In the USA, a controversy has arisen pertaining to the allowance of Intelligent Design into the science classroom. What is science? What is Intelligent Design (ID)? What are the options to our existence?
These are the three main questions I will be addressing with this essay.
What is science?
The 2004 Encyclopedia Britannica says science is “any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws.”
“A healthy science is a science that seeks the truth.” Paul Nelson, Ph. D., philosophy of biology.
Linus Pauling, winner of 2 Nobel prizes wrote, “Science is the search for the truth.”
“But science can only be created by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding.” Albert Einstein
The truth need not be an absolute truth. Truth in the sense that Drs. Pauling, Einstein & Nelson are speaking is the reality in which we find ourselves. We exist. Science is to help us understand that existence and how it came to be.
As I like to say- science is our search for the truth, i.e. the reality, to our existence via our never-ending quest for knowledge.
So how do we do that? We use our senses. We make observations. We try to figure things out, i.e. we try to understand what we observe and/ or sense. This “thing” we are trying to understand could be an object, event, structure or phenomena. (I used to think that we were the only animals on this planet that did so, i.e. tried to understand the things around us, but with first-hand observations of what indigenous wild-life do preceding an impending natural disaster common to that area, it appears that some other animals have already come to an understanding. But anyway…)
We formulate an idea as to how it works and we devise a way to test that idea. If successful we have others check our work. If they like it, it gets published. However not getting published is not a falsification or refutation of the idea or the data.
How do we test an idea? We break it down into something that is measure-able. In industry this is done via DMAIC- Define (the customer’s requirements), (Figure out how to) Measure (them); Analyze (the requirements and measuring systems); Improve (the process to reach the goal); Control (the process).
In science we define what it is we are observing. Rocks, life, populations or individual organisms, planets, stars, motion, falling, abruptly stopping, etc.
Can this observation be measured? If not how can we qualify our inference or conclusion? (This is where we figure out a way to test our inference.)
Analyze all work to date for errors and/ or improvements.
Create or improve a process to reach the desired goal. In science the desired goal would be to understand what it is we are observing, i.e. what we had previously defined.
Then you control that process. Documentation at each step is key throughout the process and will facilitate the controlling of said process.
Once you have completed the above and feel you have an understanding, you have others who are qualified check your work. That is why documentation is key.
From the NCSE linked to U Berkley website on Evolution:
“Science is a particular way of understanding the natural world. It extends the intrinsic curiosity with which we are born. It allows us to connect the past with the present,… (references a picture)”
“Science is based on the premise that our senses, and extensions of those senses through the use of instruments, can give us accurate information about the Universe. Science follows very specific "rules" and its results are always subject to testing and, if necessary, revision. Even with such constraints science does not exclude, and often benefits from, creativity and imagination (with a good bit of logic thrown in).”
What anti-IDists try to do is to either re-define science to only include “natural” processes, as if intelligent causes are non-natural, or try to tie ID to the supernatural. They think that if ID is tied to the supernatural then it has violated some arbitrary rule of science. Either that or they try to hold ID to some other arbitrary rules of science, never thinking that the reigning paradigm has no chance of meeting those same standards.
However that tactic is of no relevance:
In any case, as Thomas Kuhn pointed out, debate about methodological rules of science often forms part of the practice of science, especially during times when established paradigms are being challenged. Those who reject the "teach the controversy" model on the grounds that ID violates the current rules of scientific practice only beg the question. The present regime of methodological rules cannot prevent the controversy for the simple reason that those rules may themselves be one of the subjects of scientific controversy. page xxv of Darwinism, Design and Public Education
It should also be noted that just because something is conceivable, that does not also make it possible. IOW just because the “collision theory” is the best conceivable naturalistic explanation for the formation of the Earth-Moon system, does not mean that such a scenario is even possible.
More on the rules of science:
In 1981 there was a Court case (McLean v. Arkansas) involving Creation. In it Michael Ruse testified for a theory to be scientific it must be:
guided by natural law
explanatory by natural law
testable against the empirical world
tentative in its conclusions
The contradictions are numerous:
Is the origin of life explained by natural law? No. Is all of life’s diversity owing its collective common ancestry to some unknown population of single-celled organisms via common descent/ descent with modification explained by natural law? No. Is the origin of nature explained by natural law? No. The origin of nature, by definition, could not have been guided by natural law. And yes, what about the origins of those natural laws?
How do we falsify the notion that the evolution of cetaceans from land animals proceeded via natural selection acting on random variations caused by random genetic mutations?
”As a result of such contradictions *, most contemporary philosophers of science have come to regard the question “What distinguishes science from nonscience?” as both intractable and uninteresting. Instead, philosophers of science have increasingly realized that the real issue is not whether a theory is “scientific” according to some abstract definition but whether a theory is true- that is, based on evidence. As Laudan explains, “If we would stand up and be counted on the side of reason, we ought to drop terms like ‘pseudo-science’…they…do only emotive work for us.” As Martin Eger summarized,”[d]emarcation arguments have collapsed. Philosophers of science don’t hold them anymore. They may still enjoy acceptance in the popular world, but that is a different world." “ Ibid pg. 77 *discussing the contradictions in Ruse’s 1981 falsifiability criteria.
The bottom line is the evidence from which IDists infer ID exists in the physical world and is observable. IOW it is the same DNA, life, Earth, solar system, etc., that all scientists and non-scientists observe, research or hear about. I will discuss the evidence below.
On science & the supernatural:
”It is often said that science must avoid any conclusions which smack of the supernatural. But this seems to me to be both bad logic and bad science. Science is not a game in which arbitrary rules are used to decide what explanations are to be permitted. Rather, it is an effort to make true statements about physical reality. It was only about sixty years ago that the expansion of the universe was first observed. This fact immediately suggested a singular event-that at some time in the distant past the universe began expanding from an extremely small size.
To many people this inference was loaded with overtones of a supernatural event-the creation, the beginning of the universe. The prominent physicist A.S. Eddington probably spoke for many physicists in voicing his disgust with such a notion:
“Philosophically, the notion of an abrupt beginning to the present order of Nature is repugnant to me, as I think it must be to most; and even those who would welcome a proof of the intervention of a Creator will probably consider that a single winding-up at some remote epoch is not really the kind of relation between God and his world that brings satisfaction to the mind”.” (Dr. Behe)
Even though what Dr. Behe is saying makes it obvious that a priori exclusion is not the scientific way, it hides the fact that all “first-cause” scenarios require something non or super natural. If it is true that everything which has a beginning requires a cause, then seeing science has told us the universe, i.e. nature, had a beginning, it also had a cause. Nature by definition could not have originated via natural processes because natural processes exist only in nature.
It also shows that there is still more work to be done even once an initial cause/state has been determined.
The point being, of course, is that it all “turtles-down” to something beyond nature/ beyond the universe. Even positing multi-verses does not get around the origins issues. And just as Ockham’s Razor would favor one designed universe over a universe constructed from unintelligent, blind/ undirected processes, Ockham’s Razor would favor one designed universe over a multi-verse, and also metaphysical, explanation.
What the above demonstrates is that one cannot define ID out of science without doing the same to any anti-ID position.
Yet we exist. The verse we live in exists and since it is the only observable verse we have labeled it the universe. If the multi-verse hypothesis is held to the same standards as ID it has to be able to tell us, at a minimum, how many verses there are, where those verses exist and what number we live in. But anyway, we exist. What are the options to our existence?
1) Unintelligent, blind/ undirected (non-goal oriented) processes
2) Intelligent, directed (goal oriented) processes
3) A combination of 1 & 2
(If other options exist I would love to hear about them so they too can be discussed.)
Only option 1 excludes the design inference.
The motives of IDists are clear- we want to know the truth, i.e. the reality, behind our existence. If that reality, i.e. the evidence, leads us to the metaphysical then so be it. We explain the evidence and we don’t have to explain the metaphysical to do so.
The great scientist Max Planck said the following during his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:
"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this minute solar system of the atom together . . . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind."
Years of scientific research were the root cause of that statement.
What is Intelligent Design?
It is the premise that life and the universe are the direct result of an intelligent agency. That inference is drawn from the coinciding of three determining factors- complexity, specification and information. ID is all about the detection AND understanding of the design. ID is NOT anti-evolution. IF anything ID could be considered anti-evolution #6 with Dr. Behe’s caveat:
The meanings of evolution, from Darwinism, Design and Public Education:
1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature
2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population
3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor.
4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.
5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.
6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.
Dr. Behe’s caveat:
“Intelligent design is a good explanation for a number of biochemical systems, but I should insert a word of caution. Intelligent design theory has to be seen in context: it does not try to explain everything. We live in a complex world where lots of different things can happen. When deciding how various rocks came to be shaped the way they are a geologist might consider a whole range of factors: rain, wind, the movement of glaciers, the activity of moss and lichens, volcanic action, nuclear explosions, asteroid impact, or the hand of a sculptor. The shape of one rock might have been determined primarily by one mechanism, the shape of another rock by another mechanism.
Similarly, evolutionary biologists have recognized that a number of factors might have affected the development of life: common descent, natural selection, migration, population size, founder effects (effects that may be due to the limited number of organisms that begin a new species), genetic drift (spread of "neutral," nonselective mutations), gene flow (the incorporation of genes into a population from a separate population), linkage (occurrence of two genes on the same chromosome), and much more. The fact that some biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common, or important.”
Contrary to what evolutionists want us to believe it is possible to acknowledge that evolution, as in the change in allele frequency over time, occurs without believing the evidence for evolution leads to the grand sweep of the theory of evolution (ToE). The grand sweep of the ToE is that all of life ' s diversity owes its common ancestry to some genetically unknown population of organisms that just happened to have the ability to reproduce. (I have read (Dr. Carl R. Woese) that it could have been more than one population that had the ability to swap genetic material- i.e. lateral [horizontal] transfer and Dr. Margulis with the endo-symbiotic theory.).
What is being debated is the mechanism for change, the morphological & phenotypic plasticity allowed, and the starting point. Is it random mutations/ variations culled by natural selection? Or is it built-in responses to environmental cues, as Dr. Lee Spetner suggests in his book Not By Chance?
Dr. Spetner discussing transposons:
”The motion of these genetic elements to produce the above mutations has been found to a complex process and we probably haven’t yet discovered all the complexity. But because no one knows why they occur, many geneticists have assumed they occur only by chance. I find it hard to believe that a process as precise and well controlled as the transposition of genetic elements happens only by chance. Some scientists tend to call a mechanism random before we learn what it really does. If the source of the variation for evolution were point mutations, we could say the variation is random. But if the source of the variation is the complex process of transposition, then there is no justification for saying that evolution is based on random events.”
Not that what he says is the ultimate word but it does go to show that the doubt is on a scientific level. And that the reasoning behind calling all mutations & variations random is based on the assumption that they are.
ID is based on three premises and the inference that follows (DeWolf et al., Darwinism, Design and Public Education, pg. 92):
1) High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.
2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.
3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.
We already have processes in place that we use to detect design:
Del Ratzsch in his book Nature, Design and Science discusses “counterflow as referring to things running contrary to what, in the relevant sense, would (or might) have resulted or occurred had nature operated freely.” Anthropologists use this type of process when detecting artifacts. Markings (marking does not pertain to the sound made by dogs with a harelip) on a rock that are contrary to what scientists deem nature acting alone could/ would not do, as compared to what we know intelligent agencies have done and can do is what determines the categorization of an object- artifact or just another rock.
Archaeologists checking for inscriptions would employ similar methodology- as Del puts it “an artifact is anything embodying counterflow.” And the fact that we have and use the word artifact is evidence that it does matter to us whether or not something was the result of ID.
Intelligence, as it refers to in ID is that which can create counterflow. The word intelligent in ID is to differentiate between optimal design on one side and apparent design on the other (apparent design is something that may appear designed but upon closer examination was found to be natural- optimal design is perfection).
Intelligent design also implies intention. With intention a whole new world of investigation opens up.
The criteria for inferring design in biology is, as Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry at Leheigh University, puts it in his book Darwin ' s Black Box: "Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components.”
He goes on to say:
” Might there be some as-yet-undiscovered natural process that would explain biochemical complexity? No one would be foolish enough to categorically deny the possibility. Nonetheless, we can say that if there is such a process, no one has a clue how it would work. Further, it would go against all human experience, like postulating that a natural process might explain computers.”
Has what Dr. Behe describes been observed in life? Yes:
More from Dr. Behe:
”Where I and others run afoul of Scott and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is simply in arguing that intelligent design in biology is not invisible, it is empirically detectable. The biological literature is replete with statements like David DeRosier's in the journal Cell: "More so than other motors, the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human". Exactly why is it a thought-crime to make the case that such observations may be on to something objectively correct?
True. Why is it that something which looks designed cannot be investigated as if it were or at least to resolve the issue, i.e. ID or not? That appears to be the case in biology. Dr. Crick once said that biologists have to keep reminding themselves that what they are observing wasn’t designed, rather it evolved. Richard Dawkins wrote that biological organisms have the appearance of being designed (apparent design- like the face on a potato(e)). But how do they know that it evolved or “the design is apparent”? Via research? No. They just say it and everyone in the “mainstream” follows their lead.
IDists are sure some intelligent agency (yes it could be the God of Abraham but we don't know) is responsible for setting in motion all we observe but we also know that is not all that is required. We know it is up to us to observe, hypothesize, test and verify so that we may come to understand the design. We need to understand it so that we may maintain it, use it and perhaps even control it. IOW it is irresponsible to say the work is done once design is inferred. Archaeologists do not stop once they have determined the object in question is an artifact. Forensic scientists don’t stop once they determine the dead body represents evidence for a homicide. SETI researchers will not stop once they detect a signal from some ET.
ID critics & anti-IDists are always saying that ID isn't science because it doesn't attempt to answer questions about the designer- such as its capabilities; the implementation process/ mechanism of design (how); when or where it was designed.
But that is exactly why ID is scientific. Because it forces us to ask those questions. The more we humans know, the more we want to know. IOW once design is determined, there is no way we would be satisfied with just that.
I have always maintained that ID isn't interested in answering those questions but IDists are. I have always maintained that is the same as the ToE not being concerned with life's origins but evolutionists are. The point being that if life did not originate via unintelligent, blind/ undirected processes, why infer its subsequent diversity arose via those processes? I never could or will understand why anti-IDists can't understand that pure & basic logical connection. But anyway...
IDists understand that in order to possibly answer those questions there is quite a bit of work to be done. However the more & deeper the pap we have to waste our time fending off, the less amount of time we can spend on the doing part.
The first is the detection- that is what gets archaeologists going. They find an object, determine it to be an artifact and the chase is on Then we look for more evidence while others are going over the first. We fit the pieces together, unless of course we find a short-cut, but the answer turns out to be 42* but we don't know the question. (*those darn mice- “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”)
On to the Explanatory Filter:
The (design) explanatory filter is a standard operating procedure used for detecting basic origins of cause. It or some reasonable facsimile is used when a dead body turns up or a fire is reported. With the dead body we want to determine if it was a natural death, an accident, a suicide or a homicide (what caused the death?) and in with the fire, the investigator wants to know how it started- arson, negligence, accident or natural causes, i.e. lightning, lava, meteorite, etc. Only through investigation can those not present hope to know about it.
When investigating/ researching/ studying an object/ event/ structure, we need to know one of three things in order to determine how it happened:
1. Did it have to happen?
2. Did it happen by accident?
3. Did an intelligent agent cause it to happen?
A fire is investigated before an arson is.
First we must make this clarification by Wm. Dembski:
”When the Explanatory Filter fails to detect design in a thing, can we be sure no intelligent cause underlies it? The answer to this question is No. For determining that something is not designed, the Explanatory Filter is not a reliable criterion. False negatives are a problem for the Explanatory Filter. This problem of false negatives, however, is endemic to detecting intelligent causes. One difficulty is that intelligent causes can mimic law and chance, thereby rendering their actions indistinguishable from these unintelligent causes. It takes an intelligent cause to know an intelligent cause, but if we don't know enough, we'll miss it.”
This is why further investigation is always a good thing. Initial inferences can either be confirmed or falsified by further research.
Intelligent causes always entail intent. Natural causes never do.
(page 13 of No Free Lunch shows the EF flowchart. It can also be found on page 37 of The Design Inference, page 182 of Signs of Intelligence: Understanding Intelligent Design, and page 88 of The Design Revolution)
The flowchart for the EF is set up so that there are 3 decision nodes, each node capable only of a Yes or No decision. As are all filters it is eliminative. It eliminates via consideration/ examination.
CONTINGENCY? →No → Necessity (regularity/ law)
COMPLEXITY? →No → Chance
SPECIFICATION? →No → Chance
The event/ object/ phenomena in question is what we start with. Then we ask, in sequence, those 3 questions from above- 1st Did this event/ phenomena/ object have to happen? IOW is this the result of the laws of nature, regularity, or some other pre-determining (natural) factors? If it is then we don’t infer design with what we have. If it isn’t then we ask about the likely-hood of it coming about by some chance/ coincidence? Chance events do happen all the time, and absent some blatant design marker, we must take into account the number of factors required to bring it about. The more factors the more complex it is. The more parts involved the more complex it is.
By getting to the final decision node where we separate that which is merely complex from intentional design (an event/ object that has a small probability of occurring by chance and fits a specified pattern), means we have looked into the possibility of X to have occurred by other means. May we have dismissed/ eliminated some too soon? In the realm of anything is possible, possibly. However not only is it impractical to attempt every possible, but by doing so we would no longer have a design inference. By eliminating every possible other cause design would be a given. What we are looking for is a reasonable inference, not proof. IOW we only have to eliminate every possible scenario if we want absolute proof. We already understand that people who ask that of the EF are not interested in science.
It took our current understanding in order to make it to that, the final decision node and it takes our current understanding to make the inference. Future knowledge will either confirm or falsify the inference. The research does not and was never meant to stop at the last node. Just knowing something was the result of intentional design offers no more about it. IOW design detection is the first step in the two step process- detection and understanding of the design. Just because the answer is 42 that doesn’t tell us what was on the left-hand side of the equal sign.
“Thus, Behe concludes on the basis of our knowledge of present cause-and-effect relationships (in accord with the standard uniformitarian method employed in the historical sciences) that the molecular machines and complex systems we observe in cells can be best explained as the result of an intelligent cause.
In brief, molecular motors appear designed because they were designed” Pg. 72 of Darwinism, Design and Public Education
Wm. Dembski pg 36 of The Design Inference:
“The principal advantage of characterizing design as a complement of regularity and chance is that it avoids committing itself to a doctrine of intelligent agency.
Defining design as the negation of regularity and chance avoids prejudicing the causal stories we associate with the design inference.”
Why we call it the design inference:
pg. 91 of The Design Revolution:
”The prospect that further knowledge will upset a design inference poses a risk for the Explanatory Filter. But it is a risk endemic to all of scientific inquiry. Indeed, it merely restates the problem of induction, namely, that we may be wrong about the regularities (be they probabilistic or necessitarian) which operated in the past and apply in the present.”
What is irreducible complexity? Wm. Dembski in No Free Lunch defines it:
IC- A system performing a given basic function is irreducibly complex if it includes a set of well-matched, mutually interacting, non-arbitrarily individuated parts such that each part in the set is indispensable to maintaining the system’s basic, and therefore original, function. The set of these indispensable parts is known as the irreducible core of the system.
Numerous and Diverse Parts If the irreducible core of an IC system consists of one or only a few parts, there may be no insuperable obstacle to the Darwinian mechanism explaining how that system arose in one fell swoop. But as the number of indispensable well-fitted, mutually interacting,, non-arbitrarily individuated parts increases in number & diversity, there is no possibility of the Darwinian mechanism achieving that system in one fell swoop.
Minimal Complexity and Function Given an IC system with numerous & diverse parts in its core, the Darwinian mechanism must produce it gradually. But if the system needs to operate at a certain minimal level of function before it can be of any use to the organism & if to achieve that level of function it requires a certain minimal level of complexity already possessed by the irreducible core, the Darwinian mechanism has no functional intermediates to exploit.
The point of “one fell swoop” is that natural selection is purpose-less and the mutations are undirected therefore no planning for the future. Natural selection only works on what exists and what (variation) helps the individual & the population survive (and reproduce). IOW if not one bacterium in a population of bacteria had a flagellum, i.e. the flagellum didn’t exist, NS couldn’t select for or against it until it did. If the precursors didn’t aid in survival then the production of the proteins would be an energy waste and should be selected out of existence.
What is complex specified information (CSI)?
CSI & specified complexity are basically the same thing. CSI can be understood as the convergence of physical information, for example the hardware of a computer and conceptual information, for example the software that allows the computer to perform a function, such as an operating system with application programs. In biology the physical information would be the components that make up an organism (arms, legs, body, head, internal organs and systems) as well as the organism itself. The conceptual information is what allows that organism to use its components and to be alive. After all a dead organism still has the same components. However it can no longer control them.
The bacterial flagellum- It is a physical part. The physical information is the specific arrangement of amino acid sequences required, as well as their configuration- the “propeller” filament is comprised of more than 20,000 subunits of the flagellin protein FLiC; The three ring proteins (Flgh, I, and F) are presnt in about 26 subunits each; The proximal rod requires 6 subunits, FliE 9 subunits, and FliP about 5 subunits; the distal rod consists of about 25 subunits; the hook (or U-joint) consists of about 130 subunits of FlgE . The conceptual information is that which allowed for its assembly, i.e. the assembly instructions, as well as for the operation, i.e. the speed and direction of rotation.
Is ID falsifiable? Absolutely. Just destroy one of the three premises listed above, and like a 3-legged table, it falls.
As Dr. Behe wrote:
“Coyne’s conclusion that design is unfalsifiable, however, seems to be at odds with the arguments of other reviewers of my book. Clearly, Russell Doolittle (Doolittle 1997), Kenneth Miller (Miller 1999), and others have advanced scientific arguments aimed at falsifying ID. (See my articles on blood clotting and the “acid test” on this web site.) If the results with knock-out mice (Bugge et al. 1996) had been as Doolittle first thought, or if Barry Hall’s work (Hall 1999) had indeed shown what Miller implied, then they correctly believed my claims about irreducible complexity would have suffered quite a blow. And since my claim for intelligent design requires that no unintelligent process be sufficient to produce such irreducibly complex systems, then the plausibility of ID would suffer enormously. Other scientists, including those on the National Academy of Science’s Steering Committee on Science and Creationism, in commenting on my book have also pointed to physical evidence (such as the similar structures of hemoglobin and myoglobin) which they think shows that irreducibly complex biochemical systems can be produced by natural selection: “However, structures and processes that are claimed to be ‘irreducibly’ complex typically are not on closer inspection.” (National Academy of Sciences 1999, p. 22)
Now, one can’t have it both ways. One can’t say both that ID is unfalsifiable (or untestable) and that there is evidence against it. Either it is unfalsifiable and floats serenely beyond experimental reproach, or it can be criticized on the basis of our observations and is therefore testable. The fact that critical reviewers advance scientific arguments against ID (whether successfully or not) shows that intelligent design is indeed falsifiable.
In fact, my argument for intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwin’s Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can’t be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellum--or any equally complex system--was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven.
How about Professor Coyne’s concern that, if one system were shown to be the result of natural selection, proponents of ID could just claim that some other system was designed? I think the objection has little force. If natural selection were shown to be capable of producing a system of a certain degree of complexity, then the assumption would be that it could produce any other system of an equal or lesser degree of complexity. If Coyne demonstrated that the flagellum (which requires approximately forty gene products) could be produced by selection, I would be rather foolish to then assert that the blood clotting system (which consists of about twenty proteins) required intelligent design.”
Reality demonstrates that ID is testable and falsifiable. Testable by the IC & CSI observed in living organisms. Falsifiable by demonstrating unintelligent, blind/ undirected processes can account for it.
CSI & IC at the foundation of life:
The minimal complexity required to sustain the simplest possible living organism is 250-400 genes and their corresponding proteins. That is right, DNA not only needs to completely unzip for replication, but parts of the whole unzip and the proteins & enzymes required for cellular life are formed. And not only does the DNA self-replicate and code for proteins & enzymes, the organelles must be divided up, along with the cell-membrane splitting and then reconnecting before the contents can spill out (for example during mitosis).
The cells of a metazoan contain the same DNA yet there are many different kinds of cells. Also there are cells that reproduce via mitosis and cells that reproduce via meiosis. We can postulate that unintelligent, blind/ undirected processes can account for that all we want, however when it comes right down to it the only reason for doing so, given what we do know, is to fulfill an anti-ID agenda.
Stephen Meyer in DNA and the Origin of Life:
DNA and the Origin of Life: Information, Specification, and Explanation pg 233-85 (including a dozen pages worth of references) of Darwinism, Design and Public Education
”Rather, the coding regions of DNA function in much the same way as a software program or machine code, directing operations within a complex material system via highly complex yet specified sequences of characters. As Richard Dawkins has noted, “The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” Or as software developer Bill Gates noted, “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve created.” Just as the specific arrangement of two symbols (0 and 1) in a software program can perform a function within a machine environment, so, too, can the precise sequencing of the four nucleotide bases in DNA perform a function within the cell.
Those familiar with computer programming and packet delivery systems can really appreciate what goes on inside of a cell. Then couple that with a whole body of different cells, with the same DNA, all communicating and working in concert, yet being separate from the whole metazoan, in that said metazoan isn’t consciously controlling the activities at the cellular level and the metazoan survives despite many deaths at the cellular level.
”For many current origin-of-life scientists, self-organizational models now seem to offer the most promising approach to explaining the origin of specified biological information. Nevertheless, critics have called into question both the plausibility and the relevance of self-organizational models. Ironically, a prominent early advocate of self-organization, Dean Kenyon, has now explicitly repudiated such theories as both incompatible with empirical findings and theoretically incoherent.
First, empirical studies have shown that some differential affinities do exist between various amino acids (that is, certain amino acids do form linkages more readily with some amino acids than with others). Nevertheless, such differences do not correlate to actual sequences in large classes of known proteins. In short, differing chemical affinities do not explain the multiplicity of amino acid sequences existing in naturally occurring proteins or the sequential arrangement of amino acids in any particular protein.
In the case of DNA, this point can be made more dramatically. Figure 2 shows that the structure of DNA depends on several chemical bonds. There are bonds, for example, between the sugar and the phosphate molecules forming the two twisting backbones of the DNA molecule. There are bonds fixing individual (nucleotide) bases to the sugar-phosphate backbones on each side of the molecule. There are also hydrogen bonds stretching horizontally across the molecule between nucleotide bases, making so-called complimentary pairs. The individually weak hydrogen bonds, which in concert hold two complimentary copies of the DNA text together, make replication of the genetic instructions possible. It is important to note, however, that there are no chemical bonds between the bases along the longitudinal axis in the center of the helix. Yet it is precisely along this axis of the DNA molecule that the genetic information is stored.
Further, just as magnetic can be combined and recombined in any way to form various sequences on a metal surface, so, too, can each of the four bases- A, T, G and C- attach to any site on the DNA backbone with equal affinity, making all sequences equally probable (or improbable). Indeed there are no significant differential affinities between any of the four bases and the binding sites along the sugar-phosphate backbone. The same type of N-glycoside bond occurs between the base and the backbone regardless of which base attaches. All four bases are acceptable; none is chemically favored. As Kuppers has noted, “ The properties of nucleic acids indicate that all the combinatorially possible nucleic patterns of a DNA are, from a chemical point of view, equivilent”. Thus “self-organizing” bonding affinities cannot explain the sequentially specific arrangement of nucleotide bases in DNA because (1) there are no bonds between bases along the information-bearing axis of the molecule, and (2) the are no differential affinities between the backbone and the specific bases that could account for variations in sequence. Because the same holds for RNA molecules, researchers who speculate that life began in an RNA world have also failed to solve the sequence specificity problem- that is, the problem of explaining how information in functioning RNA molecules could have arisen in the first place”
Variations to the molecule are facilitated by the “no bond along the information axis”, as is replication and protein/ enzyme coding. The DNA molecule is a model for design genius.
Information and biology. Information, i.e. CSI, is what makes an organism what it is, dog, cat, frog, dinosaur, sponge, hydra, bacteria, amoeba, etc., as well as that which sets up & sets in motion the chemical reactions, communications, reproductions, replications and other functions required for cellular life, which, at least in metazoans, is very different then the life of the organism itself.
Dr. Crick may have been the first to discuss information in a biological sense. “By information I mean the specification of the amino acid sequence in protein… Information means here the precise determination of sequence, either of bases in the nucleic acid or on amino acid residues in the protein.”
Not all amino acid sequences form proteins or enzymes, therefore proteins and enzymes are specific amino acid sequences Even if a specified sequence is achieved, without the accompanying chaperon, itself a protein, that sequence never forms into a protein. The forming of the protein and its subsequent configuration in a system are what count. Specificity in this case refers to the ability to achieve and/ or maintain function. But genetic engineering is showing that that except for a few exceptions when a protein from one species is transplanted to another that protein doesn’t function and it may not even fold. IOW the information for the chaperon & for forming the protein and allowing it to function may reside elsewhere.
Leslie Orgel tells us, “Living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals… fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; mixtures of random polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity.”
Proteins perform specific chemical functions. Therefore not only is the information for forming the protein required but so is the information that tells it what to do. As seen above sometimes proteins are split up as subunits and then configured along with many other proteins and subunits to form a functional part. William Dembski calls this a discrete combinatorial object or DCO. DCOs, according to Wm. require three things:
1. They need parts- Porig for the origin of parts
2. Those parts need to be localized- Plocal
3. Once those parts are together in one place they need to be configured- Pconfig
The building blocks of life are amino acids. Even if their origin, i.e. Porig, is granted, the other two factors loom ominous in a random, blind/ undirected (non-goal oriented) world.
Also many proteins appear to be very similar in bacteria throughout life. Yet the morphological & phenotypic differences are very profound. We genetically engineer bacteria to produce insulin, a huge modification, yet the bacteria are still bacteria, acting as bacteria act with the exception they can now produce insulin. The tough part was making the little milking people & stools to get the insulin from the bacteria…
Then we have proteins with alleged mutational differences that can be used to derive a sequence of descent. However it should be noted that even with the differences the proteins in question all perform the same function. Are we to understand that which has no effect on the molecular level has a profound effect on the morphological level?
What makes a fly a fly? In his book (English title) “Why is a Fly not a Horse?”, the prominent Italian geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti, tells us the following :
Chapter IV “Why is a Fly not a horse?” (same as the book’s title)
”The scientist enjoys a privilege denied the theologian. To any question, even one central to his theories, he may reply “I’m sorry but I do not know.” This is the only honest answer to the question posed by the title of this chapter. We are fully aware of what makes a flower red rather than white, what it is that prevents a dwarf from growing taller, or what goes wrong in a paraplegic or a thalassemic. But the mystery of species eludes us, and we have made no progress beyond what we already have long known, namely, that a kitty is born because its mother was a she-cat that mated with a tom, and that a fly emerges as a fly larva from a fly egg.”
We do know the information for the coding of genes which then code for the assembly of proteins & enzymes, resides in the genome, i.e. the organisms’ DNA. We also know there are HOX genes, and clusters of those (HOX clusters), which control the development of body parts during the organisms’ developmental (embryonic) stage. We also know that many of the HOX genes are common throughout the animal kingdom. We also know that the HOX genes only control (for any specific part) the development of, as in does it develop or not, a body part and not what type of part it is, its shape nor the function. IOW a mouse “eyeless” gene transferred to a fly missing that gene, would give the fly back its fly-eyes.
IOW HOX genes are genetic switches and routers. And that is another thing to consider- communication at the molecular level as well as communication throughout the organism. Mutations HOX genes can cause the loss of body parts. It can also cause body parts to show up where they aren’t supposed to. But in all cases that have been observed, the survivors are always deformed versions of the original, with no chance of reproductive success nor any indication the deformity would lead to the evolution of a new and viable body plan.
OK so if HOX genes are genetic switches, that can cause body parts to not develop or to develop on a different body segment, what about the information for the body part itself? And just how would unintelligent, blind/ undirected processes account for the use of genetic switches never mind their origin?
But anyway- we do observe many similarities on the molecular & cellular levels of life. But if, as the evidence shows, these parts are interchangeable without any real over all outward effect, where does the CSI reside that governs the organisms’ body plans?
The point being that if evolutionists can’t even answer that question, which is very important to the theory of evolution, how can their inference be trusted, especially seeing that it can’t be tested? And in that light when compared side-by-each how can ID not be accepted as science when the theory of evolution is? Obviously double-standards are employed to exclude ID.
We know that organisms with disparate DNA can & do have similar morphological features (marsupials and their placental copies). We know that very disparate organisms with disparate DNA can have very similar organs (eyes of the octopus and the human eyes). We also know that organisms with the same DNA can take on very disparate forms (caterpillars & butterflies). Where does the information reside and how did it get there?
A scientist was talking with a farmer. They agreed that if the scientist could tell the farmer the number of sheep in his flock the scientist could take a sheep. The scientist glanced over the flock and shouted 53! “That’s right,” said the farmer. “That science of yours is pretty amazing. Take yer pick.”
The scientist bends over and scoops up an animal.
“You must be a molecular biologist.” Said the farmer.
“Why yes, I am. How did you know?” inquired the scientist.
“That’s not important” replied the farmer..” Just put down the dog.”
In the other physical sciences design is inferred, for one, due to the scientific research behind the book The Privileged Planet, that afforded the authors the scientific (& therefore tentative) conclusion that “The same narrow circumstances that allow for our existence also offer the best over-all conditions for scientific discovery”. IOW the universe was designed for scientific discovery and our purpose as conscious observers is to do so. The prediction here is that if we do find technologically capable ETs, their planet will be much like ours in that the 20 some-odd factors required for our existence, will also be present there.
Factors for complex life:Those items in italics illustrate the scientific discoveries made possible
1. Liquid water
a. Enough surface water to help regulate the planet’s temperature
- The Earth’s northern hemisphere contains the bulk of our planet’s land mass, with the water taking up most of the southern hemisphere. The Earth is closest to the Sun when the southern hemisphere is enjoying summer, meaning the tilt of the Earth’s axis not only places the southern hemisphere even closer still, more importantly the angle of sunlight is more direct, which when put all together the Earth is in its prime position for solar recharging.
b. Good solvent
c. Transports minerals
d. The presence of liquid water means the planet is in the habitable zone of it’s local star (Sun)
e. The presence of liquid water defines the CHZ (Circumstellar Habitable Zone. The CHZ of our solar system lies between Venus & Mars. Some scientists have narrowed it to:
-If the Earth were 5% closer to the Sun – too hot, no liquid water
-If the Earth were 20% father away from the Sun- too cold carbon dioxide would build up
2. Carbon based
a. Great bonding affinities
b. Allows for complex macro-molecules
3. Terrestrial planet
a. Crust thin/ thick and pliable enough to allow for plate tectonics
- Recycling of minerals
b. Plate tectonics means the crust is sitting on an active core
c. Must retain enough heat for convection, i.e. keep the core liquid
d. Convection mixes the elements & shapes the continents
e Active iron core is required to generate a protective magnetic field
f. Magnetic field has to be strong enough to withstand the solar winds
g. Must provide protection from radiation
h. Seismic waves allow us to measure the Earth’s crust, as well as the density of the material between detection devices.
4. Oxygen atmosphere
a. Our oxygen/ nitrogen mix is good
b. Ours is <1% of planet’s diameter
c. Clear- allows for good viewing
d. Allows in the right kind of light for viewing
5. Stable circular orbit
6. Large Moon (see also Gonzalez, G., “Wonderful Eclipses,” Astronomy & Geophysics 40, no. 3 (1999): 3.18- 3.20) (J. Laskar et al., “Stabilization of the Earth’s Obliquity by the Moon,” Nature 361 (1993): 615-17)
a. Our Moon is ¼ the size of Earth
b. Stabilizes the Earth’s axis of rotation
c. Gives our oceans a required tidal action
d. Just so happens that our Moon is 400x smaller than the Sun, which is 400x farther away
e. Both with a very circular shape
f. Allows for perfect solar eclipses
g. Confirmed Einstein’s prediction with the 1919 solar eclipse (gravity bends light) when scientists photographed the Stars behind it. We could have only made that discovery during a total solar eclipse.
h. Light spectrum
i. Observing & studying the Sun’s chromosphere is made possible
a. Protection from intruding
b. Great for observing & scientific discovery
2. effects of gravity
3. Impact observation
8. Sun- Spectral type G2 dwarf main sequence star
a. If it were smaller the habitable zone would shrink and any planets in that zone would be locked into a synchronous orbit (rotation = revolution) as our Moon is with us
b. Total number estimated in the Milky Way- 100 billion
c. Over 80% are low-mass red dwarfs (most likely lack a habitable zone)
d. 1-2% are massive short-lived blue giants
e. Only about 4% of the stars are early G-type, main-sequence stars like our Sun
f. 50% of those are in binary systems
g. Then we have to consider what % of those are in the Galactic Habitable Zone
9. Location in the galaxy
a. We are between spiral arms
b. Not a lot of activity
c. Not too close to the violent and very active center
d. Not so far away where the heavy elements are scarce
e. Perfect for viewing
f. More radiation near the center
1. too many neighbors
2. Not a good viewing platform from which to discover
a. Laws of Nature
b. Laws apply here also apply anywhere
c. Constants that are independent of those laws
The above list contains factors required for complex life, but life is not guaranteed to arise even if all factors are met. The fact that a large, stabilizing moon is required and ours just happens to provide us with a huge natural setting in which we can & have conducted a multitude of scientific experiments that have increased our knowledge base and confirmed scientific predictions, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to evidence to support their finding that habitability = measure-ability. Think about it. In the accepted age view of the solar system & Earth, with the Moon’s recession rate coupled with the Sun’s expansion rate, these perfect solar eclipses, along with the scientific discoveries that accompany them, will soon be gone (10 million years). The best place for viewing eclipses, is also the only place in the solar system with perfect solar eclipses, is also the only place with conscious observers and we, intelligent observers, just happened to arrive when the scenario was best for scientific discovery.
Earthquakes, even though very destructive, are a necessary byproduct of the required plate tectonic recycling. They also offer us a way to measure the density of the material between designated points via the sound waves produced by plate movement. Volcanoes offer a way to vent the internal pressure. Without vents the internal pressure would build uncontrolled, until the planet exploded. Plate tectonics also means that there is an active core. An active core like the Earth’s creates a protective electro-magnetic field. The size of the field is important- too small and the solar winds blow it away; too large and life is a no-no. Volcanoes are part of the mineral recycling process. Volcanic ash also covers the ground, not only providing rich soil for future generations but also in some cases creating a time vault that enables scientists to get an excellent view of the past. To support plate tectonics a crust that is thick enough to support oceans and continents is required, but it can’t be so thick that it doesn’t have subducting plates to recycle vital minerals.
The laws that govern nature are independent of the constants that control them. IOW fudge with the constants and even though the outcome is changed, the law still remains true. And that change will, in all likely-hood, prevent the conditions required for complex life.
Did we win the “cosmic lottery”? Or is intentional design, design with the purpose of having said design be understandable and ensuring beings exist that can grow to understand it, the better explanation?
To the anti-IDist things just happen, no need to explain why or propose a purpose. When a why or a purpose is involved that changes the nature of the investigation.
On DNA replication, in the ID critics section of the book Darwinism, Design and Public Education, first critic in line, Celeste Michelle Condit states (pg. 426), “But DNA does not “intend” to replicate itself. It is not intelligent. It simply does replicate (in conjunction with the cell). That is the biophysical character of DNA , and that, therefore, is the nature of life.”
That is like saying my spell checker doesn’t “intend” to correct my spelling errors, it just does in conjunction with the electricity it takes to power the computer. However that is the anti-IDists only hope- to minimize life. Science has shown us that life is much more than a self-replicating molecule. DNA is more than a self-replicating molecule. Going from self-replicating to self-replicating AND protein/ enzyme forming, especially in light of what we do understand about that process, for the anti-IDist requires a huge leap of faith totally void of any scientific connections.
To me the position of the anti-IDist is the show stopper. IDists do not, and in light of the evidence, will not, settle for “It just does”, as a scientific explanation. Yet we are labeled the ones that give up by inferring design. And this even after it is explained & demonstrated that with the design inference come added work.
ID PRATT list: (Points Refuted A Thousand [i]Times)
Who was/ is the designer?
Knowing who designed something adds nothing to the understanding of the design unless the designer conveyed all that information to you.
We can use known examples of designed objects to show that we don’t need to know the designer in order to understand the design.
Obviously knowing who designed something the detection process can be skipped.
In any investigation of a dead body, first you determine the cause and identify the body. If homicide is inferred then you use the evidence to run an investigation to determine the killer(s). If they knew the killer before the investigation, what an easy job they would have.
If we knew the designer we wouldn’t have a design inference- ID would be a given. The only way to determine anything about the designer(s), in the absence of direct observation or designer input, would be to study the design.
How was it designed?
Without direct observation or input from the designer, although an interesting question is not necessary to achieve the objectives of ID- that is the detection and understanding of the design.
How was the design implemented?
Without direct observation or input from the designer, although an interesting question is not necessary to achieve the objectives of ID- that is the detection and understanding of the design.
In the end we may be able to put together a reasonable way to implement the design, i.e. formulate a process that would yield the same result. And we may be able to verify that the method we constructed yields that result with regularity. However we will always have to use caution if we try to say our method was the method originally used.
Usually the reason for constructing an implementation process is to confirm your inference. For example the Easter Island figures were once thought to be deposited by ETs because no one thought humans of that era could produce them. Engineers & scientists demonstrated that with the technology of the era those figures could be accounted for by human craftsmanship. Does that mean that ETs didn’t put them there? No. It just means that other, more plausible, explanations exist.
However interesting these questions are they serve to show that ID does not purport to have all the answers or attempt to answer any ultimate questions. Also if we knew the answers to those questions then ID would be a law, it would no longer be an inference. And if the only evidence that you will accept is to meet the designer(s), have that designer(s) show you the design and implementation process, and then tell you why, you are sadly looking in the wrong place. You are also applying a standard that no historical science can meet.
IDists know that only by studying the design is there any hope of coming to a scientific inference about the designer or the implementation process.
Also ID was no more formulated to answer those questions as was the ToE formulated to answer abiogenesis. Pre-biotic natural selection is a contradiction in terms. What’s fitness to non-living matter?
Knowing the Wright brothers adds no knowledge to the understanding of airplanes. Sure that information would be nice but sometimes it pays to focus on the objective.
It is also not necessary to know how airplanes are designed or manufactured in order to understand how it flies, infer a purpose & intention, operate, maintain, or repair one.
ID is another way of saying “I give up looking.”
Nothing could be further from reality. In reality whenever design is detected the work is just getting started, just ask any archaeologist or SETI researcher. To say my car was designed affords absolutely no knowledge about the car. To gain that knowledge research must be conducted.
The design is a poor design. Why would a good designer allow so many extinctions and so many obviously cobbled-together systems?
I would love to see the critics who use this line of attack do a better job. However I digress. No one says that the design had to be perfect or that even if it started out “perfect” that it had to remain that way. Some critics will point out what they perceive as faulty body parts, that a real intelligent designer would have designed something better. But in the real world we see design compromises all the time and we also see design mess ups. History is littered with intelligently designed things that didn’t work and/ or were dubbed “engineering blunders”. So what? That is why we use the term intelligent design. The unnecessary baggage of someone’s idea of perfection and/ or optimality.
Other anti-ID arguments:
Another argument I heard against ID says that ID is a post-hoc (after-the-fact) explanation of t