[Continued, from here]
16 –> Dembski provides an answer, in his recent announcement of a vision/ purpose statement for the Evolutionary Informatics Lab:
Today, for the sake of argument only, let us make two assumptions:
1. First, let us assume that the design hypothesis is correct, i.e., that living things appear to be designed for a purpose because they were in fact designed for a purpose.
2. Second, let us assume [presumably, by the “rule” of methodological naturalism] that the design hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis, which means that ID proponents are not engaged in a scientific endeavor, or, as our opponents so often say, “ID is not science.”
From these assumptions, the following conclusion follows: If the design hypothesis is correct and at the same time the design hypothesis may not be advanced as a valid scientific hypothesis, then the structure of science prohibits it from discovering the truth about the origin of living things . . . .
No one can know with absolute certainty that the design hypothesis is false. It follows from the absence of absolute knowledge, that each person should be willing to accept at least the possibility that the design hypothesis is correct, however remote that possibility might seem to him. Once a person makes that concession, as every honest person must, the game is up. The question is no longer whether ID is science or non-science. The question is whether the search for the truth of the matter about the natural world should be structurally biased against a possibly true hypothesis. [“What if it’s true?” Uncommon Descent, Aug. 6, 2010. (Emphasis added.)]
It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997. Bold emphasis added.]
25 –> The design inference explanatory filter, however, is not just confined to variants on complex, specified information. this becomes evident once we see that such CSI [or FSCI or dFSCI]. For, as Wicken pointed out, the information in question is in the context of complex, functional organisation.
26 –> So, while we may prioritise CSI and FSCI, the same basic question extends to the evident irreducible complexity of many functional systems in life forms. For instance ENV reports that , in the notorious Dover trial in 2005, ID researcher Scott Minnich testified about his gene knock-out studies on the bacterial flagellum, as follows:
“One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect.” [Dover Trial, Day 20 PM Testimony, pp. 107-108.]
27 –> That is, across 35 proteins associated with the iconic bacterial flagellum that appears at the top of this blog, we see a pattern of well-matched, interacting parts that give rise to a composite function. That function is complex, and is based on 35 components that are each necessary, and once assembled, are jointly sufficient to implement a working flagellum, a sort of outboard motor for bacteria that works by whirling around and pushing the bacterium forward. (When reversed, the motion causes tumbling, used to change direction of travel. )
28 –> But, couldn’t this evolve from the T3SS toxin injector? ENV (same article) is again helpful:
Ken Miller has been making the same objections about irreducible complexity and the bacterial flagellum for a long time. In his Dover testimony, his book Only a Theory, and in other writings he argues that irreducible complexity for the flagellum is refuted because about 10 flagellar proteins can also be used to construct a toxin-injection machine (called the Type-III Secretory System, or T3SS) that some predatory bacteria use to kill other cells . . . .
As New Scientist reported:
One fact in favour of the flagellum-first view is that bacteria would have needed propulsion before they needed T3SSs, which are used to attack cells that evolved later than bacteria. Also, flagella are found in a more diverse range of bacterial species than T3SSs. “The most parsimonious explanation is that the T3SS arose later,” says biochemist Howard Ochman at the University of Arizona in Tucson
Second, the T3SS is composed of only about 1/4 of the proteins in the flagellum, and does not help one account for how the fundamental function of the flagellum–its propulsion system–evolved. The unresolved challenge that the irreducible complexity of the flagellum continues to pose for Darwinian evolution is starkly summarized by William Dembski: “At best the TSS represents one possible step in the indirect Darwinian evolution of the bacterial flagellum. But that still wouldn’t constitute a solution to the evolution of the bacterial flagellum. What’s needed is a complete evolutionary path and not merely a possible oasis along the way. To claim otherwise is like saying we can travel by foot from Los Angeles to Tokyo because we’ve discovered the Hawaiian Islands. Evolutionary biology needs to do better than that.”36
29 –> In short, IC systems raise the question that new functional organisation that requires multiple well-matched co-ordinated parts, soon enough requires such a degree of coordinated structure, that chance variation loses plausibility as a source of the required configuration. Which challenges the dominant [neo-]Darwinian model of evolution.
30 –> In short the question of common descent [which Michael Behe, the originator of the IC concept as a plank of design theory, accepts] is now separated from that of the proposed Darwinian mechanism of undirected chance variation, natural selection on differential reproductive success, and similar “Blind Watchmaker” mechanisms.
31 –> Going further, the complex functional organisation approach extends to the discovery that the universe we observe credibly had a beginning [usually dated at ~ 13.7 BYA], and that it sits at a finely balanced, fine-tuned operating point that facilitates Carbon-chemistry, cell based life. For, it is at least strongly arguable (even, through the multiverse model) that the best explanation of such organisation is intentionally and intelligently directed, purposeful organization of the physics and circumstances of the observed cosmos.
So, we may freely conclude that the design inference is well warranted as a means of credibly assigning cause across necessity, chance and design. It fits in well with the generic scientific method, and comports well with the concept that a major purpose of science is that it should progressively seek to discover the well-warranted, empirically supported truth about our world, based on observation, experiment, analysis, explanatory modelling [aka theorising] and unfettered responsible discussion among the informed.
But, its implications for origins science are nothing short of revolutionary, and so it is controversial. That controversy goes to the heart of what science is and what it is meant to do.
Consequently, since science is so important to the modern world, we all need to understand the issues, and the design perspective.