Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Medical researcher says ID is science, not religion

arroba Email


As a medical researcher with more than 30 years of experience, the recipient of five NIH grants, and more than 250 scientific papers in the peer-reviewed literature, I know something about science, and I find the theory of “intelligent design” to be scientific and not religious.

Current scientific evidence points not to undirected random chemical interactions as the explanation for life, but to the intervention of a mind. Intelligent design makes no claim whatever about the nature of the designer — that is beyond the reach of science. But science does have rules about how to detect the past actions of an intelligent agent. “Is this pointed rock an arrowhead, or just a stone? Was the fire arson or accident? The same logical constructs form the foundation of intelligent design theory.

One way that ID assumptions might help medical research is, paying more attention to the interactions between what people think is happening and what is happening. That is, harnessing the placebo effect, instead of ignoring it or considering it a nuisance.

Follow UD News at Twitter!

nightlight: "While evolution may be problematic for YEC, it is in fact among the strongest pro-ID arguments since it takes a lot more intelligence and far sighted anticipation to design a clever (or irreducibly complex) system which can also evolve to adapt to new circumstances, than to design a similar system which is static." Apparently you think a YEC viewpoint requires a static genome. This is not correct. Can you explain why you think this? Pseudolus
JGuy: I have never had any doubt about ID being perfect science. And very good science, indeed. Recently, I used the example of the Big Bang theory with RDFish, to explain that assuming a non physical conscious intelligent being as the source of functional information in biological objects is perfectly scientific. But his prejudices are so strong and dogma oriented that he obviously disagreed. In the end, there is nothing that can convince those who don't accept to be convinced. But you are right, dark matter and dark energy are very good examples of extreme scientific problems. I would like to sum up here what I think of each of these issues: a) Big Bang theories for the origin of the universe. That is important, because it is a very big example of a scientific explanation that is in part outside any current scientific understanding, and has important philosophical and religious implications. The simple idea that our universe is limited in space and time, indeed that space and time had a limited. finite origin, is clearly beyond normal scientific understanding. Even with recent quantum interpretations, the Big Bang is something partially transcendent, a first event which comes out before the rules, which is indeed the originator of the rules. And yet, it is widely accepted as the best explanation for our universe and what we observe in it. b) Dark matter. This is interesting, but is probably the least "unconventional" situation. After all, dark matter is assumed because of some empirical observations, and our understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe, especially gravitation. It is true that we don't really know what dark matter is, but we assume it has a mass, which is responsible for its supposed gravitational effects, and there are many theories (more or less reasonable, more or less supported by evidence, on what Dark Matter could be. So, we are in the dark here, but only in part. 3) Dark energy, if you excuse the pun, is all another matter. Here the observational basis is very strong (there is a definite phenomenon which requires explanation, and which is very much confirmed by all known observations). The "small" problem, here, is that we really have not a theory to explain it. OK, OK, I have read everything about dark energy which is 70% of the universe, and the possible alternative about the cosmological constant. Not being an astrophysicist, I have probably understood nothing of all that. However, what seems rather clear is that "dark energy" is more a word for a problem than a word for a theory. That's OK, obviously. Indeed, I like it. I don't believe that we have understood everything important in physics, least of all in science, and such a big "mystery" is very promising to understand something new. We will see. 4) Multiverse. I am not so hostile to the multiverse scenarios. They have at least some foundation in quantum physics. Maybe, maybe not. But of one thing I am certain. The use of the multiverse (with the kind help of the anthropic principle, is some of its forms) to explain topics like the origin of life and the evolution of biological beings, IOWs the simple infinite multiplication of potential resources to "overcome" obvious probabilistic barriers for the existing "scientific" theories, is a blatant fallacy. In a good scientific analysis, an unsurmountable probabilistic barrier for an observed fact has one, and only one, meaning: that fact cannot be explained as the outcome of chance. Multiverse can be a scientifically valid theory, but it certainly is not a theory that admits everything as a scientific possibility. The idea that anything can happen, and therefore we can accept anything, is a definite science stopper. I refute it with all my strength. IOWs, if your theory is not scientifically reasonable, just change it, instead of invoking the multiverse to support what is unsupportable. In the Babel bibliothèque, anything that can be is. But the Babel bibliothèque is a wonderful poetic creation, but not an interesting scientific scenario. gpuccio
KF: Very good ideas. Thank you. gpuccio
More thoughts: 9: In addition to the Weak Argument Correctives I think we need a real FAQ that focuses on I want to know, or at least to link to outside ID FAQs such as IDEA's. The weak argument correctives are on misconceptions to be addressed not ordinary I want to knows. The glossary feature may need revamping too. 10: A links, refs and must reads page may help. 11: Videos & multimedia archive that links/embeds major must sees or must listen to's. 12: Hosted blogs as sub blogs by distinguished ID thinkers. This could even morph into columns. 13: Long term, I would love to see a wiki and 14: ditto, an independent origins science survey course that could serve as a start point for taking back education. KF kairosfocus
SalC & GP: A fortnightly focus forum sticky -- FFF . . . , with a tab of archived fora sounds interesting; could even use bulletin board tech. And if interest continues, it can be continued in the top slot. Indeed, what you are talking about is a long term seminar programme. Then it can slide to a forums tab and archive. I would suggest that a vid or podcast can also be a good sparker, as could an infographic for such a forum/online seminar. It may also pay to be able to promote a post to the forum, if it takes off. What I would consider doing on UD's layout is, 1: right under headline & tabs [maybe we need 2 rows, a bit smaller type), a current/latest news headline crawler running through say the last 2 dozen news category stories. The more that is updated, the more it will draw traffic just to keep in touch. Many news items could be one para with go here for more. 2: Following, below, the 12 selected posts chosen cycler, with a window for a pic and space for a headline and circling dots. (Or, maybe off on the top of RH col?) 3: Below the news crawler etc, a chronological sequence of the last 5 posts, with the news posts then dropping to a news continuation/archive tab. 4: This marks the "fold" of the headlines page 5: Features -- ordinary posts -- continue on down below the fold. 6: We definitely need to keep the last comments feature, a couple dozen or so feels about right. RH col as at present. 7: Top 7 current posts on hits maybe should come back in RH col, above the recent comments. 8: Bottom, the all time top 10 blogs should be there, with the headline part fixed . . . there is a prob for WP 3.8 I think. KF kairosfocus
gpuccio My writing needed much editing, but I'm glad you apparently got through that and agree with the main idea. I suppose a question now is, how can this point be packaged up and distributed for wide acceptance? To me, it is about as much of a smoking gun observation regarding the bias against ID as it gets..... and seems fairly simple to comprehend. If packed and tidied up a bit in a public debate, I don't see how it can be refuted. And I don't see how an objective person can dismiss ID as science if they accept or tolerate dark matter & other similar ideas... unless it's too distasteful for it's philosophical implications... in which case, I think a pre-planned debate tactic to expose that would be helpful. ... JGuy
Sal: You are right that the blog format is not of great help for a deep discussion. And yet, deep and long discussions, sometimes very good indeed, have taken place here, many times. My only point is: let's try to go on that way, a blog with some deep pertinent discussions. After all, this is really a very visible place to discuss ID. Your idea of sticky topics is very good. Maybe it can be done. gpuccio
JGuy: I absolutely agree with your post #16. Totally right and pertinent. gpuccio
JGuy @ 20:
Would you then have issue with anyone inferring a mysterious intelligence? I refrain from saying ‘dark intelligence’, because I believe that intelligence is one of light.
Not really. Dark energy/dark matter seems to be a buzzword cosmologists use when they can't explain something. Due to their insistence on materialism and naturalism, they've effectively stopped science from ever coming up with the "grand unified theory of everything" because they've ruled out one possibility: intelligence. Barb
Barb. Would you then have issue with anyone inferring a mysterious intelligence? I refrain from saying 'dark intelligence', because I believe that intelligence is one of light ;) But the later, in the scope of this question, is merely my added view on the identity of the intelligence.. it should have no prior-impact on the science of being able to infer an unknown source of intelligence or some mysterious form of intelligence to explain phenomena we know is - as Stephen Meyer might say - invariably & habitually associated with intelligence. Or as Steve Minnich said in a similar frame, there may be philosophical implications, but sobeit. Or as I might have said... but so what!? :P JGuy
JGuy, with respect to dark energy/dark matter, I understand very little about it. Dark matter was postulated in the 1930’s and confirmed in the 1980’s. Today astronomers measure how much dark matter a cluster of galaxies may have by observing how the cluster bends light from more distant objects. In 1998, researchers analyzing light from a special kind of supernova, or exploding star, found evidence that the expansion of the universe is actually accelerating! At first, the scientists were skeptical, but evidence soon mounted. Naturally, they wanted to know what form of energy was causing the accelerating expansion. For one thing, it seemed to be working in opposition to gravity; and for another, it was not predicted by present theories. Appropriately, this mysterious form of energy has been named dark energy, and it may make up nearly 75 percent of the universe. Dark energy, however, is not the only “dark” oddity discovered in recent times. Another was confirmed in the 1980’s when astronomers examined various galaxies. These galaxies, as well as our own, appeared to be spinning too fast to hold together. Evidently, then, some form of matter must be giving them the necessary gravitational cohesion. But what kind of matter? Because scientists have no idea, they have called the stuff dark matter, since it does not absorb, emit, or reflect detectable amounts of radiation. How much dark matter is out there? Calculations indicate that it could make up 22 percent or more of the mass of the universe. Consider this: According to current estimates, normal matter accounts for about 4 percent of the mass of the universe. The two big unknowns—dark matter and dark energy—appear to make up the balance. Thus, about 95 percent of the universe remains a complete mystery! Barb
The forum format (like ARN) is more conducive to long scientific discussions. When I was at ARN, a discussion could last 6 months to a year because the technical details were so deep. Blogs are more for tabloid type stuff... And finally, some real science is done outside of blogs, like the Cornell conference, libraries, labs, field etc. Perhaps the best way to do this is to make 1 topic sticky! I don't have the authority to do this, but I'm sure there might be a way we can get the readers and commenters to vote on a topic, and we'll make it sticky for 2-weeks or something, like say, the Explanatory Filter. The way to draw the readers onto it is to have a minimal OP, like : "Topic is the explanatory filters, speak your mind." And let the discussion go. Then the next 2-weeks another major topic like: protein evolution Then the next 2-week natural selection. Now if a particular OP has drawn enormous discussion, the commenters can request it become sticky. Personally, I don't like my discussions lasting too long because I don't want to have to police them. We can ask Denyse or Barry to make one of the topics sticky, and I nominate for the first sticky post, a topic of gpuccio's choosing. We can try it and see what happens and if it doesn't work we at least tried something. I will forewarn however, tabloid stuff will get the most discussion and views, pure science stuff will not attract a lot of attention because technical material just isn't as compelling as sensational material. Personally I think it would be a good idea even if the numbers are low as it will tend to attract scholarly discussion as opposed to mischievous discussion where nothing much is accomplished. But, as a policy, the sticky topic should be scholarly. Because VJTorley has been such an incredible contribution to the discussion, I don't want to entirely exclude philosophy or theology. I think a great candidate for technical material has always been Dr. Hunter's work. It may not get read a lot, but it will attract scholarly interest. Another thing to do is look back at some great threads and just simply repost them and let the discussion continue where it left off. scordova
Edit: "In summary. Observing gravitational effect infers mysterious matter a kind of matter never observed to date. Then observing some functional complexity effect can infer intelligence…even one that is [mysterious to us] or not readily observed." JGuy
On ID as Science. If you want a science debate. Will anyone please answer this?... And tell me how the below is refutable by anyone that thinks science can only be done with a purely naturalistic viewpoint. First. Let me establish a base about what is already either accepted a science by mainstream scientists, or respected in circles with mainstream scientists. (1) Dark Energy. (2) Dark Matter. (3) Multiverse. (4)..others arguably strange ideas.. When we say science, itmeans either a body of knowledge, or the process of acquiring that knowledge. Science - the process - studies phenomena observed in nature and attempts to explain them. This is done most often by taking science - the body of knowledge - of other phenomena observed in nature. I hope few will disagree with this, at least in principle. So. Notwithstanding issues of falsifiability to be called scientific... How are the 3 specific 'science' claims above found to be either respectable as science or at least tolerable in mainstream scientific circles? Let me explain by using the example of dark matter above... Dark Matter. Scientists postualte the existence of some strange never before obserbed form of matter. On what basis? Because they observe a phenomena that is claimed to be further explainable as teh result of gravity. And the phenomena of gravity is always associated with matter. Therefore, they postulate the existence of some mysterious form of matter never before seen. Intelligence is a phenomena observed in nature. Like matter is invariably assocaited with gravity and inferred by the observed effects of gravity. Intelligence is associated with phenomena observed in nature, and can undeniably be inferred by it's effects. Things such as functional complexity, and specified complexity. For example, we know when we find books, that it is invariably associated with an intelligence. As such, We can describe the phenomena when books appear in nature, to be associated with the phenomena of intelligence - which is observed in nature. The naturalist MUST see what is in nature and infer by it. He CAN NOT treat intelligence differently, and remain consistent. Why? Because if he is to remain consistent even philosophgically, then human intelligence is the product of nature - to him/her. Thus.. if it is acceptable as science or even tolerated in scientific circles to call the theory of some mysterious form of matter as science. Then it is only consistent to allow for the science to include the inferrence of a mysterious form of intelligence. If the issue of falsifiability comes up, that is easily refuted.. but I won't get into that here. In summary. Observing gravitational effect infers mysterious matter a kind of matter never observed to date. Then observing some functional complexity effect can infer intelligence...even one that is not readily observed. Objections? JGuy
SB: You are dead right. Origins science and issues tied to it bring out major worldview foundation issues. Unfortunately, this is an un-philosophical (and too often blatantly anti-philosophical), anti-logic [just think of how first principles of right reason are repeatedly treated], anti-objectivity, anti-rational, too often amoral or nihilistic, ideologically indoctrinated, manipulative era that loves to pull rank and sneer at those who have escaped the shadow-shows cave by dressing up ideology in a lab coat. One that echoes the concerns Plato laid out in The Laws, Bk X. That too has to inform discussion of the science issues, step by step, point by point. And, a major focus for that correction was laid out by Johnson in his retort to Lewontin's infamous a priori materialism admission in that Jan 1997 NYRB article:
For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them "materialists employing science." And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) "give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]
I think people have to be brought to a point where they readily discern the hidden agenda hiding under the lab coat. Then, we can move on to a discussion on sound research, analysis and views on origins science. Absent that, it is all going to be a case of dealing with the Cave shadow show mentality. Eventually, the mass delusion will break down, with some incident or other that is unpredictable as the break-point where the light bulbs go off and the absurdity is patent . . . the fate of Marxism. But on the way there an alternative has to be laid out and someone has to stand up when it is hard as a centre of reference for rallying. UD needs to be a part of that. KF kairosfocus
Stephen, KF, Sal: Thank you for your very good insights. I believe that we should really try to help make the discussion more pertinent, at least in some parts of the blog. UD is probably the most followed resource about ID, and many deep discussions and important confrontations have taken place here through the years. I hope that will be the case even in the future. Obviously, the contribution of our darwinian interlocutors is important. Unfortunately, many of the most active here have limited their activities to "philosophical" or "religious" matters, as Stephen has well described. It seems that almost nobody wants to defend neo-darwinism on the field that only counts: biology and science. As said, I can understand why. I would never want to be in their shoes! But I am afraid that I am beginning to miss Petrushka :) gpuccio
SalC: I should point out that -- though technically it is a page not a blog post -- the Weak Argument Corrective page has has about 30,000 hits, as I recall. And that is strongly focussed on scientific concerns, with an emphasis on correcting errors that are commonly encountered. In my draft course on origins science, it is the survey on cosmology, the inference to fine tuning and design setting the context in which both the other half of ID is presented in brief and the question of timelines and chronology are addressed, that has the most hits of any single page. So, I think the best summary is that first, always, people are drawn to conflicts and points that are flash-points. But, there is on the longer run also a significant interest in learning and striking an informed balance. We must respond to both, the itch for headlines and debates, and the need for more reflective slower paced information, education, balance and foundational questions. I am also concerned that the site needs to distinguish news issues and more reflective pieces. For that I have thought that a cycle of headlined features or issues or news items editorially chosen and updated maybe every day or so, maybe up to a dozen of them (preferably each with a captivating image) similar to ever so many news and views oriented sites such as Yahoo or even ENV may be a way to go. For the very top of the site. Couple that to a ticker-tape crawling headline stream for say the last several dozen posts, whether news or feature, and a slower paced flow of in effect above the fold columns that invite discussion may be useful. I think news shorts should flow from that crawl to a separate news tab. Which would then flow on in a news string as an archive. As a chronology, this would have value all of its own. Features/opinion pieces/issue and discussion pieces or whatever we want to call them, can then simply flow on to a page by page archive, with a cross linked tab on categories and maybe authors. This would be the main blog. And maybe it is time to host other sub blogs, such as Behe's and maybe Hunter's, Blogger just does not cut it fr what he is doing anymore, to my mind. We may also want to use news to bring up a regular survey of interesting reading and viewing elsewhere, maybe once a week or whatever? I think there should be more reference resources and also a links and resources page that has a permanent, go here for more character. Just some thoughts. KF kairosfocus
Sal, GPuccio: I agree that science should be the primary emphasis. As it turns out, though, the objections that Darwinsts and ID-skeptics raise against ID are almost always non-scientific. Although their comments may appear to be related to the evidence, they are usually philosophical/logical in scope. If you probe deeply enough into the substance (or lack of it) in their comments, you will find a hidden assumption or philosophical commitment that needs to be challenged, such as the idea that something can come from nothing, or that effects don't always require causes, or that a thing can be one thing and also be another. In keeping with that point, I have actually had Darwinists (and skeptics) challenge (and deny) the proposition that a finite whole must always be greater than any one of its constituent parts. For them, the problem is less about ignoring evidence and more about denying the rational standards by which evidence must be interpreted. If one wants to discount the empirical evidence that points to the design of life, or assert the proposition that matter and chance interaction can explain it, the usual strategy is to quietly deny reason's rules and then interpret the evidence by that non-standard. If effects don't need causes, then if follows that designs don't need designers. Irrationality is the main strategy that Darwinists and skeptics use to attack ID. When the evidence for ID tries to speak, they put words in its mouth in much the same way that they put words in the mouths of ID proponents. That is why they involve themselves so passionately and in such great numbers when the discussion turns to the subject of reason's rules. This is where they feel they must fight for their life. If reason's rules prevail, they are out of business. Those who are bright enough to know it try to keep the matter hidden, but when they have been outed, they know they must immediately spring into a damage-control mode. They must, at all costs, preserve their perceived privilege to interpret the evidence any way they like. StephenB
Sal: I was not criticizing anyone, just expressing my feelings. I understand your points, but after all this is a blog about Intelligent Design, and ID is science. So, it's fine that we have discussions of all kinds, I just would like to see some science too, here and there. gpuccio
I must say that here too, at UD,purely scientific discussions are becoming too rare. While I understand that this is a blog, and I am really happy that anyone can say what he thinks, sometimes I would appreciate that the discussions were more often science based.
We can't change what commenters want to talk about, there are plenty of science articles, but they seem too boring and technical for anyone to be interested. For example, I had to do quite a bit of research to publish this: Relevance of Coin analogies to homochirality and symbolic organization in biology It got 5 comments! It was one of the best pro-ID, hard nosed empirically defended, theoretically supported with math the law of large numbers and expectation values, etc. I thought I had written the most unassailable article of evidence of ID in biology and tried to make it as succinct and clear and readable as possible. It drew 5 comments and 342 views. The best stuff isn't always the most popular. By way of contrast: In a meaningless world does truth have value over delusion it got 766 comments and 3076 views. and 12,387 views that took me 10 minutes for this one that took me 15 minutes to slap together: Michael Shermer issues cease and desist order against PZ Myers. That had to be the most content-free post I've ever written, and that was also my personal best in terms of readership! Go figure. All this to say, it's not from lack of trying by UD authors that we aren't getting science discussions! Cornelius Hunter has some of the best science, but it simply lack entertainment value. I've written only 3 YEC related threads in the last 2 months, but those have been extremely popular. Without those, UD traffic would be as dead as my homochirality discussion, even though, imho the homochirality OP was some of my best material! scordova
Just look at the darwin drones in the comments on that link. lifepsy
While evolution may be problematic for YEC, it is in fact among the strongest pro-ID arguments
I absolutely agree. I must say that here too, at UD,purely scientific discussions are becoming too rare. While I understand that this is a blog, and I am really happy that anyone can say what he thinks, sometimes I would appreciate that the discussions were more often science based. I must say that even our "enemies", both here and at TSZ, seem to prefer religious, moral and philosophical discussions rather than scientific ones. But, after all, maybe they have a reason for that :) gpuccio
And of course Intelligent Design is science- it can be tested and either confirmed or falsified. Unlike blind watchmaker evolution which cannot be tested. Joe
CLAVDIVS- ID does NOT get along with blind watchmaker evolution- well if BWE is relegated to only breaking things then ID accepts that. Also evolutionists are the people who accept BWE as explaining life's diversity. Joe
Apologies - that should read 'wallstreeter43' not '54'. CLAVDIVS
wallstreeter54 Did you not read what nightlight just said? ID and evolution get along just fine together. Many ID proponents are evolutionists. So your criticisms of 'evolutionists' are really criticisms of atheists and philosophical materialists. Accordingly, why not just criticise 'atheists' and 'materialists' instead of 'evolutionists' which just muddies the waters? CLAVDIVS
Hopefully bills like this will be more common in the upcoming years. If evolution were so strong and its supporters so confident about it, they would welcome teaching ID and evolution side by side to allow students to make up their own minds as to which is stronger in explaining Life. I was a pro evolutionist for 41 years and I now believe that because going through college it was so to speak "the only game in town" , and this is how evolutionists want to keep it. This sort of thinking discourages critical thinking and dumbs our students down and it shows to me that evolutionists peddle their theory as some philosophical ideology instead of true science. I just saw one pro evolutionist say that gravity and evolution are both theories lol. I guess someone forgot to tell him that gravity is a law lol. wallstreeter43
nightlight: Hear, hear! CLAVDIVS
Evolution is another very slippery term. It can range from the completely uncontroversial belief that life has changed over time, to the highly controversial position that the mechanism responsible for this change was completely mindless, natural selection acting on random genetic variation (neo-Darwinism). The latter is what “free thinkers” actually mean when they promote teaching evolution, but the former is how they represent it to the unsuspecting public.
The problem of ID's acceptance as a natural science is not so much that neo-Darwinians conflate the two meanings, but that some prominent pro-ID blogs, such as Darwin's God" (Cornelius Hunter) are amplifying the above equivocation by routinely attacking "evolution" as incapable of explaining some irreducibly complex biochemical mechanism. Although when pressed for clarification, the ID author will explain that he only meant that neo-Darwinian evolution (random mutation + natural selection) has problem explaining it, he continues discrediting the ID by using the YEC language for his critiques of neo-Darwinism. He is apparently trying to sit on two chairs simultaneously, ID and YEC, falling down and thus needlessly squandering his otherwise quite interesting findings. While evolution may be problematic for YEC, it is in fact among the strongest pro-ID arguments since it takes a lot more intelligence and far sighted anticipation to design a clever (or irreducibly complex) system which can also evolve to adapt to new circumstances, than to design a similar system which is static. nightlight

Leave a Reply