Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design in Biology is a Scientific Fact

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IMO, an entailment of the scientific theory of ID as it pertains to biological evolution, is that at least one of the following occurs: (1) directed variation, and/or  (2) artificial selection/maintenance, and that such processes produce outcomes that are detectable as the product of directed/artificial input.  (Note: these are posited as entailments of ID theory as it relates to biological evoloution, not origin-of-life or cosmological fine-tuning.  If ID is involved in biological evolution, it seems to me it must be involved in either the variation or selection process in some way; otherwise, we’re talking about the origin of a life form.)

Directed variation may include the insertion of extra-species genes or other systemic instructions, the application of a system to control variation parameters while taking advantage of random variation ( a directed variation process); genetic recombination, etc.; artificial selection (selective breeding) might also include maintaining an environment that can support artificially selected organisms.

It is a fact that humans have been selectively breeding animals and plants for thousands of years.

It is a fact that recently humans have been directly manipulating the genetic structure of organisms.

Artificial selection and/or directed variation are known intelligently designed evolutionary processes that factually exist.

We know there exist ID processes and mechanisms in evolution – humans have been utilizing them in biology for thousands of years.   We also know that human ID evolutionary tactics have produced outcomes that would not exist without their involvement and maintenance. The only question is if there is evidence of ID in biology not known to be associated with humans. ID advocates claim there is such evidence, such as irreducibly complex structures, semiotic systems and complex, specified, functional objects and systems such as protein key/lock mechanisms, that are beyond the capacity of Darwinian (RM&NS) evolutionary forces to produce and which require intelligence to construct and maintain through a design, assembly and possibly testing process.  ID advocates argue that the generation of such biological artifacts cannot be accomplished, even in principle, by any non-intelligent process, and that the only current, viable explanation we have for such features is ID, which in humans can produce similar artifacts. Humans, however, are not known to have been present during the timeframe where these features originated.

One can dismiss that this evidence supports ID; one can argue that Darwinian forces best explain the evidence; but the evidence factually exists.

So, ID factually exists. That ID has been manipulating biology for thousands of years is a scientific fact.  Evidence for human ID insertions/manipulations of evolution factually exists.  ID evolutionary mechanisms are known to exist.  The only debate is about the evidence for intelligently designed insertions into the evolutionary process outside of what humans are believed to be responsible for.  That evidence factually exists, whether one concludes it supports ID or not.

All of the above is recognizable to any semi-objective person as trivially true and reasonable. As long as anti-ID advocates zealously avoid admitting the trivially true in their pathological need to avoid the term “intelligent design” at all costs for fear of allowing a divine foot in the door (and the inevitable resulting return to the “dark” ages under theocratic rule), meaningful debate is impossible.

[Edited for clarity.]

44 Replies to “Intelligent Design in Biology is a Scientific Fact

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    Surreal, isn’t it? You ID believers are supposed to be arguing with quite intellectual people.

    How contrastingly easy your task would be if the present, hegemonic world-view were to be replaced by the rational one, i.e. the theistic world-view. All of a sudden Atheists Inc would suddenly find it surprisingly easy to go along with it.

    ‘My! Look at that ‘foot in the door…’ What smart shoes!’

  2. 2
    ppolish says:

    Sapien is not above Nature. Sapien is 100% Natural. The Intelligent Designs of Sapien are Natural Designs.

    “Blind Watchmaker” can assemble a Rolex? I don’t think so. Purposeless “Atoms and Void” can assemble a Interplanetary Spaceship? I don’t think so.

    Natural Intellgent Design is real and it’s spectacular.

  3. 3
    Mark Frank says:

    WJM – I think you are making three points although it is not entirely clear.

    (1)

    Humans have been intelligently directing evolution for thousands of years via breeding. Darwin of course used artificial selection as a key argument. In fact artificial selection can be seen as special case of natural selection – where the environment for the selected species is us. So any distinctive feature of such a process cannot be evidence against Darwinian processes.

    (2)

    Humans have been intelligently directing variation in the last 50 years or so. I am not aware of the result producing any distinctive feature that clearly could not be achieved through Darwinian processes.

    So really human design throws little light on whether there is evidence for non-human design. So your OP really just amounts to:

    (3)

    irreducibly complex structures, semiotic systems and complex, specified, functional objects and systems such as protein key/lock mechanisms, that are beyond the capacity of Darwinian (RM&NS) evolutionary forces to produce and which require intelligence to construct and maintain through a design, assembly and possibly testing process.

    which is the same old debate. You may think that (3) is recognizable to any semi-objective person as trivially true and reasonable. Others disagree.

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    Mark Frank says “Humans have been intelligently directing variation in the last 50 years or so. I am not aware of the result producing any distinctive feature that clearly could not be achieved through Darwinian processes.”

    I agree. All of the designs of man are designs of Nature. How could it be otherwise?

  5. 5

    MF said:

    In fact artificial selection can be seen as special case of natural selection – where the environment for the selected species is us. So any distinctive feature of such a process cannot be evidence against Darwinian processes.

    You can make the case that artificial selection is a special case of natural selection if you wish to equivocate the meaning of dichotomous terms that by definition have mutually exclusive meaning in order to simply not admit what is trivially apparent and true: artificial selection is not a Darwinian evolutionary process.

    You might as well make the case that a person using a high-powered water stream to sculpt a rock is a special case of natural water erosion. It’s a laughable attempt to equivocate in order to avoid serious debate.

  6. 6

    ppolish:

    While humans and human intelligent design might be, ultimately, “natural” in some metaphysical sense, that simply avoids the issue. Let’s say nature is everything, and it is comprised of three basic categories of causation: law, chance, and teleology. Let’s say that in common usage, law and chance are referred to as “natural”, and telelology is referred to as “artificial”. Saying they both are “natural” in the metaphysical sense is simply avoiding the issue; whatever artificial “is”, it is a distinct category of causation necessary to explain some things that actually exist – like computers and pekingese.

    Teleology may be a natural causal category in the metaphysical sense, but it is defined as distinct from law and chance because it produces distinctive phenomena that law and chance apparently cannot generate, even in principle.

  7. 7
    Mark Frank says:

    WJM

    I am not interested in a semantic debate about the difference between artificial and natural selection. I am interested though – are you claiming that artificial selection has lead to outcomes which are distinctive marks of design?

  8. 8
    ppolish says:

    WJM, I see the “hand” of God everywhere. Law? God. Chance? God. Teleology? God.

    “The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha – which is to demean oneself.” Robert Pirsig.

  9. 9
    bFast says:

    I think that this post gets close to a really interesting question. The interesting question is, if our society and technology disappeared, all that was left was the archaeology (no boots etc) what would future biologists find. Would they see GMO products as events of natural horizontal gene transfer, or would they conclude that we had genetic engineering technology, and that they could detect it?

  10. 10

    I am not interested in a semantic debate about the difference between artificial and natural selection.

    Then why attempt to equivocate terms that have mutually exclusive meanings?

    I am interested though – are you claiming that artificial selection has lead to outcomes which are distinctive marks of design?

    I think it has produced set sof organisms that have aspects to them which are discernible as the likely product of ID interventions.

  11. 11

    Metaphysically I agree, ppolish, but it’s kind of a distraction from the argument here.

  12. 12
    CHartsil says:

    Bare assertion does not a fact make

  13. 13
    ppolish says:

    Synthetic Biology adding to the Tree of Life. Intelligent Design right there on Tree of Life. Gasp.

    https://synthetickingdom.wordpress.com/2010/07/10/redesigning-the-tree-of-life/

  14. 14
    bFast says:

    William J. Murray, “Then why attempt to equivocate terms that have mutually exclusive meanings?” ‘Seems that Charles Darwin did.

    Mark Frank, “are you claiming that artificial selection has lead to outcomes which are distinctive marks of design?”

    I am asking this question. If our society fell away, with all of its literature, could future scientists tease out the difference between varieties due to artificial selection from varieties due to natural selection? Is there a paleontological difference?

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: A presentation on specific techniques in use for molecular bio-technologies for GMOs:

    http://oregonstate.edu/instruc.....s-2004.pdf

    Advance such by several technology generations . . .

    KF

  16. 16
    ppolish says:

    Nature sure seems to be a sucker for design, KF. How long until we discover how incredibly fine tuned it is:

    https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/the-origin-of-life-and-the-hidden-role-of-quantum-criticality-ca4707924552

    “The permutations of possible energy levels of biomolecules is huge so the possibility of finding even one that is in the quantum critical state by accident is mind-bogglingly small and, to all intents and purposes, impossible.”

  17. 17
    Mark Frank says:

    #10 WJM

    MF: I am interested though – are you claiming that artificial selection has lead to outcomes which are distinctive marks of design?

    WJM:I think it has produced set sof organisms that have aspects to them which are discernible as the likely product of ID interventions.

    What are those aspects? CSI, IR?

  18. 18
    Zachriel says:

    William J. Murray: Then why attempt to equivocate terms that have mutually exclusive meanings?

    Natural and artificial selection are close analogues. In traditional selection, humans select for specific traits that are of immediate use. They do not select for traits that might be advantageous in the distant future, nor do they know how those traits are represented in the genes or even the structural changes that might be required.

    For instance, humans might select for a cereal with grains that don’t shatter in the field, but can still be shattered when threshed. There are two primary differences; the structure of the spiklets, and the concentration of the grain near the top of the ear. But humans don’t select for spiklet structure, or the arrangement of grain on the ear, certainly not for a particular arrangement of genes. They select for grains that don’t shatter as easily, a very simple selection, but one that has led to these complex structural changes. Similarly, nature will select cereals that shatter more easily, and over a longer period of time, again leading to complex structural changes.

  19. 19
    Joe says:

    Zachriel:

    Natural and artificial selection are close analogues.

    That is incorrect. NS is eliminative whereas AS is selective.

    Natural selection cannot produce what artificial selection can. However NS is good at undoing what AS has wrought.

    Natural selection has proven to be impotent at creating.

  20. 20
    Joe says:

    From “What Evolution Is” page 117:

    What Darwin called natural selection is actually a process of elimination.

    Page 118:

    Do selection and elimination differ in their evolutionary consequences? This question never seems to have been raised in the evolutionary literature. A process of selection would have a concrete objective, the determination of the “best” or “fittest” phenotype. Only a relatively few individuals in a given generation would qualify and survive the selection procedure. That small sample would be only to be able to preserve only a small amount of the whole variance of the parent population. Such survival selection would be highly restrained.

    By contrast, mere elimination of the less fit might permit the survival of a rather large number of individuals because they have no obvious deficiencies in fitness. Such a large sample would provide, for instance, the needed material for the exercise of sexual selection. This also explains why survival is so uneven from season to season. The percentage of the less fit would depend on the severity of each year’s environmental conditions.

    It’s funny watching evos continue to misunderstand the very idea they are supposed to be defending.

  21. 21
    bFast says:

    Joe, Zachriel is not misunderstanding.

    “What Darwin called natural selection is actually a process of elimination.” Yes, and artificial selection is actually a process of elimination.

    While we may see artificial selection as selecting for a particular trait, what is actually happening is that we are selecting out undesirable alleles. (‘Not clear what your level of genetic understanding is. An “allele” is a variant of a gene. If there is a gene that selects for eye color, then one variant of the gene, one allele will produce blue eyes, and another allele will produce brown.)

    When we breed dogs, selecting for those dogs that will have a particular trait, we are diminishing the breadth of their gene pool. This is why dogs with long pedigrees often have genetic deformity and “muts” are much less likely to have a genetic deformity.

  22. 22
    Joe says:

    Artificial selection fits Mayr’s description for a process of selection.

    With natural selection the “desired trait” is whatever allows the organism to survive to get the chance to reproduce.

    Natural selection is blind and mindless. Artificial selection is far from that.

  23. 23
    Seversky says:

    Intelligent Design in Biology is a Scientific Fact

    I’m sorry? Have I missed something? Has anyone ever claimed that intelligent design, where it is taken to include human activity, does not exist? It is trivially true that human beings design things. The elephant in the room has alwaysbeen the unresolved and – probably, at present – unresolvable question of non-human, extraterrestrial design.

  24. 24
    Seversky says:

    Intelligent Design in Biology is a Scientific Fact

    I’m sorry? Have I missed something? Has anyone ever claimed that intelligent design, where it is taken to include human activity, does not exist? It is trivially true that human beings design things. The elephant in the room has alwaysbeen the unresolved and – probably, at present – unresolvable question of non-human, extraterrestrial design.

  25. 25
    Joe says:

    It is easily resolvable- just demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can produce what ID says is intelligently designed and we lose.

  26. 26
    phoodoo says:

    bfast,

    I think its interesting that so far they have avoided your question. I can certainly understand why.

    We know that dogs have been designed. We know that corn has been designed. But if we took away the record books, and just gave them a basset hound or corn, they would say, look at the amazing power of nature. Their ability to detect design would be lost.

    And yet, all this great variation of dogs, the variation that Dawkins claims is a great example of the power of change, extended over time to show how evolution can work, is a ruse. If we found a Great Dane a million years from now, in the fossil record, would we realize that it was just the failed experiment of keeping wolves with diseases around longer? The variation leads nowhere. It doesn’t lead to a better wolf, it just the extremes of how far a wolf’s dna can be stretched before it breaks.

    That’s all we see in nature, in finches, in turtles. You can get plenty of variation out of a finch, or a turtle or a wolf, and its still always a finch or a wolf or a turtle. To make a wolf you can’t start with a finch because the finch never becomes anything less or more than a finch. You have to start from scratch.

  27. 27
    goodusername says:

    Phoodoo,

    We know that dogs have been designed. We know that corn has been designed. But if we took away the record books, and just gave them a basset hound or corn, they would say, look at the amazing power of nature. Their ability to detect design would be lost.

    What “record books” record how dogs and corn originated? Both originated before anyone was recording what was happening. Our theories of how they originated aren’t from record books, but from scientists studying corn and dogs and deciding that it was due to selection via human activity.

  28. 28
    sparc says:

    if our society and technology disappeared, all that was left was the archaeology (no boots etc) what would future biologists find. Would they see GMO products as events of natural horizontal gene transfer, or would they conclude that we had genetic engineering technology, and that they could detect it?

    It is indeed possible to produce GMOs without leaving any traces of how this has been done. We molecular biologists do this all the time. However, this requires human beings, certain molecular biological tools and quite some lab equipment. Although such GMOs might not be identified as being designed you cannot conclude that THE Intelligent Designer that you assume could have done the same without any such tools and such equipment and without a society, an industry, an economy and scientists providing such means.

  29. 29

    Mark Frank asks:

    What are those aspects? CSI, IR?

    The aspects are the distinct physical characteristics of disparate breed populations that will quickly disappear once selective breeding stops. One can soon discern that the ongoing, distinctive physical appearance of the breed population requires intelligent maintenance.

  30. 30
    Zachriel says:

    phoodoo: We know that dogs have been designed. We know that corn has been designed.

    Only some limited aspects have been subject to very recent artificial selection. Also keep in mind that all the variations that were subject to selection were due to natural variations.

    phoodoo: To make a wolf you can’t start with a finch because the finch never becomes anything less or more than a finch.

    That’s odd. Because Darwin’s finches had become so disparate, Darwin wasn’t even aware that some of them were finches. That was only determined later by ornithologists in Britain studying Darwin’s specimens.

  31. 31
    Barry Arrington says:

    Zach @ 30. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Darwin was pretty sure none of the birds was a dog.

    Your comment is classic.

    ID Supporter: You can’t make a dog from a finch.

    Darwinist: Yeah, but some finches are really really different from each other. I have now refuted your point.

  32. 32
    Zachriel says:

    Barry Arrington: You can’t make a dog from a finch.

    No, because, while they share a common ancestor, they are both highly derived. In other words, the statement about finches to wolves is a strawman representation of evolutionary theory.

    However, finches can, within just a few million years, adapt to eat cactus, insects, seeds, grubs, even blood; different enough that a careful observer like Darwin didn’t even recognize some as being finches.

  33. 33
    phoodoo says:

    Zachriel,

    So you think perhaps Darwin might have thought they were at least on their way to becoming wolves?

    I mean, heck, they are eating seeds and grubs, it can’t be that much further to furry paws and canine teeth, right?

  34. 34
    Zachriel says:

    phoodoo: So you think perhaps Darwin might have thought they were at least on their way to becoming wolves?

    No. Darwin stated correctly that they share a common ancestor. However, as already stated, they were different enough that some species didn’t appear to be finches. We now know that they evolved from a single species of finch from mainland South America.

    phoodoo: I mean, heck, they are eating seeds and grubs, it can’t be that much further to furry paws and canine teeth, right?

    One variety of Darwin’s finches, Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis, consumes blood.

  35. 35
    phoodoo says:

    Goodusername,

    Well, I guess if wikipedia is still around in a million years, they could look there:

    “Prior to their domestication, maize plants only grew small, one-inch long corn cobs, and only one per plant. Many centuries of artificial selection by the indigenous people of the Americas resulted in the development of maize plants capable of growing several cobs per plant that were usually several inches long each”

  36. 36
    logically_speaking says:

    I think it’s funny when evos claim that eating different foods than a creature normally would is somehow an evolutionary adaption.

    All metabolisms need to do is break down the food into stuff that the organism can then use, some stuff may be to tough for the enzymes to break down, some stuff may even be poisonous.

    But the fact is enzymes will attempt to break whatever food down that it can, that’s their job and they have different ways to do it, no blind evolution needed, sometimes they fail sometimes they don’t. They might change their diet but the metabolism system hasn’t changed.

  37. 37
    logically_speaking says:

    Grey hounds were designed for hunting, and poodles were designed for rich ladies to carry around in their handbags.

  38. 38
    bFast says:

    Sparc, “It is indeed possible to produce GMOs without leaving any traces of how this has been done.” It would appear that you have far more expertise than I in the process of genetically modifying.

    Am I correct that most GMO activity involves gene splicing, pulling genes from one organism and putting them into another? I am sure that some GMO involves simple deletion or small edits. Some of the latter would likely be very hard to detect, but the former should look very much like horizontal gene transfer.

    Are you suggesting that no GMO activity could be detected as “extraordinary” by mere DNA analysis of the resultant organisms?

    Sparc, “You cannot conclude that THE Intelligent Designer that you assume could have done the same without any such tools and such equipment and without a society, an industry, an economy and scientists providing such means.”

    Um, you seem a bit unclear on the proposed nature of “THE designer”. We are talking about a designer with the capacity to produce the big bang complete with the ability to forecast that the results of the fine tuned parameters. We are talking about someone with the ability to pull together first life. We are not talking about a 6 year old in the woodshed.

  39. 39
    Zachriel says:

    logically_speaking: poodles were designed for rich ladies to carry around in their handbags.

    Actually, poodles were originally bred as water dogs, from German Pudelhund.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.....a_duck.jpg

  40. 40
    Zachriel says:

    phoodoo: Well, I guess if wikipedia is still around in a million years, they could look there

    Good point. If there is a posited artifact, the art and artisan are entailed.

  41. 41
    goodusername says:

    phoodoo,

    Well, I guess if wikipedia is still around in a million years, they could look there:

    “Prior to their domestication, maize plants only grew small, one-inch long corn cobs, and only one per plant. Many centuries of artificial selection by the indigenous people of the Americas resulted in the development of maize plants capable of growing several cobs per plant that were usually several inches long each”

    Well, yes, but where did that information in wikipedia come from? From eyewitnesses recording what they saw in books?

    No, it came about exactly the way you said it wouldn’t. From scientists looking at corn at concluding that it was from artifical selection.

  42. 42
    phoodoo says:

    Zachriel,

    If I started eating insects, would Darwin mistake me for a bird?

    “No. Darwin stated correctly that they share a common ancestor.”

    How do you know?

  43. 43
    sparc says:

    We are talking about a designer with the capacity to produce the big bang complete with the ability to forecast that the results of the fine tuned parameters. We are talking about someone with the ability to pull together first life. We are not talking about a 6 year old in the woodshed.

    Thus, you are rather talking about wonders that cannot be explained. That’s fine with me but you cannot expect that this can ever be accepted as science.

  44. 44
    Zachriel says:

    phoodoo: If I started eating insects, would Darwin mistake me for a bird?

    No, but you share a common amniotic ancestor with birds.

    phoodoo: How do you know?

    The concilience of the evidence.

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