Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

If the evidence for Darwinian theory were so great, why keep slamming ID? Just present it!


Excerpt from Current biology
Volume 16, Issue 16, 22 August 2006, Pages R619-R620
Copyright © 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Q & A: Roger Hendrix

Pittsburgh Bacteriophage Institute and Department of Biological Sciences,
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA
Available online 21 August 2006.
Q: Given the prominence of the evolutionary perspective in your work, can
you comment on the current efforts to present ‘Intelligent Design’ as an
alternative to biological evolution in public schools in America?

A: It is a sorry commentary on the state of public understanding of
science that a large fraction of the US population is willing to accept
that Intelligent Design (ID), essentially a tarted-up version of
creationism, and evolution are in some sense parallel or comparable. The
ID argument, as near as I can tell is “These biological organisms are so
complex that I cannot imagine how they got to be like they are. If I
cannot understand that, nobody can understand it. Better call in God”. To
think that ID in any way provides evidence against biological evolution
shows a lack of even a rudimentary understanding of the nature of
scientific evidence and scientific argument. At the risk of sounding
cynical, though, I would venture that most of the people pushing ID do not
give a rat’s patootie about having a scientific discussion over evolution
or considering what the data might tell us; they’re simply looking for a
way to insert their own peculiar religious beliefs into public education.

egbooth, whoever that is. I said what I believe to be the facts. The only demonstrable role for natural selection is to prevent change. The fact that the pH of the ocean varies some has nothing to do with the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that organic evolution is any longer in progress beyond the trivial production of varieties. Many organisms are incapapble of even that. Darwinism is the most failed hypothesis in the history of science. "A past evolution is indeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
What is Intelligent Design?
Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence- Wm. Dembski
Intelligent design begins with a seemingly innocuous question: Can objects, even if nothing is known about how they arose, exhibit features that reliably signal the action of an intelligent cause? -Wm. Dembski
Del Ratzsch tells us about counterflow- from which we can make a starting inference. Dr. Behe gives us an easy criteria from which to gauge intentional design:
"Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.
“Thus, Behe concludes on the basis of our knowledge of present cause-and-effect relationships (in accord with the standard uniformitarian method employed in the historical sciences) that the molecular machines and complex systems we observe in cells can be best explained as the result of an intelligent cause. In brief, molecular motors appear designed because they were designed” Pg. 72 of "Darwinism, Design and Public Education
However it may be that even the appearance of design will never be enough for some people to even want to check out if that appearance is for a reason. For most anti-IDists the following applies: Page 270 of “The Privileged Planet”
“In fact, no amount of evidence for apparent design could ever count as evidence of actual design But if science is a search for the best explanation, based on the actual evidence from the physical world, rather than merely a search for the best materialistic or impersonal explanations of the physical world, how responsible is it to adopt a principle that makes one incapable of seeing an entire class of evidence?
The bottom-line is if we see the even the appearance of design people should be allowed to openly discuss the possibility of it being actual design- that is IF science is about finding out the truth, ie the reality, behind the existence of that being observed. And given the materialistic alternative is essentially "sheer-dumb-luck" why would anyone want to prevent open discussions accept to protect some warped world-view? How can saying "it evolved" be deemed more scientific than saying "it was designed" or "it was designed to eveolve"? When did throwing Father Time at any alleged obstacle become an accepted scientifc validation (which is what Darwin did in "OoS" and is still the favoured mechanism)? Questioning common descent is outside of Intelligent Design. Common descent is yet another separate question as to whether or not we can detect and study (understand) the design.
Natural selection was presented by a Creationist (Blythe) before Darwin "borrowed" the idea. ID is NOT anti-evolution. ID is anti- evolution #6- The meanings of [I]evolution[/I], from [I]Darwinism, Design and Public Education[/I]: 1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature 2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population 3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor. 4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations. 5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor. 6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms. ID is based on the following: (Ibid) 1) High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design. 2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity. 3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity. 4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems. Is ID testable? Yes, by testing the 3 premises above. Is evolution #6 testable? No. Joseph
Joseph said "Actually “they” don’t slam ID. They set up a strawman of ID and slam that. And they do so because that is much easier than substantiating their own claims or actually learning what ID really is." This is probably true. But I think the challenge is that I know for myself I've found it hard to learn what ID really is. It's further compounded by the fact that some IDers accept natural selection (and therefore at least some of evolutionary theory) - whereas others seem to think ALL of evolutionary theory is wrong. Although as far as I can tell ID still does allow for some micro-evolution to occur (although with so much anti-evolution rhetoric it's easy to assume that IDers don't think this). As such I have yet to find a single source that provides a complete coherent explanation of ID as a 'big picture' - as a complete and whole alternative to evolution -- sure there are sources that talk about irreducible complexity, the explanatory filter, CSI etc. -- but there's nothing I know of that provides complete end-to-end explanation - i.e., an ID equivalane of Origin of Species if you will. So perhaps the reason people make a strawmen is partly because the ID movement needs to do a better job of communicating their position? John Singleton
Posted on Uncommon Descent. William Dembski: "If the evidence for Darwinian theory were so great, why keep slamming ID? Just present it!" Interesting challenge considering that the vast majority of my comments never appear on your blog. Present the challenge, then suppress or seriously delay the response. Quite revealing. Clogging Zachriel
Grumpy thanks for not wasting your time here we certainly won't waste our time reading your comments either ;) (for the record only people who write very poor and unscientific posts get booted) lucID
I'm sorry, John A. Davison, but your most recent comment here is absolutely absurd about nature abhorring change. You apparently have never taken a good geology course. The natural environment is constantly changing. Even the ever-popularized term 'climate change' is a completely useless phrase. Everything in nature is changing every second...the pH of the oceans is constantly changing, atmospheric chemistry is constantly changing, etc., etc. So how can nature abhor change when it is constantly changing...it kind of seems paradoxical to me. egbooth
The big problem with all of these attempts to disprove evolution is that they aren't done through experiment: they are done through posing an alternative theory. One cannot disprove one theory by providing another. If you want to disprove a theory, you ask what specific predictions that theory makes, and devise experiments that disprove those. For example, one cannot disprove evolution by making arguments about information (in this context, it's always possible that there is a process you've failed to take account of...such arguments might merely make the theory disfavored, if they were valid). Instead, you examine a specific prediction of the theory. One way to refute evolution would be to find, for example, concrete evidence of ducks in the pre-cambrian era. For example, if the picture of "Onyate man" had been real, and hadn't been an joke, it would have been an excellent refutation of evolution: http://www.nmsr.org/onyatemn.htm And finally, science is all about supporting logical thought, independent analysis, and having a responsibility to the truth above all things, including ones' own personal beliefs. Any belief that scientists are somehow "brainwashed" is absolute absurdity. Any scientist who doesn't argue vehemently with others in his field as to the correct answer to an unknown problem or who doesn't admit it when he is shown to be wrong through experiment is no scientist at all. Unlike Christianity which upholds blind faith as a virtue, scientists are taught to trust no one and nothing but their own logic. Chalnoth
Actually "they" don't slam ID. They set up a strawman of ID and slam that. And they do so because that is much easier than substantiating their own claims or actually learning what ID really is. Joseph
It is a sad state of affairs when a supposed scientific site(which this claims to be) can only sustain that illusion by excluding all who disagree. I came here to discuss the theories you have put forth, but a few minutes reading disabused me of the idea that debate and exchange of ideas are welcomed here. Mr. Demski had an opportunity to widely diseminate his views in Kansas, but he was a no-show(and certainly not worth 200 dollars an hour). At least Behe had the courage of his convictions and testified(even though the plaintive's lawyer cleaned his clock for him). Don't worry, I won't be wasting my time here any more, your words and deeds indicate this is not a site in search of knowledge, but one for the stroking of Dumski's ego. Grumpy Grumpy
there are thousands of books, textbooks, journal articles and websites presenting the evidence for evolution with natural selection as a driving force. sophophile, why are you citing quantiy as proof? In the old Soviet Union thousands of books, textbooks and journal articles were published citing the superiority of their system over the West. Did that prove anything? The reason that there are "thousand of books etc." claiming "proof" of NeoDarwinist evolution has less to do with science that it does with politics and less to do with merit than it does with prejudice -- and rather bitter prejudice at that. But it you want to use quantity to make your point -- Google shows 14 million webpages containing the phrase "intelligent design". Google shows 3,330,000 for the phrase "Theory of Evolution" tribune7
Thankyou Bill, I was wondering why kindergarten got let out so soon in the day?? lucID
Sophophile, I suggest you read the textbooks on biology and evolutionary biology. We have and haven't found the evidence/data to support Darwinian evolution other than for micro-evolution. If it is not presented in these books then ask yourself why. If you read the textbooks and think you have found something, bring it here and we can discuss it. jerry
Sophophile I'm going to try and not be rude, but you obviously haven't been paying attention, to anything on this site have you? The rhetoric you just sprouted above is a classic self-proving example of what Bill just wrote against. (And thus I'm trying hard not to laugh too hard right now) I'm going to go through this step by step real slow for you, so don't get too lost. There’s too much to cover here so I’ll go through the basics. 1. Answering you last question first. ID has presented MUCH evidence against evolution (Specified Information complexity, Irreducible biological complexity, Design Inferences through information filters) and the list continues to grow. All of the above has been dismissed as 'propaganda' without thorough examination by the so-called leading biologists/Darwinists because it wreaks utter havoc with the evolutionary theory. The evidence has been presented, please go and do some proper reading if you want to contribute meaningful dialogue here, and not just regurgitate the Darwinian party line. 2. The thousands of textbooks, journals etc you refer to are all published inside the unquestioning evolution paradigm, i.e. THEY ARE PUBLISHED WITH BLINKERS ON BECAUSE THEY FIT THE DOGMA. Also I think you meant to say ‘What evidence AGAINST evolution do you think is being withheld?’ There are many blatant errors in evolutionary textbooks (peppered moths fraud, Miller/Urey exaggeration, Haeckel’s fake drawings....) which have been pointed out, but never removed simply because they fit the theory so nicely. Read Jonathan Wells Icons of evolution book. In fact the theory of evolution is in contradiction with every other established science today: Physics (2nd law of Thermodynamics – a big one), Maths & Stats & Information theory (Probability), Chemistry & Microbiology (cellular information, bacterial flagellum, blood-clotting….), Geology (Cambrian explosion, NO undisputed transitional fossils). Yet all this is ignored, cleverly sidestepped, or skewed to fit the theory. 3. Evolution was born out of philosophical realm with a few distorted biological observations thrown in for good measure. Since then it has grown into a prevalent biological belief system with time and chance as god, Darwin the son of god, and Dawkins as pope Benedict XI. (I’m being sarcastic here, but it’s pretty close) Anyone of the practicing biologists that dares question the afore mentioned god, the son of god or the pope is ridiculed and banished from their respective academic institution where possible. That why your ‘survey’ shows 99% of biologists believe in evolution. 4. You evidently have been brainwashed into believing all is well in Darwin land and there are no problems. Funny thing, the communist politburo in the USSR used to say the same darn thing during the cold war - and they always told the truth! lucID
Sophophile: Two points before you are booted: (1) the burden of proof is on the chance worshippers to show that natural selection has the creative power attributed to it in building, say, molecular machines -- we already know that intelligence can build machines, including nanomachines; (2) the issue is not the number of articles or books cited, but their quality and detail in demonstrating that Darwinian paths exist to such systems. Good bye. William Dembski
[OFF TOPIC] Darwinian Catholic has been naturally selected out of his office. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/08/vatican_astronomer_replaced.html Mats
sophophile you say: "Why keep slamming ID? Because we critics genuinely believe that ID is incorrect". ID is an intellectual context where people with a scientific education, and with scientific arguments, explain why they are not satisfied with the accepted theories about evolution, and suggest alternative views and explanations of what is known. That needs not be slamming evolution, but just debating it, because we genuinely believe that it is incorrect. I don't believe in slamming, I believe in intellectual confrontation. Evolutionists are truly slamming ID, because they are constantly stating that we (ID people) are not sincere in our intellectual and scientific convictions, or simply that we are ignorant and/or stupid. With he highest respect for any opinion, I don't think that is true. I have religious opinions, but my belief in the ID approach is absolutely an intellectual passion. I really think and do believe that the arguments by ID are scientifically and intellectually strong. I do believe that the way evolutionists slam ID shows a worrying attitude of dogmatism and intolerance. I do believe that it is absolutely wrong to define unscientific and stupid or unsincere arguments from logic, mathematics, biology, fossils, phylosophy of science, etc, which, in the opinion of many, strongly suggest that the usual explanations for biological complexity are not convincing. I believe all these hings, and I have a scientifc and pertinent education, and I don't feel stupid, and I don't feel insincere, and I don't feel I am self-deluded. And neither do I think any of those things of you, or of those who agree with your views. I don't think you are unscientific, or stupid, or insncere, or self-deluded. I only think you are wrong. I don't agree with evolutionists, but I respect their views. I don't think ID is slamming evolution in the sense of asking that it be banned from scientific ournals, or from the news, or from schools, or from the intellectual debate. So, I respect evolutionists, but I don't agree with their intellectual views (but surely tolerate them), but I can't approve of their dogmatism and intolerance for ID. That intolerance is not fair, is not intellectually correct, is not scientific, is not morally acceptable. For everything else, we can and must discuss, if possible with respect. gpuccio
sophophile The assumption of natural selection as a creative force is an illusion. It is based on the fallacy that effects have tangible causes. The only thing that natural selection has ever done is what it is still doing today which is to pevent change. Do you remember that old saying "Nature abhors a vacuum?" Well, Nature abhors any kind of change which is why natural selection sees to it that every chickadee always looks and sounds like every other chickadee. In fact Nature is so intractable in her resistance to change that the vast majority of all the organisms that ever existed were so incapable of change that they had to become extinct and of course they did. It is a darn good thing too or we wouldn't even be here would we? A very few were able to produce offspring dramatically different from themselves. Once numerous, their numbers steadily decreased with evolutionary time. Apparently they are no longer extant. How does that grab you as an alternative view of the evolutionary sequence? I'll bet that is a real turn on eh? "A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable." John A. Davison John A. Davison
Bill asks:
If the evidence for Darwinian theory were so great, why keep slamming ID? Just present it!
Bill, there are thousands of books, textbooks, journal articles and websites presenting the evidence for evolution with natural selection as a driving force. Over 99% of practicing biologists accept evolution, if I recall correctly (I can't find the survey right now). What evidence for evolution do you think is being withheld? Why keep slamming ID? Because we critics genuinely believe that ID is incorrect. What could be more natural than arguing against a view you believe is wrong, and arguing for one you believe is right? I can easily turn the question around and ask, "If the evidence for ID is so great, why keep slamming Darwinian theory? Just present it!" sophophile
"they’re simply looking for a way to insert their own peculiar religious beliefs into public education." I always find this sort of comment puzzling. After all, colleagues of his like Dawkins and Dennett wish to do exactly that. Yet that is somehow acceptable. Even if ID was doing as charged, I fail to see the problem. jwrennie

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