Darwinism Intelligent Design

Durston on Miller’s Mendacity

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Readers of these pages are familiar with the logical fallacy known as Miller’s Mendacity.  From our glossary:

Miller’s Mendacity is a particular type of strawman fallacy frequently employed by Darwinists. It invariably consists of the following two steps:

1. Erect the strawman: The Darwinist falsely declares that intelligent design is based on the following assertion: If something is improbable it must have been designed.

2. Demolish the strawman: The Darwinist then demonstrates an improbable event that was obviously not designed (such as dealing a particular hand of cards from a randomized deck), and declares “ID is demolished because I have just demonstrated an extremely improbable event that was obviously not designed.”

Miller’s Mendacity is named for Brown University biochemist Ken Miller and is based on his statements in an interview with the BBC:

BBC Commenter: In two days of testimony [at the Dover trial] Miller attempted to knock down the arguments for intelligent design one by one. Also on his [i.e., Miller’s] hit list, Dembski’s criticism of evolution, that it was simply too improbable.

Miller: One of the mathematical tricks employed by intelligent design involves taking the present day situation and calculating probabilities that the present would have appeared randomly from events in the past. And the best example I can give is to sit down with four friends, shuffle a deck of 52 cards, and deal them out and keep an exact record of the order in which the cards were dealt. We can then look back and say ‘my goodness, how improbable this is. We can play cards for the rest of our lives and we would never ever deal the cards out in this exact same fashion.’ You know what; that’s absolutely correct. Nonetheless, you dealt them out and nonetheless you got the hand that you did.

BBC Commentator: For Miller, Dembski’s math did not add up. The chances of life evolving just like the chance of getting a particular hand of cards could not be calculated backwards. By doing so the odds were unfairly stacked. Played that way, cards and life would always appear impossible.

In a letter to Panda’s Thumb Miller denied that his card comment was a response to Dembski’s work. He said, “all I was addressing was a general argument one hears from many ID supporters in which one takes something like a particular amino acid sequence, and then calculates the probability of the exact same sequence arising again through mere chance.” The problem with Miller’s response is that even if one takes it at face value he still appears mendacious, because no prominent ID theorist has ever argued “X is improbable; therefore X was designed.”

Over at ENV Kirk Durston presents his take on the error, which we commend to our readers.

 

48 Replies to “Durston on Miller’s Mendacity

  1. 1
    News says:

    Darwinism works exceptionally well as a secular religion because its main premise (that information arises from chaos) is obviously false. The willingness to believe a demonstrably false proposition, evident everywhere among media professionals, signals a willingness to believe many more falsehoods as required, to get on in the current environment. And the falsehoods to be believed are not in short supply. How about evolutionary psychology, crackpot cosmology, and apes entering the Stone Age, just to get started. More will be added later, of course.

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    News,

    Indeed. It is getting to the point that refuting the nonsense is almost beside the point. No one believes it, least of all those who say they do. As you’ve been saying for some time now, the really interesting story here is the psychological story. Why do people profess belief in the obviously false?

  3. 3
    EugeneS says:

    A typo in the OP: Durston’s first name is Kirk, not Kurt. Thanks.

    (Fixed. – News)

  4. 4
    Truth Will Set You Free says:

    Darwinists are truly in a panic. Quite entertaining, actually.

  5. 5
    StephenB says:

    ID proponent: “You cheated.”

    Miller: “No, I didn’t. The probability that I would receive three consecutive royal flushes is exactly the same probability that you would receive precisely the same 15 cards that you received.”

  6. 6
    ellazimm says:

    About the mathematics . . .

    It is true that from a mathematical point of view every 5-card hand of poker is just as likely as any other; assuming a random distribution. That’s considering the suit of each card.

    Let’s just be really clear here: it is true that randomly picking five cards from a standard pack of 52 is just as likely to give A-spades, A-clubs, A-diamonds, A-hearts, 3-hearts AS 10-spades, J-hearts, 3-clubs, 7-diamonds, A-spades.

    The hierarchy of poker hands is determined by classes of outcomes: any two pair vs any three of a kind, etc. Certain ‘kinds’ of hands are more or less likely not any specific 5-card result. Each suit-specific 5-card hand is just as likely (i.e. close to zero) as any other suit-specific hand.

  7. 7
    StephenB says:

    Any specific 15 card result has the same probability of occurring (almost zero) as any other specific 15 card result. The point is that only (4) specific 15-card results guarantees a win (or at least a tie) in three consecutive events, no matter what else happens. That means that the designer or cheater has already taken into account the various “classes of outcomes” and where they rank in the hierarchy. Thus, if any one player draws three royal flushes in a row, he (or someone) has obviously cheated. It is silly to use the fact that all other specified results are equally unlikely as a defense. In essence, Miller is making that same silly argument.

  8. 8
    EugeneS says:

    In all honesty, I think that the probabilistic arguments are good but what they do not take into account is non-ergodicity of evolution, i.e. it might have been so that it did not need to traverse the entire vast space of possibilities. So with all due respect, this argument is not made of iron.

    The real killer is the source of the first coherent set of instructions for the integrated circuitry of minimal metabolic pathways and reproduction, including long term symbolic memory, in the proto-cell together with a processor that would interpret and execute them! There is no way whatsoever naturalism can get away with it. This semiotic complex of {data,processor} is irreducible and yet forms core of all known life (including viruses that critically depend on host cells and their reproduction cycle).

  9. 9
    GaryGaulin says:

    Barry Arrington:

    As you’ve been saying for some time now, the really interesting story here is the psychological story. Why do people profess belief in the obviously (to others) false?

    Interesting question Barry. Since you do not seem to believe in having to provide testable evidence that a belief is true I need to ask you and News how you would know whether or not you profess belief in the obviously false?

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Darwinian Evolution is a Unfalsifiable Pseudo-Science – Mathematics – video (2016)
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1132659110080354/?type=2&theater

    Michael Behe – Observed (1 in 10^20) Edge of Evolution – video – Lecture delivered in April 2015 at Colorado School of Mines
    25:56 minute quote – “This is not an argument anymore that Darwinism cannot make complex functional systems; it is an observation that it does not.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9svV8wNUqvA

  11. 11
    GaryGaulin says:

    The argument from ignorance (or argumentum ad ignorantiam and negative proof) is a logical fallacy that claims the truth of a premise is based on the fact that it has not been proven false, or that a premise is false because it has not been proven true. This is often phrased as “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.
    If the only evidence for something’s existence is a lack of evidence for it not existing, then the default position is one of mild skepticism and not credulity. This type of negative proof is common in proofs of God’s existence or in pseudosciences where it is used as an attempt to shift the burden of proof onto the skeptic rather than the proponent of the idea. The burden of proof is on the individual proposing existence, not the one questioning existence.

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/A....._ignorance

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    It’s Easier to Falsify Intelligent Design than Darwinian Evolution – Michael Behe, PhD
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_T1v_VLueGk

    “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”
    Karl Popper – The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition), Routledge
    http://izquotes.com/quote/147518

    Theism compared to Materialism/Naturalism – an overview – video
    https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1139512636061668/?type=2&theater

  13. 13
    GaryGaulin says:

    It’s Easier to Falsify Intelligent Design than Darwinian Evolution – Michael Behe, PhD

    Then show me your scientifically testable (to be either true or FALSE) “Theory of Intelligent Design”.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    “The National Academy of Sciences has objected that intelligent design is not falsifiable, and I think that’s just the opposite of the truth. Intelligent design is very open to falsification. I claim, for example, that the bacterial flagellum could not be produced by natural selection; it needed to be deliberately intelligently designed. Well, all a scientist has to do to prove me wrong is to take a bacterium without a flagellum, or knock out the genes for the flagellum in a bacterium, go into his lab and grow that bug for a long time and see if it produces anything resembling a flagellum. If that happened, intelligent design, as I understand it, would be knocked out of the water. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s easily falsified by a series of such experiments.
    Now let’s turn that around and ask, How do we falsify the contention that natural selection produced the bacterial flagellum? If that same scientist went into the lab and knocked out the bacterial flagellum genes, grew the bacterium for a long time, and nothing much happened, well, he’d say maybe we didn’t start with the right bacterium, maybe we didn’t wait long enough, maybe we need a bigger population, and it would be very much more difficult to falsify the Darwinian hypothesis.
    I think the very opposite is true. I think intelligent design is easily testable, easily falsifiable, although it has not been falsified, and Darwinism is very resistant to being falsified. They can always claim something was not right.”
    – Dr Michael Behe

    “Now, one can’t have it both ways. One can’t say both that ID is unfalsifiable (or untestable) and that there is evidence against it. Either it is unfalsifiable and floats serenely beyond experimental reproach, or it can be criticized on the basis of our observations and is therefore testable. The fact that critical reviewers advance scientific arguments against ID (whether successfully or not) shows that intelligent design is indeed falsifiable.
    In fact, my argument for intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwin’s Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can’t be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellum–or any equally complex system–was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven.”
    Michael Behe
    – clipped from: Confirmation of intelligent design predictions
    http://reasonandscience.heaven.....redictions

    The Law of Physicodynamic Incompleteness – David L. Abel
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”
    If only one exception to this null hypothesis were published, the hypothesis would be falsified. Falsification would require an experiment devoid of behind-the-scenes steering. Any artificial selection hidden in the experimental design would disqualify the experimental falsification. After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided.
    The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction:
    “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    https://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/The_Law_of_Physicodynamic_Incompleteness

    The Origin of Information: How to Solve It – Perry Marshall
    Where did the information in DNA come from? This is one of the most important and valuable questions in the history of science. Cosmic Fingerprints has issued a challenge to the scientific community:
    “Show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. All you need is one.”
    “Information” is defined as digital communication between an encoder and a decoder, using agreed upon symbols. To date, no one has shown an example of a naturally occurring encoding / decoding system, i.e. one that has demonstrably come into existence without a designer.
    A private equity investment group is offering a technology prize for this discovery (up to 3 million dollars). We will financially reward and publicize the first person who can solve this;,,, To solve this problem is far more than an object of abstract religious or philosophical discussion. It would demonstrate a mechanism for producing coding systems, thus opening up new channels of scientific discovery. Such a find would have sweeping implications for Artificial Intelligence research.
    http://cosmicfingerprints.com/solve/

  15. 15
    GaryGaulin says:

    Show me your scientifically testable (to be either true or FALSE) “Theory of Intelligent Design”.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Was given to you. Sorry you don’t accept it. Adios. I’m done with your self imposed blindness.

  17. 17
    RexTugwell says:

    Gary, don’t forget to remind folks to click on your name.

  18. 18
    GaryGaulin says:

    bornagain77:

    Was given to you.

    Is this it?
    http://theoryofid.blogspot.com/
    https://sites.google.com/site/theoryofid/home/TheoryOfIntelligentDesign.pdf

    That’s at least what a (cognitive science) intelligence based “scientific theory” looks like. I need that from you bornagain77, Barry, News and others who profess belief in the obviously true (Theory of Intelligent Design).

  19. 19
    GaryGaulin says:

    RexTugwell:

    Gary, don’t forget to remind folks to click on your name.

    Considering how bornagain77 was trying to make believe that they already provided me with a testable scientific theory I gave them both links.

    It’s at least still being useful to those who love programming biologically relevant cognitive models, building robots, or need a scientific way to make it obvious that the leadership of the ID movement is mindlessly destroying the lives and livelihood of people like myself. They are so negligent in their representation of a intelligence based scientific models like this that their charade makes me guilty by association, with a well hated entity that insulted almost the whole world already.

    The model and theory was at least NOT a waste of time to people who love science and engineering.

  20. 20
    Origenes says:

    Gary, if molecules are intelligent, as you hypothesize, and have the parts of the cell in “mind”, then why is the universe not teeming with life?

  21. 21
    GaryGaulin says:

    Origenes don’t give me your asinine “if molecules are intelligent” crap or an ignorant question. You do not even know whether the universe is teeming with life or not, none do. Your whole point rests on another argument from ignorance, anyway.

    You obviously did not study the theory and I don’t have time to spoon-feed you like a baby.

    Now stop bothering me with your insulting remarks. I’m anxiously awaiting Barry’s reply to #8.

  22. 22
    RexTugwell says:

    GaryGaulin, it’s time to put on your big boy pants and stop blaming the Discovery Institute because no one is swallowing your “unique” theory. Nobody here is buying your flavor of ID. Do you know why? Because it’s silly! If it had any merit it would get a fair hearing. Why don’t you go to Seattle and make a pitch?

    I don’t know what you mean by destroyed lives and livelihood but it ain’t DI’s fault.

  23. 23
    Origenes says:

    Gary, don’t get angry with me, you are the one who writes about “molecular intelligence”. Moreover you assign “memory”, “guessing”, “control”, “new confidence” and what not to molecules.
    As scientific as that all may be, it raises the question why the universe is not teeming with life.

  24. 24
    GaryGaulin says:

    Why don’t you go to Seattle and make a pitch?

    I get to die broke while the guys with no science make all the money. I cannot afford that. And I should not have to fly across the country to kiss their asses. The Discovery Institute is not even able to judge a theory like that.

  25. 25
    Aleta says:

    Origenes writes,

    it raises the question why the universe is not teeming with life.

    I’m not defending Gary at all, but the universe may be teeming with life, for all we know. It’s a big place, and we can just barely see some planets in nearby stars. We really don’t know how widespread, or not, life may be throughout the universe.

  26. 26
    GaryGaulin says:

    Gary, don’t get angry with me, you are the one who writes about “molecular intelligence”.

    Stop bothering me with your ignorance and the quoting of what I said out of context!!!!!!!!!

    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are
    best explained by an intelligent cause, whereby the behavior of matter powers a coexisting trinity of
    systematically self-similar (in each other’s image, likeness) intelligent systems at the molecular,
    cellular and multicellular level as follows:

    [1] Molecular Level Intelligence: Behavior of matter causes self-assembly of molecular systems that
    in time become molecular level intelligence, where biological RNA and DNA memory systems learn
    over time by replication of their accumulated genetic knowledge through a lineage of successive
    offspring. This intelligence level controls basic growth and division of our cells, is a primary source
    of our instinctual behaviors, and causes molecular level social differentiation (i.e. speciation).

    [2] Cellular Level Intelligence: Molecular level intelligence is the intelligent cause of cellular level
    intelligence. This intelligence level controls moment to moment cellular responses such as
    locomotion/migration and cellular level social differentiation (i.e. neural plasticity). At our
    conception we were only at the cellular intelligence level. Two molecular intelligence systems (egg
    and sperm) which are on their own unable to self-replicate combined into a single self-replicating
    cell, a zygote. The zygote then divided to become a colony of cells, an embryo. Later during fetal
    development we made it to the multicellular intelligence level which requires a self-learning neural
    brain to control motor muscle movements (also sweat gland motor muscles).

    [3] Multicellular Level Intelligence: Cellular level intelligence is the intelligent cause of multicellular
    level intelligence. In this case a multicellular body is controlled by a brain made of cells, expressing
    all three intelligence levels at once, which results in our complex and powerful paternal (fatherly),
    maternal (motherly) and other behaviors. This intelligence level controls our moment to moment
    multicellular responses, locomotion/migration and multicellular level social differentiation (i.e.
    occupation). Successful designs remain in the biosphere’s interconnected collective (RNA/DNA)
    memory to help keep going the billions year old cycle of life, where in our case not all individuals
    must reproduce for the human lineage to benefit from all in society.

    Behavior from a system or device qualifies as intelligent by meeting all four circuit requirements for
    this ability, which are: [1] Something to control (a body, either real or virtual representation) with
    motor muscles (proteins, electric speaker, electronic write to a screen). [2] Random Access Memory
    (RAM) addressed by its sensory sensors where each motor action and its associated confidence
    value are stored as separate data elements. [3] Confidence (central hedonic) system that
    increments the confidence level of successful motor actions and decrements the confidence value of
    actions that fail. [4] Ability to guess a new memory action when associated confidence level
    sufficiently decreases. For flagella powered cells a random guess response (to a new heading) is
    designed into the motor system by the action of reversing motor direction causing it to “tumble”.

  27. 27
    GBDixon says:

    Dr. Don Prothero compared DNA information to complex patterns in mud. Dr. Laurence Krauss to crystal structures, and Dr. Miller to random card hands.

    How can these credentialed scientists be so appallingly, mind numbingly STUPID when it comes to information? It calls into question not only their intelligence, not only their ability to teach, not only their usurping of hard earned tuition and taxes, but is so bad that it calls into question the intelligence of anyone who even remotely believes anything they have ever said or written.

    How do people who debate them (like Dr. Meyer) manage to keep from strangling them the instant they utter such nonsense? Much more patience than I could ever have…

  28. 28
    Origenes says:

    Gary: Behavior of matter causes self-assembly of molecular systems that in time become molecular level intelligence, (…)

    Ok. Whatever. Now, if that is indeed the case, then why is it that the universe is not teeming with life?

    BTW it is as if you are not aware of the utter failure of OOL research.

  29. 29
    GaryGaulin says:

    How do people who debate them (like Dr. Meyer) manage to keep from strangling them the instant they utter such nonsense? Much more patience than I could ever have…

    I don’t have to debate any of them. But of course there is no money in that, or achieves their anti-scientific religious agenda. Therefore scientific theory that can be taken seriously is bad, arguing from ignorance is good.

  30. 30
    GaryGaulin says:

    Ok. Whatever. Now, if that is indeed the case, then why is it that the universe is not teeming with life?

    I believe that the universe is in fact teeming with life. Since the technology to travel the universe does not exist that hypothesis is currently untestable, though existing scientific theory provides evidence that increases the likelihood that I am correct.

    BTW it is as if you are not aware of the utter failure of OOL research.

    The failure is from the almost total lack of funding for OOL researchers, while entities like the Discovery Institute are able to collect millions of dollars a year to throw science stopping insults while pretending that they already figured it all out with their “scientific theory” that says absolutely nothing scientific.

  31. 31
    RexTugwell says:

    The failure is from the almost total lack of funding for OOL researchers, while entities like the Discovery Institute are able to collect millions of dollars a year to throw science stopping insults while pretending that they already figured it all out with their “scientific theory” that says absolutely nothing scientific.

    and Gary gets to die bitter and broke and can’t figure out why.
    Tragic

  32. 32
    GaryGaulin says:

    Rex I very well understand what is consuming me: a pack of scam artists who are too lost in religion to know how much trouble they are getting themselves and others into.

    If science must now be run by lawyers then I guess I need a lawyer too. Any who would like to represent the scientific Theory of Intelligent Design against the entirely religious Discovery Institute and their associates can email me at GarySGaulin at gmail.com

  33. 33
    RexTugwell says:

    “I very well understand what is consuming me”
    No you don’t. You haven’t a clue about anything. You’re your own worst enemy. Good luck with the lawyer thing.

  34. 34
    GaryGaulin says:

    In the quote for #8 I accidentally inserted a comment inside parenthesis that should have been in the same place in the matching sentence that I wrote below it.

    I’m in some pain from dental infection problems I cannot afford to fix (and insurance does not actually cover) while worried about my wife (who just spent a few days in the hospital) dropping dead at any moment. I wish I could afford proper care, for both of us. The draining of our resources by those who only claim to represent “science” has led to a very serious situation that is literally killing us. I already accepted that I will probably soon die fighting this scam but seeing my wife suffering too is making me very very angry and upset!!!! Not that I expect the “good Christians” in this forum to care. They are proving to be very ruthless people who find it easy to blame their victims. Same mentality as in the “Burning Times” when they regularly tortured and killed people for profit. Along with this whole situation sending me into a major depression it’s a surprise that it’s the only writing error I made all evening.

  35. 35
    jerry says:

    Then show me your scientifically testable (to be either true or FALSE) “Theory of Intelligent Design”.

    When you medical problems get resolved, you may want to consider what you have been told before. There is no Theory of Intelligent Design. It is a rationale process that uses logic, mathematics, the finding of different scientific domains and experience etc that are applied to the various questions of science. Biology is just one of them. Here is what you were told before:

    look around you and you will see millions of events each day that are caused by intelligent intervention. When you press the keys on your keyboard you are exhibiting an event with an intelligent cause. Try constructing a theory to explain how keyboard keys are depressed and how this theory will predict keyboard depression in the future using the four basic forces of physics to produce a specific comment on UD. An intelligent intervention is by definition a suspension of the four basic forces and the ways it can be done are infinite. So asking for a theory to explain intelligent behavior is a fool’s errand. We have imperfect attempts at it with psychology and even behavioral biology but to ask anyone for how an intelligence created and then changed life forms is a stupid task. It could be accomplished a million different ways, all ad hoc.

    By the way, ID does have testable hypothesis in biology. Hope all goes well with your family’s medical problems.

  36. 36
    GaryGaulin says:

    jerry:

    There is no Theory of Intelligent Design. It is a rationale process that uses logic, mathematics, the finding of different scientific domains and experience etc that are applied to the various questions of science. Biology is just one of them. Here is what you were told before:

    The above is another classic example of how this “bait and switch” scam works. Here’s what is still being advertised (but was never delivered):

    From: http://www.discovery.org/id/faqs/

    Frequently Asked Questions

    General Questions
    1. What is Discovery Institute?
    Founded in 1990, the Institute is a national, non-profit, non-partisan policy and research organization, headquartered in Seattle, WA. It has programs on a variety of issues, including regional transportation development, economics and technology policy, and bioethics. The Institute’s founder is Bruce Chapman, who has a long history in public policy at both the national and regional levels. Mr. Chapman is a former director of the United States Census Bureau, and a past American ambassador to the United Nations Organizations in Vienna, Austria. Mr. Chapman has also served as a member of the Seattle City Council and as Washington State’s Secretary of State.

    2. What is the Center for Science and Culture?
    The Center for Science and Culture is a Discovery Institute program that supports the work of scholars who challenge various aspects of neo-Darwinian theory and scholars who are working on the scientific theory known as intelligent design, as well as advocating public policies that encourage schools to improve science education by teaching students more fully about the theory of evolution. Discovery’s Center for Science and Culture has more than 40 Fellows, including biologists, biochemists, chemists, physicists, philosophers and historians of science, and public policy and legal experts, many of whom also have affiliations with colleges and universities. The Center’s Director is Dr. Stephen Meyer, who holds a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University.

    3. Is Discovery Institute a religious organization?
    Discovery Institute is a secular think tank, and its Board members and Fellows represent a variety of religious traditions, including mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, and agnostic. Although it is not a religious organization, the Institute has a long record of supporting religious liberty and the legitimate role of faith-based institutions in a pluralistic society. In fact, it sponsored a program for several years for college students to teach them the importance of religious liberty and the separation of church and state.

    Questions about Intelligent Design
    1. What is the theory of intelligent design?
    The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.
    For more information see Center Director Stephen Meyer’s article “Not By Chance” from the National Post of Canada or his appearance on PBS’s “Tavis Smiley Show (Windows Media).

    2. Is intelligent design science?
    Intelligent design (ID) is a scientific theory that employs the methods commonly used by other historical sciences to conclude that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. ID theorists argue that design can be inferred by studying the informational properties of natural objects to determine if they bear the type of information that in our experience arise from an intelligent cause. The form of information which we observe is produced by intelligent action, and thus reliably indicates design, is generally called “specified complexity” or “complex and specified information” (CSI). An object or event is complex if it is unlikely, and specified if it matches some independent pattern. For further information, see Casey Luskin’s article on how intelligent design follows the scientific method and Stephen Meyer’s comments on why intelligent design is science.

    3. Is intelligent design simply a response to Darwinian evolution?
    No. Contrary to what many people suppose, the debate over intelligent design is much broader than the debate over Darwin’s theory of evolution. That’s because much of the scientific evidence for intelligent design comes from areas that Darwin’s theory doesn’t even address. In fact, the evidence for intelligent design comes from three main areas: Physics and Cosmology, the Origin of Life, and the Development of Biological Complexity.

    4. What is the scientific evidence for intelligent design?
    For a brief summary with additional links, read this article. For a more extended treatment, read Stephen Meyer’s overview of the theory of intelligent design.

    5. Is intelligent design theory incompatible with evolution?
    It depends on what one means by the word “evolution.” If one simply means “change over time,” or even that living things are related by common ancestry, then there is no inherent conflict between evolutionary theory and intelligent design theory.
    However, the dominant theory of evolution today is neo-Darwinism, which contends that evolution is driven by natural selection acting on random mutations, an unpredictable and purposeless process that “has no discernable direction or goal, including survival of a species.” (2000 NABT Statement on Teaching Evolution). It is this specific claim made by neo-Darwinism that intelligent design theory directly challenges. For a more thorough treatment see the article “Meanings of Evolution” by Center Fellows Stephen C. Meyer & Michael Newton Keas.

    6. Is intelligent design based on the Bible?
    No. The idea that human beings can observe signs of intelligent design in nature reaches back to the foundations of both science and civilization. In the Greco-Roman tradition, Platoand Cicero both espoused early versions of intelligent design. In the history of science, most scientists until the latter part of the nineteenth century accepted some form of intelligent design, including Alfred Russel Wallace, the co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of the theory of evolution by natural selection. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, meanwhile, the idea that design can be discerned in nature can be found not only in the Bible but among Jewish philosophers such as Philo and in the writings of the Early Church Fathers. The scientific community largely rejected design in the early twentieth century after neo-Darwinism claimed to be able to explain the emergence of biological complexity through the unintelligent process of natural selection acting on random mutations. In recent decades, however, new research and discoveries in such fields as physics, cosmology, biochemistry, genetics, and paleontology have caused a growing number of scientists and science theorists to question neo-Darwinism and propose intelligent design as the best explanation for the existence of specified complexity throughout the natural world.

    7. Is intelligent design theory the same as creationism?
    No. Intelligent design theory is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism is focused on defending a literal reading of the Genesis account, usually including the creation of the earth by the Biblical God a few thousand years ago. Unlike creationism, the scientific theory of intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of design and has no commitment to defending Genesis, the Bible or any other sacred text. Why, then, do some Darwinists keep trying to conflate intelligent design with creationism? It is a rhetorical strategy on the part of Darwinists who wish to delegitimize design theory without actually addressing the merits of its case. For more information read Center Director Stephen Meyer’s piece “Intelligent Design is not Creationism” that appeared in The Daily Telegraph (London) or Center Associate Director’s piece “ Intelligent Design and Creationism Just Aren’t the Same“in Research News & Opportunities.

    8. Are there established scholars in the scientific community who support intelligent design?
    Yes. Intelligent design theory is supported by doctoral scientists, researchers, and theorists at a number of universities, colleges, and research institutes around the world. These scholars include biochemist Michael Behe at Lehigh University, microbiologist Scott Minnich at the University of Idaho, biologist Paul Chien at the University of San Francisco, quantum chemist Henry Schaefer at the University of Georgia, geneticist Norman Nevin (emeritus) at Queen’s University of Belfast, mathematician Granville Sewell at the University of Texas, El Paso, and medical geneticist Michael Denton. Research centers for intelligent design include the Evolutionary Informatics Lab, led by Robert Marks, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor University; and the Biologic Institute, led by molecular biologist Douglas Axe, formerly a research scientist at the University of Cambridge, the Cambridge Medical Research Council Centre, and the Babraham Institute in Cambridge.

    9. Is research about intelligent design published in peer-reviewed journals and monographs?
    Yes. Scientists in the intelligent design research community have published their work in numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals and monographs. An annotated listing of selected peer-reviewed publications is available on our website. Peer-reviewed scientific journals in which scientists favorable to intelligent design have published their work includeProtein Science, Journal of Molecular Biology, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling,Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Quarterly Review of Biology, Cell Biology International, Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum, Physics of Life Reviews, and Annual Review of Genetics. In addition, scientists open to debating the question of design in biology have established the open-access peer-reviewed biology journal BIO-Complexity, which publishes original research related to the origin and development of biological information. The editorial advisory board for BIO-Complexity includes 29 eminent scientists from academic institutions around the world such as the Rochester Institute of Technology, Wake Forest University, the University of Georgia, the University of Bristol, the University of Utah, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Queen’s University of Belfast, the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, and the University of St. Andrews.

    Although intelligent design scientists regularly publish peer-reviewed research, it needs to be noted that many breakthroughs in science were originally published as non-peer-reviewed articles or books, including Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Moreover, in recent years peer-review has come under significant criticism for illegitimately censoring many good scientific ideas and slowing the advance of scientific research.

    Finally, some critics of intelligent design are actively seeking to undermine the peer-review process to prevent articles from scientists supportive of intelligent design from being published. In one case, a journal that inappropriately withdrew an article by an intelligent design proponent after it had passed peer-review paid $10,000 and issued an apology to the scientist for its misconduct.

    10. What about the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and its resolution against intelligent design?
    In 2002 the board of the AAAS issued a resolution attacking intelligent design theory as unscientific. Unfortunately, the process by which this resolution was adopted was itself anything but scientific. In fact, the resolution was more a product of prejudice than impartial investigation. After the resolution was issued, members of the AAAS Board were surveyed about what books and articles by scientists favoring intelligent design they had actually read before adopting their resolution. Alan Leshner, the Chief Executive Officer of the AAAS, declined to specify any and replied instead that the issue had been analyzed by his group’s policy staff. Two other AAAS board members similarly declined to identify anything they had read by design proponents, while yet another board member volunteered that she had perused unspecified sources on the Internet. In other words, AAAS board members apparently voted to brand intelligent design as unscientific without studying for themselves the academic books and articles by scientists proposing the theory. It should be noted that a number of the scientists supportive of intelligent design theory are members of the AAAS, so the AAAS board clearly does not speak for all members of that organization.

    Questions about Scientific Challenges to Darwinian Evolution
    1. Is raising scientific criticisms of modern Darwinian theory the same thing as advocating intelligent design?
    No. One can critique the sufficiency of current evolutionary mechanisms (such as natural selection, random mutations, and genetic drift) without going on to conclude that intelligent processes are a better explanation for the features of nature under study. Indeed, many scientists who reject intelligent design in biology are nevertheless skeptical of key claims made by orthodox Darwinian theory.

    2. What are some of the scientific problems with current theories of biological and chemical evolution?
    Here are five key problems: Genetics: Mutations cause harm and do not build complexity.Darwinian evolution relies on random mutations that are selected by a blind, unguided process of natural selection that has no goals. Such a random and undirected process tends to harm organisms and does not improve them or build complexity. As National Academy of Sciences biologist Lynn Margulis has said, “new mutations don’t create new species; they create offspring that are impaired.” Similarly, past president of the French Academy of Sciences, Pierre-Paul Grasse, contended that “[m]utations have a very limited ‘constructive capacity’” because “[n]o matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of evolution.”

    Biochemistry: Unguided and random processes cannot produce cellular complexity.Our cells contain incredible complexity, like miniature factories using machine technology but dwarfing the complexity and efficiency of anything produced by humans. Cells use miniature circuits, motors, feedback loops, encoded language, and even error-checking machinery to decode and repair our DNA. Darwinian evolution struggles to build this type of integrated complexity. As biochemist Franklin Harold admits: “there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”

    Paleontology: The fossil record lacks intermediate fossils. The fossil record’s overall pattern is one of abrupt explosions of new biological forms, and possible candidates for evolutionary transitions are the exception, not the rule. This has been recognized by many evolutionary biologists such as Ernst Mayr who explained in 2000 that “[n]ew species usually appear in the fossil record suddenly, not connected with their ancestors by a series of intermediates.” Similarly, a zoology textbook observed that “Many species remain virtually unchanged for millions of years, then suddenly disappear to be replaced by a quite different, but related, form. Moreover, most major groups of animals appear abruptly in the fossil record, fully formed, and with no fossils yet discovered that form a transition from their parent group.”

    Taxonomy: Biologists have failed to construct Darwin’s “Tree of Life.” Biologists hoped that DNA evidence would reveal a grand tree of life where all organisms are clearly related. It hasn’t. Trees describing the alleged ancestral relationships between organisms based upon one gene or biological characteristic very commonly conflict with trees based upon a different gene or characteristic. As the journal New Scientist put it, “different genes told contradictory evolutionary stories.” The eminent microbiologist Carl Woese explained that such “[p]hylogenetic” conflicts “can be seen everywhere in the universal tree, from its root to the major branchings within and among the various taxa to the makeup of the primary groupings themselves.” This implies a breakdown in common descent, the hypothesis that all organisms share a common ancestor.

    Chemistry: The chemical origin of life remains an unsolved mystery.The mystery of the origin of life is unsolved and all existing theories of chemical evolution face major problems. Basic deficiencies in chemical evolution include a lack of explanation for how a primordial soup could arise on the early earth’s hostile environment, or how the information required for life could be generated by blind chemical reactions. As evolutionary biologist Massimo Pigliucci has admitted, “we really don’t have a clue how life originated on Earth by natural means.”

    3. What is the “Dissent from Darwin” list?
    Since Discovery Institute first published its Statement of Dissent from Darwin in 2001, more than 800 scientists have courageously stepped forward and signed onto a growing list of scientists of all disciplines voicing their skepticism over the central tenet of modern Darwinian theory. The full statement reads: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” Prominent scientists who have signed the list include evolutionary biologist and textbook author Dr. Stanley Salthe, quantum chemist Henry Schaefer at the University of Georgia, and Giuseppe Sermonti the Editor of Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum. The list also includes scientists from Princeton, Cornell, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Ohio State University, Purdue and University of Washington among others. To view the list along with other information about it go to: http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org

    Questions about Science Education Policy
    1. Does Discovery Institute favor including the Bible or creationism in science classes or textbooks?
    No. Discovery Institute is not a creationist organization, and it does not favor including either creationism or the Bible in biology textbooks or science classes.

    2. Is Discovery Institute trying to eliminate, reduce or censor the coverage of evolution in textbooks?
    No. Far from reducing the coverage of evolution, Discovery Institute seeks to increase the coverage of evolution in textbooks. It believes that evolution should be fully and completely presented to students, and they should learn more about evolutionary theory, including its unresolved issues. The true censors are those who want to stop any discussion of the scientific weaknesses of evolutionary theory.

    3. Should public schools require the teaching of intelligent design?
    No. Instead of mandating intelligent design, Discovery Institute recommends that states and school districts focus on teaching students more about evolutionary theory, including telling them about some of the theory’s problems that have been discussed in peer-reviewed science journals. In other words, evolution should be taught as a scientific theory that is open to critical scrutiny, not as a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned. We believe this is a common-sense approach that will benefit students, teachers, and parents.

    4. Is teaching about intelligent design unconstitutional?
    Although Discovery Institute does not advocate requiring the teaching of intelligent design in public schools, it does believe there is nothing unconstitutional about discussing the scientific theory of design in the classroom. In addition, the Institute opposes efforts to persecute individual teachers who may wish to discuss the scientific debate over design in a pedagogically appropriate manner.

    For more information please download our Teaching the Controversy Video (17MB) and look at the Key Resources for Parents and School Board Members page.

  37. 37
    tjguy says:

    Gary @8

    Barry Arrington:

    As you’ve been saying for some time now, the really interesting story here is the psychological story. Why do people profess belief in the obviously (to others) false?

    Interesting question Barry. Since you do not seem to believe in having to provide testable evidence that a belief is true I need to ask you and News how you would know whether or not you profess belief in the obviously false?

    Gary, you are right to point this out, but both sides of the fence are in the same boat. When it comes to origins science, experiments are of no use and our beliefs/hypotheses/etc. cannot really be tested. So the best we can do is to make a best guess scenario based on what we do know. IDers see Intelligent Design as that best guess scenario to make sense out of the data.

    Materialists obviously will have a different interpretation of the same data based on their unprovable/untestable worldview.

    Good luck with the beliefs/interpretations deduced from your worldview.

    Don’t fool yourself though into thinking they are scientific beliefs because they are simple deductions resulting from your unscientific and untestable worldview.

  38. 38
    GaryGaulin says:

    tjguy, then explain why the following model(s) and their theory of operation which makes sense to those who program “intelligence” related models is an “untestable worldview” while arguments from ignorance that have no evidence at all to back them up with and only add up to saying “it looks designed to me” are considered to be a testable scientific theory:

    http://intelligencegenerator.blogspot.com/

  39. 39
    Origenes says:

    Gary: Behavior of matter causes self-assembly of molecular systems that in time become molecular level intelligence, where biological RNA and DNA memory systems learn over time by replication of their accumulated genetic knowledge through a lineage of successive offspring.

    How does one explain the innate tendency of matter to self-assemble in molecular systems and cells? If there are, yet to be discovered, diverse sets of self-assemble instructions, then where do they come from? Or if matter has properties fine-tuned for self-assembly into diverse molecular systems and cells, then where does this fine-tuning come from?

  40. 40
    hnorman5 says:

    If Miller’s logic is correct then it seems like we shouldn’t need natural selection or ID. Chance should be sufficient for everything. The logic seems pretty shaky though.

  41. 41

    I’m not a Christian, Mr. Gaulin, but I am sincerely praying for you and your wife. Have you thought about starting a GoFundMe drive to help pay for your medical problems?

  42. 42
    EugeneS says:

    Gary:

    Re: falsifiability of ID.

    Demonstrate that natural processes without invoking intelligence in any form (heuristic guidance, process control, careful choice of extremely specific initial conditions) can produce a linguistic machine (such as e.g. an RNA-protein translator).

    The same phrased differently: produce a decision making system without recourse to decision making.

  43. 43
    PaV says:

    ellazimm:

    It is true that from a mathematical point of view every 5-card hand of poker is just as likely as any other; assuming a random distribution. That’s considering the suit of each card.

    This is the same as saying that “any” hand is equiprobable.

    This is just a form of Shannon information theory.

    What constitutes ID is not SIMPLY improbability, but also specificity. So, given a normal deck of cards, the ‘probability’ of “any” hand is the same; however, there is a HUGE difference between looking at “any” improbable event and then a “given” improbable event.

    For example: I roll two dice. A number combination ALWAYS turns up. What’s the probability of any particular combination showing up? Well, if we have one die which is yellow, and one that is powder blue, then we have six possibilities for each cube, and the probability of “any” event is 1/36. However, if we don’t distinguish by color, i.e., we simply have two yellow, or two blue, or two white dice, and consider the TOTAL, then there are various “odds” associated with that.

    And all of this would be completly unimportant and uninteresting, if it were not for Las Vegas, and certain ‘payouts’ for certain combinations: i.e., “patterns.”

    It is the same with ID: there are certain “payouts” with certain “patterns.” Thus, if the protein has one sequence of aa.s, then it is functional: that is, it “pays out.” If the sequence changes in simple ways, then it may not be ‘functional’; that is, it may not “pay out.” Hence, all of biology becomes ‘pattern specific,’ and the only complex combinations that merit our attention are the ones that “pay out.” Hence, “specific” complex combinations.

    Is Miller interested in a “particular sequence” of a hand’ of cards, or just “any” hand of cards? The answer is “any.” And in that case, any improbable event is as good as another, and everything becomes N (acceptable outcomes/patterns) x 1/N (probability in an equiprobable distribution)=1, that is, the likelihood of that outcome. This is the TRIVIAL “solution” Miller wants to point us to.

    How anyone can be so befuddled, or ignorant, is hard to know?

  44. 44
    Origenes says:

    Miller holds that the improbability of winning the lottery is somehow cancelled out by the improbability of each number combination of every lottery ticket.

  45. 45
    Aleta says:

    The point that Ken makes is by itself, as PaV says, a simple statement of equiprobability that doesn’t take into account the “pay-out” – the target. It also doesn’t take a the number of trials into account.

    We typically take a set of possible outcomes and call them a success, with probability p, and then call the other outcomes failures, with probability p. This dichotimization is sometimes a perfectly valid model, especially in games where winning and losing is precisely defined. In other situations this dichotimization might be a gross simplification, as there may be a spectrum of outcomes that spanning the range from success to failure.

    To take poker as an example, there are 2,598,960, which we will round to 2.6M, so the chances of a royal straight in flush in spades is 1/2.6M. Pretty unlikely, but given all the poker that has been played has probably happened.

    On the other hand, if success is merely getting dealt a pair (but not better), there are 1,098,240 possible hands (successes), so you have a 42% chance of success.

    So, one general rule is that you have to know both the number of possible outcomes and the number of possible success to determine the probability of success.

    A second general rule also comes into play: success may not be defined just by a certain defined situation, but may be relative to what other players have, and to how many players there are.

    For instance, if you are playing five card stud and get dealt a pair of Aces (which happens 1/13 of the time you get a pair, or about 3% of the time), your chances of winning are now determined by how many hands can beat you (taking into account that you already have two of the aces), and by how many people are playing. This would be a complicated problem to solve (mostly tedious).

    So if you are looking more broadly at the probability of winning given the hand you have, then you have a different, and more complicated problem, than you have if you are just asking what is the probability of a certain hand.

    So, in general, probability problems are much, much more complicated than just figuring a simple combinatorial number for one situation.

  46. 46
    bFast says:

    Aleta, your analysis that “probability problems are much, much more complicated than just figuring a simple combinatorial number for one situation” is very valid.

    In the link provided in the article, Dr. Dirston provides an appropriate formula for the situation at hand: I(Ex) = -log2 [M(Ex)/N] (see his article for meanings of I(Ex), M(Ex) and N).

    The question of whether a protein sequence has a novel, useful function usually is not a game of “is it better than the other option” because if there is another option, the other option will have been optimized by NS (something NS is capable of doing), making it highly unlikely that a de novo gene will be found that does a job better than an existing gene that already does the job. (It is de novo genes that are being discussed in this context.)

    I do question Dr. Dirston’s analysis of M(Ex), however. He examines a bunch of organisms, and finds the map of all protein variants that are currently implemented. This technique will pretty much only map out the optimized variants. A de novo gene that performs a task in a very unoptimized way, just optimized enough for NS to pick up on it (quite optimized actually, if Larry Moran is correct) will never get included in Dr. Dirston’s M(Ex) calculator. Hence his number for M(Ex) is weak.

    In the skeptical zone, one person reports an experimental study that has a protein being found that binds to ATP synthase at a pace of 1 in 10^11. (Four different de novos were found that did the job.) This is a vastly higher M(Ex) than Dr. Dirston proposes. (That said, I don’t know enough about the challenge of binding to ATP synthase compared to the challenge of getting minimal function for the gazillions of other genes out there.) However, even at 1 in 10^11, finding a purposeful de novo in humans should be painfully rare. There should be, well, maybe one or two — and they should be small and be of tertiary importance.

  47. 47
    Mung says:

    bfast, Allan Miller has a post on this up over at TSZ:

    How not to sample protein space

  48. 48
    bFast says:

    Mung, I know. That’s where I learned about the 1 ^ 11. That said, I don’t like the conversation over there. When a person has data to present to the discussion floor, spitting it out venomously is just pitiful form.

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