Although I accept ID, I actually think there are respectable reasons to reject or at least withhold judgment on ID in biology. I am writing this essay because I expect I’ll refer to it in the future since I will frequently grant that a critic of ID might be quite reasonable in not embracing ID.
Unlike some of my ID colleagues, I do not think rejection or non-acceptance of ID is an unrespectable position. It may not be obvious, but several revered “ID proponents” either currently or in the past said they are not convinced ID is true. Foremost would probably be David Berlinski. Next is Michael Denton, and next is Richard Sternberg. I do not know for a fact what they believe now, but statements they’ve made in the past have led me to conclude although they are obviously sympathetic to ID, they had not accepted it at the time of their writings. One might even put Robert Jastrow and Paul Davies in the list of “ID proponents” who actually reject ID.
GOOD REASONS TO REJECT ID
1. Absence of a Designer. I know I might get flak for this, but I think a good reason to reject ID is the absence of seeing the Intelligent Designer in operation today. With many scientific theories we can see the hypothesized mechanism in action, and this is quite reassuring to the hypothesis. For myself, I wrestle with the fact that even if ID is true, the mechanism might be forever inaccessible to us.
2. Lack of direct experiments. A designer may decide never to design again. That is consistent with how intelligent agents act. So even if the Designer is real, even if we’ve encountered Him once personally in our lives, the fact is we can’t construct experiments and demand He give us a demonstration.
3. Belief that some future mechanism might be discovered. This is always a possibility in principle.
BAD REASONS TO REJECT ID
1. Theology! There are some Christian theologians who believe in eternal life, the resurrection of the dead, the resurrection of Christ, but believe God wouldn’t design life based on whatever theological viewpoint they have such as their interpretations of the writings of Thomas Aquinas. I put this at the top of the list of bad reasons to reject ID.
2. “God wouldn’t do it that way”. This is also a theological argument, but is so prevalent its in a class of its own. How would any know God wouldn’t do it that way!
3. Bad design. See my take in The Shallowness of Bad Design Arguments.
4. Common Descent. Common descent is incompatible with Creationism but not ID.
5. Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolution doesn’t solve the origin of life problem, and thus Dawkins over extends his claim that Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Darwinian evolution also has been refuted theoretically and empirically, but not everyone has caught on.
6. ID was invented to get creationism into public schools and is part of a right wing conspiracy to create a theocracy, and ID proponents are scoundrels and liars. These claims are false, but even if true, they are completely irrelevant to the truth or falsehood of ID in biology. I posted on the irrelevance of ID proponents being scoundrels. See: Scoundrel? Scoundrel?…I like the sound of that.
7. ID demeans God by making God responsible for bad designs. Denyse O’Leary deals with this one here: Here’s one bad reason for opposing ID.
I invite UD commenters to offer their own list of good and bad reasons to reject ID. This list is certainly not exhaustive, or correct, just my opinions.
188 Replies to “Good and bad reasons for rejecting ID”
I extend my thanks to Mark Frank, Elizabeth Liddle and others for inspiring this essay.
Reason #1 is wrong because if we saw the designer then we wouldn’t need science. And people who need that level of proof ain’t interested in science.
Reason #2- we can can conduct experiments to gain experience into cause and effect relationships. Meaning we can see how much intervention is required to get Lizzie’s self-replicators that can evolve into something more complex. Or we may determine, via experimentation, that all non-design scenarios are hopeless.
Reason #3 is wrong because that is the nature of science. However the science of today cannot wait for what the science of tomorrow may or may not uncover. Tomorrow’s science can actually confirm’s today’s inference.
For me the only reason to reject ID is the same reason that would prevent the design inference in the first place-> some positive evidence that mother nature + father time + some unknown process(es) can account for what we observe.
However, given the following:
Good luck with that
A couple of good reasons to reject ID:
1. Occam’s Razor. Invoking a Designer is extremely unparsimonious, and should only be done if truly necessary.
2. It’s not necessary. Every alleged indicator of design, including “irreducible complexity” and “complex specified information”, is flawed.
And it is necessary. Just try to deal with the evidence presented in “The Privileged Planet”- science can only allow for so much luck and your position relies heavily upon it.
Heck even the vaunted natural selection has proven to be impotent as a designer mimic.
That could be but there still isn’t any evidence that natural selection is up to the task. And there ain’t no other alleged designer mimics to choose from.
And that doesn’t even deal with the evidence for ID from physics and cosmology…
1. I have a regular razor next to my sink. Naturally, I will exhaust every natural explanation, no matter how farfetched, before resorting to the easy-way-out, wishful thinking of postulating some unnecessary and unknown intelligent designer!
2. Simply stating that every alleged indicator is flawed is completely sufficient in itself to prove the point beyond any debate. No support for the allegation is necessary because it’s self evident and obvious.
Ad hominem attacks to follow.
There is one good reason to reject the intelligent design of biology: that apparent design is illusory, due to empirically verifiable naturalistic mechanisms shown to be capable of engineering everything from novel organelles to whole body plans from scratch, as well as bootstrapping a stable DNA-based self replicating organism from simple chemical precursors.
I think 1-3 in the OP might be good reasons for withholding 100% certainty, but they’re not good reasons for outright rejecting ID, imo. We can be just about as certain that nanotechnology requires an engineer as we are that 500 coins all heads-up requires intelligent intervention. 😉
I edited the OP a little to emphasize these are my opinions, and I could be wrong….
I also added the following to the list of bad reasons to reject ID.
It is clear that most don’t really understand Occam’s razor.
Reason to reject ID; If you can show that natural processes are cable of creating specified and functional information. Do that and ID is dead as disco. Until then it is inference to the best explanation.
There’s a difficulty in appealing to Occam’s Razor as a principle for distinguishing between good and bad explanations – it can be incredibly subjective. How does one go about deciding that one explanation is more parsimonious than another? I don’t happen to think that a designer is unparsimonious, whereas invoking largely stochastic processes to explain the overwhelming appearance of design in biology (something that even some hardcore darwinists acknowledge) strains credulity, IMO.
That’s certainly a debatable assertion. Such descriptors may not be perfect in every context, but they adequately capture the attributes that uniform and repeated experience shows to be caused by intelligent agency. The phenomenon of irreducible complexity should be uncontroversial. It simply describes certain systems that possess an indispensable core logic that must be present for functionality. What is so “flawed” about that? Do you claim that there is no biological system on either the micro or macro level that exhibits this property? Since you consider irreducible complexity and CSI to be flawed, what characteristics do you consider to be reliable indicators of intelligent agency?
Been there, done that. But I’m not trying to take credit for the demise of ID. As a scientific concept, ID was stillborn. It gives some of us an excuse to wax eloquent (or turgid – prose styles vary greatly) about the science that so captivates those who actually work in the lab and at the computer to push the bounds of knowledge. But that’s about all it is good for, I am afraid.
Greetings, Sal. Thanks for your post!
I don’t agree that this is a valid reason to reject ID. We infer intelligent agency regularly (and without complaint) in all manner of cases where the designer is beyond any chance of direct observation – e.g. a murder without witnesses, an ancient artifact or inscription, a napkin with doodles on it, etc. That the designer in a particular situation is unobservable is irrelevant if the evidence is sufficient.
I disagree with number 3…finding a processes that could create large amounts of CSI would not refute ID…it would only mean there are two equally competing hypothesis. More scientific discoveries and knowledge are needed to make a better case for one. It’s the like the difference between a steady state universe and the big bang. Just because the big bang was “possible” didn’t eliminate the steady state universe. It was only when the “big bang” hypothesis produced a fruitful prediction about the microwave radiation that it was deemed the best explanation.
The only reason I believe for rejecting ID is showing that a nature can plausibly create in the same way intelligence can.
Reasons to question ID are it’s some what weak inference. Using human intelligence and then extrapolating an intelligence beyond that. But When it comes to the inference itself….the fruitfulness of it’s predictions will rate whether its a weak or strong inference. Design theory has just started creating a synthesis for biology. A top down model as proposed by Doug Axe..let’s see what happens!
To extend what keiths said: my primary reason for rejecting ID is also Occam’s razor, but there are a couple of additional bases that feed into it:
– Common Descent. I agree with Sal that this (in and of itself) isn’t a reason to reject ID, but it does mean that life has been subject to the various processes of evolution. Thus, the question is not evolution vs. ID, it’s evolution vs. evolution+ID. While you might view ID alone as simpler than evolution alone, evolution+ID is clearly a more complicated explanation than either alone.
– The mechanism of ID hasn’t been adequately explained, meaning that even if the question was evolution vs. ID, it’d be a evolution-via-a-well-worked-out-and-demonstrated-mechanism vs. ID-by-direct-creation-or-maybe-frontloading-or-maybe-guided-mutation-or-maybe-active-information-in-the-fitness-function-or-maybe… IMO if you want ID to really be a competitor to evolution, you really need to switch from the design detection approach to something that actually gets into producing testable theories of mechanisms. Until that happens, ID won’t be able to offer a serious alternative to evolution.
While I’m here, let me respond to a couple of other comments. Joe #4 first:
There hasn’t been evidence that you find convincing that natural selection is up to the task. But since there hasn’t been any evidence that I find convincing that natural selection (+ mutation) isn’t up to the task, I don’t consider this a significant point.
I must disagree. Long ago, I saw it claimed that if evolution were shown to be able to produce information, it would be accepted. Evolution was shown to be able to produce information, so the goal post moved: if it can be shown to produce complex specified information (v1.0)… and evolution can produce CSI v1.0, so the goal post moved to to CSI v2.0 and FSCO/I and dFSCI and….
Take your challenge: I have an example in mind of a natural process (at least, I think it’s natural; I can’t prove God isn’t involved) that produces what I’d consider functional and specified information. If I were to show it to you, would your response be “oh, I guess evolution’s plausible after all” or would it be “that’s not what I meant, I meant [additional qualifiers…]”?
BTW, Sal: I have a partly-written comment on your old post about whether we evolved from fish (short summary: I don’t think you fully understand the reasoning behind the relevant phylogenetic reconstruction; also, even if common descent were replaced by something else there’d still be a case that we should be considered fish). Are you still interested in the topic, or should I skip it?
Let’s face it, whether or not ID is true is just something not very many people consider of utmost importance on a day to day basis. Most of the population would say, that is really not that important this moment.
Having said that, I am very sorry to say that I am one of those who just does not respect the viewpoint of those who reject ID. I don’t think they choose it because of lack of intellect. Ironically, I think it takes quite a good intellect to be able to reason yourself into an anti-ID position. I do however think that it is a very foolish position.
1. I can’t think of a purely natural ( defined as methodological naturalism would define it ) reason to reject ID. I mean let’s be real about this, NCSE positions to the contrary, your belief or non-belief in ID does not significantly change how well you perform at any profession including the sciences. I have not seen that belief or non-belief in ID makes one more or less desirable as a mate to the general population as a whole although sub-populations may be attracted to ones with similar positions to themselves. From this we can rightly conclude that the belief or non-belief on the abstract concept of ID, has no bearing on “fitness”. In other words belief or non-belief in ID is not selected for.
2. Since there is no natural ( selection for or selection against ) reason that ID is rejected, we can only conclude that either it is just randomly distributed in the population or people really do choose it or not choose it.
3. Consider the language of some of the people have listed here for reasons they choose to be anti-ID such as logic, Occam’s razor.. they really do believe they are making a choice.
4. Unfortunately, 2 and 3 imply the presence of some form of libertarian free will which can weigh in the balance abstract concepts and make choices. In other words, it seems quite obvious to me that if humans have the ability to reject or accept abstract concepts which have no fitness advantage, libertarian free will must exist.
5. But any form of libertarian free will at least suggests that there must be something ( a creator ) who granted that libertarian free will.
6. So in my mind, one very good supremely ironic reason to accept ID is that some people really believe they have the ability to reject it.
There is not a single material process capable of typing this functional and specified message to you. Good luck in finding one that can decode what you said and reply. Good luck in finding a machine that can you tell how it feels!
Lastly Anything that has Nick Matzke involved is blatantly false and can be dismissed on hand, you see Nick Matzke has zero credibility. You are going to have to do better than that, Nick is a bluffer and he knows that too.
For those that abuser and misuse Occam’s Razor can I suggest some material to read?
“There hasn’t been evidence that you find convincing that natural selection is up to the task. But since there hasn’t been any evidence that I find convincing that natural selection (+ mutation) isn’t up to the task, I don’t consider this a significant point.”
This is not a matter of opinion. Unguided natural processes have NEVER been shown to produce large amounts of CSI.
“Long ago, I saw it claimed that if evolution were shown to be able to produce information, it would be accepted. Evolution was shown to be able to produce information, so the goal post moved: if it can be shown to produce complex specified information (v1.0)… and evolution can produce CSI v1.0, so the goal post moved to to CSI v2.0 and FSCO/I and dFSCI and….”
Defining what one meant by “information” is not moving the goalposts. When ID proponents use the word “information” that usually means they are talking about CSI of more than 500 bits. Dembski gives the estimate in his book which I believe came out more than a decade ago! If Dembski says.. “well I mean’t 1,000 bits”. That would be moving the goalposts. Like I said, we don’t need to move the goalposts. That would just help equate evolution with ID…not refute it. The ID community isn’t against evolution, it’s skeptical of the mechanism.
I’m surprised to see people say there is no mechanism for ID. Do you not understand that the mechanism is the designer itself? What is the mechanism for creating a car…ummm…the intelligence of the designer.
ID doesn’t need a mechanism, what it needs is a mechanism for the restriction of the evolutionary process. It needs to show a mechanism that actually stops change through natural selection and random mutation. I believe the work of Douglas Axe and Robert Marks has shown us that. As well as Mike Behe. And if you can show me that their work is flawed and there isn’t said mechanism, or you can show me that the extrapolation of micro evolution to macro evolution is warranted. Then I will reject ID.
I would be interested in the natural process you speak of though…
Let’s see. Should we invoke the concept of an intelligent being designing things — something we see every day around us all the time? Or should we invoke an unbelievably fortuitous string of particle collisions over millions of years, that just happened to occur in the right place at the right time, again, and again, and again; and which we don’t currently see occurring?
Yeah, I’m perfectly happy with Occam’s Razor. However, it doesn’t cut the way you think it does.
Sal, I don’t think any of those are good reasons to reject ID, per the title of the OP.
1. We regularly infer design before we know there is a designer. One might be tempted to argue, “but we know humans at least exist.” Not necessarily at the particular time and place in question. Indeed, the reason we know humans existed at a particular time and place is because we discover artifacts, not the other way around. The rejection of design because you don’t know the designer gets the arrow of inference backwards. Further, let’s have the courage to throw SETI out the door if we have to know the designer exists first.
2. Yeah, we can’t do experiments. So what. We also can’t demand that a long lost civilization come back and show us what it can do. Again, we infer from the artifact to the designer; not the other way around. I’m willing to cut a little slack on this one, as long as we’re clear that this point is not a weakness of the design inference itself, but rather just a “comfort-level” thing for the individual.
3. This one definitely does not belong on the list. Not only is this not a good reason, it is not even rational. We have a pretty good idea about what is possible within the natural laws of the universe. Further, we know (see prior discussions) that — by definition — a law-like process simply cannot produce the artifacts in question (e.g., information-rich systems). Saying that we’re going to wait for some as-yet-undiscovered law (indeed, for some cannot-even-be-rationally-hypothesized-law) is (i) simply taking the easy way out and punting, and (ii) completely ignoring what we do know.
Gotta call the bluff on this one. Either you didn’t see it claimed by prominent ID proponents, or you misunderstood the claim, which is certainly possible.
Where is this complex specified information you claim has been produced through a purely natural process such as RM+NS?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my number one reason for rejecting ID: It is literally trillions of times worse at explaining the evidence when compared to unguided evolution.
Given that the evidence is so lopsided, there is no rational reason to be an ID supporter, and every reason to reject it.
The simple man requires a simple explanation to satisfy his logic. Are you a simple man Keith? Is the easy explanation your preferred one then?
Having being there once myself I speak from experience that the idea of an unintelligent force like NS & RM to make molecular machines has a certain appeal, it makes us intellectually fulfilled atheists with not a care until you come to the realization that these unintelligent forces can do diddly squat because they can not generate specified information, you see NS & RM can only work with the information it has not the information it does not, it can not create new information it is only capable of losing it.
The implications are of course profound… The designer could be dead, could still be in existence who knows… What is absolutely sure scientifically speaking is that molecular machines do not blindly build themselves. Its not even improbable, its impossible.
And the wise man looks for an explanation that is as simple as possible while still fitting the data.
Do you think Einstein was “a simple man” looking for “an easy explanation”, Andre?
Sure. I have no problem with the idea of stumbling across a lost city and deciding that it was built by humans, for example.
Invoking a designer to explain the panoply of life is a different story. We have no independent evidence that the designer exists, and in any case the evidence is far more favorable to the hypothesis of unguided evolution (link).
Einstein fudged his data to make it simple, because he did not like where the evidence was leading.
If I can ask one thing of you read the article I posted about Occam’s Razor, study it in detail and you will come to learn that humans love simple explanations despite the fact that some are not.
And since you are on a roll with the Einstein quotes lets look at the following
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Say Keith how long have we been trying to generate new information in biological systems? What’s the results? Have we seen any new information after a 100 years of torturing fruit flies?
Actually, he fudged his data to make his model more complicated. He added the cosmological constant to his equations because wanted his model to predict a static universe. Of course, this was before Hubble’s observations showed that the universe was expanding.
Einstein later called it the biggest blunder of his career, which kind of proves my point, doesn’t it? He would have been better off keeping things simple, and he himself realized his mistake in not doing so.
On the contrary….
So I do not agree with your statement of him making it more complex, he tried to make it simpler while it was in fact vastly more complex!
“And the new findings don’t drive nails into the coffins of other dark energy explanations, either. Rolling scalar fields are not dead,” Thompson said. Rather, “they may be more complicated than those original models expected.”
There was no evidence for dark energy at the time Einstein introduced the cosmological constant. The CC was an unnecessary complication, introduced only because Einstein wanted his model to predict a static universe.
The cosmological constant was eventually revived, but only after the evidence for dark energy was observed.
By introducing it he tried to simplify it not complicate it, His constant however prove that it is in fact far more complicated than the simple explanation we try and justify.
I agree with Keiths here: The main problem with a designer/god/whatever is that it is such a gross violation of Occhams razor. To posit the existence of some great, disembodied mind just creates far more problems than it solves. It seems, though, that some people (usually the religious) dont seem to be bothered by this.
If there was even the slightest direct evidence for a great spirit in the sky, I would be interested, but so far, none.
My reason for rejecting ID isn’t on either of your lists.
I believe that to the extent that ID fails to provide an operationalized definition for the term “intelligent cause”, ID’s hypothesis is vacuous; and to the extent ID does provide such a definition, ID’s hypothesis is unsupported by evidence.
If you think that it’s a violation of Occam’s Razor then you don’t understand it correctly.
More on Occoma’s razor;
Please take note how it is being overstated in science, important stuff!
“In my opinion the theory here is the logically simplest relativistic field theory that is at all possible. But this does not mean that Nature might not obey a more complex theory. More complex theories have frequently been proposed. . . In my view, such more complicated systems and their combinations should be considered only if there exist physical-empirical reasons to do so.”
“The Meaning of Relativity” (5th edition)
Sorry to burst your bubble mate.
From the article;
Now I have to ask how many of our materialist friends have spewed out one of these gems without knowing that they have in fact overstated the intention of Occam’s razor?
Occam’s razor is often cited in stronger forms than Occam intended, as in the following statements. . .
“If you have two theories that both explain the observed facts, then you should use the simplest until more evidence comes along”
“The simplest explanation for some phenomenon is more likely to be accurate than more complicated explanations.”
“If you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, choose the simplest.”
“The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct.”
. . .or in the only form that takes its own advice. . .
“Keep things simple!”
So if we use what Einstein said;
“In my view, such more complicated systems and their combinations should be considered only if there exist physical-empirical reasons to do so.”
1.) Molecular machines are empirical evidence for design.
2.) Specified information is empirical evidence for design.
3.) Irreducible Complexity is empirical evidence for design.
4.) DNA is empirical evidence for Design.
5.) Ecology is evidence for design.
6.) Fine-Tuning is empirical evidence for design
Of course this evidence says nothing about the designer how can it? What it does say empirically though is that it was designed, not by any analogy but by the fact that these systems function the same way as our own technology does using the laws of physics.
One wonders why a materialist would assume that nature would be more accurately explained via the more simple, or elegant, explanation? That is a design-based assumption from a Franciscan friar and Theologian. There is no non-theological reason for “whatever happens to exist” to be elegantly explicable.
Occam’s Razor is yet another theological concept stolen by materialists that is not supportable via their own ideology.
Exactly. Just like they have hijacked, tolerance, liberty, logic, reason, and science.
Here is my pet grieve with the materialist, they use the immaterial to argue that the immaterial does not exist.
And they don’t even see their own contradiction….. but you better believe them when they say they are right and you are stupid!
Please have a look at: The Bible – A Bood From God. For me the prophecies did the job.
You are a bit naive. Don’t you doubt that the “inspirators” of your article, you thank, want to use you to destroy ID, indeed at UD?
In fact, your “good reasons to reject ID” are actually bad, as others IDers already noted.
(1) “A good reason to reject ID is the absence of seeing the Intelligent Designer in operation today.” The Being is always “in operation”. Otherwise you could not even have your next breath.
(2) “Lack of direct experiments.” Goto #1.
(3) “Belief that some future mechanism might be discovered.” A “mechanism” creating CSI is an oxymoron, because CSI is not mechanical. This grants us that no mechanism will be discovered in the future.
I have not read the entire thread, due to time pressures, so forgive me if this is redundant.
I am irked by the appeal to Occam’s Razor. Here specifically, as well as, in general. It was intended as a tie breaker. That is, it should only be invoked when there are NO compelling reasons to select one explanation over another. In addition, it is extremely subjective. One person’s compelling is another’s trivial. On top of that, there is no reason, no law, that the more complicated explanation is not,in fact, the correct explanation. With all that, in my opinion Occam’s Razor is quite dull.
There is no good reason to reject ID. ID is a fact – humans employ it. We directly experience ID. ID cannot be rejected upon pain of absurdity.
ID is accepted (even if not under that name) in many scientific disciplines – notably, forensics and archaeology. SETI is searching for signs of non-human ID. Even if we do not know the designer, ID is at least intuitively imposed as explanation for many things – including, for example, crop circles.
There may be good reason to reject ID as an explanation for certain phenomena, the only reason to reject ID entirely, and fight against it tooth and nail, and refuse even the most trivial and obvious concessions, is ideological bias and Darwinist Derangement Syndrome.
Earth to Arthur Hunt-
TURF-13 is NOT an IC system. It is only ONE component. And it arose because of artificial selection.
You lose, again.
LoL! That has already been shown to be pure drivel. For one Theobald does NOT say his evidence supports unguided evolution. And seeing that your entire case rests on Theobald, you lose.
Please prodcue a testable hypothesis for unguided evolution producing,s ay, multi-protein configurations.
Yet you cannot offer a testable theory for your prposed mechanisms of accumulations of genetic accidents.
Heck we don’t even know how they designed and built Stonehenge and that is much more simple than a living organism.
There isn’t any, period.
Umm natural selection incudes mutation- random mutation. And it is very telling that you cannot produce any evidence that natural slection can do anything.
IOW your bluff is called, what will you do?
You did NOT provide a testable hypothesis for unguided evolution. BTW ID includes the OoL and unguided evolution does not.
So you lose, right at the OoL.
Can someone explain to me what anti-ID people mean when they say mechanism? I don’t understand the argument against ID. Can someone help me? Define mechanism and then please, in detial, explain what you mean by ID lacks a mechanism?
Recently, I heard a minister speak about the origins of man. He asked if it really mattered what one believed, whether intelligent design, creation, creationism, or evolution. I was reminded of the words of evolutionist William B. Provine: “What we have learned about the evolutionary process has enormous implications for us, affecting our sense of meaning in life.” His conclusion? “I can see no cosmic or ultimate meaning in human life.”
Consider the significance of those words. If ultimate meaning in life were nonexistent, then you would have no purpose in living other than to try to do some measure of good and perhaps pass on your genetic traits to the next generation. At death, you would cease to exist forever. Your brain, with its ability to think, reason, and meditate on the meaning of life, would simply be an accident of nature.
That is not all. Many who believe in evolution assert that God does not exist or that he will not intervene in human affairs. In either case, our future would rest in the hands of political, academic, and religious leaders. Judging from the past record of such men, the chaos, conflict, and corruption that blight human society would continue. If, indeed, evolution were true, there would seem to be ample reason to live by the fatalistic motto: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.”—1 Corinthians 15:32.
By contrast, the Bible teaches: “With [God] is the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) Those words have profound implications.
The better reasons (i.e., better than those given in the OP) to reject ID include:
The theory gives no rigor or specificity to the concept of design. What actions, behaviors, or features fall under the term? How does design differ from pseudo-design? How does ID theory deal with challenges? For instance, if design means something like selecting and arranging materials, then where to these materials come from? Did the designer create these materials? If so, how? When? By what mechanism? The concept of design itself should make the top point of discussion on Uncommon Descent and in ID literature. Although I only casually follow the ID movement, I cannot see that the foundational term gets nearly the attention it should, and this makes a fatal problem for the theory.
The theory falls short on defining the concept of an intelligent designer. I understand why ID theorists and proponents resist identifying the designer as a specific being. Yet even without identifying the designer, the theory can and must provide details about what the designer actually did, when, and in what manner. This content makes the central core of the theory, if it hopes to serve as theory. ID addresses primarily the origin of life on Earth: it argues that an intelligent designer created the materials and conditions (at least) for life on Earth to develop into what we see today. The problem here emerges from the creative act. The intelligent designer, as intelligent, must act intentionally and with understanding. Without intentionality and understanding, the descriptor “intelligent” cannot apply. Yet, this means that ID theory must address the designer’s intentions and understanding. But ID theory makes no such direct address, for reasons touched upon in item #3, below.
Religious motivations govern the theory. Now, I do not mean to say that “ID is creationism in a cheap tuxedo” or some glib phrase. Surely, however, ID proponents view the theory’s compatibility with broad theism as essential. Equally important, ID proponents despise the monistic, naturalistic view under which much mainstream science operates — and has operated productively at that. Despite the protests of ID proponents, ID ultimately boils down to an embarrassed creationism, a creationism that wishes not present itself as such. This intrinsic duplicity makes ID persistently, pervasively suspect.
The theory’s inferential argument makes a weak case. ID proponents argue that the warrant for ID comes from seeing intelligent design in other aspects of the world. Information, or functionally specific complex information (FSCO), serves as the critical concept here — we only see and know intelligent agents to have the capability to create FSCO, therefore we have sufficient justification to believe that an intelligent agent created life on Earth. Assuming I represent the argument correctly, as I have tried, the non-sequitur from creating FSCO to creating life seems obvious. What’s more, how does one measure the FSCO of a thing — biological or man-made — consistently? How does FSCO get created or destroyed? Both of these questions require unambiguous answers,. Although regulars at Uncommon Descent insist that ID proponents have shown ad nauseum how to measure FSCO, I would prefer to see a single, downloadable article focused on just this topic and nothing else. I cannot fathom why some ID proponent doesn’t make a simple table listing the relative FSCO of (1) a line of text, (2) a face on Mount Rushmore, (3) the Mona Lisa, (4) a reproduction of the Mona Lisa, (5) a frog, (6) a DNA segment, and so forth. Wouldn’t such a table be the most handy, compelling, and convincing demonstration that ID theory can work? How can ID proponents talk about FSCO and its creation/destruction without pointing to a document or reference where FSCO calculations abound for designed and not-designed things? To be useful, ID theory’s main inference ought to have unambiguous support from data; until ID proponents can point challengers and onlookers to independent data that supporting use of the design inference in the domain of origins of life, ID theory remains practically useless in that area.
I could go on, but ID’s problems stand out to all but the cognitively dissonant: a theory that can’t go too deep into its own principles without becoming incoherent; a rationalization of belief that vainly wants the credibility and authority of a science.
No one is fooled.
Lar Tanner…what is interesting is that you provided the same principals by which I dismiss evolutionism.
The theory gives no rigor or specificity to the concept of design.
If ID can not and does not….than that means when it comes to explaining ‘designed” things from your perspective you can not test your mechanism because you can not properly quantify it.
The theory falls short on defining the concept of unguided natural selection.
How can you test whether a theory is guided or unguided when an intelligence is always the result from said experiments? It also falls short in defining what a species is and lacks demonstratable evidence for the extrapolation from microevolution to macroevolution.
Religious motivations govern the theory.
Now, I do not mean to say that “EVO is athiesm in a cheap tuxedo” or some glib phrase. Surely, however, most athiestic biologists view the theory’s compatibility with broad atheism as essential. Equally important, EVO proponents despise the holisitic, non-naturalistic view under which much mainstream science could operate— and will operate productively if it is ever considered. Despite the protests of athiestic evolutionists, EVO ultimately boils down to an embarrassed athiesm, an athiesm that wishes not presenting itself as such. This intrinsic duplicity makes neo-darwinism persistently, pervasively suspect.
(I’m sure you see what I did here…but I don’t hold to it specifically)
The theory’s inferential argument makes a weak case.
Please show us where the mechanism you suggest for the justification that things merely “appear” to be designed, but really aren’t. If you understand ID and EVO then you would understand that the falsfication criteria of one provides the testability of the other. Evolution needs ID and vice versa. How do you test your mechanism if you can not define a species. ID proponents are trying to construct a set of constraints in which to test both evolution and ID…and evolutionists keep destroying it…in essence destroying the testability factor of it’s own theory.
Therefore we are held in check mate until one of the other side can set up reasonable constraints but that will only come from a larger understanding of large biological questions.
Of course it does.
ID is about the DESIGN, not the designer. And reality dicatates that in the absence of direct observation or designer input, the only possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific process(es) used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.
Only if interest in reality = religious motivations.
Not when compared with the anti-ID position.
Evolution rests on an unrealistic mechanism..and ID rests on a weak inference. The side you chose will ultimately come down to whether you believe in transcient mind of not. In my opinion…as I believe is the opinion of Dr. Berlinski is that we don’t even understand how DNA works and what life is…so why are we trying to explain the process by which caused it. What do you mean…”it”?
1- How was it determined that gene duplications are blind and undirected chemical processes?
2- How was it determined that recombination is a blind and undirected chemical process?
IOW, Art, you face the same issues that you have ignored for years.
“I cannot fathom why some ID proponent doesn’t make a simple table listing the relative FSCO of (1) a line of text, (2) a face on Mount Rushmore, (3) the Mona Lisa, (4) a reproduction of the Mona Lisa, (5) a frog, (6) a DNA segment, and so forth. Wouldn’t such a table be the most handy, compelling, and convincing demonstration that ID theory can work?”
For you? No. Why? Because of this:
“I could go on, but ID’s problems stand out to all but the cognitively dissonant: a theory that can’t go too deep into its own principles without becoming incoherent; a rationalization of belief that vainly wants the credibility and authority of a science. No one is fooled.”
The way you’ve expressed yourself in the second precludes the first from *ever* being a possibility no matter what’s offered you.
No one is fooled.
Arthur Hunt’s claim is addressed here and found to be wanting:
How Arthur Hunt Fails To Refute Behe (T-URF13)- Jonathan M – February 2011
Dr. Hunter’s work, and subsequent vitiol from atheists, is referenced here
further note of interest:
On the non-evolution of Irreducible Complexity – How Arthur Hunt Fails To Refute Behe
Excerpt: furthermore, T-urf 13 involves a kind of degradation of maize. In the case of the Texas maize–hence the T—the T-urf 13 was located by researchers because it was there that the toxin that decimated the corn grown in Texas in the late 60?s attached itself. So the “manufacturing” of this “de novo” gene proved to make the maize less fit. This is in keeping with Behe’s latest findings.
Thank you to all for your thoughts, please keep writing.
I mentioned Denton, Berlinksi, Sternberg, Davies, Jastrow, and I suppose I could even add Hoyle and Tipler to the list. Their writings influenced me to believe in ID, and Jastrow especially kept me believing in God when I almost left the Christian faith. Then I read Denton and became more convinced of Special Creation than at any other time previously.
Then there was Mike Gene who argued the case for ID better than anyone on the internet. But he said he thought the evidence for ID was quite weak. 😯
I find myself accepting ID, but having doubts. Nevertheless looking at the molecular machines in biology, it’s really too hard to believe this was all an accident or the product of mindless material processes.
Some might wonder and say, “Sal you argue with anti-ID critics so vigorously as if you are convinced there is no good reason to reject ID.” I acknowledge it may seem that way, but what I really argue against are sham arguments against ID. Even supposing ID is ultimately wrong, there is the notion of due process in criticizing a hypothesis, and sham arguments are not part of due process.
Sham arguments are:
1. based on misrepresentation
2. based on misreading
3. based on uncharitable interpretations
4. based on equivocation
5. based on non-sequiturs
6. based on circular reasoning
7. based on fabricated data
I called out sham argument regarding Irreducible Complexity:
mouse trap illustration vs. 3-glasses-3-knives illustration — Irreducible Complexity, Depth of Integration
And sham arguments surrounding Spencer’s notion of “survival of the fittest” in
Death of the Fittest
A good example has been the recent dust-up over 500 coins heads. I took umbrage to what some of TSZ critics said. Some of the criticism were uncharitable at best and wrong at worst. It was jaw dropping to hear some of the debate about 500 coins being all heads. People, myself included, spent hours arguing over the issue. If a critic is going to reject ID, reject it for good reasons, not the sort of sophistry I was hearing over the last few days.
The reason I wrote the essay is that, there are many things I think are true, but can’t in the strict sense be said to proven as true like a theorem of math proceeding from faith axioms.
Mark Frank’s comment hit a chord with me when he said he would take ID seriously if he saw the Designer in operation today. I sometimes think that would definitely be the case for my ID heroes like Michael Denton….
I felt it appropriate to acknowledge a position I disagree with but find respectable. If one will reject ID, reject if for credible reasons. I liked RDFIsh’s reason though I know he and I will likely argue about some of the points some day:
As far as KeithS, that’s the first time I heard an appeal to Occams razor. I give that one honorable mention for novelty. Thanks for that one, KeithS.
With respect to Irreducible Complexity, I can’t disagree more. I think IC should be criticized but not for some of the sham reasons coming from Ken Miller or Nick Matzke that relied on falsehoods, equivocations, misrepresentations and circular reasoning.
With respect to CSI? I’ve had mild criticisms of the concept myself. My understanding is Berlinski had some reservations as well. But I say this, if one will criticize CSI, criticize it for the right reasons, not for some of the reasons I’ve heard Perakh, Shallit, and Elsberry put forward.
I can’t prove ID to be true in the ultimate sense any more than I can prove God’s existence. I simply accept them.
What I feel I can prove is when critics of ID put forward sham criticisms of an ID argument, I can prove the existence of the sham.
If a critic will criticize ID, I think it should be done with credible arguments, not sham arguments. I’ve put on the table what I think are respectable reasons for rejecting ID even I don’t personally subscribe to those reasons. IMHO, they at least better reasons than the sham arguments I’ve frequently heard from Dawkins, Matzke and Miller and many others.
I think some of reasons you listed are respectable, except motivations for a theory. Motivation for proposing a theory is irrelevant to its truthfulness.
Kepler proposed celestial mechanics because of his views of music and astrology and theology. The motivation was ultimately irrelevant since it accorded with the empirical facts better.
Thank you very much for posting, I think you made credible points otherwise…
Pardon, but these sort of questions have long since been answered substantially so I do not see why you want to suggest that there is no reasonable answer from design theory:
And, all of this was either already in hand or close to hand when the objection was raised.
I therefore cannot accept that the objection was meant to be other than dismissively manipulative and exploitive of the ill-informed.
Very nice to hear from you Gordon. Post it here or in the fish thread or at the bottom of some future thread I author. Very nice to hear from you.
Thanks for that, Sal. Again, you are someone who I see following evidence toward conclusions rather than the other way around. And I share your belief that biological systems could not possibly have arisen by the evolutionary means we’re familiar with.
I find it difficult to find people who will engage in debating issues regarding the meaning of “intelligent cause” in the context of ID. The entire theory boils down to this single term – the sole explanatory construct of ID! – and yet ID proponents are generally loathe to discuss what that term might mean specifically.
Anyway, if you’d like to start a thread to see if we can determine what it is that ID is proposing as the cause of life, that would be great!
Yes, let’s do that soon. Feel free to post a longer essay here, and I’ll base a thread on it. I’ll post your essay at UD in its entirety. Thank you for your comments.
I’m sure you’ve written on the topic before, so feel free to cut and paste.
You might be surprised which points I actually might agree. 🙂
This is an important point. The materialist is convinced that everything is the result of particles and energy interacting over time. For the materialist, everything — by definition — is mechanical. So they insist on a mechanism for everything (though, ironically, when you attempt to pin them down on a mechanism for evolution you will get various vague responses about mutations and selection and lots of time, with no real answer).
Unfortunately for them, design is not a mechanistic theory. Design posits that there is something in addition to matter and energy in the universe, something real that can impact matter and energy in ways that are not amenable to law-like processes or pure chance. So design proponents need not offer a mechanistic explanation.
This refusal to provide a mechanistic explanation of design drives materialists crazy; but that is just a failure of the materialist’s worldview expectations, not a limitation of design theory itself.
That IS the answer!
Can you point to any human-designed object that was not produced by a mechanism?
Seriously Eric, and think your analysis here is profoundly flawed. I don’t think you understand evolutionary theory, and I don’t think you understand “materialism”. Your description simply doesn’t fit what I or any so-called “materialist” thinks.
Sure, we think things have causes – but you do too. What is the difference between a cause that moves something because it is a particle and a cause that moves something because it is mind?
The main difference I would say is that “materialists” think that minds are emergent not causal. But it’s a fairly small difference in practical terms.
If your Designer causes things to move around, then it does exactly the same thing as our “material” things do – it is no more or less “mechanistic”.
Unless your Designer doesn’t cause things to move around, in which case I don’t see how it can work.
Design is a mechanism. Directed mutation and selection is a specific design mechanism. a targeted search is a design mechanism and Dr Spetner’s “built-in responses to environmental cues” is yet another. Designed to evolve/ evolved by design-> mechanisms.
What we do NOT have to know before making a design inference, because that comes later, is the specific process(es) used. But given our knowledge of enginering, we have plenty to choose from.
It is a given that Elizabeth does not understand evolutionary theory. She stands in stark contrast to what Ernst Mayr stated.
You have already been given the answer. That you choose to ignore it means that you ain’t interested in any debate.
That is simply not true:
Ya see RD, it’s your easily refutable tripe that makes IDists loathe to debate with you. It ain’t the subject matter…
To help Elizabeth,
Old school Darwinism
21st century claptrap….
Elizabeth, have yo taken the time to read the seeing past Darwin series? Highly recommended!
‘Occam’s Razor is yet another theological concept stolen by materialists that is not supportable via their own ideology.’
Don’t confuse them, William. There’s a good chap.
You took the words out of my mouth, nirwad. The conception of this thread does not reflect well on you, scordova.
On the other hand, by dialoguing with the ‘nutters’ of atheist nescience, this blog is always bound to ‘make another fool, where there was only one’, on a somewhat more populous scale. Though I must admit it keeps the blog lively – kind of trick-shooting fish in a barrel.
Personally – perhaps unlike most – I’d prefer hearing you talking among yourselves, sane, deists, at the very least. It’s not that the materialist nescientists are incapable of keeping up with the implications of the progress of science. They just don’t want to.
And, you know, they might as well spend their time reading comics, as pondering the latest scientific advances, for all that they derive from them, in terms of their metaphysical, indeed, theological, implications – apart from their pay-cheques, of course. Ah, those despised creationist IDers, Planck, Einstein, Godel et al, who provided the paradigms that provide them with their livelihood.
ID/creationism may have minor defects in the details. However they represent the unique rational explanation for the origin of life and species. Evolutionism cannot even be considered a competing theory or hypotheses, because a theory/hypotheses must have at least a level of rationalness greater than zero, while evolutionism is totally absurd (rationalness equal zero), from whatever point of view one considers it.
As someone said, evolutionism, far from being scientific, is like a cultural “zombie”, i.e. a narrative “corpse” artificially animated for political/ideological reasons.
Here is a thought, if theism is a product of natural selection how did atheists get it right to become greater than their cause?
Effects can never be greater than their causes, scientific fact….
Getting CSI from NS
I’m willing to entertain the idea that this is just a semantic misunderstanding, but the question I was responding to is the demand that design proponents outline a “mechanism” for how, say, first life was designed.
There are certain design processes that designers sometimes follow and we could speculate on these processes, but that isn’t germane to the design inference itself. (We can know the pyramids in Egypt were designed even if scholars continue to debate how it was done. The two questions are separate.) We know how design works as a general process: a designer sees a problem or has an idea, the designer studies the relevant physical parameters and concepts, the designer then creates a proposed solution. The design may be right the first time, it may require some reworking and refining, and so on. This is a design process.
Those who demand a “mechanism” of design aren’t talking about this. They are demanding some kind of mechanistic explanation. That simply isn’t relevant. If I demand that you tell me the “mechanism” that caused the iPhone to have a 4″ screen, that is an irrational demand. The reason it has a 4″ screen is that the designers decided that was the size of screen they wanted to use. Period. We can speculate on why that might have been by considering the overall product, its intended function, battery life, production costs, and on and on. But the ultimate reason it has a 4″ screen is because the designer wanted it that way. There isn’t a “mechanism” that explains it.
And the fact that there isn’t a mechanism does not invalidate the ability to infer that it was designed. It may frustrate the individual who wants to see a physical mechanism as the ultimate cause of everything, but that is a limitation of that individual’s view of reality, not a problem of the design inference itself.
Oh, stop being silly. A particle only does what it does because it is headed that direction and is obligated to interact in a certain way when it hits the next object. In the truly materialist worldview (and I have not argued that you hold to this view), the particle is doing what it does because it, in turn, was set on its trajectory by some other interaction of matter and energy, on and on back to the Big Bang or the Multiverse or whatever purely materialistic “cause” the materialist posits. A mind can choose to interact or not, depending on goals and foresight and planning and purpose and an end in sight.
Let’s not get into semantic distractions in the current discussion about what a mind is, whether there is free will, and so on. The question here is whether design must result from some physical mechanism. Obviously it need not. That is the whole point of design — the ability to select a contingent and, through choice and purposeful action, instantiate something that would not have otherwise come about. If we want to debate whether designers exist or whether everything we think of as mind, choice, free will, etc., is all an illusion, that is a separate topic.
This was already dealt with in a prior thread. I don’t think you’re going to convince any objective observers if that is the “evidence” you think demonstrates CSI emerging from natural processes.
Thanks for the links, although I’m not quite sure what point you are making with them – could you be explicit?
I’ve taken a lot of time to do a lot of things, but I don’t know what you are referring to here – could you link or cite?
That ain’t natural selection and it ain’t CSI. Not only that but reproduction is the very thing that needs to be explained in the first place.
This is getting to be fun! Finally, I’m getting to see it.
Why bother with the nub of the question, Joe?
I think CSI is a non-starter with respect to living organisms. As far as I can tell, no one calculates or knows how to calculate CSI as defined by Demsbki. DFSCO, on the other hand, can be calculated but has no relationship to CSI apart from the fact that both are put forward as measures of information (AFAICT).
Demsbki’s CSI would have been calculated from the numbers of available replicators and events, an analysis of an independant specification (albeit a rather sketchy and arbitrary one), and a probability calculation which took account of any appropriate mechanisms that may apply (eg heredity).
The calculations done by KF seem to be similar to the ones I would do if asked to estimate the chance of a random process producing each example at the first attempt. In the case of the frog, it is equivalent to the probability of producing one particular individual of the species Xenopus tropicalis from scratch at the first attempt. Why should anyone think that a calculation of DFSCO is any way equivalent or within a hundred miles of the same ball park as the CSI calculation that no one can do?
Elizabeth…could you give me a definition of mechanism. Like what is a mechanism in a biological context?
Also, I don’t know much about math but the article you wrong doesn’t seem to get the idea of CSI. You are only counting the heads and ignoring the tails is essentially what is happening. You might as well reduce to a coin with only heads on each side. But I don’t think that anyone doubts that after flipping a coin 500 times and landing on heads each time or getting to your estamite as the goal is information at all. It happen by necessity.
It seems like biological evolution doesn’t work this way. It counts heads and tails…it doesn’t just ignore tails. I guess we could refer to heads as a beneficial mutation..and heads as a degenerative one. But that would necessitate the coin has a higher probability of turning up heads(which makes it an unfair coin). And then of course your analogy is missing one thing. You don’t have enough goals. You only made one. In a biological context, time is the ultimate goal. It’s the one thing that differs micro-macro evolution. I don’t see a time constraint in your analogy of winning the jackpot. How much time would it take you to reach 10^60?
FCSI is a powerful objective means for determining design. It can be tested alongside a process. As far as I can tell there is no simulation (GA, EA etc…) that shows that the Darwinian mechanism can generate AND sustain FCSI. The only way around this is to conclude (ignorantly) that FCSI does not pertain to biological systems.
Haha just found this imagine…this is essential what evolutionists believe.
Opps….forgot the link
James Barham wrote a beautiful article, it is a 4 part series, enjoy
I, too, believe that “the mechanism might be forever inaccessible to us.”
But this neither makes ID unscientific, nor untrue. The only repercussion is that ID can’t be used to PROVE that God exists. But, of course, the entire field of science lies outside of this.
Now here’s why I think the mechanism will forever remain inaccessible to us. It involves a thought experiment.
Let’s assume in this thought experiment that an Intelligent Designer exists and is capable of intervening in nature, able to adjust/change/invent genomic information at will.
Now let’s suppose that the Intelligent Designer acts on some animal, changes its genome which then changes in its behavior and morphology. Let’s assume that the changes made were at 100 locations within the genome, and involves de novo gene creation, inversions and subtle SNPs.
Finally, let’s suppose that the Intelligent Designer chose to do this to an animal on an isolated island, known to man, and where the species that has now been changed was completely known, and for whom a complete genome readout was available.
We would then have two organisms, related by a kind of pseudo-common descent, whose genome and morphology and behavior has changed, so much so that this new form is decisively a new species.
Now, I submit that there is no way in the world to “prove” that the mechanism involved was a kind of ‘creation’ brought about by an Intelligent Designer. The only thing that we ‘know’ are the ‘before’ and ‘after’ understandings.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the change brought about was entirely, positively NON-neo-Darwinian/Darwinian.
At the same time, however, we cannot completely eliminate the possibility of some kind of ‘natural process’ effecting this change. Thus, we cannot “prove” that the Intelligent Designer brought about the changes demonstrated, nor, ad fortiori, that the Intelligent Designer exists.
[In the back of my mind, I have here the cecal valve growth of the lizards on Pos pod in the Adriatic. It’s similar, but only in a limited way, to what occurs here.]
All this said, in the end what is decisive here is that “neo-Darwinism” is completely incapable of explaining what the changes that occurred in the thought experiment.
To me, this is the most important ‘science’ that ID performs—weening the fawning acolytes of Darwinism away from their beloved, yet errant, theory.
However, we can go further. Given our ‘information age’, the most reasonable explanation for the results of the thought experiment is the involvement of some kind of ‘designer.’
Maybe, as your third reason for not accepting ID states, this means that some ‘other’ final explanation will be determined; but that doesn’t mean that in the meantime Darwinism/neo-Darwinism shouldn’t be jettisoned.
BTW, Denton believes in “design”; he just doesn’t believe in a ‘designer’, nor one that operates using primary causation.
I just added:
Loved that can of Campbell’s Primordial Soup… Baxter’s soups are very enticingly packaged, but not so good to the taste. My wife’s were a million times better. Though she never mastered anything like a primordial soup, even though I badgered her about it.
A bit like the CERNE business, when people, I think, were worried a new universe might be created, or this one destroyed by a chain reaction, or some such. Except, I expect, for Esteban Hawkins and his fellow-multiversers who, might well have been hoping against hope, the former might eventuate.
Joe, no matter how many times you make the claim, plant breeders in the 1940’s and 1950’s did not design, sculpt, assemble or in any way, shape, or form create Turf13. This protein (that forms a multi-subunit gated ion channel) arose (from scratch, with no protein forebears) by random, undirected processes that occur all of the time in nature.
As far as IC or not, I’ll believe Behe, who states, in no uncertain terms in Darwin’s Black Box, that gated ion channels are IC. And Jed Macosko, who told a discussion at ISCID that single polypeptide chains are IC. Sorry – when you get your third Ph.D. in advanced ID studies, then maybe I’ll change my opinion on this. But for now, Behe and Macosko overrule you.
BA77, Jonathan M’s “review” of my essays really says nothing. He seems to think that, because someone did not have a tiny video camera inside the very cell in which Turf13 arose, then we don’t know how things happened. But we plainly do. The process involved well-understood biochemical reactions, no miracles required.
Jonathan M also seems to think, as did Dembski before him, that females are evolutionary dead ends. (That is where goes the argument that the Turf13 genotype is a deleterious one.) There is not much I can do if that is the opinion of IDists – it’s wrong, of course, but it is also a discussion-stopper. Best to leave those with such opinions to their own thoughts, and move on to more interesting and fruitful conversations.
Heh. Axel, your mentioning CERN reminds me of one of my physics professors mentioning a similar concern regarding the first nuclear detonation, namely that the chain reaction might continue without stopping. Apparently, the risk was deemed sufficiently remote, and besides they really wanted see what would happen.
And hey, if they were wrong, well there’d be no one left to complain, right?
Yeah, Occam’s Razor is applied too broadly, serving as an unwilling champion of the status quo.
Looking at some examples from Science, consider the consequences of always trying to stick with the simplest explanation. How often has this been the right approach? Consider these once so-called “fundamental truths” of Science:
– The cell is the basic unit of life consisting of undifferentiated protoplasm.
– The atom is the smallest indivisible particle of matter. No wait, it’s protons, neutrons, and electrons. No wait, it’s . . .
– Life is generated constantly and spontaneously.
– Earlier and smaller life forms are simpler than modern, larger life forms. Thus, fossils of an ancient organism that is phenotypically identical with a modern one, must of necessity be assigned to a different genus and species.
– Geological processes are always gradual and uniform.
– Evolution leaves a trail of vestigial organs and junk DNA.
– Existence is deterministic and everything is completely Newtonian: mechanistic and predictable.
– We must practice “genetic hygiene.” After all, the German race is the most advanced and superior to the others. Thus, because we have the power to control evolution, we have the responsibility to do so. We are not bound by arbitrary and petty social conventions.
– All behavior is simply and solely the product of operant conditioning.
– Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. The embryos demonstrate it beyond question.
– Only YOU can prevent forest fires.
– “Living fossils.”
– Excess calories make you fat.
Regardless of the existence of a divine creator, assuming that creation is designed, purposeful, and complex would have accelerated scientific progress through history rather than hindering it.
You ARE in favor of scientific progress, right?
It seems like things get more complex as we delve down into them rather than simpler. Thus, Science would be better off regarded and taught as a humble, infinite journey rather than as a proud, infallible destination.
Like any heuristic, Occam’s Razor can be misapplied. That doesn’t invalidate it.
Occam’s Razor does not ask us to stick with the simplest explanation, and anyone who thinks so doesn’t understand Occam’s Razor.
Well, the argument (as I recall – and I did not have an unbanned account here at the time) seems to hang on how you define CSI. And as no two ID proponents seem to be able to agree on how you define CSI, then I’m not surprised that it’s not going to convince anyway.
Perhaps you could link to the thread and recommend what you see as the key rebuttal?
But in that experiment (and no, it’s not the only one – I could refer you to Lenski’s AVIDA as a better example)
I started with a string of random virtual coin-tosses, and evolved a string of coin tosses that were highly specified by Dembski’s compressibility criteria (and definitely one for which Design would be inferred were a human to toss them), simply by “RM + NS”. Moreover, the fitness criterion did not specify a compressible sequence (so the “solution” was not “smuggled in” via the fitness function). It simply rewarded sequences where the product of the strings-of-heads was high.
The only sense in which it did not have CSI by Dembski’s definition is that Dembski rules it out BECAUSE it is highly probable under the Darwinian hypothesis! So at worst, my exercise demonstrates the circularity of Dembski’s definition.
But more interestingly, it demonstrates what must be the case – that the Darwinian mechanism can add information (where information is a low probability sequence in a Shannon complex string, Dembski’s definition).
Dembski would say that it has moved it from elsewhere, rather than created it – but whatever the terminology, what was a string low in SC evolves to become a string high in SC. So Darwinian mechanisms CAN add information.
Which moves the question to where they get it from (if we believe the Law of Conservation of Information). I’d say they get it from the environment.
I agree that they are beautiful articles, beautifully written. There is just one problem: they elegantly slay a straw man.
He makes two good points:
1. Darwian evolution cannot account for the prerequisites for Darwinan evolution (which is self-evident) – those prerequisites are: self-replicators that replicate with heritable variance in reproductive success.
2. That it it is possible that the simplest possible entities that do it are still too complicated to have come about by chemistry.
These are valid criticsms of a non-Design account of life, although not of Darwin’s theory, because his theory was explicitly not intended to explain how the prerequisites for Darwinian evolution came into existence, and of course cannot.
However, the focus of Barham’s critique is Darwinian evolution itself, and he repeatedly characterises “Darwinian” principles, contentions, theories, in a way that no “Darwinian” would recognise.
But it’s interesting – it tells me a lot about where the ID argument is coming from so thanks! That is not a jibe. I will think further on his articles.
Querius: the principle of parsimony does is not the principle of “sticking with the simplest explanation”.
Occam’s rule is: “do not multiply entities unnecessarily”.
It means that if you can explain your data by a model that includes factors A, B and C, or, alternatively, by a model that includes A, B, C, and D, then you should choose the first (the one without the “unnecessary entity”).
But if you then find new data that cannot be explaned by A, B, and C, but can if you also invoke D, then D is no longer an “unnecessary entity”, and you must include it in your model.
In practices we always have unexplained data – they are called the “residuals” in the model, if only because of measurement error. For this reason, “parsimony” can be used to select models that explain the most data for the fewest parameters. This tends to lead to more robust models (models that will give the same result on different samples).
I don’t follow are we saying Darwin never suggest OOL? What about his warm little pond? Is that a creationist/ID myth?
Do you hold that successive macro evolution is true and that one species gave rise to another? That is a major leap of faith even more than I have!
I will tell you what causes speciation.
LOSS of information not new information…. check it up!
Darwins said almost nothing about the origin of life. Hist “warm little pond” was a line in a letter to Hooker, the only references in The Origin are to life being breathed into one or a few forms.
“Probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some primordial form, into which life was first breathed’”
Andre: I don’t think “successive macroevolution” is true. I think “macroevolution” is simply the term we give to studies of evolution above the species level. I’d say all evolution is “micro”, with the possible exception of a few larger-then-normal chances, see Margulis’ symbiosis theory for the origin of eukaryotic organelles, which is now widely accepted as plausible.
I’d say that “speciation” is the process by which one population divides into two separately, micro-evolving populations, giving rise, eventually, to two non-interbreeding populations which continue to evolve by adaptation and drift in different directions.
In contrast, longitudinal evolution is when a single population continues to drift and adapt without speciating, and later generations may differ markedly from earlier, even though no speciation has taken place.
So to say “one species gave rise to another” is not really accurate. We can say that one lineage gave rise to two, resulting in two different species; or we can say that one lineage split off from another, and adapted to a different environment, such that after a while, the original lineage remains similar to the ancestral population, while the split-off lineage looks very different. But both are equally “evolved” from the shared parent population.
As for “loss of information” and “new information” – I’d want to see very precise definitions of information as intended in that claim before I’d buy it.
Certainly sometimes some functions are lost over time, but some functions are also gained. Sometimes a function is lost as the “price” of another. But not always. If we look at phylogenetic trees (which you may not believe, but that’s the argument you need to address), we see both loss and gain of functions down lineages.
But to turn that into an argument about “information” gain or loss, you’d need to be very precises about how you are defining “information”.
But thanks for responding. Communication is good 🙂
I don’t follow are we saying Darwin never suggest OOL? What about his warm little pond? Is that a creationist/ID myth?
Darwin wrote in a letter, this:
The letter was part of correspondence concerning the question as to how life got started in the first place, which of course Darwin’s theory did not, and could not, attempt to explain. But in this case he was addressing the the issue of how simple the simplest self-replicator had to be to be Darwinian-capable, and suggests: simpler than any extant organism.
In other words, his “warm little pond” was merely a hypothetical, proposed off the cuff in a letter about something different and more interesting.
But note the bolded, and also another comment by Darwin in the same correspondence:
What he did write, famously, at the end of Origin, was:
In other words, his theory specifically did NOT embrace OoL (“life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one”) but what happened next.
F/N (as kairosfocus would say!)
He did suggest that natural abiogenesis might have occurred. In fact he regretted implying that some kind of biblical “creation” must have produced the first ancestral life forms. He did not rule out a non-Design OoL (hence his “warm little pond”) speculation. But it was emphatically not part of his theory.
(apologies for messed up formatting above: the first lines are of course Andre’s).
Context for last quotation above
In other words, he was open to a non-Design (whole natural) account of OoL but did not think we were anywhere near having one.
Loss of function mutations cause speciation not gain
Here is an example of such a study
I never made that claim.
That is just a bald assertion, Art.
Again I ask how you determined how gene duplications and recombinations are random, undirected processes?
If you cannot answer then you have no clue.
LoL! Again Art that is because they contain COMPONENTS, whereas TURF-13 is only ONE component. IOW you need to demonstrate random, undirected processes produced the membrane and all other components involved.
They could be. However you STILL have NOT demonstrated random, undirected processes produced TURF-13. You just assume it.
Also natural selection did NOT have anything to do with it. And THAT is Behe’s claim.
So you lose, again.
What a joke. We understand what is going on inside of computers but that does NOT mean that it is all random, undirected processes. Also no miracles are required in order for a computer to run properly.
IOW Art is still as clueless as ever. And apparent;y proud of it.
So here we have Art Hunt, still full of it and proud of it.
You did not generate CSI in any way, shape or form.
AVIDA has already been exposed as a fraud.
1- You don’t understand natural selection- there isn’t any reward
2- Coin toss results do NOT reproduce
3- Reproduction is the very thing that youy need to explain
That is totally wrong. As I said you don’t even understand the concept.
What information did it add? What new functionality was gained? Or are you also ignorant of “information”?
Dembski would tell you that you did not create CSI.
No, I don’t think so, Eric, though I take your point. It’s not the “mechanism” of the design process people are asking for, it’s the “mechanism” of the fabrication process. We are not asking for the “mechanism” by which the iPod came to have a 4″ screen. We are asking for the “mechanism” by which the designer, having decided on a 4″ screen, caused matter (atoms, molecules) to move around in such a manner as to come together as a 4″ screen.
Can I ask you a question:
When you see time-lapse movies of, say, cells dividing and growing, creating new cells, do you attribute that growth and movement to physical and chemical forces, or do you think there is some other force (perhaps a Life Force?) pushing them around? In other words, what is the energy source that moves the molecules into position, and thus governs their direction?
If you think it is a Life Force, I respect your view, but disagree with it – but suggest that searching for, and characterising, such a force would be a useful direction for ID research.
If you think it is not – it is the workings out of perfectly well-described biochemistry that have a predictable (or fairly predictable) cascade, given the original cell, but that the ancestral cell contained a DNA variant that enables it to make some new protein, what pushed the ancestral nucleotides into position? What mechanism?
I’m not being silly, Eric – certainly not intentionally, and not, I believe, unintentionally.
And my question is: how? How does a mind cause a particle to move? In your view? For example, do you think that human minds cause particles to move?
Well, one man’s semantic distraction is another woman’s key question! If minds can move things, the world is one way; if minds are the result of things moving, the world is another way.
So establishing the direction of causality here seems absolutely germane!
I suggest that the fact that you think it is a “separate topic” is the very reason we disagree – indeed, the fundamental difference between so-called “materialists” and non-materialists.
You (well I, I guess) could make a case, I suggest, that “materialists” are those who think that mind emerges from mindless matter/energy/time/space, while non-materialists think that mind must precede matter/energy/time/space, and creates it (in the case of the creator-mind) and moves it around.
How would you test it? In other words, how would you set about finding out whether our neurons fire because we think, or we think because our neurons fire?
In any case, I think it’s much more pertinent to the ID question than bacterial flagella!
That’s not what this study is saying. It doesn’t even mention loss-of-function mutations. It is talking about “deleterious mutations” and epistasis. Epistasis refers to the interaction between alleles.
Let’s take two “deleterious mutations”. We’ll call them A and B.Neither causes loss of function, but both are slightly less good than the parental sequence, and slightly reduce the organisms chances of reproduction.
However, if there is “synergistic epistasis”, inheriting both A and B will be more than twice as bad as inheriting only A. On the other hand if there is “antagonistic epistasis”, inheriting both A and B will be better than inheriting one alone, and may even be advantageous.
What the author is saying is that once two populations have started to diverge (for example, gulls on the east don’t breed with gulls on the west, simply because they are too far apart) so that there is non-homogeneity in the prevalence of both A and B, both synergistic and antagonistic epistasis between A and B might contribute to non-hybridisation, and therefore further decrease the capacity for two incipient species of gull to interbreed.
For example, with antagonistic epistasis, if there are lots of A+Bs in the west, western gulls will be fine, because most will have both. And if As and Bs are both quite rare in the east, Eastern gulls will be fine, because most won’t have either deleterious mutation. But when western and easter gulls mate, the offspring are highly likely only to have either A or B, in which case they will be less fit.
In other words hybrids will tend to be less fit than “pure breds” and further genetic separation between the two will result.
If the epistasis is synergistic, then there’s a slighlty different scenario. If A quite prevalent in the West, and B in the east, western and eastern gulls will mostly be fine, because having either A or B isn’t a very big deal. However, if a western gull mates with an eastern gull, the hybrid again will tend to be unfit, because having both A and B is far worse than having either alone.
And so, again, interbreeding between the species will be suppressed. One of the first signs of speciation is when members of two recently separated populations tend to produce hybrids that are less fit than “pure” bred offspring.
On the other hand, with very small populations, hybridisation can restore vigor (by increasing genetic diversity).
My # 1 reason to to reject ID in biology i.e. as science:
Without a mechanism, there’s no actual explanation that we can test, so its not science.
Note this definition doesn’t propose an actual explanation. It’s just an assertion that an explanation involving intelligence exists.
That’s fine, and arguable and maybe even correct. But without a testable explanation, ID remains in the realm of metaphysics, philosophy or religion, not science.
ID may not be science, but that does not mean automatically it is religion.
If I have a coin in a box and shake it, look at it at 11:27 AM on 6/26/13 and determine it is heads. You have no way of scientifically verifying the claim via a process of repeated experiments 10 years from now. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
The fact that a true claim about the history of the physical universe is not accessible to science does not make the claim automatically a religious claim. It might be true in the physical sense.
Notions of good and evil etc. are definitely in the realm of philosophy, claims about physical universe are not necessarily religious just because they are inaccessible to science.
Well, that is pretty silly then.
Quick — without looking it up on Wikipedia or anything — please tell me the details of the fabrication process for a solid state hard drive.
What’s that you say, you can’t? You don’t know the fabrication process? You can’t tell me what the first step is, what the second step is, what the fabricator does and looks for in the process? Yet you know it is designed. Hmmm . . .
I don’t know why it is so hard for people to understand that the following two are separate — logically separate — questions:
1. Is x designed?
2. How was x fabricated?
Do we know for sure whether the stones of Stonehenge were put in place with earthen ramps or with a system of ropes and pulleys? No. And it has absolutely zero bearing on our ability to determine that Stonehenge was designed.
Is it interesting to know how something was fabricated? Sure.
Is it interesting to know why something was fabricated? Sure.
Is it interesting to know when something was fabricated? Sure.
Is it interesting to know by whom something was fabricated? Sure.
And all of those interesting questions are separate from the initial question of whether something was designed.
Let’s cut to the chase. Do you acknowledge that it is (in principle, and setting aside calculations of CSI and the like for a moment) possible to determine that something was designed without first knowing how it was fabricated?
Yes, yes, the fabrication is interesting, as a second-order question. Do you acknowledge, however, that whether something was designed is a separate question from how it was fabricated?
Design is a mechanism. Just look up the definitions of both words.
Also directed mutation is a specific design mechanism. A targeted search is another design mechanism, as is Dr Spetner’s “built-in responses to environmental cues”.
And again for the learning impaired- ie all anti-ID types:
In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the ONLY possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific process(es) used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.
IOW only losers think we have to know what the exact process used was before we can determine design.
And we have a testable explanation. And if you don’t like the design inference all you have to do is step up and demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can account for it. But forst you need a testable hypothesis, which is something you still do not have.
Well, they aren’t separated Eric – if something exists AND it was designed, it must have been physically fabricated according to that design.
I mean you can design something without actually fabricate it (I design things in my head all the time, but don’t actually make them) but if you are starting with the evidence of the artefact itself, then if it was designed, it must have been fabricated. So it is perfectly sensible to ask HOW it was fabricated – and, indeed, it’s exactly the methodology normally used in design detection, for example by archaeologists and forensic scientists.
So no, I don’t think they are separate questions at all.
It has a huge bearing, Eric. Sure, we don’t have to know exactly how it was done, but we must postulate that the designers were able to do it. If the postulated designers were ghosts, for example, how on earth would they have been able to physically move the stones? And to take a more realistic example, where there really is doubt – the way you determine whether a chipped pebble is an arrowhead, or just a chipped pebble, is to examine it for how it was done. Or whether a lethal wound was inflicted by a murderer, or the dead person himself by accident.
And in this case, when the postulated designer is not in evidence, and we are to consider the possibility that it might be a disembodied mind, it is absolutely critical to consider how that mind would move matter around – because that’s something we can potentially actually test.
They may be separate queries, but they are intimately related, and directly pertain to the weight you put on your conclusion. If you found something like Stonehenge on Mars, you would, rightly, conclude Design. You would also, almost certainly, then ask: what kind of Designer did this? You might postulate many kinds of physical designer (beings like us, albeit possibly with deeply alien biology). But if for some reason you ruled that out, and someone suggested “a disembodied mind” – the question immediately arises: how does a disembodied mind move large blocks of stone?
At which point, skeptics may say: I think we’d better revisit that alien hypothesis. Wouldn’t you?
No. I don’t think that’s how scientific enquiry works. I think it is possible to theorise that something was designed without knowing how it was fabricated, and that indeed might be the most fruitful looking theory. But to get any further, you’d devise testable hypotheses arising from that theory. And the very first approach, I’d say, is: how was it done?
For instance if I was serious about ID research I’d want to set up differential hypotheses, such as:
Did the Designer seed the earth with pre-formed cells capable of reproduction with heritable variance in reproductive success? How might the first cell have been assembled? Did the Designer Mind interact with the molecules in a “warm little pond” and cause them to coalesce in the desired configuration, then leave them to evolve? If so, did the Designer Mind subsequently step in on occasions to ensure that certain sequences appeared at crucial steps? Or is the Designer Mind constantly present in all cells, supplementing the forces of chemistry with nudges in the desired direction?
I’m not trying to lampoon here, I’m just trying to show that IF we are really saying that a Designer Mind (or some other intrinsic teleological principle of the universe as suggested by Nagel) actively moves things around so that molecules are governed not merely by the chemistry and physics that we know about, but also by other forces that mean that a chemical bond that that would otherwise have broken doesn’t, and one that would not otherwise have formed does?
Perhaps. But that is what is being proposed – and if it happens, it can be looked for, because it would mean that the fundamental forces of the universe – gravity, strong force, weak force, electromagnetic force – are regularly supplemented by some other hitherto unobserved force, possibly unique to living things (“life force”?)
That’s why I say the critical question is: can mind move matter, or does mind emerge from moving matter?
ID, essentially, posits that mind moves matter. “Materialists”, essentially, posit that mind emerges from matter.
If the former is true, then there is no problem in explaining the physical world in terms of a Designer Mind, at least in principle. But to be persuaded that it is true, I’d want some substantial evidence!
Because if matter emerges from mind, then there can be no mind until matter has arranged itself to form mind-possessing entities like ourselves. And for that, of course, YOU want substantial evidence!
And I don’t have conclusive evidence, and never will. But I do have postulated mechanisms that have evidential support.
I’d like to see at least a hypothesis for how a Designer Mind would interact with matter to make it behave differently to the way undirected matter behaves. That’s not a problem when we postulated biological designers, because they have muscles and tools. We know how designed things are actualised in matter, when the designer is a biological organism. But have no evidence that a mind can actualise a design in matter if that mind-owner has no muscles or tools.
Or do we? BA at least recognises the problem, although I don’t find his evidence very convincing!
But do let me say how much I appreciate this conversation!
True and that proves that the design inference, ie Intelligent Design, is NOT a scientific dead-end. We will try to answer that question.
However we do NOT have to know how soemthing was designed and manufactured before determining it was designed.
Therefor it is a separate question regardless of what Lizzie thinks.
How do we know people were able to build Stonehenge? Stonehenge- and because we know that mother nature is incapable of such a thing.
Cause and effect relationships, Lizzie.
In the absence of direct observation or designer input, the ONLY possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific process(es) used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.
That is how it is done in archaeology and forensic science. And if SETI ever receives something that is how they will do it too.
Only people who do not understand science or basic investigation techniques try to make ID operate differently than established research venues.
Essentially, no, ID does not posit mind moves matter. ID would be OK with that, but ID is silent on the designer.
And that is because we know that in the absence of direct observation or designer input, the ONLY possible way to make any scientific determination about the designer(s) or specific process(es) used, is by studying the design and all relevant evidence.
Most people with an average IQ can figure that out…
So no, I don’t think they are separate questions at all.
Of course they are separate questions. Even in your own post you admit they are:
When you find Stonehenge on Mars, you would rightly conclude “design”. You would then ask questions about that. That makes them separate questions, no matter how intimately connected and no matter how quickly after the initial finding of design you ask those follow-up questions.
But then when Stephen asks you:
Look at your answer
But you just said that if you found “Stonehenge on Mars” you would rightly conclude design, and then start asking some follow-up questions.
You can’t have it both ways. Either you can rightly conclude upon finding Stonehenge on Mars that it was designed, or you can only theorize it.
You admit they are separate questions, and then try to backtrack and claim they are not; you then admit you can conclude design without the further questions on observation alone (Stonehenge on Mars), but then say later one cannot make such a conclusion until the follow-up questions are answered.
Let’s not kid ourselves; there are some things that we could find on alien planets where we would immediately know such things are intelligently designed. No follow-up questions necessary. Of course, there would be follow-up questions and research, but to claim that such a conclusion cannot be rightly reached without those follow-up questions is absurd.
This is the kind of absurd nonsense DDS offers, such as when people deny that a space shuttle was intelligently designed.
Design can be rightly concluded before any follow-up questions are asked. Dr. Liddle even admits this. Of course, we all know this is trivially true. Just as we all know it is trivially true that if someone flips 500 coins in a row we would know – not “suspect”, not “strongly suspect”, but know to a certainty that we know anything with certainty – that it was not a fair coin toss. We would suspect it at 10 coins, seriously suspect it at 20, and by the 50th coin toss we’d know something wonky was going on. We’d be certain well before 100, much less 500.
Anyone that says differently is lying or deceiving themselves in service of their ideology.
If I were an ID fan, by which I mean, for the purposes of this post only, someone who believes that the world was created by a mind (by definition, pretty well, divine) who brought it about with the intention of creating intelligent life – a universe that could “know itself”, but also that such a mind would want to be detectable in some physical way (as opposed to being inferred from the mere beauty and glory of existence), and which had therefore brought into being a world in which that mind was an active force, constantly monitoring the playing out of the natural forces it had invoked, to ensure that at necessary junctures, where things seemed finely poised, or unlikely to happen without a nudge, nudged …
If I were such an ID fan, but also a skeptic, a person who wanted some evidence that my belief was well-founded, I’d set up a research program something like this:
First of all I’d declare that I was working on the assumption that the world was brought into existence by a Mind, making it clear that this in itself is not possible to determine, but is my working assumption.
I’d then make it my primary research question to try to ascertain whether, and, if so how, that Mind (I will capitalise it, to distinguish it from mind-bearing organisms) actively intervened in the world. I’d consider the following explanatory frameworks:
1. That the interventions were rare and unpredictable from within the universe. Intelligent denizens of the universe (us) would therefore consider these interventions “miraculous” or “supernatural”, and we’d observe a world that obeyed “regular” or “natural” laws most of the time, but that these laws were from time to time suspended, for reasons clear possibly only to the Mind itself. So we’d see answered prayers, rare visions, unexplainable inklings of knowledge we could not have acquired by normal means, and it would be perfectly reasonable to postulate that at key moments in the world’s history, these miraculous interventions similarly stirred up the molecules of early earth and brought forth modern-type cells, then multicellular creatures, and perhaps humans possessed themselves of minds.
2. That the interventions are constant – so constant that we normally perceive them only as “noise” in our measurements – a slight bias here and there to natural stochastic processes in which a slight shift of an ion here or an electron there can have vast effects (like the proverbial butterfly in Peking). If that were the case, we’d expect to see “miracles” extremely rarely, and always explainable away by these pesky “Materialists” as being “within the confidence limits” of natural processes. This would be much more difficult to test, but I’d keep working on it.
3. That there is a perfectly “natural” force in the world that we simply haven’t detected yet (this is Thomas Nagel’s idea) but which, just as gravitational forces tend to draw massive bodies together, pulls matter towards a state of consciousness. Thus any chemical reaction likely to make conscious beings more likely will itself be more likely than one that wouldn’t.
I don’t know how I’d go about deriving testable hypotheses for all these, but I’d certainly actively attempt to do so. My default would be “mind brought into existence a self-sustaining universe the laws of which were carefully chosen to ensure that intelligent life was inevitable”, against which I’d test these three “active” explanatory theories: Occasional; Nudge; and Teleological Force.
I’d abandon Dembski’s Design Inference, because I think it is fundamentally flawed. I’d give Behe’s principle a go (it would be useful for Occasional and Nudge, in particular) and perhaps emprical experiments for Teleological Force.
Not that you asked for my opinion 🙂
Newton, Linneaus, Pasteur- that is what they did. IOW what Lizzie asks for has been done.
However ID is about the detection and study of design in nature. What Lizzie wants is what comes AFTER.
As I said she is proving that ID is not a scientific dead-end as it leads to new and unanswered questions that we will try to answer.
Let me rephrase: you’d justifiably hypothesise that it was designed.
As I made clear in my post.
And you’d then test various Designer hypotheses. You might end up rejecting your initial hypothesis. All conclusions in science are provisional.
I think that was a joke. Plenty of human designs aren’t very intelligently designed. Look at Microsoft Vista.
Nobody has lied or deceived themselves, William, and no-one has even said that they wouldn’t know there was “something wonky going on”. Most of the argy bargy has been about why we would know. I think we’d know because we know that “something wonky” is much more common than “500 Heads”. We also know that embodied designers are much more common than naturally formed henges, at least on earth (we don’t know that for Mars). What we don’t know is how common disembodied designers are, and I don’t know any ID proponent (and certainly not Dembski) who seriously proposes an Embodied designer – if only because an Embodied designer would itself be a candidate for a Designed artefact.
And my point is that positing a disembodied Mind as the origin of living things is that you are also positing that that Mind moved stuff around. In other words, that it exerts physical force.
That’s fine – but that’s why we ask for something a little more than “oh, we aren’t interested in the designer”.
But to do that, you have to be ruthless with arguments that turn out to be flawed. One of those is CSI.
I’d also suggest rehabilitating the Reverend Bayes.
Liz, speaking about a program designed to generate CSI:
How did the program come to do this? Was this reward chosen randomly? Or was it artificially selected?
How many potential rewards exist for your fitness criterion? Of those potential rewards, how many will give you the same functional result? How many will give you any functional result?
Once the reward was selected, the result was inevitable, was in not? Could someone else not artificially select a reward where the result would be always and consistently not functional?
Are you certain there was no CSI smuggled in through the fitness criterion?
Good question. It was artificially selected, but I did not know the optimal answer (not being very Intelligent) before I selected it. In other words, it solved my problem, which was: what kind of sequences have the greatest product-of-runs-of-heads?
But I’ve done ones with randomly selected fitness functions too. Always, the result has a pattern that is hugely different to that expected under the null hypothesis of random draw.
And it’s easy to see why – as soon as you constrain an iterative process in some way, you will get a pattern that doesn’t look like an unconstrained pattern!
Of course it doesn’t mean that the pattern is “designed” -it simply means that to get past the constraints you have to adapt or die. And as long as there is heritable variance in reproductive success and that variance includes variants that can do something to get round the constraints, you will see neat stuff evolve.
All will give you functional results if by “functional” you mean what I mean, which is “properties that help the critter survive in that environment”. As for number of rewards – most in silico evolutionary algorithms reward (or punish – both can happen – they can utilise a new resource, or fail to avoid a hazard) usually they are thin on the ground, but the more you provide – the higher-dimensioned the fitness landscape – the more possiblities for adaptation there are. And of course nature is far richer in resources and threats than anything we can provide in a computer.
Certainly, the fitness was bound to improve. But I didn’t always get the optimal sequence – sometimes it would get stuck on a “local maximum”. As for “functional” – anything that confers fitness is functional, from the PoV of the virtual organism. Whether it does anything functional for the Designer is another question. This distinction is important, and too often elided.
No “CSI” but plenty of information, in the form of the environmental hazards and resources. That’s where the information in the genome comes from. In this case, I put it there. In nature, nature “puts” it there 🙂
But my strings started off with no significant Kolmogorov compressibility and ended up with lots. They all had lots of Shannon complexity. That Specified Information that they ended up with got into the sequences via the evolutionary algorithm. That evolutionary algorithm consisted simply of an environment that provided resources and hazards, plus a starting population of self-reproducing critters.
And while you MIGHT need a Designer to make the self-reproducing critters, you DON’T need a Designer (pace Dembski) to get an environment full of resources and hazards. Or at any rate, if you do, you need it/her/him a lot earlier than the start of Life!
In my honest opinion it is your view of CSI that is flawed.
So yes, I have been ruthless in pointing this out.
i would think one would have to go to Mars to examine the thing up close and look for other relevant evidence. Airchair speculating should never be confused for science.
Well, I don’t think I actually denied the space shuttle was designed. I merely queried how intelligent the designers were.
What scale of measurement are we applying?
Compared to Alan Fox, the dsigners of the space shuttle were/ are super geniuses.
However using Alan as a scale of measure is just wrong on all levels. 😛
In a Nutshell:
When we use the term “design” in normal discourse, it refers to human beings thinking up plans and then using those plans and producing an artifact.
In the context of ID, it can’t mean this, because human beings can’t have designed the first life in the universe.
So ID says that some other type of intelligent agent was responsible – one that is unknown to our (as Stephen Meyer likes to say) uniform and repeated experience.
Now, our experience invariably confirms that intelligent agency requires complex mechanisms chock-full of CSI in order to behave intelligently, but nothing that was full of CSI itself could logically be responsible for the first CSI. (If the Designer was a complex, embodied organism, we should conclude that we are its descendents rather than the product of its bioengineering efforts!)
So ID leaves the realm of our uniform and repeated experience entirely (contra Meyer) and hypothesizes that there must have been something that can design and build things the way human beings do, but somehow do it without the sort of incredibly complex brains and bodies that human beings use to do their designing and building.
Well, you can hypothesize whatever you’d like, but as far as anybody knows, no such thing is possible. There is a mountain of evidence that what we call “intelligence” is critically dependent upon highly complex machinery that processes large amounts of information in highly complex ways (and this is true whether or not materialism is true). ID waves all of this aside and blithely asserts that some sort of “agent” could design and build things without the benefit of complex machinery such as a human brain and body.
Now, here is the kicker: Even if someday somebody came up with some reason to think that might be possible, why should we think that the way this “agent” proceeded to create CSI-filled biological systems has any similarity at all to the way we humans using our brains design and build things?.
If this hypothetical brain-less Designer existed and designed life, then we could not say that anything except the outcome (a complex design) was the same. And for that reason, ID ought not claim that humans’ ability to design and build things has any known relation to the hypothetical brain-less Designer’s ability to design and build things.
Always? What if the fitness function is one of the following?
– The 253rd coin is heads
– The coins designated by three RNG rolls are all tails
– The first tails is immediately followed by a heads
– The entire sequence contains either five heads or five tails in a row
– There are at least five heads in coins 100-110
Surely there are nearly an infinite number of similarly arbitrary methods for determining the “fitness” of 500 coin tosses, are there not? Are you sure that more than a small fraction of these will lead to patterns of coins that are significantly different to a random draw?
I’m curious, Elizabeth, what you think of the ‘extended mind thesis’ (EMT) by Clark and Chalmers (among others). Their thesis seems to affirm that “mind *can* move matter.” Could you speak about that here or link me to where you’ve written about it on TSZ (or elsewhere)? Thanks.
It’s called ‘univocal predication,’ i.e. created in the imago Dei, human beings therefore ‘create/design’ like their/our Creator. That’s for ID-theists (which constitute 98%+ of IDists) a worldview presupposition of why they embrace IDism.
Speaking strictly natural-physical scientificity, no. But if one involves philosophy and theology/worldview in addition to natural-physical science, then a provocative conversation ensues. Iow, it’s the purposefully uncapitalised/Capitalised designer/Designer (or substitute more pregnant and provocative terms) distinction. Would you welcome a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation about the origins of life, RDFish or do you think OoL is a ‘strictly scientific’ question/problem/theme/etc.?
We don’t know.
Strange because we infer design because of our uniform and repeated experience. THAT is what Meyer says.
We are only asking about the first CSI in this universe. Not the first CSI.
We cannot study the designer (yet), so that is out of bounds. ID is not about the designer.
But anyway, RD, we go with what we know. And what we know says that humans design complex machinery. And just because humans were not around that doesn’t mean mother nature miraculously gets the power to do so.
We only know how we and other animals design. So we go with that.
And that is another reason why we do not have to know how it was designed- most likely it was by means that are out of our conceptual capacity.
As long as there is competition between virtual critters for getting closest to the target, then they will all evolve.
However, algorithms in which the fitness function IS the target (like WEASEL) are boring. Much more interesting are fitness functions that require a solution to a problem, which may have many solutions, not known in advance.
Well, you have to be careful here. There may be many that lead to sequences that are not unlikely under the null of random draw, but they will not be random nonetheless, because random refers to a process, not a pattern. But it’s possible that some of these patterns would not be rejected under the null of the binomial theorem. On the other hand, that is not the only test – if the sequence that evolved is specified in the fitness function then whatever that pattern is, it will be “specified”.
It’s even possible to produce patterns that reliably fulfill criteria for “randomness” – but they aren’t random, because random processes sometimes generate sequencers that don’t fulfill criteria for “randomness”!
But what I will say, is that it is perfectly possible for evolutionary algorithms to solve problems that the designer of the algorithm didn’t have a solution for. So the solution is not “programmed in”. The algorithm finds it. And it does not find it because it is “trying” to solve our problem; it finds it because it is “trying” to survive and breed, and we have nefariously set up the environment so that solution to its problem is also a solution to ours.
In nature, the last thing doesn’t matter. All that is needed is an environment that poses hazards and provides resources. And we consider that it looks “designed” if it is cleverly adapted to survive in that environment. And that works.
It seems reasonable.
Well mind can move matter perfectly well if mind is the property of a physical organism with arms and legs and tools!
What I’m asking is how those non-materialists who think that mind is immaterial, with no associated body, think mind exerts force on matter.
Obviously it would be a logical impossibility to say that before any living thing existed anywhere, some living thing designed the first living thing. If you’d like to postulate that other universes exist, that’s fine – perhaps there are an infinite number of universes, which of course would invalidate all of the fine-tuning arguments and make everything sufficiently probable 🙂
In any event, like I said, if you’re going to hypothesize that a living organism designed life on Earth, it would be simpler to assume that we are this being’s descendents rather than the product of its bioengineering.
In our experience, we infer that human beings design things. (Some might wish to add other animals, or even computer systems, to that list). However, in our uniform and repeated experience, there is no such thing as something that can design and build anything without itself being a highly complex physical entity.
AHA! I knew we would eventually agree about something! Well said, Joe!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why it is specious to relate the hypothetical cause of CSI in biology to human beings’ cogntive skills! Thank you very much!
We only know how we and other animals design. So we go with that. And that is another reason why we do not have to know how it was designed- most likely it was by means that are out of our conceptual capacity.
I have been saying that for a long time.
You’re welcome but I don’t see how that follows.
Here’s the thing. ID’s claim is that the same thing that accounts for computers and automobiles here on Earth is responsible for eyeballs and flagella in biological organisms, and that thing is called design.
What I believe you’ve said here is that the way human beings consciously plan and physically create things might be utterly different from how life originated – so different that we can’t even comprehend it.
I agree completely about that. It implies that, contra ID, the explanation for CSI in biological systems is likely to be utterly different from the explanation for CSI in human artifacts.
Given that “evolve” could mean just about anything in this context, OK??? I’m not sure what that has to do with your claim that:
Aren’t some of the above examples of fitness functions for which your claim is likely not true?
I agree! As a designer, I really dislike boring things. For instance, I find random collisions between particles a bit boring. I feel similarly about life without any real meaning or purpose beyond propagating my genes. I find the idea of divorcing or cheating on my infertile wife and abandoning my adopted son for the sake of gene propagation especially boring, and downright repulsive.
I agree again! But I don’t really see nature taking on the role of evaluating solutions for fitness based on how interesting or intriguing the solution is, do you? I mean, gene propagation doesn’t really care about how boring or interesting it is for me to remain married to my wife, does it?
Yes, but your claim above was about the pattern being hugely different to that expected. Clearly, lots of fitness functions can lead to patterns that cannot be discerned as being different to a purely random draw.
Sure. And it is that kind of circular thinking that prompts IDists to point out that an independent specification is a more reliable indicator of design. In any case, surely you can see that any specified pattern in the fitness function that is then used as a specification for the sequence itself cashes out to CSI that has been smuggled in quite directly and blatantly via the fitness function, can you not?
That is the thing.
That is a possibility. Again I refer you to my Amazon tribe analogy:
Say an Amazon tribe exists that has never seen us nor our technology. While out hunting they come across some of our technology- say a downed airplane.
They wouldn’t have any idea what it was or how it came to be but it is a safe bet they would know it wasn’t from mother nature.
Design is design. You started with the comment that design is design. A design process we may not (now) understand, but intentional design none the less.
Heck scientists of 200 years ago couldn’t comprehend what we are capable of today. It would seem magical even though it is easily explainable.
So if that thing is called design, then it isn’t all that utterly different, just beyond our current understanding and capabilities. But it is still design.
Telekinesis or psychokinesis. And guess what? I didn’t just invent those words.
And when they’ve answered that question they can visit this thread and explain how they reconcile the existence of the soul with the evidence from split-brain patients.
I’m a bit suprised, given how important the soul is to many folks here at UD, that no one is able to defend the concept.
Why do all of you believe in it if you can’t justify your belief?
Hello Dr. Liddle..
I am not sure you really addressed my claims. I am no scientists, but where is your analysis of events in a temporal light? How much time would it take given your CSI experiment for someone to win?
Well I have answered Elizabeth’s question AND explained how we reconcile the existence of the soul with the evidence from split-brain patients.
Why does keiths prattle on so when he is easily refuted?
keiths, denial is not a river in Egypt! 🙂
Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
Here are some of the papers to go with the preceding video;
Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research – Scientific Study of Consciousness-Related Physical Phenomena – publications
Correlations of Random Binary Sequences with Pre-Stated Operator Intention: A Review of a 12-Year Program – 1997
The Global Consciousness Project – Meaningful Correlations in Random Data
I once asked a evolutionist, after showing him the preceding experiments, “Since you ultimately believe that the ‘god of random chance’ produced everything we see around us, what in the world is my mind doing pushing your god around?”
Lartanner @ 52
This seems like a concocted complaint. The meaning of ‘design’ as used by ID proponents is obvious from its usage – namely, the “purposeful arrangement of parts” (to quote Behe). Design (including its physical realization) involves knowledge, foresight, choice, and ability to manipulate matter in ways that are probabilistically beyond the reach of chance and necessity. Specificity and rigor are, of course, important in ensuring clarity in discussion, but ‘design’ is not some esoteric concept that people are incapable of comprehending. It’s really pretty simple. Even a grade-school child can grasp the concept of what it means to design something and how design differs from ‘accident’. Even if we run with the rough definition you present, asking where, when, and how the arranged materials came from is patently unreasonable. Would you ask an archaeologist to speculate about where, when, or how a proposed designer acquired his/her materials in order to justify that some artifact was actually designed? Those questions, interesting though they may be, are logically downstream from the conclusion that said artifact was the product of intelligent causation. Not having answered them in no way damages the validity of the design inference. Further, even the briefest reflection shows us that not all (or even most) historical circumstances are recoverable by inferential reasoning. Life is not like a Sherlock Holmes novel wherein a brilliant sleuth can make shockingly detailed inferences with only the scantest data. For example, is there some scientific procedure that will allow us to determine what a person ate for dinner exactly a year ago? At this point there is not. That knowledge is lost to history. In my opinion, it is a great strength of ID that it refuses to get bogged down in hopeless speculation that goes beyond what the data actually reveal.
This was addressed above, but it’s worth pointing out that the identity, motives, etc. of the designer are excellent examples of historical realities that probably cannot be recovered inferentially. Another example shows the reasonableness of the preceding statement: Imagine a stone arrowhead (that it is such is not in doubt). What inferences can be drawn from the arrowhead? Maybe its size provides a clue as to what sort of game it was intended for. Perhaps we can make a conjecture about whether or not it was actually used. But can we determine, without any supplementary source of information, what individual made it, what his/her mental state was, how the designer acquired the materials, or the precise process used to make the arrowhead? All we can offer are speculations, some perhaps closer to the truth than others. But this still doesn’t invalidate the fundamental conclusion that it was designed, made by an intelligent agent.
It is likely true that many (if not most) ID proponents have metaphysical commitments that align with the implications of ID. However, the metaphysical positions of ID proponents are irrelevant to the empirical data and the logic that undergirds ID. It also bears pointing out that this objection generally reflects one of the few remaining socially accepted forms of prejudice. Many persons either explicitly or implicitly adopt the view that a person with “traditional” religious sensibilities is intellectually inferior or even dishonest (as compared to a non-religious person). Hence, any time such a person proposes a scientific idea that accords with his or her metaphysical commitments, it can be simply written off as an attempt to legitimize said metaphysical commitment. That this is a form of prejudice is clear from the simple fact that this degree of scrutiny only goes in one direction. It is always directed at ID proponents. Does anyone doubt that Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, PZ Meyers, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Eugenie Scott value the materialistic account of origins because it suits their worldview? Many of them have made it quite clear that Darwinism (and its subsidiaries) fits quite nicely with their metaphysical presuppositions. Has anyone stood up to criticize this? Do news organizations interviewing Richard Dawkins ask him tough questions about how his metaphysics interface with his science? This motive-mongering is only leveled at ID proponents, and it is a shameful manifestation of socially-sanctioned prejudice.
That’s not a non-sequitur. If we find that living systems have characteristics that reliably point to intelligent causation, then we are justified in inferring that they were designed. The inference is based not on analogy between man-made objects and biological systems but, rather, on the observation of identical qualities shared between the two. ID simply says that functional information is functional information regardless of where it’s found, and the same goes for FSCO. If one leaves aside preconceptions about “natural” vs. “artificial”, the inference to design is obvious.
Personally, I don’t think that dFSCI (digital functionally-specified complex information) or FSCO (functionally-specified complex organization) are catch-all metrics that we can successfully apply to anything. Again, in my opinion, dFSCI should be used only in appraising digital character strings; trying to use it to assign a numerical value to something like a painting seems fraught with difficulty. I realize that others will disagree, but that is the nature of science – there’s disagreement and lots of discussion that will hopefully lead to some resolution. On the other hand, I consider the descriptor FSCO to be primarily qualitative. It describes any system whose functionality is sharply dependent on the careful spatial and temporal arrangement of its components. In my opinion, qualitative descriptors have immense value even if they resist computation.
EA @ 110
Excellent comment! The persistent demand raised by ID objectors that ID must address the nature of the designer is obviously fallacious. It’s easy to postulate any number of scenarios where anyone would unhesitatingly infer design even though no conclusive evidence about the nature of the designer exists. My own homespun example is the Antiques Roadshow. There are often artifacts that appear in the program for which information about the nature of the designer is simply not forthcoming. Yet the assertion that said artifacts could not legitimately be ascribed to intelligent agency is plainly absurd. Anyone who claims that lack of biographical information about an inferred designer invalidates the design inference is suffering from an abject lack of reasonableness.
Were you ever able to find that paper that you mentioned in your comment that BA linked to earlier? You know the one about de novo genes in mitochondrial DNA?
Nice to see you. Long time.
Nice to see several other whom I have seen in a while paying us a visit.
EL @ 113
EL @ 120
Backpedalling aside, what is it that would allow a ‘justifiable’ design hypothesis?
Ok, so now we definitely agree that for all ID can tell us, the cause of biological complexity might be utterly different from the cause of complex human artifacts like automobiles and computers.
What we’ve just agreed to is that we might be talking about two utterly different sorts of things. Just because ID people use the same word for both things does not make the things the same thing, obviously. We can call a hot dog a “dog” but that doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as the four-legged variety.
Uh, no – I said this: ID’s claim is that the same thing that accounts for computers and automobiles here on Earth is responsible for eyeballs and flagella in biological organisms, and that thing is called design.
My point is that the argument ID makes is specious, because it equivocates on the word “design”. On one hand it refers to what human beings do when they plan and build some complex machinery, and on the other hand it refers to something that we both agree might be utterly different from that.
If something is beyond our comprehension, as you say the cause of life might be, then it is just that: beyond our comprehension. You can’t then start pontificating about what it is! What do you mean intentional? How do you know it’s intentional if you can’t even comprehend it, and it might be utterly different from what human beings do?
Let’s see about that. She wrote:
That’s impressively vacuous. It’s almost as bad as Molière’s med student, who when asked “Why does opium put people to sleep?” replied “Because of its dormitive power.”
Does “motive power” explain why cars move, Joe?
No, Joe, you just said “hardware malfunction” as if that were an explanation. It’s not, and it doesn’t reconcile the existence of the soul with the evidence from split-brain patients.
Try again. Or better yet, don’t. Let’s see if someone else who believes in the soul wants to give it a shot.
I haven’t been keeping up with this discussion and therefore walking into this a bit blindly (I will take time later to look through it however), but concerning your question about the soul I am very much of the opinion that we are made up of 3 things; body, mind and Spirit (soul).
Why should the workings of our brains therefore have any bearing upon our souls?
Optimus, the only “backpedalling” going on is my attempt to be as clear as possible, having failed to be.
Please do not insinuate anything more.
What I’m trying to get at is that science consists of forming explanatory theories, deriving testable hypotheses, and coming to provisional conclusions.
If you found Stonehenge II on Mars, you would be justified in theorizing that it had been designed and built by intelligent agents, for many reasons. But as human designers and builders seem extremely unlikely, you’d have to posit some other kind.
So I guess I’m asking: at what point would you say: well there don’t seem to be any embodied designers or builders so maybe it was a disembodied kind?
And what would that imply for your theoretical framework?
Would you not now reconsider: perhaps there is a geophysical explanation for this extraordinary object?
Would you still consider that some mind-levitation force was more likely than something akin to the processes that created Bryce Canyon or the Giant’s Causeway?
That’s why the fabrication part is so importatt.
I know that there can be designs that are not fabricated (Michelangelo may have had far more designs in his head than were ever carved in marble).
I know that things can be fabricated but not designed (pattern of marble chips on the floor of Michelangelo’s workshop was fabricated by not designed)
I assume that things can be neither fabricated nor designed (at least some materials from which sculptures are carved).
But I know of no thing that can exist AND be designed AND not be fabricated.
And yet that is what is proposed for Life in the ID model. I’m not saying it’s impossible. But I do think that ID proponents need to recognise that the analogy from human designed has a huge hole in it: Humans do not merely dream up designs – they make those designs into designed objects.
To do the first thing perhaps they only need immaterial minds (I would disagree, but I do understand the idea that minds can be separate from bodies), but material bodies – arms, hands, tools.
And those things leave traces.
Where are the traces of the fabrication process of biological organisms?
I agree with your description of Occam’s Razor. My point was precisely that many people involved in scientific fields misquote and misapply Occam’s Razor, force-fitting simplistic explanations and assumptions as scientific dogma.
Let’s take “junk” DNA for example. In the absence of evidence for functionality, we assumed that it was non-functional, called it evolutionary junk, and moved on. There was no reason to investigate further. But this approach, as usual, was wrong.
However, if instead we had assumed that DNA was intelligently designed, we’d not label most of it junk, but rather we’d have assumed that it has an unknown function and keep trying to reverse engineer it. As a result, scientific progress would have been accelerated in this area.
Things almost always turn out to be more complicated as we delve in, not simpler. Thus, it would be more reasonable, not less, to anticipate this outcome!
Agreed, Querius, but what makes you think that “we” “assumed it was non-functional, called it evolutionary junk, and moved on.”
Who is the “we” in that sentence? And what is the “it” that is supposed to be non-functional? Did anyone declare certain sequences “non-functional” and move on?
I’m not trying to be contentious – I just think details matter. Just as I get stroppy with “evolutionists” who dismiss all those who propose some kind of Design model with the “creationist” brush, I also get stroppy with ID proponents who make sweeping statements about “the academy” or “evolutionists” all thinking something or doing something.
I know of no scientist engaged in the field who EVER said: “this stuff is junk, I’ll ignore it”. We’ve known for decades (well before the “junk” term was flippantly coined) that non-coding DNA is functional. The question is: is there non-functional DNA? And the answer appears to be “yes, in large quantities”. But this isn’t because certain sequences were a priori “assumed” to be “junk”. It’s because there are good reasons to think that much of it is “junk”, for example, the broken GULO gene in some primates, and the vast sequences that appear in some onions, but not on other almost identical onions, despite both appearing to be perfectly viable.
The real “junk DNA” isn’t that evolutionists think that lots of DNA is junk, therefore evolution, it’s that the phylogenetics of DNA are strongly consistent with the evolutonary model, including the breakage of functional genes in certain lineages, and the insertion of viral DNA in certain lineages, and the fact that some sequences are highly conserved down lineages, and others are not.
I’m absolutely sure that we will continue to find that functions for some DNA sequences for which we do not currently know the function. I’m sure most evolutionists are the same. But we do not assume that there will be functions for all sequences, because our model does not require that there should be. The fact that there appears to be some non-functional sequences is not even predicted by evolutionary theory – if the production of non-functional sequences was “expensive” metabolically, we’d expect them to be selected out (like eyes in cave fish). The fact that it seems that they are not is not evidence for evolution, but rather evidence that they are cheap to produce.
oops, submitted before I finished!
Secondn to last paragraph should begin: “The real ‘junk DNA’ story isn’t that…”
And I also meant to thank you for a constructive conversation 🙂
That remains a possibility but it still is design.
Please tell me how design cannot be design.
If you think so then please make your case if you can.
No, RD, I said it may be beyond our understanding and capabilities.
So what? That does NOT mean we cannot determine that it was intentionally designed.
Because of our knowledge of cause and effect relationships. As Dr Behe said:
“Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”
Telekinesis or psychokinesis.
LoL! YOU are vacuous, keiths.
It is an explanation. Jst because YOU are too stupid to grasp it doesn’t mean anuything to me.
I have decades of experience dealing with hardware malfunctions. I know they can and do cause issues which made it look like the design was bad.
Not only that, keiths cannot support anything he has said about the soul. IOW he set up a starwman and has duly attacked it.
How can we test the claim that darwinian processes produced a bacterial flagellum? What would the testable hypothesis be?
Where are the traces of the fabrication process of Stonehenge? Oh no, it must have been built by a disembodied mind!
A Cautionary Tale About Invoking Intelligent Agency in Science
1) We observe that long, specific sequences of nucleotides in our DNA are needed to encode functional proteins. We find it unlikely that these sequences would occur by chance, and so we compute the probability. Since there are four bases and the gene sequence might be 100,000 bases long, and only a tiny fraction of this astronomical number of possible sequences would result in a functional protein, we compute that the chances of a functional sequence appearing by random mutation are vanishingly small.
So we conclude that this can’t be happening by mere chance. The only thing we know of that can look ahead at what sequence of bases will be needed to create a functional protein is an intelligent agent, and so we conclude that the best explanation for the information encoded in our DNA is intelligent causation.
2) Now imagine we’re living 275 years ago in Boston, Massachusetts. We see that during thunderstorms, two out of every ten lightning strikes hits a church steeple. We find this peculiar, and compute the probability that this might happen by chance. We measure the city and find that it covers over 3 billion square feet, and the church steeples cover only 3000 square feet total. This means the chances of lightning hitting a church steeple is only one in a million, and so the odds against the observed frequency of strikes happening by chance are vanishingly small.
So we conclude that this can’t be happening by mere chance. We see that the lightning leaves the cloud at a high altitude and heads for these church steeples, and so it appears that the lightning bolts are aimed from the clouds toward the steeples. The only thing we know of that can look around from the clouds, identify the church steeples, and aim something at them is an intelligent agent, and so we conclude that the best explanation for lightning hitting our churches is intelligent causation.
The Morals of the Story
1) Just because we haven’t figured out how something happens in nature doesn’t mean there isn’t some explanation that we currently have no conception of.
2) You can always invoke “intelligent agency” as an explanation of anything, because it doesn’t really mean anything except “something that can do anything”.
(I had intended this post for this thread although I posted it in the “What Qualifies…” thread by mistake)
A Cautionary Tale About SCIENCE
The science of today may be overturned by the scientific discoveries of tomorrow. That is just the nature of science. However the science of today cannot wait for what tomorrow may or may not uncover. The science of tomorrow may confirm the science of today.
Convictions of alleged criminals are overturned because of new evidence. People once thought innocent or never even thought of are found guilty of crimes committed.
This is NOT a perfect world. We do the best we can given the evidence and our knowledge of cause and effect relationships.
And that is why ALL scientific inferences are tentative.
You make a good point regarding the provisional nature of scientific results.
Still, I’m sure you’d agree that we require some level of empirical evidence before we consider some particular claim to be scientifically supported. If we don’t understand something, we can’t just take a guess at what might be the cause and then say that is currently our best scientific theory. And offering an “intelligent agent” as an explanation is consistent with any possible data, so there’s no way to tell if it is correct (unless, say, we have corroborating evidence for the existence of the designer).
Hi RD Fish:
In the word of Rocky- “Absolutely”.
And yet with darwinism that is exactly what we have done.
That is where you are wrong. Newton’s four rules of scientific investigation, Occam’s Razor, and parsimony all say that you only add agencies WHEN REQUIRED. So if it is ever demonstrated that blind and undirected chemical processes can produce CSI, for example a living organism from non-living matter, then we wouldn’t say that a designer is required. ID would be a non-starter.
Then given all of the other evidence besides biological, for example:
And we have a consilience of evidence for ID.
I agree, yes (to the extent that “Darwinism” holds that our current theories fully account for biological complexity).
There’s really only two ways to tell if “agency” is the explanation.
1) Characterize the “agency” in such a way that observed data can confirm or disconfirm the actions of the agency
2) Have some corroborating evidence that such an “agency” existed at the time and place of the phenomenon in question
ID can’t do either of these things.
The rules of scientific investigation- only add agencies when required.
The design is evidence.
As Dr Behe said:
“Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”
Thank you, Elizabeth.
I admit that I didn’t qualify the “we” or the “it” for fear that my post would become tiresome with a statistical breakdown for what’s usually termed “the consensus” (also not defined) in the first case, and a careless acceptance on my part of the common though unscientific term, “junk DNA” in the second. While certainly there likely were some researchers looking into non-coding sequences of DNA, perhaps in context of epigenetic interaction, the popular pseudo-scientific interpretation of “junk” DNA as the flotsam (or perhaps jetsam?) of the process of evolution, or possibly as a type of statistical body armor for DNA, would seem to reduce its scientific significance, instead perhaps offering some people the opportunity to further annoy creationists with the observation that no conscientious god would leave such a mess. Or maybe not.
Nevertheless, I do think that it’s both interesting and significant that things seem to get way more complex as we delve into deeper biological, cosmological, and nuclear detail, rather than getting simpler. Also, I wanted to point out that assumptions based on a lack of information (as in the deprecating apellation “junk” DNA), while qualifying as an appeal to simplicity, are not a ligitimate application of Occam’s razor. 😉
Except that it wasn’t 🙂
Ohno did not say: I do not know what this sequence is for, therefore it is junk. He said: mutation rates are very high, yet most functions are conserved, therefore most sequences must not have phenotypic effects. He did not say which ones, because it was an inference based on mutation rates and the size of the genome, not an assumption based on lack of information.
Let’s say you read a news report that says: 10,000 bombs were dropped on Asdfjkl, and 3 people were reported injured.
Compare that with a news report that says; 10,000 bombs were dropped on Qwererrou, with over 90,000 casualties.
What would that tell you about the relative populations densities of Asdfjkl and Qwererrou?
Tha’s essentially what Ohno did. He worked out the number of bombs, and deduced that the genome was only sparsely populated by injurable sequences, like the sparsely populated Asdfjkl, not densely populated like Qwererrou.
He was probably correct – at least we do not know that he was not, and it is clear from some phenotypically almost identical species of onion, for instance, that have vastly different genome sizes, that at least some of that vastness doesn’t matter much to being an onion.
But what he didn’t tell us was which sequences were “Junk” i.e. non-injurable, because his inference was based on no assumption about any given sequence. People already knew that many vital sequences must be non-coding, because otherwise how would RNA structures essential for, say translation and transcription, be coded? And how would gene expression be regulated? So the equestion arose: given that we can infer that a lot of sequences are junk (phenotypally inert) which sequences are they? Sometimes a “junk” candidate turns out not to be.
But if there is no junk at all, then we have to find an alternative explanation for Ohno’s finding.
I haven’t had time yet to read the 167 replies (!), so someone else may have already offered the same comment(s) about this:
“1. Absence of a Designer. I know I might get flak for this, but I think a good reason to reject ID is the absence of seeing the Intelligent Designer in operation today. With many scientific theories we can see the hypothesized mechanism in action, and this is quite reassuring to the hypothesis. For myself, I wrestle with the fact that even if ID is true, the mechanism might be forever inaccessible to us.”
The problem is that, if the intelligent designer is the God of the Bible, then we wouldn’t and shouldn’t expect to see the designer, for God is not a physical being. An Israelite who saw God part the Red Sea didn’t see God, they saw the sea part, but in seeing the sea part they did see (discern the presence of) God.
I don’t know why our inability to see the designer (the being) should keep us from accepting that we’ve seen the designer (discerned the presence of).
ID is about looking at structures and processes and making an inference to intelligent causation as the best explanation for them. If the designer could be physically seen, then ID would be superfluous.
THE CRITICS OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN
Article: By Lou Barreto
It seems like the critics of Intelligent Design, such as Sal Cordova and others, will never acknowledge the concepts of Intelligent Design as being valid. Why? Their refusal to acknowledge the existence of a Creator-God and His Son Jesus Christ-that is connected to Intelligent Design. Yes, every critic wants nothing to do with God. They feel threaten by the Ten Commandments. They are afraid of being denied their sexual desires or fantasies. They are afraid of speaking truth, being kind, being honest, forgiven others, being merciful, being faithful to their wife, being faithful to their girlfriend, or resisting the evil desires of their flesh unless it serves their purpose. They are even afraid of the message of Grace, the message of Jesus Christ. The critics want nothing to do with the church, the family of God, the Kingdom of God, or Intelligent Design.
Sal Cordova and other critics always seem to demand physical proof of the existence of God and yet many of these critics believe that there are alien life forms, extra-terrestrial beings, or a higher power somewhere in our universe. Do they require physical appearance of these aliens or a higher power? No. they just believe it without proof. The critics like Sal Cordova just believe the alien beings exist. And what about all the money that is being spent by critics, atheist, and agnostics connected with space research who are searching the universe for something they cannot see, extra-terrestrial being or some alien life form. Believing in something they cannot see. And yet the critics say to Intelligent Design believers, show us God, show us His existence, prove it to us. And the proof is before your eyes, the elements of your surroundings and you-a product of the DNA molecule, a product of God your Creator.
I have news for Mr. Sal Cordova and other critics, the day that God speaks to you personally, your life will change dramatically at that very moment in time. There will be much drama. The adrenalin in your body will kick in. You will not be asking God, your creator, to give some sort of demonstration or construct some experiment to prove His existence. Let me tell you what your very words would be as the adrenalin starts flowing.
“Lord how stupid, how dumb could I be all these years. It’s you that opens doors and closes doors. It’s you that controls everything. Lord how could I be so dumb, so stupid? It’s you, it’s you. Lord where have I been all these years, where have I been? From this moment on, I will seek your kingdom and declare Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.”
Yes, you will tell the whole world, your family, friends and even strangers. Of course, your family and friends will say Sal Cordova is perhaps mentally sick, deranged, a bit to religious, must be on drugs, must be out of a job and worst of all, he has become a Jesus freak.
From that day on you will not be questioning God about creation, Intelligent Design, the Bible, the family of God, kingdom of God, the DNA Molecule, the Big Bang theory, and many other scientific discoveries that support the existence of a creator. It will not matter what people say about you. God spoke to you and no one can change your mind about the experience.
Intelligent Design is really based on several scientific discoveries such as the DNA Molecule, a precious molecule, the Big Bang theory and other scientific discoveries. It seems like many individuals in the world want nothing to do with the Creator of the Universe as if He is some sort of kill-joy, some sort of tyrant, some sort of myth, some sort of alien, or some sort of higher power in the Universe. ” And yet many critics of Intelligent Design believe that there is a higher power or alien life form somewhere in the universe, including NASA scientists and Astro Biologist Robert Pappalardo. There is a book listed on Amazon.com about this alien, this higher power titled,
Who Is This Alien?
This Higher Power in the Universe
The book’s about Intelligent Design concepts that are based on scientific discoveries. Hence, it is science and logic blending together forever to support the existence of a Supreme intelligent being, somewhere in the heavens. It’s great reading. It’s very informative, very enlightening, including the author’s personal experiences and visitations with this Supreme Intelligent Being, this Higher Power.
The book’s author brings up the subject of evolution. “Concerning evolution, scientists at the Genome project and other scientists have concluded that there is an element of design built into creation that cannot be explained by evolution.” No life form, be it a single cell, multiple cells or even evolutionary cells can exist without DNA. Genome scientist and other scientists have concluded that every life form is a product of DNA which has the instructions to build any life form. Where there are instructions, there is intelligence, there is an intelligent source, a Supreme intelligence and a Creator.
Genome scientist, Professor Francis Crick, and other scientists have come to a conclusion that the DNA molecule originated from some alien source in the heavens, some extra-terrestrial source, not from evolution, according to History channel documentary, “The Universe.”
Yes, there is an intelligent life form beyond our galaxy, the 3rd Heaven, the third Universe…The Apostle Paul spoke about this third Heaven, this other Universe (2 Corinthians, chapter 12 verse 2-7, NKJ Bible). Many scientists at NASA and individuals such as Astrobiologist Robert Papplardo are searching the heavens for extra-terrestrial beings; believing by faith that something is out there in the heavens. They will not discover that extra terrestrial being since it’s in the third heaven, the third universe. There is no earthly technology to penetrate the third heaven. They will be surprised when this Supreme intelligent being reveals its identity to every scientist at the same time from east to west, north to south …including every human being on this planet-yes at the same time……….It will not be a secret.
In conclusion, critics of Intelligent Design should be grateful for those individuals who are sharing the concepts of Intelligent Design via the internet and other venues. The critics should understand the logic and beauty of Intelligent Design, including the connection to our Creator God. Yes, even the beauty of the breath of life when you wake up in the morning or the ability to love your wife or husband sexually and its excitement. Critics of Intelligent Design should support the teaching of Intelligent Design in the class rooms and not be so fearful. One way or another, your children will learn about the existence of Intelligent Design via class rooms or the internet. And they will make the decision to accept Intelligent Design with all its beauty and intelligence or not accept it. Yes, there is intelligence within the frame work of Intelligent Design……………….End
Who Is This Alien?
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Check out this new book, written in layman’s term, titled, “Who is this Alien? It’s all about this Intelligent being, this supreme intelligent being, creator of the DNA Molecule with all of its genetic instructions and intelligence “ to build you- a product of DNA, a product of the Creator.”
Check it out on Amazon, click on amazon link below
Uh, you sure you got the right Sal Cordova? 🙂
But Elizabeth . . .
On what evidence does Ohno conclude that phenotypical expression is the only possible purpose of these DNA sequences? How could Ohno know no other function is being compromised? Maybe these sequences activate under stress, providing adaption, rapid evolution, a library of sequences, alternate DNA, an Undo function, immunities, repair, code comments (think programming), or even an alien textual description or maybe a message from God.
So, in your opinion, which of these two statements would you say is more scientific:
a. These DNA sequences are junk.
b. These DNA sequences currently have no known function.
EL @ 153
Thank you for your response. It bears pointing out that you didn’t actually answer the question. I asked:
Honestly, I’m not trying to be obnoxious, but for someone who is generally very precise in using language “many reasons” is uncharacteristically vague. What reasons? What allows one to reasonably hypothesize or theorize (not even conclude definitely) design in absence of biographical information about the designer or a comprehensive grasp of the fabrication process? Is it CSI, the ‘purposeful arrangement of parts’, arrangements of matter that seem to exceed the causal powers of chance and necessity? If those are all vacuous concepts/metrics, then what would you suggest? I suggest that everyone has an intuitive grasp of what differentiates design from unintelligent causation. Consider again Richard Dawkins famous statement that “Biology is the study of complex things that appear to have been designed for a purpose.” Or if you prefer Francis Crick: “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” They have no sympathy whatsoever for design arguments, but even they intuitively grasp that biological organisms look designed. And it’s not some fuzzy, nebulous impression. It must be overwhelming – why else would a biologist have to ‘constantly remind’ himself/herself that the organisms under study aren’t designed? For all the criticisms that can be leveled at CSI, FSCO, etc., at least they represent an endeavor to formalize the distinctions that we all make intuitively every day.
It would be entirely appropriate to explore the efficacy of geophysical processes to create ‘Stonehenge 2’. But the putative lack of physical designers doesn’t confer greater causal capabilities upon chance and necessity. So if a physically embodied intellect is ruled out for some reason, there is nothing illogical about postulating a different form of intelligence. Whether this postulated disembodied intelligence is more or less likely than a geophysical process (or something comparable) would heavily depend on the specific attributes of ‘Stonehenge 2’.
This expresses a significant misunderstanding on your part. Who has ever proposed that living things were designed but NOT fabricated? That’s plainly absurd. Of course they were fabricated. Do we know how? No. Might we find out in the future? Perhaps. Regardless, the points stands that a lack of knowledge of how something was fabricated doesn’t invalidate the hypothesis (to be modest) that something was designed. How many items in your house do you know the fabrication procedure for? Do you seriously entertain doubts that they were designed?
Do you mean physical traces that are distinct from the fabricated objects themselves? If so, then fabrication may not always leave traces. Imagine a child with Legos. The child ‘fabricates’ the Legos so that they become a house. What trace of the fabrication process must the child by necessity leave behind?
Well, that would be a phenotypic effect.
Possibly, and it the idea that some sequences might be conserved at population level is one interesting alternative answer – see Denis Noble on the evolution of evolvability.
Neither is good. Ohno’s point wasn’t that these sequences have no function, but that a great proportion of sequences have no phenotypic effects when altered.
So a better statement would be:
c. There is evidence that a large proportion of the genome contains sequences whose integrity seems unimportant to the viability of the organism. We do not know, without testing, which portions these are.
Optimus: I’m out of time right now, but have bookmarked your post. If I don’t respond, come and hassle me at TSZ 🙂
The better scientific answer is b. 🙂
However, you get partial credit for your write-in answer c. for making the point that phenotypic effects include those that haven’t been expressed. However, by this definition, your characterization of Ohno’s position has two problems
The first problem is obvious: Susumu Ohno actually coined the term “Junk” DNA, which is in the title of his 1972 paper.
For the second problem, tell me how would Ohno know no phenotypic effects would express themselves under environmental stress?
Do you know whether he later tested for any possibilities of epigenetic involvement under conditions of food deprivation, heat, cold, radioresistance (LD50/30), various pollutants, varying atmospheric composition, changes in altitude, and so on? Do you know whether anyone has?
There’s no obvious geological explanation
It doesn’t seem to reproduce
It resembles an artefact made on Earth by Designers
Intuition is not always reliable. I do think that biological organisms and features share something important with human artefacts but I don’t think that shared something is intentional design.
Because in an important sense they are “designed” for a purposes – to help the organism survive and breed. The interesting thing is that features that help an organism survive and breed are, in a sense “self-designing” because precisely those features that do this will be the ones that are most often replicated. This is why Monod uses the word “teleonomy”, to denote the process by which features that serve the purpose of reproduction will tend to accumulate and optimise in a population, while those that serve that purpose less well will tend to be filtered out.
So I think our intuition takes us half way – we recognise, correctly, that biological features are finely tuned to serve the purpose of the organism that bears it. Where we go wrong is to extrapolate that thinking to the purpose we have in designing features or gadgets that serve us.
I make a wheel to go on a wheelbarrow, not to serve the wheelbarrow’s purpose, but enable the wheelbarrow to serve me. This means that intention is required.
In contrast, a feature that by chance helps an organisms survive and breed, however slight that help is, by definition serves the organism with that feature, and by definition means that more organisms with that feature will be born. And the more that are born, the more likely it is that one of them will have a slight enhancement of that feature.
In that sense, Darwinian processes are a kind of design process, in which features are optimised over time to serve the purpose of survival and reproduction – because that is the very process that enables the features to be designed!
So the intention part is short-circuited – it isn’t necessary, as it is when the designer doing the designing isn’t the thing being designed, and the purpose of the design isn’t the survival and reproduction of the thing being designed.
I think we are talking slightly at cross-purposes here. Probably best if you read the Ohno paper, if you haven’t already. It’s a theoretical paper, and his calculation was based on the size of the genome, the rate of mutation, and the fact that we do not have an “unbearable genetic load” (though Sanford of course, would disagree).
Vast numbers of genes are expressed under “environmental stress”. In fact you could say that all gene expression is governed by environmental signals of some sort, whether local or from the external world, and many of them you might class as “stress”.
Of course. All these things result in altered gene expression. Thinking results in changes in gene expression! Reading my post has altered gene expression in your brain!
That’s why I think we are talking at cross purposes. Phenotypic effects ARE examples of epigenetics! Without epigenetics there would be no complex organisms!
Essentially, what Ohno theorised was that given how much mutation goes on, if genes occupied 100% of the genome, given that most genes are very sensitive to sequence changes, the mutation load would be so huge that reproductive fidelity would be extremely low. Yet it is high.
Probably because most of the genome doesn’t matter very much.
You may be right that it might have some function at population level (though I’m not seeing what, exactly), and I think it has been suggested that some of it might mark “hot spots” for recombination (and perhaps the precise sequences doesn’t matter very much for these).
But the point is that given observed mutation rates, it looks like genes must be a fairly sparse target – mutations are shooting fish in the sea rather than fish in a barrel!
I’ve sometimes wondered if one function it might have is simply to make it less likely that genes are split apart during recombination. After all, if you rip up a piece of paper with print on it, you are less likely to tear through a word if there are very few words than if it is densely typed. Under a Darwinian model, that might be the reason it tends to stick around (because it must carry a slight metabolic cost).
Equally, that might be why the Designer put it there 🙂
Apparently, given this comment, a replicator would provide you with a useful insight as to the possible origin of a thing. And in the context of the conversation taking place here, if a thing had the capacity to replicate, then presumably this capacity would lead you to believe it was not designed. This inference would obviously come to you, as you often point out, because a thing that replicates can rely on Darwinian evolution to mimic design, thereby explaining the appearance of design without the need to evoke actual design. I’m sure we can agree this is your position. Yet, you’ve made the unequivocal statement that you’d “never, ever” suggest Darwinian processes are responsible for the origin of a self-replicator. If Darwinian evolution cannot be the source of replication, then how does this fact impact your specific inference that a replicator is less likely to be designed because it can rely on evolution to mimic design? It quickly becomes a question of “Which is it, Dr Liddle?” Do you believe that Darwinian evolution offers a potential explanation for the appearance of design, or does it explain the origin of replication? If it is the former, then why do you suggest (by your chosen observation “It doesn’t seem to replicate”) that a replicator is less likely to be designed? And if it’s the latter, then haven’t you wholly contradicted your claim that you’d “never ever” suggest that Darwinian evolution can be the explanation of self-replication? These two positions are incompatible, so I am sure you’ll be eager to retool one or the other as a good faith effort to clear up the obvious confusion on the part ID advocates.
It quickly becomes a question of “Which is it, Dr Liddle?” Do you believe that Darwinian evolution offers a potential explanation for the appearance of design, or does it explain the origin of replication? If it is only the former, then why do you suggest (by your chosen observation “It doesn’t seem to replicate”) that the origin of a replicator is less likely to be by design? And if it’s the latter, then haven’t you wholly contradicted your claim that you’d “never ever” suggest that Darwinian evolution can be the explanation of self-replication? These two positions are incompatible, so I am sure you’ll be eager to retool one or the other as a good faith effort to clear up the obvious confusion on the part ID advocates.
No, but it would mean that there was a plausible alternative to design that could not be ruled out.
Well, my view is that Darwinian evolution is a form of design process, but one not requiring intention. So I don’t think it “mimics” design exactly. I think it’s a very efficient producer of functions that serve a purpose without itself being purposeful.
A Darwinian process can’t be responsible for the first self-replicator because Darwinian processes require self-replication.
Were I to find a self-replicating Stonehenge on Mars I would tend to assume it had evolved from something much smaller and simpler. Whether that smaller and simpler thing was designed, I would need more information to venture a view.
No. I have made the clear, repeatedly.
I didn’t say it was less likely to be designed. I said that evolution would be a plausible alternative.
No, because it isn’t. Clearly Darwinian evolution cannot explain something that Darwinian evolution requires in order to occur.
Yes, of course they are. That’s why I don’t hold both of them.
No retooling is required.
If I find a thing that is full of features that seem optimised to fulfil a function (Stonehenge being a poor example, but let’s say I notice that it does some cool astronomic thing) then either those feature evolved or they were designed. If the thing reproduces, then clearly (IMO) it could have evolved from a simpler or different thing. The thing it evolved from may or may not have had those features, and may or may not have been designed, but as I do not have it to hand, I do not have an opinion either way.
Clearly, Upright Biped, you are of the opinion that the simplest possible Darwinian-capable self-replicator is too complicated to have come about by undirected physics and chemistry.
I do not have a strong opinion, but I don’t see any good reason at this stage to assume this is the case. So just because something self-replicates does not tell me it was designed OR that its earliest ancestor was designed.
But these are two separate questions. I do know that, given self-replicators (designed or otherwise), non-designed functional features that solve problems and serve the purpose of helping the self-replicator to survive and breed evolve.
So if I see a self-replicator with lots of cool features beautifully optimised to help the thing survive and replicate, I will at least contemplate the possibility that it evolved from something simpler, which may or may not have been designed.
I didn’t say that the origin of the replicator was less likely to be design. I wouldn’t venture an opinion as to the origin. I don’t know of the simplest possible Darwinian-capable self-replicator has to be designed or not. However, I am sure even a designed-self-replicator doesn’t have to evolve in the way its Designer intended. Once it’s loose in the world, it will tend to give rise to evolving, adapting and diversifying populations, which could in theory at least, eventually destroy the Designer!
But a lot of this argument really does hang on how simple that first Darwinian-capable self-replicator had to be. You seem to think it had to have some kind of semiotic transfer system. I don’t. At it’s very simplest it could be a double polymer that tends to dissociate under certain conditions into single strands that then bind to free monomers to produce two double polymers where there was one, the original sequence being preserved in both. If certain sequences replicated with greater fidelity than others, you’ve got the beginnings of Darwinian evolution.
I’m not saying it did happen this way: it’s just that you don’t necessarily need a transcription-translation system in order to have a Darwinian-capable self-replicator.
What is the evidence that darwinian processes can do what you say?
Why? We don’t see that here, except in people’s imagination, or by design.
But that is just gibberish unless you are saying that evolution cannot be designed and things cannot be designed to evolve.
The two are not exclusive.
That is what the evidence says, Lizzie. Why would anyone believe otherwise?
It seems almost entirely certain that the conversation you were having was about the origin of things, including your example of finding of a Stonehenge on Mars. When you stated that finding a Stonehenge on Mars would be a “justified” example of theorizing “it had been designed and built by intelligent agents”, are you now saying that you’d rather propose that the thing replicates, and with that caveat in hand, your revised position is that the thing probably “evolved from something much smaller and simpler”.
If it is the case that you’d like to switch from a non-replicating Stonehenge which provided a “justified” inference to design, and propose a replicating Stonehenge in its place, one which probably evolved from a smaller, simpler thing, then my previous question remains regarding the origin of such a thing:
”you’ve made the unequivocal statement that you’d “never, ever” suggest Darwinian processes are responsible for the origin of a self-replicator. If Darwinian evolution cannot be the source replication, then how does this fact impact your specific inference that a replicator is less likely to be designed because it can rely on evolution to mimic design?”
The specific inference I am referring to here is where (in a conversation about origins) you attempt to clarify your justification for making a design inference by noting that ‘the thing doesn’t reproduce’, implying whole-heartedly that if the thing reproduced, then the design inference would be less justified.
Now I also see that you’ve taken exception to the phrase “less likely” when referring to an inference, but frankly I am not certain why. Since we agree that we don’t have the original replicator in hand, then all we have are inferences – those that are more likely to be true because we can justify them with evidence and observation, and those that are less likely to be true for the same reasons in the opposite direction. So I’ll think it may be best to ignore your fuss over that wording at this time. If you think terms like “less likely” and “more likely” are inappropriate with regard to competing inferences, then we can certainly talk about it.
If we may cut to the chase Dr Liddle, if Darwinian evolution cannot explain the origin of self-replication, then how is it that Darwinian evolution comes to impact your position on the design inference with regard to a self-replicating thing? If Darwinian evolution could explain replication, then perhaps it could have an impact, but if it cannot, then it has nothing to say about the inference to a designed origin of that replicating thing.
Would it be possible for you to answer that question, preferably without another change in topic? And if that question does not interest you, then can we go back and get an answer as to whether or not you were still talking about the origin of a thing (using your example of finding Stonehenge on Mars) when you attempted to clarify your position with the observation “It doesn’t seem to replicate”? Or had you already changed the topic away from origins at that time, and simply failed to make that change clear in your clarification?
Of course, I am very interested in hearing of your position on this. And who wouldn’t be? On my side of the fence I can start at the drop of a hat and bring example after uncontroversial example after uncontroversial example of independently verified evidence in support my case, and on your side of the fence (to date) we have your stated position that you just don’t believe transcription and translation are necessary. So, obviously, filling in a few details on your side would be very interesting.
So you suggest that a double-stranded sequence could first dissociate, and using something perhaps along the lines of pair bonding, it could re-associate with free monomers and create two strands where there was just one. And from this, we then assume a sequence which self-replicates will appear with varying degrees of fidelity, leading to Darwinian evolution. Is this about the jist of it?
My original point was about misapplying Occam’s Razor, and making unwarranted conclusions based on simplicity. I used “junk” DNA as one example.
At your kind suggestion, I read Ohno’s 1972 paper titled, “SO MUCH ‘JUNK’ DNA IN OUR GENOME.” The caps are in the original paper.
As you described, Ohno made some important observations about reproductive fidelity in response to the deleterious effects of virtually all mutations. Nevertheless, I still contend that his legitimate observations led him to an unwarranted conclusion, and then he speculated that this “junk” might originally have been the evolutionary remnants of ancient genes.
Your analogy about shooting fish in the sea compared to fish in a barrel is what I meant by “. . . or possibly as a type of statistical body armor for DNA” in my previous post. But you’re also making the same mistake when you wrote:
Oh, but it more likely does. One of the websites that I looked at regarding Susumu Ohno included this:
Apparently the fractal pattern somehow survived.
That was about 10 years ago. Since then, I understand that additional discoveries have reduced the “junk” as the warm sunshine of scientific inquiry melts away the “Darwin of the gaps,” 😉 and we continue to uncover the evidence or appearance of design.
Why is everyone piling on Elizabeth? Having to try to answer all these comments must make her feel like a strand of DNA trapped in a dinosaur bone that’s being bombarded by background radiation for 60-100 million years . . . 😉
Thanks for both 185 and 186, Querius.
At the risk of jumping in, and Elizabeth can correct me if I’m wrong, but, yes, as far as we’ve seen from prior discussions, this is just about what Elizabeth has in mind for her idea of self-replication.
She is very enamored with Jack Szostak’s work at Harvard. In prior threads we’ve gone through this idea of some polymer associating and disassociating at different temperatures or different conditions and such. I and others have outlined lots of problems with the proposed scenario, but as near as we could ever get Elizabeth to respond, all she would say is that Szostak’s idea might not be right on the money but that something along those lines could be possible.
Just FYI, is no real deep thought or analysis of the requirements for self-replication going on. Just a naive simplistic “Well, it could happen” kind of attitude. So if you’re hoping for something substantive, you will likely be disappointed
But maybe Elizabeth has had a chance to think about it more over the last few months and can now give a few more details. 🙂