Intelligent Design

Biological Innovations and the Fact of Evolution

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Evolutionists insist that evolution is a fact even though there is much debate about how it occurred. But if they debate the question of how evolution occurred, that means it is an open question. And does this not, in turn, mean that whether evolution occurred is also an open question? No, evolutionists assure us, there is no question that evolution occurred—it is a fact—because we observe it occurring. But therein lies the rub:  Read more

32 Replies to “Biological Innovations and the Fact of Evolution

  1. 1
    GilDodgen says:

    And does this not, in turn, mean that whether evolution occurred is also an open question?

    Phillip Johnson once commented that he would not answer a question about “evolution” unless the term and the specific aspect of the evolutionary claim were clearly defined. I feel the same way.

    Living things are not now as they once were, so by this single criterion evolution occurred and is a fact (unless, of course, all extant living creatures spontaneously generated from dirt, which no one believes).

    There is an old saying: “Predictions are dangerous, especially when they concern the future.” I suggest a corollary: “Unlimited extrapolation from what is known to explain some things, to explain everything, is guaranteed to be wrong.”

    This is precisely what Darwinists have done.

    It now seems clear that the universe was designed from its inception for the long-term creation of life through a series of profound discontinuities (energy condensing into matter, stars manufacturing life-essential chemical elements, those elements being ejected into the cosmos by the instability of supernovae in order to create rocky planets on which life could originate, etc.)

    It also seems clear to me, from the evidence, that living systems were designed from their inception for the long-term creation of higher life forms, through a series of profound discontinuities about which we have not yet even a glimmer of understanding.

    This is my evaluation of the evidence, and to me it suggests — indeed, almost mandates — the conclusion that a super-intelligent designer rigged it all from the beginning, with a purpose in mind.

  2. 2
    mikev6 says:

    Gil:

    “Unlimited extrapolation from what is known to explain some things, to explain everything, is guaranteed to be wrong.”

    I am struggling to reconcile this criticism with:

    It now seems clear that the universe was designed from its inception for the long-term creation of life through a series of profound discontinuities (energy condensing into matter, stars manufacturing life-essential chemical elements, those elements being ejected into the cosmos by the instability of supernovae in order to create rocky planets on which life could originate, etc.)

    Despite the interesting work in locating other planets in the universe, your sample size is really one planet orbiting a minor star. We can’t honestly say we’ve even explored the rest of the solar system.

    Before we extrapolate to a cozy universe built just for us, perhaps it would be wise to gather a few more data points?

  3. 3
    Phaedros says:

    mikev6-

    He’s not saying “just for us”, he’s saying “for life” in general.

  4. 4
    mikev6 says:

    Phaedros:

    He’s not saying “just for us”, he’s saying “for life” in general.

    Sure. And how extensive is our knowledge of “life in general” outside our single planet?

  5. 5
    Apolloe says:

    I am not a critic of ID, but I do wish to point out a lapse in logic in the opening paragraph of this story.

    If the mechanism of some phenomenon is an open question, this does not at all entail that the existence of the phenomenon itself is an open question.

    There are a great many things that we encounter every day which we know exist, despite not knowing the mechanisms involved in bringing about their existence. For example, I know that my laptop exists, but how exactly it was constructed is an open question to me. I know that pregnancy occurs, but the exact mechanisms that take place over those 9 months elude my understanding.

    Sometimes critics of ID will use this very objection against those who assert that God is the designer of life. They will argue that unless we can tell them the means by which a God created life, then we should not take seriously the suggestion that He did in fact create life. Of course, their objection is mistaken for the same reason as the objection in this story: there are numerous things which we know exist, but for which we do not know the mechanisms.

  6. 6
    Mark Frank says:

    But if they debate the question of how evolution occurred, that means it is an open question

    I am glad you accept the importance of explaining how a theory works. How does ID work?

  7. 7
    GilDodgen says:

    ID is not a theory of mechanism; it’s a theory of design detection and inference. It makes no claims about mechanism.

    Darwinian theory, on the other hand, is precisely a theory of mechanism, and it is therefore incumbent upon its proponents to demonstrate the causal efficacy and adequacy of the proposed mechanism.

  8. 8
    Toronto says:

    GilDodgen @ 6,

    ID is not a theory of mechanism; it’s a theory of design detection and inference. It makes no claims about mechanism.

    Darwinian theory, on the other hand, is precisely a theory of mechanism, and it is therefore incumbent upon its proponents to demonstrate the causal efficacy and adequacy of the proposed mechanism.

    If ID is not a peer-to-peer replacement of evolution, why would evolution need to be replaced if ID turned out to be true?

    Evolution may be how ID life adapted to it’s surroundings.

    If ID is not mechanistic, it has no problem with evolution, which is a mechanistic theory.

  9. 9
    Phaedros says:

    mikev6-

    I didn’t meean to speak for Gil, but the argument concerns carbon based life as well as L-amino life. So yes the fine-tuning would affect all life based on carbon and L-amino life as far as I understand it. We don’t know of any other types of life besides carbon-based and I don’t think we can even say it would work.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Mark Frank asks;

    “I am glad you accept the importance of explaining how a theory works. How does ID work?”

    Mark Frank do you care to be the first to demonstrate purely material processes can ever generate functional algorithmic information? or Are you content to believe in a proposition that has never been shown to be true all the while writing a post that in itself proves the primary proposition of ID, that only intelligence can generate meaningful information. (That is if you consider yourself intelligent)

    notes:

    The DNA Code – Solid Scientific Proof Of Intelligent Design – Perry Marshall – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4060532

    Stephen Meyer is interviewed about the “information problem” in DNA, Signature in the Cell – video
    http://downloads.cbn.com/cbnne.....f?aid=8497

    First-Ever Blueprint of ‘Minimal Cell’ Is More Complex Than Expected – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: A network of research groups,, approached the bacterium at three different levels. One team of scientists described M. pneumoniae’s transcriptome, identifying all the RNA molecules, or transcripts, produced from its DNA, under various environmental conditions. Another defined all the metabolic reactions that occurred in it, collectively known as its metabolome, under the same conditions. A third team identified every multi-protein complex the bacterium produced, thus characterising its proteome organisation.
    “At all three levels, we found M. pneumoniae was more complex than we expected,”
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....173027.htm

    LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW – William Dembski – Robert Marks – Pg. 13
    Excerpt: Simulations such as Dawkins’s WEASEL, Adami’s AVIDA, Ray’s Tierra, and Schneider’s ev appear to support Darwinian evolution, but only for lack of clear accounting practices that track the information smuggled into them.,,, Information does not magically materialize. It can be created by intelligence or it can be shunted around by natural forces. But natural forces, and Darwinian processes in particular, do not create information. Active information enables us to see why this is the case. (In these computer simulations)
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

    Bernoulli’s Principle of Insufficient Reason and Conservation of Information in Computer Search (COI) – William A. Dembski – Robert J. Marks II – Dec. 2009
    Excerpt: COI puts to rest the inflated claims for the information generating power of evolutionary simulations such as Avida and ev.,,, References to “geographical structure[s],” “link structure[s],” search space “clustering,” and smooth surfaces conducive to “hill climbing” reinforce rather than refute the quasi-teleological conclusion that the success of evolutionary search depends solely on active information from prior knowledge. This suggests that in biology, as in computing, there is no free lunch.
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....nt-reason/

    Signature In The Cell – Review
    Excerpt: There is absolutely nothing surprising about the results of these (evolutionary) algorithms. The computer is programmed from the outset to converge on the solution. The programmer designed to do that. What would be surprising is if the program didn’t converge on the solution. That would reflect badly on the skill of the programmer. Everything interesting in the output of the program came as a result of the programmer’s skill-the information input. There are no mysterious outputs. – Software Engineer – quoted to Stephen Meyer
    http://www.scribd.com/full/293.....18zn6dtju0

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf

    “We found an enormous amount of diversity within and between the African populations, and we found much less diversity in non-African populations,” Tishkoff told attendees today (Jan. 22) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim. “Only a small subset of the diversity in Africa is found in Europe and the Middle East, and an even narrower set is found in American Indians.” Tishkoff; Andrew Clark, Penn State; Kenneth Kidd, Yale University; Giovanni Destro-Bisol, University “La Sapienza,” Rome, and Himla Soodyall and Trefor Jenkins, WITS University, South Africa, looked at three locations on DNA samples from 13 to 18 populations in Africa and 30 to 45 populations in the remainder of the world.-

    I wonder what Hitler would have thought of that study?

    You know Mark Frank it is not that hard at all to see ID, it is literally screaming at us from every nook and cranny of creation especially with our advance in knowledge over the past several decades. The question is why do people such as yourself pretend so fervently that it is not so? I find the fact that there actually is a creator to be absolutely wonderful news!!! And to find that the Creator of this universe, and all life in it ,would care to have a relationship with me through Christ Jesus just blows me away!!! Yet atheists act as if this Good News is the worse news to be had in the world. Why is this? Do you guys have something else going on? Let me clue you in Mark Frank,, WE ALL ARE GOING TO DIE SOMEDAY,,, so unless you come up with your own grand plan to defeat death somehow, there ain’t no other plan to be had by you nor anybody else.

  11. 11
    Mark Frank says:

    #6 GilDodgen

    ID is not a theory of mechanism; it’s a theory of design detection and inference. It makes no claims about mechanism

    Darwinian theory, on the other hand, is precisely a theory of mechanism, and it is therefore incumbent upon its proponents to demonstrate the causal efficacy and adequacy of the proposed mechanism.

    If they are about different things why are they incompatible? Or maybe they are compatible?

    Incidentally I mainly commented to see if I could. I have been unable to comment for several days. Seems to work OK now. If someone fixed it for me – thanks.

  12. 12
    Toronto says:

    bornagain77 @ 10,

    Let me clue you in Mark Frank,, WE ALL ARE GOING TO DIE SOMEDAY,,, so unless you come up with your own grand plan to defeat death somehow, there ain’t no other plan to be had by you nor anybody else.

    I accept that I’m going to die and have no need to defeat death at all.

    By being cast into this world, however that was done, I accept that my only task is to live in it.

    I’m not going to worry about any other existence while I’m in this one.

    If there is a god, why would he want me to worry in this life, what’s going to happen to me in another one?

  13. 13
    William J. Murray says:

    Mark Frank:

    ID doesn’t replace evolution or compete with it in its general sense. Evolutionary theory in general ecompasses many specific ideas, mechanisms, sub-models, etc.

    Within that framework, ID argues that some biological phenomena are best explained as being the result of the teleological process of matching means to the end.

    For example, the existence of the Pekingese as an ongoing breed of dog is best explained as being the product of ID and other evolutionary forces; the Pekingese breed as a biological artifact cannot be sufficiently explained without reference to an ongoing process of matching means to an end, that end being that purebred Pekingese exist.

    Of course, descent with modification, genetic mutation and genetic drift, and natural selection within the deliberately-confined breed line all play a role too.

    ID doesn’t seek to replace evolutionary theory as a whole, but rather argues that it requires another explanatory force (ID) to sufficiently account for at least some of the product of evolution.

    We know this to be factually true in some cases (directly-modified genetic artifacts in current biological entities, Pekingese breed, etc.); we suspect it to be true in some other cases.

  14. 14
    mikev6 says:

    Phaedros@9:

    I didn’t meean to speak for Gil, but the argument concerns carbon based life as well as L-amino life. So yes the fine-tuning would affect all life based on carbon and L-amino life as far as I understand it. We don’t know of any other types of life besides carbon-based and I don’t think we can even say it would work.

    Yes. And all the carbon-based life that we know about lives on this planet, yet we seem comfortable leaping from that to a designed universe without any information about other types of life in the universe, carbon-based or not.

  15. 15
    zeroseven says:

    I too am having trouble understanding GilDodgen’s statement at 7. If ID “makes no claims about mechanism” then it can make no claim about Darwinian evolution. So why do ID supporters spend so much time trying to debunk evolution?

  16. 16
    GilDodgen says:

    If ID is not a peer-to-peer replacement of evolution, why would evolution need to be replaced if ID turned out to be true?

    With all due respect, this comment is incomprehensible, and demonstrates my point about the infinitely fluid and vacuously amorphous term, “evolution.”

    Let us not be confused: When Darwinists talk about “evolution” they mean that purely materialistic and probabilistic processes caused dirt to spontaneously generate life, and that random errors filtered by natural selection (i.e., the bad errors being thrown out and the good errors being preserved) accounts for everything in the entire history of life.

    This is a preposterously ludicrous and irrational claim, that makes the most adamant religious fundamentalist look like a paragon of rationality.

    Darwinists surely must know that any rational person would reject such transparent nonsense. The only recourse, therefore, is to attempt to mask the obvious idiocy of Darwinian claims by hiding it all in a labyrinth of obfuscation, inscrutable and irrelevant detail, and fanciful storytelling.

  17. 17
    Mark Frank says:

    #14 GilDodgen

    I found Toronto’s comment quite intelligible and I made much the same comment myself.

    With respect you have drifted off the subject by talking about why you think Darwinian claims are false. The issue in this case was not whether Darwinian claims are true, but whether they are compatible with ID.

    You wrote:

    ID is not a theory of mechanism; it’s a theory of design detection and inference. It makes no claims about mechanism.

    Darwinian theory, on the other hand, is precisely a theory of mechanism

    So if ID does not answer the question “how?”. And Darwinism does answer precisely that question. Why should there be a conflict? If ID makes no claims about mechanism how can it contradict Darwinian claims about mechanism?

  18. 18
    William J. Murray says:

    Mark Frank:

    At dictinary.com, the 2nd definition of “mechanism” is: the agency or means by which an effect is produced or a purpose is accomplished.

    IMO, ID is the mechanism; it is the agency that matches means to an end. Like gravity or the 2LoT, the principle or “law” of ID offers a (or a set of) mathematical law(s) describing the effects of this mechanism of “matching means to an end”; such as when the mathematical model of a physical system reveals over 1000 bits of FSCI, then the explanation of that system is inusfficient with the agency of ID. The system may require other agencies or mechanisms as well, but without ID as a necessary explanatory agency, any explanation will fall short.

    I think that, for religious or ideological reasons, IDers don’t like to refer to ID as a mechanism, but under the 2nd definition above, it certainly is just that.

    So, the argument that ID doesn’t provide distinguishable mechanisms (agencies) for evolution is untrue, because ID itself (matching the means to an end) is a proposed, additional evolutionary mechanism, like natural selection and random mutation. It is a mechanism that can produce FSCI over 1000 bits in any physical system.

  19. 19
    mikev6 says:

    William J. Murray:

    So, the argument that ID doesn’t provide distinguishable mechanisms (agencies) for evolution is untrue, because ID itself (matching the means to an end) is a proposed, additional evolutionary mechanism, like natural selection and random mutation. It is a mechanism that can produce FSCI over 1000 bits in any physical system.

    I would tend to agree with this (at least as it concerns what ID is and isn’t), as the statement that ID doesn’t concern itself with “how” strikes me as purely arbitrary and very unscientific.

    Of course, the next question to be answered is “HOW does the designer produce those 1000 bits of FSCI”?

  20. 20
    Proponentist says:

    When you ask “the next question”, you’ve conceded the first point (that intelligence was involved in the development of nature).

  21. 21
    William J. Murray says:

    How do human designers do it? We’re creating over 1000 bits of fsci with every post here.

    It seems that intent applied to materials and systems towards a goal regularly generates such FSCI.

  22. 22
    GilDodgen says:

    Mark Frank: If ID makes no claims about mechanism how can it contradict Darwinian claims about mechanism?

    Because the Darwinian mechanism is causally and categorically inadequate to explain the effect in question: complex information-processing machinery and the information it processes, including error-detection-and-repair algorithms, all of which was presumably engineered by the introduction of errors.

    I appreciate your heroic attempts to defend the indefensible. It seems to me that your career, and perhaps as a consequent even your raison d’être , are so thoroughly invested in Darwinian orthodoxy that you cannot see the obvious.

    As you know, I was once in your camp, but once introduced to genuine, unvarnished, objective science concerning origins I found that I could no longer muster enough blind faith to accept Darwinian theory as an explanation of anything but the ultimately trivial.

    All considerations in this arena require a certain amount of faith, but the degree of faith required to believe in Darwinism I found to be many orders of magnitude greater than the degree of faith required to believe in design, which bludgeoned me over the head relentlessly until I could deny it no longer.

    I was therefore required by reason to abandon a lifelong philosophical commitment that was antithetical to what I found the evidence to indicate.

  23. 23
    StephenA says:

    “…the statement that ID doesn’t concern itself with “how” strikes me as purely arbitrary and very unscientific.”

    Lets try applying this logic to another scientific theory.

    “The statement that Newton’s Theory of Universal Gravitation doesn’t concern itself with “how” strikes me as purely arbitrary and very unscientific.”

    This is not to say that scientific theories of ‘how’ cannot be formulated, merely that they are separate from first theory. Indeed, theories of ‘how’ gravity works exist and are debated in the scientific community, but they are separate from the theory of Universal Gravitation itself. Any, or even all those theories could be proven wrong, and the theory of universal gravitation would remain unchallenged.

  24. 24
    mikev6 says:

    Proponetist:

    When you ask “the next question”, you’ve conceded the first point (that intelligence was involved in the development of nature).

    OK – how about “IF intelligence was involved in the development of nature, HOW did the designer produce those 1000 bits of FSCI”?

  25. 25
    tgpeeler says:

    Toronto @ 12
    “If there is a god, why would he want me to worry in this life, what’s going to happen to me in another one?”

    I dunno. If there IS one maybe because He told you to? Just a thought. It’s safe to ignore imagined deities, I do it all the time. But if there is a real One?? Now that’s not Someone I’d want to ignore. We’ll all find out someday when our cosmic all-in bets are settled up. Good luck to you. Really.

  26. 26
    William J. Murray says:

    mikev6:

    By matching means to an end.

  27. 27
    mikev6 says:

    StephenA:

    The statement that Newton’s Theory of Universal Gravitation doesn’t concern itself with “how” strikes me as purely arbitrary and very unscientific.

    Let’s explore this analogy a bit.

    – Newton was concerned with how, but couldn’t find enough evidence to form a hypothesis. Cornelius has pointed out on this blog that Newton’s contemporaries were also critical of proposing a force that acted at a distance without an explanation. I see little or no concern about the similar “how the designer operated” gap with ID.

    – there has been plenty of research on the “how” of gravitation. I see little indication that these researchers saw some fundamental distinction between Newton’s theory and related theories of how it works. With ID, I’m not aware of any active research into the how, and based on this blog, there’s little or no speculation on the topic.

    – While ID may like to build a distinction here, that distinction doesn’t carry much weight outside ID. If someone claims that artifact X was designed, “how was it made?” is a natural query (and a scientific one). If ID doesn’t wish to address it, is there someone else who is?

  28. 28
    mikev6 says:

    William J. Murray:

    By matching means to an end.

    Ok. Would you suggest this as a full explanation of how you create FSCI on this blog? Or are there a few more steps involved?

  29. 29
    Phaedros says:

    mikev6-

    There are many steps. First you need a language. A language in itself is a very complex structure of grammar, semantics, etc. Then you need the communication medium-computers and electronic screens, etc. Finally, you need other conscious beings who are able to read the words you have typed. In the case of a code you need something that has in it already built in instructions has to how to execute that code.

  30. 30
    tgpeeler says:

    Phaedros “First you need a language.”

    YES!! And since a language is a set of symbols organized in various ways according to a set of rules, physics, as any kind of ultimate explanation is ruled out a priori. There is nothing in physics and there will never be anything in physics that accounts for symbols, the relationship of one thing for another, or the rules that govern their use.

    Denying the reality of the abstract and the causal power of mind are two of the fundamental errors the naturalists/materialists make. In essence they attempt to explain the real yet immaterial world of information, life, ideas, purpose, laws, etc… (in other words everything that is important to human beings) by means of laws that describe the behavior of the material world.

  31. 31
    StephenA says:

    – While ID may like to build a distinction here, that distinction doesn’t carry much weight outside ID. If someone claims that artifact X was designed, “how was it made?” is a natural query (and a scientific one). If ID doesn’t wish to address it, is there someone else who is?

    Your phrasing is slightly incorrect there. ID is not a person, it is a theory. A better way to phrase it might be “If ID doesn’t address it, is there some other theory that does?”
    The answer to that is yes, of course. There are a number of theories that address this issue. There is the theory of front loaded evolution (the first lifeform was programmed to develop into all the other lifeforms that have come into existence). There is the theory that the universe was ‘programmed’ for the development of life. (basically that all mutation inducing effects were carefully placed so as to induce just the right mutations neccessary). There is the theory that all lifeforms were created in their basic kinds and do not change from one kind into another over subsequent generations.

    However, all these theories could be wrong and it would not alter the evidence for ID itself.

  32. 32
    Proponentist says:

    OK – how about “IF intelligence was involved in the development of nature, HOW did the designer produce those 1000 bits of FSCI”?

    mikev6, that’s really the “next question” again. If intelligence was involved, then … ???
    Well, then quite a lot. We’d have a massive sea-change in our academic and scientific culture (and probably a huge impact socially). Additionally, the next question may not be “how did the designer do it?” but “who is the designer?” and “what evidence do we have in human history to support various candidates as the designer?”
    The question of how the designer produced information would require more knowledge about what the nature and intelligence of the designer really is.
    These questions cannot be pursued in an atmosphere of hostility and outright warfare against the mere notion that there was a designer.
    The hypothetical situation that your propose (that science accepts that intelligence was necessarily involved) would bring philosophers, theologians and scientists together again to work through the various issues.
    Plus, it realy depends on how it happened that the scientific community accepted that intelligence necessarily was involved.

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