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Am I the only ID proponent that doesn’t like the phrase “positive case for ID”?

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Probably, with possible exception of Mike Gene.

My good friend and colleague Casey Luskin writes:

ID offers a strong positive argument, based on finding in nature the type of information and complexity that, in our experience, comes from intelligence alone. I will explain this positive argument further in Part B of this article. Those who claim ID is nothing more than a negative argument against evolution are misrepresenting ID. –
ID uses a positive argument based upon finding high levels of complex and specified information.

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2013/08/what_is_the_the075281.html#sthash.D6IZUcb1.dpuf

I rarely disagree with Casey Luskin, and Casey echoes the majority view of ID, and I’m clearly in the minority to disagree with him.

However, “positive argument of ID” in some people’s view would mean: “we see the Designer in action creating designs in the present day, therefore the designs of life in the present were made by the same Designer we see creating designs today.” So by that definition, there isn’t a positive argument for Design. I don’t like that situation, but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt…

We can believe Stonehenge is designed because we see designers today that can make similar structures. If we saw the Designer creating new biological life forms or making planets and stars in the present day, that would be a positive case for ID in biology, but we don’t have such evidence in the present day. The only other ID proponent that seems to share my reluctance to promote ID as having a positive case is Mike Gene.

ID is mostly based on analogy and heavy amounts of negative arguments. Negative means: not by chance, not by law, not by mindless evolution.

But let me make a little nuance. Life’s resemblance to human designs is overwhelming, and in many cases surpassing of human design. That is the argument that can be made. We can also criticize mechanisms of chance, law, physics, and chemistry as being the sole source of the designs in life.

No need to start debates about whether or not ID makes positive arguments, it’s somewhat irrelevant. Purely negative arguments have been used in math, so a purely negative approach is not invalid in and of itself. Assume for the sake of argument that ID makes no positive arguments, does that somehow prove mindless evolution true? No.

NOTES:

1. Stephen Meyer unwittingly described my view of ID:
ID is a quasi scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones. I posted this just in case there are like-minded ID proponents out there that share mine and Mike Gene’s view.

86 Replies to “Am I the only ID proponent that doesn’t like the phrase “positive case for ID”?

  1. 1

    Assume for the sake of argument that ID makes no positive arguments, does that somehow prove mindless evolution true? No.

    Nobody can prove that “mindless evolution” is “true”.

    Nobody has tried to, and nobody will ever succeed.

  2. 2
    scordova says:

    Nobody can prove that “mindless evolution” is “true”.

    Nobody has tried to, and nobody will ever succeed.

    Wow, thank you for being forthright.

    We can have tea now. I like Earl Grey.

  3. 3
    Johnnyfarmer says:

    Science has not tried to prove “mindless evolution” is true, and science is not allowed to prove that “mindless evolution” is not true. Which puts science in a precarious position.

    I’m not a tea toddler.

  4. 4

    Some things are not possible within scientific methodology, Johnnyfarmer. One is proving things are true. We can, at, best, demonstrate that they are probably false.

    But we can only do that if they are “falsifiable”. ID is not falsifiable unless we have a specific ID proposal, so we can’t even demonstrate that it is probably false.

    That’s OK. But what isn’t OK is when ID proponents accuse “Darwinists” of claiming that ID is false. We can’t do that, at least not as scientists. We can show that an ID inference is unwarranted or invalid, but not that it is false.

  5. 5
    scordova says:

    I think certain ID inferences for specific artifacts can be falsified. For example, some thought the craters of the moon were designed by some civilization. That was falsified…

  6. 6
    Gregory says:

    “Life’s resemblance to human designs is overwhelming…”

    Flip. Human design’s resemblance to life is overwhelming. This is called ‘mimetics,’ but not ‘memetics.’

    You are technically (for a person of faith who does not check their theism at the door to do ‘just science’) correct, Salvador, to capitalise ‘Design’ and ‘Designer.’ Why then do you think in the DI’s ‘official’ outlets they almost always use ‘intelligent designer’ and ‘intelligent design’ without the capital letters? Is it because you are obviously more openly ‘evangelical’ than they are?

    “The only other ID proponent that seems to share my reluctance to promote ID as having a positive case is Mike Gene.”

    He just doesn’t think ‘Design’ can be proven by natural science. Sadly, much of his efforts are now spend on anti-new atheism. I guess he realised he couldn’t make a contribution to ‘Intelligent Design Science’ and gave up trying.

    With a positive ‘scientific’ case, IDT falls apart, it’s not needed, it’s superfluous. One can criticise any ideology, like Darwinism or Marxism or capitalism or reductionism or triumphalism, but without a positive alternative, no one’s gonna care much.

    The quasi-positivism of the IDM, as demonstrated by Luskin’s ‘strictly scientific’ pleas to the cardholding members, creates an unhealthy repulsion from reflexivity. As a typical human trait, reflexivity offers a healthy humanistic alternative to positivism. Luskin is bad at this; it might be the lawyer background.

    “ID is mostly based on analogy and heavy amounts of negative arguments.”

    Yeah.

    “Assume for the sake of argument that ID makes no positive arguments, does that somehow prove mindless evolution true?”

    Theistic evolution and evolutionary creation have that covered. And they’ve seen through the IDist mirage of positivism and scientism because you can’t ‘scientifically prove’ Intelligent Evolution any more than they can prove Theistic Evolution or Evolutionary Creation. Probabilistics and informatics aren’t enough.

    The major question, which is still unclear because IDism wants politically to accept a wide range of contradictory views, is: How anti-evolutionary do you want to be; just anti-mindless evolution? If so, that’s just an apologetic that shows you believe in Mind. Apologetics, nothing more.

    And if IDism can’t come up with a suitable alternative to ‘evolutionism,’ which is the major problem here, then what other alternative(s) are available?

  7. 7
    Gregory says:

    Correction:
    Without a positive ‘scientific’ case, IDT falls apart, it’s not needed, it’s superfluous.”

  8. 8
    Johnnyfarmer says:

    @ 4
    OK a specific proposal is “an intelligent agent is unnecessary for evolution to occur”.

    This one can be falsified if adequate unguided mechanisms can be shown to exist.

    and @ 1 Elizabeth were you being totally sarcastic or just partially sarcastic ?

  9. 9
    Matteo says:

    We see designers today that can make similar structures…

    And by what criterion, exactly, do we decide that those building structures today are “designers” rather than “makers of random junk-piles”? Isn’t it by recognizing the design in what they are creating? Design recognition is logically prior to calling any entity whatsoever a designer whether present or past. We can recognize the existence of designers at work today because we recognize the design in what they create. So why can’t we recognize the existence of designers in the remote past by the same means? If we could not perceive design in the finished product, then why would the term “designer” exist at all, no matter what time period or agent it refers to?

  10. 10

    Johnnyfarmer: I wasn’t being sarcastic at all.

    I rarely am.

  11. 11
    Johnnyfarmer says:

    But Elizabeth you said nobody has tried to prove unguided evolution is true. That sounds a bit far fetched.

    ….which is why I inferred sarcasm.

    BTW I will be JF also when I register at The Skeptical Zone…. been lurking there a bit.

  12. 12
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth, re. #4:

    Hi Elizabeth, long time no talk.

    It is important to recognize that falsifiability works a bit differently in the historical sciences than it does in non-historical ones. In historical sciences, the task is to find the best explanation for the phenomenon in question, with the proviso that one should reference in such explanations only causes known to exist currently according to the accepted state of scientific knowledge. So falsification of a given explanation amounts to demonstrating that another is a better one.

    Now it needs to be noted that ID theorists have from the beginning made the following concession: If some combination of chance and natural law can be shown to have a reasonable probability of explaining the phenomenon in question within the available probabilistic resources, that is sufficient to disqualify ID as the best explanation for that phenomenon (see, for example, Dembski’s design filter). So all that is required to “falsify” ID as the best explanation for the variety and complexity of life is to show that some combination of natural law and chance can explain it, including a demonstration that the probabilistic resources are available. So far no Darwinist has been able to do so.

    That said, the other way to falsify ID would be to show that the proposed cause, a designing intelligence, was not available at the time the phenomenon was occurring. This, I think, is a more fruitful avenue for the Darwinist to take, since one can argue that the “intelligent causes” that we observe as being responsible for CFSI in the present are in all cases actual human beings, and there were no human beings present during most of the time that known living species came into existence. So acceptance of ID as the cause of the variety of living organisms past and present requires one to accept the possibility of non-human intelligence operating during most of earth’s history.

    The denial of this possibility still doesn’t save Darwinism, however, since there have been many calculations of the probabilities involved in a Darwinistic explanation with findings that the probabilistic resources simply were not available, and Darwinists have not been able to answer such objections. Until they can be answered satisfactorily, there are really only two answers to the question, “How did life arise and proliferate on earth?”: “It was designed.” or “We don’t know.”

  13. 13

    Johnnyfarmer:

    But Elizabeth you said nobody has tried to prove unguided evolution is true.

    Yes, and I stand by that. What people have proposed is that a process of variation governed only by the laws of physics and chemistry coupled with the tendency of variants better suited to an environment to reproduce more will result in optimised “designs”.

    We cannot prove that the system is “unguided” – what we can show is that is that unguided systems seem to fit the data quite well.

    Some people here have suggested that the “guidance” could take the form of slight nudges at the quantum level, to ensure outcome X from the chemistry rather than outcome Y, but that would certainly not be detectable by scientific methodology, and therefore not falsifiable.

    And I look forward to seeing you at TSZ 🙂

  14. 14

    Bruce

    Hi Elizabeth, long time no talk.

    Good to see you, Bruce!

    It is important to recognize that falsifiability works a bit differently in the historical sciences than it does in non-historical ones. In historical sciences, the task is to find the best explanation for the phenomenon in question, with the proviso that one should reference in such explanations only causes known to exist currently according to the accepted state of scientific knowledge. So falsification of a given explanation amounts to demonstrating that another is a better one.

    I don’t fully agree. I don’t think there is a clear distinction between “historical” and other sciences – both require models that explain existing data and predict new data. The new data don’t have to be new events.

    And while I very much agree that one approach to hypothesis testing (and a better one, in my view, than null hypothesis testing) is to compare one model with another. This is the Bayesian approach, and if I were an IDer, it’s a Bayesian approach I’d be taking. But, oddly, at least some IDers (Dembski, for instance) are very much against a Bayesian approach, I’m not sure why – especially as “inference to best explanation” is essentially a Bayesian approach, or would be if people put numbers on it.

    Now it needs to be noted that ID theorists have from the beginning made the following concession: If some combination of chance and natural law can be shown to have a reasonable probability of explaining the phenomenon in question within the available probabilistic resources, that is sufficient to disqualify ID as the best explanation for that phenomenon (see, for example, Dembski’s design filter). So all that is required to “falsify” ID as the best explanation for the variety and complexity of life is to show that some combination of natural law and chance can explain it, including a demonstration that the probabilistic resources are available. So far no Darwinist has been able to do so.

    That would not “falsify” ID. ID – or any model – can only be falsified if it has constraints. ID models have no constraints, so they cannot be falsified.

    We could certainly claim, using Bayesian methods, that ID was the bestexplanation, but that would not be a falsification approach – and would be critically dependent on our personal priors.

    That said, the other way to falsify ID would be to show that the proposed cause, a designing intelligence, was not available at the time the phenomenon was occurring. This, I think, is a more fruitful avenue for the Darwinist to take, since one can argue that the “intelligent causes” that we observe as being responsible for CFSI in the present are in all cases actual human beings, and there were no human beings present during most of the time that known living species came into existence. So acceptance of ID as the cause of the variety of living organisms past and present requires one to accept the possibility of non-human intelligence operating during most of earth’s history.

    It does indeed.

    The denial of this possibility still doesn’t save Darwinism, however, since there have been many calculations of the probabilities involved in a Darwinistic explanation with findings that the probabilistic resources simply were not available, and Darwinists have not been able to answer such objections.

    This only applies if you regard “Darwinism” as involving the claim that there was no designer. That is not a scientific claim.

    Until they can be answered satisfactorily, there are really only two answers to the question, “How did life arise and proliferate on earth?”: “It was designed.” or “We don’t know.”

    Absolutely. Scientific models can never be sufficient i.e. complete. There will always be explanatory gaps.

  15. 15
    Gregory says:

    Bruce, Your Darwin-phobia is duly noted. Most people who accept (neo-)Darwinian evolution as a limited theory in biology answer the challenge of OoL with “We don’t know” or “We’re not sure” or “Science has not solved it one way or another.” IDists, among which you appear to be one, are the dramatically over-confident ones, i.e. who claim that mere probabilistics determine a Designer.

    Elisabeth openly rejected the label ‘Darwinism’ as an ideology on her website. Yet IDists will continue to try to cram anyone who rejects IDT, including Christians (as Denyse does regularly), with the label ‘Darwinist’ in order to try to suit their purposes. It doesn’t seem to matter if people like BioLogos president’s openly deny being ‘Darwinists’ because IDist fanatics will insist they are ‘Darwinists’ anyway. And keep heaping the blame on a ‘Darwinist’ ghost, upheld by only a few vocal fanatics that have become your favourite dancing partners.

    IDism is easily shown as an unnecessary ideology (bad science, bad theology) by higlighting the distinctiveness (analogy) between human-made and non-human made things.

    Salvador sees this: “ID[T] is mostly based on analogy and heavy amounts of negative arguments.” That’s at least a fair concession.

    “acceptance of ID as the cause of the variety of living organisms past and present requires one to accept the possibility of non-human intelligence operating during most of earth’s [natural] history.”

    What ‘non-human intelligence’ do you suggest? Please be specific. Dembski speaks of a (singular) ‘transcendent designer’ (by which he means Designer). IDism won’t allow such talk of ‘Intelligence’ as part of its scientistic ideology. Father of the IDM Johnson made it clear that ‘naturalism’ was the enemy and that ‘Intelligent Design’ meant something not ‘natural’. So, what non-natural, non-human intelligence does Bruce David think *can* be studied by a ‘strictly natural science’, as IDism claims to be?

  16. 16
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth, re. #14:

    This only applies if you regard “Darwinism” as involving the claim that there was no designer. That is not a scientific claim.

    I don’t believe most defenders of Darwinism would agree with you on this. For one thing, the majority view is that scientific inquiry requires methodological naturalism to be valid, and most would argue that science has demonstrated that materialism is the truth.

  17. 17
    PaV says:

    Sal:

    It’s a bit ironic that you subscribe to the evolutionist’s argument that we know nothing about the Designer, and hence, we cannot know anything about ‘design.’ And why? Because we don’t see the Designer acting these days.

    But isn’t it just as true that we don’t see ‘macroevolution’ happening these days?

    The ESSENTIAL claim of Darwin revolves around the Law of Divergence, something Wallace believed to have seen in Indonesia. But do we really see lines of major taxa being crossed these days? I’m not aware of any. So, then, why should we accept Darwinism?

    [I’ve said more than once, the day they can turn a cat into a dog is the day I believe in Darwinism. I see no evidence of this.]

    If we then have a stand-off, then ID wins because of its greater explanatory power; viz. Darwin’s Doubt.

  18. 18
    Alan Fox says:

    @ Bruce David

    Scientific explanations are provisional, subject to revision as evidence emerges to confirm or falsify current hypotheses.

  19. 19
    Bruce David says:

    Gregory, re. #15:

    IDists, among which you appear to be one, are the dramatically over-confident ones, i.e. who claim that mere probabilistics determine a Designer.

    You haven’t been listening, Gregory. Probabilistics only argues that a Darwinian explanation doesn’t cut it. It is the existence of complex, functionally specified information (CFSI) that argues for the existence of a designer, since the only known cause of CFSI is an intelligent agent.

    “acceptance of ID as the cause of the variety of living organisms past and present requires one to accept the possibility of non-human intelligence operating during most of earth’s [natural] history.”

    What ‘non-human intelligence’ do you suggest? Please be specific.

    ID as science is limited to the ability to recognize the hallmarks of design in any particular phenomenon. It does not have the ability to identify who the designer or designers were, nor is it in general capable of ascertaining how the design was implemented. Identification of the designer is in general within the purview of other (non-scientific) disciplines.
    That said, any theist will have no difficulty in accepting the possibility of a non-human designer—it could either be God acting directly in the world or through non-incarnated spirits of whatever variety is compatible with that person’s particular beliefs.

  20. 20
    Alan Fox says:

    Does anyone have a hypothesis of ‘Intelligent Design’ that we could test or falsify?

  21. 21

    Bruce

    I don’t believe most defenders of Darwinism would agree with you on this.

    I’m pretty sure any scientist would.

    For one thing, the majority view is that scientific inquiry requires methodological naturalism to be valid,

    Yes, in the sense that scientific methodology only extends to the natural world. But that does not entail the belief that some things may have non-natural causes; it merely limits what can be discovered via scientific methodology. And that certainly does not exclude intelligent causes.

    and most would argue that science has demonstrated that materialism is the truth.

    Well, in that case “most” would be incorrect!

    Science is not about finding “the truth” -it’s about fitting explanatory models to data. No model will ever fit the data perfectly, and sometimes two models will fit the data equally well. At other times two models will fit data in different ranges, but be incompatible (like relativity and quantum mechanics for instance).

    We assume that the better fitting model is the one that is closer to reality but no model can be a sufficient explanation.

    And ID, being capable of explaining anything, cannot be falsfied.

  22. 22
    Bruce David says:

    Alan Fox:

    Scientific explanations are provisional, subject to revision as evidence emerges to confirm or falsify current hypotheses.

    What in what I have written makes you think I don’t already know this?

  23. 23

    Because you say that Darwin supporters think that Darwinism involves the claim that there is no designer.

    Not only are scientific conclusions always provisional, but concluding a negative is notoriously difficulty.

  24. 24

    PaV

    I’ve said more than once, the day they can turn a cat into a dog is the day I believe in Darwinism. I see no evidence of this.

    The day someone shows that dogs descended from cats is the day that I abandon Darwinism.

    Darwinian evolution is NOT the theory that some species evolved into other species.

  25. 25
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth, re #21:

    Yes, in the sense that scientific methodology only extends to the natural world. But that does not entail the belief that some things may have non-natural causes; it merely limits what can be discovered via scientific methodology. And that certainly does not exclude intelligent causes

    I think you’re wrong here, but we may just have to agree to disagree. I think that methodological naturalism for most scientists includes the belief that natural phenomena have natural causes, period.

    and most would argue that science has demonstrated that materialism is the truth.

    Well, in that case “most” would be incorrect!

    Science is not about finding “the truth” -it’s about fitting explanatory models to data. No model will ever fit the data perfectly, and sometimes two models will fit the data equally well. At other times two models will fit data in different ranges, but be incompatible (like relativity and quantum mechanics for instance).

    Well, we may have to agree to disagree here as well. I think most scientists as scientists would agree with this, but would add, speaking philosophically rather than scientifically, that science has shown materialism to be the true state of the world as it is.

  26. 26

    Well, scientists certainly assume that natural phenomena have natural causes. The alternative would be to stop looking, and there are never good reasons for doing that.

    And I agree, that philosophically some scientists may be naturalists – i.e. “philosophical naturalists” – but, as you say, as scientists, all they have to be is “methodological naturalists” – because scientific methodology is predicated on the assumption that natural phenomena have findable i.e. natural causes.

    That doesn’t mean that an interventionist deity can’t slip in with a miracle from time to time, or plan the whole thing in advance, or sneak in constantly under the cover of quantum randomness – it’s just that science won’t be much use for telling us so.

  27. 27
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth, re. #21:

    And ID, being capable of explaining anything, cannot be falsfied.

    Your use of the word, “falsified” obscures the issue. Any claim that a particular phenomenon is the result of ID can be negated in one of two ways—either show that it is not complex, ie. that the probability that it could have arisen naturally is greater than the universal probability bound (1/10^150) or that it is not capable of functional specification.

  28. 28
    Alan Fox says:

    @ Bruce David

    The problem for science is it can only consider observable phenomena. ‘Design’ appears to deal in imaginary causes though they still should have observable effects, if ID is true.

  29. 29
    Mung says:

    Alan Fox:

    Does anyone have a hypothesis of ‘Intelligent Design’ that we could test or falsify?

    Yes. The above quoted sentence was generated by a non-intelligence.

  30. 30
    Alan Fox says:

    Bruce, you seem to have missed out an important aspect of your proposition. What a ‘result of ID would look like. How could we detect or measure it?

  31. 31
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth, re #26:

    And I agree, that philosophically some scientists may be naturalists – i.e. “philosophical naturalists” – but, as you say, as scientists, all they have to be is “methodological naturalists” – because scientific methodology is predicated on the assumption that natural phenomena have findable i.e. natural causes.

    They don’t “have to be”. There are practicing scientists who accept that it can be shown on the basis of scientific evidence that some phenomena are best explained as the result of the action of an intelligent agent, for example, Douglas Axe, Ann Gauger, Michael Behe, and many others. They don’t look for natural causes for that which is to them obviously designed, but they continue to do science, often performing experiments that would not have been performed by someone who rejected design as a possibility for natural phenomena.

  32. 32
    Mung says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    We cannot prove that the system is “unguided” – what we can show is that is that unguided systems seem to fit the data quite well.

    Oh good grief. Science cant’ prove any system is unguided. But we can compare this one system we can’t prove is unguided to this other system we can’t prove is unguided, and say that it fits the data quite well that one or other of the two, or maybe even both, fit the data for an “unguided system” quite well.

    Rubbish.

    I see you’ve still not recovered from your addleheadedness.

    Addleheadedness is an adjective that describes a person who is stupid and lacks common sense. It refers a person who has addle, confused or muddled brain. This name may also be used on a person who is foolish, illogical or silly.

  33. 33

    OK, Bruce, I agree that you could start researching in a different area, if you decided that there wasn’t any point looking for natural causes for a certain phenomenon. But what is it that you think that Axe and Gauger are actually researching? What hypothesis are they testing?

  34. 34

    Mung

    But we can compare this one system we can’t prove is unguided to this other system we can’t prove is unguided, and say that it fits the data quite well that one or other of the two, or maybe even both, fit the data for an “unguided system” quite well.

    Which was what I said @14.

    How about you actually look at the screen instead of rolling your eyes?

  35. 35
    Bruce David says:

    Elizabeth, re. #33:

    But what is it that you think that Axe and Gauger are actually researching? What hypothesis are they testing?

    Well, they have recently published a couple of papers describing their research testing the hypothesis that new proteins can evolve via mutation and selection from existing ones within the time available during earth’s existence (4.5 B years). If you want more details, here is their Website: Biologic Institute

  36. 36

    So what is their null?

  37. 37

    Mung:

    What data are you referring to that one can derive from one unguided system (which we cannot, by your own admission, really know is unguided) that we can then compare to as a guide to tell us that some other system “fits the data” of an unguided system?

    I can’t parse this question.

    So I’ll try to explain what I meant anyway.

    Data, are, as you know, what are given. For example living organisms; fossils; genetic data; morphological data; environmental data.

    And they are collected from the field, as well as from the lab where the data also may include factors that have been experimentally manipulated.

    So those are the data I am referring to.

    And we can show that unguided models such as drift models, and adaptive models fit those data quite well

    But we cannot show that those data were not the result of intelligent guidance without an intelligent guidance model to test. The best we could do is to show that there there are data that are not well explained by the model.

  38. 38
    Timaeus says:

    Speaking of Mike Gene, what is he up to these days? He used to be a highly visible personality in these debates. He was a regular on the old ASA list for a time, and a regular on Telic Thoughts, and he used to keep up a blog site of his own, on which he posted frequently. He was a pleasant debater because he avoided ad hominems and could give and take points, and he tried (unsuccessfully) to persuade others to adopt his gentle internet manners. It was hard to dislike the guy. But now he is invisible. He didn’t reply to my last note to him (or else he didn’t get it, though I sent it to the appropriate link at what is apparently his latest official site). From being a name on everybody’s lips about 3-5 years ago, he’s now someone almost no one talks about, probably because they don’t know where he is or what he’s doing. I wish he’d re-enter these discussions. It would be interesting to hear his views on Nagel, ENCODE, Shapiro, etc.

  39. 39

    Mung

    So you claim to have an “unguided model” you can rely upon, and that directly contradicts your earlier claim.

    No, I claimed that I had an “unguided model” that fits the data fairly well. I didn’t say I could “rely on” it – I said precisely the opposite – that all scientific conclusions are provisional. I’m not sure what “earlier claim” you are referring to, but as I didn’t make the claim you think I was making, it probably doesn’t contradict my earlier one.

    And if it is the case that you can tell unguided from guided by these models, then it is not the case that you have no “intelligent guidance model,” for if your “not-guided” models do not exclude intelligent guidance, what good are they?

    They are strongly predictive. That’s the only test a scientific hypothesis has to meet really. For instance, we have predictive models that tell us what will happen if we drop a piece of sodium into a basin of water. It nearly always does. That doesn’t rule out the possibility that someone designed sodium that way, or even that someone personally intervenes and makes it happen this way on this occasion, but it does mean that we have a good predictive model of why it happens that does not require the invocation of an intelligent agent.

    And you say these models are calibrated based upon data. And then you claim to validate the data against these models. Am I the only one to see the inherent circularity?

    No, you don’t validate the data against the models. Models are always fitted to data, not the other way round. If you did it the other way round as well, it would be circular, as you say. So you are not the only one to see it. Models have to move, not data.

    And we can show that unguided models such as drift models, and adaptive models fit those data quite well

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that these models were intelligently designed. So maybe they in fact demonstrate intelligent guidance when compared to data.

    Of course the models are intelligently designed. But they are also intelligently rejected if they are a poor fit to the data.

    How do you know they don’t? How were they calibrated?

    By fitting them to the data.

    Here’s a simple example: If we have a hypothesis that smoking causes lung cancer, we can propose a model in which the amount of smoking predicts the probability of cancer. That means that if we plot number of cigarettes smoked per day against numbers of people who get lung cancer will get a plot that can be fitted by a line with a positive slope. It won’t be a perfect fit, but we can plot the best-fit line – we calibrate the line. This means that we can estimate the probability that you will get lung cancer on the basis of how many cigarettes you smoke. We can also make the model more complex by adding in other factors, such as your age, how long you’ve smoked for, maybe some genetics, and we get an increasingly good prediction. But the parameters of the model are adjusted so as to optimally fit the data – leave the smallest “residuals”. And if those predictions are good – have small confidence intervals – we have a useful model that fits the data well.

    We can do the same with phylogenies – we can propose a tree structure (as we proposed a linear relationship) and then fit the tree model that best fits the data. If the best-fitting tree is still a poor fit, we may have to consider non-tree models. But tree models tend to fit very well, at least to morphological data, supporting the theory of Universal Common Descent. They don’t fit so well to genetic data, so the model requires elaboration if it is to be consistent with UCD – it needs another factor. So we look for one and find it – HGT. That’s a new hypothesis and requires testing. It is tested and it works, and allows us to fit a bushy tree. If it didn’t, we’d have to reconsider UCD.

    So then comes the question of where the variance comes from, and why we see some kinds of variation and not others. That in itself requires explanation – perhaps guidance? But perhaps optimal variance mechanisms themselves are evolvable. etc.

    At no point can we rule out guidance, but without a positive guidance hypothesis, nor can we rule it in. However, with a positive guidance hypothesis, we could. Does the putative designer intervene continuously, or only at crucial steps? How would we test alternative intervention hypotheses?

    If I was an IDer, that’s what I’d be interested in investigating.

  40. 40
    Bruce David says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Are you in England? Have you been up all night? It’s around 3:00 am there now, isn’t it?

    To answer your question (#37), or rather not answer it, I don’t know what their null is. I’m not even sure they used any kind of statistical analysis. Again, if you are really interested, you can look at their papers. One of them is here, and another is here.

  41. 41
    Bruce David says:

    Previous post (#43): The links didn’t work. I don’t know why. Try these: here and here

  42. 42

    Thanks for the links, Bruce. Yes, I’m up late. I’m running some scripts. Time for bed now though!

  43. 43
    scordova says:

    Timaeus:

    But now he is invisible.

    Something he is glad about.

    He didn’t reply to my last note to him (or else he didn’t get it, though I sent it to the appropriate link at what is apparently his latest official site).

    I suspect he didn’t get it. He posts once every few months here:
    http://designmatrix.wordpress.com/

    I can let him know you’re trying to get in touch with him. I have your e-mail, would you like me to pass on your e-mail to him?

    From being a name on everybody’s lips about 3-5 years ago, he’s now someone almost no one talks about, probably because they don’t know where he is or what he’s doing. I wish he’d re-enter these discussions. It would be interesting to hear his views on Nagel, ENCODE, Shapiro, etc.

    Mike was the best on the internet, I learned so much from him. The main reason we don’t hear from him is he made a conscious decision to invest time in his kids as they are growing up. He said so at TelicThoughts a few years ago. I’m glad for him that he’s doing this, but I’m sad for us…

  44. 44
    Timaeus says:

    Thanks, Sal, for the information regarding Mike Gene.

    No, it’s not necessary for you to mention I’m trying to get hold of him. If he’s decided to keep away from the internet to raise his kids, that’s a good decision — blogging and debating is a bottomless sinkhole for time, and raising kids is more important than persuading strangers that you’re right about something.

    I will probably be pulling back quite a bit myself from internet debating, also for personal reasons. But I’ll keep monitoring UD and from time to time drop in when I think I can say something useful.

  45. 45
    steveO says:

    Timaeus:

    I will probably be pulling back quite a bit myself from internet debating, also for personal reasons. But I’ll keep monitoring UD and from time to time drop in when I think I can say something useful.

    As a regular reader I’m very sorry to hear this but of course respect your personal decision to reduce your participation.

    You certainly have a great gift for clear and effective communicaton while you dismantle darwinian and materialist arguments.

  46. 46
    Gregory says:

    Bruce et al.,

    The issue is not about not listening. I’ve given IDism and the IDM more than its fair share of my attention. It is about the ambitious folly displayed by IDists, who actually think they can trick natural scientists and unsuspecting (mainly fellow evangelical) non-scientists regarding their loudly (and proudly) proclaimed ‘scientific revolution’ in the name of Uppercase Intelligent Design.

    Lowercase ‘design arguments’ are safe from controversy because they occur in openly theological territory (Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, et al.). But IDT claims to be ‘strictly [natural] scientific,’ which is where the problem arises. I’m not against calling IDT “a quasi scientific historical speculation,” as the OP references. Either way, it has obviously already lost the science demarcation game in most peoples’ eyes/ears/hearts.

    It seems that Salvador ‘unwittingly’ sells the IDist farm by saying: “there isn’t a positive argument for Design. I don’t like that situation, but that’s the hand we’ve [IDM] been dealt…” Actually, you chose the cards yourselves (aside for Sal and about 30-40% of UDers, as did your ‘creationist’ confreres)!

    Do you notice, folks, the capitalised ‘Design’ in “there isn’t a positive argument for Design”? Likewise, he properly uses lowercase ‘design’ when speaking about ‘human designs.’ Well done, Salvador!

    “It is the existence of complex, functionally specified information (CFSI) that argues for the existence of a designer [Designer], since the only known cause of CFSI is an intelligent agent [Intelligent Agent].” – Bruce David

    Dembski speaks of a ‘transcendent designer’ (“The Design Revolution,” 2004), which most theists would capitalise as ‘Designer’ (i.e. when not trying to cleverly mask their ‘Designer’ behind a ‘strictly [natural] scientific’ theory). You can choose to write small d ‘designer’ if you like, Bruce, but anyone not already indoctrinated by IDism knows what you really mean. This is why it’s a fat chance most or even many people will ever accept IDT as ‘strictly [natural] scientific,’ which is what Luskin and his employers desire.

    “Identification of the designer [Designer] is in general within the purview of other (non-scientific) disciplines.” – Bruce David

    Which ‘non-scientific’ disciplines do you mean specifically? Those do seem to be much more important than the ‘scientific’ disciplines for the underlying message re: IDism that the IDM wishes on people.

    “whatever variety is compatible with that person’s particular beliefs.” – Bruce David

    Yes, this is the implicationism that drives the DI’s fundraising campaign. There must be some god/God involved; whichever you personally believe in is fine for the IDM. Implicationism is surely the appropriate word for this feature of IDism.

    The important point, however, is this: obviously this implicationism makes IDism properly a ‘science, philosophy, theology/worldview’ topic of conversation and not ‘strictly [natural] scientific.’ Would you be willing to support this appropriate triadic discourse for IDism, Bruce? Take out the implicationism and IDism is a rather empty hypothesis, a wanna-be ‘natural science,’ but with no Discovery Institute due to lack of funding from right-wing evangelicals.

    (cont’d)

  47. 47
    scordova says:

    I will probably be pulling back quite a bit myself from internet debating, also for personal reasons. But I’ll keep monitoring UD and from time to time drop in when I think I can say something useful.

    I’m sorry to hear this, and indeed the net can be a waste of time. The main reason I participate is that the process of debate has helped me learn and it helps me vet some of the teaching materials I’m trying to develop.

    I gave up long ago thinking I’d ever convince my opponents I’m right.

  48. 48
    Gregory says:

    (cont’d)
    Please know this folks, regarding Mike Gene. He’s a decent guy in my view too. I ‘met’ him on-line in 2002. At that time, he would not openly profess he was a theist; he just played the typical “ID is neutral” game and stood by the “ID as science” game that Bruce is (and others are) still playing around here and which Luskin is employed by the DI to prolong. But Mike Gene, credit to him for speaking up, finally came around to the conclusion that ID is *not* science and cannot be in the way IDT is currently framed. It is thus no wonder he went away, since the very thing he at first thought he was trying to prove, that ID *is* a natural scientific theory, specifically in biology, he finally realised was philosophically and theologically irresponsible.

    Most thoughtful theists involved in science, philosophy, theology/worldview discourse have written off IDism as not worth the time to (re-)consider; sheltered as it is by the DI and the mainly-American political-educational oriented IDM. That includes the top science-religion institutions in the English-speaking world, which are flush with ‘practising’ scientists, many of whom were initially willing to give IDT an honest opportunity.

    They have become disappointed by what happened to the IDM; Expelled Syndrome runs rampant, hyper-anti-Darwinism and even anti-Darwinian evolutionary biology, with no obvious alternative other than unspecified transcendent ‘poofing’ as a ‘mechanism’ for the hypothetical ‘Designing’ process and yet still that obvious ‘pride’ that IDists think they are harbingers of the next greatest ‘natural scientific paradigm shift’ of the 21st century (which will bring theism back to dignity and make materialists and atheists ashamed to believe what they do).

    “any theist will have no difficulty in accepting the possibility of a non-human designer [Designer]” – Bruce David

    Yes, thank you Bruce, of course. That is exactly the key point, most worth sharing and not hiding. One actually *must* be a theist to accept Intelligent Design Theory (IDT). An atheist cannot technically accept a ‘transcendent Designer’ and yet still be an atheist (which is why David Berlinski is not actually an IDist, just a convenient fellow ‘wedgie’ working for the DI, while it sells his books for him). That’s part of the not-so-hidden apologetic dimension of the IDM, which is easily noted by non- and anti-IDists, though IDists seem to think no one knows this, wink 😉

    Bruce, I believe in a Creator. But you and the IDM want to call the Creator a mere (engineer’s God) Designer; mainly for school board trials & you’re supposed ‘Design Revolution.’ That’s such a strange situation, if you look at it from an outsider’s perspective, especially if you’ve studied global HPSS!

    IDism is openly anti-atheistic and in fact IDT ‘scientifically’ discriminates against atheists. This is why it will likely *never* ‘officially’ be taught in American public schools, especially given America’s growing numbers of atheists and non-religious, who have the democratic nation’s law on their side.

    Well, but that’s just a sociologist of the IDM speaking, which can easily be ignored at this pro-IDT venue. 🙂

    Gregory

    p.s. nice one Elisabeth, asking for a “positive guidance hypothesis”! But as you know, “IDT isn’t about that.” Ya know, it’s usually a ‘strong’ theory, except for weak features like dogmatically not saying (or thinking) anything about where, when, why or how of the ‘Designing’ process occurs in history and nature. 😉

    p.p.s. sadly, Elisabeth, you seem unequipped for discussing ‘methodological naturalism.’ It’s too bad the thread that I started on MN at TSZ a while back lost over half of its posts during an unintentional crash. Much was written there that would still be helpful for you to understand that ‘science’ is usually not what “natural scientists who haven’t studied HPS believe it is.” Once one realises that there are ‘other sciences’ than just ‘natural sciences’ and thus other ‘methods’ that need not be only ‘naturalistic,’ they can move forward; but until that time, they are usually stuck in/with the ideology of natural scientism and/or MNism, which is where you unfortunately appear still to be. But hey, good luck given that you’ve seen through IDism, as have many of us.

    p.p.s. the timing has turned out nicely. I’ve already basically withdrawn from UD. And now ‘Timaeus’ will partially ‘pull back’ from UD with his solo Timaeusean-IDism (IDT, maybe, *might* not need to be called ‘scientific’). As it is, I’ve never felt he was one to constructively ‘dialogue’ with, but rather only one intent to ‘debate’ with anyone who doubts IDism. He makes this clear with his choice of the words ‘internet debating’ and will likely blame anyone else but himself for it. As it is, I challenged him to an ‘internet debate’ in his own name and he refused, showing both Expelled Syndrome and inability to actually defend the IDism of the DI (because his personal IDism is a different solo breed).

    There’s really not much strength in the IDism that Timaeus defends; simple regurgitation of DI-IDists, idolatry of Michael Behe, and a sad unwillingness to recognise IDT for what it actually is: a topic for science, philosophy and theology/worldview conversation and not ‘strictly scientific.’ But most people, certainly many thoughtful theists who gave IDism an initial try, know that already, while Timaeus just spins rhetoric and edits others’ works trying to protest otherwise as an underdog academic.

    To his credit, Timaeus imho is one of the best posters at UD, even though his skills and talents, yes, even his admitted long-ago scholarship, could obviously have been better used elsewhere.

  49. 49
    Bruce David says:

    Gregory, re. #49:

    The important point, however, is this: obviously this implicationism makes IDism properly a ‘science, philosophy, theology/worldview’ topic of conversation and not ‘strictly [natural] scientific.’ Would you be willing to support this appropriate triadic discourse for IDism, Bruce? Take out the implicationism and IDism is a rather empty hypothesis, a wanna-be ‘natural science,’ but with no Discovery Institute due to lack of funding from right-wing evangelicals.

    Science is the study of naturally occurring phenomena, including the development of theories which predict and/or explain such phenomena. The stricture embraced by most but certainly not all currently practicing scientists that such explanations must be “naturalistic” is a relatively recent development in the history of science (during the last 100 years or so) and is in no way logically necessary to the practice of science. Furthermore, this stricture, by a priori excluding certain types of explanation, will prevent science from ever reaching the truth about the nature of any phenomena that in fact don’t have a naturalistic cause.

    In other words, what if living systems really are designed? If science is only allowed to propose naturalistic hypotheses, this will never be discovered by science.

    I am not an Evangelical Christian. I am not a Christian at all, nor a Muslim, nor a Buddhist, nor a follower of any recognized religion. I am, however, a theist. To me, it is obvious beyond question that living things were designed. One has only to be aware of the exquisite elegance of their staggeringly complex engineering to see this. ID is just the attempt to bring scientific rigor to this intuitive truth.

    Scientific conclusions can have implications beyond the reach of science. Darwinism certainly does, as Dawkins and many others have pointed out. The fact that ID does also does not disqualify it from being a scientific theory.

  50. 50
    scordova says:

    It is thus no wonder he went away, since the very thing he at first thought he was trying to prove, that ID *is* a natural scientific theory, specifically in biology, he finally realised was philosophically and theologically irresponsible.

    Mike never said he thought ID is science, never sought to prove it was science, and said so for years prior to publishing his book.

    You have a nasty habit of fabricating falsehoods about people’s motivations and reasons and ideas.

  51. 51
    scordova says:

    Gregory,

    Your worthless illogical incoherent bloviations aren’t worth my time. Your last comment moved to the spam queue.

    The sort of criticisms that are welcome here are those such as offered by Mark Frank, RDFish, WD400, franklin, Elizabeth Liddle, Gordon Davisson, etc.

    Gregory just makes a lot of noise.

  52. 52
    jerry says:

    All intelligent design is is the conclusion that certain phenomena are best explained by an intelligence and not natural processes. The phenomena are few in number and mainly have to do with origins but not all.

    To come this conclusion, one uses the scientific process and uses the typical tools of science. The structure and methods of the study/analysis are the same as most other scientific studies/analysis. The only difference is in the conclusions of the analysis or study. An ID person will say where appropriate that the best explanation for the data or findings is an intelligent input. An anti-ID person cannot make such a conclusion. If the best explanation is that the phenomena in question is the result of intelligent activity, then that is science. Whether the approach is called positive or negative is meaningless, it is the structure of the process that counts.

    Call it what you want but that is science and all most here care about. All the minutiae and nit-picking is just really meaningless to the basic process of fact presentation, analysis and logic.

  53. 53
    faded_Glory says:

    Jerry,

    All intelligent design is is the conclusion that certain phenomena are best explained by an intelligence and not natural processes. The phenomena are few in number and mainly have to do with origins but not all.
    To come this conclusion, one uses the scientific process and uses the typical tools of science.

    I am not convinced.

    First of all, in my (admittedly limited) experience, science doesn’t usually claim that explanation A is better than explanation B by reason of probabilistic arguments. Thinking back to my own science education (long ago and I am not a practising scientist), a scientific explanation focusses on a set of observations, and then proposes a mechanism by which the observations can be explained. If the mechanism is sound, the explanation may be valid. However, to gain confidence in the explanation one also need to formulate testable predictions and actually go and check if these are correct. I haven’t seen much of that latter step in ID yet, nor have I seen any mechanism proposed to explain how the design explanation actually works.

    The other problem I have with what you say is that in order to proclaim an explanation better than another one of the basis of probabilistics, one should actually present probabilistic calculations for both explanations and then reject the one that is less likely. We have seen attempts to calculate the probability of certain biological phenomena, but unfortunately these are always based on the assumption that they occurred as an outcome of a random equi-probable process. Under that assumption, indeed many biological features are highly unlikely. However, a random draw process is not the assumption made in evolutionary biology. In other words, the probabilities presented for the evolutionary explanation are invalid because they are not computed correctly.

    Even more important, I have never seen a probabilistic computation of the design explanation.

    So how can you say one explanation is probabilistically better than another, if you have an incorrect probability for one and no probability at all for the other?

    fG

  54. 54
    jerry says:

    So how can you say one explanation is probabilistically better than another, if you have an incorrect probability for one and no probability at all for the other?

    I am sorry but did I use any form of the term “probab…” anywhere in my comment.

    Has any evolutionary biology study ever used any form of the expression “probab…” anywhere. I would take it up with those authors who do since you seem to believe that use of this technique is invalid.

  55. 55
    PaV says:

    Elizabeth Liddle:

    PaV—The day someone shows that dogs descended from cats is the day that I abandon Darwinism.

    EL—Darwinian evolution is NOT the theory that some species evolved into other species.

    I’m not sure you’ve thought this through thoroughly enough.

    What’s at stake here is the plasticity of species. Darwin thought that species were highly, highly malleable. But was he right?

    I don’t see any evidence that he was.

    Even Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s fierce defender, late in Darwin’s life was troubled that breeding still had its limits. 140 years later, it still does.

    This ‘plasticity’ is the very basis for Darwin’s “Law of Divergence.” Darwin did NOT publish his Origins until Wallace had, independently, come to conclude that such a “Law of Divergence” exists in nature (at least in the Malay Archipelago).

    If, per Darwin, species are supremely plastic, then one can simply venture back to something close the LCA of cat and dog, and then proceed on to the cat.

    But your comment about what Darwinism is “NOT”, is simply a head-scratcher. There’s only one diagram in all of the Origins. You have, per Darwin, two to three ‘species’ at the bottom, and, at the top, you have 7 to 8 species, which now, together, form a ‘genera’. If you follow the diagram, you see “one species evolve into other species.”

    Now, if you find—for whatever reason—the idea of turning a “dog into a cat” objectionable, then, let me just ask you to turn a ‘cat’ into anything else. Can you do it? Can anyone do it?

    If it cannot be done, then the “Law of Divergence” is highly suspect, then, being the most important basis for Darwinism, the entire theory is ‘highly suspect.’

  56. 56

    PaV

    I’m not sure you’ve thought this through thoroughly enough.

    What’s at stake here is the plasticity of species. Darwin thought that species were highly, highly malleable. But was he right?

    I don’t see any evidence that he was.

    Well, I don’t think it’s an expression that maps very well on to the theory of Universal Common Descent. Assuming UCD is true, what we think of as as “species” are essentially what we observe at any given time period – a cross section through the “tree”. They are pretty well discrete, except for extremely closely related populations that still sometimes interbreed, or form “ring” species. No one extant “species” – type – of organism will ever evolve into any other “species” – type – of organisms.

    However if instead we follow a single species backwards longitidinally to the root of the tree, we will, according to the theory, see incremental differences, with perhaps the odd rather important larger step, right back to the UCA. Going in the other direction down the same single lineage we observe evolution – some of it adaptive, some of it drift, but all incremental and no one “species” evolving into another, because “species” is intrinsically a horizontal concept. So lineages are “plastic”, rather than “species”.

    However, sometimes what will happen is that a lineage diverges into two, and down one branch, not much adaptation changes – perhaps the population is nearly optimally adapted to a stable environment – whereas down the other, a great deal of adaptation happens. Down the line we have two species, X and Y, both descended from ancestral population XY. But X is much more similar to XY than Y is, so you could, in that sense, say that something that looked more like X than Y evolved into Y. But X did not evolve into Y, XY evolved into both. And both X and Y are equally “evolved” – as measured by molecular clocks. It’s just that in X, all selective pressure served to maintain the status quo, whereas for Y, the selective pressure was for adaptation.

    That’s what essentially Darwin proposed, and it’s certainly how phylogenetics is understood today.

    Even Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s fierce defender, late in Darwin’s life was troubled that breeding still had its limits. 140 years later, it still does.

    This ‘plasticity’ is the very basis for Darwin’s “Law of Divergence.” Darwin did NOT publish his Origins until Wallace had, independently, come to conclude that such a “Law of Divergence” exists in nature (at least in the Malay Archipelago).

    If, per Darwin, species are supremely plastic, then one can simply venture back to something close the LCA of cat and dog, and then proceed on to the cat.

    But your comment about what Darwinism is “NOT”, is simply a head-scratcher. There’s only one diagram in all of the Origins. You have, per Darwin, two to three ‘species’ at the bottom, and, at the top, you have 7 to 8 species, which now, together, form a ‘genera’. If you follow the diagram, you see “one species evolve into other species.”

    Now, if you find—for whatever reason—the idea of turning a “dog into a cat” objectionable, then, let me just ask you to turn a ‘cat’ into anything else. Can you do it? Can anyone do it?

    If it cannot be done, then the “Law of Divergence” is highly suspect, then, being the most important basis for Darwinism, the entire theory is ‘highly suspect.’

    Well, there isn’t really a “Law of Divergence”, unless you mean the “law” by which a population, if separated into two without contact, will necessarily diverge, unless one goes rapidly extinct. I’d say that the important things are drift, adaptation, and speciation. Adaptation is essentially a bias on drift, and leads to the optimisation of a population to it environment. Speciation is when a single population diverges into two non-interbreeding (or more rarely interbreeding) populations, leading to two separate gene pools in which both drift and adaptation will occur.

    This is what we have evidence for. I think it’s a mistake to try to understand Darwin’s theory using the language he used to express it to his contemporaries. We have a much clearer understanding of what it implies now, and can be much more precise about what the different terms mean.

    So I’d say that rather than ask for evidence that a dog can evolve into a cat, you need to ask for evidence that both a dog and a cat can be descended from something that looks more like a fish with legs. Or even from something that looks more like a modern fish. And we do have evidence for that.

    But a modern fish population will not evolve into a cat or a dog, although it may well evolve into something that can walk on land, or even fly.

  57. 57

    Jerry:

    I am sorry but did I use any form of the term “probab…” anywhere in my comment.

    Has any evolutionary biology study ever used any form of the expression “probab…” anywhere. I would take it up with those authors who do since you seem to believe that use of this technique is invalid.

    Every single evolutionary biology study that uses statistical data analysis will use the term “probability”. That means every single phylogenetic study, every population genetics study, every molecular biology study, every empirical study, any study that involves any kind of sampling.

  58. 58
    jerry says:

    Every single evolutionary biology study that uses statistical data analysis will use the term “probability”. That means every single phylogenetic study, every population genetics study, every molecular biology study, every empirical study, any study that involves any kind of sampling.

    You are addressing the wrong person. See #56. This is the commenter who has a problem with the use of probabilities.

  59. 59

    OK, then I don’t understand your question. I don’t think the poster at 56 has a “problem with the use of probabilities” in evolutionary biology. It sounds as though s/he has the same problem as I do with the way that IDers compute the probability of a target under the null hypothesis of non-design.

  60. 60
    jerry says:

    I don’t think the poster at 56 has a “problem with the use of probabilities” in evolutionary biology.

    Then he should not address his comment to me. I just did not mention probabilities and the commenter went on and on about probabilities. It was a non sequitur.

    If anyone has a problem, then they should spell it out with examples or specifics or ask questions. One cannot deal with generalities.

  61. 61
    jerry says:

    If anyone has a problem with the way some pro ID people use probabilities in research, then I suggest they go to

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ists-make/

    and search for “probab” to find various uses of the concept of “probability” on this thread and specify where such uses are not valid. Then these instances and rationale for their invalidity can be used to ask Kirk Durston about these uses the next time he is commenting here.

    The resulting discussion might form the basis for a more informative discussion in the future

  62. 62
    faded_Glory says:

    Jerry,

    You are right, you did not mention probabilities in your post so my words were not in that respect directly addressed to you. The reason I mentioned probabilities is that an awful lot of the discussion on ID here and elsewhere is about the probabilities of evolution forming certain biological features, concluding that it can’t have, and claiming this to be a scientific approach. My criticism addressed that line of thinking. Since you said that ID uses the tools and methods of science I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that you were referring to those type of arguments.

    If you were talking about other type of ID work that you consider scientific, I wouldn’t mind some examples.

    I don’t have a problem with the use of probabilities in science, but with the way they are used in the ID debate, as per my previous post.

    fG

  63. 63
    Alan Fox says:

    “The only other ID proponent that seems to share my reluctance to promote ID as having a positive case is Mike Gene.”

    He just doesn’t think ‘Design’ can be proven by natural science. Sadly, much of his efforts are now spend on anti-new atheism. I guess he realised he couldn’t make a contribution to ‘Intelligent Design Science’ and gave up trying.

    I was a little disappointed , having pressed Mike Gene a few times at Telic Thoughts about his religious motivation, that he was so evasive and yet subsequently “outed” himself at his blog “shadowtolight.wordpress.com”. Not that it matters to me but there seemed at one time an effort to disassociate Mike’s ID from his world view.

    His self-published work “The Design Matrix” was supposed to be an exposition of Mike’s version of “Intelligent Design” but, having bought and read it, I found it empty of any evidence to support his “front-loading” idea. I raised that with him (at BioLogos) and he said this will be rectified in a subsequent volume. I don’t think it’s been published, yet.

  64. 64
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    We cannot prove that the system is “unguided” – what we can show is that is that unguided systems seem to fit the data quite well.

    Yet no one has been able to do that wrt biology.

  65. 65
    Joe says:

    Alan Fox:

    Does anyone have a hypothesis of ‘Intelligent Design’ that we could test or falsify?

    Yes, OTOH no one has a hypothesis for unguided evolution that we could test or falsify.

  66. 66
    Joe says:

    Sal:

    We can believe Stonehenge is designed because we see designers today that can make similar structures.

    So all rock piles are designed because we see people creating rock piles? So all deaths are murders because we see people killing other people?

  67. 67
    Joe says:

    The positive case for ID is the same as the positive evidence for an artifact, a murder, and ETs-> ie cause and effect relationships.

    OTOH the positive case for unguided evolution exists only in the bitty minds of materialists.

  68. 68
    jerry says:

    The reason I mentioned probabilities is that an awful lot of the discussion on ID here and elsewhere is about the probabilities of evolution forming certain biological features, concluding that it can’t have, and claiming this to be a scientific approach.

    I suggest you go to evolutionary biology and ask them how biological features arose. I am not aware of any research that can point to any process that can be substantiated as a cause for the origin of complex biological novelties, one form of biological features. If they use probabilities, then I would look at how they are doing it and then ask your question of them. It sounds like your problem is with them.

    I also just suggested that anyone who has an interest in this issue go to a thread where Kirk Durston and his work were featured and ask him about your concerns. He certainly uses probabilities.

    You claim

    my (admittedly limited) experience, science doesn’t usually claim that explanation A is better than explanation B by reason of probabilistic arguments. Thinking back to my own science education (long ago and I am not a practising scientist), a scientific explanation focusses on a set of observations, and then proposes a mechanism by which the observations can be explained.

    but then say

    We have seen attempts to calculate the probability of certain biological phenomena, but unfortunately these are always based on the assumption that they occurred as an outcome of a random equi-probable process. Under that assumption, indeed many biological features are highly unlikely.

    How do you with limited knowledge know that what you ask is not gobbledygook? Why should anyone answer such a comment as yours when you self proclaim your ignorance.

    I suggest that you spell out with specifics why you make your suggestions especially when some events never occurred and with common sense would have a probability of zero in any distribution. As I said it sounds like your concerns is with what evolutionary biologists are doing and your are implying that what they are practicing is pseudo-science.

  69. 69
    Alan Fox says:

    Do you have their name, Joe?

  70. 70
    Alan Fox says:

    Do you have their name, Joe?

  71. 71
    Joe says:

    Yes, I do- do you have a testable hypothesis wrt unguided evolution? No, you do not.

    Ya see Alan, unless you are willing to ante up there isn’t any use in discussing science with you as all you will do is handwave whatever we say away.

    So put up or shut up. (It is a given that you will do neither)

  72. 72
    Joe says:

    For starters, Alan:

    Yes, Intelligent Design is both testable and falsifiable. Intelligent Design relies on Newton’s First Rule, meaning agencies are only added when REQUIRED. Therefor to refute ID and any given design inference all one has to do is step up and demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can account for it. IOW all evotards have to do to stop ID cold is to actually step up and A) produce a testable hypothesis for their position and B) produce positive, supporting evidence.

    However all evos can do is cry foul and say “blind, undirected processes is a strawman!”- yet it is a given that natural selection, genetic drift and HGT are all blind, purposeless processes and all mutations are undirected-> that is given the current “theory” of evolution. IOW evos are so clueless they don’t even understand the theory they try to defend!

    So there you have it ole evos- just start supporting your position and ID will go away.

    How is ID tested? As in positive evidence?

    1- See above as the way to the design inference is THROUGH the blind watchmaker

    2- The criteria for inferring design in biology is, as Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Leheigh University, puts it in his book Darwin ‘ s Black Box: “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.”

    So if nature, operating freely cannot account for it AND it meets that criteria, some agency is required and we infer design (or at least agency involvement).

  73. 73
    Axel says:

    ‘ID is mostly based on analogy and heavy amounts of negative arguments. Negative means: not by chance, not by law, not by mindless evolution.’

    As regards analogy, Salvatore, the antitheses of ‘not by chance’, ‘not by law’, ‘not by mindless evolution’ would, under your classification of ‘negative’, be the corresponding positives – which he discounts, as you do:

    ‘Assume for the sake of argument that ID makes no positive arguments, does that somehow prove mindless evolution true? No.’

    Seeing design in progress would not, it seems to me, be an argument, but an observation, Salvatore. However, as regards even the argument from design, ‘if it quacks like a duck… etc.’ When analogy is all-pervasively applicable, as, indeed, is the case in respect of nature and design to the nth degree: QED, it seems to me.

  74. 74
    Alan Fox says:

    So is Joe saying Mike Behe has a positive theory or hypothesis of “Intelligent Design”?

    Is that the name?

  75. 75
    Joe says:

    So Alan Fox is admitting that unguided evolution can’t even muster a testable hypothesis and therefor is NOT scientific.

    Is that right, Alan?

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N:

    1: FSCO/I beyond 500 – 1,000 bits of complexity is a commonly observed phenomenon, with billions of cases in point.

    2: Directly, it is universally seen as produced by intelligent design.

    3: There are zero cases of blind chance and/or mechanical necessity being observed to cause it, where we can directly observe the cause in action.

    4: On related analytical grounds, FSCO/I so constrains configs that well matched parts have to be properly arranged and coupled for function to exist, starting with text strings in English and going on to the nodes-arcs-couplings arrangements of functioning machinery. Consequently, we have deeply isolated islands of function in config spaces vastly too large for blind chance and mechanical necessity to credibly be able to find such zones.

    5: The needle in haystack effect, in short.

    6: So, we have an analytical reason for the contrast in performance between intelligent synthesis and suggested blind processes.

    7: We have good reason to inductively infer that FSCO/I — even when we did not see the actual causal process — is best explained by and a reliable sign of design as cause.

    8: This is not merely an analogy, save insofar as any inductive argument can be said to incorporate some degree of analogy. (In short, blanket objections to analogy are self-undercutting in a world where inductive argument is very important.)

    9: The issue is in fact instantiation of an observable phenomenon, FSCO/I, and reasoning on its characteristically observed cause and related analytical considerations.

    10: In short, the design inference is based on what we know about the cause of FSCO/I such as in the text string of this post and many other cases. It then argues that such is a reliable sign, and that we have good reason to infer that intelligence is best explanation for FSCO/I even when we did not or cannot directly observe it. Especially when we reflect on the limitations to the alternatives to intelligence on the gamut of solar system or observed cosmos.

    KF

  77. 77
    faded_Glory says:

    Jerry,

    Why don’t you just drop the attitude? It is getting old already.

    This is what you wrote in the post I responded to:

    All intelligent design is is the conclusion that certain phenomena are best explained by an intelligence and not natural processes. The phenomena are few in number and mainly have to do with origins but not all.

    To come this conclusion, one uses the scientific process and uses the typical tools of science. The structure and methods of the study/analysis are the same as most other scientific studies/analysis. The only difference is in the conclusions of the analysis or study. An ID person will say where appropriate that the best explanation for the data or findings is an intelligent input. An anti-ID person cannot make such a conclusion. If the best explanation is that the phenomena in question is the result of intelligent activity, then that is science. Whether the approach is called positive or negative is meaningless, it is the structure of the process that counts.

    Call it what you want but that is science and all most here care about. All the minutiae and nit-picking is just really meaningless to the basic process of fact presentation, analysis and logic.

    Since you don’t mention any specifics here I don’t see why you insist on me mentioning specifics before you deign my reply worth of discussion.

    In any case, my beef with what you say is twofold:

    1. Most scientific explanations I have come across (and although not a practicing scientist I do have an Msc degree in a natural science, so I have seen some) center on a mechanism to explain certain observed phenomena. I have never seen any proposed mechanism on how the design was done or implemented under the ID scenario (I don’t count ‘front loading’ as a mechanisms because it makes a claim about the time of the design, not on the mechanisms). Neither have I ever seen any testable predictions flowing from a proposed ID explanation, again unlike many scientific explanations I have seen presented.

    I therefore am not ready to label ID ‘science’ as easily as you do.

    2. To claim that an explanation is ‘the best’, one needs to compare it to alternatives. Many (most?) arguments for ID are probabilistic, and go to some length in trying to show how certain biological features cannot possibly have originated through unguided processes. However, these arguments invariably assume equiprobable distributions for the origin of the features (the tornado in a junkyard argument) which is not what evolutionary theory proposes. Secondly, I have never seen a probability computation for ID itself, so it is impossible to decide which of these two alternatives would be the more likely and therefore ‘the best’.

    You are free to again ignore these objections if you can’t counter them.

    fG

  78. 78
    jerry says:

    You are free to again ignore these objections if you can’t counter them.

    These are not objections to anything I said in #54 so why should I have answered them. For example,

    I have seen some) center on a mechanism to explain certain observed phenomena, I have never seen any proposed mechanism on how the design was done or implemented under the ID scenario

    A couple things:

    First, I never said anything about a mechanism in #54 except that very rarely, one would have to conclude an intelligent agent as the cause. However, you are being very selective in the choice of your objections. I have never seen any natural mechanism for the evolution of novel complex capabilities. This is the essence of the evolution debate. So why are you not objecting to any piece of research that indicates there might be a mechanism. If you do not object there, then I have to question what your questions are about and if I should answer them.

    Second, there are numerous current areas in development that hope to construct cellular entities with similar capabilities to cells found in the environment. So here are potentially several mechanisms for design of new life as well as variations of existing life. This design is obviously intelligent.

    So there are potentially several mechanisms that involve intelligence that should lead to the design of life on the horizon. But there is no naturalistic mechanism known that could explain the origin of complex novel capabilities.

    So ID has potentially several mechanisms while natural evolution has none.

    Many (most?) arguments for ID are probabilistic, and go to some length in trying to show how certain biological features cannot possibly have originated through unguided processes.

    In order for something to be considered probable it must have appeared at least once. So far naturalistic evolution has not shown one example for the development of novel complex capabilities for for the origination of FCSI. So does it matter what the distribution is, if the probability is zero. ID research, using probabilities, explains why the probability of a natural explanation of novel complex capabilities is zero. It is not actually zero but it would take probably a few trillion universes to get to just one new one.

    You had better explain how the choice of distributions makes a difference when something has never occurred even once.

    Since you don’t mention any specifics here I don’t see why you insist on me mentioning specifics before you deign my reply worth of discussion.

    I don’t have to mention specifics because it is not necessary. Every legitimate research study done in the history of mankind could be done by a person who considers Intelligent Design as a possible conclusion. Nearly all would not require that the researcher make the conclusion that the findings were best explained by the intervention of an intelligent agent. However, a fair number of studies in evolutionary biology would have the conclusion that the mechanism for the findings are unknown.

    In some of these studies if the proper information was collected the conclusion could be that there may have been the intervention of an intelligent agent. My guess is that most evolutionary biology research studies would lead to the following conclusion:

    There is no known mechanism to explain the findings. Research continues to find an explanation.

    See comment #12.

  79. 79
    scordova says:

    faded_glory,

    have never seen any proposed mechanism on how the design was done or implemented under the ID scenario

    I listed that as high on the list of good reasons to reject ID.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ecting-id/

    That said, I suggested that we all might see the Designer one day. At a personal (not scientific) level this may count for something:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....t-mistake/

    Everyone participating at UD may see the Designer one day. We’ll see (literally)…

  80. 80

    Joe

    So Alan Fox is admitting that unguided evolution can’t even muster a testable hypothesis and therefor is NOT scientific.

    Is that right, Alan?

    In fact, yes, Joe. “Unguided evolution” is useless. It’s atheoretical and negative and no testable hypothesis can be derived from it. Dembski tried to set it as his null, but that doesn’t work, because it’s far too vague to generate an expected probability distribution

    What we can test, however, is the theory of evolution which is very specific and has proved to extremely fruitful as a framework within which to generate hypotheses, a vast number of of which have been tested and received evidential support.

    None of it shows that evolution was guided; none of it shows that evolution was unguided.

    If you want to show that evolution was guided you’d need some kind of guidance hypothesis. Negative results don’t tell you anything.

  81. 81
    Axel says:

    I don’t like the phrase, ‘positive case for ID’, as it’s damning it with faint praise. That the case should have to be made for it in fairly rigorous scientific terms, that it should have to compete with the barmy conjectures of the Entenebrement of the atheist, epistemological demi-monde, is insane; and a sorry reflection on Darwin’s bitter-enders.

    Some knowledge is too obvious to be subsumed under the title of Science, ID being a classic example. Nature DEFINED intelligent design before Adam, or if you prefer, Lucy, was able to ponder the concept. And you can bet they would have.

  82. 82
    Axel says:

    The luminous realisation that teeth were designed for chewing is pre-scientific, isn’t it? The very design of our brains enables us to ponder the provenance of their design. It must wonder how it could have made such *****-up as to fashion and inhabit the skulls of those who doubt its reality.

  83. 83
    Joe says:

    Elizabeth:

    In fact, yes, Joe. “Unguided evolution” is useless. It’s atheoretical and negative and no testable hypothesis can be derived from it.

    Umm darwinism and neo-darwinism posit unguided evolution.

    What we can test, however, is the theory of evolution which is very specific and has proved to extremely fruitful as a framework within which to generate hypotheses, a vast number of of which have been tested and received evidential support.

    What theory of evolution? Could you please reference it so we can actually read what it says?

    Also it is a safe bet that you are equivocating with the word “evolution”. ID is NOT anti-evolution. IOW you have no idea what is being debtated.

    If you want to show that evolution was guided you’d need some kind of guidance hypothesis.

    And we have that- read “Not By Chance” by Dr Lee Spetner (for a start).

  84. 84
    Joe says:

    fg:

    I have never seen any proposed mechanism on how the design was done or implemented under the ID scenario (I don’t count ‘front loading’ as a mechanisms because it makes a claim about the time of the design, not on the mechanisms).

    What a jerk- we do NOT have to know how something was designed BEFORE we can determine it was designed. Only scientifically illitertate people bring that up.

    Neither have I ever seen any testable predictions flowing from a proposed ID explanation, again unlike many scientific explanations I have seen presented.

    Does archaeology and forensic science make testable predictions? If so can you name them?

    Does evolutionism make any testable predictions? What are they?

    fg:

    2. To claim that an explanation is ‘the best’, one needs to compare it to alternatives.

    Unguided evolution is a non-starter.

  85. 85
    TSErik says:

    What a jerk- we do NOT have to know how something was designed BEFORE we can determine it was designed.

    Right. We need not know how the Antikythera mechanism was created, or even for what reason, to infer it is not a natural occurrence.

  86. 86
    Joe says:

    Right, the hows and whys come after- by studying it and all relevant evidence.

    As I have been saying for many years:

    In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the only possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific process(es) used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.

    If someone knows any other methodology I would love to hear about it.

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