Home » Evolution, Intelligent Design » The Designer’s “Skill-Set”

The Designer’s “Skill-Set”

In September, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show devoted several programs to the topic of evolution (“Evolution, Schmevolution — Who’s Right, Who’s Full of It”). What’s more, I appeared on one of those programs (go here and here).

In those programs, Stewart & Co. had some lines that were not only funny but also memorable. The one that sticks out poked fun at ID: “We’re not saying that the designer is God, just someone with the same skill-set.” That line is now being reused on the debate circuit, with Eugenie Scott, for instance, deploying it this November at a debate at Boston University (go here).

Although the line is funny, it is not accurate. God’s skill-set includes not just ordering matter to display certain patterns but also creating matter in the first place. God, as understood by the world’s great monotheistic faiths, is an infinite personal transcendent creator. The designer responsible for biological complexity, by contrast, need only be a being capable of arranging finite material objects to display certain patterns. Accordingly, this designer need not even be infinite. Likewise, that designer need not be personal or transcendent (cf. the “designer” in Stoic philosophy).

Bottom line: Jon Stewart & Co. are funny people, but their one-liners are no substitute for clear thinking.

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54 Responses to The Designer’s “Skill-Set”

  1. ID doesn’t speak to:

    1) creation of matter
    2) immortal soul
    3) immoral conduct
    4) moral conduct
    5) salvation
    6) heaven
    7) hell

    Etcetera.

    If ID is religion it’s a brand new one that addresses none of things that all other religions are concered with. If ID is religion it deserves a spot in the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s sparsest religion.

    Remember how Behe got grilled on the stand in Dover for a definition of science? In a court of law concerned with whether ID qualifies as religion for 1st amendment purposes the grilling should be for a definition of religion, not science. ID doesn’t qualify as a religion.

  2. DaveScot totally agree with your post
    I have never really understood the inference of ID = Religon mantra that is used in preference to robust argument against ID.
    As far as I see it ID is about detecting design thats about it ? Please correct me if I am wrong.
    WormHerder out

  3. If the designer is not God, then who (or what) created the designer? Eventually your argument is going to have to get back to God creating an intelligent being. Therefore you are espousing a religious view of creation and not a scientific one.

  4. RobG,

    Your statement is false. The designer could be an alien intelligence.

    Dan

  5. I watched the Daily Show and I was surprised to hear that lady on the panel with Bill Dembski say that the universe is a virutal reality. She was chuckled at. But I have the same belief. I don’t know who she is and what else she thinks but I have for some type believed in a virtual universe model. It goes a little something like this:

    From my understanding space time is eternal and infinite, having no origin and no end. That is the nature of reality. If anything exists infinity has to exist. Many cosmologists believe that the universe is finite, they believe it had a beginning and therefore it is limited in size. When I had a debate with some physicists on this I asked: What happens when you come to the end of the universe? Is there a wall there? What is the defining characteristic which would enable you to know that you have come to the end of the universe? Let’s say that you have taken a space ship to the end of the universe, what defines the end? How do you know when you have reached it? Does space no longer exist there? Is there a dividing line between space time and non space time? What exists on the outside of the universe? If you were able to walk up to the edge of the universe and walked through it where would you be? Well some of them answered that nothing exists there.

    I pointed out that by definition nothing doesn’t exist. Nothing is not something. So beyond the universe nothing cannot exist because nothing doesn’t exist. One of them was an expert mathematician and he agreed with me saying that everything that we have experience of in the universe exists within a boundless reality. People may theorize about a finite universe but there is no actual observation of a finite universe. We have never seen anything that exists in anything but a boundless universe. Until we experience otherwise i.e that something in our universe does not exist in a boundless reality, it is therefore an axiom that the universe is infinite.

    So that is the starting point of my virtual universe theory. Here is the rest.

    That infinite eternal space time exists in more dimensions then what we can perceive using our 3 dimensional technology (We know that there are other dimensions existing which we cannot perceive with 3 dimensional technology i.e our mind and conscious awareness). That is a major problem in trying to understand the origin of matter and energy. If you cannot perceive the origin then you can come up with crazy theories like saying matter and energy came from nothing. The fact is that matter and energy come from another dimension. It is that dimension which is the source of our 3 dimensional universe. In that dimension the laws of physics as we know them do not apply. Also the nature of that dimension is that it is an infinite unified energy field. That field became conscious in some unknown manner and developed intellect and eventually was able to create our 3 dimensional universe. All matter and energy in our 3 dimensional universe is a transformation from a sub quantum (extra dimensional) state into a quantum state. It is controlled at the sub quantum level and the quantum level. In a sense matter can self organize because there is more to matter then what we can perceive. Matter has as it’s substratum the extra dimensional conscious field of energy and it is that consciousness which organizes matter into the varieties found in our 3 dimensional universe. That is how God created all living things. All matter is controlled at the sub quantum level by a conscious aspect which is all pervading and a unified field. Matter is essentially part of a living being. That living being transforms sub quantum energy/itself and creates matter. At that stage matter is essentially alive. It has a brain and it has an energetic source which controls it’s every movement at the quantum level and larger. In a very real sense we live in a virtual reality. Our universe is a virtual world existing within an infinite hyper dimensional conscious computer. Just like a computer can control what you see in a virtual reality due to it’s control over the pixels, in a similar way God controls matter in our universe.

  6. And the infinite hyper dimensional conscious computer’s name is Deep Thought? ;)

  7. Consider Roy Clouser’s definition of religion (from The Myth of Religous Neutrality):

    A belief is a religious belief provided that:
    1) it is a belief in something as divine per se no matter how that is further described, or
    2) it is a belief about how the non-divine depends upon the divine per se, or
    3) it is a belief about how humans come to stand in proper relation to the divine per se,

    4) where the essential core of divinity per se is to have the status unconditionally non-dependent reality.

    Clouser’s book has the subtitle “An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories.”

    I am still reading the book, but I think Clouser is headed in the right direction. So the questions to be asked are:

    A) Is the designer unconditionally non-dependent?
    B) What about the matter he manipulates?

    A little truth table:
    A B
    ———————————-
    Y Y – paganism of the dualist variety and also pantheism
    Y N – the great monotheistic faiths
    N Y – paganism of some other (monistic) variety (evolution)
    N N – ?? something else is god – the great quantum fluxuation (evolution)

    It seems ID is compatible with just about everything and does not demand any particular answers to the questions.

  8. RobG re my post – I was saying that the argument between ID and evolution has involved id being likened to a religon on different occassions in different posts.
    ID says nothing about God or who the designer is ..it just states that there is design detected -thats it.Any other inferences are your own.
    The monolith is on the moon we infer design but thats all we can infere.what else can be said ?
    As a matter of fact I belive I exist as an expression of Gods will.but that does not change design detected or no design detected.
    WortmHerder out

  9. John Stewart has to be one of the clearest thinkers around!

    One of the issues that I seldom see addressed on this blog is the possibility that “intelligent design” and “evolution” actually could be compatible. After all evolution is a simple, elegant, and powerful way for an intelligent designer to solve the problem of speciation. This, of course, would substitute a different creation story for the ones currently proposed by convential religions, but at least it would be a creation story that is more in line with the evidence.

  10. Rob

    “If the designer is not God, then who (or what) created the designer?”

    If life is the result of chance interactions of matter, who or what created matter?

    You don’t get to have your cake and eat it too. Sorry.

  11. mentok

    We talk of the *observable* universe. No one knows what’s beyond the observable universe. It might be infinitely more of the same or might not be. You really need to crack those books I mentioned on another thread.

  12. “One of the issues that I seldom see addressed on this blog is the possibility that “intelligent design” and “evolution” actually could be compatible.”

    I’ve made note of that on several occasions. It’s how theistic evolutionists reconcile the two. It’s what Albert Einstein and many deists believe. ID doesn’t discount these. ID merely posits the evidence of design is detectable in nature and provides a methodoloy for making design inferences.

  13. It’s amazing to me how many people (including some supporters) publish commentary about ID when they clearly have no idea what the claims of ID are. The only ‘radical’ claim of ID is simply that in some cases intelligent causation can be reliably inferred from empirical data. ID doesn’t even challenge methodological naturalism, unless an intelligent cause is by definition a supernatural cause.

  14. I do not think that they are compatible. ID and Evolution

    The theistic evolutionists use something similiar to Pope Benedicts “Intelligent Project”.
    ID is distinctly suggesting that biological evolution could only occur with the assistance of an “intelligent agent”.

    If ID were merely suggesting that at some point an intelligent designer ‘setup’ the system..then ID would merely be relabeled Deism…not similiar to Deism…but Deism.

    ID must be suggesting that the “intelligent agent” is an active force that is necessary for any evolution.

    Also, DaveScot, consider that if ID is compatible with Evolution, then ID would not be a controversy to evolution…but a new sub-theory of evolution

  15. My professor came in today and blasted ID. As a business professor, he totally digressed from business and focused on science. He called the ID movement a group of Bast****(I would rather not write this, but you know the word). I was offended, however, I didn’t say anything in order to avoid more digression. I consider him a nut in the first place anyways! Nonetheless, it shows how ignorant people really are. He accused ID of kidnapping politicians in order to serve their ploy. What a bag of lies? Shows how low higher education has really become.

  16. I’m hearing this debate between Peter Ward and Steve Meyer. Meyer is crushing him!!! Go Steve and ID!

  17. I hate modern debate….seriously…i hate modern debate

    Let me explain….
    I have never read on a pro-ID site that the ID proponent lost the debate.
    I have never read on a pro-Evolution site that the ID proponent lost the debate.

    We have abandoned the concept of debate…the idea that you were actually trying to convince your opponent. Debate does not work when you are trying to sway the masses. Debate works when you are trying to sway your opponent.

    Now, granted, normally your opponent does not change his mind…but turning public debate into some awkward form campaigning just seems wrong.

    I believe the decline of public debate coincided with the decline of the American attention span. When we suddenly lost the ability to listen to a 3 hour discourse objectively…we lost the ability to appreciate a good debate.

  18. sorry…that should read:

    I have never read on a pro-evolution site that the Evolution advocate lost the debate

  19. “I have never read on a pro-ID site that the ID proponent lost the debate.”

    At IDTF, I read an entry where Paul Nelson admitted that his opponent did better than him.

  20. did he claim that his opponent beat him…or did he claim that he did better than him

    doing better in a debate–being more prepared and speaking more clearly

    beating or winning in a debate–actually defeating the points of your opponent

  21. mentok

    You might be interested in this

    http://www.crystalinks.com/holouniverse1.html

    It’s a reprint of a SciAm article. Unfortunately SciAm seems to have truncated all its online content and now demands a digital subscription for everything.

  22. PuckSR,

    Your statement about ID being Deism is False. It is very simple, the Designer sould have tuned everything perfectly to his will to have the best possible outcome for creatures he deeply cares about. He could have even programmed it for redemtpion. Deism states that God wound it up and walked away. This Designer could have wound it up and watched his masterpiece unfold. You clearly do not understand Deism.

    Dan

  23. PuckSR is no longer with this blog. –WmAD

  24. Dan

    “Deism states that God wound it up and walked away.”

    Not necessarily. I found the following article helpful

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

    Historical and modern Deism is defined by the view that reason, rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in God. Deists reject both organized and revealed religion and maintain that reason is the essential element in all knowledge. For a “rational basis for religion” they refer to the cosmological argument (first cause argument), the teleological argument (argument from design), and other aspects of what was called natural religion. Deism has become identified with the classical belief that God created but does not intervene in the world, though this is not a necessary component of deism.

  25. No, I don’t think it’s right to say that ID does not require a supernatural designer.

    William Dembski himself said: “The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design.” (in The Act of Creation: Bridging Transcendence and Immanence)

    Are you tell me that creating a universe does not require the supernatural?

  26. Thanks Dave and I enjoyed the read. I think that the “on the street” deist reflects the definition I used, but I appreciate the insight.

    Dan

  27. In response to a couple of comments regarding my comment where I said “If the designer is not God, then who (or what) created the designer?”

    Dan says, “Your statement is false. The designer could be an alien intelligence.” Well then, who created this alien intelligence?

    WormHerder says: “ID says nothing about God or who the designer is ..it just states that there is design detected -thats it.” ID says that there is an intelligent designer. Where did this designer come from? It is an accepted scientific fact that the universe began some 13-14 billion years ago. The only thing that could have existed before the beginning of the universe is God. Your designer, if not God, came into existence after the beginning of the universe. If you reject the theological premise that God created the designer then you must accept the premise that the designer arose from natural, random processes (aka evolution). You can’t say that an intelligent designer created life but deny that God was involved. As DaveScott said, “You don’t get to have your cake and eat it too. Sorry.”

    DaveScott asks, “If life is the result of chance interactions of matter, who or what created matter?” We don’t know! But to assume that anything we don’t know or understand was caused by God is not a scientific way of thinking. It also limits scientific thought into trying to figure out what we (as humans) don’t understand.

  28. I was holding the “man on the street” definition too. Then Bill went and posted the epitaph Ben Franklin wrote for himself, then I had to go review the basis for my notion that Franklin was a deist, and I found that deists aren’t necessarily believers in a non-interventionist God. Einstein and Franklin, both deists, might have had a bit of a lively debate over whether God intervenes if they’d been contemporaries.

  29. RobG

    It’s no more fair to demand that I produce an answer for who designed the designer then it is for me to demand that you produce an answer for who created matter. Maybe the designer is the result of chance interaction of matter. We don’t know! All we can do is examine the life we know of and it appears astronomically unlikely that it could have arisen without direction.

  30. Why is PuckSR no longer with this blog?

  31. DaveScott,
    Since you are basing your theory on the presence of a designer then you must be able to offer some evidence that the designer exists. That we observe things that seem to have been designed can mean one of two things: they were actually designed or they are the result of natural process that we don’t fully understand. Science has identified numerous processes that could have led to the observed things; and since no designer has been identified then we must conclude, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that natural processes were responsible. This is the scientific process. Invoking some unseen, unobserved, unknown designer to explain the observations is decidedly non-scientific.

    If the designer could have been the result of chance interaction of matter then you are conceeding the basic point that a chance interation of matter could create life and intelligence. As for life as we know it being astronomically unlikely to have arisn without direction, there are many who would refute your assessment of the odds. I’m sure you will want to respond with page after page of examples of things that are astronomically improbable to have occurred by chance. All of the odds calculations I have ever seen make assumptions that may or may not be true. Without an absolute understanding of the likelihood of a myriad of things happening, you cannot reliably estimate odds.

  32. I’m fairly sure that we can say the odds of life arising out of nonlife are, indeed, astronimically, insanely, absurdly, near zero.

    And, what IF we had evidence that was irrefutable that it was indeed God who created all of this- you’re saying that by assuming, from the evidence, that he did it- it wouldn’t be scientific. Well, doesn’t that mean that science is severely limited in what it can and cannot do? You seem to be saying what so many others say- no matter how much evidence exists, we can never let a designer get his foot into the door. I’d say that good science is about following the evidence wherever it leads, not limiting it in this or any other manner that says- we can’t allow this, this, or that, no matter what evidence we have to suggest that this, this, or that are indeed responsible for what we’re seeing.

  33. RobG you wrote:

    “Since you are basing your theory on the presence of a designer then you must be able to offer some evidence that the designer exists.”

    The evidence is presented in the design inference shown by numerous scientists working within all of the academic fields related to evolution. From Paleontology to biochemistry to statistics etc. In each academic field which evolution draws upon to make it’s case it can and has been revealed by numerous scientists that evolution fails at explaning what the data from their research presents. The designer is revealed through the design. If it can be proven that some type of naturally occuring system cannot come into existence through a purely evolutionary process then that in and of itself reveals the designer.

    To give an example; Lets say that you were living 1000 years ago and you were walking through a forest and came upon a brand new 4 wheel drive Ford Bronco. Having no idea where it came from and no idea of modern technology where would you think that car came from? You could get your local wizard and shaman to investigate and they might come up with a theory that since all of those elements found in the car can be found in nature, that therefore the car is the product of nature. Or you may ask an architect where it came from and he might say that the factory is a product of nature but that the car is to complex for it to have come into existence without someone actually building the factory.

    So the moral of the story is that there is a limit to what can come into existence within nature without an intelligence to make it come into existence. Nature provides raw materials but it cannot produce blueprints and it cannot build things based on blueprints. No matter how long you wait a Ford Bronco will never come into existence due to the workings of nature alone.

    What we find in living things is a complexity on a scale vastly superior to that of a Ford Bronco. Even the smallest living cell contains technology so complex that we don’t understand much of what is going on. Machines created out of molecules. Nanotechnology. Self replication. Data storage and comprehension at the molecular level. Corporations are pouring millions of dollars into researching how to copy the data storage and retreival capacity going on in a cell. A single gram of dried DNA, about the size of a half-inch sugar cube, can hold as much information as a trillion compact discs.

    The wizards and shamans may only see nature, but the those who use logic and reason see a designer.

  34. “Since you are basing your theory on the presence of a designer then you must be able to offer some evidence that the designer exists.”

    The evidence is essentially of the same kind that makes us believe that the humans moving around us are doing so out of intelligent agency, and not as a result of some unknown laws that we can’t determine yet. Their behavior indicates intelligence, and so we conclude that they are intelligent. It is a basic first principle of our thinking that “From marks of wisdom and intelligence in the effects, we can infer wisdom and intelligence in the cause (in the absence of evidence to the contrary)” (more or less as Thomas Reid would put it). If we reject this principle outright, then we should also do so when we consider the people around us, and be skeptical about whether they are really acting intelligently when they appear to be.

    “That we observe things that seem to have been designed can mean one of two things: they were actually designed or they are the result of natural process that we don’t fully understand. Science has identified numerous processes that could have led to the observed things;…”

    Yes, science has identified numerous processes that COULD have led to the observed things; but none which could have done so realistically. The idea that there was a sequence of beneficial mutations that arose over the ages, without any intelligent agency at all, such that the end result was the vast array of breathtakingly sophisticated molecular machines we find around us, properly speaking belongs in the realm of fantasy. Whence comes this blind faith in the power of natural, unguided processes to produce the marvels of biochemical engineering on which life depends?

    “and since no designer has been identified then we must conclude, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that natural processes were responsible.”

    Rather: since no realistic natural processes have been identified then we must conclude, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that an intelligent designer was involved.

    “Invoking some unseen, unobserved, unknown designer to explain the observations is decidedly non-scientific.”

    Yet invoking unseen, unobserved, unknown ancestors and evolutionary pathways is somehow the paradigm of science? We do not have to know the identity of the designer to know that a designer was involved. That is the whole point of the Explanatory Filter.

  35. I mispoke in the above. When I wrote ths:

    “Or you may ask an architect where it came from and he might say that the factory is a product of nature but that the car is to complex for it to have come into existence without someone actually building the factory”

    It should read:

    “Or you may ask an architect where it came from and he might say that the car is a product of nature but that the car is to complex for it to have come into existence without someone actually building the car in a factory”

  36. RobG

    “Science has identified numerous processes that could have led to the observed things;”

    BS. Not a single process has been demonstrated to be capable of producing non-trivial speciation. It’s all extrapolation without a single demonstrated instance of the creation of a novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan.

    “and since no designer has been identified then we must conclude, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that natural processes were responsible”

    Again, this is wrong. Human engineers have demonstrated the capability of genetic engineering. There is one example in nature of genetic engineers thus, unlike bogus extrapolations of rm+ns, there is one demonstrated instance of intelligent design. The only question is whether there is more than one and whether another acted in the past.

  37. RobG

    “You could get your local wizard and shaman to investigate and they might come up with a theory that since all of those elements found in the car can be found in nature, that therefore the car is the product of nature.”

    You badly need to broaden your knowledge base. Isolated human tribes have encountered advanced technology in the past. They unfailingly attribute the technology to divine origin. Arthur C. Clark said “Any sufficiently advanced technology appears as magic.”

    The design IS evidence of a designer, by the way, just like fecal droppings are evidence of animals. The problem is that RM+NS has been held out to be the designer without a single demonstration that it is capable of producing anythjng more than trivial variations that don’t approach the generation of novel cell types, tissue types, organs, or body plans. The modern synthesis is an abysmal failure. Get used to it.

  38. Sorry… the last comment should have been directed at Mentok.

    Mentok, you really need to crack more books. You continually demonstrate your shallow knowledge of the world in your claims.

  39. As usual dave you miss the point. You may want to look at what the point is in a post before you try and think of ways to discredit parts of an argument otherwise you end up looking like a person with nothing to say but many ways to say it. What you just did is if someone says that the sun is so hot that when he was exposed to it for an hour he got a sunburn, and then you respond “man are you dumb, the sun is so hot it would burn you to a crisp if you were really exposed directly to it”. Try and take it down a notch…umkay?

  40. [...] I refer you to this series of comments in Bill’s weblog: Or skip them if you like. I do not think that they are compatible. ID and Evolution [...]

  41. RobG is making a simple point which his respondents seem to be missing.

    Bill Dembski’s original post says that the designer of life, as postulated by ID theory, need not have God’s full “skill set” — all that’s needed is the capability of “arranging finite material objects to display certain patterns.”

    RobG is simply pointing out that a finite designer of this sort (a technologically advanced extraterrestrial, for example) is itself an instance of complex specified information, and thus according to ID theory must also have a designer.

    Logically, there could even be a chain of designers: life’s designer, life’s designer’s designer, life’s designer’s designer’s designer, etc. Eventually, no matter how long or short the chain is, it must end with a “prime designer” who is the ultimate source of the complex specified information that is being passed down the chain.

    This prime designer is either natural (i.e. part of the universe) or supernatural. If it is natural, then its complex specified information arose out of undirected natural processes, which ID says is impossible. This means that according to ID theory, the prime designer must be supernatural.

    This is why RobG claims that ID is inherently religious, even though the immediate designer of life could conceivably be a finite being of the sort described by Dembski.

  42. DaveScott says:
    “Not a single process has been demonstrated to be capable of producing non-trivial speciation. It’s all extrapolation without a single demonstrated instance of the creation of a novel cell type, tissue type, organ, or body plan.”

    Here’s a short list (only 80-90 articles) of published research papers that document macroevolution:
    http://www.christianforums.com.....ation.html

  43. key phrase “non-trivial speciation”. RM+NS has not been shown to produce “non-trivial speciation” as Dave said. Even then, most scientists can’t even decide what the clear definition of a species is.

  44. Josh,
    What do you mean by “non-trivial speciation”? Did you even look at the list? I don’t know what you expect to see? Do you expect to see a completely new species popping up completely formed without any gradual intermediate forms? Do you expect this to have happened over the course of only the hundrend years or so that scientists have been looking? That would be creationism and is exactly what evolution says does not happen. The development of a new species is a very subtle thing, which is why many scientists have disagreements as to exactly what constitutes a species.

  45. RobG,

    I think you are describing exactly the difficulty with empirically confirming evolution by RM & NS.

    Observable instances of evolution caused by RM&NS will invariably be minor and gradual (finches, pepeered moths, etc.), and thus provide no evidence that RM & NS realistically has the power to cause macroevolution (e.g. our evolution from ape-like ancestors).

    Moreover, there are no detailed testable descriptions of evolutionary pathways which describe macroevolution.

  46. My earlier message didn’t appear, so I’ll try again.

    “Non-trivial speciation” was implicitly defined (by Dave Scot, if I understood him correctly) by example: the creation of a novel cell type, tissue type, or body plan would be examples of the kinds of changes that are here being called “non-trivial”.

    The question is, does RM&NS realistically have the power to produce such non-trivial changes?

    Of course, we can’t observe such non-trivial changes taking place, so that’s one way in which the empirical evidence for evolution is necessarily limited.

    Are there then detailed, testable pathways by means of which such changes could plausibly have come about in nature and without intelligent guidance, solely by means of RM and NS? No.

  47. From the brief descriptions I think I’ve read some of those articles in the past but I’d have to look them up to be certain (and to be able to coherently discuss their contents). Needless to say, my impression of the time: I wasn’t convinced. Have you ever read them yourselves RobG or are you blindly accepting the assertion that they do in fact support your position? Give one specific example “non-trivial speciation” to discuss.

    “Do you expect to see a completely new species popping up [in the fossil record] completely formed without any gradual intermediate forms? That…is exactly what evolution says does not happen.”

    Depends on what evolutionary model/historical narrative you’re talking about. I’m guessing you’re in the Dawkins camp. All of you have to do is give a single example of CSI coming about by non-intelligent means and that’d be enough to shut us up.

  48. Rob- the problem is, we’ve seen speciation of guppies (as one example) that took place 10 million times faster than NDE says it would, and that we find in the fossil record. So, the quickness of it causes a problem for NDE as well…plus, this is fairly non trivial- not even that entire list was speciation from NS, many of the items described artifical selection by scientists. A new breed of dog doesn’t excite me much, nor should a lab created plant species excite me…nor should a very small change (no new organs, body types, forms, etc.) excite me. From the list, I see a lot of changes that merely mean bigger or small plants, or tiny changes within animals that aren’t showing any new information added to the genome and such.

    You can google speciation and, I found this on the AIG site (it’s a creationist site), but they have info and quotes from evolutionists who were shocked at the speed of speciation (which would, as you said yourself, support creationism)

    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....iation.asp

    One example:

    Researchers in Trinidad relocated guppies (Poecilia reticulata) from a waterfall pool teeming with predators to previously guppy-free pools above the falls where there was only one known possible predator (of small guppies only, therefore large guppies would be safe).1 The descendants of the transplanted guppies adjusted to their new circumstances by growing bigger, maturing later, and having fewer and bigger offspring.

    The speed of these changes bewildered evolutionists, because their standard millions-of-years view is that the guppies would require long periods of time to adapt. One evolutionist said, ‘The guppies adapted to their new environment in a mere four years–a rate of change some 10,000 to 10 million times faster than the average rates determined from the fossil record.’2

    Something doesn’t add up. That doesn’t fit the gradual model, and it doesn’t fit any other NDE model for that matter. And these changes themselves are, indeed, fairly trivial- in that we see guppies that are slightly different, labelled a new species, but not much changed from their little friends. If we see guppies form legs and start walking around on 2 of them- that would be non-trivial. Then again, even lesser changes would be non-trivial, but there’s no empirical evidence to back up the claim that NS could do much more- we alway see limits with NS and RM. We see that animals and plants run into barriers an stop changing.

  49. keiths (in post #41): “This prime designer is either natural (i.e. part of the universe) or supernatural. If it is natural, then its complex specified information arose out of undirected natural processes, which ID says is impossible. This means that according to ID theory, the prime designer must be supernatural. This is why RobG claims that ID is inherently religious, even though the immediate designer of life could conceivably be a finite being of the sort described by Dembski.”

    This claim isn’t true. In the words of Dr. Dembski, “Natural causes are incapable of generating CSI. [Thus] either the CSI was always present or it was inserted. Intelligent design theorists differ about which of these possibilities obtains for the universe taken as a whole. On the one hand are those…who see all the CSI of the universe present at its start. On the other hand are those…who see CSI emerging in discrete steps, with no evidential informational precursors, and thus through discrete insertions over time (Pages 170-171 of Intelligent Design).”

    If CSI was present from the beginning, it would essentially be part of the “fine-tuning” of the universe. While this puts atheists in the uncomfortable position of having to have faith in the existence of (presently) unknown, and potentially unobservable phenomena (i.e., a multiverse), it’s not logically incompatible with atheism.

  50. Josh

    I don’t see where in the guppy example the bigger fish were claimed to be a new species. The classic definition of same species is having the ability to produce fertile offspring. Were the bigger guppies unable to produce fertile offspring with the smaller guppies?

    Rapid adaptation in higher animals appears very often in scale and cosmetic features. It doesn’t make a new species. It just makes differently proportioined and colored members of the same species. The range of variation in domestic canines, which can all interbreed to produce fertile offspring, which only 20,000 years were only three wild sub-species (jackal, wolf, coyote), is a great eample of the range of fast adaptation that doesn’t result in classic speciation.

  51. Hi jay,

    If I understand your comments, you’re saying that the “prime designer” in my argument does not need to be supernatural, according to ID theory, if all of the CSI was already present when the universe was formed, AND the (still highly speculative) branching multiverse theory holds, wherein universes are being continually created, each with a different set of fundamental constants. A branching multiverse will eventually provide the right set of constants, giving us our CSI for free, with no need for a supernatural “prime designer.”

    Is that a fair summary of your position?

    Assuming for the moment that it is, I would respond by saying that
    1. ID theorists generally hope (for reasons outside of the theory itself) that the prime designer IS supernatural, and are unlikely to want to “purchase” falsifiability at the expense of closing off the possibility of a supernatural prime designer.
    2. Atheists would need to employ the multiverse gambit only if they already accepted Dembski’s ideas on CSI. If you believe that natural causes can generate CSI, then our one little universe is enough.
    3. If the multiverse theory turns out to be unfalsifiable, you’ve simply substituted one falsifiability problem for another.
    4. ID folks are unlikely to want to hitch their wagon to a highly speculative cosmological theory which may be discredited at any moment.
    5. Even if Dembski accepted the multiverse theory, I suspect that he might still object to the idea that the multiverse could produce CSI in its “offspring” in the absence of a supernatural prime designer. After all, an undirected branching multiverse sounds perilously similar to natural processes in our own universe which Dembski believes cannot generate CSI. Let me stop there; I don’t want to put words in Dembski’s mouth, especially as a guest on his weblog!

  52. DaveScot-

    Maybe it doesn’t I thought the article itself was on rapid speciation in general…so, I assumed they were saying the bigger and smaller guppies had become different species.

    The list of examples on the page that was linked to (in the comment above mine) didn’t contain many classic examples of speciation either from what I could tell with my google search, and much of it was lab guided artifical selection and implanted genes in various plants that merely changed each plant and animal to a degree which I would personally consider adapating not evolving in any real manner.

    Dog breeding is a classic example…you would think that with artifical selection, in the time it’s been, we would see SOMETHING novel come out of it. I still think that selection, whether it be natural or artifical thru breeding systems, hits a barrier at some point and goes no further in any changes. We continually see this with the e coli and other organisms with very short cycles of reproduction. The scientists can get them to change slightly to a point, but they always run into a brick wall where the animal or plant will no longer accept any change and merely dies. I’ve no confidence that nature can do any better even if given more time- the artifical selection with the survival element taken out should be much more superior and take less time, but we continue to see the brick wall that abruptly demands an end to change in the organism and it dies.

  53. There were lots of novel things come from dog breeding but it was all just adjustments in scale (both absolute size and relative sizes different anatomical features) plus fur color, length, & texture.

    Now if something non-canine came up, like say retractalbe claws, that would be interesting and different from the type of change observed so far.

    But anyhow, we’re on the same page. There’s been no controlled observation or experiment where any novel cell types, tissue types, organs, or body plans have evolved.

  54. keiths: You wrote: “if all of the CSI was already present when the universe was formed, AND the (still highly speculative) branching multiverse theory holds, wherein universes are being continually created, each with a different set of fundamental constants. A branching multiverse will eventually provide the right set of constants, giving us our CSI for free, with no need for a supernatural ‘prime designer.’ ”

    I think that’s a proper extrapolation from what I wrote. I don’t think that it’s in disagreement with what Dr. Dembski calls the “fundamental claim” of ID: “there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence.” Notice that he doesn’t say “…which must be attributed to intelligence.”

    As for your statements:
    #1 – I think that most ID theorists have independent reasons for belief in a supernatural designer.
    #2 – Whether they know it or not, I think that atheists already need to employ the multiverse gambit to attempt to explain away cosmological “fine-tuning.”
    #3 – Not sure which unfalsifiablility problem you’re referring to.
    #4 – I don’t think that such explanations fall within the proper scope of ID. ID only aims to detect the presence of “systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces.”
    #5 – See #1 above. Dembski has addressed multiverse hypotheses in his “Chance of the Gaps” essay: http://www.leaderu.com/offices.....CEGAPS.pdf

    My only point was to refute the statements that “according to ID theory, the prime designer must be supernatural…” and “that ID is inherently religious.” Because atheists may appeal to a multiverse explanation for CSI, it’s logically possible for them to accept the conclusions of ID theory. Some might even insist that no explanation of CSI is needed, as suggested by Dawkins (of course, not specifically in reference to ID): “An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: ‘I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation (sic), so we must wait and hope that someone comes up with a better one.’ … such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied…” Before Darwin, or with ID theory.

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