Evolution Intelligent Design

Timetable for the mainstreaming of ID

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I had an extended meeting today with two of the nation’s top scientists, one of them a Nobel laureate. The Nobel laureate spoke of evolution as “bankrupt” and thought ID would be mainstreamed in five years. The other scientist was not as optimistic about this timetable, but agreed with his colleague’s assessment of evolution. He also noted that with the Internet it wasn’t possible for professors to command the deference of students as in times past. For instance, whereas in the past he was able to throw together problems sets simply by cribbing from textbooks, today he finds that students need merely consult the Internet to find perfect solutions to such problems. Professors are therefore no longer the sole repository of answers for students. Accordingly, the scientific priesthood is undergoing a shake-up. This is all to the good of ID, which thrives as the subversive instrument par excellence for exposing priestcraft dressed in a scientific lab coat.

17 Replies to “Timetable for the mainstreaming of ID

  1. 1
    Benjii says:

    Bill, is this seriously going to happen. Did two scientists really assess evolution as bankrupt?

  2. 2

    Benjii: I don’t bluff. I don’t take prisoners. –WmAD

  3. 3
    Benjii says:

    Bill, may I ask what fields these scientists practice?

  4. 4
    DaveScot says:


    The terms “evolution” and “ID” by themselves have a rather wide range of definitions. Evolution moreso I’d say. Absent clarification of terms it’s hard to say exactly what the two scientists feel is “bankrupt” and what is going “mainstream”.

    ID seems to be settling into two distinct but not mutually exclusive forms – Cosmic ID (fine tuning) and Biological ID. I’m at a loss on how to improve the CID argument. The physical constants are well enough defined, and the consequence of different values well enough understood, so that probability falls well into the rejection region that Bill talked about in his latest paper


    and/or is beyond the universal probability bound (10^-150) he’s defined elsewhere. Theoretical physics’ multiverse hypotheses stand in opposition by proposing an infinite number of universes with differing constants. Those propose probabilistic resources sufficient to force the alignment of physcial constants outside the rejection region. The multiverse scenarios, let’s assume one eventually works out on paper (which is a big concession), they appear to be hopelessly beyond any possible way for experimental physics to explore. Absent any means of empirical verification or falsification it seems that multiverse vs. CID are in a stalemate.

    Biological ID on the other hand is well within the bounds of experimental biology. It’s this form that I believe can go “mainstream” and I presume it’s the form that the scientists Bill mentions in this article are referring to.

    That leaves us with the question of what they define as the “evolution” that is bankrupt. I can’t fathom any scientist thinking that micro-evolution is bankrupt. That leaves us biological macro-evolution (biogenesis) which I define as evolution of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, and body plans and chemical evolution (abiogenesis) which I define as the evolution of the first independent replicator. It seems to me that either or both of these might be reasonably considered bankrupt.

    Bankrupt probably needs clarification too. In my mind what’s bankrupt is the ability of current “mainstream” mechanisms to fully explain either biogenesis or abiogenesis. ID I think is an additional mechanism that displaces the grand controversial claims made for the creative ability of random mutation + natural selection in biogenesis and the hypothetical materialist mechanisms proposed for abiogenesis.

    Recently, and more off-topic, I’ve become intrigued by the possibility that the appearance of design in biogenesis might be explained by an intelligence embodied in a neural network (a computing device capable of learning and making expert decisions from what it learned) at the biochemical level inside cells. Mobile elements in the genome appear to be sufficient to implement the hardware (logic gates) and the codon sequences the storage in a traditional computing sense, even in the limited resource environment of prokaryotes. Moreover this neural net would be able to self-modify heritable characters and produce intelligent design. An emerging area of computer science, quantum computing, reduces by orders of magnitude the hardware and storage requirements or, in another view, increases the computational ability of the hardware by orders of magnitude. This makes it possible for a super-computer inside something as simple as a bacteria to model and predict, for instance, protein folding.

    Interestingly, initial attempts to build quantum computing elements are using the spin states of the carbon atoms in amino acids as storage elements called qubits. I found a number of papers so far (in a limited search) relating quantum computing to evolution. One even shows a relationship between the structure of the codon->amino acid translation table that’s virtually identical in every living thing as being structured for the benefit of quantum computers. The translation table could have taken on any one of a virtually infinite number of equally functional permutations and there’s no good explanation of why it turned out the way it did other than “luck of the draw” which isn’t very satisfying.

    I put a list of links to further reading in this area in a comment at Stranger Fruit here:


    Other comments I made with links to good reading in the general area of directed mutations are here


    which is mostly just a pointer to an article Bill posted here from the Scripps institute about a mutation regulation gene found in e.coli and here


    which has four more links to directed mutation articles and papers.

  5. 5
    DaveScot says:

    Note: A clarification on the quantum computer idea – it doesn’t discount some other form of intelligence which is why I positioned it as a possible explantory mechanism in biogenesis and not abiogenesis. The question is still begged of how a quantum computer able to replicate itself could have self-organized. Indeed, if a neural network is identified inside a living cell (via tradtional non-quantum hardware or quantum hardware) it in and of itself may exhibit irreducible complexity and complex specified information. The holy grail in my mind for materialist evolution to explain still remains the combination of ribosome and DNA which already qualifies as a Von Neuman based computer controlled milling machine. A quantum computer would explain how functional proteins are specified for encoding into the milling machine software. 🙂

    I wonder when someone’s going to point out that “carpenters see everything as hammers” and the obvious corollary in my case: computer design engineers see everything as computers. I’ll enter plea of “nolo contendere” in advance. 😉

  6. 6
    kip says:

    Isn’t argument from authority a common logical fallacy:

    I think that (ii) applies in this case.

    [Much of what we believe is taken on authority — and rightly so since we do not have the time to check everything out thoroughly in our brief lives. The argument from authority only becomes a fallacy if we think that this is enough to establish a claim. It’s not — ultimately there need to be sound arguments and evidence to back a claim up. Nonetheless, credible authorities give us good reason to think that the claims they are authorizing can indeed be backed up. –WmAD]

  7. 7
    Gumpngreen says:

    I second the notion that “computer design engineers see everything as computers.” 😀

  8. 8
    DaveScot says:


    Duly noted. The notion is carried.

  9. 9
    mynym says:

    “…a Von Neuman based computer controlled milling machine. A quantum computer would explain…”

    You may be interested in this book:
    (The Quantum Brain
    by Jeffrey Satinover)

  10. 10
    Qualiatative says:

    Dr. Dembski,

    After you and your colleagues establish intelligent design as mainstream science via *mountains of evidence*, I will be the first to proclaim: “In Biology nothing makes sense except in the light of ID”!

  11. 11

    The mountains of evidence are already there. The problem is that evidence is itself inherently hermeneutical, influenced by cognitive predispositions to interpret certain types of data as supporting/confirming certain types of conclusions. If one wears materialistic blinders, there can be no evidence for ID — hence the constant refrain by people like Barbara Forrest and Eugenie Scott that there is no evidence for ID. There is none for them because they have shut their eyes to it.

  12. 12
    Qualiatative says:

    I totally agree! I did not mean to imply that the “mountains of evidence” were not already present. (What I meant to emphasize in my first sentence was the “establish…as mainstream”.) Especially when analyzing the human mind, I see no materialistic explanation that has any logical force. Alternatively, non-materialistic interpretations of the mind — namely, dualistic ones — are being elucidated with increased scientific detail.

    My favorite quote comes from Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz:

    “The main problem is that, within the materialist worldview, in which the mind can be nothing but passive, we cannot explain our primary experience of the efficacy of willful attentional focus in any intuitively coherent way. When coupled with the fact that modern physical theory has shown that this classical materialist perspective is demonstrably false even as a purely physical theory, the reluctance of our cultural elites to acknowledge the gross inadequacy of the view that all mental life is passive/epiphenomenal seems to be more of a sociological phenomenon than a scientific one.”

    Another great quote is by Max Planck:

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as the result of my research about the atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter”.

  13. 13

    […] rong with mainstream science. If there really are mountains of evidence for ID (as Dembski claims elsewhere, why don’t IDists commit themselves to the model that th […]

  14. 14

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  15. 15
    feebish says:

    “These are, of course, all three-dimensional systems, so it seems astounding that all the scaling factors, encompassing microorganisms, plants and animals, are multiples of a quarter, not a third.”

    This is definitely way over my head. Could someone explain what it means to scale on a multiple of a quarter? Thanks.

  16. 16
    feebish says:

    “These are, of course, all three-dimensional systems, so it seems astounding that all the scaling factors, encompassing microorganisms, plants and animals, are multiples of a quarter, not a third.”

    This is definitely way over my head. Could someone explain what it means to scale on a multiple of a quarter? Thanks.

    (Somehow this comment got stuck to the end of a five-year-old thread. Odd. This is a retry).

  17. 17
    feebish says:

    Wow. I don’t even know what to say about this. I had no idea that squirrels were so… um…. active. Gotta love science in today’s universities!

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