the least problems for evolution, e.g., predator-prey relationships (“arms races” are a favorite) and simple parasitisms with a single host. In fact, some of the examples are not even co-evolutionary at all, because the adaptations in those examples are on one side only. It is typical of Darwinists to try to “prove” evolution by giving simple, trivial examples. The details of co-evolutions that present real difficulties — e.g., (1) co-evolution of total co-dependence (i.e., obligate mutualism) involving traits that are of kind and not degree, e.g., buzz pollination traits in insects and plants, and (2) parasitisms that are extremely complex (Carl Zimmer once described a parasitism as “reverse engineering” of the host by the parasite) and/or that involve two or more hosts — are ignored. The way that biologists describe co-evolution is very vague — they just call it “mutual evolutionary pressure” or something like that. But when looked at in detail, co-evolution can be a real problem.

    Co-evolution is what I call a “non-ID” issue concerning evolution — arguments concerning co-evolution do not necessarily assume that the individual relevant mutations or traits in either organism concern ID. Of course, individual co-evolutionary mutations or traits can involve ID issues and sometimes whole corresponding sets of co-dependent traits can involve ID issues.

  27. 27
    Larry Fafarman says:

    One more thing —

    DaveScot said (#25) —

    Just because there is only one species of wasp that pollinates an orchid today it doesn’t follow there was only one species in the past. Perhaps there were many and they simply became extinct one by one.

    An article gives the following description of a species of orchid that might be incapable of attracting a number of different species of pollinators:

    Plant and animal interactions. Some orchids are pollinated by male insects that try to mate with the flowers. This bizarre behaviour occurs because the flowers produce chemicals that are the same as chemicals emitted by female insects. Usually a mixture of common chemicals is involved. An Australian orchid named Chiloglottis trapeziformis is only pollinated by a wasp named Neozeleboria cryptoides. Scientist who studied the wasp and orchid were surprised to find that the chemical signal involved was “one unique compound, requiring a rigid biosynthetic process and a highly specific receptor a system with seemingly limited evolutionary flexibility.”(emphasis added) (Science, vol. 302, p437, 17 Oct 2003.)

    “Limited evolutionary flexibility” means that if either the orchid or the wasp got any of the steps wrong in making this compound, emitting it at the right time and making the receptors that detect the chemical in the air, then the orchid would die out for lack of pollinators. The highly specific relationship between some plants and their pollinators is the classic evolutionary problem – both orchid and wasp had to evolve their part of the system at the same time or it wouldn’t work at all.

    The wasp orchid relationship depends on chemical signalling. The orchid makes a chemical with a very precise shape, and the male moth [should be wasp] has a receptor for it – a much larger molecule containing a part that is the complementary shape to the signal chemical. The receptor and signal molecules fit together like a lock and key. When the signal molecule fits into the receptor, the receptor changes shape and that starts off a whole series of reactions that change the wasp’s behaviour.

  28. 28
    reluctantfundie says:

    Oooh, a debate in Birmingham, I might go to that.

  29. 29
    DaveScot says:

    Larry

    Just because the receptor specificity in the male wasp is narrow today it doesn’t follow that it was narrow in the past. The male/female wasp have the same evolutionary problem of lock and key as the wasp/orchid. One solution to both problems is that the receptor wasn’t so specific in the past and became more specific over time. Another solution is that the lock and key for all participants was front-loaded and very specific right from the word go. I don’t see this a strong case for intelligent design as specificity is something that microevolution is fairly adept at altering. Lenski’s citrate eating e.coli got that way very likely by a cell wall transport protein (permease) become less specific so that it carried citrate across the cell wall in addition to whatever else it transported in the past. Antibiotic resistance is often acquired the same way – by existing structures becoming more or less specific via single random nucleotide changes in coding genes.

  30. 30
    Larry Fafarman says:

    DaveScot said (#29) —

    Larry

    Just because the receptor specificity in the male wasp is narrow today it doesn’t follow that it was narrow in the past.

    Well, I think that is just speculation.

    Anyway, I am still wondering what the co-evolutionary triggers might be in front-loaded evolution.

  31. 31
    DaveScot says:

    Well, I think that is just speculation.

    Of course it is. Welcome to the Darwinian School of Prehistoric Narrative.

    I am still wondering what the co-evolutionary triggers might be in front-loaded evolution.

    Make something up. Use your imagination. When the moon is in the Seventh House And Jupiter aligns with Mars Then orchids will guide the wasps And love will steer the stars.

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