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Jonathan Bartlett: Intelligent Design Is Not What Most People Think It Is

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Widespread confusion about Intelligent Design leads us to address the question: What exactly is it?:

Intelligent Design, at its core, says that agency is a distinct causal category in the world. That is, when I code a computer program, write a book, invent a formula, write a poem, etc., I am doing something that is distinctively beyond the operation of pure physics. There is something distinct about the way that causation works for beings with minds compared to how it works for beings without minds. This might sound like an abstract philosophical concept, but it actually has pretty radical (and practical) results.

The business applications of Intelligent Design were put forth by Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One. There, specifically invoking Intelligent Design theory, he demonstrated what sets apart businesses that move markets — they generate new truths that are not algorithmically deducible. Thiel shows that the mind has unique powers which are not reducible to mechanism, and that by focusing our efforts in the direction that our minds are specially built for allows us to create more economic prosperity…

Intelligent Design is not what most people think it is. The mistake is understandable because, for people who are stuck in old ways of thinking, it can sound like creationism. However, the theory and application of Intelligent Design approaches a different question than who, what, where, when, or by what means something is designed, and takes a look at the logic and nature of design itself. Approaching the problem in this way leads to applications that go far beyond biology and into computer science, business, economics, and other areas of inquiry and application.

Jonathan Bartlett, “Intelligent Design Is Not What Most People Think It Is” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: Clarifying the distinction between the things that minds can do compared to computers is a core aspect of Intelligent Design, and has practical results.

Thank you, David. I think you're probably right, but I still don't understand why the presumption of design is a straw man. Considering some famous examples: - Vestigial organs were named as such on the presumption that they were all evolutionary vestiges and had no function. Some of these vestiges, including the thyroid, are now known as ductless glands. - Susumu Ohno presumed that what we now term non-coding DNA was merely "junk DNA" that contained evolutionary traces. - Many people continue to believe that embryonic development recapitulates evolution, a presumption based on fraudulent drawings by Haeckel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecH5SKxL9wk) and this idea still appears in many biology textbooks despite the fraud. - Instead of investigating how Coelacanths were able to remain unchanged for more than 400 million years, they're simply labeled "living fossils" whatever that might mean and the question is ignored. In each of these and many other cases, the presumption of design or function was not considered, or the evolutionary paradigm blinded research. This resulted in slowing down or stopping scientific progress. ID makes no claim on the identity of the designer, but it is simply taking a pragmatic stance that scientific progress would historically have been accelerated with the presumption of design. How does one determine whether more research is warranted? I'm reminded of the observation that most great discoveries are not accompanied by "Eureka, I've found it!" but "Huh, that's funny." -Q Querius
Querius, Obviously I can't speak for KF, but I think that the objection is to the idea that ID has a default assumption. That could be interpreted as meaning that, in the absence of persuasive evidence either way, it assumes design. I think ID would follow the evidence and conclude design only if it's warranted. davidl1
Kairosfocus @8, What you're describing are the evidences of intelligent design, namely fine tuning, fantastic complexity, emergence of novel body plans in a short time, the fine-tuned location of the earth and solar system in the cosmos, and so on. Certainly, all of these evidences have been challenged and debated with various theories and speculations on what might have occurred. What's not debatable is the observation that numerous discoveries in science were delayed by the Darwinian paradigm--that everything is due to time and chance. This paradigm has mislead science and thus delayed scientific progress with spontaneous generation, junk DNA, scores of vestigial organs, embryonic recapitulation, so called living fossils, and so on. I don't understand why the definition I used is a loaded straw man. -Q Querius
ET at 11 Like. Peace & Joy. Aren't we going for expanded Understanding here? "You stink, and yer mother dresses you funny" was supposed to end in grade school. mahuna
It doesn't matter. IDists can explain what what ID is but evoTARDs will always ignore it and prattle on about the strawman they have erected. ID's opponents are ignorant cowards. ET
JB, I think you gave an existence premise, DI is arguing to inference to best current scientific explanation. I add, look at what we know about information systems in the cell. Context, let us understand the hypothetical syllogism. KF kairosfocus
PS: See L&FP 45 on hypothetical syllogism, just put up. kairosfocus
Intelligent Design is simply a paradigm that defaults to the assumption of purpose.
That is a loaded strawman caricature. Not unexpected, given some systematically dishonest reasoning, agit prop and lawfare at work in defence of a ruthless paradigm, evolutionary materialistic scientism as a key facet of radical secularist humanism. As say the per aspect explanatory flowchart shows, there are two defaults in the explanatory cascade for each aspect of an entity, structure etc: first, mechanical necessity; refuted by high contingency of outcomes on closely similar initial conditions. Second, for highly contingent outcomes, blind chance; refuted by there being high complexity joined to functional specificity of configuration. In that context, we bring to bear experience that there is a third causal factor, intentionally directed configuration, aka design acting by purpose and art. After 2400 years, no serious fourth force has been advanced. We then infer, by best current explanation of say the text in your comment, design. The controversies arise because of entrenched views confronted with the reality of complex algorithmic code in D/RNA and proteins etc, the heart of cell based life. Language and goal directed stepwise procedures. The game is over, folks. As a related point notice by early last year, scientists spotted design like features in the SARS2 virus. This was dismissed and derided as conspiracy theory. This year, we have a defecting junior minister and daughter, with TB of data. It looks a lot like, lab leak on research offshored to evade bans on dangers, by the very people who were dismissing last year. This begins to look like the 5-minute miracle at Midway, and it could blow up a lot of official narratives. A key twist in the ongoing US 4th gen civil war, and re opens the issue that establishments need to face accountability and a certain healthy measure of skepticism. KF kairosfocus
Mahuna - I agree that the definition has been long established. This is what the Discovery Institute has said as long as I can remember is this - "The theory of intelligent design simply says that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." I don't know how this differs from the presentation I gave in my article. I simply have described what all we built off of this foundation. DI: "intelligent design simply says that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause" Me: "Intelligent Design, at its core, says that agency is a distinct causal category in the world." What, exactly, is the difference between these two statements? johnnyb
Mahuna, You might want to explain what you think defines the existing, widely used, technical term. Do you agree or disagree with this description: https://www.britannica.com/topic/intelligent-design -Q Querius
The fact that you have invented your own, personal definition for an existing, widely used, technical term only means that YOU can no longer hold conversations with anyone else. I'm not seeing any upside to this because when ANYONE else uses the term THEY will of course use the standard, well established meaning. I think the Bolsheviks were the last guys to try this. They failed. mahuna
Intelligent Design is simply a paradigm that defaults to the assumption of purpose. This in contrast to the Darwinian paradigm that defaults to the assumption of the likelihood of no purpose (such as assumed with the so-called "junk" DNA). ID makes no assumptions regarding the creator or whether this mind is actually God. As a result, it's been far more successful than the Darwinian paradigm in terms of advancing science. -Q Querius
Um, no. Intelligent design STARTS with the fact that a WHOLE buncha stuff has no use of itself, but the stuff is REQUIRED to be up and running BEFORE another impossible thing can perform useful work. That is, The Designer puts things in place on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe in ANTICIPATION of "Phase III" of the larger design. That is, the Designer provides Foresight. mahuna
I maintain that Intelligent Design is just conclusions that represent an obvious fact, that the four laws of physics cannot possibly explain everything we observe in the universe. This is obvious as we look at our world. There is little of any human habitat that developed through the four laws of physics. Nearly all was designed. ID does not dispute the four laws of physics and will agree with the conclusions of science 99.9999% of the time. ID points out that a very few observations cannot not be explained by the basic laws of physics and exhibit characteristics that are extremely similar to that designed by humans, the only known intelligent entities in the universe. Since the designs by humans are so varied and rarely follow a specific pattern, ID does not conclude how, when or why such designs were accomplished. Just that they were. So ID is just science as we know but better. ID has better explanations/conclusions. Or         ID puts the Plus into Science jerry
I can't guess what Jonathan Bartlett thinks he's doing. "Intelligent Design" is a WELL established technical term for controlled interference in the appearance of Life on Earth. I just finished Marcos Eberlin's "Fore Sight", and there is NO DOUBT some VERY GREAT Intelligence has been fiddling with Earth since the creation of our atmosphere right through the installation of our "useless" appendix. If Mr. Bartlett wants HIS OWN technical term for something else, he should coin a NEW phrase. mahuna

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