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UD Pro-Darwinism essay challenge unanswered a year later, I: Let’s get the essence of design theory as a scientific, inductive inference straight


Today marks a full year since I issued an open challenge to Darwinists to ground their theory and its OOL extension and root, in light of actually observed capabilities of blind watchmaker mechanisms of chance and necessity through an essay I would host here at UD. The pivot of the challenge is the modern version of the very first Icon of Evolution, Darwin’s Tree of Life (which in an incomplete form is the ONLY image in original editions of Origin of Species), here typified by a case from the Smithsonian:

Darwinist Tree of Life showing the root, OOL, from the Smithsonian


I first did so in an exchange thread, specifically responding to Jerad, then headlined it some days later. In lieu of prompt serious replies, I set up Wikipedia articles in the empty chair, then answered the usual polarising dismissals here and then also a suggestion that Talk Origins’ 29 evidences presentation by Theobald provided an adequate answer.

As is obvious from the headline, a full year later, there still is no robust answer from the advocates of evolutionary materialism.

First, let me refresh memories on the challenge: cf APPENDIX below

The main focus here, however is to begin by clearing the air after the smoke of many burning strawmen, on the core of the scientific design inference claim. A good way to do this is the following clip from a post in the ongoing charitableness debate:

In terms of the essence of the design theory view, it is that the deep past of origins cannot be directly observed so we must study its traces, and infer explanatory models on causal factors shown to produce consequences directly comparable to the traces. Thus such features, where characteristic of a cause, are an empirically reliable sign. And while inductive reasoning on signs is always provisional, it can be highly reliable.

Mechanical necessity such as F = ma, gives rise to low contingency natural regularities that are often reduced to laws. Chance processes yield high contingency outcomes that may follow relevant statistical distribution models such as the normal curve. Design will often be highly contingent also, but will frequently yield patterns such as functionally specific complex organisation and associated information (such as the text string in this post) [FSCO/I]  that are maximally implausible on chance but are on billions of cases observed a reliable sign of design.

No great mystery, and directly empirically testable, just show blind chance and mechanical necessity producing FSCO/I.

Only, that has not happened, many attempts notwithstanding.

So, we have good reason to rule out mechanical necessity if we see high contingency of outcomes under similar starting conditions, and chance if we see something utterly implausible by chance. This being done on a per aspect basis for an object, process, phenomenon, etc.

Nothing intrinsically strange or hard to follow, or in breach of canons of inductive, scientific reasoning.

And certainly no reference to the Nicene Creed or the Chicago declaration on inerrancy etc. No, quote Bible and try to guide science based on interpretation thereof. That is, not inherently religious.

The problem is, Darwinists nailed their flag to the mast 150 years ago, but over the past 60 years it has become plain that the world of life is chock full of signs of design, from DNA on up.

And the further problem over the same 60 years, is that the observed cosmos turns out to give every indication of being fine tuned in many ways that facilitate C chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life.

So, we are now in a position to further follow up on the matters at stake, anon. END



UD PRO-DARWINISM ESSAY CHALLENGE: Compose your summary case for darwinism (or any preferred variant that has at least some significant support in the professional literature, such as punctuated equlibria etc) in a fashion that is accessible to the non-technical reader — based on empirical evidence that warrants the inference to body plan level macroevolution — in up to say 6,000 words [a chapter in a serious paper is often about that long]. Outgoing links are welcome so long as they do not become the main point. That is, there must be a coherent essay, with

(i)an intro,
(ii) a thesis,
(iii) a structure of exposition,
(iv) presentation of empirical warrant that meets the inference to best current empirically grounded explanation [–> IBCE] test for scientific reconstructions of the remote past,
(v) a discussion and from that
(vi) a warranted conclusion.

Your primary objective should be to show in this way, per IBCE, why there is no need to infer to design from the root of the Darwinian tree of life — cf. Smithsonian discussion here –  on up (BTW, it will help to find a way to resolve the various divergent trees), on grounds that the Darwinist explanation, as extended to include OOL, is adequate to explain origin and diversification of the tree of life. A second objective of like level is to show how your thesis is further supported by such evidence as suffices to warrant the onward claim that is is credibly the true or approximately true explanation of origin and body-plan level diversification of life; on blind watchmaker style chance variation plus differential reproductive success, starting with some plausible pre-life circumstance.

It would be helpful if in that essay you would outline why alternatives such as design, are inferior on the evidence we face. [As an initial spark for thinking, contrast my own survey of origins science here on (note the onward resources page), the definition of design theory in the UD resources tab top of this and every UD page, the Weak Argument Correctives in the same tab, the general resources that pop up on clicking the tab itself, and the discussion of design theory in the NWE article here. You may also want to refer to the site of the IDEA Center, and the Discovery Institute CSC site as well as Mike Gene’s Telic Thoughts. Notice IDEA’s essay on the case for design here.] . . . .

I would put this up as an original post, with preliminary contextual remarks and an invitation to respond in the comments section.

I will not submit the post with a rebutting markup or make an immediate rebuttal. In fact, let me make the offer to hold off my own comments for at least five initial comments. I will give you two full days of comments before I post any full post level response; though others at UD will be free to respond in their own right . . . .  [NB: I have given how to contact me in the original Sept 23 post, I will not repeat that in a headlined original post.]