Intelligent Design

Dear Richard Dawkins – what is new in your book?

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Dawkins’ new book is reviewed in the Economist.

How humans are related to chimpanzees—and to cheese mites and cherry trees too, Sep 3rd 2009, The Economist,

From the review there are no new arguments, just more of the same polemical rhetoric and the same tired old evidences. If this is the best RD can do then Darwinian evolution is clearly on its last legs.

Does Dawkins really appeal to the homology of skeletal plan which could be equally evidence of common design, or to the fossil record with all its out of place fossils including a Jurassic Beaver, Carboniferous dragonflies and Cambrian vertebrates.

Does Dawkins really retreat to the rhetoric and polemics of a schoolyard bully again by misrepresenting arguments and people’s positions?

The reviewer writes “Perhaps some evolution-deniers will read this book and be convinced. But even to pick it up they would have to ignore a determined campaign of misinformation: polemicists demanding that schools “teach the controversy” (there is none); books about “intelligent design” written by “creationist scientists” (a ragbag of nonentities, mostly engineers or chemists rather than biologists); untruths and ad hominem attacks (few [scientists] “accept that an amoeba can evolve into a human being, even one as flawed as Richard Dawkins,” wrote one Christian essayist recently, neatly combining both genres).”

If this is the level of debate then it is clearly not about science, but about a struggle for supremacy over control of the educational institutions and direction of society. Perhaps if Dawkins understood some of the new philosophy taking place in biology involving cooperation, epigenetics and lateral gene transfer, and not simple struggle for survival, he might be more willing to engage in a respectful and reasoned debate and dialogue.

One may wonder whether Dawkins’ position is looking more and more like one of those extinct Cretaceous dinosaurs that fill the British Natural History Museum.

66 Replies to “Dear Richard Dawkins – what is new in your book?

  1. 1
    IRQ Conflict says:

    Cool! I’m so tiered of the monkey thing. I wanna be a cheese mite! Wassa cheese mite?

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    Interestingly, the homology of skeletal plans is featured in my daughter’s 8th grade science textbook.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how do people take this pseudointellectual tripe seriously?

  3. 3
    ellazimm says:

    I’ll be interested to see what you think of it after you’ve read it.

  4. 4
    Cabal says:

    I haven’t had the opportunity to study the review or the book yet; maybe I will get into my Xmas wish list.

    In the meantime:

    If this is the best RD can do then Darwinian evolution is clearly on its last legs.

    Really? The caterpillar of evolution stands tall on Darwin’s legs; it is “turtles all the way down.”

  5. 5
    Gaz says:

    “Dawkins position is looking more and more like one of those extinct Cretaceous dinosaurs”

    That’s pretty rich coming from someone who thinks the Earth is only 6000 years old, based solely on a literal reading of an old scripture and with no objective evidence whatsoever.

  6. 6
    yakky d says:

    Andrew,

    Does Dawkins really appeal to the homology of skeletal plan which could be equally evidence of common design ..?

    The concept of “common design” is brought up here from time to time, but I have yet to see anyone explain how to integrate it into a scientific research program.

    Consider the hemoglobin pseudogene data that Behe describes in The Edge of Evolution, which is usually interpreted as very strong evidence for common ancestry of primates. Suppose I hypothesize that this evidence is actually best accounted for by common design. What sort of information should cause me to change my mind and reject common design?

  7. 7

    yakky d – design is a probabilistic inference to the best explanation, as are evolutionary explanations. The problem for biology is to determine which is the best explanation, sometimes the answer is clear, sometimes it isn’t. For those who like to think that science gives absolute answers such probabilistic solutions are not very satisfactory.

    But as a meteorologist I have to write weather forecasts on the basis of over 50 solutions. Uncertainty is a fact of scientific life, so all I can say is ‘deal with it.’

  8. 8
    Jack Golightly says:

    yakky d,

    left-over, useless structures would be evidence against common design.

  9. 9
    tragic mishap says:

    Anybody know if he talks about dog breeding again? That would be really funny.

    Jack, left-over from what? You mean left-over from the original design?

  10. 10
    Learned Hand says:

    left-over, useless structures would be evidence against common design.

    Why?

  11. 11
    bFast says:

    I have two points,

    1 – It seems that Andrew Sibley agrees with Richard Dawkins that common ancestry = neo-Darwinism. It doesn’t. Behe, for instance, very clearly holds to common ancestry.

    2 – Please explain the following via “common design”. There are about 80 known disease producing specific point mutations that are shared by both human and chimp.

    3 – I well understand that common ancestry is incompatible with a literal interpretation of a Biblical Adam and Eve. Is ID truly scientific, or is it creationism in a cheap tuxedo? The answer to the latter will be determined by the answer to my question 2 above.

  12. 12
    spark300c says:

    I have great idea what if the designer took one form and genetically engineered to be anther. The way the designer worked would be very similar to command descent. In
    Yec model is imposable but in Oec model is very possible because there enough time for genes to brake.

  13. 13
    Jack Golightly says:

    hmmm… maybe i should’ve just said “useless structures”. a thoughtful designer would probably be inclined to eliminate extraneous elements.
    evolution would predict leftovers.

  14. 14
    spark300c says:

    it seem that why but I think the left over are there to make sure that we do not think there are many designers. no lefter overs means no signs of command design. Also if we think natural section is strong enough to make evolution happen than these non coding parts will go away very quickly. eaten way by deletions. We have genes for laying eggs. Why in hell would natural selection persevere it. It since it does no do any thing it takes up space and energy and in nature is very sightly deleterious. Any deletion will be beneficial since it will reduce energy being wasted and add to our fitness. Since that gene still exist means it sending message to us that one designer created us. Anther thing is rise question about natural selection because it show natural selection does not see there fore it’s creative powers are limited.

  15. 15
    Borne says:

    Given that ch. 2 of his new book is about wolves and dog breeding and “what they tell us about evolution” I’d say Dawkins is on his last leg.
    He essentially takes breeding – something we’ve known about for 1000’s of years – and tries to make it support evolution.

    At one point he tells the reader to look at the differences between a Great Dane and a Pekinese and then extrapolate (gratuitously) the possible ‘evolutionary’ changes back 20M generations to see how easy it is to imagine that evolution could make a dog (or whatever) from a bacterium!

    Pretty lame and dishonest, imo.

  16. 16
    yakky d says:

    Andrew,

    yakky d – design is a probabilistic inference to the best explanation, as are evolutionary explanations. The problem for biology is to determine which is the best explanation, sometimes the answer is clear, sometimes it isn’t. For those who like to think that science gives absolute answers such probabilistic solutions are not very satisfactory.

    But as a meteorologist I have to write weather forecasts on the basis of over 50 solutions. Uncertainty is a fact of scientific life, so all I can say is ‘deal with it.’

    Thanks for the response. I have no problem with the statement that evolutionary explanations are often based on probabilistic inference. But I don’t think that really addresses my question: What sorts of evidence would lead you to reject a hypothesis of common design?

  17. 17
    kairos says:

    … mostly engineers or chemists rather than biologists …

    I like this. Recalling a famous say by Clemanceau, we could paraphrase into:

    “Biology is by fara a too serious argument to leave it in the hands of biologists …”

  18. 18
    SingBlueSilver says:

    Yes, you are correct. The theory that explains, predicts, and binds biology, biochemistry, paleontology, anatomy, physiology, genetics, ecology, microbiology, botony, and developmental biology is about to be overturned and replaced with…

    …with…

    …the theory that…we can’t explain complex biological structures… or… or… Hitler!…or.. or…something…wait…

    What does the overall theory of ID say again?

  19. 19
    Lenoxus says:

    What does the overall theory of ID say again?

    That all those things you mentioned happen in the way they do because someone wanted them to.

    Also, “evolution” doesn’t bind those things because evolution has nothing to do with common descent, relatedness of organisms, genetic mutations, natural selection, or the combination of RM and NS producing this or that trait. “Evolution” is solely the denial of the design of a few biochemical structures, plus, I dunno, maybe birds and whales. That’s why people here can keep railing against something called “evolution” without contradiction.

  20. 20
    jerry says:

    An unabashed pro ID commenter named Allen Factor has interdicted the ID point of view into the comments of the Economist article.

    http://www.economist.com/books.....readBottom

    Go Allen.

  21. 21
    jerry says:

    “What does the overall theory of ID say again?”

    That some things are best explained by design. Not all things or most things but some things.

  22. 22
    ellazimm says:

    Dawkins does discuss dog breeding (again) as an example of what selection pressure can achieve in a short period of time and then points out that natural selection can also achieve similar results albeit somewhat slower. Selection pressure, natural or intelligent, can create highly varied body forms; that doesn’t seem very controversial to me.

  23. 23
    jerry says:

    “Dawkins does discuss dog breeding (again) as an example of what selection pressure can achieve in a short period of time.”

    The fact that Dawkins uses dog breeding as an example is another illustration of the admission of the Darwinists that the ID position is valid. It is not science but a rhetorical trick to influence the uninformed. The average person will say that is really interesting and nod their heads without seeing beyond the superficiality of the argument. The other trick they use is the religious one either overtly by calling ID people creationists or by invoking the bad design argument in some way.

    The argument for micro evolution instead of macro evolution is the basic bait and switch of the Darwinists. Which is why I say that none of them, Dawkins, Coyne, Sean Carroll, Ayala, Ken Miller, Henry Gee, Will Provine, Allen MacNeill, etc., any pro ID person here. and even Darwin himself never present evidence to back the macro evolution claim. It is always the bait and switch or the irrelevant or the odd instance of novelty or the religious argument.

    Where’s the Beef?

    For those under 30 years of age read the Wikipedia article

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....he_beef%3F

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aISkVvi5iI8

    I love the line “I don’t think there’s anybody there.” That describes the Darwinists position exactly. There is no beef and no one is there.

  24. 24

    yakky d – you have to ask a similar question if weighing inductive inferences. What evidence would count against macro-evolution? and then test both claims against each other. ID people have an interest in finding what natural selection can do and what applied design can do.
    As for ID Behe’s IC is a good place to start where there seems to be a move towards the development of regularities or laws of bio-mechanics, as is his ‘Edge’ book where he is seeking to find where the limits of design and evolution lie.

  25. 25
    yakky d says:

    Andrew,

    yakky d – you have to ask a similar question if weighing inductive inferences. What evidence would count against macro-evolution? and then test both claims against each other.

    Suppose someone were to find a number of fully modern human skeletons in various locations around the world, all of which dated to approximately 100 million years ago. That would certainly be grounds for rejecting common descent of primates.

    Again, what evidence would cause you to reject common design?

  26. 26
    Andrew Sibley says:

    yakky d – no one is claiming that, your goal seems so big as to make it unmissable, just like the claim for bunnies in the pre-Cambrian to dismiss evolution – but no one believes that.
    Whenever there is a claim for a gap in macro evolution, the rebuttal is ‘just give us more time and we’ll close it naturalistically.’ In other words it is not falsifiable.
    Have you considered Goodson’s second riddle of induction? What is it about properties that makes them projectable? It is ultimately belief.

  27. 27
    Blue Lotus says:

    Andrew

    Whenever there is a claim for a gap in macro evolution, the rebuttal is ‘just give us more time and we’ll close it naturalistically.’

    It starts off all gap you know. Then those gaps are filled. Are being filled. Have been filled in many cases.

    What’s your alternative to looking for a naturalistic answer? Not looking at all? If you do in fact look how do you go about doing that? Why are you not doing that already?

    In other words it is not falsifiable.

    That does not follow from your previous sentence.

    It is ultimately belief.

    Andrew, as you are a self admitted creationist I would imagine you know all about it.

    How old do you think the Earth is Andrew?

  28. 28
    Blue Lotus says:

    Andrew

    ID people have an interest in finding what natural selection can do and what applied design can do.

    And what can applied design do? Can it make a thing that uses a rotating wheel as a propulsion method? Why, yes it can. Can natural selection? No, not really! It seems NS cannot make the “jump” to allow a freely rotating wheel.

    So, if life is designed why don’t we see it using things that could only have been designed?

    As for ID Behe’s IC is a good place to start where there seems to be a move towards the development of regularities or laws of bio-mechanics, as is his ‘Edge’ book where he is seeking to find where the limits of design and evolution lie.

    Ah, of course. IC. Behe has written his book now you know. He’s no longer “seeking”. He’s sought.

    Where do the limits of design lie? If life is designed, it’s knees, spines, combined eating and air tubes and other fun stuff indicate the designer was simply not very good at all.

    Where do the limits of evolution lie? Knees that work, air tubes that share space with food because nobody was there to point out that is a bad idea and nobody to point it out to anyway, spines because nobody said “don’t do it that way” and so on.

  29. 29
    yakky d says:

    Andrew,

    yakky d – no one is claiming that, your goal seems so big as to make it unmissable, just like the claim for bunnies in the pre-Cambrian to dismiss evolution – but no one believes that.

    But it’s still a potential falsification of common descent of primates, as it is currently understood. It doesn’t matter that most people think such a finding is unlikely.

    In fact, isn’t it true that the Creation Science Movement organization, of which you are a prominent member, holds that Adam was created within the first six days of earth’s existence? Do you share this view? If so, why wouldn’t you expect to see rabbits or even humans for that matter in the ‘Precambrian’?

    Just for the record, I’ve asked three times how you would falsify a hypothesis of common design, and haven’t received an answer. I can only conclude (provisionally) that common design is unfalsifiable.

  30. 30
    ellazimm says:

    “The fact that Dawkins uses dog breeding as an example is another illustration of the admission of the Darwinists that the ID position is valid. It is not science but a rhetorical trick to influence the uninformed. The average person will say that is really interesting and nod their heads without seeing beyond the superficiality of the argument. The other trick they use is the religious one either overtly by calling ID people creationists or by invoking the bad design argument in some way.”

    I guess I’m missing something. Dog breeding is non-natural selection but it is selection on the same level as natural selection, that is, picking and choosing who wins and who loses as opposed to genetic manipulation. Yeah?

    Sorry, I’m just trying to make sure I’m clear on the argument.

  31. 31
    Dustin says:

    It is natural selection the moment those cells begin dividing.

  32. 32
    jerry says:

    “Dog breeding is non-natural selection but it is selection on the same level as natural selection, that is, picking and choosing who wins and who loses as opposed to genetic manipulation.”

    No one is arguing that artificial selection is not evolution but it is evolution in a trivial sense because it is micro evolution and not of any interest to anyone in the evolution debate. The debate is about macro evolution and dog breeding or artificial selection has no bearing on this. So to use it is an admission that one does not have anything of consequence or why not go to the real issue.

    They use it because it will appear to the uninformed that it is meaningful. For example, that you questioned it is indicative that you do not understand the issues. So use yourself as a prime example of who the target is and the type of argument that will appeal to the uninformed. It is a bogus argument but it works as your question shows

    No one is denying natural selection works or that changes are gradual or the environment affects evolution. They just do not have any demonstrated role in macro evolution or the origin of novel complex capabilities.

  33. 33
    Neil Schipper says:

    Andrew,

    If this is the level of debate then it is clearly not about science, but about a struggle for supremacy over control of the educational institutions and direction of society.

    You may have stated something here that you didn’t really intend.

    Back 3 or 4 centuries, those with the greatest curiousity about the natural world could not have fathomed common ancestry between a lion and a dandelion.

    Increasingly, people became devoted to observing, gathering, measuring, comparing, documenting the forms of life and non-life (geology) on earth.

    Before Darwin was born, the notion of change of life forms over time — deep time — was commonplace among this cadre of the curious and well-studied.

    People became increasingly unhindered by preconceptions from ancient texts deemed of supernatural origin.

    Shortly after 1859, nearly everyone among this cadre accepted common descent.

    As the years roll by, the evidence only piles higher, not as part of a culture war, but as part of the advance of understanding (amplified profoundly by technology).

    While biological science still has many subtle puzzles to solve, common descent remains uncontroversial. It is made controversial by those in a struggle to regain a supremacy that was enjoyed for centuries and subsequently lost.

    You expose this with your next statement:

    Perhaps if Dawkins understood some of the new philosophy taking place in biology involving cooperation, epigenetics and lateral gene transfer, and not simple struggle for survival, he might be more willing to engage in a respectful and reasoned debate and dialogue.

    There’s no indication you’ve read the book, yet you point to flaws in the author’s understanding. Remarkably, you are doing this in response to statements by a reviewer.

    If this is the best RD can do then Darwinian evolution is clearly on its last legs.

    You are counting on the gullibility of your audience to buy into the wishful fiction that your opposition is comprised of a small number of prominent people. In fact, your opposition is a sturdy and robust body of knowledge with a hundred thousand protagonists.

  34. 34
    NormO says:

    Andrew,
    Do you believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old? If so, what evidence can you cite? I’m curious because you used the phrase “tired old evidences” in reference to Dawkin’s arguments.

    For my part, I find selective breeding to be a highly compelling argument for evolution. Taken in conjunction with other lines of evidence (the vast age of the earth, patterns of diversity (biogeography), genetics, and the fossil record), I find no good reason to reject modern evolutionary theory (as I understand it as a lay person). It remains the very best explanation I’ve yet heard for the diversity of life on earth.

    That’s what I believe, what exactly do ID folks believe? I read a lot here about what they don’t believe but nobody seems to spell out exactly what they do believe.

  35. 35
    Lenoxus says:

    Andrew:

    Whenever there is a claim for a gap in macro evolution, the rebuttal is ‘just give us more time and we’ll close it naturalistically.’

    And they’re still dawdling. C’mon, biologists! Let’s see some ape-people! Some walking whales! Some genome comparisons! Some homologous genes for protein functions! They still haven’t turned any up, and the gaps stay just the same size as always. It’s pathetic.

  36. 36
    jerry says:

    “That’s what I believe, what exactly do ID folks believe”

    Here is something I wrote a year ago about what ID is about and no one has disputed it here.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-296129

    If you consider dog breeding persuasive then you do not understand the debate. There are two theories of evolution, micro evolution and macro evolution. Micro evolution is well accepted and is not an issue but the mechanism for macro evolution has never been demonstrated and Darwin’s ideas of gradualism, natural selection and competing for resources has not been showed to lead to macro evolutions.

    The issue is one of information and how it is built. Micro evolution essentially reshuffles the same deck of cards and gives you a new hand each time or the same information while macro evolution requires several new decks of cards with different characters on it.

  37. 37
    CannuckianYankee says:

    NormO,

    ID folks are a diverse lot. I believe it would be safe to say that many of them started out as Old Earth Creationsits with a scientific background of some sort, though that is certainly not true of all.

    Given the diversity – Christians, non-Christians, OECs and YECs, scientists and philosophers, teachers and students theists, agnostics, and even some atheists among them (though few), I would have to say that their beliefs are irrelevant to the over-all theory.

    The one significant factor that is common to all ID folks is a rejection of the notion that chance and necessity alone can account for the diversity and complexity of biological life, combined with a realization that a stronger inference (than Darwinism) based on evidence of complex and purposeful structures, is that the appearance of design in nature is best taken as purposeful design (whether front-loaded via the necessary primary information, or created as kinds), rather than as the accumulation of successive random processes with no blueprint or specified and purposeful direction. (I think that’s the longest senence I’ve ever written 🙂 )

    I think one keen observation from ID detractors stemming from the implications of ID is that the designer ought to be named. After all, it seems quite relevant that if there is a designer, that he/she/it, be a god of some sort. Theere are some important problems with this: 1)it is a way to force ID into the corner of non-scientific Creationism, when there are vast differences between the two, 2)the evidence does not contain any obvious signature that the designer is a god (even if a god is the best inference), 3)the questions as to who the designer is are best left to other disciplines, such as philosophy and theology, just as Dr. Dawkins has left the field of science in his anti-god manifesto “The God Delusion.”

  38. 38
    NormO says:

    jerry,

    That was a helpful reference, thanks.

    I do consider selective breeding persuasive because it clearly demonstrates the power of selection in shaping organisms. Note that I didn’t state it was proof of evolution in itself. You have to take it in conjunction with several other lines of evidence (I listed a few above).

    As for the micro/macro issue: If we can demonstrate natural selection occurring in the field (and I think the Grant’s work with Galapagos finches was really compelling in that regard). Then why wouldn’t we conclude that, given enough time, such selection pressures would result in new species? And given a mind bogglingly huge amount of time (i.e. the age of the earth), why not completely new genera, classes, even kingdoms?

    I just don’t have a problem with that conclusion. To me it seems pretty straight forward and consistent with the facts. But perhaps I simply don’t understand the debate, as you suggest.

  39. 39
    Gaz says:

    Cannuckian Yankee (35),

    “3)the questions as to who the designer is are best left to other disciplines, such as philosophy and theology, just as Dr. Dawkins has left the field of science in his anti-god manifesto “The God Delusion.””

    I stronlgy disagree. If ID was a gebuine science then its advocates would be using their evidence to find out more about the designer – e.g. when did it do its designing, where did it do it, do its designs say anything about the nature of the designer itself, were there more than one designer etc. etc.

  40. 40
    Blue Lotus says:

    Jerry,
    Out of interest, how old do you think the earth is?

  41. 41
    CannuckianYankee says:

    NormO,

    “As for the micro/macro issue: If we can demonstrate natural selection occurring in the field (and I think the Grant’s work with Galapagos finches was really compelling in that regard). Then why wouldn’t we conclude that, given enough time, such selection pressures would result in new species? And given a mind bogglingly huge amount of time (i.e. the age of the earth), why not completely new genera, classes, even kingdoms?

    I just don’t have a problem with that conclusion. To me it seems pretty straight forward and consistent with the facts. But perhaps I simply don’t understand the debate, as you suggest.”

    I think Dr. Behe might agree with you here. Some ID proponents have a problem with common descent and macro-evolution, while some don’t. I think then that we ought to stick to the larger issue – that of the efficacy of RM + NS to account for gradual development into more complex biological forms.

    Even if dog breeding is a good example of “evolution” at a micro-level, and even if it might be a possible indication of macro-evolution, it is simply not a strong example of how RM + NS can account for the gradual development of more complex forms. ID offers an alternative that is compatible with the issue of breeding. ID shows that complex forms require the information prior to the development, rather than in conjunction with it. This is what IC essentially points out.

    In dog breeding, the information is already there. If we look back at the origin of life from a Darwinian perspective, the necessary complex information is not already there, but shows up gradually in conjunction with more complex development. Darwinians cannot account for how this occurs.

    While it is true that ID proponents cannot account for how the information first occurs, we have current evidence that complex information is always generated from a conscious mind, and is never the byproduct of random and undirected processes. The only argument that a Darwinist can counter to this is the question-begging notion that RM + NS is evidence that it does occur.

  42. 42
    NormO says:

    CannuckianYankee:
    “I think then that we ought to stick to the larger issue – that of the efficacy of RM + NS to account for gradual development into more complex biological forms.”

    OK, but I don’t think it’s good enough to say “Evolution could not of happened such-and-such a way”, without offering an alternative. If Behe or others want to argue that certain biological structures could not have arisen via the standard evolutionary explanations, then just exactly how did they arise? One has to provide some meaningful mechanism that also makes sense in the larger context of all available evidence, and is testable in some way. All I’ve heard in that respect is complete vagueness; front-loading, occasional intercession, etc. Because it’s not so much a question of “who is the designer” but “how is this designing business happening?” A mechanism needs to be proposed and then tested. And if the designer’s methods are beyond our ability to test, than the whole ID enterprise is meaningless in my opinion. An explanation that doesn’t include a viable mechanism (i.e. understandable to us mere humans) is useless.

  43. 43
    CannuckianYankee says:

    NormO,

    Your problem with ID should be the same problem you have with Darwinian Evolution, because the Darwin proponents have not shown the vast evidence you require either, despite the vast amount of research that has been done in those areas. The evidence that they do rely on can be adequately interpreted quite differently, and some new evidence, such as the nano-technology present in the cell, counter what Darwinists have stated in the past. This fact ought to make you suspect that perhaps RM + NS is insufficeint and/or lacking in explanatory power in light of new and compelling evidences.

    ID does offer a well reasoned alternative that is more than simply “evolution could not have done this.” ID is not anti-evolution in the least. It is anti-natural selection. Specifically, ID posits that complex specified information is required for irreducibly complex structures to exist at all, and that the strongest inference from this fact is that complex biological structures that have specified function were purposely designed for that function.

    My argument, however, is just the surface. If you want to know more in-depth, I suggest you read some of the more rigorous ID literature, such as Dr. Meyer’s new 600 page book Signature in the Cell, and/or Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution, an/or Dr. Dembski’s The Design Inference.

  44. 44
    CannuckianYankee says:

    NormO,

    “A mechanism needs to be proposed and then tested. And if the designer’s methods are beyond our ability to test, than the whole ID enterprise is meaningless in my opinion.”

    The mechanism fo ID is information generated from a mind. This mechanism is being tested on a daily basis from our own experience. If you can show how irreducibly complex and functional biological features can develop without the prior necessary complex specified information generated by a mind, then you falsify ID. It’s that simple.

    Also, you state that ID is vague, yet demand that “the designer’s methods” need to be tested. Just what do you mean by methods? That sounds rather vague to me as well. Methods are irrelevant if the end product is irreducible complexity that has proven to be (under all known circumstances) only ever generated from a conscious mind.

  45. 45
    ellazimm says:

    What about Lenski’s experiments with E. coli showing that in one instance it gained the ability to digest citrate? If that ability was already present in it’s genome has someone pointed this out by finding the pertinent gene?

    I do wonder how a designer would implement their design. How exactly was the design made flesh as it were. There must be some thoughts about that.

  46. 46
    jerry says:

    “Out of interest, how old do you think the earth is?”

    I believe the best estimate is about 4.5 billion years based on radiometric dating and the sun is about the same age. I am in the process of viewing a Teaching Company course on Cosmology and the estimate for the age of the Milky Way is 11 billion years. So our sun originated much later and we are off the spiral arm about 60% of the way from the core to the edge of the outermost spiral arm. I am not sure how many new suns are being created in the Milky Way but from what I understand a lot more will be created when Andromeda and the Milky Way collide in a few billion years.

  47. 47
    jerry says:

    “What about Lenski’s experiments with E. coli showing that in one instance it gained the ability to digest citrate? If that ability was already present in it’s genome has someone pointed this out by finding the pertinent gene?”

    This is probably simple micro evolution and nothing eventful. They think it was a simple mutation.

    “I do wonder how a designer would implement their design. How exactly was the design made flesh as it were. There must be some thoughts about that.”

    There is a whole field of synthetic biology. They hope to create a basic cell in the next 20 years. So this is a possible template for creating life. But I am sure there are more than one way to do it.

  48. 48
    n8rphelps says:

    I actually found this link on the Richard Dawkin’s site. I’ve read it and several other posts on the site along with scores of responses.

    My impressions:

    This site (and I assume others) makes a profound distinction between their definition of ID and that mainstream ID argument that is a reinvention of Creationism.

    Profound emphasis is placed on the “you can’t disprove ID, therefore it must be considered” argument.

    In all that I’ve read here, I can’t find anything that could be called a testable “theory of ID”. It is as though this branch of ID exists exclusively to criticize the theory of evolution. Not that the theory shouldn’t be open to criticism, but I would think that at some point it would be productive for ID to say “we don’t accept the evolutionary theory for macro evolution, but rather propose the following theory.

    The closest I’ve come to finding someone addressing an ID theory is CannuckianYankee when he makes this argument:

    “Also, you state that ID is vague, yet demand that “the designer’s methods” need to be tested. Just what do you mean by methods? That sounds rather vague to me as well. Methods are irrelevant if the end product is irreducible complexity that has proven to be (under all known circumstances) only ever generated from a conscious mind.”

    Three concerns arise immediately. First, there is a very real, very legitimate body of thought out there that demonstrates irreducible complexity can be generated outside a conscious mind. It seems disingenuous to make such a discussion ending assertion.

    Second, this response seems to side step the notion of producing a competing theory simply by returning to the time tested, quasi-magic realm of “who are we to question ID (god), we are incapable of understanding his ways”. This feels way too much like a cop out and leaves me forced to embrace evolution in the absence of any real challenge to it.

    Third, no one here even pretends to address the damning problem of, If there’s an ID’er, who designed him?

    In the final analysis, I’ve read some very interesting thoughts and ideas here. Enough to remind me that a lifetime of reading and studying will never get me close to finding all the answers. But in the end, if your argument is there is too much “proof” that there is an ID’er out there, you must reduce all this “evidence” to a workable, demonstrable, hypothesis or you will forever be talking past all those who embrace the scientific method of discovery, and you will forever be relegated to the role of a small dog nipping at the heals of his master.

  49. 49

    n8rphelps falls back on some tired arguments against ID. As already mentioned, Behe’s IC is a testable, falsifiable claim, and one that has not been bridged despite claims for stepping stones, not least for the reason that scientists are uncovering greater levels of complexity.
    Who designed the designer? All causal claims must end somewhere or end in an infintite regress. An end in a perfect cause is more intellectually satisfying than an uncaused cause, or an endless line of causes, or self-causation.
    At the end of the day all inductive arguments must begin in belief, whether it is old or new riddles of induction, which is why the American strict division of science and faith in education policy is a fallacy.

  50. 50
    yakky d says:

    Andrew,

    Are you going to address my question about falsifying common ancestry of primates? If I’m reading you correctly, you appear to believe that no one expects to find rabbits in the Precambrian, 100 million year old humans, etc, and therefore my suggestion for a test of common descent is not valid.

    I’m genuinely curious how this view aligns with YEC beliefs, which I gather you hold. Why don’t you expect to find such anachronisms in the fossil record which would contradict the mainstream old earth model?

  51. 51
    n8rphelps says:

    “n8rphelps falls back on some tired arguments against ID…”

    Please don’t insult the arguments. As far as I can see, they are valid. If not, explain to me why they aren’t without the “tired” rhetoric. And for the record, declaring them invalid is not an explanation. Heck, the theory of Gravity is tired too…it’s still a pretty good theory.

    “An end in a perfect cause is more intellectually satisfying…”

    If ever a statement showed the human tendency toward prejudice, this is it. Belief in something that we can’t prove is never more intellectually satisfying for me. And your casual dismissal of stepping stones as a valid counter to the “theory” of IC says nothing about the validity of the argument. It appears to me that Behe’s argument HAS been bridged.

    “…at the end of the day all inductive arguments must begin in belief…”

    Okay, that’s an interesting point. But it seems to me that the scientific method tests the belief and is willing to discard or alter it when empirical evidence requires. I don’t see that willingness here.

  52. 52
    aramael says:

    jerry: you probably want to stop with the micro/macro distinction. It’s like observing that children can always understand the language of their parents, therefore Italian cannot evolve from Latin.

    Also, I’ve never seen an example of “irreducible complexity” that has stood up to examination. At what point do you give up? Darwin’s theory of Evolution matches perfectly with DNA, a substance he knew nothing about. To me, this is compelling. What does ID predict?

  53. 53
    jerry says:

    “you probably want to stop with the micro/macro distinction. It’s like observing that children can always understand the language of their parents, therefore Italian cannot evolve from Latin.”

    This is argument from assertion. The Latin/Italian is not even a close analogy. If you think it is, then they you should learn more about the controversy. It involves the creation of information for new complex capabilities. So language changes are nowhere close to appropriate. There is no new super language that has developed over time with new complex capabilities and if they did they would have been intelligently designed since humans would have come up with them and approved them.

    “Also, I’ve never seen an example of “irreducible complexity” that has stood up to examination.”

    And I have never seen one that has been explained. You might try defending your statement by showing how the examples have been refuted.

    You are just making assertions which is common here because no one has ever provided substance. So be the first to do it and we will appreciate your efforts.

  54. 54
    jerry says:

    n8rphelps,

    You are making an inappropriate assumption about what science should look like for ID. A lot of science examines natural laws as they are mitigated by chance and other contingencies and makes predictions based on these ongoing circumstances. But this will not work when the natural laws are mitigated by intelligence which by its nature could be a one time event. Some intelligent actions are ongoing and may fall under the rubric used to analyze ongoing phenomena such as people planting crops or making dams or walls etc.. But agency or intelligence involves a suspension of natural laws and as such does not lend itself to the same type of analysis.

    Here is a set of three long comments on this which I wrote to address this argument. Read them if you wish:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-326046

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-326047

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-326048

    If you want to challenge ID as science, you cannot use what is frequently used in the natural sciences as the standard because they are investigating completely different phenomena.

  55. 55
    aramael says:

    The analogy with language concerns the way imperceptible and unconscious changes, over a sufficient length of time, diverge in a way that makes the result incompatible with its ancestor, and, indeed, its cousins.

    You cannot accept microevolution and deny macroevolution, because they are the same thing. You tell me that I am making an argument from assertion, but isn’t “information cannot be created by unconscious processes” the mother of all assertions?

    You have not provided an example of irreducible complexity which cannot be explained, nor have you described a prediction that ID makes.

  56. 56
    jerry says:

    “You tell me that I am making an argument from assertion, but isn’t “information cannot be created by unconscious processes” the mother of all assertions?”

    You have misinterpreted what I said. I did not assert that information cannot be created by unconscious processes. Where the information came from is the issue at hand. I would stick with the argument and not make things up.

    For irreducible complexity take any of Behe’s examples and refute them here. Do not point to anything, refute them in your own words. Otherwise I will assume you are just asserting something you cannot back up.

  57. 57
    StephenB says:

    —n8rphelps: “Okay, that’s an interesting point. But it seems to me that the scientific method tests the belief and is willing to discard or alter it when empirical evidence requires. I don’t see that willingness here.”

    The scientific method assumes those beliefs apriori and gains its legitimacy from them. The law of non-contradiction and uncompromised causality, for example, are two among many fundamental principles of right reason that provide the lens through which empirical evidence is judged and evaluated. It doesn’t judge or evalutate those principles, it depends on them and follows them, knowing that if they aren’t true, there would be no rational standards to interpret data, do science, or even talk about anything.

  58. 58
    Gaz says:

    StephenB (57),

    “The law of non-contradiction and uncompromised causality,”

    Who formulated these alleged “laws”?

  59. 59
    amuck says:

    jerry:

    I believe the best estimate is about 4.5 billion years based on radiometric dating and the sun is about the same age.

    Would this be the same radiometric dating method whose accuracy has been confirmed time and again and is used to date the fossil record and corroborate the theory of evolution by random mutation and natural selection ?

    Do not point to anything, answer this in your own words. Otherwise I will assume you are just asserting something you cannot back up.

  60. 60
    Avonwatches says:

    Chp2 dogs and wolves?

    I have not read it, but perchance does Dawkins mention that the genome of every single canid is littered with hereditary disease/disorders as a result of the much vaunted ‘Darwinian mutation’?

    Breed diversity = neutral/negative mutation, +/- phenotype selection.

    It is important to pay attention to the mechanism of evolution: all we see are broken bits of genomes from breed diversity. Give us 20mil years and who knows if the breeds as a whole have not run into the ground (aka extinct) from mutation?

    Let some dogs, of all breeds, run back into the wild and over only a few generations their body shape recedes to that of a dingo/wolf. Back to the ‘original design’ if you are so inclined. Same with horses and cats, and I predict any species.

    But maybe evolution has perfectly evolved every single creature on the earth already, and any changes are thus negative…?

    -Tristan.

  61. 61
    Lenoxus says:

    Avonwatches:

    I have not read it, but perchance does Dawkins mention that the genome of every single canid is littered with hereditary disease/disorders as a result of the much vaunted ‘Darwinian mutation’?

    Well, the human genome is littered with hereditary diseases, and I somehow doubt that wolves have none. When it comes to specific breeds, there is often association with specific disorders; a fair amount of this is a result of inbreeding from bottlenecks. There is certainly no evidence that it results from breeding per se, or that diseases are a result of varying from an ideal form.

  62. 62
    aramael says:

    Jerry: I’m not your teacher. The thing about science, actual science, is that it takes work, and of course it’s much easier to stand in the background and throw stones. I will never understand how this can be satisfying though.

    I fear I have fallen into the trap of debating entirely on the opponent’s terms. ID is not a controversy that deserves argument; it’s a joke, only not a very funny one.

  63. 63
    n8rphelps says:

    jerry: “You are making an inappropriate assumption about what science should look like for ID. A lot of science examines natural laws as they are mitigated by chance and other contingencies and makes predictions based on these ongoing circumstances. But this will not work when the natural laws are mitigated by intelligence which by its nature could be a one time event.”

    I’ve read and reread this statement and the links you provided. I’m sorry to say, but ultimately this all sounds like magic to me. It’s speculative thinking. The world abounds with speculative thinking. Without taking the time to coalesce your ideas into a workable hypothesis that can be tested, it must stop here.

    Even if it were true, we have no way of knowing it, testing it, so we’re right back to square one…we must take it on faith.

  64. 64
    jerry says:

    “I’ve read and reread this statement and the links you provided. I’m sorry to say, but ultimately this all sounds like magic to me. It’s speculative thinking. ”

    It is not magic or speculative thinking and is based on logic and reason and the genomic evidence in the various organisms that inhabit the planet. My guess is one of two things:

    You do not understand the simple argument being made and maybe do not have the background in the biology necessary to evaluate what is being said.

    or

    You do understand and are thwarted.

    Either way you should probably remove yourself from comments since you can not be constructive. If you want to ask questions, fine. But you should not make judgments on things you do not understand or willfully don’t want to consider. You are entitled to your faith and we accept that, but you should acknowledge that what you are operating on is faith.

  65. 65
    Avonwatches says:

    @61.

    Let’s probe deeper=

    Q: What is the underlying mechanism of why inbreeding is bad?

    A: Because the selection pool of alleles is greatly reduced, and deleterious/negative mutations are thus more likely to be selected rather than selected out.

    Dog breeds have hereditary defects because they have been artificially selected for. I shall repeat:

    Breed diversity = neutral/negative mutation, +/- phenotype selection.

    Or is there another method to diversification in dog breeds?

    The mutations are negative (or at best neutral) because they interefere with the body systems and function of the animal = clinical disease.

    Again, the example of dog breeds shows the mechanism of darwinian mutation:

    lots of diversity, lots of genetic disease.

    Are we going to build a new species from a broken one?

    -Tristan.

  66. 66
    Vladimir Krondan says:

    I’d say Dawkins is on his last leg.
    He essentially takes breeding – something we’ve known about for 1000’s of years – and tries to make it support evolution.

    That’s what Darwin did in Origin of Species. You should check out TH Morgan’s criticisms of breeding in support of evolution. Go here and scroll down a bit to the “Dissent” section.

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