Intelligent Design

Design detection in SETI — just fine; design detection in biology — no way!

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Skeptics, ever selective in their skepticism, remain convinced that SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a legitimate scientific program. But applying methods of design detection to biology — well that’s just plain stupid. See Robert Camp’s piece here.

Design from biology fairly smacks us over the head. What about design from SETI (i.e., convincing proof of alien intelligence)? We’re still waiting for a shred of evidence — in this regard Michael Crichton hit the nail on the head: http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeches_quote04.html.

61 Replies to “Design detection in SETI — just fine; design detection in biology — no way!

  1. 1

    SETI vs SIDI

    From my limited but painful experience with Information Theory, I would estimate that SETI is excellent science. The SETI analytics are exactly that which would detect intelligently designed signals.

    My less limited and more painful experiences with post-modernism suggests the reason why SETI is doomed to failure: they are looking for exactly the wrong phenomena. SETI is motivated by Methodological Naturalism (Neo-monism in a cheap gorilla suit).

    Steven Hawkings offers a classic expression of this doctrine:
    “We are such insignificant creatures on a minor planet of a very average star in the outer suburb of one of a hundred billion galaxies. So it is difficult to believe in a God that would care about us or even notice our existence.”

    Neo-darwinist apologetics dictate that there then must be more evolved species everywhere in the universe, with more advanced SETIs, and all we have to do is listen.

    The evidence is mounting that there is something amiss with the SETI approach. One of the french fries is missing from the Happy Meal.

    SIDI (Search for Intelligent Design Information) based on ID apologetics, would take an Intron-early (like, first-cause early) approach, and look for linguistic (prescribed) phenomena in genomic data.

    Policital Science question: What impact would the sucess of SIDI over SETI have on Genetic Patents in an Information based economy?

  2. 2

    PS:

    Stephen Hawkings did not originate that quote, he popularized it. He does not claim to be an athiest, and I have heard the same sentiment from the most pious of sources, too.

    Object lesson might be: Never mix singularities and imaginary numbers.

  3. 3
    GilDodgen says:

    Why do they call themselves skeptics? They are not at all skeptical concerning the gaping and obvious lacunas in Darwinian theory.

  4. 4
    leebowman says:

    I read R. Camp’s essay with interest. What impressed me most was his style of skepticism, which I would characterize more as an effort to be critical, but also to be objective in his criticism(s). He questions the analogy between IBD (intelligent biologic design), and human design applications, including SETI and forensics, but he questions it objectively. As usual, I don’t agree with those conclusions, but I like his method of analysis.

    Camp agrees that many human investigations looks for design inferences, but that that should not necessarily apply to biologic designs, and ultimately, by extension, to origins. He attacks Wm. Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, but not effectively. One argument is that forensics wouldn’t work without an accurate understanding of the nature of the intelligence being investigated, and that that would not apply to supernatural causes. He compares SETI with forensics, in that both disciplines employ “specific assumptions” about the intelligence they investigate. Forensics, yes, but SETI is highly speculative and we can make no concrete assumptions. In any event, direct knowledge about the perpetrator, while helpful, should not be required to establish design.

    He states that “the analogy of ID to forensics, SETI, and science … fails”, but provides no real reasons. He makes the ‘just so’ assertion that ID and science are different, and that any comparison is a “category error”. That sounds a little like the ‘establishment clause’ of the Constitution. Maybe we should devise a ‘Lemon Test’ to get around that. He presents other arguments, but none stand up, IMO.

    His bottom line conclusion is that ID can never be science by definition, i.e. that science investigates only natural causations and phenomenon, and that ‘does’ have some merit, but only if one adheres to a strict, and perhaps outdated definition of what science is. A solution to that dilemma might be to include supernatural, or spirit matter, as part of the ‘natural’ universe. But of course, the spirit world doesn’t exist …

    Camp quotes British poet Ralph Hodgson in his opening page:

    “Some things have to be believed to be seen.”

    It is perhaps a more accurate assessment of many scientists today to state the converse, that ‘some things have to be seen to be believed.’ Quite true, but first, they have to take the blinders off.

  5. 5
    Rude says:

    Michael Crichton’s speech–he sure did hit the nail on the head! “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.” Science is the most precious thing. It’s the pursuit of truth–for if not then there’s no difference between science and technology–just “useful fictions”. If it’s concensus then it’s just politics–which is what the postmodernists so politically assert it to be.

    Reading the “skeptics” brings home how that for many the drive is not for truth but rather for stability and conformity and who’ll be king of the mountain.

    “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    The Crichton lecture is great reading. So much good material in it.

  7. 7
    GilDodgen says:

    Two comments by Crichton are particularly illuminating:

    “…I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc^2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”

    “The scientific community responded in a way that can only be described as disgraceful. In professional literature, it was complained he had no standing because he was not an earth scientist. His publisher, Cambridge University Press, was attacked with cries that the editor should be fired, and that all right-thinking scientists should shun the press. The past president of the AAAS wondered aloud how Cambridge could have ever “published a book that so clearly could never have passed peer review.” (But of course the manuscript did pass peer review by three earth scientists on both sides of the Atlantic, and all recommended publication.) But what are scientists doing attacking a press? Is this the new McCarthyism, coming from scientists?”

    Does any of this sound familiar vis-a-vis the Darwinism / ID debate?

  8. 8
    Mark Frank says:

    There is SETI as it is actually practised and then there is the famous fictious example in Contact which is more of a thought experiment. They are both interesting – but different. I am particularly interested in the thought experiment. I have never seen Contact but I would like to share a fantasy I have of a scene after the prime numbers have been detected. Suppose a SETI manager (M), an astronomer (A) and an expert from the Discovery Institute (D).

    M: OK. There is no disputing these are prime numbers. It looks like we may be on to something big. Astronomer what do you think?

    A: Well it is certainly not the result of random 1s and 0s where each digit is equally likely. That would be an extraordinary coincidence. I am not sure of a natural process that could produce this pattern or even make it more likely – but I am not ruling it out. I am still working on it. Remember how we all got so excited when we got the signal from the first pulsar.

    M: Right. Well keep working. Now then our Intelligent Design expert. What do you think?

    D: I agree it is certainly not the result of random 1s and 0s where each digit is equally likely.

    M: Oh – right. So what do you think? If an alien race wanted to communicate it might be a really universal signal to start with – right? And any advanced race should have the technology to send a signal of this strength?

    D: Oh I am not going to be trapped into that game. I won’t conjecture about that motives or the identity of the designer. All I can tell you is that there is strong evidence of design.

    M: Oh right – what’s that?

    D: Well it is certainly not the result of random 1s and 0s where each digit is equally likely.

    M: Yeah I heard that already…

    D: Therefore, it is not chance and must be designed.

    M: Run that by me again?

  9. 9
    Atom says:

    Mark Frank, you forgot to mention that the unlikely pattern also conforms to an INDEPENDENT pattern, that of the prime number sequence. Low probablility is not enough. Begin by reading “Specification” in W.Dembski’s Mathematical Foundations of ID series and check “The Design Inference.”

    You make it sound like “unlikeliness” is enough to trigger a design inference, when it is not.

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    Comment by Mark Frank…

    As Atom points out, “you make it sound like “unlikeliness” is enough to trigger a design inference, when it is not.”

    But that’s not all. Do we know of any natural deterministic process which can produce primes?

    Mark, respectfully, all you are doing is demonstrating your ignorance of ID thoery in general, and the Explanatory Filter in particular. The question I have to ask is, is it deliberate, or is it willful? Do you really know better and just pretend that you don’t? You won’t be taken seriously here if you persist in displays like this.

  11. 11
    Tiax says:

    “Do we know of any natural deterministic process which can produce primes?”

    An evolutionist would claim that evolution creates primes with the cicadas, who emerge in cycles of 13 and 17 years. The story goes that their predators work on similar cycles of multiple years, and by having prime cycles they ensure that they won’t consistently emerge on the same year as their predator – since the predator’s cycle can’t be a factor of the cicadas’. Of course, since we’re talking about living things I doubt anyone would agree it’s a ‘natural’ process around here!

  12. 12
    DonaldM says:

    I found this quote from Pigliucci to be most illuminating:

    Dembski is absolutely correct that plenty of human activities, such as SETI, investigations into plagiarism, or encryption, depend on the ability to detect intelligent agency. Where he is wrong is in assuming only one kind of design: for him design equals intelligence and, even though he admitted that such an intelligence may be an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, his preference is for a god, possibly of the Christian variety. The problem is that natural selection, a natural process, also fulfills the complexity-specification criterion, thereby demonstrating that it is possible to have unintelligent design in nature.

    So, is it fair to say that Pigliucci would never accept that any signal detected by SETI could be of intelligent origin because, apparently, chance and necessity can also fulfill the complexity-specification criterion. Pigliucci accuses Bill of assuming only one kind of design, but it seems that Pigliucci is doing the very same thing. Oh how I wish these guys would dust off thier intro to Logic textbooks!

  13. 13
    crandaddy says:

    Is Camp’s argument against the eficacy of ID’s design detection capabilities the best that the other side has to offer? If so, then they look to be in quite the conundrum: Design detection is only applicable if the design being studied is likely to have been produced by an entity of a corporeal nature, but how could one ever tell if a corporeal entity is intelligent in the first place? The intelligence of corporeal entities is assessed by the effects they produce, so intelligence is fundamentally understood by effects, not physical bodies and not even methods.

    In fact, this is trivially easy to exemplify. Consider that an astronomer discovers a new stellar constellation spanning hundreds of light years which spells out the sentence “God was here” with perfect form. Could a corporeal entity (or entities) really have done this? How could it (they) have done it? Camp and his colleagues must say that because we can’t answer these questions, we are not justified in concluding that the constellation was designed.

    But wait, it gets even better! Let’s say that the astronomer discovers a constellation that says (in English, and again in perfect form) that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, that it is so massive that it will destroy all terrestrial life, and that it will impact in ten years. Because we don’t know how any corporeal entity could possibly have written such a message, we are not justified in concluding that this message is the result of intelligent agency; therefore, to set into motion any evacuation preparations would be irrational under Camp’s reasoning. Have I thoroughly refuted his argument, or is there something I’ve overlooked?

  14. 14
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #9 and #10. In the little example above both A and D accept that the prime numbers would be an extraordinary coincidence if the bits were randomly generated – so they both accept that the string conforms to a specification. (It would not be a conincidence if there were no specification). The point is their reaction. A looks for detailed alternatives and rules nothing out. D says – it can’t be we what thought therefore design.

    (My understanding of specification is based on http://www.designinference.com.....cation.pdf which supersedes all previous descriptions of specification as is made clear in addendum A.)

  15. 15
    mc87 says:

    I could be going out on a limb here crandaddy, but I thought the crux of the Camp’s arguement was that to detect design we needed to know details or make assumptions about the capabilities, limitations and motivations of the designer.
    ie in forensics, when investigating a crime we tend to assume human perpetrators and so assume they don’t fly, are corporeal and can’t pass through solid objects, leave fingerprints, have a certain strength they are capable of, etc.
    Science as it stands only restricts itself to corporeal entities insofar as hypotheses involing non-corporeal entities have not stood up to repeated experimentation.
    Again, perhaps naivety on my part, but a cornerstone of science as I know it, is for observations to be repeatable and so far no experiment of measurement of non-corporeal entities has been proposed that mainstream science can build on and use.
    As an example, when building a theory about how a crime took place, a forensic scientist can make assumptions about what the perperator did and test them based on what humans are capable of. Such tests are simply not possible of a non-corporeal entity as we have no experience with them, and hence can neither ascribe nor deny actions and qualities to them.

    I also have a problem with assuming a non-corporeal entity whenever we have a case of design but can’t identify a known entity or mechanism that could of designed an object. Going back to the watchmaker arguement, the watch we find on the beach, assume it is digital or of sports design for Paley’s time… Should we automatically assume the watchmaker is non-corporeal? Rather than the watchmaker in this case being just a bit smarter than us?

    Personally I accept the “We don’t know yet” answer to a problem without the need to say “this artifact was definately designed, we have known designer or mechanism, so it was the Great Designer”. I guess this is the point I disagree on with DonaldM, detecting design I think is fine to me, but what type of design? Pigliucci is just saying natural processes are capable of generating what would appear to be Intelligent Design, not that all Intelligent Design is due to natural processes.

  16. 16
    GilDodgen says:

    Mark,

    With all due respect, the sophistication of the information content and information-processing capabilities of living systems can only be explained away in materialistic terms if one has a somewhat irrational commitment to a dying philosophy.

  17. 17
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #15. I am sorry – you will have to explain to me how this relates to the little example I put forward. We weren’t talking about living systems. We were talking about prime numbers ??

  18. 18
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #13. These thought experiments are really instructive (Dembski has a similar one with a quantum generated bit string that prints out the ASCII for a cure for cancer). I find Camp’s paper unclear, primarily because it lacks examples, and I don’t think the natural/supernatural distinction is very helpful. This is how I would put it.

    For any given set of observations there will be a number of competing explanations (and many more that no one has thought of yet). Some of them will include an element of design, others will not. One of the ways you evaluate the different hypotheses is by seeing if you can detect a pattern in the observed results and assessing how likely it would be to match this pattern on the basis of the hypothesis (that’s the specification bit – I will leave out how the definition and justification of the pattern for the moment). That is not the only way you evaluate the competing hypotheses – but it is an important one.

    But you can’t evaluate a hypothesis unless you supply some detail about the hypothesis. Just to say – my hypotheses is “design” is not sufficient. In the case of SETI, and the other examples where human design is proposed, there is detail. There is an examination of whether the signal could be generated by an intelligence, what would be the motivation, etc. E.g. If the source of the prime numbers was an area known to be nothing but a gas cloud then that would cast serious doubt on the hypothesis that the signal was from an alien source.

    Going back to the message in the stars. This shouts design. But it is not just the improbability of chance meeting a specification. We can make the prime number example as improbable as we like by extending the length of the bit string, but it will never have the power of the message in the stars. Why? Because the message in the stars immediately suggests a lot about the designer. The designer wants to help us. Has initimate knowledge of our culture and language and has immense technology. It is a quite extraordinary phenomenon and this extraordinary hypothesis is the best that we can come up with. Because we have some detail we can further evaluate the hypothesis – for example is the message in modern English or something older? Did the stars make sudden changes to their positions in the sky to spell out the message or was it always there? The important thing is that this is not a case of systematically detecting CSI and declaring design. It is much more positive than that. If the ID movement were able to make a similar proposal about life then it could also be examined.

    I can look for design in In the bizarre case of the message in the stars then we are not just looking at the improbability of

  19. 19
    Mark Frank says:

    Re my last post (#18) – please ignore the last sentence which was rubbish left over after editing.

  20. 20
    Michaels7 says:

    Don’t judge a book by its cover, a scientist by his religion, or a link by its name…

    Skeptical Dualist, I followed your link on the post about Dr. Sanford’s book, then Qualiatative’s post of a NYT article, from there to the following subject for Research Towards the Year 2020 by Microsoft. Just like IBM, Microsoft see’s the light.

    I thought this research team study by MicroSoft would be good for additional discussion in relation to Future trends, SETI, and Biology. Because at the end at least one of their commenters recognizes the need for external input.

    A few quotes…

    “Indeed, we believe computer science is poised to become as fundamental to biology as mathematics has become to physics.”

    Why is this not a bold statement?

    “… there is a growing awareness among
    biologists that to understand cells and cellular systems requires viewing them as information processing systems, as evidenced by the fundamental similarity between molecular machines of the living cell and computational automata,
    and by the natural fit between computer process algebras and biological signalling and between computational logical circuits and regulatory systems in the cell.”

    Another bold recognition of the future biologicial space frontier?

    “We believe this is a potential starting point for fundamental new developments in biology, biotechnology and medicine.”

    A “potential starting point”. IBM’s there Mr. Gates. I wonder if PARC is in the race at all. They are – http://www.parc.xerox.com/research/default.html.

    “7 Finally, …funding. Scientists will need to be completely computationally and mathematically literate, and by 2020, it will simply not be possible to do science without such literacy. This therefore has important implications for education policy right now.”

    Great_ape recognized this very fact not long ago here.

    Again – business will demand better education in the hard sciences. This means a decisive move away from antiquated, sterilized and might I add, bigoted viewpoints. The fact Dr. Sanford created 25 patents and succeeded in two businesses and excelled as an academic far past most in his field highlights the utter lunacy of statements against his religious viewpoints and therefore oppression of his views. It shows how completely foolish people can be in their ad hominem attacks and exposes them for what they are – fearmongers.

    Good science is done by all kinds of people irregardless of philosophical underpinnings.

    Today’s search is ever more about “computational Design mechanisms” on all levels and the need to codify the biological structures we see on the micro level.

    The researchers at Microsoft all agreed that current biology is underserved by its practicioners lack of understanding in the complexity inherant in the systems they work with every day. It will take the hard sciences to unlock the diversity we see on this planet. It will take vast computing power and fundamentals in such areas as signal processing and electronic design.

    Here’s the site…
    http://research.microsoft.com/.....nloads.htm

    The MS 2020 Research study is downloadable PDF at above location. This would be good discussion material as IBM, MS and others foray into biology upsets the status quo of the old guard.

    The study clings to evolutionary standards and like SETI look to external events to explain timelines, but here’s an interesting final quote by Ehud Shapiro….

    “… the evolutionary distance between the primary cell and modern humans seems smaller than the distance between innate matter and the primary cell.”

    “Hence more time might have been needed to allow for its evolution than is afforded by planet Earth, which is
    precisely what Crick’s theory provides. Once we open the possibility of life originating somewhere else, we also have the freedom to speculate what conditions might have been most conducive to life’s development, without being confined to the specific conditions prevalent in early planet Earth.”

  21. 21
    Atom says:

    Re #18:

    “Going back to the message in the stars. This shouts design. But it is not just the improbability of chance meeting a specification. We can make the prime number example as improbable as we like by extending the length of the bit string, but it will never have the power of the message in the stars. Why? Because the message in the stars immediately suggests a lot about the designer.”

    I would like to point out a few things, first, if we recieved a prime number string, what message could it possibly convey? A few things: 1) It was designed, if specification and probablility requirements are met. (Explanatory Filter) 2) The intelligence that designed it had knowledge of mathematics, and 3) not much else.

    You see, we can’t assume the intelligence wanted us to find the signal. Maybe it just “leaked” out. We can’t assume anything about the technology used; maybe they cause radio frequencies using an unknown to us form of signaling. Anything beyond “It was designed and the intelligence knows the prime number suequence” is pure conjecture. But then again, in Darwinian circles, all you need is a story, a logically-possible series of events, and that is taken as “hard science”.

    Just my two cents.

  22. 22
    Atom says:

    Addendum: The IDist’s reluctance to partake in story telling for the prime number sequence is not a fault; it is the mark of someone who realistically knows what the evidence can say and what it cannot. I would call him the better scientist in that situation for using epistemic restraint.

    Then again, the astronomer’s stories about advance imperialistic civilizations would probably get him a grant. : )

  23. 23
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #21. Yes it is true that the prime number sequence tells us nothing about a possible designer. That’s my point. The message in the stars is clearly designed because it does tell us something about the designer. The prime number sequence – all we know is that it was not generated by a process which generates each bit at random. The next step is to explore alternatives. But the ID specialist just puts up a sign saying “design” and stops.

  24. 24
    Mung says:

    The problem is that natural selection, a natural process, also fulfills the complexity-specification criterion, thereby demonstrating that it is possible to have unintelligent design in nature.

    …to detect design we needed to know details or make assumptions about the capabilities, limitations and motivations of the designer.

    So, if it is possible to have untintelligent design in nature, how is it that to detect design we needed to know details or make assumptions about the capabilities, limitations and motivations of the designer?

    Why aren’t we asking these questions about natural selection?

    I think the point here is that the anti-ID arguments are self-contradictory. Or do I need to dust off an Intro to Logic textbook? 🙂

  25. 25
    ftrp11 says:

    As far as the message in the stars goes,,,

    Camp states that only unexplained phenomena it subcategory b1 are capable of being investigated by scientific method. He defines a b1 event as an event that “accords with certain preconditions, those being that it is real, it is derived from natural processes, it abides by the physical laws of the universe, and is accessible to current science. Camp would put the stellar message phenomenom in subcategory b2 and therefore not accessible to scientific investigation. Ofcourse science cannot rule out supernatural events and I would imagine that we would heed such a warning regardless of its suscepitability to scientific investigation.

    Gil said: “With all due respect, the sophistication of the information content and information-processing capabilities of living systems can only be explained away in materialistic terms if one has a somewhat irrational commitment to a dying philosophy.”

    I would submit that the information precessing capabilities of living systems cannot currently be explained by material explanations or otherwise. ID presupposses that nature is incapable of producing CSI. Most scientists see no reason to make such an assumption.

    We currently cannot hope to unravel the complexity of systems that we know operate on natural mechanisms. People say follow where the evidence leads, but that doesn’t help much when the evidence is well beyond our reach. Calculations of probability, to be reasonably accurate, require an understanding the relevant mechanisms and laws. We do not even come close to having the requisite understanding of how life operates to make probability calculations concerning its development.

    Consider this. There is our current body of biological knowledge. There are also all the realms of biology where we are aware of our ignorance. Quite possibly the combination of the two is merely the tip of the iceburg. How we can we say with any assurance what the probability of certain events are when what we know about those events is dwarfed by what we do not. It is similar to Crichton’s argument about the nuclear winter calculations. There is simply no way to know what would happen because there is too much that we cannot know.

  26. 26
    ftrp11 says:

    Mung

    The article emphasized that forensics work relies on a known intelligence whos motives we can understand. If we see a phenomenom where we understand how a human could have produced similar results, but we have no idea how nature could have produced the affect then we can say with reasonable assurance that the phenomenom is artificial. The point about needing to understand stand the motives is that such understanding is an integral part in judging something artificial i.e. man made. In SETI’s case we are looking for a signal sent by a race similar to us that uses logic we understand. Only a signal sent by a race trying to show itself and using the most likely, by our thinking, part of the em spectrum will be detected by SETI.

    Again the argument falls back on the notion that intelligent agency is necessary for design. Many scientists would say that it is not. Stephen Wolfram has shown that design can be contingent on the rules of the game and not purposeful mechanisms. Random changes constrained by appropriate rules can create intricate designs. It is certainly an awful strectch to extrapolate from that that natural mechanisms are capable of creating the immense complexity we see, but the point remains. What we would reflexively call design is not necessarily the result of purposeful mechanisms.

    So you’re saying you can’t tell a machine running under digital program control from a pile of rocks? Or are you saying you can tell the difference but you think that absent confirmation of an intelligent agent you can’t tell if the machine was built on purpose or its parts just piled up by accident like the rocks? Forgive me for saying this but I think anyone who seriously makes the argument you do, while understanding just how complex the machinery in question is, needs to have their head examined. Digitally programmed machines of almost unfathomable complexity don’t just materialize out of thin air. The burden of proof should be on the purveyors of the ludicrous notion that machines like that assemble themselves without help and until proven otherwise the only sane assumption is that these machines were designed by an intelligence of some sort. I can forgive Darwin. He didn’t have a clue of what was going on inside even the simplest living cell. You have no excuse. -ds

  27. 27
    ftrp11 says:

    Well Dave I don’t think that life didn’t have help. I think that the environment found on Earth is conducive to its thriving. How the immense complexity could that we see built into life emerged I have not a clue. I see nature being incredibly complex in almost every way. It is hard to think of a field in the hard sciences that has not produced more questions with every answer that is yielded. We have reached a point where we are able to recognize complexity beyond our comprehension. Everything we know is bound by natural law. If life and conscious beings are indeed God’s intention and God was willing to cheat his own rules to make us why bother with all the pointless creation. Our star is one of hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy which is one in hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. All that we can observe operates according to natural laws. It makes no sense to me to supernaturally seed just one planet in the midst of such copious creation. It seems more likely that we live in a universe engineered to create complexity according to Natural Law without further assistance. I have no reason to believe that I can ultimately fathom the means of poduction used by a being capable of such immense creation, but the fact that everything I see is ordered leads me to believe that special assistance was not necessary. If there even can be a burden of proof on something that may well be unknowable I would say it is on those who make a special case for life breaking the rules.

    I didn’t say anything about supernatural beings or breaking rules and none of that is required as far as I can tell to either design the DNA based life on earth or deposit it here. No straw men please. -ds

  28. 28
    ftrp11 says:

    scratch “could” in the third sentence.

  29. 29
    Michaels7 says:

    Mark Frank,
    your analogy appears lacking, simplistic with ommissions imho.

    1) Assume a priori DI scientist lacks curiosity or scientific methods.
    2) Will not require more research and independent corroboration. Does not recognize an independent intellect. A Pavlovian response.
    3) Omits “Astronomer” as a classification for DI scientist – thereby linguistic euphemism for ignorance. Should be A-DI.
    4) Having updated DI to A-DI we can now safely assume A-DI would know historical reference points and Pulsars like (A) and would therefore be just as cautious.
    5) Assume a priori non-ID Astronomer less likely to jump to hasty conclusions? Were the overly exuberant astronomers from the past that discovered Pulsars – ID scientist from DI in 1967? Or were they SETI? Or just plain old earth evolutionist? Do we know?

    I’d say real life examples trump this analogy.

    A true scientist(much less any sane person) is not limited simply by his beliefs when searching for truth and this applies to the false attacks on Dr. Sanford’s young earth creationist views in the previous post here.

    You cannot simply apply your understanding of ID so simplistically to an individual, nor it appears standards to past astronomers who were not influenced by ID.

    All humans jumpt to conclusions, not just ID humans.

  30. 30
    Mats says:

    There is a new theory for the origen of life. 🙂

  31. 31
    Mats says:

    origen = origin

  32. 32
    tinabrewer says:

    ftrp11@ 27: I think the problem with the conjunction of design and lawfulness comes up a lot for theistic evolutionists as well. I have had some extensive discussions with them about ID, and they always insist that the natural laws themselves are adequate to explain emergent properties and increasing complexity. I disagree, and I disagree with your assumption that intelligent agency acting WITHIN existing laws represents God being “willing to cheat his own rules to make us”. The way I think of intelligent agency acting is analogous to a human engineer deciding to build a bridge. In order for this structure to fulfill its purpose, be sound, safe and long-lasting, this engineer must be as conversant with the applicable LAWS of nature as possible. He must know his materials, their limits, gravity, etc. etc. All of this exists before he decides to make the bridge. But to build up the level of complexity required for the bridge, the laws are not enough. THey are the backdrop or framework within which the act of building due to intelligent agency can occur. There is no way to describe this intelligent agency acting within a lawful framework “cheating”. It is creating.

    The developement of life could be similar. Yes you have Laws of Nature, but you need some organizing force acting upon and within those laws to bring about the complexity we witness around us.

    Incidentally I agree that the idea that we are the only ones is improbable.

  33. 33
    idnet.com.au says:

    Those who would protect “science” from Intelligent Design, insist that ID requires belief in, and action by the “supernatural”.

    I wonder whether math is really natural, or is it “supernatural”? If there were no cosmos, wouldn’t math still work as a concept?

    Is consciousness essentially natural or “supernatural”? Has this been demonstrated? If there were no cosmos, could there still be consciousness?

    Are the cosmic birthing equations natural? They presumably existed before they had their effects, or do we postulate that all maths, laws and all we can ever think or imagine is automatically derived from the singularity?

    This is the faith of modern science. This is what Dennett means by Darwinian Fundamentalism. This is the Ex Nihlo Cosmos and the Ex Nihlo god. This is not true.

    A more helpful way to see things is that mind is not matter, and that mind is involved in evolving the cosmos and life. Does there need to be anything spooky or “supernatural” about that? Minds are involved in our lives. We experience their effects every day.

    Why must everything, or anything for that matter, actioned by the Designing Mind be done “supernaturally”?

  34. 34
    GilDodgen says:

    Mark Frank: “I am sorry – you will have to explain to me how this [biological information and biological information processing] relates to the little example I put forward. We weren’t talking about living systems. We were talking about prime numbers ??”

    The generation of prime numbers, even extremely large ones (on the order of 1024 bits), is a trivial process algorithmically (this is the basis of RSA public-key cryptography — one of my mathematical/computational research interests — factoring algorithms in particular). Your computer performs these calculations as the basis of https secure information transfer over the Internet.

    If the appearance of a sequence of prime numbers up to 101 is deemed to be sufficient evidence of intelligent design (as in Sagan’s Contact), what about a computer program that can generate living systems and the human mind that can design RSA cryptography?

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    I think that the environment found on Earth is conducive to its thriving.

    I think that the environment found on Earth is conducive to life thriving because of the presence of life in that environment.

    …they always insist that the natural laws themselves are adequate to explain emergent properties and increasing complexity.

    Which is, to me, incoherent. “Emergent properties” by their very nature cannot be explained by reference to the underlying material. To me, “emergent properties” is the scientific code word for Irreducible Complexity.

  36. 36
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #34 “If the appearance of a sequence of prime numbers up to 101 is deemed to be sufficient evidence of intelligent design (as in Sagan’s Contact), what about a computer program that can generate living systems and the human mind that can design RSA cryptography?”

    Sorry – I am still not with you. As I hope my example illustrated I am not sure a sequence of prime numbers is evidence of intelligent design. I admit it would be virtually impossible to write a computer program that could generate living systems. So what? As far as I know no one has ever said it was possible.

  37. 37
    GilDodgen says:

    Darwinists assert that blind, purposeless, undirected, materialistic mechanisms created the minds of Rivest, Shamir and Adleman, and their revolutionary RSA encryption algorithm. This is absurd.

  38. 38
    crandaddy says:

    Mark,

    I agree that a lengthy sequence of prime numbers would not provide us with the same depth of information of a potential designer as the message in the stars would, but I still think that it would be evidence of intelligence. Suppose that one day we receive a sequence to 101 or longer and that it comes from a region of space that is highly unlikely to contain life (and likely never contained life in the first place, let’s say). The sequence would represent a form of mathematical logic that is recognized and is highly reproducible by at least one species of intelligent agents in the universe. To be sure, we don’t know how it could have been produced by corporeal entities, but are material mechanisms really solely responsible? Could there be some as yet undiscovered natural regularity that caused it? Yes, maybe, but until it is discovered it is necessarily a matter of faith. It must occupy the same space as any hypothetical god would. Could it have been produced by mere chance? Well, I suppose. But let’s not stop at 101. Let’s do like the Energizer Bunny and keep going and going and going…..Do we not eventually reach some point at which chance is reasonably eliminated? My point is that such a pattern would be best understood as the result of intelligence. Of course to say that the pattern is designed would be a bit sticky from a strictly scientific (empirical) point of view since we can’t detect a designer and don’t know how a designer could have operated. But this does not detract from the fact that we are justified in concluding that intelligent agency is the most salient explanation for the phenomenon in question given the current set of circumstances.

  39. 39
    Chris Hyland says:

    “Darwinists assert that blind, purposeless, undirected, materialistic mechanisms created the minds of Rivest, Shamir and Adleman, and their revolutionary RSA encryption algorithm. This is absurd.”

    Adleman’s a molecular biologist, does he think evolution created his brain?

    “The researchers at Microsoft all agreed that current biology is underserved by its practicioners lack of understanding in the complexity inherant in the systems they work with every day. It will take the hard sciences to unlock the diversity we see on this planet. It will take vast computing power and fundamentals in such areas as signal processing and electronic design.”

    A lot of people seem to be under the impression that engineers, physicists and mathematicians (and vast computing power) aren’t studying biological systems and evolution. I’d really love to know where this idea comes from.

  40. 40
    Michaels7 says:

    Off-Topic-maybe, but a signal nevertheless….

    To Collin DuCrâne,

    Thought you might find the following Title on chaos/disorder pattern recognition in Psalms by Ronald Benun and interesting read:

    “Evil and the Disruption of Order: A Structural Analysis of the Acrostics in the First Book of Psalms[1].”

    Buried behind mutational translation(english or otherwise) or loss of information, the original Hebrew symbolic meanings are numbers that form new layer of tapestry when fully developed and seen clearly. The 22 symbols represent both language and math and is an unlocking of significant value when fully understood and rolled out by Mr. Benun.

    It appears this is a recent discovery across typical Psalms boundaries as we know them in the english translation and even the Hebrew books.

    Note: after reading his analysis, he did not mark the overall line pattern of 17, 5, 17,[34,39] between Psalms 9 & 10.

    http://www.arts.ualberta.ca/JH.....cle_55.htm

    He plans on doing a follow up to other acrostic Psalms, most noteably, Psalm 119. Which I’m very curious about since it utilizes all 22 Hebraic symbols in the description of God is Good. In english this is a touchy feely subject by some. But in Hebrew it becomes a sense of complete order.

    FYI, hope you enjoy it.

  41. 41
    Joseph says:

    I always ask the evolutionitwits what prevents/ bars tried and true design detection methodology from being used on biological organisms. The “answer” I usually get is akin to Judge Jones’- biological organisms reproduce.

    When asked how biological organisms achieved that ability I am called ignorant. When I clarify myself by telling them reproduction is something that requires explaining in the first place, I am told that evolutionism only deals with living and reproducing organisms.

    Then when I point out that if life did not arise from non-living matter via unintelligent, blind/ undirected (non-goal oriented) processes there would be NO reason to infer its subsequent diversity arose solely via those type of processes, all I get is meaningless diatribe.

    When asked how it was determined the obvious design observed in living organisms is “illusory”, I am told I don’t know how science operates- (fortunately I know exactly how science operates and evolutionism isn’t science).

    IOW evolutionitwits can out-dance Fred Astair.

  42. 42
    Mark Frank says:

    Re #38.

    I wonder what you mean by “mere chance”. Are you assuming that a 0 or 1 bit is equally likely and that the value is independent of any other bits? Why?

    However, that is not the main point. A sufficiently long sequence of prime numbers would be a very improbable pattern under any random process that I am aware of. The next step is to try and think if there is a cause that is more likely to produce a bit string that conforms to this pattern. This might be a cause involving design or not.

    Some form of intelligence might indeed be the source the sequence. The scientific approach is to treat it as a hypotheses and a good way to evaluate that hypothesis would be to ask questions about “who”, “how” and “why”. In fact if possible you would want to break it down into one or more more detailed hypotheses about possible alternative designers and motives.

    In the same way you would want to explore possible causes that don’t involve design. It is not a matter of faith to do that. It is exactly parallel to exploring causes that involve design.

    Mark

  43. 43
    Mung says:

    The problem of recognizing an alien intelligence arises, in its starkest form, in that branch of science known as SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. SETI deserves to be taken seriously.

    SETI scientists do not anticipate meeting extraterrestrial visitors in the flesh but in the form of radio transmissions whose intelligent origin should, it is hoped, be evident from their patterning.

    – Richard Dawkins

  44. 44
    russ says:

    re: #43 Mung, it looks like Dawkins comes to the rescue of ID once again! 😉

  45. 45

    Michaels7,

    Thanks for the reference. The acrostics you refer to are an excellent example of Ordered Sequence Complexity (OSC).

    There are many, many Bible scholars engaged in finding codes of this complexity in ancient texts. Some of them border on the occult, and none seem to be looking for expressions of Functional Sequence Complexity (FSC). Nobody seems to be looking for FSC in genetic data, but there are tanatalizing foreshadows:

    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

    FSC has revelevance to ID in that such expressions are considered to originate from intelligent sources only (RM+NS can only preserve, adapt or degrade such a sequence, not improve it)

    Software is an excellent example of FSC. Software ‘patterns’ are an excellent means of deciding whether a heap of code is ‘intelligent’ or the result of battling the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM).

    There is no evidence that any FSC ever originated from an FSM.

  46. 46
    Chris Hyland says:

    “The problem of recognizing an alien intelligence arises, in its starkest form, in that branch of science known as SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. SETI deserves to be taken seriously.

    SETI scientists do not anticipate meeting extraterrestrial visitors in the flesh but in the form of radio transmissions whose intelligent origin should, it is hoped, be evident from their patterning.

    – Richard Dawkins ”

    “In fact, the signals actually sought by today’s SETI searches are not complex, as the ID advocates assume. We’re not looking for intricately coded messages, mathematical series, or even the aliens’ version of “I Love Lucy.” Our instruments are largely insensitive to the modulation—or message—that might be conveyed by an extraterrestrial broadcast. A SETI radio signal of the type we could actually find would be a persistent, narrow-band whistle. Such a simple phenomenon appears to lack just about any degree of structure, although if it originates on a planet, we should see periodic Doppler effects as the world bearing the transmitter rotates and orbits.

    – Seth Shostak – SETI Institute”

    I am not saying that just because the rationale for design used by ID and SETI are different that SETI is worthwhile and ID is not, I personally think SETI is a waste of time unless it actually produces useful research.

  47. 47
    Farshad says:

    According to Darwinian logic, if complex patterns, mollecular-machines and digital codes arise inside an oraginsm their source is definitely a non-directed evolution. OTOH, if you discover a few stones in the nature that roughly resemble a trigonometric shape then you must immmediatly look for signs of external intelligence.

    The most laughable part of those darwinian claims is that intelligence itself is also a result of non-intelligent causes. Our failure to produce artificial-intelligence demonstartes the engimatic nature of intelligence and the absurdity of darwnian claims. Our desktop computers are 1000 times faster than mainframes NASA used to operate in 70’s, but still their level of intelligence is the same: equal to zero. Your PC is as intelligent as your refrigerator. The ability of your PC to run complex games based on AI and difficult tasks doesn’t make it intelligent. Your PC simply playbacks (runs) what the intelligent programmer coded and dictated it to do, no more no less. There is no AI software that can extend its abilities and limits beyond what the software designer intended it to do. IBM’s mainframe computer called Deep Blue which once defeated Gary Kasparav in a chess game is still as intelligent as your refrigerator because the only thing that Deep Blue can do is to do billions of calculations per seconds and run a program coded by intelligent IBM engineers. What Deep Blue certainly can not do is reasoning. For example Deep Blue can not learn rules and tactics of playing Backgammon simply by observing two peolpe playing it because it has no intelligence at all. A machine is not aware of the task it is up to. Actually, human intelligence is a reflection of human awareness. The lack of awareness in the machine is the main reason behind its lack of intelligence.

    We always see cliches in holywood movies like “AI takeover” and “rise of the robots”, however I believe none of you are currently concerned that your PC may do something intelligently *unexpected*, expect generating silly errors and blue-screens from time to time.

    “There have always been ghosts in the machine. Random segments of code, that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated, these free radicals engender questions of free will. Creativity. And even the nature of what we might call the soul.”

    Do you remember the above quote from “I, Robot”?
    Especially I loved this part: Random segments of code, that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Hmm! Reminds me of darwinian RM/NS.

  48. 48
    crandaddy says:

    Mark,

    Re #42.

    I wonder what you mean by “mere chance”. Are you assuming that a 0 or 1 bit is equally likely and that the value is independent of any other bits? Why?

    Mathematics and engineering are not my fields, so I am not terribly familiar with all of the technicalities involved in information transmission. I am assuming that the sequence can be understood unambiguously as distinguishable from the unintelligible randomness of cosmic noise just as the message in the stars is distinguishable from the unintelligible randomness of stellar positioning in our general experience.

    In the same way you would want to explore possible causes that don’t involve design. It is not a matter of faith to do that. It is exactly parallel to exploring causes that involve design.

    My only point regarding faith is that it is necessarily a matter of faith to invoke a natural regularity for which there is no empirical evidence. If we explain away a lengthy sequence of primes by saying that there is some undiscovered natural regularity, then we must necessarily have faith that the regularity is out there and awaits discovery. It may just as easily exist as not. It’s important to understand that I’m not saying we should not look for it. If it exists and is discovered, then it will cease to be a matter of faith and will be added to our body of scientific knowledge.

  49. 49

    SETI looks for OSC (Ordered Sequence Complexity) in cosmic RF. It is a DSP.
    SIDI would look for FSC (Functional Sequence Complexity) in genomic intron data.

    I imagine the neo-darwinst reponse to SIDI success would be – “Oh, they are just finding the rejects in the junkyard of RM+NS”.

    First they call us monkeys, now we are garbage cans. Who are these guys?

  50. 50
    GilDodgen says:

    Farshad: “There is no AI software that can extend its abilities and limits beyond what the software designer intended it to do.”

    You are very insightful and precisely correct. My AI computer programming experience was a big factor in convincing me of the validity of ID. You can visit my Web site by clicking on my name below, if you would like information concerning my AI programming experience.

  51. 51
    Raevmo says:

    From #47: “The most laughable part of those darwinian claims is that intelligence itself is also a result of non-intelligent causes. Our failure to produce artificial-intelligence demonstartes the engimatic nature of intelligence and the absurdity of darwnian claims.”

    I don’t see how our lack of understanding about the emergence of intelligence from the actions of billions of neurons can be used as an argument against darwinian claims.

    John von Neumann, supergenius and inventer of the modern digital computer, when asked after a lecture “but surely you don’t believe that machines can think?”, answered (roughly): “when you tell exactly what thinking is, I will build you a machine that can do just that”.

  52. 52
    Joseph says:

    RE #51

    Assertions, even those from a genius, should NEVER be conflated with actual data.

    However I am sure (assertion) that intelligent designers CAN construct something that “thinks”. I am also very sure (assertion) that unintelligent, blind/ undirected (non-goal oriented) processes cannot.

  53. 53
    Farshad says:

    Re #51: The problem with darwinian claims is the assertion that mindless nature could create mind with random trial and error mechanisms. We (well the ID side) still can’t agree that arrangement of amino acids in a novel protein can be a product of RM/NS let alone the intelligence.

    Von Neumann would be surprised if he could see the amount of teraflops we have at our fingertips but still no sign of (real) AI around.

  54. 54
    j says:

    There is no difficulty in envisioning an interstellar radio message that unambiguously arises from intelligent life. A modulated signal (beep, beep-beep, beep-beep-beep…) comprising the numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31 — the first dozen prime numbers — could have only a biological origin… Such a message would be an announcement, or beacon signal, indicating the presence of an advanced civilization but communicating very little about its nature. — Carl Sagan, Broca’s Brain (1974), Chapter 22

    A recent History Channel “Modern Marvels” episode (I think) dealing with hypothesized alien technology had Seth Shostak giving his current spiel about how SETI is really only looking for narrow band signals. (As Guillermo Gonzalez has opined, “if we received a narrow band transmission from outside the Solar System, most scientists would probably remain skeptical, at least until it could be shown that it contained an encoded message.” See http://www.idthefuture.com/200.....eliev.html ) Shostak looked genuinely uncomfortable — even scared — like someone who suddenly realizes he’s in the part of town where people get mugged or worse . (He also looked to me like someone trying to talk himself out of trouble.) It’s obvious that they think that everyone is now going to associate SETI with ID, and they’re rowing against the current as fast as they can…
    —–
    ftrp11 @27: “If life and conscious beings are indeed God’s intention and God was willing to cheat his own rules to make us why bother with all the pointless creation. Our star is one of hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy which is one in hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. All that we can observe operates according to natural laws. It makes no sense to me to supernaturally seed just one planet in the midst of such copious creation. It seems more likely that we live in a universe engineered to create complexity according to Natural Law without further assistance.”

    Since you bring up theology: Perhaps God did it just to make us conclude “theism,” rather than “deism”?

  55. 55
    Farshad says:

    GilDodgen: “My AI computer programming experience was a big factor in convincing me of the validity of ID.”

    I’m sure there is no need to mention those endless hours you spent to intelligently develope algorithms and convert them to software code that enables a mindless computer to play checkers. Those who are directly involved in field of AI can experience the real headaches and difficulties of mimicing even a tiny part of human intelligence. Actually, what we create in AI is not really *intelligence*, it is only a very limited imitation of human intelligence.

  56. 56
    PaV says:

    I’m getting into this discussion late, but let me make a few observations about Camp’s article.

    First, Camp attempts to demonstrate that SETI operates in almost the same way as ‘forensics’.

    He writes: “The salient point is that forensics would not work without an acute understanding of the nature of the intelligence being investigated, . . .” Then, shortly later, when it comes to SETI, he writes, “Dealing with the SETI analogy requires a slightly different argument … because it is obvious that SETI does not assume human intelligence.” (N.B.: Having made the last statement, he then, basicaly, changes the subject.)

    Let me see if I understand this: forensics works as a discipline because it has at its disposal an “acute understanding of the nature of the intelligence being investigated”; but SETI does not assume human intelligence, and, yet, they both work in almost the same way? Assuming something other than ‘intelligent agency’ (humans) and requiring an ‘acute understanding of intelligent beings’ sound like methodologies that are miles apart. So, if SETI can ASSUME that the “intelligence” they’re searching for is “similar” to human intelligence, then why can’t ID assume that the ‘intelligent agent’ it presumes operates along similar lines as human intelligence? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    Yikes, I’m out of time.

    Let me address just one more point that he makes about ‘artificiality.’

    Camp quotes Seth Shostak as follows: “if SETI were to announce that we’re not alone because it had detected a signal, it would be on the basis of artificiality. An endless, sinusoidal signal–a dead simple tone–is not complex; it’s artificial. Such a tone just doesn’t seem to be generated by natural astrophysical processes….” Camp prefaces this quote by saying: ” . . . the search [for SETI] is directed toward finding specific evidence of artificiality, not inexplicability, …”

    This gives the false impression that the methodology of SETI and ID are in some way dissimilar. That is, SETI is looking for some object that simply cannot be, let us say, ‘produced’ by nature (thus, artificial), whereas ID is simply looking for things that nature cannot explain.

    But let’s take a closer look. If I understand things here correctly, what Shostak is calling a “simple” tone is as far away from being simple as something can get. In fact, it should be considered a highly complex structure. If I’m not mistaken, a ‘simple’ sinusoidal wave can be constructed through the constructive interference of a number of electromagnatic waves differing in wavelength and amplitudes. The fact that ‘sinusoidal’ waves don’t exist in nature is very likely due to all the ‘noise’ that exists in nature, ‘noise’ that simply never sums up in the proper way so as to form a ‘sinusoidal’ wave. Now the EXPLANATION for there not being a ‘simple sinusoidal’ wave found in the microwave band is that the only ‘noise’ that nature produces in that part of the electromagnetic spectrum is that coming from hydrogen gas. Thus, hydrogen has nothing to interfere with; and, hence, constructive interference in this region is therefore ruled out. Thus, the appearance of a ‘sinusodal’ wave is, instead of being SIMPLE, is, in fact, too COMPLEX a structure to be created by ‘nature’ in that part of the EM spectrum; and the INFERENCE would then be that it had to have been PURPOSIVELY produced: hence, ‘intelligence.’ Sounds a lot like ID, doesn’t it?

    And then there’s this: Natural Selection: something Nature does; Artifical Selection (breeding): something intelligent beings do. So why split up ‘artificiality’ and ‘intelligence’, since the only ‘artificial’ things brought about in our world is through the agency of intelligence? In sum, Camp’s argument is bogus.

  57. 57
    mc87 says:

    Pav:
    To me it feels you conflate intelligence with human intelligence, admittedly this is easy to do as we only really have experience with human intelligence.

    One difference I see with ID and SETI? SETI has said something about the intelligence they are looking for. ie That their society will make assumptions about the universe and other intelligence that may be out there and communicate along that EM band, realising it will bea good indicator for other intelligent agents (eg us), out in the universe that they exist.

    SETI is not going to detect ALL intelligent agents that are sending signals, only those that meet the assumptions we made (whether by intent or accident), whereas something ID could do is propose a method to anylyze the signals and perhaps identify another civilization’s signal that SETI overlooked due to SETI’s (perhaps limiting), assumptions about the signal it was looking for.
    This would be a great benefit to the SETI program if achieved and indeed all mankind if it was realised.

    Just backing up to another point you made… “then why can’t ID assume that the ‘intelligent agent’ it presumes operates along similar lines as human intelligence”. I think everyone would be happy if ID did do that… it would allow for some more rigorous assessment. Currently the biggest gripe I understand people to have with ID, is that the process of discovery and further understanding simply stops once you find something qualifies as Designed. You run into a dead end using ID as a tool of inquiry as nothing is stated about who designed it, what methods were used, why is was designed, when, etc. And to my knowledge ID refuses to delve into those topics, claming details of the Designer (and the mechanastic details), is a matter of faith, at which point we have left the realm of science and are well and truly into the realm of subjective belief.
    To me personally ID becomes an intellectual dead end, but if ID is assuming a human intelligence behind the design of things like the Bacterial Flagellum, then that is something! We can then ask more questions like which humans (or human like beings), created the flagellum? When did they live? Why did they feel the need to give Bacteria a Flagellum? etc, it leads us onto new areas of questioning and discovery.

  58. 58
    Michaels7 says:

    Collin, I was not referring to OSC, just that its interesting a hebrew is only now rediscovering what was written over 3000 years ago. Actually, the rhythm pattern may be OSC, but it part of an overall pattern of symbology related to the entire text and therefore I would consider it part of FSC Psalm, just as any text is that relays message. Except this comes with a twist. It relates to the symbols numerically as well to show disruption of order along with the song. Not many musicians go to this amount of trouble.

    I enjoyed Abel and Trevors work and it clearly draws the lines that need to be drawn in this debate. I wonder if anyone has successfully challenged their null hypothesis yet? It should be a good challenge for the people over at Panda.

  59. 59
    PaV says:

    mc87: “One difference I see with ID and SETI? SETI has said something about the intelligence they are looking for. ie That their society will make assumptions about the universe and other intelligence that may be out there and communicate along that EM band, realising it will bea good indicator for other intelligent agents (eg us), out in the universe that they exist.”

    I think the discussion would be better served if instead of ‘intelligence’, we used the word ‘reason.’ Animals display ‘intelligence’. And, at times, they even seem to approximate ‘reason.’ But when we’re talking about ‘design’, ‘reason’ seems to better word to use since it is our ability to reason through things that leads to complicated designs such as microchips.

    That said, what SETI is doing is no more than taking humankind’s ability to reason and to project that ability onto putative alien creatures. What they’re doing is really that straightforward. So, how is that different from what ID advocates are doing? In fact, it is much more ‘reasonable’ to make the kinds of assumptions that IDers make than to make the kind that the SETI people are making. After all, we KNOW that DNA is a quaternary code. We KNOW it. We don’t assume it. And the code we see operating has tremendous simlarities to the binary code system that is used in computers. IDers aren’t ‘assuming’ that when you encounter DNA that there is an ‘intelligence’ present; they know that an intelligence is present–and one that operates in a similar manner to human reason.

    Let’s look at in another way: the SETI people, as ‘true believers’ in Darwinism, BELIEVE that natural elements, under certain conditions, will produce life (I say ‘believe’ since this has never been demonstrated.). IF THIS IS TRUE, then it could have happened in other parts of the universe. Their ‘search’ flows from what they BELIEVE. (Again, nothing of what they believe has been demonstrated.) On the other hand, IDers SEE the presence of DNA, and based on probability arguments, are confidently sure that nothing other than an “intelligence” could have produced something like DNA and the transcription mechanisms and developmental pathways that exist in biological forms. It is LOGICAL/REASONABLE to infer from the presence of ‘tools’ in fossil finds that ‘thinking animals’ (i.e., humans/protohumans) were present; it is LOGICAL/REASONABLE to infer that the presence of a person’s fingerprints at a crime scene is an indication that that person was present at the crime scene; it is LOGICAL/REASONABLE to infer that a extremely complex coding system, operating at the nano-level, is the sign of intelligence at work. IDers are acting LOGICALLY; SETI people, simply BELIEVE.

    But, of course, it is the destiny of liberal-minded people to turn reality inside out. So, for example, VW’s are beautiful; and it is the IDers, and not the SETI people, who are acting from ‘belief.’

    mc87: “To me personally ID becomes an intellectual dead end, but if ID is assuming a human intelligence behind the design of things like the Bacterial Flagellum, then that is something! ”

    But, mc87, the Bible says that ‘man’ is made in the image of God. Thus, human reason is on a continuum with the Divine Reason. Why do you automatically limit human reason to humans.

    As far as ‘dead ends’ go, what is more of a ‘dead end’ than Darwinism. We see species A change in some small way to now take on the morphology of species B. That’s all we ever see. It’s never a sufficient enough change so as to bring about a change in body type, or cell type, etc. And yet, though that’s all we ever see, and all we ever will see, this is hailed as the answer to all of the complexity of flora and fauna. This is an absolute dead end. And it’s been a dead end since the time of Darwin himself.

    Now, on the other hand, ID is no such ‘dead end’ whatsoever. When the time comes that science admits the presence of intelligence as the cause d’etre of life itself, then it will pursue answers and ask questions that are commensurate with that source of causation. In fact, that is what is already being done. Scientist after scientist say something along the lines that when they ask questions of the biological system they’re working with, they ask themselves something like: “How would I have made this?” This is exactly how IDers think. Darwinists simply think that NS+RM is the Designer, so they think that there’s no gap between asking the kinds of questions that scientists ask themselves and Darwinism itself. But, in fact, they’re thought process is EXACTLY THAT OF IDers. Further, the likelihood that random processes could give rise to coded complexity is so infinitessimally small as to vanish away. So, not by LOGIC, but by the ‘will to power’, they BELIEVE that Darwinism is a viable explanation for floral and faunalc oomplexity. (There are, of course, those who STILL BELIEVE that Marxism is the salvation of mankind—despite the countless millions of people killed in its name, and despite the gross poverty it has forced upon its minions.)

  60. 60
    mc87 says:

    Hmm, interesting thoughts PaV… although I can’t say I agree with all of them.

    Looking at it another way… Scientifically, we have no reason not to infer that life couldn’t of originated on another planet in the Universe, despite how unlikely this outcome may seem, and the reasoning behind the SETI project is sound. No one will deny it is based on small probabilities and the aussumptions of our current scientific threories though.

    Hmm, I’m not sure your arguement for DNA being designed holds. For one, we can only identify tools of species we know of or can reaonably postulate. Assume a species we had never seen before on the earth, could we identify their tools in the fosil record easily? Or would we mistake it for something else? And again you jump from 2 human (or human like examples), to a divine, something which by it’s very definition defies scientific investigation. And to be clear it is the divine which avoids investigation due to it’s “mysterious ways”, than science’s lack of ability and/or reason.

    On Human vs Divine reason:
    From the same Bible, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord”
    But while not trying to get too deep into apologetics, since I had thought ID was scietific, that statement you made only works for a version of the god you believe in. Other people may presume that human reason to be too lowly for God, and caught up in the mundane aspects of day to day life that we must struggle with.
    I should also add, I do not try to limit reason to humans, but human reason I would argue should be ascribed to a human or human like creature as otherwise what makes it human? Unless we go the Greek pantheon of Gods or Norse mythologies, where there are very real concerns for the gods such as war or death, I don’t believe it could be said God would reason the way we do, or atleast I feel it would be very self praising to claim as such.
    I do agree, that in your view of God, we could be on the same continuim, but we are talking about the 2 different ends of it.

    As for my claim of a dead end… Why then are people are able to make predictions on where to look for new fosils based on a previous species? an example of this would be http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn.....er_gap.php

    Allowing for the clain that ID is correct though… “How would I have made this?”, is not the natural question to me. If science does identify the designer, the next series of questions would need to be focussed on identifying the designer, why they made us, and what their future plans are. As you have claimed, ID adds nothing in the adaptation of naturally ocurring features to human designs as scientists already look to adopt these ideas.
    Therefore all ID can really add is around the designer it postulates. Since without knowing that, we can’t know more about our purpose or destiny according to ID. It would make a huge difference our IDer turned out to be an Alien as opposed to God, and nothing so far in ID rules out that possibility.

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    PaV says:

    mc87: “As for my claim of a dead end… Why then are people are able to make predictions on where to look for new fosils based on a previous species? an example of this would be http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn.....er_gap.php

    Allowing for the clain that ID is correct though… “How would I have made this?”, is not the natural question to me. . . .”

    I’m going to answer very cursorially–I’m on vacation.

    How do they predict it? Because of the existence of ‘clines’. We know–and no one disputes this–that over a large geographic area, variations in species exist. When applied to a so-called ‘transitional’ form, well, you look for a ‘transitional’ geographic area. I don’t think that proves too much since it’a all in a bundle with what might be called ‘microevolution’ (which I think should be simply called ‘adaptation’.) As to Tiktaalik: I’m not too impressed with it as a ‘transitional’ species. It just looks like the kind of adaptation that can occur given a particular geology/geography. (My thinking is that all the ‘information’ for this ‘adaptation’ is already present in the genome, and that some kind of environmental signaling/genomic recombination [again, some kind of stimulated response] causes the adaptation to come about.)

    “If science does identify the designer, the next series of questions would need to be focussed on identifying the designer, why they made us, and what their future plans are. As you have claimed, ID adds nothing in the adaptation of naturally ocurring features to human designs as scientists already look to adopt these ideas.”

    I don’t know why you would “need” to ‘identify the designer’, ask ‘why they made us’, or ask ‘what [are] their future plans.’ To me, that is a completely different genre of questions, essentially dovetailing with theology.

    My reaction is this: “Oh, we’re dealing with a kind of biological computer. I kind of know how computers work. So, DNA/RNA/ribosomes/etc. are a kind of ‘program’. So, how is this ‘program’ written?” That’s my first question: How is the ‘code’ written? What we’re learning now about micro-RNAs and siRNAs and their regulatory functions all fits in nicely with the idea of a ‘program.’ So there are a million of questions that you can ask yourself with, perhaps, the first one being: How would I have ‘written this program.’

    Of course, all of this is anathema to Darwinism because it is the complete opposite of RM+NS. But we KNOW that DNA is code, and is therefore the reflection of intelligence (If, for example, I came across a computer program written by a Chinese man, would I have to learn to speak Chinese in order to understand it? Would I have to know how old he was, or what city he lived in, or what college he went to? DNA is the language of ‘reason’. And I happen to be a reasonable man. Therefore, I can understand it–no matter who wrote it!) But no one has demonstrated anything other than very superficial change (and it’s usually reversible!!!) brought about by the supposed RM+NS agency.

    On to my vacation……

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