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“How Stuff Works” on ID

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"Give science another 300 years, then check back." That's rich. I'm sure that with another 300 years of retrenchment and dogmatism, the Darwinians will just check their calendars and go, "y'know, Dembski was right back 1998" rather than "give us another 300 years." dave
"Yeah, I see your point. But how does one put combinatorial objects throught the EF?" How does one determine that a stone tool buried amongst other stones is designed? By very carefully separating that which is most suspected of being designed from that which is least suspected. DaveScot
DaveScot, Yeah, I see your point. But how does one put combinatorial objects throught the EF ? It seems one would need a priori knowledge about how to partition the designed component from the undesigned component. Perhaps one needs to be specific about the object in mind. Still, it might be tough. cheers, taut tautologydna
"Desisn detection is the future of science!" Have you read this pro-ID op-ed? http://www.techcentralstation.com/100705C.html That's the first thing that popped into my head when I read your comment. higgity
tautologydna There's still no third option. I don't consider either combinatorial (part designed part not designed) or unknown as additional options. DaveScot
Desisn detection is the future of science! Benjii
Designed or not designed ? Hamlet Hamlet run through a shredder. Snowflake. Snowman. The climate. Climate change. My t-shirt. My t-shirt with holes in it. A web page. The structure of the internet. ???? tautologydna
Alan Fox Things are either designed or not designed. You seem to be saying there's a third option. DaveScot
jboze asks isnt gravity a LAW and not a theory? It's a mathematical model that fits the observed facts and makes reliable predictions. Planetary bodies do what they do, without reference to a rule book. Alan Fox
DaveScot You seem to be saying if evolution doesn't explain things adequately then ID must therefore be right. Alan Fox
Benji I think you threw me a red herring with the name David Chiu. Alan Fox
thats what i hate when darwinists go on TV to attack ID. or even in print. they say- well gravity is also only a theory (correct me if im wrong, but isnt gravity a LAW and not a theory?) but, hell- mud to man evolution is a historical picture that is one interpretation of the evidence that can easily be used to posit common design just as well as common ancestry (the evidence really points more to common design). so, the two are not alike at all. they use this to confuse the avg person who has little scientific knowledge. its a deceitful tactic of course, but i see it all the time, claiming that evolution from mud to man is exactly like gravity in the sense that theyre both theories. you can test and repeat tests of gravity...see the effects in real time, today, tomorrow, and repeat it 1000 times. you cant do any of that with macroevolution, and not even the most brilliant scientists have gotten anywhere close to breaking the barrier to form new forms of life by speeding up mutation rates and even tinkering with entire genomes of certain animals. yet, theyll continue to claim that the theory of bio evo is just like gravity and then try to claim that ID and other ideas would be akin to teaching that gravity isnt backed up the evidence! shameless. jboze3131
"For this to be correct, it is necessary to be sure that you have coverered all the probability models for evolution." That's the point I tried to make. Did I obfuscate it with too much verbiage? I hate when I do that. "you consider yourself a design theorist but don’t actually believe design is responsible for creation" I don't believe it's not responsible either. I'm not totally convinced either way. I know that absent a comprehensive, repeatable experiment demonstrating that the protein synthesis factory represented by ribosomes and DNA can evolve without direction one must at least position ID as a live possibility. I haven't seen any experimental apparatus even come close to demonstrating that this organic machinery could evolve by chance alone. Yet I'm being asked to believe it's a theory as well grounded in hard evidence as gravity? Give me a break. Gravity is easily demonstrated in 100% repeatable experiments. Historic evolution is a narrative that has resisted every experimental attempt to repeat it. It's an amazing demonstration of my remarkable patience that I'm still skeptical of ID and leave open the possibility that standard evolutionary theory might be verified somehow in the future. DaveScot
For ID proponents, the notion of “kinds” includes the idea that only limited evolution is possible. A “kind”, say dogs for example, can evolve only such that all essential parts and functions remain the same, although some change in body proportions occur. Thus, although a bulldog and German shepherd appear quite different, there are no new functional parts. There is only a change of body proportions. But we can find even more extreme differences in appearance in the animal kingdom, where there is still a one to one correspondence of parts and function. Virtually all mammals have a one-to-one correspondence of body parts & organs. There are homologous organs throughout the mammalian world. Even dogs and humans have virtually all homologous organ systems and anatomical parts (The change of shapes is just greater). So it’s hard to say just where the boundary lies between limited evolved differences and a new “kind”. An ape has a one to one correspondence of homologous parts with humans. It has anatomically no greater differences from humans, than say a Chiwawa has from a Great Dane. Probably less except for the brain size. The brain is smaller, but is that change from ape to human any more different in kind than the change from Chiwawa to Great Dane? The problem here is defining the boundary of where “limited” evolution must stop. If we grant that biochemical evolution occurs (antibiotic resistance being the most common example) and we also observe large scale change of anatomical characteristics in a short time, could not over longer times distinct species arise? The problem I have is evolution being arbitrarily limited at a certain point, when it is already known to proceed sufficiently to produce viable anatomical changes and biochemical changes in relatively short times. It’s the arbitrariness of this boundary that seems suspect. Now, I know that “Irreducible Complexity” will be invoked to assert that no distinct new structures can be created by evolution, but only trivial variations on existing “kinds”. For the evolutionist, the specific mechanisms where distinct new structures arise pose a puzzle which needs to be solved. The ID community is not unreasonable in asking for such mechanisms. That work is very incomplete as of now. But this does not mean that the mechanisms and pathways don’t exist. It’s still very early. Note that it took 300 years to solve Fermat’s last theorem, despite the efforts of the world’s best mathematicians. The problem with invoking supernatural causes (ID) is that it short circuits naturalistic based methods prematurely. Give science another 300 years, then check back. At this point in the argument, the ID proponents will say the evolutionists have created an insurmountable barrier by evolutionists claiming that some unspecified mechanism is possible but without ever finding it, thus delaying forever the unwanted conclusion that ID is a necessary alternative. The reply to that is science is currently very fertile and exploding with results in molecular biology. More so than ever. Hence it would be the height of imprudence to, at this moment, throw up our hands and say “the only possibility is supernatural intervention”. In effect, the ID community is asking for the abandonment of the scientific method at a moment it is yielding it’s fruits most rapidly. mister_D
DaveScot, Regarding: "It is in the realm of probability resources where I’ve heard the only valid criticism of ID i.e. how can you know when you’ve exhaustively canvassed every possible probabilistic resource? Well, you can’t prove a negative, so in theory it’s never possible. But that applies to just about everything in science and it’s why all science is tentative so it’s not a fair objection as it singles out ID for conformance to a higher standard. At some point one concedes that the search is reasonably exhaustive and, until proven otherwise, IS exhaustive. For instance, one could claim that the fossil record has not been exhaustively searched and that the skeletons of modern humans might be found in pre-cambrian strata which would falsify standard theory of hominid evolution in a big way. If it’s unreasonable to apply that standard to standard evolution it’s also unreasonable to apply it to ID. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. There’s such a thing as fair play." I think there is an important difference. Bill claims that the explanatory filter essentially wipes the slate clean for other possible causes. Only then, after excluding all posibilities, is there actually evidence for design. Thus, the design inference fundamentally relies on the correct calculation, or, as you say, enough probabalistic resources. That is the way the explanatory filter is constructed. Most other science (including evolution) doesn't rely on this form of hypothesis testing. In most other science, probabilities are weighed directly against each other through things like likelihood ratio tests, or a specific hypothesis is tested under a specific model, and rejected if there is a low probability. For the EF, the probability of design is never actually calculated - just the probability of evolution. So, I think in this case, it is a reasonable expectation of the design inference. Because the nature of hypothesis testing is so unique here. I guess to make my point, how does one calculate the "probability of design" without knowledge of the existence of a designer ? The EF gets around this problem by essentially calculating the converse probability (the probability of evolution) and assuming that the probability of design is essentially (1 - this probability) [assuming regularity probability is zero]. For this to be correct, it is necessary to be sure that you have coverered all the probability models for evolution. I guess, to summarize, because the nature of hypothesis testing by the EF is so unique to science, then it is fair to have what you would consider a higher standard for the probability calculation. What do you think ? Also, were you serious that you consider yourself a design theorist but don't actually believe design is responsible for creation ? If so, that does make me happy ! I'd be curious to hear how you have come to this conclusion... Best, Taut tautologydna
Benji You asked if I had heard of David Chiu in comment 10 and I hadn't. I'm trying to find out what his contribution to ID is because of your comment. Are you now saying I'm wasting my time? I never mentioned Dr. Latham. I'm afraid I'm not acquainted with his work either. Alan Fox
Probably not. Why do you want to see his paper? Why did you say that Dr. Latham's book was nothing other than religious apologetics? He probably makes a convincing case against Darwinism. Benjii
I have to say Dr. Chiu keeps his light under a bushel, and the mention of his name does not seem to strike fear into darwinists. Is his paper available on line? Alan Fox
Yes! Benjii
Thanks Mr Bombadil(or can I call you Tom) Someone on ARN tracked him down for me. Alan Fox
List of peer reviewed ID treatments: http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=2640 Bombadill
Is it this article? D.K.Y. Chiu & T.H. Lui, “Integrated Use of Multiple Interdependent Patterns for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis,” International Journal of Fuzzy Systems, 4(3) (September 2002): 766-775. Alan Fox
DI=Discovery Institute Benjii
Check out the DI website, there's a link that says "Peer-Reviewed & Peer-Edited...", click on this and scroll down. I hope that helps. Benjii
Benji Other than being an ISCID fellow, there does not seem much info on David K Y Chiu of Guelph U, Canada. Is there some specific work he has done that is relevant to ID? Maybe a link? Alan Fox
re 28 Well done DaveScot You spotted the one flaw in my argument. Alan Fox
I understand specificity as a solution or partial solution to a problem. It works in any example I've considered. It requires that one have an understanding of both the solution and the problem so it wouldn't work to detect design in something of unknown function. For example, design detection won't discriminate between junk DNA and functional DNA. One must first know the function of the DNA in question. Until the function is known it cannot be known if it has specificity. Once something has been identified as complex and specified then probability resources (the real tripping stone IMO) must be canvassed and probability of undirected assemblage of the thing of interest made before a design inference can be drawn. It is in the realm of probability resources where I've heard the only valid criticism of ID i.e. how can you know when you've exhaustively canvassed every possible probabilistic resource? Well, you can't prove a negative, so in theory it's never possible. But that applies to just about everything in science and it's why all science is tentative so it's not a fair objection as it singles out ID for conformance to a higher standard. At some point one concedes that the search is reasonably exhaustive and, until proven otherwise, IS exhaustive. For instance, one could claim that the fossil record has not been exhaustively searched and that the skeletons of modern humans might be found in pre-cambrian strata which would falsify standard theory of hominid evolution in a big way. If it's unreasonable to apply that standard to standard evolution it's also unreasonable to apply it to ID. You can't have your cake and eat it too. There's such a thing as fair play. DaveScot
I thought i had a nice explanation but sure enough crandaddy out words me :( ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Taut - well i kinda think i get what your asking but u would probably need someone with experience in the filed to answer the question accurately. Im no where qualified for that level of complexity belive me but I'll take a shot or two. For instance if the tests , methods or theories that have been used to detect design show the opposite [i.e - life wasn't designed ?]. So using those same methods instead of giving or inferring the answer that yes A- was designed [ because "a" had so and so features, etc. ? ] there would be a high probability that it couldn't of been produced by anything [chance, the E word, etc ]but a design or er ?. Otherwise it would show no that A probably wasn't designed [because "a" lacked those features ] and so on... I think that any test that would be used to detect design would have to comply [ kind of basic standards ?] with the object having some kind of complex features that can be detected like i dunno DNA / coding ?. Maybe an eye, legs, itchy moostache etc. That would have a tough time coming out by chance. And if that object had those qualification then the object would therefor be designed or inferred to be ?. If not then that object couldn't be called or termed a product of design. I would think since virtually everything in life if not everything animals etc, has a /many complexity even the smallest one celled creature; that when a design test is done to it would probably find that object designed because it exhibited those qualifications. Im not sure of anything in life that hasn't some kind of remarkable complexity to em. Wouldn't the only thing that technically wont show any design would be something that doesn't exist ? Anyways i hope i made sense cuz it was kinda hard to put / explain what came up in the old noggin to paper [ in this case da blog of- course ] but yeah good que. ps - could you cover for my aspirin bills ? Charlie Charliecrs
Intelligent Design, as I see it, is a form of inductive reasoning that is necessary in science, particularly biology and other scientific fields that relate to biology. It constitutes the antithesis of evolutionary theory and makes these scientific fields just what they are-scientific. Excluding ID from the playing field is like having an election in which one candidate runs unopposed-it doesn't matter how good or bad the candidate is; he's going to win because there's nobody else to compete with him. The theory of evolution sans ID basically says this: sterile mud + approximately 4 billion years = mankind and all that he has accomplished. Why? Because it says so; that's why. This is circular reasoning. Intelligent Design and classic evolutionary theory essentially exist as a dichotomy which can be expressed as design/non-design. Think about it; either some sort of unguided evolutionary process accounted for some biological phenomenon or it didn't, thus constituting design. Until a plausible model for how some biological structure could have been made is offered forth, Intelligent Design is the only plausible alternative. Although I'm currently unaware of anyone who explicitly accepts this and still disbelieves in ID, to do so would not be unreasonable! Taut, I think your distinction between "Hard Design" and "Soft Design" is quite reasonable. You seem to be wondering how we could know whether or not a phenomenon exhibits specificity. The best way I can respond to that is to appeal to the human understanding of order as opposed to chaos. To determine whether or not something-anything-exhibits specificity, we first look to see if it exhibits randomness. When a can of paint is splashed against a wall, the pattern is completely random. The same thing happens when a glass object is smashed on the ground; the pieces are all sorts of odd shapes and fly everywhere. In contrast to this, we perceive that the opposite of randomness, or chaos, is order. This is to say that some force, be it natural law, intelligent intervention, or coincidence, has imposed some form on the phenomenon being considered that we perceive to be non-random. So we can, indeed, say that specification is based upon human understanding. It has to be because the highest intelligence we know of is human! In fact, the very definition of intelligence can be said to be the ability to inform something with a non-random pattern! If some extraterrestrial intelligence exists, how could it ever be detected if it lacks the ability to produce a non-random pattern? This leaves one to wonder if order in the form of non-randomness, or even intelligence itself, is a metaphysical reality, but to address this would be to transcend the scope of this blog. David crandaddy
taut "I can’t find an example of an IDer that doesn’t believe a designer was involved in creation." Meet me. Now you've found one. Happy now? DaveScot
Hey Alan Fox, Here's a great big clue for you. ID supporters are the defendants in Dover as they were in Cobb. You know the difference between defendants and complainants, right? DaveScot
PaV, I think I disagree with your characterization here. Physics, Chemistry etc. don't have (much) room for people who deny gravity, hydrogen etc. because there is a deep history in these fields that demonstrate that there is evidence for these things. A physicist doesn't have a preconceived notion that the sun is a fusion reaction, they believe it because of the research that has been done for a long time. ID is a new field, and highly dependent on probability calculations, thus, it seems reasonable to me, that people might have made those calculations without having any particular expectation of what the result would give, and further, that there would be some disagreement in ID about whether those calculations infer design, much as many physicists are still making calculations (and disagreeing between eachother !) about whether the universe is closed or not. Taut tautologydna
Other methods of design inference. I think Bill has done a great job outlining the challenges of the design inference. However, I think there are some weaknesses to his method. I think I would like to add to his method and I would be interested in people discussing some of these ideas here, if you don't mind. To start, I think there is a useful distinction that can be made between Hard Design inference and Soft Design inference. I don't remember this distinction being explicitly stated in his books that I have read. For a Hard Design inference, I would say that applies to cases where one has explicit evidence for design. For example, historical data about the construction of the city of New York. For Soft Design inference, I would say this would apply to cases where there is not explicit data showing design, but it inferred along the lines of the methods developed by Bill. Do you think this is a fair distinction ? Now, to develop the soft design inference, we must be careful about background knowledge that we include, unaware, in our inference. For example, in inferring design in Mount Rushmore on mars, we consider the fact that the pattern on Mount Rushmore on mars is a pattern that human psychology recognizes as human faces. So, what I am curious about, is how does human psychology become intertwined with design inference. How is it to be considered ? Is it a factor, or should it be included ? Just a couple thoughts that I would be interested in hearing about, in addition to my first question, if anyone knows. Taut tautologydna
OK, All I wanted to know was whether there was an example of any of these IDers. It's a pretty new field, so I figured there might be design theorists that do the calculations and don't get design. According to Benjii: "However, what I do know, is, that design theorists use methods of detection to see whether something is designed." Can someone tell me if there is an example of someone using these methods and not finding design in nature ? Best, Taut tautologydna
tautologydna I am probably the least qualified person here to comment, but here goes an attempt. :) As I read Dr. Dembski's work, it seemed to be saying that an intelligent agent cannot be positively ruled out. When attempting to discern whether something is the result of random chance or intelligent agency, only random chance can be excluded. The example he gave, if memory serves, was an inkblot. One can determine that chance is sufficient to cause the pattern, but one cannot rule out that the inkblot was drawn by an artist. This is not to lead to the conclusion that everything is designed, only that the filter can only rule on the sufficiency of chance. This is why the filter might conclude false negatives of design, but not false positives. Watchman
I think PaV answered the question really well. I really don't know how to answer Taut. Why not ask Bill Dembski? However, what I do know, is, that design theorists use methods of detection to see whether something is designed. To say that they are conjuring some god is as similar to what evolutionists, like Richard Dawkins, do when they infer disteleology from the scientific evidence. Science is the search for truth. If there are metaphysical implications, that is a purely subjective thought process. Yes, the designer can be G-D, aliens, or Stephen Jay Gould, but that doesn't matter. What matters is the science. Benjii
umm. scientists do the same thing with the preconceived notion that mud to man evolution is true. they go with that model then try to fit all new evidence into it. i dont buy mud to man evolution (the evidence that exists can easily be seen as common design as opposed to common ancestry), so does that mean that evo bio isnt a reasonable science since some disagree with the basic tenants? all the time i hear discoveries and how these suddenly have to be fit into the mud to man evolutionary scheme- even when the evidence contradicts the scheme to begin with. jboze3131
No, actually. By taut's logic, physics DOES make room for those who say gravity doesn't exist. You can come to a conclusion of gravity. You can come to a conclusion of no gravity. It's still under the umbrella of physics and gravity. In ID, you necessarily come to the conclusion of a designer. Otherwise, it's not ID. I think I've got the gist of that.... yeah. higgity
tautologydna wrote: "If design theory is a reasonable science, then there should be room for people that conclude that life wasn’t designed. Otherwise, it’s a science that has a predetermined notion of how the world is, and the science is just finding ‘evidence’ to support the preconceived notion." This is inane. By your logic (????), physics isn't a reasonable science because it doesn't make room for people who say that gravity doesn't exist. PaV
Benjii, I think it would be reasonable to be a design theorist, someone interested in developing the methods of design inference, and infer that life wasn't designed, don't you ? If design theory is a reasonable science, then there should be room for people that conclude that life wasn't designed. Otherwise, it's a science that has a predetermined notion of how the world is, and the science is just finding 'evidence' to support the preconceived notion. I like the idea of a design inference and specification, I just don't think a necessary conclusion from thinking about this problem is that nature was designed. That is why I would like to know examples of design theorists that don't believe nature was designed. Surely a design theorist isn't someone who already is convinced that nature was designed. I would classify a design theorist as one interested in developing methods of design inference. I thought the reason that most people here thought that people misunderstood design theory was because of the inference that all design theorists believe that some sort of god created the world. Best, Taut tautologydna
I think he might be asking if you can find someone in the design theory community who didn't start with the assumption that life was designed. I'm sure you're aware that that is a major criticism against ID: That ID is begging the question (i.e. If X, then Y. Let's assume X, so therefore Y must be true). higgity
I'm sorry if this still doesn't answer your question. However, I really can't make sense of what you are asking. Benjii
Why not David Chiu? Go to the DI website, and see for yourself. Taut: Why would they conclude that life is not designed? If it weren't they wouldn't be claiming design. Benjii
Re comment 10 Not David Chiu, no. Can you cite such an example from the people you mention, or anyone else? A real-world biological example. Alan Fox
Benjii, I am still confused. I didn't say turn their "analysis into life". I meant, focus their analysis on life, ie, focus their methods of design inference on the question of life. Are there any that, after doing so, conclude that life was not designed ? Thanks. Taut tautologydna
Sorry, I have no idea what you mean? Why would they turn their analysis into life? Dembski's law can be applied to the real world. All the examples that he gives in his book can be taken and applied in the natural world. I think David Chiu did that. Many design theorists are working on that. Hope that helps... Benjii
Benjii, I don't understand your comment. I am aware (and I a sure Alan Fox is) of all those design theorists. But all of them infer that a designer created life at some level. Can you give examples of design theorists that have turned their analysis to life and NOT inferred design ? I would like to know who they are, if you know of them. Also, I didn't say there is no criteria for design detection in "The Design Inference." That's what the whole book is about ! I just stated that the design inference isn't utilized on the case of creation in that particular book. It mostly focuses on design inferences that people typically make in day to day life, such as when a lottery is rigged, etc. J tautologydna
Stephen Meyer is another theorist who has published work as well. Your claim is so wrong, Fox! This is the same argument that ID detractors use. Don't become like them, please! Benjii
Tauto, I doubt your assessment is true. If you read the reviews, reviewers constantly laud Dembski for infusing new life into the design argument. There must be some criteria mentioned in his book for detecting design. Why else would it not be calle the 'Design Inference'? Benjii
Alan Fox wrote "Many people are waiting, in various stages of bated breath, for such an event." Never heard of Jonathan Wells, Michael Behe, David Chiu? Benjii
On topic, I thought the "How Stuff Works" piece a pretty fair analysis. Alan Fox
tauto writes: "I’m trying to find alternative examples of design inference being employed on the natural world." Many people are waiting, in various stages of bated breath, for such an event. Alan Fox
Re comment 4 DaveScot If ID has merit as science, why not pursue the science. Why do you need the law? Barry J. Marshall and Robin Warren persisted with the science and got their Nobel prize. Alan Fox
Folks, Could someone please give me an example of a design theorist, developing design inference methods, that doesn't find evidence for design in diversity ? I'm trying to find alternative examples of design inference being employed on the natural world. And Benjii, I've read it pretty closely. As far as I remember, there was no explicit example for detecting design in creation. The only evidence I have seen for the Explanatory Filter being used in that manner is in No Free Lunch. I can see why many here think it is unreasonable for journalists to conflate ID research with actually making the inference itself, but so far, I can't find an example of an IDer that doesn't believe a designer was involved in creation. taut tautologydna
Have any of you read the design inference? If you had, does he really make an empirical case for detecting design? Benjii
"did they have more quotes from ID proponents speaking about religion" They always do. The only hope they have of keeping Darwinian theory's unimpeachable exclusivity in public school is by successfully conflating it with an unconstitutional law regarding establishment of religion. The public has already spoken and as long as we still live in a democracy the public is the final arbiter. The most difficult governmental body to bring in line with public will is the judicial branch because its members are appointed for life and short of being found guilty of a high crime once on the bench they're there until death do us part. Thus it takes on the order of a generation of consistent public sentiment to change the makeup of the courts. The liberals used the 1955-1980 time period to remake the court and the conservatives have been swinging the pendulum back the other way from 1985 to present. No telling how long the conservative rule will last but we can expect at least a generation from this point forward. DaveScot
Is it my imagination or did they have more quotes from ID proponents speaking about religion than about ID itself? mark_sprengel
Bill, the writer says that all you do is just make a negative case against evolution. Therefore, design is the answer. Is this true or is it a misrepresentation? Benjii
Wow. Three paragraphs in and I feel like I am reading an article entitled "Everything I Can Get Wrong About ID". Cells are IC? ID says one species can't evolve from another? ID wants equal time in the classroom? Holes in Darwin’s theory scientifically prove there is a designer? Hmm, even quoting “widespread claims” regarding DI funding? Good ink. A primer of Dover would help this writer as well. Looks like it could come out of the NSCE rough-draft waste bin.. Got this right on Behe though: “ natural selection can only choose among traits that are already functioning”. (Quotes Ken Miller’s attempt to rebut IC and not Behe’s response though.) And this from Dembski : “ Intelligent design makes it impossible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Charlie

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