Home » Constitution, Courts, Darwinism, Education, Intelligent Design » Judge Jones loses in Florida and Louisiana

Judge Jones loses in Florida and Louisiana

Judge Jones (the former liquor control board director famous for his involvement with Frog Beer) ruled in 2005 that it was unconstitutional for teachers in the Dover school district to question Darwinism. Jones viewed himself as the person who would settle the question of Darwinism for all time an eternity. He even went on the talk show circuit boasting of his brilliant cut-and-paste of ACLU opinions.

Thankfully Jones does not speak for all of the United States, and his cut-and-paste ruling apparently has not been able to stifle the first amendment rights of students in other states.

Casey Luskin reports in Florida House and Louisiana Senate Pass Evolution Academic Freedom Bills.

Academic Freedom bills have now passed both the Florida House of Representatives and the Louisiana State Senate. The bills protect the rights of teachers to teach controversial scientific theories objectively, where scientific criticisms of scientific theories (including evolution) can be raised as well as the scientific strengths. The Darwinists in those states do not like this. First Florida Darwinists called academic freedom “smelly crap.” Then Louisiana Darwinists called academic freedom protections a “creationist attack” that is “Just Dumb.” Most recently Florida Darwinists used the “enlightened British will laugh at us argument” to oppose academic freedom. All I can say is, you heard it here first: “For the Darwinists who oppose the bill, this battle is about falsely appealing to people’s emotions and fears in order to suppress the teaching of scientific information that challenges evolution.”


The creationists at Dover did a great disservice to the cause of ID by refusing to heed the wise counsel given to them by the Discovery Institute. The creationists on the Dover school board represented themselves as proponents of ID when they themselves couldn’t even explain the basics of ID. Their indiscretions destroyed the fine work of many in the ID movement.

But finally legislatures are heeding wise counsel. While ID is not explicitly advocated in the latest bills, criticisms of scientific theories (including evolution) can be raised. And that is good enough as far as I’m concenred.

I am ambivalent to the idea of teaching of ID in public schools, and I’m definitely negative on pro-Darwin NEA teachers teaching creationism in public schools.

However, I am a gung ho about exploring evolution in public schools. [A very good outline of how to explore evolution is provided in the book: Explore Evolution. ]. I am also in favor of ID being explored and taught in the court of public opinion and in university contexts like Allen MacNeill’s Evolution and Design course at Cornell…

Freedom has visited the children of Florida to explore evolution! May this freedom visit all the children of the USA one day!

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175 Responses to Judge Jones loses in Florida and Louisiana

  1. Yikes. House bill sponsor Alan Hays was quoted as saying:

    “Find for me where a fly turned into a monkey or a monkey turned into a man.”

    Someone should have coached him better about what he was arguing against.

  2. scordova says, “I am ambivalent to the idea of teaching of ID in public schools…”

    Statements like the one above always baffle me. If something is true, or is likely to the true, or is even just a plausible hypothesis, it ought to be passed on to the next generation. Whence this ambivalence?

    Do the right thing. Let God handle the consequences.

  3. Jones viewed himself as the person who would settle the question of Darwinism for all time an eternity

    He did? I thought he just examined evidence and precedent, and applied them to the case before him. But Sal Cordova knows more: Sal knows the inner workings of the mind of Judge Jones.

    The creationists at Dover did a great disservice to the cause of ID by refusing to heed the wise counsel given to them by the Discovery Institute. The creationists on the Dover school board represented themselves as proponents of ID when they themselves couldn’t even explain the basics of ID. Their indiscretions destroyed the fine work of many in the ID movement.

    The writers of ‘Pandas and People’ didn’t help much either by taking a creationist book and just replacing mentions of “Creationism” with “Intelligent Design” and “creationists” with “design proponents”, then passing the result off as an ID book.

  4. Judge Jones ruled in 2005 that it was unconstitutional for teachers in the Dover school district to question Darwinism.

    I could be wrong but didn’t the effect of Jones’ ruling state Intelligent Design is religious in nature and not science? I don’t seem to remember reading anywhere in his ruling that it is unconstitutional to question the theory of evolution.

    He even went on the talk show circuit boasting of his brilliant cut-and-paste of ACLU opinions.

    This may be incorrect but Steve Mirsky from Scientific American had the following to say about Mark Mathis’ statements the issue of the ACLU writing Jones’ ruling. Maybe someone could clarify which side is right:

    Mathis charged that some 92 percent of the judge’s decision in the Dover intelligent design trial was copied directly from papers filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). We said we would follow up and find out the truth. We did. In fact, Mathis was wrong in three ways. One, even the Discovery Institute’s own charge is that the judge copied 90.9 percent of ACLU material for one specific section in the judge’s decision. Second, a correct statistical workup finds that the number is as low as 35 percent, depending on whether you include material filed that is not included in the decision and the length of word strings. But the most important point is one that I guessed at in the conversation. We spoke to actual legal experts who told us that when the sides in a trial file their facts, it is with the hope that they make the case strongly enough for the judge to incorporate their texts into the finding of fact section of the decision. Therefore the charges that Mathis makes against Judge Jones are both incorrect in detail and spurious in spirit. For more information, you can go to footnote 88 in the Wikipedia entry on the Discovery Institute. There’s more info on the permissibility of using filed facts in a decision at The Panda’s Thumb Web site, pandasthumb.org. It’s an entry called “Weekend at Behe’s” dated December 12, 2006.

  5. “I am ambivalent to the idea of teaching of ID in public schools.”

    ID does not have to be mentioned, just critical analysis of Darwin macro evolution and origin of life theories. If that is objective, then common sense will prevail if an accurate analysis is presented.

  6. jerry says, “ID does not have to be mentioned…”

    But why not? As I said above, if a thing is true, or likely to be true, or even a plausible hypothesis, it ought to be passed on. Whence this hedging, this evasion, this ambivalence?

    Is Mr. Valiant-for-Truth dead?

  7. Maybe it is not hedging or evasion, maybe it is considered a wise strategy. Why not start with the open questions raised in regards to Darwinism. Incremental progress is almost always the winning strategy.

  8. ID needs not be taught in schools, but it certainly could and should be mentioned, together with other forms of critics of traditional darwinism. ID is part of the cultural and scientific scenario, and it cannot be censored or ignored. Anyone should be able to know objectively of its existence, and freely choose if he wants to know more about it.

  9. We have no scientific proof of ID. So we do not know it is true based on science. As such it should not be part of a science curriculum. All we have is scientific evidence that gradualism does not work to produce macro evolution. And no other natural mechanism has shown up to take its place. Essentially all we have is negative arguments against the alternatives.

    If we get the discussion of the negative criticism of Darwinian macro evolution included in the textbooks and curriculum, then we have won a major victory.

  10. We also have negative arguments against natural mechanisms as the cause for the origin of life.

  11. Ekstasis@7

    Why not start with the open questions raised in regards to Darwinism.

    Yes, of course, however time is limited. Subjects that deserve weeks of attention may only be mentioned in passing – there is too much to learn!

    So, given that, how would you prioritise? What must be taught explicitly and what can be left to resources outside the classroom?

  12. But why not? As I said above, if a thing is true, or likely to be true, or even a plausible hypothesis, it ought to be passed on. Whence this hedging, this evasion, this ambivalence?

    Is Mr. Valiant-for-Truth dead?

    You have a valid question, but would you also want non-Chrisitans teaching your kids the Bible? How are you going to control the quality.

    I’d prefer not to entrust certain things to the government.

  13. I’m interested to know more about this:

    “The creationists at Dover did a great disservice to the cause of ID by refusing to heed the wise counsel given to them by the Discovery Institute. The creationists on the Dover school board represented themselves as proponents of ID when they themselves couldn’t even explain the basics of ID. Their indiscretions destroyed the fine work of many in the ID movement.”

    What was the wise advice that these creationists did not heed?

    Thanks.

  14. Leo:

    See Statement by Seth L. Cooper Concerning Discovery Institute and the Decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover

    In the hopes of persuading Buckingham away from leading the Dover Board on any unconstitutional and unwise course of action concerning the teaching of evolution, I sent Buckingham a DVD titled Icons of Evolution, along with a companion study guide. Those materials do not include arguments for the theory of intelligent design, but instead contain critiques of textbook treatments of the contemporary version of Darwin’s theory and the chemical origin of the first life. The content of the materials is in keeping with the U.S. Supreme Court’s pronouncement in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987) that public school students may be taught prevailing scientific theories along with “scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories.”

  15. 15
    William J. Murray

    I don’t understand the position that I.D. isn’t science, or shouldn’t be taught as science. Humans employ intelligent design – we know this to be a scientific fact. Artifacts of I.D. – the human variety – exist; we know this to be a scientific fact. Science itself could not be conducted without human intelligent design.

    Unless the scientific community and academia consider humans to be supernatural creatures, and human I.D. to be a mystical phenomena; or, if mainstream science wishes to reverse their adoption of the Copernican Principle and claim that humans are special and unique in the universe, I can hardly understand why I.D. as a human commodity, and as a potential commodity found or in play elsewhere, is forbidden from science.

    I.D., as it is stated, is a scientific fact, if one can keep their preconceived notions of supernatural implication out of the mix – because we know it exists.

  16. Isn’t ID science based on what we know about the characteristics of codes and machines, and how they originate? I realize that one can step further in their analysis of intelligent design and find better terms to quantify and qualify design detection (EF, CSI, IC), but at the basic level of the machine and code, isn’t it just logical to say codes and machines require a mind precisely because this is all that we observe in the universe when investigating the origin? Isn’t that scientific if we can observe the characteristics of those concepts ONLY COMING INTO EXISTENCE THROUGH THE ACTION OF AN INTELLIGENT AGENT (ID)?

    This is what makes no sense to me. How can someone say ID is not science when they are using intelligent design to write a paragraph of English (placing a code onto a machine).

  17. …paragraph of English onto a computer (placing a code onto another code using a machine).

  18. The teaching of ID in public schools is an important question. I’m simply unqualified to argue for what should or should not be done regarding public schools regarding ID. I’d prefer to leave the issue to people more qualified to address the issues…

    I’m happy to teach or explain to ID to people who ask me. I’m happy to answer their question about creation science or theology. However, dictating what public school teachers will teach regarding ID, the Bible, or whatever else, that’s another story, and it is out of my domain of expertise and comfort…

  19. If the genetic code only appeared in the known universe once, then by definition, its metaphysical. So wouldn’t we have to then infer to the best possibility when analyzing its origin since we ourselves cannot go back to empirically show its cause? Shouldn’t we be finding causes that can produce codes and machines to infer this answer?

    Doesn’t experience tell us then, that an immaterial mind acting on a machine body was that cause since this is the only cause that has been shown in the lab to produce a machine or code?

  20. Cordova,

    Good article. It’s good to see that people are back on the march. You know, we do live in the US where people have a right to be heard and express what they think within reason. A theory as sketchy as Darwin’s, which chalks up life to a random process of sorts that requires a schizophrenic foundational theory of “multi-universes” (which there is not a shred of evidence for) in order to account for the complexity, specification and diversity of life, is to say the least quite worthy of some heavy criticism. Not to mention the fact that Darwinists themselves are in constant disputes about the character of the evolutionary theory they think is right. Moreover, IDists have a completely separate view of the entire matrix of historical data. And they say there is no controversy?!

    And I remind us all that in this country the majority rules but the minority’s rights are to be protected. Most people in this country for whatever reason DONT think DE is the full answer to life’s origins. So let them teach it! The problem is because of radical politics and a very agenda driven media, people have been purposely misinformed about ID. If people really understood what ID was in fact about, and the scientific methods used to come to some to its conclusions, people would realize that ID is far from creationism and a lot closer to pure empirical science then they are being told.

    What Judge Jones did was disgraceful but its assuring to see that people are not giving up the good and most important fight.

    On another thread last night people posted a few good G.Orwell quotes. The first with thanks to JPCollado

    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

    And then these two from myself-

    “Whoever is winning at the moment will always [seem] to be invincible.”

    and

    “Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.”

    I think, we need not bow down to a politic driven mainstream society with plans that are reminiscent of 1984. People have a right to know and hear the truth and in the case of DE the dissent is flowing from all conceivable directions except the government controlled education establishment.

  21. 21
    irreducible_complacency

    I’d just like to say Hear Hear. Gerry hit the nail on the head. if something is false, we need not say “well its still OK to teach it by me, since I can’t really deal with proving that it is false or i don’t know that much about how to teach it”.

    Since we have long known that evolutionary materialism is false (aye all men know their Maker) why are saying that we don’t want the government to be on our side? we should use the government and every single other advantage we can gain to throttle the evolutionary chance worshippers back into the covens and saloons from whence they came.

    if the government will not bow to the will of the people, then we must take it over, again. fortunately that is what seems to be happening in Florida and Louisiana. unfortunately so many of our legislators just want to listen to facts and this plays right into the materialists hands.

    Thus I think we need prouder american citizens that are willing to go to bat for their Faith. We don’t need ridiculous excuses for why we can’t force the soulless dead in christ materialists to give in.

  22. Actually, from what I’ve read, the bills that passed the house and senate are two different bills and now they need to meet to make the wording of the two bills the same before they can pass them through both the house and senate before they can be signed into law by the governor.

  23. It’ll be a while yet before these bills become law from what I understand.

  24. We definitely have scientific evidence (not “proof”, as many times debated) that ID is a very valid scientific theory. On the contrary, darwinian evolution is a very bad scientific theory. That’s the point of ID. A good scientific theory against a bad scientific theory.

    The only reason why ID should not be “taught” in schools is because, at present, it is a minority theory in the academic world. When it becomes the main theory about biological information (soon, I hope), it will be taught as such. In the meantime, we have all the rights in the wordl that it be at least mentioned briefly as a minority scientific theory about the origin of biological information. That’s all.

  25. gpuccio, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The origin of biological information is the number one item that should be investigated. More funds are needed!

  26. There’s no good reason, legal or otherwise, why teleology shouldn’t be discussed in philosophy classes along side of philosophy of science. And these should be required.

    And in the science class, show the kids everything that has been discovered about the innards of cells. That should work wonders without even mentioning the dreaded G-word.

  27. “I could be wrong but didn’t the effect of Jones’ ruling state Intelligent Design is religious in nature and not science?”

    I wonder if Jones has seen the clip where Dawkins acknowledges extraterrestrials could have been responsible for earth life.

    Religious indeed.

    What a dolt.

  28. gpuccio,

    What is the evidence for ID that is not negative. All of Behe’s work is negative, showing that gradualism could not produce certain biological constructs which he calls irreducibly complex. But that is not positive evidence for ID. In the Edge of Evolution he showed that naturalistic processes failed to build complex structures in uni-celled organisms. Again negative.

    Dembski’s explanatory filter is negative also. It is saying that other processes are not possible and therefore what is left must be intelligent. It is essentially an argument against other mechanisms. But very convincing.

    Also the remarkable organization of the complexity of the cell is amazing but this is not positive evidence for ID. We come to ID for OOL by arguing against any naturalistic mechanisms. Again negative arguments.

    So what is the positive evidence for ID? I am not a skeptic but I fail to see any positive evidence.

    We tend to ignore the negative arguments against ID here but it is out there.

  29. but would you also want non-Chrisitans teaching your kids the Bible?

    I think a non-Christian could teach the Bible in a useful way. The matter, as always in education, boils down to integrity and competence. Non Christians can certainly have integrity and competence.

    How are you going to control the quality.

    And that is the big question with regard to just about everything with our public schools.

  30. 30

    There is no question that the Dover decision has had an intimidating effect on legislatures and school boards that want to include or allow criticism of evolution in the school curricula. Politicians are especially fearful of a backlash from tightwad taxpayers over the potential legal costs of a lawsuit. I cannot recall any other instance in American history where an unreviewed opinion of a single judge has had such a great influence. The Darwinists are wrongly applying the name ID to all criticisms of evolution in an attempt to get maximum mileage from the Dover decision.

    specs said,

    Yikes. House bill sponsor Alan Hays was quoted as saying:

    “Find for me where a fly turned into a monkey or a monkey turned into a man.”

    He was probably thinking of the science-fiction movie “The Fly,” where a man was turned into a fly as a result of a botched teleportation experiment.

    Reg said,

    “Jones viewed himself as the person who would settle the question of Darwinism for all time an eternity”

    He did?

    The Dover opinion said (pages 63-64)–

    . . .the Court is confident that no other tribunal in the United States is in a better position than are we to traipse into this controversial area. . . . . we will offer our conclusion on whether ID is science not just because it is essential to our holding that an Establishment Clause violation has occurred in this case, but also in the hope that it may prevent the obvious waste of judicial and other resources which would be occasioned by a subsequent trial involving the precise question which is before us. — from

    http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/k.....er_342.pdf

    Earon said (#4)

    I don’t seem to remember reading anywhere in his ruling that it is unconstitutional to question the theory of evolution.

    The Dover opinion said (page 138) –

    . . . .we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. — from http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/k.....er_342.pdf

    However, the words in bold were not included in the final order at the end of the opiinion.

    “He even went on the talk show circuit boasting of his brilliant cut-and-paste of ACLU opinions.”

    This may be incorrect but Steve Mirsky from Scientific American had the following to say about Mark Mathis’ statements the issue of the ACLU writing Jones’ ruling. Maybe someone could clarify which side is right:

    The DI report charging that the ID-as-science section of the opinion was ghostwritten by the ACLU is here –

    http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....38;id=1186

    My blog discusses the issue here –

    http://im-from-missouri.blogsp.....ed-by.html

  31. Let’s characterize this correctly.

    Judge Jones did not “lose” anything here. FL and LA are not within his jurisdiction. But more importantly, these laws are radically different than the Dover curriculum. Dover was a curriculum. These are bills protecting the rights of teachers to teach objectively.

    He didn’t even rule on the issue addressed in these laws.

    Perhaps more importantly, these laws are subject to the same sort of judicial review as the Dover curriculum was. Chances are relatively good these laws will be challenged — maybe not immediately (they wouldn’t want to risk taking this to the now-very-conservative Supreme Court) — but probably at some time in the future when the ACLU thinks they’ve got a Supreme Court that will rule them unconstitutional. And with little Judge Jones clones running around everywhere, there’s a decent chance they’ll prevail before the right judge.

  32. scordova says, “…would you also want non-Chrisitans teaching your kids the Bible? How are you going to control the quality? I’d prefer not to entrust certain things to the government.”

    We home school, and send the kids out to both private and public institutions for classes we can’t supply (we don’t, for example, have a ceramics kiln or an hydraulics lab). And we intentionally expose the kids to the positions and arguments of the other side. But I am always the responsible party, and in full control of the quality: teacher, dean of discipline, principal, father.

  33. Larry:

    specs said,

    Yikes. House bill sponsor Alan Hays was quoted as saying:

    “Find for me where a fly turned into a monkey or a monkey turned into a man.”

    He was probably thinking of the science-fiction movie “The Fly,” where a man was turned into a fly as a result of a botched teleportation experiment.

    Yeah, maybe so, but I’d suggest he probably isn’t the guy you want carrying water on a bill seeking to influence science education. You think they could have found someone with a little more candlepower.

  34. “So what is the positive evidence for ID? I am not a skeptic but I fail to see any positive evidence.

    We tend to ignore the negative arguments against ID here but it is out there.”

    A positive evidence for ID aside from artificial selection/selective breeding, genetic engineering, and the upcoming event of the first synthetic microbe?

    Hmm the fact that all matter is ordered by the most complex intelligible language ever devised(mathematics) would seem to fit that bill… but meh.

    As for Mr. Behe’s argument, negative or not, it is a physical impossibility to gradually produce a system that is entirely interdependent through a direct path.

    It may not prove design but it certainly puts a knife through the hand of Neo-darwinian theory to a certain extent.

    On that note, why then do we teach the Neo-Darwinian theory as having a reach that extends through all biology?

    We don’t teach that the earth is flat, I could argue that the pics from Nasa satelites are a government hoax and demand that a someone show me the planet for my own satisfaction, but once you point out the fact that lunar eclipses being round must indicate that our planet is spherical, argument is dead, isn’t it?

    Behe is just a modern pythagoras.
    No reason to try and hang him over it, just acknowledge 19th century biology has it’s limitations.

  35. An “Evolution Academic Freedom Act” has been introduced in the Michigan house (Fifth State) . It is going to be much harder to put the genie back in the bottle if a number of states pass this legislation. The ACLU will have a harder time making a case against the will of the people passed by state legislatures than sueing an individual school district.

  36. Scordova has a point. I am a firm supporter of separation of school and state. The government schools with their Democrat/Teachers Union monopoly, have no incentive to refrain from their humanist and leftist indoctrination, or improve downright abysmal academic quality. Making ID allowable in this system is putting a band-aid on a cancer.

    The solution that should be encouraged is getting the government out of education altogether. A good start would be the school voucher system that Milton Friedman advocated; if the government must be involved, then it is far better to subsidized the consumer than the producer.

    For more on why the controversy is caused by government compulsion, see Andrew Coulson, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, interviewed by Brandon Keim, A Libertarian Solution to Evolution Education Controversy: No More Public Schools, Wired Science, 23 January 2008.

  37. News Flash:

    The fight for academic freedom has now reached a 5th state in the union.

    Michigan Becomes Fifth State to Introduce Evolution Academic Freedom Bill

  38. It’s hypocritical that many academics would deny freedom to ID, but supported it for Ward Churchill’s attack on the victims of 11-9 as “little Eichmanns”, and support the professorships of Hussein Obama’s unrepentant terrorist friends William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

  39. A good start would be the school voucher system that Milton Friedman advocated;

    Dittos to that.

  40. If evolution is such an ironclad theory, why are Darwinists so afraid of it being challenged?

  41. jerry @ 24

    William J. Murray @ 14

    RRE @ 15

    I think that the point of RRE and William J. Murray is that since people design things today, we can infer a designer in the past. I believe that they see this as positive evidence. However, inference of past conditions from present results is irrational.

    I’ve addressed this issue before. Causal induction always proceeds from the conditions to the result, since going the other way results in underdetermined conditions. Evolutionists try to say this is the same problem as underdetermination of theories, but underdetermination of theories is a very different problem than underdetermination of mechanisms (which derives from underdetermination of conditions). In an experimental situation, there can be no underdetermination of a mechanism when experimental results are confirmed. The published experimental method identifies the mechanism precisely and the confirmation of results is a compelling epistemological credential.

    Real science relies upon causal induction, proceeding from known conditions to repeatable, confirmed results. Repeatability makes technological advances possible. This is why real science results in technological advances and evolutionary prehistoric philosophy (e.g., paleontology) doesn’t.

    ID uses the same philosophical method as the oxymoronic “historical sciences” when presenting its positive evidence. When presenting positive evidence, it infers past conditions from results found in the present. ID’s positive evidence can only be speculative, though its prima facie evidence can be very convincing.

  42. Let’s say hypothetically ID is taught in public school. This will raise questions of the identity of the designer and the problem of “bad design”. Do we really want to go there?

    The creationists have their answer to these questions. But do we want to explore creationist ideas in public schools (or any of the other ID theories such as pan spermia or Omega Point theory)?

    Which lead to the hypothetical question: “Even if teaching the creation science, creation theology, or the Bible were legal in public schools, would it be wise?”

    And as far as my view of teaching Creation Science, Creation Theology, or the Bible in public schools — I don’t think it is the role of a secular government to do such things. As an evangelical Christian, it is distressing to even imagine the Bible being taught in public schools by teachers who despise the Christian faith.

    Teaching the Bible is the mission of the church and not the government. I think the church will suffer for letting others take over the mission which God gave the church. That’s just my opinion. I’m not saying I’m right, but I think it would be a bad idea to try to get public school teachers who have no reverence for the Christian faith to teach the Bible or Genesis in public schools.

    Sure I’d be delighted to see all people teach what I think is true. But I’m not counting on this happening any time soon….

    But with respect to exploring evolution, I think Darwinian evolution is just plain bad science and should be subject to critical analysis. To suggest Darwinian evolution is science is damaging to the enterprise of science.

  43. Let’s characterize this correctly.

    But more importantly, these laws are radically different than the Dover curriculum. Dover was a curriculum. These are bills protecting the rights of teachers to teach objectively.

    So much or characterizing things correctly…

    Dover was a statement read by the superintendent. Four paragraphs with a mention of Of Pandas and People, a book that used to have the word “Creationism” in it before “Intelligent Design” became a term.

    Ol’ “reservist” Jones couldn’t restrain himself with the argument that only curriculum needed to be addressed, because–in an argument that would have impressed Gorgias–banning of items for curriculum was “not curriculum” and as such allowed him to rule on matters not concerned directly with curriculum.

    In fact, it is clear from the decision that Jones is acknowledging that this never touched curriculum. Dover was a stuffy superintendent reading a boring four-paragraph statement that said, among other things that the students would be tested on Evolution. Additionally, in the third paragraph it mentioned ID and offered the students the opportunity to read another text book (OPP) which would not affect their grade.

    Any reasonable figment of Jones’ imagination–kidnapped by time-machine straight from Leave-it-to-Beaver-land–could tell that kids would be impressed with an authority figure reading a small statement and somehow be moved that it was “endorsed” by the school. You know how susceptible students are to their superintendent these days!

  44. Scordova, CMI has long argued against compulsion for creation in schools, and one reason is precisely that atheopathic teachers are likely to distort it. You can see this for yourself in my section Mandatory teaching in public schools? in my rebuttal to the latest anticreationist agitprop from the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Science, Evolution and Creationism.

    S: “Teaching the Bible is the mission of the church and not the government.”

    More to the point: teaching is not the role of the government! And as economist Dr Walter Williams points out in his small column Educational Vouchers (2002):

    One of the strongest arguments in favor of educational vouchers and choice is: When a society decides to publicly finance a good or service, it doesn’t follow that it must be publicly produced. We publicly finance F-16 fighter jets, but there’s no government F-16 fighter jet factory. That same principle applies to education. We can publicly finance education, but where it’s produced should be determined on the basis of economic efficiency. Where can we get the biggest bang for the buck?

  45. To Jerry @ #24, the postive evidence for ID is the analogy between patterns in nature and the patterns produced by human minds. When this analogy exists, and the pattern in question is too improbable to have been brought about by chance or natural laws, then you have the beginnings of a design inference.

    I think that what Dr. Dembski calls specification (comformity to an independently give pattern) is one way of explicating what is involved in such analogies (though I have never heard Dembski himself saying this, and this is just my own way of looking at the matter).

    Mike Gene has a number of criteria that indicate design in his book “The Design Matrix”, but I can’t recall what they are.

  46. Dr Williams sums up the reasons for school choice eloquently in Bitter Partisan Politics and Education (28 November 2007).

    He first points out that people have different preferences in cars and computers. He likes Lexus cars and Dell computers, but others might prefer Cadillacs and Macs. Then he asks what would happen if our choices for cars and computers were made by the government, even by democratic vote. Williams writes:

    “I guarantee you there would be nasty, bitter conflict between otherwise peaceful car and computer buyers. Each person would have reason to enter into conflict with those having different car and computer tastes because one person’s win would necessarily be another person’s loss. It would be what game theorists call a zero-sum game. How would you broker a peace with these parties in conflict? If you’re not a tyrant, I’m betting you’d say, “Take the decision out of the political arena and let people buy whatever car and computer they wish.”

    “Prayers in school, sex education and “intelligent design” are contentious school issues. I believe parents should have the right to decide whether their children will say a morning prayer in school, be taught “intelligent design” and not be given school-based sex education. I also believe other parents should have the right not to have their children exposed to prayers in school, “intelligent design” and receive sex education.

    “The reason why these issues produce conflict is because education is government-produced. … If one parent has his wishes met, it comes at the expense of another parent’s wishes. The losing parent either must grin and bear it or send his child to a private school, pay its tuition and still pay property taxes for a school for which he has no use.

    “Just as in the car and computer examples, the solution is to take the production of education out of the political arena. The best way is to end all government involvement in education.”

  47. Sal

    It is probably best not to teach ID in public school science classes. What we should try to do is to get the poorly taught, often propagandized Darwinianism out of our science classes.

    (Along with probably a lot of other things. Pop psychology comes to mind.)

    But that’s science. There is nothing wrong with treating the existence of God as an axiom in our public schools as in yup, Jefferson really meant that our rights are God-given in the DOI.

    There is nothing wrong with putting the Golden Rule on the classroom walls (or the 10 Commandments of whatever version) and saying these are the foundations of our morality. The only ones who would object would be the ones who hate that morality.

    There is nothing wrong with starting the day with a benediction being read over the loudspeaker. A true atheist would not object to this, btw. It’s not hurting him. In fact, the way Christianity is interpreted here the wise atheist would understand that it is what protects his rights.

    God haters are a different story.

    In the cultural war it is the God-haters who brought religion into the science class.

  48. scordova says, “Teaching the Bible is the mission of the church and not the government.”

    True. And teaching children is the mission of parents, not the government. Remember that and the problems cited in this tread go away.

  49. I don’t know scordova, I think that ID should be taught in the class room because it leads to differing meta-conclusions and meta-reasoning than DE. Notice I used the words meta-conclusions and meta-reasoning because I think that ID is about empirical natural phenomena not metaphysical beliefs. In other words its fine to talk about the Darwinian principles but in the end it is the work the Dembski with NFL, the origin of life problem etc that undermine the DE hypothesis at the very least in its completeness. I also think that the digital code in DNA, the NFL conclusion that intelligence cannot be purchased without intelligence, and less powerful observations make ID a reasonable scientific hypothesis. I would like to see it taught. God know that public schools aren’t currently doing a good job in promoting scientific literacy. Some people think that ID would undermined that further but I can think of a “scientific way” of proving whether ID would or would not promote scientific literacy. Let the school teach ID for 5 or 10 years and compare across school lines and historically with testing and SAT scores. IF ID improved the literacy KEEP IT. IF it didn’t then discard it for the time being.

    To say that ID undermines science without a proper test is NOT SCIENCE as they like to say because IT IS NOT TESTIBLE.

    I’m quite sure that ID would improve scientific literacy because its metaphysical and meta-reasoning goes far deeper than regular evo-biology. OF course if it did it would be a nightmare for the Darwinists because they would loose another one of their phony excuses to keep ID out of the public. Ultimately this is not a battle about science it’s a battle about religion. While ID IS NOT religion it does lend the most import line of support for religious views- that is it touches ontological aspects of reality that point beyond matter and randomness to a higher intelligence. If science has found evidence for a higher plan, designer or purpose, there is no reason the people shouldn’t know it.

  50. The identity of a designer or designers is not something that hampers the argument for design.

    “Bad design” carries no meaning, simply because we would not do something a particular way is not a proof that no one would.

    That line of reasoning is absolutely meaningless.
    It achieved function whether it was to the optimum function of the designer’s intention would be seperate question, for a seperate subject.

  51. scordova,
    Scandal at the NIH

    However Salvador Cordova, a famous activist in the intelligent design movement, just released this statement:

    “Walt Ruloff mentioned that in filming Expelled he observed there is active suppression of the exploration of RNA synthesis at … the NIH. These discoveries would overturn much of neo-Darwinism but these medical advances can’t be funded because they violate the party line”
    .

    As yet there has been no further comment regarding this serious allegation. If these allegations can be confirmed it would perhaps be a matter amenable to congressional investigation! We urge anybody with information regarding suppression of potentially life saving research at the NIH or any other facility to speak out.

    We’ll being you more news as we get it.

    Salvador, it appear you are really making a difference! Congratualtions. Will you be speaking at any congressional investigation that does happen, if it comes to that?

  52. jerry:

    About positive evidence. It is very simple. ID makes an empirical connection between a certain kind of information (CSI) and a certain kind of agency (intelligent designers). That’s very positive indeed. It is so positive, that ID has effectively shown that no kind of CSI can derive form other known causal factors (necessity, randomness) in absence of an intelligent designer. That is a positive evidence at two different levels: logical (it is mathematically and statistically inacceptable); and empirical (it has never been observed).

    On the contrary, CSI is daily observed coming out of the agency of intelligent designers. What is there of negative in those argumentations?

    The negative part of ID is only a tool. As darwinist have been stating that they have a logically and empirically sound explanation for the origin of biological CSI in absence of a designer, ID is merely showing that that is not true. That’s only “negative” in the sense that it is a falsification of a wrong theory. A very positive attainment, in my opinion.

  53. Design should be included on the list of possibilities for explaining the origin of life, in any classroom where OOL is being discussed.

    There are absolutely no viable origin of life theories that take us ‘from gel to cell’ by law or chance. Nobody can even begin to explain how the first self-replicating life form came about, period. End of story. This should be made absolutely clear to students in science classes.

    Arguably, we have a genesis event (or series of events) leading to the putative first self-replicating organism. There are two broad and competing explanations for this first life: design or law/chance. There are no other rational competitors, AFAIK — there are no other players in the game. It’s one or the other.

    There shouldn’t be any problem making this clear to students. Until some OOL theory crosses the bridge from hocus-pocus-ville to empirical evidence land, there is no reason to exclude design from the list of possible explanations — especially since design represents the best explanation by making a positive inference from the evidence. All other potential explanations thus far are nothing more than wishful thinking.

    This is where the “question-begging definition of science” does its violence. It seeks to disqualify one of two possible explanations before the evidence has had a chance to speak. Philosophical bias against design is the only reason for favoring some flavor of chemical evolution over a design inference (or at the very least, allowing that design is on the table of possible explanations). We have perfectly valid examples of intelligent agents producing complex, information processing systems. We have no evidence of law or chance producing anything even close to such systems (that is, without the question-begging inclusion of biological systems in the mix).

    There needs to be a clear delineation between OOL and everything else. For OOL, ID is — by far — the best explanation of the evidence. There can be very little rational, objective resistance to this notion. I could understand wishful thinking, or hoping beyond hope, that some universal law allowing for the spontaneous generation of abstract and complex specified information integrated with information processing systems would be discovered (and we should allow for, and search for, such properties in nature). However this fails the test for being anything more than a less-than-remote possibility. It certainly doesn’t even approach being the only possible line of inquiry.

    Regardless of one’s opinions of how ID is presented or evolution is criticized, design should be an open possibility for OOL and it should be vetted (along with other hypotheses) in any classroom where OOL is a topic of discussion. We needn’t insist on, or worry about, teaching Biblical creation in class. It isn’t a matter of formal ID, or some form of religious instruction; it’s a matter of letting students in on the fact that design is scientifically a valid possibility for the origin of life, and the only one with any supporting evidence.

    Once OOL is laid bare for what it is — examining, questioning, and criticizing neo-Darwinian models of evolution will be second nature, even for the average high-school student. OOL is the front line, and design has all the advantages of being the only explanation that fits the evidence. For the origin of life, materialistic explanations are shamefully naked. There are not too many possibilities for story telling about OOL. In Expelled, Ruse was left with nothing more than invoking natural selection (on the backs of crystals) to explain the first self-replicating organism (more question begging); and Dawkins confessed the possibility of an intelligent designer. Attacking where the armor is weakest seems like a viable strategy for inflicting the most damage.

  54. Isn’t this all a tacit acknowledgement that ‘examining the criticisms of evolutionary theory’ is where we’ve come to because ID has not been satisfactorily disentangled from creationism?

    It’s not just pasting out ‘creationism’ in ‘Of Pandas and People’ in exchange for ‘ID’. ‘Expelled’ is totally inconsistent on this (by all accounts – I have not had the chance to see it yet) in that during the first half it’s at pains to paint ID as a scientific theory (and only that), but in the second it’s quite openly a clarion call for religion.

    It’s all very well Sal bemoaning the actions of the Dover board but away from the relatively rareified world of the DI and UD, the ID constituency-at-large are in no doubt in their mind that, for them, this is a religious issue – they WANT it to be.

  55. GP and Apollos:

    Excellent points!

    I would add to that, following Meyer and Loennig, that when we look at body plan level architectures as a principal feature of biodiversity, the same issue of accounting for organised functionally specified, information-rich complexity arises.

    Then, going beyond these, we infer back to “get your own dirt.” It turns out that the cell-based, information-rich carbon polymer chemistry utilising life-facilitating cosmos we inhabit exhibits exquisitely fine-tuned, multidimensionally convergent organised complexity as to its underlying physics for that sort of life to exist.

    We have precisely one observed source of such functionally specified, information-rich, organised complexity. Namely, intelligence.

    Also, we see that there is a very good reason for that: the rapid exponentiation of the scale of configuration spaces required to host such information, leading to a rapidly expanding challenge to any random walk-based search strategy that begins from an arbitrary initial point/configuration, e.g. in whatever version of a prebiotic soup that is put up these days. For instance, DNA spaces go as 4^n, where n is chain length. That means that a DNA chain of 250 elements has 10^150 possible configs, and so giving generous room for islands of functionality and hill-climbing within those islands, once DNA chains get beyond about 500 elements [10^301 states], we are looking at pretty hopeless searches. Observed chains in life forms range from about 300, 000 [in "knockout-ed" organisms] to 500 k – 1 mn for simplest life forms (with 1 mn being more realistic for an independent life-form); up to in excess of 3 bn.

    300 k bases is a config space of ~9.94*10^180,617. The search resources to get anywhere likely to be functional in such a space vastly exceed those of the observed cosmos. And, if one goes over into speculative quasi-infinite, unobserved arrays of sub-cosmi, one has crossed from science into metaphysics; on which one has even less excuse to lock out live option alternatives.

    In short, there is more than adequate educational reason to look at the design issue, not only as a scientific investigation, but to show the phil context and issues that lie in the core of scientific work and thought. Not to mention, the implications of that for how science and education work as institutions, and how that affects the public arena.

    To do less than fairly address that in light of the major perspectives and issues is to short-change a whole upcoming generation. Oh, about like the old Plato’s cave game did.

    And, that has been, explicitly, an education and academic freedom issue since about 400 BC!

    Jus a pass tru . . .

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Compare the above to the always linked, in order, from sections A – D, then onward to E.

  56. 56
    William J. Murray

    #41:
    Quote
    [I think that the point of RRE and William J. Murray is that since people design things today, we can infer a designer in the past. I believe that they see this as positive evidence. However, inference of past conditions from present results is irrational. ] End Quote

    No. I am implying no designer in the past whatsoever. I am deliberately implying nothing of the sort; I’m sticking to known facts.

    We KNOW that humans employ Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design itself is not theoretical or hypothetical; we employ it every day. Stop inferring anything from that for the time being.

    We may or may not have a good theory that describes the difference between the potential naturally-occurring existence of a computer compared to a certain formation of a rock slide, but we know I.D. is the best explanation for one. The theory of I.D. as it is stated doesn’t postulate any specific designer anywhere or any time, it only postulates that some phenomena are better explained via I.D. That is a fact – computers & battleships.

    I.D. theory (of one sort or another) is already employed in several sciences, even though they may be loathe to use that term for fear of political ramifications. Exactly how to forensic investigators learn to tell the difference between an accidental fire and arson, or between an accidental death and murder, unless they employ some sort of I.D. analysis?

    It seems to me that virtually nobody on either side of the I.D. debate can fully and successfully separate the actual theory as stated from the entrenched, associated idea that “some supernatural designer in the past manipulated life”. Excise that idea and focus:

    Just as Newton knew something he called gravity existed because everyone could see and experience its effects, we all know I.D. exists because we employ it every day. Are humans, and their characteristics and processes, immune from scientific theory and investigation? Are we supernatural entities?

    I.D. exists – that is a scientific fact. I.D. created science and guides every activitiy science performs – that is a scientific fact. For science to doubt that I.D. exists, or claim it isn’t scientific, IMO demonstrates such a psychotic, irrational fear of the associated ideological implications that they are willing to call the very tool by which science was creaated and is currently conducted “non-scientific”.

    The irony is palpable. It’s a pity that so few can disassociate I.D. theory as stated from their pet implication and association.

  57. jerry

    The positive evidence for ID:

    1) intelligent agents produce complex code driven machinery

    2) intelligent agents exist in the universe today

  58. My demarcation criteria (see above) work for creationism against all oxymoronic “historical sciences” such as ID and paleontology. As creationism is historic, it alone survives the demarcation test.

    ID, like all of the “historical sciences”, smacks of scientism, since it hopes to persuade based on its being accepted as science. Darwinism relies upon the same thing–it is falsely believed to be science in those things where it attempts to speak about the past. Only disciplines where both conditions and results are observed qualify as science, since that is the only way that mechanisms can be precisely identified. Also, since experimental control figures heavily into our epistemic context, it grants us epistemological assurance and warrant, to some degree. Things beyond our control in distance and time we must necessarily be far less sure of and knowledgable about than things within our control. This is why science is mostly limited to the context of earth in the present. We can know *some* things about the heavens, but we will necessarily be very limited in studying them. We can know *nothing* for certain about any alleged prehistoric past beyond what God has told us.

    Ethically, man has a duty to exert control over the earth, since we are commanded to do this by God. For Christians, this should be the primary reason for doing science.

  59. Uthan,

    Salvador, it appear you are really making a difference! Congratualtions. Will you be speaking at any congressional investigation that does happen, if it comes to that?

    Thank you for the kind words. I will not be speaking, but my boss at IDEA, Dr. Caroline Crocker has already been speaking to congressmen!!!

    She has also been invited to speak at the various state legislatures that have academic freedom initiatives. Dr. Crocker herself has been possibly been the victim of being black listed at the NIH.
    If so, that is subject to congressional investigation.

    The problem however is that if the majority of congress is pro-Darwin, it won’t get anywhere. The grass roots pressure has to be substantial for something to happen and for the wrongdoers at the NIH to be removed from power….The NIH should be helping heal the nation, not wasting taxpayer money perpetuating Darwinism. Walt Ruloff was very upset with this….

    If you see the movie, “Expelled”, the people that had their faces concealed were the kind of people that were talking about the suppression of RNA synthesis research….

  60. William J. Murray at 56

    I.D. theory (of one sort or another) is already employed in several sciences, even though they may be loathe to use that term for fear of political ramifications. Exactly how to forensic investigators learn to tell the difference between an accidental fire and arson, or between an accidental death and murder, unless they employ some sort of I.D. analysis?

    This principle is very important:
    1) Present ID practice:
    Intelligent design is currently practiced by intelligent designers.
    2) Terrestrial Recognition of ID:
    *2A) Intelligent Design is currently used by intelligent agents to recognize recent ID by other intelligent designers. e.g., reverse engineering, arson, crime scene investigation.

    *2B) Intelligent Design principles are being applied to detect intelligent vs natural or stochastic causes in biotic systems. e.g., the copyright in DNA by the J. Craig Venter Institute.

    *2C) Intelligent design in the historic past is being recognized by intelligent agents. e.g., Reverse engineering the Parthenon and the Pyramids.

    *2D) Intelligent design in the prehistoric past is currently being recognized by intelligent agents. e.g. archeological excavations.

    3) Detecting Extra-terrestrial ID: Intelligent design principles used in recognizing present, historic or prehistoric events are being used to recognize extra terrestrial evidence of intelligent agents. e.g. SETI. In Expelled, Richard Dawkins posits such detection is possible.

    4) Biotic ID Detection: Intelligent Design principles can consequently be used to identify other intelligent causation in biotic systems distinct from natural law or stochastic processes, including origins of biotic systems.

    5) ID Theory Development: It is important to document and formalize these methods of detecting ID.

    Descriptive ID: ID Principles of reverse engineering can then be applied to formulate a design methodology that appears to have been used by intelligent designers of biotic systems.

    Predictive ID: This reverse engineered design methodology can them be applied to predict existence of design in biotic systems that can be discovered.

    e.g., Biotic ID Prediction
    based on the recent detection of the J. Craig Venter Institute’s DNA signature/copyright, I predict that such DNA signatures can and will be used in the future and will be discoverable by similar ID reverse engineering principles.

    ID Application: These ID principles can be applied to intelligent design of new systems, whether biotic or abiotic.

  61. Forst wrote:

    I don’t know scordova, I think that ID should be taught in the class room because it leads to differing meta-conclusions and meta-reasoning than DE.

    To alleviate confusion and to set the record straight: I would like children to learn ID. The question is how they should learn it.

    There are various ideas as far as how they could learn it at High School age:

    1. Public Schools
    2. Home Schools
    3. Sunday Schools
    4. Private Schools
    5. Other Private Channels

    I have no problem with home Schools and most sunday schools teaching ID. I have good feelings about private schools.

    But Public Schools? Public Schools where teachers have suspect qualifications and motivations to teach ID? I just don’t know. There are lots of teachers with PZ Myers mentality teaching in US public schools.

    I’m also disturbed that these schools are being run by polititicians and not parents….

    I supppose I have rather negative attitudes about the government being competent to do things.

    For ID to be taught to kids, perhaps keeping the government out the enterprise might be a tough choice we have to make. I can’t say that I have the right answer for how little or how much the government should be involved…

    All I can say is at this time, I am personally working the private channels. That is where my energies are devoted.

  62. Wiiliam J. Murray (56)

    “Exactly how do forensic investigators learn to tell the difference between an accidental fire and arson, or between an accidental death and murder, unless they employ some sort of I.D. analysis?”

    They do it precisely by separating designed causes from those that aren’t. In other words, yes of course intelligent design exists (in the fom of an arsonist, in your example), but designed events are discrete from non-designed – that’s the whole point!

    If you’re not prepared to make the necessary distinction you would have to conclude that, even if a fire-investigator found what s/he would consider conclusive proof that the fire was an accident (a lightning strike?), the fire could still nevertheless have been designed.

    Or alternatively, if a fire-investigator found what s/he would consider conclusive proof that the fire was arson, well hey, how do we know for sure that the perpetrator was human?

    It would make any sort of post-event analysis entirely redundant and completely overthrow the criminal justice system.

    DaveScot posted a very similar question a few weeks back (he used the example of a body with a knife in its back). The Explanatory Filter doesn’t give a satisfactory explanation because it operates on the presumption of materialism.

  63. Slightly OT example,
    PZ gives some insight into chromosome numbers:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn.....e_numb.php

    He starts out with some just-so stories regarding early life to push his own atheistic worldview but moves on to describe the process as understood now.

    The irony here is that for a non-biologist like myself who has read up on ID, I became more convinced of ID as his description proceeded.
    There is a kind of machine beauty that happens when many types of well-designed parts reinforce one another and this is what one beholds as the cell and its underlying coded logic are revealed.

    (note he trys to counteract any sense of wonder with “Never mind what the Intelligent Design creationists tell you — the cell is really, really stupid” but this is unconvincing and reeks of an agenda)

    Once one is exposed to the notion of ID you can never listen to these atheist-agenda-tinged descriptions in the same way. That’s probably what has them so much on the defensive.

  64. One avenue that I’ve thought about for kids in public schools is to use various Equal Access Initiatives and freedom of speach rights for students to learn ID.

    Students can write book reports and essays. They cannot be punished for writing a book report or essay on ID books or DVD’s.

    In Chesterfield Virginia, the state school administrators hinted something to that effect, but it was not really a mature initiative. There was only vague reference to this by a pro-Darwinist Chesterfield Science Education Blog.

    In Fairfax Viriginia, we’re getting pro-ID DvD’s and creationist materials to kids via private channels. They are learning and the Darwinists can’t stop the progress of truth.

  65. Scordova, the thrust of your point is well received but I would rather have the kids at least exposed to it even if the teachers roll their eyes or mock it. Those kids from “low income households” don’t usually have parents who will teach them this stuff because it is the common nature of the situation that the find themselves in. I Agree that privatization is an excellent answer but I don’t see this country moving to the right any time soon. So I think that that public schools, teachers and student, overall would not be ill served by teaching ID as part of a public curriculum. I think everyone can gain from light of truth- as my father says “sunshine kills a lot of viruses.” I don’t know if it does or it doesn’t but ID might be a good stepping stone out of where those teacher’s minds are now- and away from the disinformation campaign of “ID= creationism.”

    I certainly respect you view and agree to disagree.

  66. Note application of Intelligent Design in Biotic systems. Will this ID be detectable?
    Lab-made nanostructures work like DNA, only with bells and whistles

    . . .“Everyone in DNA nanotechnology is essentially limited by what they can buy off the shelf,” says Chaput, who is also an ASU assistant professor in the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “We wanted to build synthetic molecules that assembled like DNA, but had additional properties not found in natural DNA.” . . .”Researchers come up with all of these clever designs now.”

  67. gpuccio,

    you said

    “It is so positive, that ID has effectively shown that no kind of CSI can derive form other known causal factors (necessity, randomness) in absence of an intelligent designer. ”

    This is negative information because in the process of establishing ID one eliminates other options. It is very persuasive but it is negative in the sense that to get to ID one does not establish that intelligence did it, just that law and chance did not do it and intelligence is left by default.

    Dave,

    you said

    “he positive evidence for ID:

    1) intelligent agents produce complex code driven machinery

    2) intelligent agents exist in the universe today”

    But we do not have any finger prints on the data, only that law and chance have been eliminated.

    Leo Hales,

    you said

    “When this analogy exists, and the pattern in question is too improbable to have been brought about by chance or natural laws, then you have the beginnings of a design inference.”

    Again this is negative information because in order to get to ID you eliminate the other possibilities just as we eliminate gradualism in Darwinian macro evolution.

    All these arguments are subject to God of the Gaps defenses. If we discover tomorrow, just as black swans were discovered, some organizing force in nature that produced the complex molecules found in cells all the probabilities that are used to justify ID would have to be re-evaluated. And the negative arguments would have to be re-evaluated.

    I don’t expect to see such a discovery but this is the argument of the Darwinists who say the scientific community is only in its infancy in terms of biology and look how far we have come.

    I am not a skeptic but just point out the difficulties of teaching ID in the science curriculum. But neither should Darwinian macro evolution or OOL ideas be taught and macro evolution and OOL questions should be answered with “we do not know.” I believe this would be a devastating to the Darwinists to have to do so in textbooks.

  68. jerry,

    When you say “no positive evidence” are you referring to evidence such as foresighted mechanisms self-contained within biology? Or long-term preservation mechanisms for conserving information that is not currently implemented? Or retroviruses being capable of being used to implement designed changes? If that’s the case, I would say that is outside the scope of core ID and is instead the domain of ID-compatible hypotheses. It’s a different category you’re looking for (and others have already addressed the positive evidence for ID proper).

    Now I would agree that the research we have so far does not provide conclusive positive evidence (at least for this category). We do have tantalizing glimpses that such things may exist. There’s also some types of observed changes that happen so rapidly and repeatedly that they would seem to defy being within the domain of strictly Darwinian processes. But such research is just beginning. Also, assuming intelligent evolution, for some types of Designed modifications the mechanism may not be self-contained within biology. If external mechanisms or direct modification is the case we may only find evidence for foresighted mechanisms that are limited in capability.

    But let’s say we did find such foresighted mechanisms. Darwinists might argue that such mechanisms would be selected for without intelligence being involved. After all, being foresighted would allow proactive responses to a changing environment and thus increase survivability. It’s kind of like how they create a story for modularity.

  69. Patrick,

    I am not sure what positive information would look like. All I am doing is saying that the information we have now involves the elimination of other possibilities. That is all either side has too.

    There is lots of information for micro evolution by naturalistic means so ID does not contest it. Though some here do on occasion. Few micro evolution events would pass through the EF to intelligence.

    There is no information for most macro evolution events so the events do pass through the filter to intelligence. This is negative information.

    But suppose we found 20-30 different fossils of giraffes passing through different neck and feet lengths we would completely change our assessment for this species and it is unlikely that there would be much of a discussion on giraffes and it would be thought to be a product of micro evolution. There would be positive information for micro evolution as the cause of giraffes and no one would discuss it here. But right now all we have is the lack of information in the fossil record to support ID for the giraffe.

    If some mechanism was found in the code that was foresighted and it could be established that this code led to something in the future and had not current use and was preserved then there might be something here. But then one would have the burden of eliminating any current or past use for the mechanism to establish its only use as foresighted.

    In 10 years we may be having completely different discussions as we learn a whole lot more about the code especially its limitations to produce meaningful change. But that is Behe’s proposition and a form of negative information.

  70. Possible positive evidence for intelligent design: tools, factories, blueprints, footprints of designer, ruins of designer’s house, landing strip for alien designer’s spacecraft, crashed spacecraft from designer being chased by design gone out of control. Newspaper dated June 30, 20,008, left behind by time traveling designer.

  71. congregate,

    You of course have introduced the negative information for the “no designer” hypothesis. I said all sides in this debate use negative information. What you have failed to do is introduce positive information for another theory when positive information should be readily available.

  72. jerry, I thought you were saying in 69 that you were not sure what positive evidence for ID would look like. I am offering some suggestions of positive evidence that an ID researcher could look for. When the EF suggests that an arrowhead is intelligently designed, how do we confirm it? By looking for corroborating evidence of the designer’s existence, location, capabilities, etc.

  73. 73

    It won’t be possible to have positive evidence of design until ID can make a prediction and confirm it. The ‘junk DNA’ one simply doesn’t cut it, because that only predicts a very specific designer – one who will make a fully functional genome. If junk DNA really turns out to be junk, that simply rules out that specific designer, but not design itself.

    That’s actually bad. You need to be able to rule OUT design, to have positive evidence OF it.

    For an example: Einstein’s prediction that starlight will be bent by the sun. If you don’t see it, Einstein is wrong. If you do, that’s evidence. And they did, during an eclipse.

    It works because the bending of starlight was a logical necessity for what Einstein was suggesting; if his theory was correct, then that had to be true.

    What ID needs are things that MUST be true if ID is true, and it must be possible to show that one logically follows from the other.

  74. 74
    irreducible_complacency

    Venus Mousetrap (what an interesting name? what is the story?)

    If ID is true then it must be true that we find evidence of design in the universe. Clearly we do find this evidence (blood clots, cells have tails, information is not free), therefore ID is true.

    If ID were false then we would not necessarily see design in the world.

  75. “If ID is true then it must be true that we find evidence of design in the universe.”

    That’s circular.

    Contrast it with Einstein’s prediction, which is about what must actually be observed (that the measured position of stars will be altered, and in a specific direction).

    It’s not a prediction if it involves future interpretation by you or anyone else–the idea is to do all the interpretation before the prediction.

  76. Mousetrap:
    “It won’t be possible to have positive evidence of design”

    The evidence for design is abundant and incontrovertible. The debate and controversy concerns the source of that design.

  77. Venus Mousetrap,

    You can hold intelligent design to whatever criteria you wish to throw at it, but the fact remains:

    ID theory infers an intelligence when intelligent activity is the only known cause for the effect in question.

    Intelligent activity is known to produce symbolic information; Unintelligent activity is not.

    Intelligent activity is known to produce information processing systems; Unintelligent activity is not.

    Intelligent activity is known to produce functional and specified irreducibly-complex structures; Unintelligent activity is not.

    Am I to believe that UNintelligent activity is the best explanation for these effects when it is not known to produce ANY of them?

  78. 78

    ic: Thanks – it’s just a combination of the Venus Flytrap plant, and Dr Behe’s analogy of a mousetrap. I quite like it for places that bridge the terrifying and relentless divide between biology and ID :)

    However, all you have done is predicted that design exists, which we know, when I meant the more specific idea that life was designed. Also, you speak of proving true, which is not what science is about.

  79. —–”I am not sure what positive information would look like. All I am doing is saying that the information we have now involves the elimination of other possibilities. That is all either side has too.”

    To me, the presence of functionally specified complex information constitutes a positive alternative to random variation and natural selection. To say that something is designed is to make a positive affirmation. The accuracy of our conclusion depends on the consistency and integrity of the process; it has nothing to do with negatives and positives. Such terms are useful only as a means of clarifying the texture of the process itself.

    Indeed, every positive affirmation implies a negation of some kind and vice versa. There is nothing wrong with associating a positive affirmation with its negative counterpart, nor is there anything wrong with using a “negative process” to arrive at a “positive” affirmation (conclusion).

    We have the same kind of thing in logic. A Reductio ad absurdum (Latin for “reduction to the absurd”, also known as an apagogical argument, is a way of proving a positive affirmation through contradiction. We begin with what seems to be a false assumption, reason perfectly, and then prove the error of the assumption by the absurdity of the conclusion.

    Moreover, some our best definitions come to us by much the same process. An “Aristotelian” definition, for example, is one which begins by providing the many descriptions of “what a thing is not” so that a final explanation of “what it is” will become much more clear. I think this whole thing about being positive and negative is overblown and is a residual of political correctness, which always militates against logic in the name of sensitivity.

  80. A prediction of IDT is that natural processes do not have the capacity to assemble irreducibly-complex biological nano-machines via a slow, step-by-step process without the aid of a coordinating intelligence.

  81. 81

    Quadfather: the problem is that all those things ARE within the abilities of one unintelligent process, evolution, which also happens to operate on the very organisms which ID is investigating. Your question can be turned around; why should people accept that ID is an answer, when it is clear that only those items which are capable of evolving, have the properties associated with evolution?

  82. Also:

    The ambivalence on teaching the theory of intelligent design comes from the following:

    It is a young theory.

    I can understand if those developing this theory are wary about having it taught to students while it is still in development.

    That is not to say that there aren’t certain things about the theory that are not pretty well-defined. But Stephen C Meyer only just published the first ever peer-reviewed scientific paper arguing for intelligent design in 2004 (right?). Since then, intelligent design has published a steady flow of peer-reviewed papers, but their numbers remain in the dozens. We have developed the theory in principle, but is “dozens” enough to say that the cold hard science of the theory has developed well enough to teach it in a science class? That’s the part that I too am ambivalent about.

    What *is* well-developed in the intelligent design theory is the philosophical and logical underpinnings of the inference to design. It is, in principle, quite rational to interpret synchronisms between the effects of intelligence and the effects we observe in nature as evidence for intelligent causation. This is the part that I might feel fairly comfortable with being taught in, say, a *philosophy of science* class.

    As for the cold hard science: There may be a few things, like Dembski’s Design Inference, that could be taught in specialized science classes. But when it comes to the very broad scope of high school science classes, or even core science classes in college, I think it is best to wait until the ongoing scientific research is able to converge into a broad scientific perspective strongly supported by a wide range of hard data.

    Until then – and the time is coming – I think it is best for now only to mandate that students and teachers are PERMITTED to discuss evidence against Darwinian Evolution as well as inform students about alternative theories (including but not limited to intelligent design).

  83. StephenB:
    “Moreover, some our best definitions come to us by much the same process. An “Aristotelian” definition, for example, is one which begins by providing the many descriptions of “what a thing is not” so that a final explanation of “what it is” will become much more clear. I think this whole thing about being positive and negative is overblown”

    Not only that, but as exemplified by some of the answers given by atheists in the Expelled movie, darwinian evolution, as a process devoid of intelligence, is THE de facto antithesis of the process infused with purpose, so that the denial of one necessarily affirms the other.

    In an sense, it is not the IDist that has set up this form of logical thnking.

  84. 84

    JPC: that’s a negative prediction (a little like ‘I’ve never seen God so he doesn’t exist’), but those can be useful (evolution, after all, has the prediction that no animal will exist that isn’t related to all the others by dna).

    However I’m not sure relying on irreducible complexity is a good move for the ID movement, since it relies on a flawed definition of evolution (it leaves out duplication, deletion, and functional change).

  85. Venus Mousetrap,

    I understand your confusion: We are examining an effect for which the cause is unknown and unverifiable. But while we may never know beyond the shadow of a doubt the true answer to the mystery of life, we can nevertheless come to rational conclusions by asking the following question: What IS known to produce this effect?

    Explaining these effects is also confusing because when we observe an effect, with an unknown and unverifiable cause, occurring in nature, it is very easy to assume that its cause must also be “natural” (as opposed to intelligent). However, there is no logical justification for this assumption. As we can see from the earth’s environment, intelligent activity can leave its mark on nature as well (not that I subscribe to any particular view on whether these effects are positive, negative, or neutral).

    But removing these extraneous assumptions, we are left with a bare effect. And it is an effect for which there is a known cause: intelligence.

    That is why we should accept ID as the best answer rather than assuming the truth of Darwinian Evolution as a premise.

  86. Venus Mousetrap,

    Behe’s argument for Irreducible Complexity (IC) does not reject duplication, deletion, and functional change. Behe argues that unintelligent activity cannot produce IC even WITH these processes.

    It is also true that intelligent and unintelligent are mutually exclusive terms. Thus, to disconfirm one is to confirm the other.

  87. 87

    Quadfather: I’m not sure that evolution is actually assumed before all else. It won on the evidence, and you can’t blame scientists for sticking by it when it really does predict what they see.

    Evolution and ID are both answers to the problem, and one has been tested more than the other, so until ID comes up with something amazing, evolution is the better answer.

  88. jerry:

    You say:

    “I am not sure what positive information would look like.”

    That at least is very clear. Why are you so interested in such vague (even for you) concept as “positive” or “negative” evidence? I can’t get your epistemological premises.

    Evidence is evidence. Scientific theories are only inferences at the best explanation for facts. Given facts to explain, and a few possible theories which try to explain them, any evidence in favour or against any of the theories existing is pertinent to the debate of which is the best scientific explanation for those facts.

    The correlation between CSI and intelligent agents is strict, and is constantly and positively verified in the field of human agency. Isn’t that positive evidence? The negative aspect is that no other kind of causal explanation is available, and that’s “negative” evidence at least as important as the “positive” evidence of the correlation between CSI and human agency.

    Moreover, in most biological sciences, including medicine which is my field, the process of Fisherian hypothesis testing is practically the main, often the only, statistical methodology applied in practical research. That process works by demonstrating the improbability of the null hypothesis, that is the hypothesis that the results obtained are due to chance. An alpha level of 0.05 is usually used, although I believe that it is by far safer to stick at least to 0.01.

    Although the improbability of the null hypothesis does not affirm directly the test hypothesis, it is usually used in that sense, if no other reasonable explanation is available. In other words, if a chance explanation of the results is considered too unlikely, the test hypothesis is usually affirmed.

    That’s how most medical knowledge is built everyday. Would you consider that “negative” evidence? Would you consider that non scientific?

    The same process is used by our beloved darwinian biologists each time they affirm that two genes show significant homology. All they are saying is that they are similar enpough that such a result is unlikely by chance. Negative evidence, again, at the root of almost all molecular evolutionary biology. (And besides, that kind of evidence for homology does not imply descent, and least of all a causal factor, because there is at least another reasonable theory which can explain homology, which is design; and yet, homology is daily used as absolute evidence of both common descent and darwinian causality, without any reasonable basis).

  89. 89

    Quad: I’m sorry, could you show me where Behe says that? My understanding has always been that he modelled evolution as stepwise addition of parts, which does not allow for the possibility of parts being lost, or for multiple functions for a part, or for parts to alter over time. It can be shown that these events, all possible under evolution, can produce irreducible complexity, so I’m not sure how Behe has shown that they cannot.

  90. Venus Mousetrap,

    It looked like you assumed the truth of Darwinian Evolution (DE) when you asserted, without substantiation, that it does produce the effects in question.

    It does not matter how much DE has been tested; What matters is the results. And for all of its testing, DE still cannot explain these certain effects. Intelligent activity remains the only known cause. Thus, it remains the best inference.

  91. Venus

    Quadfather: the problem is that all those things ARE within the abilities of one unintelligent process, evolution

    That is nothing but belief without evidence. It’s an article of your faith in chance & necessity.

    We can at least observe intelligent designers like Craig Venter inserting CSI into DNA. Your hypothesis remains undemonstrated in any way.

  92. Venus Mousetrap,

    I think you misunderstand Behe’s argument. Behe does explain evolution as a gradual, step-by-step process, but he does not specify that this process is linear, and his arguments about IC do not preclude the things you mention. His argument is that there are no specific Darwinian explanations for how it could have happened.

    It is certainly possible that parts can serve multiple and redundant functions and that these parts can later be lost, leaving an irreducibly complex structure; I believe Behe acknowledges this in his book. But this does not yet constitute a Darwinian. It is conceptualization of how Darwinian Evolution may go about explaining irreducible complexity, but this does not mean that it has done so.

    Nobody disagrees that it is possible *in principle* to explain IC as the product unintelligent activity. The question is whether DE has done so *in fact*.

    But the task is to demonstrate that naturally-occurring unintelligent processes can produce IC, not to preprogram a computer game to do it.

  93. *does not constitute a Darwinian explanation.

    Sorry about the typo.

  94. Venus Mousetrap:

    You say:

    “However I’m not sure relying on irreducible complexity is a good move for the ID movement, since it relies on a flawed definition of evolution (it leaves out duplication, deletion, and functional change).”

    I really can’t understand what you mean. In what sense IC jeaves out duplicatgion or deletion? It has been debated many times that any random change, whatever the mechanism, is still a random change. That’s why it is better to speak of random variation (RV) rather than of random mutation (RM), which could be referred, in the understanding of some, only to point mutations.

    But all the ID arguments, both the CSI argument and the IC argument, are about any kind of RV. Therefore, they include duplication and deletion, as much as any other random mechanism of change.

    In other words, the ID arguments say: take any kind of random mechanism of variation, or any mixture of them. They cannot:

    a) Generate CSI, so that it may be selected (because CSI is beyond the range of random search)

    b) Generate IC by step by step selection of partial results, because an IC structure cannot be deconstructed in simpler working structures.

    In other words, if the level of complexity of any IC structure is such that it can be classified as CSI, then that structure is beyond the range of any random search, even if “helped” by selection mechanisms.

    Finally, could you please explain what you mean by “functional change”? That seems a very vague deifinition.

  95. 95

    Quad: ah, I rather assumed you would ask if you didn’t know. :)

    Well, let’s take them one by one. Symbolic information. Assuming that means a code, then the biochemical processes of the cell can, and do, mutate DNA to produce variants on that code, which battle in the arena of life, and get refined by selection. We can do it on computers and we can see it in real life.

    Information processing systems. If you mean things like eyes, these are quite easy to evolve step by step. If you mean the biochemical machinery of the cell, then, why not, call that designed. It’s as good a guess as any, since we don’t know where that came from.

    And irreducibly complex structures are quite evolvable, if I understand Behe.

    So evolution mostly covers that, although one of them is an origin of life question… ID may as well get in there while it can :) But there isn’t any point in forcing intelligence into the places where the better explanation is already.

  96. 96

    Since when are eyes “easy” to evolve in a step by step process?

  97. 97

    “but those can be useful (evolution, after all, has the prediction that no animal will exist that isn’t related to all the others by dna).”

    And, by the way, where is there any evidence of the precursor states of DNA?

  98. 98

    Quad: that isn’t how people are using IC.

    JPCollado made an ID prediction that natural processes lack the capacity to produce IC. Was he wrong?

    If IC is a criterion for determining design, and evolution can produce it, then why is it there at all? It doesn’t tell you one way or the other that something is designed.

    gpuccio: by functional change, I mean a part changing its function, rather than losing it. For example, evolutionists have suggested that the flagellum changed function from a water stirrer to a propeller. If you’re only interested in whether the flagellum is a good propeller, you’re going to miss the option that it was something else along the way.

  99. 99

    Biped: by easy, I mean they’re not problematic. Light-sensitive chemicals exist, and so does a wide range of eye sensing organs. If you’re talking about information processing, it’s hardly difficult to have one cell that zaps other cells when light hits it.

    As for the precursor states of DNA, I don’t really know what that means. As far as I know, fairies made the first cell.

  100. Venus Mousetrap,

    You have merely pointed out that these effects can be found in nature. Well that is obvious, as it is the very reason for the controversy in the first place. The question, however, is from whence did these effects *originate*? On that question, intelligence is the only known cause, so it remains the best inference.

    You still do not understand Behe. Just because it is possible *in principle* that IC is “evolvable,” that does not mean that it actually is; you have to demonstrate this. But that intelligent activity can produce IC has *already* been demonstrated. Remember: It is possible *in principle* that some old man invented a flying sleigh, delivered some presents, and called himself Santa Claus – but that doesn’t mean it actually happened.

    Behe argues that IC has not been explained in terms of Darwinian Evolution. This is essentially the same as JPCollado arguing that unintelligent processes lack the capacity to produce IC. In either case, one must demonstrate that unintelligent activity CAN produce IC (in order to falsify the proposition).

    So the propositions that you say are different are, in fact, functionally identical.

  101. By the way: May I ask what it means when certain people’s posts appear on a white background?

  102. Venus Mousetrap,

    You are correct that if IC could be explained in terms of both intelligent and UNintelligent activity, then the presence of IC could not serve as evidence either way.

    This is why an arrangement of sand is neither evidence for intelligent causation nor for UNintelligent causation; both are known to produce apparently random arrangements of sand.

    But the fact that IC can ONLY be explained in terms of intelligent activity is precisely why it DOES serve as evidence for intelligent causation.

  103. To Venus Mousetrap:

    Two points:

    1-No one, I repeat NO ONE, knows whether or not a vision system can evolve via non-telic processes- step-by-step OR in great leaps.

    I have read Sean Carroll and all he has is speculations based on the assumption. He also uses the thing that needs to be explained (embryonic development) to do the explaining.

    2-

    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. Page 285 NFL

    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. Page 287

    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. Page 287

    Do you understand how transcription and translation work?

    Do you really believe that non-telic processes stumbled onto a coding process, a regulating process, tool-kit genes, genetic switches and combinatorial logic?

    Would you be interested in purchasing a bridge?

  104. Oops- one more point:

    “Evolution” is not being debated.

    Telic vs non-telic processes are.

    Designed to evolve (ID) vs evolved via culled genetic accidents (modern synthesis).

  105. QuadFather wrote:

    “By the way: May I ask what it means when certain people’s posts appear on a white background?”

    Either that person is the author of the post, or the person is an administrator (or perhaps even editor) on the blog. You’ll notice that some have comments in white on certain threads, but not others. These AFAIK are folks with contributor status — their posts will appear in white when commenting on posts they have authored, but not on others. :wink:

  106. News Flash

    Darwinists and the enemies of freedom were routed in the Louisiana Senate 35-0.

    Rob Crowther reports:
    Evolution Academic Freedom Bills Spread to More States: National Movement Grows

    Today, there will be a legislative hearing on Missouri’s academic freedom bill.

    Tuesday, an academic freedom bill was introduced in Michigan, bringing the number of states currently considering legislation to five.

    Monday, the Louisiana state Senate passed an academic freedom bill 35-0.

    Also on Monday, the Florida House passed a bill 71-43 that would require inclusion of scientific criticisms of Darwin’s theory in the classroom. The Florida Senate previously passed an academic freedom bill that would protect the rights of teachers to do this. The two bodies must now reconcile their bills before the end of this year’s legislative session.

    Last week, an academic freedom bill was introduced in Alabama.

  107. gpuccio,

    Negative evidence is evidence against another hypothesis and not for your hypothesis. Once the other hypotheses have been discredited, then one has to accept your hypothesis because the others are not valid. The problem with such an approach is that you never know if you have discredited all the hypotheses, for example there may be a black swan waiting in our future.

    Yes we know that intelligence can produce CSI but we do not know for sure in the case of DNA that it was an intelligence that created this particular CSI. We know that no other process that anyone has brought forth can accomplish it. To get to an intelligence as the source of DNA we discredit other sources and hopefully intelligence is the only possibility left standing. But that is a negative approach which is essentially eliminating other hypotheses.

    Now I think it is very powerful but it does not convince most of the biologists. Why? Because they continue to hold out hope for a process that is naturalistic which will explain it and cite a God of the Gaps argument. The Theistic Evolutionists will say we do not yet know how God did it while the Darwinists will say we do not know how nature (law and chance) did it.

    The negative approach is the chief method of getting at ID. That is what mockery is all about. ID people believe in fairy tales, the “poof” mechanism of creating new species, a God who no one has ever seen or heard from, someone who every few million years changes something in life, makes imperfect parts or junk, causes pain, suffering and death etc. These are some of the main arguments against ID and are used to justify a naturalistic argument.

  108. Joseph at 103-
    I think that the definition of irreducible complexity that you quote excludes the possible evolutionary pathways known in this context as scaffolding and co-option. Why does a system’s “basic” function (whatever that is) have to be the same as it’s original function?

    each part in the set is indispensable to maintaining the system’s basic, and therefore original, function.

  109. Thanks Apollos.

    Whoa that’s cool. :-D

  110. 110

    Venus Mousetrap said:

    “Information processing systems. If you mean things like eyes, these are quite easy to evolve step by step. If you mean the biochemical machinery of the cell, then, why not, call that designed. It’s as good a guess as any, since we don’t know where that came from.”

    I don’t think the eye is an information processing system, its more of a signaling system taken as input to which the brain further processes and creates the final mental image.
    In essence, without the brain, eyes would be useless complex structures.

    Changing information by performing operations (ie: arithmetic) or manipulating, even interpreting the data are examples of information processing systems.

    For example, the eye takes in an image upside down and then the brain processes that image and changes it state by flipping it right side up again.

    Tell us how that evolved gradually? Was it just a matter of convenience?
    Did natural selection select that all because there was demand for new functional interacting components?

    I don’t know how you can say “its quite easy to evolve step by step” when eyes are part of a vastly larger system.

  111. 111

    Venus: “by easy, I mean they’re not problematic. Light-sensitive chemicals exist, and so does a wide range of eye sensing organs. If you’re talking about information processing, it’s hardly difficult to have one cell that zaps other cells when light hits it.”

    With all due respect, are you kidding me?

    When light strikes the retina of the eye, a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to form trans-retinal. The change in the shape of retinal forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein’s metamorphosis alters its behavior, making it stick to another protein called transducin. Before interacting with activated rhodopsin, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with activated rhodopsin, the GDP falls off and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. GTP-transducin-activated rhodopsin now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to activated rhodopsin and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the ability to chemically cut a molecule called cGMP. Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, like a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub. Another membrane protein that binds cGMP is called an ion channel. It acts as a gateway that regulates the number of sodium ions in the cell. Normally the ion channel allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the amount of cGMP is reduced because of cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, the ion channel closes, causing the cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions to be reduced. This causes an imbalance of charge across the cell membrane which, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain. The result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision. – Behe

    Again, with all due respect, this is process that you describe as “hardly difficult to have one cell that zaps other cells when light hits it” (?)

    I would then suppose that the artifacts of visual recognition and memory within the brain would be as easy to describe by a gradualistic process as well.

    Hell, we might as well move on to solving world hunger; apparently the mysteries of life (and the processes by which they were formed) have become easy for us.

    I think not.

  112. Upright BiPed:

    “With all due respect, are you kidding me?”

    I think you got it right: Venus is probably kidding us all. At least, I hope, for his own good, that, behind our backs, he is really laughing at what he says. His concept of “easily” is really sublime. I admire your patience in taking the time to answer.

    Of all darwinist fairy tales, the story of the gradual evolution of the eye probably deserves a special prize. To call it “easy” is to really underestimate the poor darwinists who spent sleepless nights to conjure it…

  113. 113
    irreducible_complacency

    its clear to little children that things in nature are ‘for’ other things. only when they grow up and lose their god like sense of wonder do we begin to lose our natural teleological thinking.

    it’s why adults are so selfish and only perform actions that further their own interests or those in their family or social group, they lose the innate belief (due to the secular assualt from evo-materialists both in churches and schools) in the purposefulness of their life.

  114. 114

    Venus Mousetrap said:

    “these are quite easy to evolve step by step”

    Then how come modern engineering is currently incapable of being able to create it? If it was that easy to evolve randomly overtime (*as you say), then with the guiding force of human intelligence it should be a piece of cake.

    “by easy, I mean they’re not problematic.”

    Yes, because nuffing is impossible for Darwinian Evolution, no problems unsolvable! :)

    I’m surprised Venus Mousetrap didn’t point us to a “talkorigins.org” link. I thought this was part of modern Darwinian culture.

  115. Holster that pistol there, gpuccio.

    I agree with everything you said, but Venus Mousetrap seems like a nice enough chap. He appears to be genuinely unaware that it is *not* in fact easy to accomplish the biological feats in question.

    Can you blame him? Haven’t we all been raised to believe, without question or reason, the ease with which Darwinian Evolution has shaped the world? Venus Mousetrap has simply landed on the other side of the fence.

    It is difficult to change one’s mind, so let us handle our level-headed opponents with gentleness.

    Let’s reserve our venom for the demi-Dawkins’ out there, reducing them to absurdity only after their disdain for rational discussion has earned it.

    I, for one, invite Venus Moustrap to continue fueling this discussion.

  116. 116

    jerry,

    I think it is a far more negative approach to say that unintelligent activity produced CSI when it is NOT known to do so, than it is to say that intelligent activity produced CSI when it IS known to do so.

    When you infer a cause based on the *presence* of experiential data – not its *absence* – this is a positive inference, not a negative one.

    When you say “POOF evolution dunnit” based on the *absence* of experiential data, this is a negative inference, not a positive one.

    I believe that is even called an argument from ignorance.

  117. News Flash

    Dr. John West reports: Missouri House Committe Passes Evolution Academic Freedom Bill

    The Missouri House of Representatives’ Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education just approved a proposed academic freedom act on evolution by a bipartisan vote of 8-3. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration. Sponsored by Rep. Wayne Cooper

    Now Judge Jones has lost in Missouri. Maybe an academic freedom bill needs to be introduced in Pennsylvania, the state that governs the Dover school district. :-)

  118. I think that the definition of irreducible complexity that you quote excludes the possible evolutionary pathways known in this context as scaffolding and co-option.- congregate

    I doubt that as both scaffolding and co-option are covered in NFL prior to the definition I quoted.

    Just how does a blind process build a scaffold for a future structure?

    Why does a system’s “basic” function (whatever that is) have to be the same as it’s original function?- congregate

    If you have a functioning system- a system that an organism requires to live- then how does a blind process change that structure for a new function without harming the organism?

  119. quadfather,

    I haven’t a clue what you are talking about.

  120. 120

    jerry,

    Sorry, did I misinterpret your last comments as an argument against ID?

  121. Quadfather,

    I am merely pointing out that all the players in the evolution debate use negative arguments against their opponents’ positions. It is true of ID, it is true of the Darwinists. There is no positive evidence for ID. There is no positive evidence for Darwinan macro evolution. There is no positive evidence for a naturalistic method for OOL. There does seem to be a lot of positive evidence for Darwinian micro evolution but ID accepts this.

    What each side does is essentially point out the lack of positive evidence for the other side. The Darwinist will often emphasize this by mocking ID and its dependence on some unknown intelligence, hence the reference to the “poof theory” for the origin of gene pools for various organisms.

    Essentially the mechanism for evolution is a mystery.

  122. 122

    jerry,

    Ah, ok. Well given my attempt to explain how the evidence for design is positive, I suppose we may have to agree to disagree on this one.

    But as somebody else pointed out (can’t remember exactly where), any positive evidence is inextricably coupled with a negative implication. If we have positive evidence for this thing, then it implies that it was not that other thing. But that does not change the positive nature of the evidence.

    I think you are conflating the positive evidence for design with its negative implication, and I think this is why you have difficulty explaining what positive evidence would even look like.

    In pointing out that intelligent activity is the only known explanation for certain effects, we are not singling out any particular possibility; no other theory is specified in the argument that the only explanation for *this* effect is intelligence. So it is hard for me to accept that ID makes its case only by singling out Darwinian Evolution.

    Perhaps the case for ID would be negative if we ONLY tried to bring down other theories … but that is not the argument. It remains true that ID is the only known explanation for certain effects, and this does constitute a *positive* logical advantage over Darwinian Evolution.

  123. There is no positive evidence for ID.–Jerry

    Let’s see- DNA not only has to replicate but parts of it also have to be unzipped so that another molecule can be made. In turn this molecule can be edited and transported to another awaiting system that takes the edited molecule and translates that into a polypeptide (amino acid) chain.

    Now in transcription the two strands of DNA are exposed but the mRNA only and always forms on one.

    And in translation the tRNA that grabs the amino acid is the anti-codon (the reverse) of the edited mRNA that is in the ribosome.

    IOW the nucleotides do not make the amino acid there is free amino acids in the cytoplasm that connect to the tRNA only when signaled and then ferry that amino acid to the ribosome so it can be configured in the chain.

    Add on to that the regulation of the process, tool-kit genes, genetic switches and combinatorial logic (being able to use different combinations of existing parts to accomplish different tasks) and the positive evidence for ID is solid.

    And that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg…

  124. —–“The negative approach is the chief method of getting at ID.”

    This statement confuses the ID movement, which laments materialist ideology, with ID methodology, which detects functionally specified complex information. One may interpret the former as a negative reaction to ideology, but no one should interpret the latter as anything other than a positive affirmation.

    Even the ID movement is positive in the context of the big picture, since it seeks to recapture a positive theory about the universe that has been lost due to materialist ideology. In other words, we got there first. When history’s great scientists insisted that they were “thinking God’s thoughts after him,” they were making a positive affirmation. When Darwin suggested that an impersonal process could do what only God can do, he was reacting negatively to a positive affirmation.

    When ID scientists seek to draw inferences about intelligent agency, they are making a positive affirmation. When anti-ID zealots invent “methodological naturalism” to discredit ID, they are reacting negatively to a positive affirmation. To believe in a rationally, intelligently designed universe is to make a positive affirmation; to disbelieve it and embrace the cynical notion that design is “illusory,” is to react negatively to a positive affirmation.

  125. 125

    StephenB actually makes a good point: Design would not be apparent if there weren’t positive reasons for recognizing it in the first place.

  126. Joseph,

    “Let’s see- DNA not only has to replicate but parts of it also have to be unzipped so that another molecule can be made. In turn this molecule can be edited and transported to another awaiting system that takes the edited molecule and translates that into a polypeptide (amino acid) chain.”

    That is evidence for a complicated process not positive evidence for its origin.

  127. 127

    jerry,

    It does if intelligence is the only known cause of those sorts of systems.

  128. 128

    Seems to me the only intelligent agency we’ve ever encountered is humanity. So logically the “designer” is a human, just like us!

    I don’t believe there is any evidence that the “designer” is immaterial. Quite the opposite in fact – every intelligent design we are aware of had a material cause.

    So, my question is why does ID not start from the position that humanity was the designer? After all, it’s not as if we have a videotape of history, for all we know we’re descendents of a crashed spaceship and all knowledge of previous technology was lost in the fight to survive. Anybody watching Galatcia? So say we all!

  129. Uthan Rose

    the only intelligent agency we’ve ever encountered is humanity

    On what basis do you dismiss all evidence to the contrary? You appear to a priori assume materialism without addressing the issue.

  130. 130
    Venus Mousetrap

    I appreciate the speculation on my motives, but I am quite serious. ‘Easy’ was perhaps the wrong word.

    What I mean is that I can see no difficulty in forming, for example, the eye, or the flagellum, by a process of random mutation, and natural selection.

    I know, when anyone says this, the immediate response is ‘well that means Darwinism can predict ANYTHING!’, which to me rather seems to overlook the clear constraints OF that process.

    But I’m not saying it on sheer blind faith. I have tried to understand the process – if I didn’t, I’d be a mere sheep of a believer. I’ve written programs to simulate the kinds of evolutionary mutation seen in life, and I’ve seen what comes out of them.

    When you bring up Behe’s examples of ultra-complex pathways in the eye and so forth, I don’t see complexity. I see the kind of hideous kludge that evolution is famed for. It’s all very well to say ‘look how complicated this is! nature can’t do that!’, but have you actually looked at what nature can do? If one keeps adding parts to a system that’s repeatedly trying to do the best with what it has, do you really believe that something like eye pathways wouldn’t emerge?

    On Irreducible Complexity:

    Behe says that irreducible complexity is the state wherein removing a part destroys the function. He then says there are lots of these structures in biology. He also adds that intelligent beings can produce structures with this property.

    All of that’s probably true. But now, people are saying ‘show that evolution can do this, or ID is the better explanation!’

    Leaving aside the non-mechanistic nature of ID and its explanatory power, is it really fair to demand of evolution an explanation for something that has no relevance to it? You have all, after all, admitted that the definition of IC is totally irrelevant to evolution (which works by more than simple addition) – indeed, it seems to me like a total red herring.

    I mean, I can do this too. Dolphin sonar. Intelligent beings are known to be quite capable of making this technology, and we didn’t see it evolve… looks like ID wins again! Add to that any technology inspired by nature that humans have duplicated, and why not circulatory systems, valves… we’ve made neural networks too, so we may as well throw brains in there. Analogy makes it very easy, doesn’t it? Who needs to bother with modelling?

  131. 131

    DLH,
    I’m not assuming anything.

    I’m saying that there is no evidence for non-material intelligence.

    Do you know better? Please enlighten me? How does one obtain material evidence for the non-material?

  132. 132

    StephenB

    and embrace the cynical notion that design is “illusory,”

    If we take it as given that “design” is in fact design as we understand it, then in your opinion are there any biological structures that were not directly or indirectly “designed”?

    Is everything designed or just some things?

  133. Quadfather,

    “It does if intelligence is the only known cause of those sorts of systems.

    The only way you get to that conclusion is the negative evidence against the alternatives. That is what the Explanatory Filter is all about. It is a process of elimination or providing evidence against the alternatives. When the opposition claims that the alternatives work that is one of the main avenues of analysis. There is nothing that points to a specific designer, when it was done or how it was done. There is no forensic evidence for a designer. Congregate was sarcastically referreing to that when he asked where is the space ship or blue prints.

    Don’t confuse logic with positive information. Logic points to a designer only because the alternatives are so improbable. But that isn’t positive information.

  134. Uthan Rose:

    “I’m not assuming anything.

    I’m saying that there is no evidence for non-material intelligence.”

    You are assuming a lot. Human intelligence is everywhere, and there is no reason to believe that it is material.

    “Do you know better? Please enlighten me? How does one obtain material evidence for the non-material?”

    I am afraid that everybody seems enchanted by the word “evidence”. For the nth time, I must remember here that evidence is not proof, least of all demonstration. Indeed, the meaning itself of evidence is not so well defined.

    Let’s say, to stay simple, that we call “evidence” those facts which are well explained by a theory, and so are of some support to the best inference. Facts are usually observed by senses, or by some extension of them, but many “facts” observed in modern science are really, as Berlinski says, at the end of a long chain of inferences. Some of the “facts” observed through complex quantum experiments are so abstract that we could not even make a mental representation of what they mean, without the help of mathematics.

    Besides, the concept itself of “material” is very tricky. After all, matter is only one aspect of our perception of reality. Is quntum void (if it exists) matter? Was the big bang singularity (for those who believe in it) matter? Is dark energy (if it really is the biggest part of what exists) matter?

    Besides, there are certainly facts wich are “observed” without the instruments of the senses, and therefore are not necessarily material. The main and fundamental one is consciousness. Many seem to forget that one’s consciousness is perceived directly, and that it is the one basis of every other cognition. Similarly, modifications of the mind (feelings, emotions, thoughts) are perceived directly in consciousness (or, if you prefer, in the mind), and their material nature is only a far fetched inference (and, in my opinion, a completely wrong one).

    Finally, the principles of logic themselves, non contradiction, identity, and so on, and the same mathemathical objects, are in no way material. And yet, all our scientific knowledge is based on them.

    Finally, to Jerry: you may go on thinking as you please about positive and negative evidence. No harm done, after all. But, certainly, I (and, it seems, others here) cannot agree.

  135. 135

    Uthan Rose: “why does ID not start from the position that humanity was the designer?”

    Because:

    1. Humanity is the extraneous property of an intelligent agent. One must be intelligent to produce the effects in question, but you don’t necessarily have to be human.
    2. Our knowledge about human history suggest that humans did not yet exist when these certain effects came about.

    What’s left is: intelligence.

  136. 136

    jerry,

    No, logic points to a designer because we have experiential evidence that it CAN produce certain effects.

    Tell me, which of these is positive, and which is negative:

    CAN … can NOT

    Another example:

    IS … is NOT

    ID: Intelligent activity CAN produce these things. Intelligent activity IS known to produce these things.

    You can twist and turn all you want, but the fact remains: Intelligent Design is the best explanation for the fundamental features of biological life.

  137. 137

    And I think my earlier comments already settle the issue:

    “… as somebody else pointed out, any positive evidence is inextricably coupled with a negative implication. If we have positive evidence for this thing, then it implies that it was not that other thing. But that does not change the positive nature of the evidence … you are conflating the positive evidence for design with its negative implication, and I think this is why you have difficulty explaining what positive evidence would even look like.”

    It doesn’t seem like you believe that positive evidence can even exist at all.

  138. 138

    Venus Mousetrap,

    You may have no difficulty with the *concept* that Darwinian Evolution can produce certain things, but this doesn’t mean that it actually can.

    When our experience says that intelligence can produce those things, and our experience does NOT say that Darwinian Evolution can, then it is perfectly fair to ask you to demonstrate that DE is capable of the same feats as intelligence.

    Is it fair to expect us to believe that DE can do something that it is NOT known to do when we already know that intelligence IS known to do that same something?

  139. Quadfather,

    You said

    “You can twist and turn all you want, but the fact remains: Intelligent Design is the best explanation for the fundamental features of biological life.”

    You are new here. No where do I dispute ID is the best explanation for life. In fact I am one of the biggest supporters here of it. I have been commenting here for 2 1/2 years and all my posts are supportive of ID.

    I can tell you that the biggest thing going for ID is the negative information against Darwinian macro evolution. Without that there would be no ID movement, no books on ID and no Dembski blog.

  140. 140

    I can tell you that the biggest thing going for ID is the negative information against Darwinian macro evolution.

    So you don’t think the Biologic lab stuff will amount to anything of significance then? I would have thought a small amount of “positve” proof would outweigh much larger amounts of “negative” proof.

  141. 141

    gpuccio

    You are assuming a lot. Human intelligence is everywhere, and there is no reason to believe that it is material.

    None, apart from the fact that nobody has observed “intelligence” without material brains supporting it.

    Do you mean ghosts?

    I am afraid that everybody seems enchanted by the word “evidence”.

    Ok, but if you discount “evidence” then you can run wild with any speculation and call it science.

    Besides, the concept itself of “material” is very tricky. After all, matter is only one aspect of our perception of reality. Is quntum void (if it exists) matter? Was the big bang singularity (for those who believe in it) matter? Is dark energy (if it really is the biggest part of what exists) matter?

    Are you by any chance sitting in a model pyramid? If the concept of “matter” is so ill-defined then how can the “materialist” label be thrown around here with such confidence?

    Finally, the principles of logic themselves, non contradiction, identity, and so on, and the same mathemathical objects, are in no way material. And yet, all our scientific knowledge is based on them.

    The speed of gravity on a body of a given size is also not “material”.

    In any case, there is ongoing debate on if maths is discovered or invented. I don’t believe this is relevant to that however.

    and their material nature is only a far fetched inference (and, in my opinion, a completely wrong one).

    If it’s wrong, can you name the biggest difference that would happen if you corrected that error? If you convinced the world of your POV what changes would we see? Would there be new things discovered in physics for example? World peace? Faster computers (no speed of light limit on the non-material).What?

  142. 142

    jerry,

    Interesting.

    I would just like to know what your definition of “positive” evidence is.

    Also: Can anybody tell me how to manipulate text in these discussions? (bold, italic, quotes, lists, whatever else)

  143. 143

    Bold = text

    Italics = text

    The same scenario applies to blockquotes

  144. 144

    opps, my apologies to the moderators.

  145. 145

    None, apart from the fact that nobody has observed “intelligence” without material brains supporting it.

    This is interesting, but judging by what you said right after: “Do you mean ghosts?”, you probably have misunderstood what gpuccio has stated regarding “immaterial intelligence”.

    I guess an analogy might help.

    Computer software is immaterial in the sense that it cannot be explained by they’re lowest functional physical units ie: chips (memory, ALU, control unit etc..) to gates to switches (transistors) flipping on and off. It is at this same level of abstraction intelligence cannot be explained by the physical brain.
    Sure, you need a brain to support it, but to explain intelligence in the physical material sense is ludicrous.

    I believe thats what gpuccio means. I could be wrong.

  146. QuadFather,

    “I would just like to know what your definition of “positive” evidence is.”

    One thing will be hypotheses that have nothing to do with eliminating alternative explanations.

    For DNA and the genome, I am not exactly sure. Patrick speculated on foresight in the genome and that probably would do if it ever showed up. I suspect that when they understand the genome better there will be more hypotheses but now they are at the top/tip of the iceberg. One think I personally proposed and it is just speculation is that there are limiting routines in the genome that prevent a species from becoming superior. But that is just speculation.

    For macro evolution, I know of nothing that would qualify but that does not mean that someone cannot think of something.

    One thing for sure is that we would not be as far as we are without the negative information about naturalistic processes. Our main argument against Darwinian macro evolution is negative, using the fossil record and the lack of transitional species in the current world to support the ID position. Darwin’s main argument was also negative against a creator who would make such stupid decisions about the life he saw in his travels. His positive argument using artificial selection actually undermines his ideas today once we know more about the genome and how natural selection works and the limitations of change through artificial selection.,

    So both sides use the same approach.

  147. 147
    Venus Mousetrap

    Quad: you can use normal HTML in the comments, the preview will show you how it will look.

    Venus Mousetrap,

    You may have no difficulty with the *concept* that Darwinian Evolution can produce certain things, but this doesn’t mean that it actually can.

    When our experience says that intelligence can produce those things, and our experience does NOT say that Darwinian Evolution can, then it is perfectly fair to ask you to demonstrate that DE is capable of the same feats as intelligence.

    And if you’re defining DE as random mutation and selection, then it is possible to simulate those processes and form IC structures.

    But that’s not what you’re asking for – you want a photographic record of every single mutant in a line producing an IC structure in a lifeform. That is not gonna happen. It’s almost going back to the ‘were you there?’ line of argument.

    All you have done, really, is said that in any case where we don’t know how something happened, intelligence is the best answer. And it’s always going to be the best answer up until the point where we understand what’s going on. It’s the God-of-the-Gaps that ID is always criticized for. And this is where the need for positive evidence comes in – without it, you’re left to pointing to everything as design and waiting for gaps to fill in around it.

    Is it fair to expect us to believe that DE can do something that it is NOT known to do when we already know that intelligence IS known to do that same something?

    No, it would be wrong to expect you to believe it just because people say it’s true. However, we can model the process of evolution and have an idea of what it can do.

  148. ——urban Rose: “I’m saying that there is no evidence for non-material intelligence.”

    ——”Do you know better? Please enlighten me?

    I submit to you that volitional behavior is, in itself, strong evidence for the mind. The fact that you can overrule the brains impulses is, to me, a very compelling fact. Since the brain is a physical organ, situated in the mechanical world of physical and chemical laws, it can do nothing but follow those laws. Only an immaterial mind can extricate the individual from this deterministic world and become a causal agent capable of actually using those laws for its own purposes.

  149. Uthan Rose:

    “None, apart from the fact that nobody has observed “intelligence” without material brains supporting it.

    Do you mean ghosts?”

    No, I mean human intelligence. You are just taking for granted that intelligence is “generated” by material brains. I don’t believe that, and I just believe that human intelligence is only “expressed” through material brains. There are many reasons to affirm that (for reference, read “The spiritual brain”), and, in my opinion, almost no reason to affirm your point. But anyway, none of the two positions has any right to be affirmed as true dogmatically.

    “Ok, but if you discount “evidence” then you can run wild with any speculation and call it science.”

    No, I just meant that evidence must be distinguished from deductive proof (which is characteristic only of logics and mathematics), and should be well defined in its context. Indeed, I tried to give a simple, and rather universal, definition of it as “those facts which are well explained by a theory, and so are of some support to the best inference”. That’s a simple way of considering evidence, and underlines the important concept that evidence is never absolute, and that it should be evaluated in the context where it is relevant, in particular in the context of existing theories and inferences. In ither words, any evidence exists only in reference to a confrontation between existing theories: evidence is not an objective fact, but rather a subjective (but often more or less largely shared) judgement about facts.

    “If the concept of “matter” is so ill-defined then how can the “materialist” label be thrown around here with such confidence?”

    There is no contradiction. The concept of matter may well be ill defined in our understanding of reality, and in my opinion it definitely is. And still, “materialism” can very well be defined as any ideology which “believes” in an artificially well defined, and unrealistic, concept of matter. The first (matter) is the definition of a supposed principle of reality, the second (materialism) the definition of a well known way of thinking, with definite historical examples. They are, in every sense, two different things.

    “The speed of gravity on a body of a given size is also not “material”.”

    I would agree, if it were not that gravity, as a force, cannot have speed. Moving bodies have speed. But I do agree that abstract concepts as the law of gravity or the concept of speed are definitely not material. That was exactly one of my points.

    “In any case, there is ongoing debate on if maths is discovered or invented. I don’t believe this is relevant to that however.”

    I am well aware of the debate, and I am obviously on the part of the “platonic” model of mathematical objects, in good company, with Penrose and others. But you are right, there is debate, and again this is one of my points: these things are controversial, and cannot be taken for granted, as you seem ready to do.

    And believe me, the nature of mathematical objects is very, very relevant to practically everything (my opinion, again).

    “If it’s wrong, can you name the biggest difference that would happen if you corrected that error? If you convinced the world of your POV what changes would we see? Would there be new things discovered in physics for example? World peace? Faster computers (no speed of light limit on the non-material).What?”

    The differences would be great, and we will witness them as times go by, and as the general scenario of human thought shifts from mechanical and deterministic materialism to a more realistic appreciation of the unique properties of consciousness and mind. First of all, we would get rid of the useless, arrogant and irritating attempts to explain away our first experience in reality (our consciousness) as “non-existing” or as an illusion deriving from strange loops, and so on. Second, serious study of the phenomena of consciousness and mind could be carried on (for some starting point, see again “The spiritual brain”). Third, once the importance of the two ways interactions between consciousness and matter (perception and free will) is finally recognized , and its specific outputs, one of which is certainly CSI, are correctly put in perspective as unique effects of conscious beings, a new and deeply satisfying theoretical scenario of reality will be developed. And certainly, new answers about the nature of reality will be advanced, including a non algorithmic theory of understanding (see for instance Penrose), new insights about physics, quantum mechanics, living beings, far from equilibrium systems, and the whole universe.

    In the end, with a bit of luck, we could also get faster computers…

  150. stephenB, gpuccio,

    Uthan Rose has been banned if you are not aware of it.

  151. —–Jerry: “Uthan Rose has been banned if you are not aware of it.”

    No, I was not aware of it.

    —–”I can tell you that the biggest thing going for ID is the negative information against Darwinian macro evolution. Without that there would be no ID movement, no books on ID and no Dembski blog.”

    By that standard, the status quo is always positive and the reform is always negative, except that the status quo was once the reform, which means it was once positive. So, when Newton and Paley were reformers, they were negative, but when Darwin challenged them, he was negative and they became positive. But when ID challenges Darwin, suddenly Darwin becomes positive and ID is negative.

  152. Obviously, I wrote the first sentence to hurriedly. It should end with, “except that the status quo was was once the reform, which means it was once negative.”

  153. stephenB,

    you said

    “By that standard, the status quo is always positive and the reform is always negative, except that the status quo was once the reform, which means it was once positive. So, when Newton and Paley were reformers, they were negative, but when Darwin challenged them, he was negative and they became positive. But when ID challenges Darwin, suddenly Darwin becomes positive and ID is negative.”

    I do not agree with anything is this paragraph you wrote. It is a little bit of a non-sequitur. Who did Paley challenge? Was Newton negative? Every new theory must be to some extent but I believe he presented a massive amount of information that better fit the data with all sorts of predictions. That is positive. Darwin never challenged Newton but LaPlace did modify some of Newton’s theories. And obviously Einstein limited Newton’s ideas to certain conditions.

    If you get your analysis from anything I said, let me know what it is. If you read closely, you will see I said Darwin’s main argument was negative and it still is for the Darwinists. The Darwinists have positive information for micro evolution that is fairly convincing and as I said ID agrees with this information. Darwin had some positive hypotheses, many of which have since been disproved.

    There is an aspect of what you wrote that I do agree with. For a theory to have traction and wide acceptance in the scientific community it must have positive evidence to support it but it also compares itself to the old theories. Darwinian macro evolution or his general theory as Denton called it, has no positive evidence for it now and never did. It depends upon the results of micro evolution for its verification as people say deep time would solve all problems. Darwin’s general theory is the one theory without positive evidence for it that is widely accepted. Maybe someone can suggest others but I cannot think of any.

    That is why I push for the distinction between the general theory and the special theory. The typical person accepts the special theory and so does ID but the typical person does not distinguish between the two and thus does not know which theory is disputed and which is accepted. Why do we see comments such as the adaptations of microbes proves Darwin’s theory amongst those who object to ID not realizing that is the special theory which is not controversial and which ID accepts?

    We contribute to that confusion here. But that is an old story much discussed.

  154. 154

    jerry (153)- plate tectonics also explains events that happened over longer time frames. Is there more positive evidence for it than for evolution? (Not sarcastic this time, I really don’t know what the evidence is for plate tectonics.)

  155. —–Jerry: “That is positive. Darwin never challenged Newton but LaPlace did modify some of Newton’s theories. And obviously Einstein limited Newton’s ideas to certain conditions.”

    You are taking the names and places too seriously. I was not trying to offer a history of scientific reform, I was simply trying to point out that the reformers always seem negative to the status quo. I didn’t mean to suggest that Darwin was Newton’s direct descendent.

    In any case, you said:

    —–Jerry: “that the biggest thing going for ID is the negative information against Darwinian macro evolution. Without that there would be no ID movement, no books on ID and no Dembski blog.”

    I don’t think you are doing justice to the fact that ID science has reaffirmed the idea of teleology and purpose in nature. That, it seems to me, is a very positive affirmation, and it is vitally important. I think of ID as providing scientific verification to this age old wisdom which was largely abandoned due to the Darwin’s influence.

    Further, I think that ID is very compelling in its own right. The idea of a “fine tuned” universe is an incredibly positive affirmation. It is very scientific, and it doesn’t stand alone. We also have “specified complexity,” “irreducible complexity,” “counterflow,” and a number of other paradigms, each of which confirms the other. As far as I am concerned, these sciences would have arrived even if Darwin had never lived. Information technology alone would have brought it about. The fact that they all converge is a very good indication that they are sound.

    Of all these arguments, the “anthropic principle,” (fine tuning) is the most firmly established. Only the most radical ideologue would deny it, because the numbers don’t lie. Even Darwinists don’t try to deny it; they simply ignore it. As a reflection on the true state of the world, ToE does not even come close to it, positive or negative. And its science isn’t all that great either. If it was, it wouldn’t have to be propped up by a bunch of defensive and insecure bureaucrats.

  156. StephenB,

    If it wasn’t for the weakness of the Darwinian macro evolution paradigm, biological ID would not be on the radar scope. OOL would be fair game but with macro evolution solved, it wouldn’t have the same traction. Darwin would be the greatest scientist that ever lived. Einstein, Newton, Galileo and Maxwell would be eclipsed.

    Cosmological ID would still be in play. Even the TE’s at ASA accept that as well as all the religious Darwinists. There would be some good intellectual discussions but you would not have the controversy that is in reality still small today. For the most part the great majority of the population are oblivious to the issues.

    All the concepts you mention are still disputed by the Darwinists and our best retort is that they are not invalid!!! Because the alternatives are improbable. CSI and IC are all reachable by naturalistic process so the the Darwinists say and we say they are not by showing the improbability of the naturalistic processes. This is what I see.

    Joseph’s idea of counterflow sounds interesting but has it ever been played out with good examples. I did a search of this site and all you see is Joseph mentioning the concept as an indication of intelligence and nothing else.

    Call what you want positive. It is is getting old discussing it.

  157. —–Jerry: “All the concepts you mention are still disputed by the Darwinists and our best retort is that they are not invalid!!! Because the alternatives are improbable. CSI and IC are all reachable by naturalistic process so the the Darwinists say and we say they are not by showing the improbability of the naturalistic processes. This is what I see.”

    Jerry, Darwinists have a “no concession policy,” which is another way of saying that they will never admit anything that anything about ID is true. I can’t imagine why you would take such people seriously, let alone give them the benefit of the doubt.

    I disagree with you strongly about ID’s “fine tuning” in nature. Two of atheisms strongest advocates, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, have admitted publically that they have no answer for this argument, and yet you seem to have little faith in it. It is not just a cosmological argument, it applies to all of nature.

    With regard to Darwinists claim that they will find an evolutionary pathwaya to complexity. I have read some of their pitiful attempts to to do it, and it was clear that they were just making things up. I can’t understand why you would find them credible in any way.

  158. Stephenb,

    “I disagree with you strongly about ID’s “fine tuning” in nature. ”

    You have a habit of misinterpreting what I say. What do you disagree with? Are you talking about cosmology? Have I ever denied the fine tuning in nature?

    I happen to point out that ID’s arguments are mostly negative. I never said they were not appropriate or logical or compelling.

    People desperately want something that is not there. They do not want any shortcomings in what they believe. Well one of the things that they want here is an organized theory of ID and it is not there yet.

    The most effective spokesman for ID is Behe and all his work is negative in the ID area. Dembski is known for the Explanatory Filter and this is a negative approach. It is also effective.

    I fail to see how you twisted what I said into something that you strongly disagree with especially since you associate it with the fine tuning in nature. I have never disputed or underestimated the cosmological argument but ID here is mostly centered around biological issues.

  159. —–Jerry: “I fail to see how you twisted what I said into something that you strongly disagree with especially since you associate it with the fine tuning in nature. I have never disputed or underestimated the cosmological argument but ID here is mostly centered around biological issues.”

    I am sorry that you think that I am twisting your words. I hope that is not the case, but, just to be sure, I will make a disciplined effort not to do it in the future. Meanwhile, you seemed to have shrugged off a great many of my points as if I had not even mentioned them.

    You have argued consistently that specific ID paradigms use the negative approach. I have pointed out that a design inference is a positive affirmation. What exactly is negative about a design inference? Are you confusing the affirmation with the process of elimination that makes the affirmation possible? What is it that is negative about science confirming the notion that we are fearfully and wonderfully made?

    Also, I pointed out that the ID paradigms are all converging, each confirming the legitimacy of the other. You shrugged that off. I also pointed out that negative affirmations are inextricably tied up with positive affirmations and vice versa. You shrugged that off. I pointed out further that the ID movement, which is, in part, based on a negative evaluation of materialism, is not the same as ID methodology, which is not. You shrugged that off. Finally, I pointed out further that the principle of fine-tuning is not exclusive to cosmology. You shrugged that off as well.

    Granted biochemistry is not exactly the same thing as biology, but the questions that are being raised are impressive. For example:
    • Do the properties of proteins or protein interaction networks show any evidence of fine-tuning?

    • Are there evidences of fine tuning and convergence in biochemical pathways

    • Does systems biology shed new light on the range of chemistries suited for the emergence of life?

    Having made these points, I will concede that ID has a long way to go. There can be no doubt of it. Maybe it will never come up with a full-blown theory equivalent to some of the mechanistic theories we know of. We are, after all, talking about intelligent agency which, by definition, is not mechanistic. But that doesn’t make it inferior; it makes it different. Coded information has brought something new to the table, and we are going to have to deal with that. In any case, you have yet to persuade me that these affirmations are negative. Saying that it is so doesn’t make it so.

  160. 160

    congregate:

    jerry (153)- plate tectonics also explains events that happened over longer time frames. Is there more positive evidence for it than for evolution? (Not sarcastic this time, I really don’t know what the evidence is for plate tectonics.)

    I’d say so; how about:

    a) Both the continental “fit”, and matching geology where they fit argue that the continents where once joined in various places.

    b) Magnetic striping showing reversals in the earth’s field over time form mirrored, symmetric patterns progressing away from existing mid-ocean ridges. These are “Ocean growth rings”.

    c) We can actually measure the continents moving now, using satellite-based ranging.

    d) The entire “ring of fire”, 40,000 km of mountains, ridges and volcanoes finds its origin and explanation in plate tectonics.

    e) Plate tectonics successfully explains the origins of most (though not all – there are some important exceptions) volcanoes, mountain ranges and earthquakes.

    So, yes, virtually no one doubts that plate tectonics exists. There is, however plenty of controversy about the exact driving mechanisms, but lots of progress continues to be made.

  161. 161

    I guess d) and e) are pretty much the same above…

  162. SCheesman,

    Thank you for your response to congregate’s comment. I never saw it. Congregate’s comment is unusual since he never adds anything but constantly snipes at ID positions. That he should go after plate tectonics is interesting. I can only guess his motivation.

  163. StephenB,

    I suggest you put together the positive science of ID to prove me wrong. I am all for it. Maybe use what the Biological Lab plans to do as Uthan Rose suggested.

  164. 164

    jerry-
    I’m assuming that the general idea of plate tectonics is accepted around here. I’m just trying to figure out why the currently observable evidence for it is more convincing than the currently observable evidence of evolution.

    So can we extrapolate the tiny measurable current motion of the plates to continents moving halfway round the globe? I suppose so, motion is motion.

    A common position here is that microevolution is well established based on currently observable evidence, but that macroevolution (development of new forms, tissues, etc.) is not. This suggests that there is some qualitative difference between micro and macro. (As opposed to the mainstream view, which seems to be that micro, over long periods and in certain conditions, adds up to macro.)
    I haven’t heard of any ID arguments that specify what the qualitative difference is in a broadly applicable way. (Behe for example believes in common descent but believes that intelligent input is required, but has he been able to specify where the input is required? Can a single-celled organism evolve without help into a multicellular organism? Can an ape-like creature evolve without help into chimps and humans?)
    I’m sorry you think I never add anything to the conversation here. I’m not an expert on any of these issues, and most of the regulars are not particularly interested in hearing new things from skeptics anyway. Did you ever get the Prothero book? What did you think about that one?

  165. congregate

    Behe answers your questions in “The Edge of Evolution”. Please read it before posting here again.

    And by the way, continental plates don’t move together to form complex code driven machines. Therein lies the difference, duh. The next stupid thing you attempt to say here will be your last.

  166. jerry

    Define “positive evidence”.

    If I say, “only intelligent agency can produce complex code driven machinery” and I produce evidence of its truth by showing intelligent agency does indeed produce complex code driven machinery then I certainly consider that positive evidence.

  167. Congregate at 164
    Plenty of evidence for plate tectonics. Relatively little data to reproduce it.
    Contrast 3 billion base pairs in the human genome. Unimaginable astronomical low probability of that coming about by natural law or chance.

  168. 168

    DaveScot, I believe Congregate is only repeating the stupidity which the authors of the talkorigins archive claim:



    Continental drift is not ‘just a theory’ any more. The basic concept of continents moving has been experimentally verified. We know for a fact that the Americas are moving westward away from Europe at several centimeters a year. Likewise other continents have been measured to move. So continental drift is both a ‘fact’ and a ‘theory’. The fact is the actual measurement of continent motion, and the theory is the explanation of why continents move and produce geologic activity.

    Ok, so how does this relate to evolution? Well before 1860 biologists knew that life was complex, and they knew there were relationships between species, and they knew that present life was different from fossil life. But they didn’t know why. Darwin’s theory explained why and how all life is related. It explains it better than any competing theory. In fact, it consistently predicts things that no other theory can predict. So it is the dominant theory in biology about how life is related.

    Now, just like the theory of continental drift, evolution has changed to incorporate new data. It now incorporates data on DNA, mutations, genetic drift, punctuated equilibrium, etc. But most of the basic concepts of evolution as proposed by Darwin are still part of the theory.

    And there is another similarity between evolution and continental drift. Evolution has been observed. There is documented data (facts) of species changing into other species. So evolution is both a fact (it’s been observed) and a theory (it explains how all life is related).

    Full article here

    Darwinists simply find it convenient to slap a multitude of completely non-related subjects in the same basket, pointing to them without making any distinction (ie: mechanism etc…). It makes it that much easier for them to quantify an obvious complex goal-directed process as nothing more then a simple sequence of chance and luck happy events.
    The logic therefore is:
    Continents evolved and Intelligent Design is flawed.

  169. 169

    Congregate,
    The “speciation” you allude to as proof for evolution will always be found to be “reproductive isolation” that is brought about by the loss of genetic information from the parent species.
    The evidence I have looked at suggests that the “Intelligent Designer” “front loaded” information into a parent species. According to the fossil record, Rapid diversity of the parent species occurs after the sudden appearance of the parent species in the fossil record. (The current evidence indicates that the rapid sub-speciation of the parent species is brought about by environmental clues to some significant but undetermined measure). The current evidence also indicates that no further information input comes from the “Intelligent Designer” after the initial “parent species” input, for after the rapid burst of quasi-environmentally driven adaptations for a species/kind there is always a long slow gradual decline in diversity for the group (Kind) as well as a long slow decline in variability for individual species shown in the fossil record. Thus the fossil record and current studies on existant species/kinds conforms precisely to Dr. Dembski’s conservation of information. Thus the evidence actually conforms much better to the ID better than the evolutionary at all major levels of inference that are currently available as long as information implementation is limited to the general one time implementation we find in the “kinds” definition of Genesis.
    As well with Dr Anton Zeilinger’s work in “quantum teleportation” we now have “hard proof” of informations transcendence and dominion of the energy/material realm which of compelling reason exist in a higher “spiritual” dimension rather than a “parallel” material dimension so often alluded to in the “many world’s” interpretation of quantum mechanics.
    Thus we have a “smoking gun” for a mechanism for Intelligent Design. Whereas all “honest” mutational studies I have looked fail to find any mechanism for evolution to explain the evidence we find in the fossil record or the complexity we find in life.

  170. Dave,

    “If I say, “only intelligent agency can produce complex code driven machinery” and I produce evidence of its truth by showing intelligent agency does indeed produce complex code driven machinery then I certainly consider that positive evidence.”

    How do we show that natural laws and chance cannot produce complex codes? We are into black swan territory here. We have never seen chance and natural law produce complex code but whose to say that there will not be an experiment or a condition discovered some day that will. This is the counter argument of the Darwinists.

    We then argue that the probability of such a thing happening is of low probability which is a negative argument against the alternatives as opposed to providing evidence for the specific code in question. Your analogy of modern people producing code is not positive evidence since it does not pertain to the code in question. It does say it is possible for an intelligence to produce such a code not that they actually did. To get to that they did, we argue against the alternatives.

    Now you can argue that this is positive evidence but it does not relate to the specific code in question. It will be impossible to to relate to the code in question because it originated several hundred million years ago and there are no space ships or blue prints available.

    You support a front loaded proposition and suppose you found embedded in the code of some genome the ability to produce another organism within the unexpressed code. Then you would have a smoking gun that was very positive for your hypothesis.

    Right now I believe you are using circumstantial evidence for your beliefs. But the above would not be circumstantial but proof of the ability to generate more than one organism within a genome and be very positive. There might also be the ability to express complex features which are not currently present and that would also be indicative of pre design or otherwise why isn’t it already expressed and currently suppressed.

    I believe ID will get more positive as more of the genome is revealed to control functions that could not have arisen by naturalistic means. What they are, I do not know. Patrick suggested foresight; I suggested built in limitations. There are probably many others.

  171. congregate,

    I currently have Prothero’s book from the library but have not read any of it yet. I frequently read books which are anti ID to see what they say. I often learn a lot from them but have not yet learned anything that contradicts the ID position.

    Prothero claims the fossil record supports gradualism. I will see. It looks like a good book to learn about paleontology.

  172. congregate,

    “I’m assuming that the general idea of plate tectonics is accepted around here. I’m just trying to figure out why the currently observable evidence for it is more convincing than the currently observable evidence of evolution.”

    There are a couple reasons as far as I am concerned. The first is that we can witness the plates actually moving and the cause of them moving (e.g. The Atlantic Ridge). SCheesman gave a few instances. There are also circumstantial evidence of similarities of South America and Africa at the specific points of match if they were fitted together.

    Evolution does not have that gradual build between species that one would expect to find if Darwinian processes working. It does in micro evolution examples but not in macro evolution. There are plenty of example of gradual changes in birds, lizards and other species that can be accounted for by micro evolution but none above the family level. Why? They should be present in the current suite of species we see on the planet.

  173. 173

    Jerry said:

    How do we show that natural laws and chance cannot produce complex codes? We are into black swan territory here. We have never seen chance and natural law produce complex code but whose to say that there will not be an experiment or a condition discovered some day that will. This is the counter argument of the Darwinists.

    Jerry, I don’t think there is any point in jumping back to point A. ID is past point A, why drag it back? If we have never seen chance and law produce complex code, then logically it should probably never produce complex code. ID recognizes what some of the possibilities are to produce complex code, why should ID wait for chance and law to produce complex code when it has been excluded from the possibilities, and for good reasons? Do you honestly believe this is a good counter argument for the Darwinists?

    I believe it is one of the many that ID can and should safely ignore, not only for practical reasons, but for the progress of ID in general. In the end, it helps neither side, it causes a setback for scientific ID and for magical Darwinian fairytale as well. They may not be arguments from ignorance by the Darwinists, but they sure are arguments for distractive purposes.

  174. godslanguage,

    All I am doing is pointing out what the current line of thought is amongst those who are doing OOL research and are anti ID. They are getting no where on solving this problem but they are saying they have just begun.

    ID proponents have spent a lot of time discrediting these claims and people on this blog have spent lots of words in this endeavor. The counter argument by the materialists is that we will eventually understand the process or processes that led from the primordial soup to complex replicating molecules to such molecules as RNA replicating and acting as a system to a cell.

    Now I doubt they ever will but that is the reasoning that holds sway in the scientific community and ID has to deal with it. To say getting past it means ignoring what is one of the main lines of thought in science today.

    Now a lot of ID people do not pay attention to it because the arguments have already been made. But that does not mean that those who argue for a strict naturalistic method for the OOL have abandoned it. ID has had little effect on it.

    DaveScot rightly points out that intelligence could with the right knowledge and tools construct a cell. However, such an observation does not rule out the discovery of a process that is naturalistic that could do something similar given hundreds of millions of years to brew in the primordial soup. It doesn’t seem likely but it is black swan territory.

  175. gpuccio: “The same process is used by our beloved darwinian biologists each time they affirm that two genes show significant homology. All they are saying is that they are similar enpough that such a result is unlikely by chance.”

    You’re mistaken. Constructing a nested hierarchy, and calculating the probability that sequences fit it by chance, is much more than saying that two genes are similar.

    Also, you’re mistaken when you attribute this to “darwinian biologists,” as Mike Behe and at least some of those who run this blog accept common descent.

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