Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

How does the actor act?


Although ID continues to gather supporters, it happens now and again that erstwhile ID supporters lose their enthusiasm and jump ship. One such former supporter is a very prominent European scientist. I met him first in 2004, when he was still attracted to ID. Now he is no longer. I asked him about this recently:

Question: If not ID, what then? The Darwinists are bankrupt. And the self-organizational theorists are hopelessly fuzzy. James Shapiro — he presupposes the very thing that needs to be explained, namely, the origin of systems that perform their own “natural genetic engineering.” Kirschner and Gerhardt are no better with their “facilitated variation” — whence the facilitation?

He responded:

Excellent question of course. So the search continues… [sic] As for ID, more fundamental work on the practicality of design detection is crucial — and your strength. But in the end, ID will only fly if a more concrete story can be told about the mechanism of design implementation, how the actor acts.

This objection has always seemed to me, at least in part, to miss the point, seeking to reduce an act of creative intelligence to a mechanism (on the order of reducing consciousness to computation). And yet, the question of how design gets implemented in natural history does seem to be critical to understanding ID.


"The mechanism is irrelevant." HI TRoutMac I would suggest that in both of your productions (computer based and Neolithic), you are using what I call "Teleological Targeted Newtonian Vector Clusters" to get the job done. In the computer-based model, a lot of helpful pre-targeting has been done by others, but the TTNVC fundamentals are still the same. Significant physical (energetic) typing and mouse-ing was required. Dave Scott, "Newton discovered (gravity) through its effects but we still don’t know the mechanism behind it." Hi Dave, and thanks for inviting me. While it is true that Newton did important work in science without any knowledge as to mechanism (and so can ID), this doesn't stop us from trying to figure out what these mechanisms might be. WRT gravity, I am seeing a destructive interference mechanism between two cosmological targeted vector groups. These two vector groups fall short of perfect orthogonality (mathematical X/Y axis "independence") and subsequently produce gravity. The Targeted Newtonian Vector Cluster for localization (mass) and the Targeted N-Vector Cluster for a de-localized background (spacetime) attain less-than-perfect orthogonality due to the pull of the singular proto-fabric from which they are both derived/projected. Co-interference therefore is distorting the spacetime-mass complex resulting in gravitational force and its characteristics. --- Also, by using Newtonian linear, vectors as primary (instead of Einstein curvature as primary) the topological conflict at the core of the Quantum Gravity problem is removed. (The quantum wavefunction can be described as a unitary state *vector*). Moreover, as horrible as this sounds to the non-teleologically, this model also solves (by teleological constraint) the problem of Dirac's runaway (unconstrained) solutions in classical physics. Ultimately the universe, as I see it, is the product of a fundamental, experience-seeking proto-vector or "God." Through the production and projection of more and more complex, subtle patterns/structures "All That Is" or "God" accrues more and more complex, subtle and vivid experiences. Production/projection work in "physical" systems at our level requires the use of targeted vector clusters. When devout materialists ask for mechanisms they are of course asking for, nay demanding, material-only mechanisms and not psycho-physical (unified mind/matter mind/body) mechanisms, such as TTNVCs. Materialist "explanations" that ignore teleology and targeting (fine tuning) in a finely tuned universe, will ultimately satisfy no-one and I am convinced we must press on. William Brookfield
Based on what I see in the responses above, I think my suspicions are correct. ID needs more work on the internal links of it's argumentation. Specifically, a bridge between Dr. Behe's argumentation and the informatics approach supplied by Dr. Dembski is critical. In dealing with mechanisms: Mechanisms are nice, but are a faulty concept to look for when considering ID. Think about it, if one is considering a non-natural (if only as a possible option even) being to be an effector in the universe-at the quantum level or otherwise-the mechanism through which this occurs necessarily lies, if only in part, outside the observable universe. ID looks to the final product to say that it is necessarily designed, while admitting that the perturbations that brought this about may never be reproducible. Design is a characteristic, not a process. The value of mechanisms then lie in the ability to show that something might have been derived by a natural process. So, in fact, NOT having a mechanism is quite possibly a better proof of ID in some cases! Scientists still remain skeptical however I think in part because they do look to mechanism, but also because they fail to see the connection between the explanitory filter and the biology. Stephen Meyer's work regarding DNA and the information therein is a start to the work that needs to be done. In essence, the relationship between information as a concept and information as found in biology needs to be more rigorously explored, along with its exposure to the explanitory filter. Behe's arguments are founded in the biology he investigates day to day. The arguments he presents are mired in mechanisms, or the lack thereof. What Behe's arguments fail to do are make the connection between the information embedded in the protein complexes and biochemical pathways and the irreducible complexity argument. ID's strength is in Information Theory (and in fact is based upon it). Until the battle begins to be fought in the arena of information theory-in accordance to the biology-then requests for mechanisms will still remain, and ID will still be pushed away. xveinx
It seems to me that the search for the mechanism of ID--the methods by which design is implemented--depends on one's own characterization of the designer(s). There are those, for example, who take a strictly mechanistic tack, such as some form of panspermia, and for those folks a mechanism might be ultimately discernible on a purely local level. I say "local level" because it's inevitable that with such an hypothesis, the problem of infinite regression looms large. On the other hand, for a Christian such as me, there is recognition of the fact that comprehension of miraculous events (mechanisms) is both beyond our grasp and antithetical to even consider. The best we can do to keep ID on a purely scientific level is use the process of elimination--that is to say, methodically eliminate possible naturalistic causes through active engagement in research. Such a strategy may or may not be fruitful, but due to our own human limitations it's all we have to work with, and we shouldn't be put off by challenges from Darwinists to suddenly evince a mechanism. I think we also need to be careful about confusing design and the mechanisms invoked to implement it; it's not particularly helpful to claim that design is the mechanism, as it's trivially simple to demonstrate the difference. Mickey Bitsko
This seems appropriate to this topic: 'And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, "Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!" ' -Mark 4:41 'But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!" ' -Luke 8:25 bornagain77
WJM: The ability to identify that design [so, agent action] has credibly happened, as you doubtless know, is a frequently met with and significant issue. A theory that provides tools for such identification relative to observable empirical data is therefore of material significance and use. In particular:
1] the identification that in observed phenomena, chance, mechanical necessity and agency are all possible causative/ explanatory options is important [and BTW exposes the worldview-level question-begging involved in so-called methodological naturalism] 2] The further identification that stituations dominated by contingency are materially shaped by chance or agency is also crucial. [Air + wood + heat = fire, by mechanical necessity. The content of a digital data string is by contrast contingent.] 3] The yet further identification that sufficiently complex situations [i.e of high enough contingency and with a sharply restricted set of functional configs relative to the overall space] exhaust the available probabilistic resources in say our observed cosmos, then allows us to credibly distinguish chance and agency. [For instance,this post has in it sufficient digital data that the best explanation is agent action not lucky noise. In ALL cases of FSCI that we directly observe the origination process, such CSI has its origin in agency. And given the relevant stat mech of such config spaces -- cf my always linked, Appendix A for details -- we have good reason for why that is so. That is we have a reason for distinguishing cause.] 4] Application of same to for instance the origin of the cellular nanotech-based information systems, and to the further increments in information to get to the body-plan level biodiversity we see, immediately implies that the [extended] NDT-style evolutionary materialist account of random variation and natural selection is incapable of explaining the observed data. Behe's recent work on P falciparium underscores the point empirically. In short, ID has already shown that something is very wrong with the dominant paradigm/ research programme in life science. 5] The recent rise in popularity of models that hinge on a quasi-infinite array of sub-cosmi with randomly distributed parameters and opportunities for such OOL and macro-evolution to happen by vastly extending the assumed probabilistic resources, is itself eloquent testimony to the force of the just noted. 6] Further to this, the fact that such models are in fact a naked resort to speculative metaphysics rather than empirically anchored scientific theorising, is telling. 7] Now, on OOL and macro-level biodiversity, inference to agent action is not the same as inference to an extracosmic agent; though obviously such an agent is possible. 8] On the origin of the observed cosmos, such an extracosmic agent is a viable worldview option, but not one as yet scientifically observed -- just as a quasi-infinite super-cosmos is not empirically observed. 9] Thus, at this philosophical, metaphysical (i.e. beyond scientific) level, Evolutionary Materialism and Design stand on the same footing as paradigm core postulates, and can be compared across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. IMHCO, already at the stager of accounting for origin of a trustworthy mind that is needed to even think such evolutionary materialist thoughts, the materialist option is incoherent and self-refuting.
So, even before we look at issues of mechanism, design thinking is relevant and powerful, as well as being empirically well-anchored. Then also, agency brings to bear a great mystery: mind in action. We presently have no concept of how mind affects matter to trigger mechanical cause-effect chains, but from our own conscious lives, we are highly confident that it does so. As soon as you type out your own response to this comment, you instantiate this. So, mind acting on matter is a basic empirical fact, even though we have no scientific theory of how precisely that happens -- and even though it cuts clean across the Evo Mat paradigm. (That is, Evo Mat is contra-empirical, i.e factually inadequate. Grossly so.) To insist that ID "must" solve this problem that if anything counts against ALL current candidate explanations [as all such explanations have a gap here], before it can be seen as a credible identification of the occurrence of design in cases of particular interest, seems to me to be selective hyper-skepticism. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
The nature of claiming design in nature by an intelligence which precedes all physical forms (if we accept that all physical forms are the product of said designer) leaves us the conclusion that however designs are implemented within "nature" that they had to have been done originally without the aid of a physical form. Therefore we are dealing with an intelligence which wields abilities which we cannot understand because all processes which we as conscious intelligent entities endeavor with are done through the physical forms we are living within. The nature of the designer is that he/she/ doesn't need a physical form to control the elements to the degree needed to build bodies. Since we have no prior experience of such an ability therefore we are at a loss at trying to explain how it has been done. mentok
I think that for ID to be a meaningful scientific theory, it has to successfully describe something. I'm not a geneticist or a biologist, but I would think that, if one assumes that A got to Z by design rather than by non-design, there would be an entirely different set of occurrences and perhaps a different way of investigating it. This might be a stupid question, but for example, wouldn't one way to do this be to predict cross-species, family, genus, or domain bacterial (or other carrying agent) transfers of information to compliment hereditary information leading to a successful innovation? I'm not saying that an NDE can't claim it was a "natural" pathway, I'm just saying that if a designer is designing things, and moved those materials through physical pathways to accomplish a goal, couldn't a theory be developed that would describe and predict this process, at least in general? I read in another thread where bacteria in labs haven't been observed to evolve in any meaningful way; couldn't this be beause the sanitary aspect of the lab is preventing the designer from outsourcing materials and design plans in order to effect meaningful changes? I mean, do we think that if we had a plane, we could build a space ship from the same parts? Don't we need information and parts from outside that particular thing to make something else? That might not be a particularly relevant idea, but something along the lines of a predictive model describing the pathways predicted by assumption of design needs to be introduced, IMO. Otherwise, it's a nice explanation, but what does it offer other than philosophical satisfaction? William J. Murray
Dave Scot, This site is of interest to the topic: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2007/1000598/index.html Of special note; Time is running out “One livestock breed a month has become extinct over the past seven years, and time is running out for one-fifth of the world’s breeds of cattle, goats, pigs, horses and poultry,” says Müller. “This report, the first-ever global overview of livestock biodiversity and of the capacity within countries to manage their animal genetic resources, is a wake-up call to the world.” And this may only be a partial picture of the genetic erosion taking place, according to the report, as breed inventories are inadequate in many parts of the world. Moreover, among many of the most widely used high-output breeds of cattle, within-breed genetic diversity is being undermined by the use of a few highly popular sires for breeding. “Effective management of animal genetic diversity is essential to global food security, sustainable development and the livelihoods of millions of people,” says Irene Hoffmann, Chief of FAO's Animal Production Service. “While sometimes less productive, many breeds at risk of extinction have unique characteristics, such as disease resistance or tolerance to climatic extremes, which future generations may need to draw on to cope with challenges such as climate change, emerging animal diseases and rising demand for specific livestock products,” Hoffmann adds. Notice that loss of genetic diversity from parent species is only remedied through reintroduction of information from a species closer to the parent species... Of course Evolutionists dream, and wave their magic wand, postulating that a selection event (adaptation) will produce a new better species SOMETIMES,,,yet every selection event (adaptation) will in fact be found to lower genetic diversity ...Genetic information will never be found to rise above the level that is found in a parent species, every sub-speciation event will always be found to lose information from parent species with never a gain of information being observed and recorded.,,,thus conforming to the foundational principle of genetic entropy.... The burden of proof is truly on evolutionists to conclusively prove information is being created since they maintain foundation principles of science are being violated constantly!!! Naturalists do not seem to notice that their theory of evolution expects and even demands there should be clear evidence for a genetically and morphologically unique species on earth somewhere since man first suddenly appeared on earth. Indeed there should be many such unambiguous examples that they could produce. "Perhaps the most obvious challenge is to demonstrate evolution empirically. There are, arguably, some 2 to 10 million species on earth. The fossil record shows that most species survive somewhere between 3 and 5 million years. In that case, we ought to be seeing small but significant numbers of originations (new species) ... every decade." Keith Stewart Thomson, Professor of Biology and Dean of the Graduate School, Yale University (Nov. -Dec. American Scientist, 1997 pg. 516) bornagain77
Tim: You have just summed the core of the matter up excellently, and with a deft application of knowledge of Greek too:
“How does the actor act?” How does an actor act? Actors act according to a script if the actor in question is THAT type of actor. But an actor in the sense of one who simply “moves” or “puts into action” is another beast entirely. That person is allowed innovation, creativity, invention, and selection — choosing one thing over another according to his own arbitration. Such selection, of course, must be imbued with intelligence and freedom. Let’s see, se-LEC-tion . .. inte-LECt . . . lec . . . lego . . . . logos.
Thus, we see that the core issue is that minds/agents/intelligences CHOOSE towards purposes of their own, then act into the world based on choice. Such choices are not merely random or chance-driven, nor are they inevitable products of mechanical necessity: contingency plus intent. That is our core conscious experience, and it is our central observation. Applying to the ID question, we see massive contingency and vastly isolated islands and archipelagos of functionality, whether we look at the fine-tuned life-habitable cosmos, or the requisites of a habitable planet that fosters intellectual and scientifically inquisitive life, or the requisites for cell based DNA-RNA-enzyme-ribosome nanotech life. Such beyond-astronomically isolated islands of functionality simply cannot plausibly be accessed by chance and lucky noise in the ambit of our observed cosmos. But, in our routine observation [even this post is an illustration] they are routinely produced by agents. Thus, we see the power of the explanatory filter to detect agency at work! Thus, too we see why materialists are increasingly resorting tot he speculative metaphysics of an infinite cosmos as a whole, with randomly distributed sub-cosmi, to try to escape the force of that isolation of functionality. But not only is this a resort to speculative metaphysics without a shred of the vaunted empirical data, but there is a far simpler and even obvious explanation, one that is well supported by our experience of agency in action. So, it seems - and as Expelled documents -- ideology and agenda are trumping consistency and sticking to where the empirical facts point. (But then, too, evolutionary materialism is inherently inconsistent -- cf the Aug 20 Charles Darwin thread.) GEM of TKI kairosfocus
A ha! Thank you. And there lies the problem. "How does the actor act?" How does an actor act? Actors act according to a script if the actor in question is THAT type of actor. But an actor in the sense of one who simply "moves" or "puts into action" is another beast entirely. That person is allowed innovation, creativity, invention, and selection -- choosing one thing over another according to his own arbitration. Such selection, of course, must be imbued with intelligence and freedom. Let's see, se-LEC-tion . .. inte-LECt . . . lec . . . lego . . . . logos. How (or is it why?) the actor acts is for the theist a theological question. Some of the remnants, results, or outcomes of that action will be open to scrutiny, but that scrutiny may be outside the purvue of science. One way then to approach the question of how design is implemented in natural history is to make distinctions about other instances of creativity v. recurrences of design. I am unqualified to comment on this in biology, but I liked SPAMALOT, and would suggest that novel creative acts are not open to scientific scrutiny because of their singularity. Design, however, evinces pattern, and pattern suggests repetition. So, ignore implementation, i.e. the moments of creation, simply enjoy the show. The implementation of design in nature's history may be a non-starter. How far can we get scientifically when trying to analyze moments of implementation? Patterns of implementation are not going to help us in this respect because creativity is unpatterned except in retrospect. All arrows will find targets if the quiver holds a paintbrush. Instead, focus on design. How the actor acts, brings us back to that first actor -- the one who follows the script. Avoiding any talk of the demiurge, let's just assume for simplicity right now that the script written for the actor was written by the actor. . . . and here the physicists and chemists chime in that they know all about the script. The question seems reduced to how much does the actor allow himself to improvise. Unfortunately,the answer seems somewhat murky. Imagine that you attend the first run of a one-man show. You enjoy the lively repartee and the fluid interaction with the audience, so out of curiosity you return the next night to see what was improvised only to find that it only had one showing . . . Use what is at your disposal. Design is easily recognizable when it is observed as a whole (the whole play). Design of component parts (when the actor cleared his throat 13 minutes and 22 seconds into the play) is less obvious. I think it is because we so easily consign those individual "ahems" to what could be "mechanism" because "ahem" is known to be a mechanism for, ahem, clearing one's throat. But how exactly did THAT "ahem" GET THERE? What effect did it have? We don't actually need to know whether or not it was scripted, a post-script improvisation or even unplanned!! The point is that the "ahem" can not be the starting point, nor can the first line, or the soliloquy, nor the exit. The demand that we (as righteous theatre-going intelligent design proponents) parse the exact working mechanisms vis a vis original, read creative, implementations of novel structures seems disengenous to me. ID folks have already done the job of saying, "Dudes wake up, we are watching a PLAY!" To respond by saying, well, which parts are patterned and which are not doesn't really confront the fact that it is a play. A play follows certain rules. If you follow enough of those rules, guess what? It's a play! Design follows certain rules. If you follow enough . . . It is easy enough to say that any novel structure or action that is still evidenced in some observable way is only observable by nature of its repetition or continued extension. Thus it was at one time novel, and is no longer novel by nature of its repetition. Of course, such assertions fall outside the realm of science. Would a scientist understand that? Would a scientist care? Tim
duncan (17): "The fact that we can delineate the boundaries and qualities of gravity gives it meaning – quite apart from the fact that we can put the knowledge to huge practical use eg. satellites orbiting. This can’t be said of ID." and (31): "Surely we have to be able to say that ‘such and such is ID’, and conversely that ‘such and such is the material world’?" Like identifying active information vs. exogenous information? (See www.evolutionaryinformatics.org ) j
[...] point- I must say I do agree with absolute moral standards when an action is done to me…... Tina: Tim: In case you havn’t worked it out yet the question was basically ‘what is the [...] What exactly is the “design” part of “intelligent design”? | Uncommon Descent
Tim: In case you havn't worked it out yet the question was basically 'what is the mechanism through which design is implemented'. The posts are numerous but they are always worth reading - you just have to find the wheat among the weeds. Tina
After 80 posts, I only have one thing to add. . .. What was the question? Tim
DaveScot, I'm looking for this Genetic Entropy pattern in sheep and found this site. Low levels of genetic variation were detected in both subspecies, ..... Is the decline of desert bighorn sheep from infectious disease the result of low MHC ... www.nature.com/hdy/journal/v99/n4/full/6801016a.html I can't open the article (no subscription), but the description is clear, loss of diversity within subspecies of sheep. I was hoping to find better studies for the genetic diversity of parent and sub-species of sheep, but at least this one study is conforming to the pattern of Genetic Entropy I've found so far in humans and dogs,,, As well this other study I found seems to indicate that the closer a sub-species is to a parent species the more robust it is and the more resistant to the problems of inbreeding. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070309103157.htm of particular note: A Single male and female sheep maintain genetic diversity. A mouflon (sheep) population, bred over dozens of generations from a single male and female pair transplanted to Haute Island from a Parisian zoo, has maintained the genetic diversity of its founding parents. This finding challenges the widely accepted theory of genetic drift, which states the genetic diversity of an inbred population will decrease over time. "What is amazing is that s of genetic drift predict the genetic diversity of these animals should have been lost over time, but we've found that it has been maintained," said Dr. David Coltman, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Alberta. As well I found this study: Evidence of three maternal lineages in near eastern sheep supporting multiple domestication events. of special note: Research including samples of the different mouflon subspecies is necessary for a better understanding of the origin of domestic sheep. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1559946 When they get the genetic studies done of sheep sub-species,,,My money is riding on loss of genetic diversity for each sub-species when compared to the parent species,,as well as compatable genetic diversity when the entire range of sub-species is compared to parent species.... This pattern should hold for all sub-speciation events,,,Thus, conforming to Genetic Entropy. Tommorrow?? Bovine...LOL bornagain77
ba77 I'm over halfway through Sanford's book. Early on he tries to establish as fact that there are at least a hundred single nucleotide copy errors in germ cells from parent cell to daughter cell. This is contrary to everything I've read about the frequency of errors in DNA replication which in eukaryotes is one error per one billion nucleotides which in humans means about three errors on average in any parent/daughter comparison. I certainly agree that the vast majority of the mistakes are nearly neutral. If they weren't nearly neutral then it seems impossible for a single egg cell to replicate into the trillions of cells in the adult form. The cumulative errors would cause something to go so horribly wrong that the developing organism would die before reaching adulthood. So I agree with Sanford that the vast majority of mistakes must be nearly neutral and I also agree that beneficial mistakes that add information are so rare as to be practically non-existent. I need to check the references he cites in establishing a mutation rate an order of magnitude greater than any I've read before. I also agree with Sanford that nearly neutral mutations are invisible to natural selection and, even at one in a billion copy errors, natural selection is incapable of doing much at all except culling the more debilitating mutations. Natural selection is a conservative force which stabilizes a species - it doesn't foster descent with modification but rather resists it. In species with obligatory sexual reproduction the mechanism of variation is recombination and it is limited to the alleles already established in the population. Thus genetic entropy is indeed a real problem for population genetics even at one in a billion copy errors. At this point I merely question the magnitude of the problem. At the error rate Sanford assumes I can't see how a species could possibly last millions of years before becoming extinct through the accumulation of slightly deleterious copy errors. If he goes on to use this high rate of copy errors to support young earth creationism I'll be quite disappointed to say the least but I can't see anywhere else he's heading at this point. Please don't ruin the suspense by telling me how the book ends. I'll be finished with it in a week. DaveScot
Jerry re; transformations Every vertebrate begins life as a single cell that's phenotypically indistinguishable from the first cell of any other vertebrate. Yet they transform before our very eyes in a brief period of time into any one of phenotypically diverse organisms from flounders to ferrets. Obviously the great phenotypic differences in the adult form are all somehow contained in the first cell. When a transformation like that can be observed I fail to see what basis there is in saying that a retrovirus vector altering the genotype of a germ cell can't cause the adult form to be phenotypically different in some significant way. Jack re; what would it look like if we could watch it It would look like descent with modification. You wouldn't see the retrovirus invading a germ cell and unless you could sequence the altered genome and find the ERV embedded in it there would nothing to see except offspring that are different in some way from the parent. The difference could be anywhere from quite subtle to quite obvious. I repeat again the examination of the fossil record is the best way to determine the magnitude and timing of the steps. The fossil record doesn't support phyletic gradualism. It supports saltations. All the digging up of fossils since Darwin proposed phyletic gradualism through modification and natural selection has failed to come up with any support for phyletic gradualism. Phylogenetic change as revealed by the fossil record occurs in large abrupt steps. DaveScot
Here is a Paper that has confirmation of dogs and grey wolves staying within principle of Genetic Entropy. http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/90/1/71.pdf of special note: Some sequences found in dogs were identical to those in wolves... The sequence divergence within (breeds of) dogs was surprisingly large: the mean sequence divergence in dogs 2.06 + or - 0.07% was almost identical to the 2.10 + or - 0.04% (sequence divergence) found within wolves. (notice that sequence divergence is slightly smaller for dogs than for wolves) Coupled with the diverse morphology of domesticated dogs and known hazards of dog breeding, this evidence strongly indicates "front loaded adaptations" at a loss of information from parent species. Thus, this is genetic confirmation of the principle of Genetic Entropy for dogs from wolves! This overall pattern of evidence (morphology and genetic diversity) conforms strongly to the evidence supporting the principle of Genetic Entropy found for humans. i.e.;Tishkoff; Andrew Clark, Penn State; Kenneth Kidd, Yale University; Giovanni Destro-Bisol, University “La Sapienza,” Rome, and Himla Soodyall and Trefor Jenkins, WITS University, South Africa, looked at three locations on DNA samples from 13 to 18 populations in Africa and 30 to 45 populations in the remainder of the world. “We found an enormous amount of diversity within and between the African populations, and we found much less diversity in non-African populations,” Tishkoff told attendees today (Jan. 22) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Anaheim. “Only a small subset of the diversity in Africa is found in Europe and the Middle East, and an even narrower set is found in American Indians.” bornagain77
Patrick (32) Thanks for your answer. I hadn’t heard of the EF, but I’ve now read a paper of Dr Dembski’s on it. I do have a further query, though – does one have to presume a materialistic world in order for the EF successfully to operate? What exactly is a “law” in a non-materialistic world? duncan
Very interesting post Jack Krebs, At the present moment, I am torn between two competing views as to how a "transcendent" Being from a higher dimension could implement His purpose and design into this lower physical dimension. One is like as it was at the Big Bang, with a sufficient amount of light being Encoded with all necessary information for what is being created in this dimension. The other method for implementing design, is similar to a miracle I once saw, in which the timing of snowflakes was in perfect synchronization for the music our congregation was singing at a Easter Sunday Sunrise Service. One method would have the designer implementing the design directly from the higher dimension and the other method would have the designer exercising complete domi^nance of this dimension, in effect suspending the second law of thermodynamics, in order to make a parent species "from the dust of the ground". Although we have more scientific leverage for the first postulation since the Big Bang has been studied in great detail. I hold that quantum entanglement (spooky action at a distance) holds the possibility of the second postulation open scientifically...Plus, I kind of like how the second postulation fits my world view. Of course, many will hold that a third possibility is open with a Higher dimension Designer with "directed mutations" and thus "directed evolution", but that third postulation still falls under the second postulation since it requires a suspension of the second law. bornagain77
So is this an offer of a hypothesis: that a fairly major change from one type of creature to another is implemented in a single, or small group of reproductive events? And if so, the question would be: does this happen early in the life of the new creature, for instance in a number of large genetic changes at the moment of conception?, or during development, or when?
I would say that the first step would be to (try to) determine whether or not the range of change suggested- "from one type of creature to another"- is even possible via any mechanism. Unfortunately science at this point in time has no clue as to whether or not the anatomical and physiological changes required are even possible. Joseph
what would we observe happening in the world if we could see design being implemented?- Jack K
What do we observe now when we see design being implemented? I would expect a similarity.
What aspects of the world are changed by the designer: just biological aspects or more; if biological, just genes or more; if just genes, at conception or when?
1- The designer need not be changing anything at this point in time. IOW all the designing could very well be finished. 2- "The Privileged Planet" makes it clear that the design inference extends well beyond biology. 3- Science has demonstrated that although genes may influence every aspect of development they do not determine it.
But at some point the designer must interact with the world, and at that point we in theory could be able to see something happening.
That is false. The correct wording should be: But at some point the designer must have interacted with the world. Joseph
I am old enough to remember "The Chariots of the Gods" by Eric Von Danigan. He looked at many of the wonders of past civilisations and postulated alien help was needed to achieve such feats. He may have been a fool, but he wasn't such a big fool as to claim that these wonders were made by natural law working over long time periods, without intelligence. ID calls biological design what it really is. How it was done does not need to be discovered before we can definitely conclude that there is real intelligence involved. As many of you will know, for a number of designers, once the thinking and planning has been done, the interesting part is over and the construction is mere detail. idnet.com.au
Dave added, after I had posted my reply,
This of course won’t make you happy. Your motives are transparent. You want nothing less than an interview with the designer in his lab developing the retrovirus components then followup footage of him in his aircraft dispersing it like a terrorist spreading anthrax.
No, the question I am asking is specifically not about identifying (much less interviewing) the designer. It is not even about how the designer makes changes in the world - I made it clear in my first post that my question was not about mechanism either. My question is what would we observe happening in the world if we could see design being implemented? What aspects of the world are changed by the designer: just biological aspects or more; if biological, just genes or more; if just genes, at conception or when? I am not asking about who the designer is, or about how the designer affects the world - those may in fact be metaphysically beyond our observation. But at some point the designer must interact with the world, and at that point we in theory could be able to see something happening. What would we see? That's my question. Jack Krebs
I respectfully disagree that insertion of a retrovirus with "new sequences" of genetic material is the "mechanism" by which new parent species appear in the fossil record. This is because most of the differences are not in fact minor sequential changes but, as scientists are able to look more closely at differences, reflect fundamental differences on every level of the cells studied, i.e. The changes in the genome (and even architecture) are found throughout the genome not just in a few sequences. Plus, The astonishing integrated complexity hinted at by Sanford, and somewhat revealed by 1% ENCODE study, heavily suggests that it (appearance of parent species) is a "All or Nothing proposition". Therefore I hold that future research into the complexity of the genomes, will further confirm that it is required for the "Intelligent Design" to be implemented all at once, with of course sub-speciation away from parent species always being found to obey the foundational principle of Genetic Entropy. http://www.genome.gov/15515096 Despite the many similarities found between human and chimp genomes, the researchers emphasized that important differences exist between the two species. About 35 million DNA base pairs differ between the shared portions of the two genomes, each of which, like most mammalian genomes, contains about 3 billion base pairs. In addition, there are another 5 million sites that differ because of an insertion or deletion in one of the lineages, along with a much smaller number of chromosomal rearrangements. bornagain77
Jack, a retrovirus loading up a germ cell with new genetic information is called an endogenous retrovirus. Once it is established in the germ line it could cause immediate change (large or small within the bounds of not changing fish into a mammal in a single step), delayed changes in subsequent generations, or any combination thereof. Endogenous retroviruses can remain intact in a genome for a very long time. I suggest we continue using the fossil record for a guide in the timing and size of the steps. You ask what it would appear like. It would appear like punctuated equilibrium. You may find the following article helpful: Rapid_modes_of_evolution DaveScot
So is this an offer of a hypothesis: that a fairly major change from one type of creature to another is implemented in a single, or small group of reproductive events? And if so, the question would be: does this happen early in the life of the new creature, for instance in a number of large genetic changes at the moment of conception?, or during development, or when? I know no one knows the answers to these questions, but I am interested in what design advocates think might happen, irrespective of whether a mechanism for these things happening can be known. Jack Krebs
It could be any of those things, Jack. Obviously you're not going to change a fish into a mouse in one generation through a retrovirus vector but as Richard Goldschmidt wrote in Material Basis of Evolution (1940; 1982 reprint edition), p. 395
The first bird hatched from a reptilian egg.
This of course won't make you happy. Your motives are transparent. You want nothing less than an interview with the designer in his lab developing the retrovirus components then followup footage of him in his aircraft dispersing it like a terrorist spreading anthrax. Don't test my patience. DaveScot
This backs the question up a step. What we see when the retrovirus developed: an instantaneous materialization of a whole population, a single retrovirus, a set of genetic changes in a population of existing retroviruses, or what? Jack Krebs
Jack Anyone have any hypotheses? A retrovirus seems like the most efficacious means of spreading a genetic change through a population at large. Thanks for asking. Are we all happy now that we have a hypothetical mechanism on the table? DaveScot
Oops - forgot to proofread: the second sentence in the second paragraph should be "Would we see genes change somewhat simultaneously throughout a population of creatures all at once?" Jack Krebs
Here is what I think is a better question than how does the actor act, or at least an equally significant question: what would we see happening in the world at the moments that design is being implemented, if we could somehow catch design in the act, so to speak? Would we see things materialize where there was no thing before? Would we see genes change somewhat simultaneously throughout a population of creations all at once? Would we see just a few concerted changes in genes in just an individual, leaving it thereafter to chance as to whether the improvements bestowed upon that individual survived? Or a bigger question: is design limited to just genetic change, or can design enact changes in the rest of the biologcal world, or can design also effect the non-biological world? For instance, during a designed speciation event, might we see wholesale genetic changes in a whole generation within a population, accompanied by perhaps environmental changes to help increase the likelihood of those changes being passed on? It seems like these are reasonable question to ask. Furthermore, they are not about the mechanism - perhaps the mechanism is in fact undetectable, and they are not about the end product that supposedly winds up containing features of design. These questions are merely about what we would observe in the world at the moment of design. Anyone have any hypotheses? Jack Krebs
mea culpa The source was DLH comment#13 at: 2 June 2007 Robert Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab Hopefully those were cleaned up. Another example of detecting intelligent causation by tracking down highly unlikely sequences caused by actions of an "intelligent agent" using tools. ----------------- John Sanford's Genomic Entropy provides specific quantitative evidence pointing in modern genomes pointing to original intelligent design that has been subject to progressive degradation by more random mutation than the repair mechanisms can handle. DLH
DLH, The post comes from a post you posted on Dembski's announcement of Baylor's Evolutionary Informatics Lab...back in June I believe... We got into a discussion of whether the lab would clarify the limits of Genetic Entropy and you posted this list in response as to what evidence could be used in making a proper mathematical . bornagain77
Bfast, BTW, what’s the – bit? It is just an underline for the word ever that got mistranslated by the computer somehow,,,, I guess just a serendipitous example of exactly what nonsense mutations are capable of...LOL. Here is another golden nugget from Dr. Sanford's book (page 135-136) ,,When we consider the full complexity of the gene, including its regulatory and architectural elements, a single gene has about 50,000 component parts (note; this could be an underestimate due to the findings of ENCODE). I presume that this is more component parts than are found in a modern automobile ....Yet a single gene is just a microscopic speck of Irreducible Complexity, within the universe of irreducible complexity that comprises a single cell. Life is itself the very essence of Irreducible Complexity- which is why we cannot even begin to think of creating life ourselves. Life is layer upon layer upon layer of Irreducible Complexity .....For the reader's interest I have attempted to expand on the concept of Irreducible Complexity- with the concept of Integrated Complexity (see Appendix 3) bornagain77
How does the actor act? Problem specific information, which provides a measure of active information, is front loaded into a programmed set of sufficiently organized laws to arrive at the problem/target/goal. In the end this is a debate of fundamental accident vs. fundamental teleology. The above account is consistent with a purely naturalistic (albeit not materialistic) account of ID Theory. I, personally, think that science is necessarily naturalistic (utilizing natural law) however not materialistic. IMO, material is only a function of mind acting in accordance with a set of probability waves. Therefore, mind and information are fundamental to material. Furthermore, the above account of how the actor acts is how all intelligent designs are implemented. The mind first has a teleological (future goal) target. It then generates problem specific information (active information) in order to solve the problem of how to arrive at the target. It then uses this active information to sufficiently organize (either directly or through programming) laws, matter, and chance processes. The target is then achieved with greater than chance results. NFL Theorem all the way ... CJYman
Admin Aside bFast - I am guessing the garbage characters were introduced by a word processor. I tried to clean them up above. bornagain77 How did you copy that quote and where from? Please save to a text file and read in etc. to avoid such word processing characters. DLH
I have worked out a description of the mechanism underlying "Intelligent Design".William Dembski are you willing enough to consider asking what is is? Tina
Reep, "have some reason why the designer could not or would not have used the mechanism of evolution?" There should be no reason why God could not use what is called gradualism or neo Darwinian processes to create change in the world. (I am assuming that is what you mean by the word evolution even though this word has many meanings) I am also using God here as the designer because to achieve the world we now see through a gradualistic approach would imply a designer of immense intelligence and would I believe be beyond the capability of any normal intelligence we could imagine. This was certainly what I believed till about 8 years ago when I started to research this topic. However, if God did create things gradually, He left no trace of this process, processes which should have billions of intermediary steps. It just does not exist. So faced with this evidence, I decided that gradualism was not the process used to create the world we live in. This is a major point of contention for many Christians and presumably others from different religious backgrounds because it implies a God that is very limited and has to intervene quite often to ensure the path that life takes. How much better a God that could create the initial conditions in the universe that would lead automatically to our world. That would truly be a magnificent God as opposed to one constantly tinkering with life that ID seems to imply. There are also those who believe that the gradualistic approach solves the theodicy problem since the process unfolds on its own and is not directed personally by God, then any natural evils that occur are not attributable to God. This is the basis for what is often referred to as theistic evolution. It is also why the arguments against ID are mostly theological with atheists often using these theological arguments. It certainly was the basis of Darwin's arguments along with analogies to artificial selection. The discussion is varied and complex and can quickly get into theology even by atheists. jerry
Tina, just from his handle, I suspected that all we'd get from him was sermons. As I have watched his posts, however, my esteem for him has been steadily climbing. It is to the point now where I am quick to read his posts. They have a certain intellectual quality to them that is too often lacking. bFast
bFast: Yes when Bornagain isn't giving a sermon he brings forth many treasures! I am thankful for this. Tina
BornAgain77 (46), Though the post is a bit long winded and dry, I am amazed and dissappointed that it hasn't yet produced chatter. May I highlite what I see is the seminal statement: Stanford:
We have reviewed compelling evidence that even when ignoring deleterious mutations, mutation/selection cannot create a single gene – not within the human evolutionary timescale. When deleterious mutations are factored back in, we see that mutation/selection cannot create a single gene – ever. This is overwhelming evidence against the Primary Axiom. In my opinion this constitutes what is essentially a formal proof that the Primary Axiom is false.
Not an insignificant quote! BTW, what's the – bit? I know its something that isn't translating correctly on my computer. bFast
But in the end, ID will only fly if a more concrete story can be told about the mechanism of design implementation, how the actor acts.
This is true. The theory of evolution does have a good story behind it. And it is the story (obviously not the data) behind it that has allowed it to persist. OK so now ID needs good creative writers- Has anyone else read Starlight and Time by Dr Russell Humphreys? He provides a "possible scenario" for the Creation Week, but it lacks creative force. A new ID project is born! Intelligent Design: The Narrative. On another note: Go Red Sox!!!!!!!!! Joseph
Hi Reep, you said, "“Yes, that shows features of design, because we know or have reason to believe that the designer(s) operated along those lines.”" Have you read Darwin's Black Box, by Mike Behe ? It is a little old now, but he does do exactly that. He may be mistaken, but he does set out pretty clear markers and what to look for. I think the problem for some people (perhaps you included) is that they want to be able to know in all cases one way or the other, but it can never be like that. Below a certain level of complexity you have to say, "don't know", and certainly at this point that floor is pretty high. I think this is inevitable. Jason Rennie
In order To further clarify the limits of observed evolution: Sources for Sanford's Genetic Entropy; Courtesy of DLH Dr. John C. Sanford, Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome. 2005 Ivan Press ISBN 1-59919-002-8. Following are major technical papers he reviews in Appendix 1. J.B.S. Haldane 1957 The Cost of natural selection. J. Genetics 55:511-524 “natural selection cannot occur with great intensity for a number of characters at once.” “the mean time taken for each gene substitution is about 300 generations.” See followup by Walter Remine 2005. Cost of Selection Theory. Technical Journal 19:113-125. Kimura, M. 1968. Evolutionary rate at the molecular level. Nature 217:624-626. “the substitutional load becomes so large that no mammalian species could tolerate it” … “the mutation rate per generation for neutral mutations amounts to roughly … four per zygote…”. Kimura, M. The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution, 1983 Cambridge Univ. Press p 27 “to maintain the same population number and still carry out mutant substitutions … each parent must leave … 3.72 million offspring to survive and reproduce.” Muller, H.J. 1950. Our load of mutations. Amer. J. Human Genetics 2:111-176. “the present number of children per couple cannot be great enough to allow selection to keep pace with mutation rate of 0.1.” pp 149-150. Muller, H.J. 1964. The relation of recombination to mutational advance. Mutation Research 1:2-9. “There comes a level of advantage, however, that is too small to be effectively seized upon by selection, its voice being lost in the noise, so to speak.” “… an asexual population incorporates a kind of rachet mechanism, such that … lines become more heavily loaded with mutation.” J. V. Neel et al. 1986. The rate with which spontaneous mutation alters the electrophoretic mobility of polypeptides. PNAS 83:389-393. “… gamete rates for point mutations … on the order of 30 per generation… The question of how our species accommodates such mutation rates is central to evolutionary thought.” A. S. Kondrashov. 1995. Contamination of the genome by very slightly deleterious mutations: Why have we not died 100 times over? J. Theor. Biol. 175:583-594. “accumulation of VSDMs in a lineage … acts like a time bomb … the existence of vertebrate lineages … should be limited to 10^6 to 10^7 generations.” S. Kondrashov. 2002. Direct estimates of human per nucleotide mutation rates at 20 loci causing Mendelian diseases. Human Mutation 21:12-27. “… the total number of new mutations per diploid human genome per generation is about 100 … at least 10% of these are deleterious … analysis of human variability suggests that a normal person carries thousands of deleterious alleles…”. (Kondrashov privately estimates up to 300 /generation with 30% deleterious.) Sanford notes: “U”(deleterious mutations per person per generation) would be 30-90. This is 100-fold higher than would have previously been considered possible. M. W. Nachman & S.L. Crowell 2000. Estimate of the mutation rate per nucleotide in humans. Genetics 156:297-304. “The human diploid genome … about 175 new mutations per generation. The high deleterious mutation rate in humans presents a paradox. If mutations interact multiplicatively, the genetic load associated with such high U would be intolerable in species with a low rate of reproduction …” A. Eyre-Walker and P Keightley. 1999. High genomic deleterious mutation rates in Huminids. Nature 397:344-347. “average of 4.2 amino-acid-altering mutations per diploid per generation have occurred in the human lineage”. “a large number of slightly deleterious mutations may therefore have become fixed in huminoid lineages it is difficult to explain how human populations could have survived a high rate of deleterious mutation n is paradoxical in a species with a low reproductive rate” J. F. Crow. 1997. The high spontaneous mutation rate: is it a health risk? PNAS 94:8380-8386. “It seems clear that for the past few centuries harmful mutations have been accumulating. The decrease in viability from mutation accumulation is some 1-2% per generation I regard mutation accumulation as a problem. It is something like the population, but with a much longer fuse.” M. Lynch, J. Conery & R. Burger, 1995. Mutation accumulation and the extinction of small populations. The American Naturalist 146:489-518. “synergistic interaction between random genetic drift and mutation accumulation, which we refer to as mutational meltdown. . . the length of the meltdown phase is generally quite short.” “for genetic reasons alone, . . . populations with effective population sizes smaller than 100 individuals are unlikely to persist for more than a few hundred generations.” K. Higgins & M. Lynch. 2001. Metapopulation extinction caused by mutation accumulation. PNAS 98:2928-2933. “with mutation accumulation the extinction time is just slightly longer than 100 generations” (vs 2000). “ the mild mutational effects are most damaging, causing minimal time to extinction.” Fred Hoyle. 1999. Mathematics of Evolution. Acorn Enterprises, LLC Memphis. “This long term inability of natural selection to preserve the integrity of genetic material sets a limit to its useful life”. Howell et al. 1996. Evolution of human mtDNA. How rapid does the human mitochondrial genome evolve? A. J. Hum. Genet. 59:501-509. "how (or whether) organisms can tolerate, in the sense of evolution, a genetic system with such a high mutational burden.” Sanford notes “just 0.1 -1.0 mitochondrial mutations per person create insurmountable problems for evolutionary theory.” Sanford gives numerous other population based challenges evolution. On p 139 he summarizes: “We have reviewed compelling evidence that even when ignoring deleterious mutations, mutation/selection cannot create a single gene - not within the human evolutionary timescale. When deleterious mutations are factored back in, we see that mutation/selection cannot create a single gene ever. This is overwhelming evidence against the Primary Axiom. In my opinion this constitutes what is essentially a formal proof that the Primary Axiom is false.” Avida developers stated:”…our experiments showed that the complex feature never evolved when simpler functions were not rewarded.” Lenski, Ofria, Pennock & Adami, “The evolutionary origin of complex features.” Nature vol 423, 139-144 (8 May 2003) While evolution “must” have beneficial mutations, almost all recorded mutations are harmful. Bergman found 453,732 “mutation” hits in Biological Abstracts and Medline. Of these 186 mentioned “beneficial” of which all involved loss-of-function. Bergman, J. 2004. Research on the deterioration of the genome and Darwinism: why mutations result in degeneration of the genome. Intelligent Design Conference, Biola Univ. April 22-23. Mutations are registered in: Online Inheritance In Man OMIM http://www.greencarcongress.com/2006/01/index.html OMIM Statistics for June 4, 2007 17,717 entries. Gerrish and Lenski estimate the rate of harmful to beneficial mutations at 1 million:1 Gerrish, P.J. & R. Lenski, 1998. Theh fate of competing beneficial mutations in an asexual population. Genetica 102/103: 127-144. Thus while Avida requires a sequence of beneficial mutations, actual mutations are almost all harmful. Furthermore, numerous mutations occur simultaneously. Most of these cannot be selected out and build up, eventually causing species . Sanford details numerous other factors, each of which can result in species . As well, a discernable pattern is found in all sub-speciation in which sub-speciation always occurs at a loss of information (Genetic Entropy),,, For example, younger human races have been proven to have much less genetic diversity than the Parent race of east Africans.. bornagain77
I bought the book " Great Physicists" about two-and-a-half years ago. I never made it much past Galileo. The other day I started reading it again. Made it all the way to Newton. At lunch today, I had the book out and was reading. Here's a direct quote: "Most important, however, was [Huygen's] philosophical bias. He followed Rene Descartes in the belief that natural phenomena must have mechanistic explanations. He rejected Newton's theory of universal gravitation, calling it "absurd," because it was no more than mathematics and proposed no mechanisms." (pp. 21-22; my emphasis and bold) How's that for "providently-provided perspective"? PaV
Joseph RE:42, Yes, you're correct. As I've mentioned before (and took flack for), even NS isn't a "mechanism" per se, but is an outcome.
Natural selection just selects among whatever variations exist in the population.
No, NS is the term we give to the results of differential reproduction. (Organisms select themselves, which is another word for differential reproduction.) Since we lack a coherent and sufficiently general definition of "fitness", we can't say that NS is the relation of fitness to differential reproduction, either. (We went rounds and rounds with this before...so I'll just leave it at this.) But yes, you're correct. "Evolution" isn't a mechanism per se. Atom
Good grief, I meant politically- correct thought police. StephenB
Is "evolution" a result or a mechanism? Everything I have ever read says it is a result of mechanisms. For example:
This is why “need,” “try,” and “want” are not very accurate words when it comes to explaining evolution. The population or individual does not “want” or “try” to evolve, and natural selection cannot try to supply what an organism “needs.” Natural selection just selects among whatever variations exist in the population. The result is evolution.
from- Natural Selection Joseph
[...] How does the actor act? UD cites a lapsed ID convert, with a problem as to the designer. Question: If not ID, what then? The Darwinists are bankrupt. And the self-organizational theorists are hopelessly fuzzy. James Shapiro — he presupposes the very thing that needs to be explained, namely, the origin of systems that perform their own “natural genetic engineering.” Kirschner and Gerhardt are no better with their “facilitated variation” — whence the facilitation? [...] » Lapsed ID convert
allanius "To ask how the actor acts is to reopen the door of teleology, which should have been closed long ago, since it assigns transcendent significance to intellect." This appears to confuse the Means "How" with the end "Why". I understood the first question to be How the actor interacts with nature. The first scientific revolution focused on identifying the laws of nature - what always happens. For this search, setting aside teleology - the Why - is appropriate. However, for the next level, we need to explore design and thus need to look at design principles - thus reverse engineering the universe to begin to grasp principles that can apply in many situations - though not always like a law. Now it becomes necessary to allow teleology -the Why - since with design we need to identify goals and objectives based on which the design principles are selected and applied. DLH
I wonder if the answer to Dr. Dembski’s question hasn’t already been given. Patrick (#28) points out, for example: Dr. Behe “believes that God ‘used the mechanism of evolution’…the difference is that it is intelligent evolution and not unintelligent, unguided evolution. It seems to me that we need to first consider, and then to distinguish between, the Designer’s “direct” causation ( or ‘primary’ causation) and “indirect” causation (or ‘secondary’ causation). We don’t know, for example, what “causes” gravity (‘directly’); but we are certainly aware of its “effects” (‘direct, but secondary’ causation). Likewise, as Patrick notes, Dr. Behe sees NS as “intelligent evolution, and not unintelligent, unguided evolution.” Well, we may NEVER know ‘how’ the Designer ‘directly’ brought about his ‘design’; yet, within the design framework, there might be ‘mechanisms’ (‘secondary causes’) that can be identified. Maybe all that Darwin did was to identify one of the Designer’s ‘secondary causes’. Take, for example, bacterial mutation. When bacteria are environmentally ‘stressed’, they begin to mutate at a very high rate. In fact, there are two antibiotics for which bacteria can develop resistance ONLY if it starts mutating at a much higher rate. Well, you have some kind of environmental trigger, and, lo and behold, the bacteria act in what seems to be a “pre-programmed” way. Darwinists would simply say: “You see, RM+NS really works,” while completely dismissing the possibility that the bacteria’s response has ‘design’ characteristics. What about “recombination”? Is this some “pre-programmed” way of building in sufficient genomic diversity so as to allow adaptation to the environment (similar to the bacterial example I just used)? And would Darwinists like Sean Carroll see this as a way of “recombining” Hox genes so as to form different body-types, and no more, while ID people would see this as an in-built design process/mechanism? Using the analogy of a computer program (and I would certainly solicit the input of any programmers here among us), maybe the “acting” of the Designer can only be seen ‘indirectly’ through (for lack of a more sophisticated term) “subroutines” (viz., bacterial mutation rate increase and an increased recombination rate). If, for example, a computer programmer ran into an extremely sophisticated program, if he wanted to decipher it, he/she would probably have to begin at the edges of the program, looking at digital elements that repeat or that in some other way form some kind of discernible pattern. Once the smaller, less complicated “subroutines” were identified, and their interworkings identified as well, then the programmer might be in a position to understand the next layer of complexity, and then the next, etc. Well, where does all this leave us? Personally, I think we already know enough to say that: (1) Design has occurred---whether we rely on Irreducible Complexity, or CSI (incidentally, CSI is not just about probabilities; it’s about the probabilities involved in a particular ‘specification’, with this latter term having a very precise mathematical understanding) to describe it; (2) we’ll never be able to explain/identify the “mechanism” that the “Designer” directly used since from what is already known there are no “intermediate forms” when it comes to OOL questions, or when it comes to the rise of “multicellularity”. As Dr. Dembski points out in NFL, it’s entirely possible for the Designer to affect nature without being detected. He brilliantly uses the example of photons being split via polarized mirrors to make the point (the workings of the Designer being 'hidden' behind the 'probabilities' of QM). (3) Just as we can’t “explain” gravity, but are able to detect it’s effects, we might never be able to “explain” the design of life but still be able to see some of its effects. But this means that NS, recombination, Hox genes, etc, are to now be understood as part of the Designer’s design. Just as the “paradigm shift” of Copernicus changed only our way of looking at planetary motion planets, leaving completely unchanged the planet’s orbital trajectories and orbital durations (what was ALREADY known was simply subsumed into the new paradigm), why can’t that happen in the case of ID and already known genetical/biological phenomena? (It is, of course, commonplace to hear biologists use the terms ‘design’ and ‘reverse engineering’ when describing their lab methods and results.) So, as to the question Dr. Dembski asks, I find myself almost exactly in the position he takes: “This objection has always seemed to me, at least in part, to miss the point, seeking to reduce an act of creative intelligence to a mechanism (on the order of reducing consciousness to computation). And yet, the question of how design gets implemented in natural history does seem to be critical to understanding ID.” IOW, we’ll never know how Design took place; but we’ll likely learn more and more about how various elements of this Design actually work in nature. What all of this perhaps boils itself down to is this: when you see that bacteria under stress in the lab increasing their mutation rate, do you interpret this simply as a function (and result) of ‘NS at work’, or do you see this as an element of design? IOW, when you look up at the sky and you see the sun rising up into the morning sky, do you see the ‘sun going around the earth’, or do you see the ‘earth going around the sun.’ The facts don't change; what is known doesn't change---only our perspective and understanding changes. As I said: a paradigm shift (Isn’t that what Kuhn would tell us is behind all scientific revolutions?) PaV
Biological machinery indicates design, but it also evidences "construction". A complete and utter lack of knowledge about the methods or procedures of construction of biological machinery, any object for that matter, for example an intricate pocket watch, detracts not at all from the obvious recognition of the machinery or object's design. The "how" of an object's construction does not affect my recognition of the object's design. Demanding that I know how the complex machinery of a cell was constructed before I can know it was designed is like demanding that I know how a 747 was constructed before I decide to buy a ticket. glennj
Although I am fully convinced of the explicatory power of ID, this has always been a very intereting question to me. I asked Dr. Dembski this question a while back (http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1438), and I sincerely feel that the answer is somewhere out there. In my question to Dr. Dembski, I mentioned the possibility of entertaining the idea of explaining the designer's (/s') modus operandi in von Neumann terms. For one, we cannot ignore the ill effects of thermodynamic activity on any given system. Moreover, the system must be, not only self-replicating, but must also be a system capable of self-diagnosis and self-repairing (or signal conscious). It must not only be capable of avoiding entropy, but be capable of the opposite and increase in complexity/organization (i.e. negetropy). This would fall neatly into the idea of front loading, but the system must begin as a self-diagnosing and self-repairing system in order to avoid the effects of the second law. It must diagnose and repair faster than the entropic effects of nature. This seems to be consistent with what we are seeing in the fossil record immediately after the earth's genesis (i.e. fully functional and complex organisms capable of self-diagnosis and repair). It seems to me that anything within RNA research must take into account a mechanism similar to what I have outlined above, otherwise, you will have a system that is constantly being broken apart. In his attempt to make spontanous abiogenesis feasible, Manfred Eigen ignored the difference between "potential" information and "actual" information. The question is not on whether information can emerge from the biosphere, but how this information is organized and made funtional to the degree of building biomolecular motors, and so on. We know the effects of thermodynamic activity, we understand chemistry and physics. We also understand the effects of mind over matter. So, what's the problem? Your thoughts? Mario A. Lopez
When critics start asking for a mechanism, I usually interpret their skepticism as an pretext for their inability or unwillingness to pull themselves away from their failed religion of Darwinism. Forget the evidence, they seem to say, its not enough; show me a miracle then I will believe. There is a certain irony in these kinds of complaints. On the one hand, the critic complains that ID scientists do not probe deeply enough into the mystery of design. They ask, "where is the mechanism?" On the other hand, when the probing begins in earnest, these very same critics now object that the scientist has now gone to far by entering into the forbidden territory of theology. But my personal belief is that science and theology overlap in some ways, and that the most interesting research of all consists of trying to figure out what goes on at that intersection. The Political correct thought police militate against all such efforts, as we know. According to them, the line of demarcation is clear, and it may not be violated. But that is their rule; it is not reason's rule. Reason dictates that we go where the evidence leads, even if that means stretching and redifining our specialty. Its been done before. How can one investigate how the actor acts, while ignoring the character of the actor? At the same time, I think it is a mistake to limit ones research to looking for a mehcanism or even in being unduly concerned about it. One can be on the lookout for it while pursuing other things. To me, the ID scientist should not be looking for answers to his critics' questions; he should be looking for answers to his own questions. Most of us are driven to pursue truth in our own way, and when we are true to ourselves we do our best work. StephenB
It took scientists years of studying Stonehenge to develop a possible method of building it. And yes, part of an ID research program would be to look into possible design methods/ processes that will give a similar result. IMHO that is a better research program than trying to figure out how it was done it the first place. And by doing so then perhaps we may stumble on to the method/ process actually used. IOW all these other questions- who designed, what was designed, how/ when was it designed- prove that ID is not a scientific dead-end. It does force us to ask those other questions. Then we realize that the only possible way to answer them is via rigorous examination. We also realize that it matters a great deal whether that which is being investigated is the result of nature, operating freely or agency interaction. All that said, Dr Lee Spetner introduced a possible design mechanism in his 1997 book "Not By Chance". As part of his non-random evolutionary hypothesis he mentions "built-in responses to environmental cues". Fish anti-freeze comes to mind as a possible outcome of such a mechanism. Joseph
The scientist's question is paradoxical, even ridiculous. Perhaps he would be more satisfied if he knew in how many possible ways the actor could play. Deterministic evolutionary science tries to find definitive causes and repeatable mechanisms, (as John Kelly pointed out in 13), but (as Jason replied in 14), mechanisms, necessity and causality are a part of "science" only in some ways and not others. I am not sure if the scientist is arrogant (as Gerry Rzeppa asserted in 15), but he is " essentially saying that he won’t believe anything until he completely understands everything about it." In any case this scientist, like many scientists before him, is rather confused about the nature of causality, about nature acting (processes) and being (structures). There is some standard we have come to expect from human actors, but even a limited human actor can act in a surprisingly many (perhaps even unlimited) number ways, some (or many) quite shocking. One cannot even guess in how many possible ways could an unlimited supernatural agent, like God, act. One could consider even limited human actions random, especially if one doesn't understand why a human actor acted in some particular peculiar way. The problem of ID is not so much to show all the possible ways (actions) the actor can play, that would be futile, but rather to demonstrate that the underlying structures are intelligently designed and "limited" and therefore not subject to the currently postulated evolutionary randomness. ----------- Example: To illustrate, when Martin Gardner years ago published Chesterton's Orthodoxy, it was its chapter 4, and specifically the following that drew the attention of scientists and philosophers: It might be stated this way. There are certain sequences or developments (cases of one thing following another), which are, in the true sense of the word, reasonable. They are, in the true sense of the word, necessary. Such are mathematical and merely logical sequences. We in fairyland (who are the most reasonable of all creatures) admit that reason and that necessity. For instance, if the Ugly Sisters are older than Cinderella, it is (in an iron and awful sense) NECESSARY that Cinderella is younger than the Ugly Sisters. There is no getting out of it. Haeckel may talk as much fatalism about that fact as he pleases: it really must be. If Jack is the son of a miller, a miller is the father of Jack. Cold reason decrees it from her awful throne: and we in fairyland submit. If the three brothers all ride horses, there are six animals and eighteen legs involved: that is true rationalism, and fairyland is full of it. But as I put my head over the hedge of the elves and began to take notice of the natural world, I observed an extraordinary thing. I observed that learned men in spectacles were talking of the actual things that happened--dawn and death and so on--as if THEY were rational and inevitable. They talked as if the fact that trees bear fruit were just as NECESSARY as the fact that two and one trees make three. But it is not. There is an enormous difference by the test of fairyland; which is the test of the imagination. You cannot IMAGINE two and one not making three. But you can easily imagine trees not growing fruit; you can imagine them growing golden candlesticks or tigers hanging on by the tail. These men in spectacles spoke much of a man named Newton, who was hit by an apple, and who discovered a law. But they could not be got to see the distinction between a true law, a law of reason, and the mere fact of apples falling. If the apple hit Newton's nose, Newton's nose hit the apple. That is a true necessity: because we cannot conceive the one occurring without the other. But we can quite well conceive the apple not falling on his nose; we can fancy it flying ardently through the air to hit some other nose, of which it had a more definite dislike. We have always in our fairy tales kept this sharp distinction between the science of mental relations, in which there really are laws, and the science of physical facts, in which there are no laws, but only weird repetitions. We believe in bodily miracles, but not in mental impossibilities. We believe that a Bean-stalk climbed up to Heaven; but that does not at all confuse our convictions on the philosophical question of how many beans make five. Here is the peculiar perfection of tone and truth in the nursery tales. The man of science says, "Cut the stalk, and the apple will fall"; but he says it calmly, as if the one idea really led up to the other. The witch in the fairy tale says, "Blow the horn, and the ogre's castle will fall"; but she does not say it as if it were something in which the effect obviously arose out of the cause. Doubtless she has given the advice to many champions, and has seen many castles fall, but she does not lose either her wonder or her reason. She does not muddle her head until it imagines a necessary mental connection between a horn and a falling tower. But the scientific men do muddle their heads, until they imagine a necessary mental connection between an apple leaving the tree and an apple reaching the ground. They do really talk as if they had found not only a set of marvellous facts, but a truth connecting those facts. They do talk as if the connection of two strange things physically connected them philosophically. They feel that because one incomprehensible thing constantly follows another incomprehensible thing the two together somehow make up a comprehensible thing. Two black riddles make a white answer. In fairyland we avoid the word "law"; but in the land of science they are singularly fond of it. Thus they will call some interesting conjecture about how forgotten folks pronounced the alphabet, Grimm's Law. But Grimm's Law is far less intellectual ... etc. (Read the whole chapter 4 of Orthodoxy, http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/ ) rockyr
"...if a more concrete story can be told about the mechanism of design implementation, how the actor acts." I must agree with TRoutMac and others. Put it this way, seeking the mechanism of the "actor" is irrelevant, however interesting or fascinating it may be. The deepest we seem to be able to go in this case is down to atomic structures. Can we go deeper? Possibly. Don't know. But even if we could, is it not perfectly obvious that once we've gotten to the absolute deepest level of matter, we still cannot answer where the matter came from? By what 'mechanism of design implementation'! Apply the same question to matter itself, or time. It's like asking why something true is true. Why does 1+1=2? Or, 'what is life'? No one can answer that on purely mechanical or materialistic terms. Brings back the old philosophical arguments on first truths. Truths that cannot and need not be proven but are still true. Those who persistently require knowledge of the designer don't understand ID at all. They have not made the first step into the design inference. Inference intrinsically works that way. It doesn't require further knowledge of the inferred - no matter how many more intriguing questions it raises. Asking the designer to show you the physical mechanisms of how he designed his work, in the case of biological entities, is akin to asking the author of a book to show you where, in the book, how he wrote the book. DNA is the book. The designer of life has already given us ample evidence of his existence. He has already made the chemical code that makes it work accessible. Inferences about the designer's methods, nature, intentions, purposes etc. are very interesting but extraneous to ID. Borne
I fail to see why Shapiro sees the lack of a mechanism as a show stopper for ID. However, I am very hopeful that some amount of mechanism will be discovered. It will only be discovered when scientists start looking for it -- when ID is considered to be a scientifically valid concept. However, some amount of mechanism must be findable. For instance, what happens when a new designed mutation happens. Does the designer change one gene, leaving the rest of the organism unchanged, then go in and change another? Or does the designer present an entire set of genes to an organism adding a new feature? This should be detectable. Some have suggested that the designer starts from scratch, from dust, and creates a whole new species. If so this should be detectable -- the evidence I have seen goes against this hypothesis. There is so much that might be discoverable once we begin to look with the eyes that there's been an agent a-twiddlin'. This is much of what I hope that science will begin to uncover once the stumbling block of naturalism is overcome. bFast
Reep asks an excellent question.
I would personally find it far more convincing if ID proponents could tell me in some way what are defining features of designed things versus undesigned things.
This is exactly the question that Dr. Dembski and Dr. Behe asked. That is ID theory in a nutshell (says this layman observer). The defining features of designed things are irreducible complexity and the more general case of specified complexity. Not all designed things exhibit these features but all things exhibiting these features are designed. CSI is a sufficient but not necessary observation. Behe has used this idea (without saying so) in his new book to demonstrate just how far design goes and is implicated in biological systems. To answer Dr. Dembski's question - mechanism is unnecessary. We have many theories to explain quantum effects, for instance. There is no accepted mechanism, but plenty of science. In fact, QM suggests it's high-time we forget about "mechanism" and move on from machine-like explanations to thought-like. Charlie
Reep, This is something which I repeat every now and then about evolution. For purposes of explanation I have used the following 4 possible mechanisms for the origin of new species. 1. Gradualism or what is commonly known as neo Darwinism using the familiar paradigm of random variation plus natural selection. 2. Other naturalistic mechanisms (of unknown variety) that cause large changes in the genome which is then subject to natural selection. Of course some will combine 1 and 2 and say there are just a variety of naturalistic mechanisms causing changes in the genome which is then subject to natural selection. 3. One or more genomes were created/designed by some intelligence and introduced to Earth at one or more times in the deep past and from these all the life that we have witnessed has evolved based on some interaction of these genomes with the environment over deep time. This is often called the front loading mechanism and can have many variants. 4. One or more genomes were created/designed by some intelligence and introduced to Earth at one or more times and either these genomes were modified and new ones introduced at various times during the last 3.5 billion years by an intelligence. How or why the intelligence modified the genome is not the issue and is probably unknowable. But maybe as we learn more about genomes and how they function, we can develop some hypotheses. The last two are Intelligent Design variants and actually either could include 1 or 2 as part of the mechanisms that resulted in new species. They are not incompatible. Now it is certainly possible that there could be other possibilities that don’t include any of these 4 scenarios and it is certainly possible that all 4 could have been operating from the beginning at different times. The only reason I spelt this out is that if you decide to back one of the four, the main evidence for your choice is probably going to be negative arguments against the other three. There is very little positive information for any of the 4 mechanisms and people arguing for one tend to mainly recite negative arguments against the others. That is why we have all these theodicy arguments, bad design arguments etc used against ID. We constantly hear talk about how neo Darwinism has been falsified so many times it gets boring to repeat it. We constantly remark that no one ever presents any of the overwhelming evidence for Darwin. Each is true and reflects that ID is mainly backed by negative arguments and the lack of positive arguments for mechanisms 1 and 2. If mechanism 1 or 2 were true one would expect a lot of forensic information to support it. At the moment there is none except trivial examples. If there were good information then the textbooks would be full of them. But they are not. This is a classic case of Sherlock Holmes observation from Silver Blaze of the "the dog barking in the night." There was no dog that barked so why aren't the Darwin supporters barking? The answer is they have no examples, not even good forensic evidence suggesting that 1 and 2 are operating. jerry
How do we know whether aircraft fly because of the effect of the airflow over the wing, etc. or because they are being held up by an agent of ID? ....we have to have a method for making the distinction, and that method can only be the mechanism.
Actually, that would be the explanatory filter (EF), which is part of the core of ID theory. In this wing example, design as an explanation would be rejected in the first part of the EF, since the object under question can readily be explained by a law. We never get to the point of considering the probabilistic resources of the scenario and whether design is applicable. Patrick
I can see why “who cares how it’s done – we only care that it is done” is an attractive position, and also that it has some merit. But my feeling is that a huge value of describing the mechanism is not just for its own sake ie. having complete knowledge of what is going on (we have to be intrigued, surely?) but also because it identifies the BOUNDARIES of the design process. How do we know whether aircraft fly because of the effect of the airflow over the wing, etc. or because they are being held up by an agent of ID? Some people have accused me of being facetious when I ask this, but I can assure you that this is an entirely genuine dilemma of mine. Surely we have to be able to say that ‘such and such is ID’, and conversely that ‘such and such is the material world’? And if we’re going to do this we have to have a method for making the distinction, and that method can only be the mechanism. Inextricably linked with this is the unavoidable fact that knowledge of the mechanism would be the PROOF – isn’t this the objective? duncan
I for one, think that scientists can somewhat discern what type of "spiritual" and physical mechanisms are behind the implementation of information into "material" systems. ...Science already has a valuable tool in the measuring of entropies of various material systems..In fact the most fantastic number for the anthropic principle comes from Penrose's calculation for the Entropy of 'phase space' at the Big Bang. He stated "The Creator's aim must have been to an accuracy of (10^10^123). That is 1 with 10^123 zeros to the right.) Likewise I can discern that the rough timing of implementation of information into life forms can be somewhat discerned by measuring the genetic entropy of life i.e. each adaptation of a complex life form (observed speciation) will always come at a cost of gentic information, thus obeying the foundational principle of genetic entropy.. As far as physical implementation of the information into material systems...At the cutting edge of science, it is now being found that a tremendous amount of information can possibly be encoded into light in ways never dreamed of a few years before. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000E7D49-4ADD-1D06-8E49809EC588EEDF&catID=1 Particularly this quote: The findings represent an encouraging step toward exploiting OAM for quantum information processing, the authors note. Although they were able to discriminate among only four values out of an infinite number of options for OAM, they conclude that the ability to measure a single photon's OAM provides the possibility of a much greater density of information transfer. Thus I maintain that the question of "How does the Actor act?" may very well be within the grasp of man to understand,, and on top of understanding it, it very possibly may even be within his grasp to manipulate for his own needs! bornagain77
OK wait- If ID has to identify the designer and/ or the specific design process used then does that eman that the anti-IDists have to tell us which mutations were responsible for X changes? IOW why is it OK to say "random mutations culled by selection, genetic drift and/ or lateral gene transfer" but not OK to say "designed to evolve"? Over on Amazon (Dr Behe's blog) a biologist claimed that carpenters, plumbers and electricians have specific mechanisms. However if I give 5 carpenters, 5 plumbers and 5 electricians a job to do it is very likely that each will do it differently. IOW there isn't one mechanism for carpentry, one for plumbing and one for electricians. They have a job and they do it per the specifications. Also in the absence of direct observation or designer input the ONLY way to make any determination about the designer or the specific design process used is by studying the design in question. See also: Intelligent Design: The Design Hypothesis Joseph
Reep, Behe believes that God "used the mechanism of evolution"...the difference is that it is intelligent evolution and not unintelligent, unguided evolution. Patrick
Jerry, Ok, so then it would be your view that all living things, by virtue of their complex and interactive makeup fall under the category of designed things, and non-living things do not? If that’s the case, and we assume that such things were designed, why not then move on to the next step of trying to discern how the designer(s) created or modified these things? Why not try to learn what we can of the designer(s) from the evidence, those things which appear to be designed? I mean, I understand if you say that you’re only in the beginning phases of the idea and need time to get there, but shouldn’t that be a logical next step to be working on? To put it from my personal perspective, I believe both that everything was created with a purpose, and that the mechanism for the lifeforms we see around us was evolution. Since ID disagrees with my view, do you have an alternative mechanism by which the designer worked, or have some reason why the designer could not or would not have used the mechanism of evolution? Reep
Personally I'm not sure why the lack of a specified mechanism is such a hangup. After all, Darwinists are arguing amongst themselves what the primary mechanism for creating complex genomes might be. Does the CORE of ID theory need to be tied to mechanisms considering ID-compatible hypotheses provide mechanisms such as front-loading, panspermia, punctuated intervention, quantum entanglement, the FSM mothership visiting every so often or whatever (could not help throwing the last one in for humor value ;) )? But it just so happens that the topic of ID mechanisms came up just yesterday on OE:
You are asking for a mechanism for design. Let me be clear that the core of ID theory is not mechanical in nature. There are ID-compatible hypotheses that offer mechanisms for design in biology. Two examples are front-loading and punctuated intervention, which are both compatible with universal common descent. Of course, even in a YEC scenario there can still be partial front-loading and other intelligent mechanisms which can account for rapid evolution. While front-loading has predictions unfortunately the results of punctuated intervention and unintelligent mechanisms might look much the same. The difference is that intelligent mechanisms need not be gradualistic, which of course is more compatible with the fossil record. But while we know that intelligence is quite capable of producing specified complexity we are still trying to determine the exact limitations of unguided Darwinian mechanisms. We do have experimental evidence (see Behe's Edge of Evolution) but most Darwinian mechanisms are untested...they're just assumed to work as advertised. Now an intelligent mechanism can self-terminate aka "stop". Darwinian mechanisms on the other hand have no reason to do so. So, unless unguided, unintelligent Darwinian mechanisms happen to be on vacation they are either not active today at the same level or they were never capable in the first place. It's always possible we are misunderstanding something about unintelligent mechanisms but so far the outlook is grim for Darwinism. I for one am open to the possibility that intelligence was only involved during OOL and the system was configured in such a fashion to allow unintelligent mechanisms to unfold the rest (like a culmination of lego block pieces). But I do not see any evidence or experiments to validate that scenario.
Reep, There are thousands of identified complex systems that contribute to an objective in what we call life. Nowhere else does such a thing exist in nature except for the fundamental laws of the universe itself. There are systems, these systems have a pupose, the systems are incredibly complex and these systems build on each other. It's not hard to see how this is a distinguishing feature. jerry
In the Teaching Company course on the Philosophy of Science, the lecturer, Jeffrey Kasser, discusses ID at various places. Not overly critical as one would expect but not supportive either. His main observation is that till now ID is interested in the big questions. And until it gets interested in the little questions it will go nowhere as a science. This is easier said and done in today's science climate where nearly all depends upon grant money and grant money is in the hands of those hostile to ID. However, until a bunch of little things can add up, it may be difficult to establish ID as a separate area of science. Given this, it may be possible to make an ID literature out of what is currently available. There are probably many studies unbeknownst to the researchers who implemented them that have ID implications. Each could be reinterpreted in the ID framework to provide an ID literature and a basis for further studies. One possible example, is the literature on blood clotting was used to undermine Behe's testimony at Dover. However, from what I understand the literature did not really support the claims made of them. If these studies and others related to the topic were used to show the limitations of natural processes and not their supposed amazing abilities then other studies that were being implemented could be used in conjunction with this literature even if the current researchers had no intent on doing so. Now, the real problem is reality. Who would do this is the question. It could only be tenured researchers since anyone not tenured would be ostracized immediately. Even tenured researchers could have their grant money cut off essentially neutering them. One possibility is that the researchers in question have support from people interested in their research for it practical purposes such as venture capitalists. jerry
Allanias you stated: I’m missing something, the “actor” is inscrutable. 1.inscrutable: incapable of being investigated, analyzed, or scrutinized; impenetrable. Yet in spite of this belief (a science stopper) I bet you also hold this belief: People were created to have fellowship with God; So I ask you "How can one have fellowship with a God Who is incapable of being investigated?"... Though you are right in one sense, I do think in His full power God is indeed inscrutable; I think it would be more proper for you to say that God is sovereign and even primary elemental to nature. That is to say, All realities have their being through Him,,, Thus, because of these truths, I hold that God is somewhat "scrutable" by us and even able to be found by science in so far as science is able to be trace reality back to Him. bornagain77
I’m going to chance de-lurking here to throw in my support for this guy’s question. To start with, I don’t believe in ID. I’d fall under the category of theistic evolutionist myself. I’m not a professional scientist, philosopher or theologian. I’m an engineer with a layman’s interest in the whole subject. The lack of any kind of proposed mechanism is a big reason I have trouble buying into ID. It seems to me the primary argument for ID is that conditions appear extremely unlikely to have happened by random coincidence, and that once that unlikeliness passes a certain threshold, design is the most rational alternative. I would personally find it far more convincing if ID proponents could tell me in some way what are defining features of designed things versus undesigned things. Even if that explanation weren’t fully fleshed out or tested yet, it would provide a starting point for looking at aspects of life or the universe and saying, “Yes, that shows features of design, because we know or have reason to believe that the designer(s) operated along those lines.” or “No, that rock over there shows no signs that the designer(s) had any direct hand in its origins or development.” At the moment, it seems a more philosophical issue. Some people look at the world around us and say it appears designed. Others say it looks like something that developed through natural laws. But without giving some kind of distinguishing features, it sounds like a matter of preference. I think a couple people referenced Newton’s description of gravity as a mechanism free scientific breakthrough. But even in that case, Newton described how gravity behaved. When astronomers compared his calculations to the orbit of Uranus, and found a discrepancy, they were able to use his equations to determine what was causing that discrepancy, and consequently discover the planet Neptune. Can ID describe at least the apparent behavior of the designer(s), or are all things simply designed and there is no contrast between “designed” and “existing”? Reep
Unless I'm missing something, the "actor" is inscrutable. That's the clear message we have from a higher form of revelation than science. And science tells us the same thing. Gravity: inscrutable. Light: inscrutable. Life: inscrutable. Self: inscrutable. To ask how the actor acts is to reopen the door of teleology, which should have been closed long ago, since it assigns transcendent significance to intellect. If grace is grace, then it must be something more than intellect. The inscrutable actor should be embraced. The real question is: what is science? ID describes something that is actually perceived with the senses, since design is obvious. Darwinism is nothing more than a theory of how that design might have come into being without the aid of supernatural causes, a theory that looks increasingly improbable with each passing day. Since ID deals with what is seen, and Darwinism is purely a theory, ID is justified in claiming the mantle of "science" for itself, because "science" means knowledge of the physical universe. Let man be humbled by the vanity of his own thinking. That is the moral of modern theoretical science and the attempt to use intellect to supercede God. allanius
Like someone said previously, we may never know how the implementation was achieved. Should science stop because of that? The point of view the ex-ID takes may be a science stopper, if the implementation is beyond our empirical grasp. However, the implementation being out of the empirics doesn't invalidate the nature of the effect, and the testability of the effects. Mats
Dr. Dembski, I've heard said that in order to start cleaning your house you have to first and foremost admit that your house is indeed dirty. Likewise for science to move forward, science as a whole it has to admit that biology in particular is engulfed in the cluttering fallacies. Once this is accomplished, further breakthroughs are possible in science. Your question, Dr. Dembski, is "How Does the Actor act?" If we are willing to concede that the same transcendent Being Who is by all indications responsible for the Big Bang is same one responsible for the origination of the CSI in life then we can start asking practical scientific questions. For instance "How does the higher "spiritual" realm actually interact with physical reality"? ..To this question I believe we already have preliminary guideposts to guide us in physics to the correct answers. Quantum entanglement seems to give us clear insight into how this spiritual Entity actually interacts within physics. The following short article is one I've recently posted before,,,yet I feel it is worth reposting since it is very integral to the topic at hand. What is Truth? To varying degrees everyone looks for truth. A few people have traveled to distant lands seeking gurus in their quest to find “Truth”. People are happy when they discover a new truth into the mysteries of life. People who have deep insights into the truth of how things actually work are considered wise. In the bible Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” as well as “I am the TRUTH, the way, and the life.” So, since truth is considered such a good thing, let us look for truth in a common object; a simple rock. Few people would try to argue that a rock is not real. Someone who would argue that it is not real could bang his head on the rock until he was satisfied the rock is real. A blind man in a darkened cave would feel the rock hitting his head just as well as a sighted man who saw the rock coming. The rock is real and its reality is not dependent on our observation. Having stated the obvious lets look at what the rock is actually made of. A rock is composed of three basic ingredients; energy, force and truth. From Einstein’s’ famous equation (e=mc2) we know that all matter (solids, liquids and gases) of the universe is made of energy. This energy is “woven” by various forces into the atoms of the rock. The amount of energy woven by these complex interactions of various forces into the rock is tremendous. This tremendous energy that is in the rock is clearly demonstrated by the detonation of atom . This woven energy is found in each and every individual “particle” of every atom in the trillions upon trillions of atoms in the rock. Woven energy is the “substance” of the rock. It is what gives the rock its physicality of being solid. Yet there is another ingredient which went into making the rock that is often neglected to be looked at as a “real” component of the rock. It is the transcendent spiritual component of truth. If truth did not exist the rock would not exist. This is as obvious as the fact that the rock would not exist if energy and/or force did not exist. It is the truth in and of the logical laws of the universal constants that govern the energy and force of the rock that enable the rock to be a rock in the first place. Is truth independent and nt of the energy and force? Yes of course, there are many philosophical truths that are not dependent on energy or force for them to still be true. Yet energy and force are always subject to what truth tells them they can and cannot do. That is to say, the rock cannot exist without truth yet truth can exist without the rock. Energy and force must obey the truth that is above them or else it can’t possibly exist. Since truth dictates what energy and/or force can or cannot do, truth tes energy and force. Energy and force do not do^min^ate truth. If all energy and/or force stopped existing the truth that ruled the energy and force in the rock would still be logically true. Thus, truth is eternal. The logical truth existed before the rock existed. The logical truth exists while the rock exists. The logical truth will exist after the rock is long gone. It is also obvious that truth is omnipresent. The truth that is in the rock on this world is the same truth that is in a rock on the other side of the universe on another world. Thus, truth is present everywhere at all times. It has been scientifically proven, by quantum non-locality, that whenever something becomes physically “real” (wave collapse of entangled electron (quantum entanglement)) in any part of the universe this “information of reality (truth)” is instantaneously communicated everywhere in the universe. Thus, truth is “aware” of everything that goes on in the universe instantaneously. This universal awareness gives truth a vital characteristic of being omniscient. This instantaneous communication of truth to all points in the universe also happens to defy the speed of light; a “truth” that energy and even gravity happen to be subject to. This scientific proof of quantum non-locality also proves that truth is not a “passive” component of this universe. Truth is actually scientifically demonstrated to be the “active” do^min^ant component of this universe. Truth is not a passive set of rules written on a sheet of paper somewhere. Truth is the “living governor” of this universe that has dominion over all other components of this universe. Well, lets see what we have so far; Truth is eternal (it has always existed and will always exist); Truth is omnipresent (it is present everywhere in the universe at all times); Truth is omnipotent (it has dominion over everything else in the universe); Truth has a vital characteristic of omniscience (it knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe); and Truth is active” (it is aware of everything that is happening and instantaneously makes appropriate adjustments wherever needed in the universe). Surprisingly, being eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient and active are some of the very characteristics that are used by theologians to describe God. Thus, by the strict rules of logic this means spiritual truth emanates from God. So in answer to our question “What is Truth?” we can answer that truth comes from God. Thus we have solid scientific proof of the spiritual realm interacting with the physical realm!! As a sidelight to this: Jesus says that He is “The Truth”. In light with what has been revealed, This is a VERY fantastic claim! If Jesus is speaking a truth, which I believe He is from the personal miracles I’ve seen in my life, then by the str^ict rules of logic this makes Jesus the ultimate and all encompassing expression all God’s truth in this universe. In other words, all individual truths of this universe, such as all the laws of physics, and all the ones in philosophy, find their final authority and ultimate expression in Jesus Christ. bornagain77
I am going to go against the grain here. I think it is important to understand mechanisms. Because understanding mechanisms leads to practical applications. And practical applications cannot be waved away by the materialist scientists. It is fun to exercise ourselves intellectually here, but I fear we will eventually turn (evolve?) into a coffee klatsch unless the ID scientists out there cure a disease or fix a genetic condition. rrf
I’m pretty new to ID and ‘agnostic’ at the moment. The issue in this post is a big stumbling block for me. Some of my thoughts are: - If we don’t know precisely why gravity works, we certainly know how ie. we know exactly how it will come to bear on any body or bodies in any given set of circumstances. The fact that we can delineate the boundaries and qualities of gravity gives it meaning – quite apart from the fact that we can put the knowledge to huge practical use eg. satellites orbiting. This can’t be said of ID. In ID it seems to be expressly forbidden to consider “who, how, why, where, and when”. This can only serve to give ID a certain nebulous quality – sometimes it appears to me to be nothing more than an educated guess. Lots of comments on UD say things to the effect that “ID is obvious”. Well, I’m afraid it is certainly not obvious to me. I’m willing to be persuaded, but I need more ‘meat’. Another problem I have is that a lot of ID-related effort is not expressly about ID at all, but rather criticisms of Darwinism. This is all fine (in fact, the most interesting area, as far as I’m concerned), but the assumption that the collapse of Darwinism equals the triumph of ID is a logical non-sequitur. Lastly, and related to the above comment – if we don’t have any hard facts about the mechanisms of ID, then how do we know it’s not happening in those areas other than the ones where we feel the conventional materialist / naturalist explanations fail ie. in everything (of course, theists would say it / He is) duncan
Bill, If our goal is to get the majority of scientists to see what is obvious to us, that there is no explanation for the cleverness in biology apart from design, and to get scientific journals to discuss design seriously, we are going to be frustrated for a long time. A much more achievable goal, which will be almost as satisfying, is to get the majority of scientists to admit to the general public what they already know, that their 19th century explanation is hopelessly inadequate now, and that there is no alternative in sight. Imagine a world where scientists simply admit they are stumped by the complexity of life, and are still looking for an explanation, and where the popular media actually report this fact. Imagine a world where the layman is free to use common sense to decide for himself what the causes of this cleverness are. It will be a much better world, Bill. Granville Sewell
I'm also with TroutMac; how a particular idea is implemented is not the issue. That's one of the main points of my book, "Some of the Parts" which you can read for free by clicking the ad at the right. The word for your friend, Mr. Dembski, is arrogant; he's essentially saying that he won't believe anything until he completely understands everything about it. And that, of course, leaves him with precious little to believe. Gerry Rzeppa
To echo what some others have said and (IIRC) Steve Fuller suggested to me. When Newton first came up with the idea of gravity he had no idea how the heck it worked, all he knew was that objects attract one another in a way proportional to their mass and distance. The mechanism of this ? Newton had no idea. If ID requires a "mechanism" for the effect that is produced to be science, then Newtoniam mechanics were not science. To pick an example from biology. Mendel likewise had no idea what the mechanism of heritability was, but he could certainly measure and test its effects and make predictions. Was Mendeleevian genetics science ? It seems stupid to claim that what Mendel was doing or what Newton was doing was something other than science even though they had no idea of the mechanism. The question of mechanism is just an open research problem to be tackled. One thing ID critics fail consistently to understand is that if science is going to tell us things about the nature of the real world then you have to consider ID as a live possibility because it may well be true. If it is out of court by definition then science has ceased to be about the search for truth about the material world. Jason Rennie
I wouldn't call The Scientist's reply an objection. It sounds like he has jumped ship too early, but may return if there was a better way to show how the mind of the actor was influencing the actions. That's why he says "As for ID, more fundamental work on the practicality of design detection is crucial — and your strength." It sounds like he is taking the polite route of saying "Show some PROOF!" I believe that ONLY an act of creative intelligence can be reduced to a mechanism. Scientists are constantly seeking this mechanism, but do not identify the resulting acts as originating from an "intelligent" source. The confusion arises from having to distinguish between a purposeful act and an accidental act. It is this blindness, mixed with the ease of ascribing "accident" to purpose, that causes their minds to think completely backwards about life, nature, and evolution. The truth is that even if they were smacked hard in the face with "proof", they may be incapable of seeing it. John Kelly
Bill, Venter isn't doing origin of life research. He's doing customization of life research. No engineer in his right mind is going to reinvent basic cellular components like ribosomes when well tested designs already exist nor would they invent a huge inventory of proteins to carry out various functions when a huge working inventory of proteins already exists. He's just taking a modular approach. Find the minimum set of preexisting components necessary for a free living bacteria then customize it with additional preexisting components to carry out tasks of practical interest to humans. For a huge array of such tasks there's no need for invention of new sub-cellular components - custom configuration is all that's required. It's like going down to Fry's Electronics Superstore and gathering up components to build things. It's impractical to reinvent parts that are already on the shelf when all you're interested in doing is assembling the parts in a new way. Extant life is like a Fry's Biologics Superstore. The only thing missing is a helpful sales person who can tell us where to look for the items we need and how to connect them to each other. We have to inventory the store ourself and figure out how to connect the component parts together in new ways using preexisting working assemblies as a guide. DaveScot
nullasalus Genetic algorithms are robust but inefficient search methods. See Behe's Darwin's Black Box, and Limits to Evolution. I expect most studying ID would not find the mechanisms of microevolution sufficient to explain the incredible complexity and information rich nano systems being discovered, nor macroevolution, nor abiogenesis. Back to the topic, is identifying the mechanism of design implementation important to you compared to detecting design? DLH
Good. I like what I'm hearing. Would it be safe to say that multiple realizability (the ability to implement the same design/purpose) in different ways is the reason that how the actor acts should not be a central concern of ID? If not a central concern, then how much of a concern? In TRoutMac's example, there were two implementations that could be specified in detail. Would ID be better off if we could achieve this level of detail? And what if we can't -- what if GeoffRobinson is right and the level of design in living systems so far exceeds human capabilities that we will never unravel it? In this regard, I find Craig Venter's recent work on the origin of life fundamentally deficient -- he is cutting and pasting from existing life forms rather than building them from scratch. William Dembski
How does a mathematician come up with a new mathematical insight, or a composer compose a symphony? Even they can't tell you. Does that make their creativity any less detectable as a product of design? GilDodgen
"a more concrete story can be told about the mechanism of design implementation, how the actor acts" The corollary is to require: "the mechanisms behind abiogenesis, the origin of a self replicating cell from atelic stochasitic processes of the four forces of nature, which is foundationally essential to natural selection." ------------- ". . .seeking to reduce an act of creative intelligence to a mechanism (on the order of reducing consciousness to computation). . ." Insight into the creative process involves a combination of "reverse engineering" applied to the five levels of information set out by Werner Gitt in In the Beginning was Information. These are different from the implementation of that creative process in natural history. Implementing the design behind the anthropic principle would involve interactions between the designer with each of the four forces of nature. Identifying this mechanism is equivalent to first discovering and quantifying "the theory of everything" AND the next level of the interaction between the designer and this universal theory. Design of self reproducing cells requires identifying the design and function of hundreds of genes, micro RNA, and photosynthesis etc, AND the starting conditions necessary to initiate their operation. Implementing such self replicating cells requires assembling these AND initiating the starting conditions and processes. Distinguishing intelligent causation from stochastic atelic natural processes is far simpler. Since we commonly identify design, this should be tractable. DLH
Actually, to further along this, I would ask: Can't mechanisms of evolution themselves be ways in which the actor acts? Right now we have computer scientists and the like using 'evolving' programs to achieve certain goals, so it could be argued that - even without the concept of IC structures - evolution itself can show design and intention at some (all?) parts. Or would ID proponents disagree? I'm honestly curious about this one. nullasalus
I agree with TroutMac, the presence or absence of a known mechanism should be irrelevant. If the evidence points toward a theory as the best explanation and other theories fall short, then what difference does whether the mechanism is known make to our evaluation of the theory's validity? Should we just ignore the best explanation because of little knowledge about it's mechanism? 13atman
It seems to be a philosophical hang-up. I'm not really sure how Intel designs their chips. Their may be epistemological barriers we can't get through. That's different than figuring out design. As Dirty Harry said, a man's gotta know his limitations. geoffrobinson
TRoutMac (and Prof Dembski): Pardon a thought or a few. 1] Design is about agency; mechanism is about (evolving? cf. TRIZ here) technology. 2] It is sufficient to address many interesting and even major scientific issues that we can reasonably, empirically and credibly reliably establish using the Explanatory Filter THAT design has happened. 3] Discovering HOW it was done or could be done, by WHOM, though also of high interest, is as prof Dembski points out, a separate question. 4] Marrying the two is too often little more than a rhetorical tactic, namely a red herring leading out to a convenient strawman. 5] Sad. GEM of TKI kairosfocus
But in the end, ID will only fly if a more concrete story can be told about the mechanism of design implementation, how the actor acts.
If the designer of nature turns out to be outside of nature, then we may not have the means or the capacity to understand the mechanism. russ
Dear Bill, Could you ask your acquaintance why hypotheses about dark matter and dark energy are legitimate when the mechanism is totally unknown and the only evidence of it is remote galaxies that aren't moving exactly as predicted by the law of gravity? And speaking of things without mechanisms what about gravity itself? Newton discovered it through its effects but we still don't know the mechanism behind it. Intelligent design is recognized by its effect. It's quite possible we'll never discover the mechanism. All we can do is acknowledge the evidence we do have, keep gathering more, and hope there's an answer waiting to be found. DaveScot
I'm going to take a stab at an analogy here, partly to make a point and partly to see if I understand what is meant here by "mechanism". I'm a graphic designer whose experience in and around the printing industry 'straddles' the advent of computer tecnology. In other words, today the 'mechanism' for print design is a computer (and software, of course). But I understand the "mechanism" for designing printed brochures, catalogs, etc. from BEFORE the advent of computers, which revolutionized the industry. So, you have one product… let's say a catalog. One was designed and printed in 1981 and one was designed and printed in 2007. Both are products of intelligent design, but in one case the designer used illustration board, rubylith, non-photo blue pencils, white artist's tape, a pica pole, T-square, triangles, wax, etc. to create the mechanical "camera-ready art" that was then used (indirectly) to burn printing plates and then print the catalog. The other catalog was designed on a computer using no physical materials at all… just software. An electronic file was produced which was sent to an imagesetting device that then generated a printing plate and from that, the catalog was printed. Same product, all the result of intelligent design, but via two different mechanisms. Conclusion: The mechanism is irrelevant. Does the analogy work, or did I misunderstand something? TRoutMac

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