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A short quiz on Intelligent Design for both advocates and opponents of ID

1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design? (Minimal Definition of Intelligent Design: The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process.)

Update: When I say “certain features”, I mean, “certain generic features of the universe-as-a-whole (e.g. constants of Nature) and of living things in general (e.g. the specified complexity of DNA”. When I say “an undirected process” I mean a process lacking long-range foresight.

2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos? (e.g. The multiverse [restricted or unrestricted?]; Platonism; the laws of the cosmos hold necessarily, and they necessarily favor life; pure chance; time is an illusion, so CSI doesn’t increase over time.)

(b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design? (e.g. Everything popped into existence out of absolutely nothing; the future created the past; every logically possible world exists out there somewhere; I am the only being in the cosmos and the external world is an illusion requiring no explanation; only minds are real, so the physical universe is an illusion requiring no explanation.)

Some guidelines for answers:

Please try to keep your answers brief – no more than 200 words per question. Less than 50 would be ideal.

Anonymous responses are perfectly fine, and participants’ privacy will be fully respected.

I’m afraid I don’t have any prizes to offer. I’d just like to hear what people think.

If you have any further questions, or if you are unable to respond to the quiz online, then please feel free to email me. See my Web page.

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66 Responses to A short quiz on Intelligent Design for both advocates and opponents of ID

  1. 1. 9
    2. Best argument for ID is IC, not specified complexity. I like IC better because it is easier to understand, not because it is logically more sound.
    3. I know this is not a scientific argument, and that it has been addressed but I still don’t know why God would do it that way. Or any designer for that matter. I’d like to know that.
    4. I’d like to see more refinement of IC so that we can apply it to artifacts that may or may not have been created by people and see if a neutral person can use IC to reliably tell the difference between natural and artificial things.
    5. Why doesn’t the designer just talk to us? Did he die? Disappear? Go back to planet x?
    6. Maybe some sort of Platonism where life falls into cookie cutter life pattern. But it seems like SC would just be built into the universe. How did it get there? I give up.

  2. Okie dokie:

    1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design? (Minimal Definition of Intelligent Design: The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process.)

    –> 11

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

    -> Inference to best, observationally anchored explanation on empirically warranted signs of intelligence [includes CSI, FSCI, IC, and Functionally specific complex organisation]

    –> Note significance of the eqn emerging from the discussions a few months back:

    Chi_500 = I*S – 500, bits beyond the solar system threshold.

    –> Notice for 500 bits of complexity, the solar system size scope is equiv to a random walk picking 1 straw size sample from a cubical haystack a light month across, and to find a needle under such conditions would be utterly unreasonable even if there were many many needles in there.

    –> but intelligences routinely produce ASCII text beyond 72 characters in English, e.g. in this thread.

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

    –> IF an empirically reliable counter-instance to the above could be found, just as a perpetuuum mobile would shatter thermodynamics

    –> I have about as much expectation on either case, on the same basic grounds.

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    –> Further investigation on signs and the cases OOL, OO body plans, OO contingent cosmos

    –> I do not expect ID standing by itself to allow for identification of candidate designers, and convicting a prime suspect

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    –> Find the required counter-example, instead of playing at red herrings and assumption games or misrepresentations

    6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos?

    –> An infinite multiverse, if laws hold necessarily and force life, that is a strong sign of cosmological ID, i.e. a theory of everything would be an unacknowledged ID project

    (e.g. The multiverse [restricted or unrestricted?]; Platonism; the laws of the cosmos hold necessarily, and they necessarily favor life; pure chance; time is an illusion, so CSI doesn’t increase over time.)

    (b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design? (e.g. Everything popped into existence out of absolutely nothing; the future created the past; every logically possible world exists out there somewhere; I am the only being in the cosmos and the external world is an illusion requiring no explanation; only minds are real, so the physical universe is an illusion requiring no explanation.)

    –> NA

    _________

    GEM of TKI

  3. Q1: 0.

    Q2: I have not come across a decent argument for ID.

    Q3: Most of the arguments presented for ID are so bad, that I count them as arguments against ID. Biodiversity is well explained by evolution. Origin of life is, as yet, unexplained, but it is better to leave it unexplained than to invent pseudo-explanations.

    Q4: ID proponents need to find ways of connecting their ideas with actual empirical data, and then they need to build a body of empirical data and see where it leads.

    Q5: We don’t actually need arguments against ID. Rather, we should go where the evidence leads us. But we do need to argue against the use of politics to force bogus science into the curriculum.

    Q6(b): I can live with some things being unexplained. Hawking’s ideas are interesting, but they are still only a speculative hypothesis, so we should remain skeptical.

  4. 1. 10
    2. Inference to the best explanation, includes specified complexity as comparison criteria between known designed objects and objects of unknown origin. (Not necessarily mathematical formulations of CSI, not a big fan.)
    3. The T-urf13 example by Arthur Hunt OR the idea that variation could have been generated by super fast mutators such as HIV and used HGT to move novel genes throughout biology, including to organisms which could never have had the probabilistic resources required to generate novelty on their own. These fast mutators could be the source of specified complexity and transfer it to more “complex” organisms, driving evolution forward.
    4. Arguments for ID could be improved by simply doing a lot more experiments modeled after Doug Axe’s work. The more we test protein variability the more certain we can be of its limits.
    5. Arguments against ID could be improved by experiments showing viruses can generate novel genes useful in other organisms and transfer those genes to other organisms. Experiments which show high protein sequence variability with retained function.
    6. The idea that the designer hides his actions in the world behind QM. In other words there is a designer but his actions are undetectable. (QM is so strange and nobody really understands it, so it can usually be used to argue anything.)

  5. Q1: 10.

    Q2: Non-Local Quantum Information being found on a massive scale in molecular biology. i.e. Quantum information is not reducible to a material basis PERIOD, and thus falsifies the materialistic framework of neo-Darwinism from within!!!

    Q3: With reality being shown to be Theistic in its basis, by quantum mechanics, there are, in reality, no arguments against ID, there are, in reality, only arguments as to which form of ID was implemented;

    Q4: I would like to see a more detailed elucidation of the ‘hierarchy of information’, from classical information, to epigentic information, to quantum information, that is within life.

    Q5: There are no true arguments against ID since reality is Theistic in its foundation. How do you improve something that is based on a lie as neo-Darwinism is??? Maybe some of the more hate filled neo-Darwinists could be kinder to us as they lie to our faces???

    Q6: NA

  6. 1. 10

    2. The fact that we know design is real in the human sphere at the very least, that we have awareness of our own minds and our own abilities to plan ahead to achieve goals, and the dramatic progress of human technology. It’s less an argument than an observation that forms the core of most ID arguments.

    3. “It’s logically possible that everything has happened by chance and ultimately without cause.” Arguments for evolution are not arguments against design. Arguments for common descent are not arguments against design.

    4. ID proponents need to emphasize and highlight the accomplishments of known intelligent designers more, the trends of technological capability of humanity, etc. By all rights ID proponents should be more hopped up on talk like this than transhumanists and singularitarians, but for some reason next to no time is spent by ID proponents highlighting technological accomplishments and capabilities of known designers.

    5. Not really applicable.

    6a. See 3.

  7. 7
    material.infantacy

    1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design?

    10 minus 10^-150.

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

    IC, SC, Cosmological fine tuning.

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

    Who designed the designer?

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design…Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Elucidation of biological sophistication at the cellular level via visual media. Focus more on showing the public the things we observe which are unequivocally designed. Everybody knows that motors, and the factories that make them, don’t evolve — same as they know the sky is blue.

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design…Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Abandon self-referential absurdity, question begging, and theological arguments in favor of Darwinian evolution. Avoid at all costs exposing materialism’s utter failure to account for the origin of the first, stunningly sophisticated, data processing, self-replicating, exquisite example of design.

    6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos?

    Unrestricted multiverse.

    I’m afraid I don’t have any prizes to offer. I’d just like to hear what people think.

    I’ll take your recently acquired copy of The Nature of Nature when you’re done reading it.

    m.i.

  8. 3. Best argument against ID:

    “Sh*t happens.”

    5. How to make anti-ID arguments more effective:

    I think their best bet is to go back to manufacturing phony missing-links. Look at Piltdown Man — that one had’em fooled for decades! Why should they go through all the effort of actually coming up with rational arguments in favor of Darwinismn when even the best of them can’t rise above the level of “pathetic.” Forget arguments. A new ape-man, that’s the ticket.

  9. I want to see ID theorists make a robust determination of micro- versus macro-evolution amongst living flora and fauna. Presently, ID theory does not seem to be able to make real-world predictions/assessments except as an unsatisfying generality. Particularly beneficial would be a demonstration of ID’s ability to determine the status of seemingly closely related animals.

    For example, if the transition of wolf to dog is a case of microevolution (and how does one demonstrate that to be so?), then what is the transition of fox to wolf? For that matter, what are the transitions between the many fox species? (Unlike their canine cousins, there is a great divergence in karyotypes) Are some, none or all Fox species examples of micro-evolution?

    By tackling these difficult but illustrative examples – accessible to the common man – ID will have practical use an effective tool to test evolutionary relationships. This is important because, whereas Evolutionary theory has its Phyologenetic tree, ID has no map of relationships to offer as a counterproposal.

  10. as to r7; Let’s see, both natural selection and random mutations reduce genetic information,,,

    Natural Selection, Genetic Mutations and Information – EXPELLED – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4036840/

    No Beneficial Mutations – Not By Chance – Evolution: Theory In Crisis – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4036816/

    But in all the reading Ive done in the life-sciences literature, Ive never found a mutation that added information All point mutations that have been studied on the molecular level turn out to reduce the genetic information and not increase it.
    Lee Spetner – Ph.D. Physics – MIT – (Not By Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution)

    “Bergman (2004) has studied the topic of beneficial mutations. Among other things, he did a simple literature search via Biological Abstracts and Medline. He found 453,732 mutation hits, but among these only 186 mentioned the word beneficial (about 4 in 10,000). When those 186 references were reviewed, almost all the presumed beneficial mutations were only beneficial in a very narrow sense- but each mutation consistently involved loss of function changes-hence loss of information. Sanford: Genetic Entropy

    “…but Natural Selection reduces genetic information and we know this from all the Genetic Population studies that we have…”
    Maciej Marian Giertych – Population Geneticist – member of the European Parliament – EXPELLED

    Further notes on the failure of Natural Selection to establish its legitimacy in science;
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=10WqN_Z_2GjzhPQUVe7QmcMZDPObJCG45XqgF7pZVcVM
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=10WqN_Z_2GjzhPQUVe7QmcMZDPObJCG45XqgF7pZVcVM

    ,,, thus since both random mutations and natural selection reduce information then discerning sub-speciation from a parent species is simply a ‘top-down’ affair tracing descendent relationship from initial ‘top’ point of design implementation:;

    In fact, the entire spectrum of dog sub-species has been found to have less genetic diversity than the parent wolf species:

    ,,the mean sequence divergence in dogs, 2.06, was almost identical to the 2.10 (sequence divergence) found within wolves. (please note the sequence divergence is slightly smaller for the entire spectrum of dogs than for wolves)
    http://jhered.oxfordjournals.o.....0/1/71.pdf

  11. further note to r7:

    Besides Darwinists being severely misleading as to the fact that Natural Selection actually reduces genetic information instead of creating anything ‘new’, these following studies reveal the fact that Darwinian evolution cannot even account for the fact a parent species/kind will have a more ‘robust genome’ than its sub-species.

    Single male and female sheep maintain genetic diversity.
    A mouflon population (considered an ancient “parent” lineage of sheep), bred over dozens of generations from a single male and female pair transplanted to Haute Island from a Parisian zoo, has maintained the genetic diversity of its founding parents.This finding challenges the widely accepted theory of genetic drift, which states the genetic diversity of an inbred population will decrease over time. “What is amazing is that models of genetic drift predict the genetic diversity of these animals should have been lost over time, but we’ve found that it has been maintained,”
    Dr. David Coltman, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Alberta

    Allozyme evidence for crane systematics and polymorphisms within populations of sandhill, sarus, Siberian and whooping cranes.
    “This is contrary to expectations of genetic loss due to a population bottleneck of some 15 individuals in the 1940s. The possibility should be explored that some mechanism exists for rapidly restoring genetic variability after population bottlenecks.”
    Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 1:279-288- Dessauer, H. C., G. F. Gee, and J. S. Rogers. 1992.

    These following studies and video, on Cichlid fishes, are evidence of the ‘limited and rapid variation from a parent kind’ predicted by the Genetic Entropy model:

    African cichlid fish: a model system in adaptive radiation research:
    “The African cichlid fish radiations are the most diverse extant animal radiations and provide a unique system to test predictions of speciation and adaptive radiation theory(of evolution).—-surprising implication of the study?—- the propensity to radiate was significantly higher in lineages whose precursors emerged from more ancient adaptive radiations than in other lineages”
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.g.....d=16846905

    Multiple Genes Permit Closely Related Fish Species To Mix And Match Their Color Vision – Oct. 2005
    Excerpt: In the new work, the researchers performed physiological and molecular genetic analyses of color vision in cichlid fish from Lake Malawi and demonstrated that differences in color vision between closely related species arise from individual species’ using different subsets of distinct visual pigments.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....072648.htm

    Cichlid Fish – Evolution or Variation Within Kind? – Dr. Arthur Jones – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4036852

  12. In fact, the entire spectrum of dog sub-species has been found to have less genetic diversity than the parent wolf species:

    A reduction in the size of the genome neither proves nor disproves either Evolution or Intelligent Design. For ID, it needs to demonstrate must be below the edge of evolution.

    That’s easy enough when the differences are very small or very large, but as the differences approach the theoretical edge of evolution, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine on what side of the fence it falls. I should think that the fox-wolf transition starts to enter that grey area, thought there are probably better examples.

    Evolution predicts that every animal, plant or cell has a naturally occurring predecessor, but ID theory predicts there will be breaks in the phylogenetic tree. Thus ID should be able to generate a map of relationships to replace the Linnaean taxonomic system.

  13. rhampton7, let’s say you start off real basic and actually demonstrate that Darwinism can generate ANY non-trivial functional information whatsoever!!! Methinks until you can grasp this basic fact of reality you should not stray into deep water!

  14. 1. Assuming that by ID you mean the minimal definition of ID, iow, ID as science and not ID as philosophy or ID as theology, etc., I give ID about a 3. That’s my level of ID as science.

    Apart from ID as science, my belief is 10. The reasons are legion.

    There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that anything does have or even can have “a natural cause.”

    The existence of contingent things is about as unnatural as you can get.

  15. 2. The best argument for intelligent design is Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box.

    We need more books or articles like that. Perhaps an online magazine devoted to systems within the cell and how they are irreducibly complex.

    It was readable, not too technical, people could understand the argument without having a degree in mathematics or biochemistry or molecular cell biology.

    This is a definite area for ID research. Identifying systems, performing knockout experiments, looking for homologs, proposing and testing possible paths.

    We should be developing our own database of systems. Annotate the database anytime a paper comes out concerning that system. Throw these systems in the faces of the Darwinians, perhaps even get research on them published in respected journals.

  16. 3. ID hasn’t done enough actual science.

  17. note to r7; to get an better Idea of where the breaks are for ‘kinds’ of animals and plants, remove all the imaginary lines from fossil graphs:

    Origin of Phyla – The Fossil Evidence – Timeline Graphs
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....#038;hl=en

    Here is a graph showing a partial list of fossil groups showing their sudden appearance in the fossil record- (without the artificially imposed dotted lines) – Timeline Illustration:
    http://www.earthhistory.org.uk.....groups.jpg

    further note:

    Ancient Fossils That Have Not Changed For Millions Of Years – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4113820

    THE FOSSILS IN THE CREATION MUSEUM – 1000′s of pictures of ancient ‘living’ fossils that have not changed for millions of years:
    http://www.fossil-museum.com/f.....8;limit=30

    also of note:

    Shades of baraminology

    So Michael Behe comes to the grand conclusion to his survey: ‘Somewhere between the level of vertebrate species and class lies the organismal edge of Darwinian evolution’ (p. 201). A diagram illustrates this (p. 218), which he reproduces on the page facing the title page of the book (figure 2).

    Interestingly, the creationist study of baraminology (defining the limits of the original created kinds, or baramins, of Genesis 1) has arrived at conclusions consistent with Behe’s proposition, using a different approach based on hybridization criteria, where possible, combined with morphology, etc.4 In fact, in 1976 creationist biologist Frank Marsh proposed that the created kinds (baramins) were often at the level of genus or family, although sometimes at the level of order.5
    http://creation.com/review-mic.....-evolution

    ,,, though you are right about the difficulty getting harder to differentiate, because many seemingly similar species, of say butterflies, are none-the-less, when looked at the molecular level, beyond the ‘edge of evolution,’

  18. 4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    I think the most bang for your buck you-all could acheive is to clean up that “Chance plus Necessity” schtick.

    Now, I do realize that it’s formulated with the main assertion of Darwinism in mind, but the truth is, there is no such thing as ‘chance’ — and it seems that not a one of you are open to understanding that fact. ‘Chance’ is the absence of whatever it is one is talking about, ‘chance’ literally is nothing — to speak of ‘chance’ as having caused something is exactly to say that nothing at all caused it.

    The Darwinists like to imagine that ‘chance’ gives them an escape route from the mechanical necessity which must be true of all events and states if their metaphysic were the truth about the nature of reality. You IDists should not be joining them in that false imagining.

  19. rhampton7, I should like to apologize for my cynicism at post 13, I reread your comment and I take you to be genuine in your concerns.

  20. 20

    1) 2
    2)The problem of the first single cellular life. If it ends up being extra-terrestrial, then perhaps it is also designed. After all, if we saw a supernova on our horizon and knew we couldn’t escape, we would seed the shock wave with spores so that life could get a head start elsewhere.
    3)lack of evidence of a designer and stupid “design”
    4) ID’s biggest problem is the unscientific appeal to mysterious unfathomable purpose to explain lousy, flawed and uncaring design. Patchwork intermittent, widely disjointed hypotheses of designer that make the designer repeatedly come and go over billions of years and negligent at other times.
    5) Opposition to ID has to stop running scared out of fear to calling it a theory or of admitting evolution has weaknesses. The best evidence against design is the confusing jungle morass of the way life actually works, it obviously wasn’t designed. Don’t get drawn into gaps in the fossil record debates. Focus on the bulk of the evidence that is actually living. Living things were recognized as related even before evolution. Now we know they share the same genes.
    6b) The multiverse is pretty irrational. The idea that there was ever nothing is irrational. I’m not sure they are more irrational than a magic time and space traveling designer, who occasionally appears and underachieves.

  21. 1. 1 (I think I can see how it has persuaded people – so not zero)

    2. That is a bit like asking what is the best argument for astrology.  In my view all the arguments I have seen are fallacious and you can’t be more or less fallacious.  I think the one that is hardest to see the fallacy is the oldest – how extraordinary that life should be assembled in such a complicated way to achieve its objectives.

    3. The continuing success of other explanations including but not limited to traditional RM+NS.

    4. ID needs some proper hypotheses explaining how, when and ideally who which can then be evaluated.

    5. Just keep on improving the science.

    6. (b) All of the ones you list would do.

  22. 1. 9.5 – Nothing is certain, but I’ve never found a good reason to doubt ID.

    2. Very simple – consciousness. We can consciously make choices, feel, experience, etc. These things both require explanation and are themselves explanation.

    3. Wagner’s idea that functions are largely close together and connected in DNA-space.

    4. I think we need to focus on the principle distinction between ID and materialism – ID takes choice as a real entity in the Universe, and materialism does not. This point needs to be emphasized. Additionally, ID’ers need to work on making applications of ID, and, ideally, mathematical propositions that lead to heuristics in other parts of science (more than just “is it designed” – a set of heuristics that can tell us more about X itself than we already know).

    5. The arguments need to connect variation to large-scale evolutionary behavior. Agassiz pointed out before Darwin that many general body plans exist in nearly every habitat, so it is silly to think that the needs of the organism drove, in any way, the habitat choice. For large-scale evolution to be plausible, a mechanism will need to be proposed that isn’t woefully insufficient.

    6a. Two responses. (1) Shapiro’s “Third Way”. It recognizes the problem, and actually proposes a solution. (2) I’m not sure if this response isn’t also an ID response, but it is certainly outside the norm — pantheism or panpsychism. One could propose that the universe itself, and all matter, had some semblance of a psyche. Therefore, design could exist without an identifiable designer. (3) Margulis’ evolution by symbiogenesis is pretty good, but still leaves many of the same holes as Darwinism.

  23. . On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design?

    Answer:7

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

    Answer: Predictability in the lab, such as the functionality of Junk DNA as well as Mathematics and probability theory like Douglas Axe’s work.(which I understand is an argument against evolution but let’s face it, it’s a forced choice, either the universe and the life inside was guided or it wasn’t, I’m not aware of a third option).

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

    Answer: IC explained through gradual steps.

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Answer:The design inference needs to be addressed more. I hear very little about it and when I discuss ID with atheists and evolutionists they always go back to the “who designed the designer argument which seems to be questioning the legitimacy of the Design reference(Of course this is not a scientific argument anymore, it’s philosophical). Also, PLEASE stop wasting your time arguing against how mean and nasty evolutionists are, it’s like crying to your mom. We all know that people shouldn’t talk like that but is spending paragraphs on how mean they are really a great help to your argument?

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Stop appealing to extrapolation of microbial and micro-evolutionary data. Point out more studies where information is ADDED to the genome, not just taken away or altered.

    6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos? (e.g. The multiverse [restricted or unrestricted?]; Platonism; the laws of the cosmos hold necessarily, and they necessarily favor life; pure chance; time is an illusion, so CSI doesn’t increase over time.)

    In a “world” of infinite time the probability for all things to occur is 1.(multi-verse)

  24. +4: Also, MORE POSITIVE RESEARCH done in the field, not just why Darwinists are wrong. Using the Scientific method start making more predictions and then see if it works out. Appealing to improbability is a negative case.

  25. 5+ You could use the rare earth theory to say that the designer can’t exist as a material agent like ourselves within this universe, therefore it must be beyond the laws of time and space, this comes awfully close to God in which case you could argue the ID is not science. I hope that makes sense. Another example is the idea of the first life…if it were so incomprehensibly small that life would arrange itself the way it did, what makes you think it did it a SECOND time somewhere in this universe. Again this is only an argument against a material designer in THIS universe. It basically boxes ID advocates into a box where they have to admit it is beyond this universe.

  26. 1. Somewhere between 8 and 10

    2. How at every level, from protein sequences to the human body, life is fundamentally a specific and functional arrangement of parts. The best argument against metaphysical materialism is consciousness / sentience.

    3. I guess it would be the interesting results that appear to be examples of new information evolving. Things like Nylonase etc. Whether these are as significant as the Darwinists claim them to be is a matter of debate, but it is certainly their best argument.

    4. I guess more work needs to be done in finding the ‘edge’ of evolution.

    5. The darwinists mainly need to stop confusing the definitions of evolution. They often cite evidence for common descent as evidence against intelligent design, even though ID is neutral when it comes to descent with modification, and primarily challenges the ‘blind watchmaker’ idea. Their constant blurring of the meanings only discredits them.

    6. (a) All the alternatives seem to be pretty faith-based to me. When it comes the fine-tuning, I guess the best argument is that we’re looking at it the wrong way round. It’s not that the universe was finely tuned for us, life just developed in this universe the only way it could.

    (b) The infinite number of universes idea. It’s just logically absurd, as illustrated in this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wx4GZJpL8W0

  27. 1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design?
    Answer: 10.

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?
    Answer: the more general is that organization implies complex specified information and CSI cannot come from chance & necessity (even less from nothingness obviously).

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?
    Answer: there is no reasonable argument against ID.

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?
    Answer: more work could be done on principles, mathematics and the applications of ID to biology and cosmology. Also computer simulations could help.

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?
    Answer: see #3

    6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos?
    Answer: Platonism is pure ID. The alternatives to ID are all equally absurd.

  28. 1.On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design? (Minimal Definition of Intelligent Design: The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process.)
    ——————-

    fG: Unable to answer because of insufficiently defined terms and false dichotomy. Does intelligent cause equal intentional cause? Can non-living causes be intelligent? Why is the only choice presented intelligent cause vs. undirected process? It is possible that all processes in the universe are directed, (perhaps excluding quantum effects) yet many if not all may well be undirected by any intelligence.

    2.What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?
    ——————–

    fG: The fact we know that designed things exist.

    3.What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?
    ——————–

    fG: The sloppiness in how it defines its terms, and the tendency to equivocate between various meanings.

    4.I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the —most work, to make them more effective?
    ———————-

    fG: Define the terms, unambiguously and non-question begging, in a way they can be used to derive empirically testable hypotheses. If you want ID to be science, that is. If that is not the ambition, still define your terms unambiguously and non-question begging, but abandon all hope of ever reaching consensus.

    5.Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?
    ———————-

    fG: Engage the ID proposition on its own terms, for instance stop referring to ID as creationism in an attempt to win by default. There is enough sloppiness and logical incoherency in the arguments actually made by ID that such cheap arguments are unnecessary.

    6.(b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design? (e.g. Everything popped into existence out of absolutely nothing; the future created the past; every logically possible world exists out there somewhere; I am the only being in the cosmos and the external world is an illusion requiring no explanation; only minds are real, so the physical universe is an illusion requiring no explanation.)
    ————————————

    fG: The only rational answer to these questions is ‘we don’t know’. Anything else is meaningless speculation, a divisive waste of time, energy and emotion.

    fG

  29. Good questions.

    1. 9.99

    2. Intuition towers above IC which comes in second. It’s the most layered and intricate aspect of thought.

    3. How is God all powerful if he’s trapped in a universe of self evident laws?

    4. I don’t know, but on a related note I’d like to see less pandering. Establish a new two tiered peer review to include more speculative work and don’t look back. Get that work into Christian private school textbooks and homeschool textbooks. Peer review is a social-political lever.

    5. Express them cogently for once, like #3.

    6a. The collective immaterial minds cause all material manifestations without a god needed. That’s an ID option though.

  30. 30

    1. 10

    2. A combination of CSI, IC and fine tuning. If I have to narrow these down I would say that the existence of CSI in DNA is the most rigorous.

    3. I don’t think there are any good ones. The best might be if materialists had good arguments for material processes accounting for CSI, IC and fine tuning.

    4. I would say that more people who are scientifically inclined need to come on board and take the academic risks necessary to give ID the exposure it deserves.

    5. Darwinists need to simply falsify the best arguments for ID.

    6. (a) Multiverse.

    (b) n/a

  31. 31

    Nice questions :)

    OK:

    1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design? (Minimal Definition of Intelligent Design: The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process.)

    I’m going to quibble and say that I think that evolution is an intelligent system, and even “directed” in the sense that it moves populations towards adaptation to their current environment. So in that sense I’m a 10. However, if you are asking for my level of belief that some external intelligent system, not intrinsic to evolutionary processes themselves, explains the features of the living things, then I guess I’m a .00001 on that – I wouldn’t rule out some kind of deliberate alien genetic engineering I guess. As for the existence of the universe, itself, 0.

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

    The lack, as yet, of a good OOL theory – or, if you like, the lack, as yet, of clear evidence that that the simplest entity capable of Darwinian evolution with sufficient viable heritable variance to probe the kinds adaptations that we see is simple enough to have arisen from chemistry, physics and chance.

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

    The huge explanatory power of theories that do not require it.

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Well, I think several of them need to be thrown out entirely. I think CSI is useless, for many reasons. Ditto IC, though that has a little more potential. I think common descent is so well supported that any ID theory needs to work within that, perhaps by positing a role for the ID that guides evolution within common descent pathways, possibly by “injecting” candidate novelties at appropriate times. I don’t think frontloading works – or at least, it presents an easily testable hypothesis that should be tested, and, if falsfied, rejected. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to think it wouldn’t be.

    I think scoffing at Common Descent is counterproductive – especially as at least some prominent ID proponents accept it. If you really think Common Descent is unsupported then the arguments really need tightening.

    I think that unless people actually deny “micro-evolution” there is then just as probabilistic arguments assuming equiprobable distributions don’t work when it comes to the results of micro-evolution, they need to be seriously revised with regard to any putative result of evolution.

    I think the idea that all you have to do to infer a Designer is to find patterns that indicate design is seriously flawed. Science is iterative, and no biologist thinks that living things don’t show exquisite functional specialisation that is certainly not due to Tornado-in-a-Junkyard type Chance. Clearly something interesting is going on. The question is: “what?” What kind of design process would produce the patterns that we see, including longitudinal patterns? Is there evidence of intention? What is it? My own view, as I’ve said, is that the answer is: yes,these things are the result of a design process, but that that design process is the one we’ve already postulated, namely replication with variance in heritable ability to thrive in the current environment.

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    People should stop denying evidence of design (or at least make sure everyone is using the term in the same way). Clearly biological things are the product of a process that must closely resemble human design processes. Populations constantly adapt to changing environments, just as human designs do (look at the changes in car design for instance, initial changes making them just go better, more recently subtle changes related to current environmental pressures, including price of gas, fashion, size of families, speed limits, etc). So clearly the processes producing human artefacts have a huge amount in common with the processes producing biological artefacts.

    This needs to be clearly acknowledged, and, indeed, Darwin pointed it out. Also, people should stop fixating on DNA as the sole vector of inheritance. DNA is a just one cog in the system, and on its own, does nothing. It’s a database, but useless without the cell.

    Listen to this (applies to both Darwinists and IDists!):

    http://videolectures.net/eccs07_noble_psb/

    Or read his book, but this will save you buying the book (it’s only a long essay, really).

    6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos? (e.g. The multiverse [restricted or unrestricted?]; Platonism; the laws of the cosmos hold necessarily, and they necessarily favor life; pure chance; time is an illusion, so CSI doesn’t increase over time.)

    (b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design? (e.g. Everything popped into existence out of absolutely nothing; the future created the past; every logically possible world exists out there somewhere; I am the only being in the cosmos and the external world is an illusion requiring no explanation; only minds are real, so the physical universe is an illusion requiring no explanation.)

    The only reason I think ID is irrational, at bottom, is that it is non-parsimonious. Plus many of the arguments I think are actually bad (CSI for instance, and other probabilistic arguments). Most of the alternatives are worse (except for the last, maybe, which has something going for it as a model IMO).

  32. 1. 10 (or as certain as I can be about any form of reasoning or matter of fact and existence).

    2. Things like Stonehenge, a Termite’s nest or a Crop Circle demonstrate enough functional specified irreducible complexity to 100% rule out any possibility that they made themselves, blindly, naturalistically, by accident. The only alternative explanation is that they are a product of Intelligent Design. Things like the cell (and all structures composed of cells) have far greater functional specified irreducible complexity therefore we can be even more certain that they did not make themselves by accident. They can only be a product of Intelligent Design.

    3. There is only one argument against ID: evolution. But that argument was wrong when Darwin advanced it and, it is even more wrong now that 21st century science has withdrawn all empirical support for it.

    4. Arguments for Intelligent Design should be left simple: let the astounding facts of cell biology speak for themselves. Do not get drawn into wild goose chases about the definition of ‘information’ or demands for ‘mathematical proof’. Evolutionists have never satisfied these requirements, so why should anyone else? Keep bringing it back to things like the cell: that is what has to be explained by those who say it just somehow made itself by accident. If they’re allowed to go off on unimportant and frankly irrelevant tangents, then they can avoid dealing with the main, central arguments for ID in the 21st century.

    5. Arguments for evolution do not rest upon observational fact or experimental results. They are merely a repetition of the mantra that Natural Selection acting upon Random Mutations can turn a single-celled common ancestor into a human being. Without supporting observations and experiments, this is nothing more than wishful thinking. Let’s talk about the evidence and follow it where it leads. Let’s not talk about the inability of evolutionists to separate scientific fact from science fiction.

    6. (a) Descartes’ Demon Doubt: that reality is an illusion brought on by a demon toying with my soul in a jar!

  33. 1. 0

    2. Neither science, nor the Bible supports it?

    3. No scientific evidence.

    4. Data. We need data.

    5. Christians need to have a better understanding of scientific method and the evidence for evolution.

    6. Sorry, I’m a Christian who accepts the science of evolution, so I don’t qualify for this question

    “(b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design?”

    Wait, I see what you’re doing here. You’re saying if you don’t believe ID, you don’t believe that God explains life and the cosmos?

    Baloney!

    I believe the best explanation for life and the cosmos is God. That’s NOT mutually exclusive with accepting the science of evolution!

    What heresy to reject evolution and use the bible to create lies about what we have learned about God’s creation! I am not ashamed of the Gospel, nor am I ashamed of scientific evidence!

    But I am ashamed of the charade of Intelligent Design and how it has embarrassed and reduced the intellectual standing of Christians around the world.

    Also, please take my similar quiz on your beliefs about the Flying Spaghetti Monster!.

  34. You have not described “intelligent design”, you have only asserted the existence of an explanation which does not rely on an “undirected process”. Without knowledge of something positive about the supposed explanation, saying anything about it would be idle.

  35. 1. I place myself at a 5. Certain features of the universe and the world as we seem them now are best explained by an intelligent cause — usually us.

    2. The best argument for intelligent design is the fact that we can identify intelligence in ourselves and, to varying levels, in other life forms. If there’s intelligence here on Earth, then I think there probably should be intelligence elsewhere in the universe.

    3. Two items: (a) the preponderance of workable and productive theories that don’t require invoking an ID; and (b) the lack of definition to the “edge of ID,” the areas where we know that ID specifically is NOT the explanation. While biological evolution doesn’t penetrate into areas where human beings overtake nature and mitigate natural processes, ID seems not to any such boundary–absolutely anything and everything could potentially be the product of an intelligent agent’s activity and intervention (if not intent).

    4&5 – Examples of artifacts/events that are clearly demonstrated to be the product of ID and compared (this is the key element, the comparison) to artifacts/events that are clearly demonstrated not to be the product of ID. In other words, I want to see someone say “X is clearly designed, and this is how we know; Y is clearly not designed, and this is how we know; Z is the method we can use to make reliable distinctions between things that are and are not ID.”

    6(a) – Most anything can be made to seem rational, given proper frame and tone. We people are terrific at making arguments and connecting things that would otherwise seem unconnected. The key question is not overall rationality but rather how strong the connection is between the conclusion reached and the evidence/assumptions used to support the conclusion.

    6(b) – Same answer as 6(a).

  36. Ms. Liddle,

    I’m sorry but this seems like calling white black:

    “but that that design process is the one we’ve already postulated, namely replication with variance in heritable ability to thrive in the current environment.”

  37. After all, that very same replication process must have come about by chance. A convoluted process cannot be design no matter how convoluted it is or how good it is at fixing characteristics in an arbitrary (and often shifting) ecological niche. (By “design” I mean the act of designing, not the product of design).

  38. 38

    1. 8.5

    2. I was persuaded by the rebel forces via Meyers argument in his book. His inference seems to be the only plausible scenario for OOL. That is just the way it is. From there, that lead me to this den of rebels, and I was further impressed by Kairosfocus arguments. Math is your friend.

    3. The best crack at OOL is Shapiro. Ironically, his proposed evolutionary framework seems more ID friendly.

    4. pinpoint the edge of rm+ns.

    5. Call them creationists.

    6. multi-verse

    7.Everything popped into existence out of absolutely nothing

  39. 39

    What is this, science by focus group?

  40. Hi everyone,

    Just a few short comments on the quiz.

    1. As I said at the beginning of the post, people who are unable to post here should contact me via email. I’d be particularly interested in hearing from skeptics, so if anyone wants to alert them, please do so.

    2. Johnfromberkeley:

    Please refer to my minimal Definition of Intelligent Design: The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process.

    If you accept the fine-tuning argument, for instance, that makes you an ID supporter on this definition. You claim to be a Christian who supports evolution. Fine. So is Professor Michael Behe – he accepts common descent (as I do) and doesn’t think that the Designer needs to have intervened in the history of the cosmos. An ID supporter can accept that the laws and initial conditions of the cosmos suffice to explain life – but he/she would also say that these laws and conditions show signs of having been designed.

    3. TomS

    You write: “Without knowledge of something positive about the supposed explanation, saying anything about it would be idle.”

    Does describing something as “an intelligent cause” constitute saying something positive about it? I would say yes. If you disagree, please indicate why.

    4. Lartanner

    You write: “Certain features of the universe and the world as we see them now are best explained by an intelligent cause — usually us.”

    To be perfectly clear: in my minimal definition of Intelligent Design, “certain features” means “certain general features of the universe-as-a-whole (e.g. the constants of Nature) and of living things in general (e.g. the specified complexity of DNA)”. I was not referring to this or that artifact – e.g. genetically modified organisms.

    5. Elizabeth Liddle

    I’m glad you liked the quiz.

    You write: “I think that evolution is an intelligent system, and even ‘directed’ in the sense that it moves populations towards adaptation to their current environment.”

    My response: “directed” is not the same as “intelligent”. Foresight is part of the definition of what I and most people would call “intelligent”.

    You also estimate the probability of there being an external cause of the existence of the universe at precisely zero. That means, I presume, that you believe the non-existence of God is logically demonstrable. I’d be interested to hear why.

    I’d pretty much agree with your views on the evidence for common descent.

    6. FadedGlory

    You ask: “Why is the only choice presented intelligent cause vs. undirected process?”

    To be clear: When I said “undirected”, I meant: “not directed at any long-term goal”. I should have said “non-foresighted”, to be more precise.

    7. material.infantacy

    I loved your answer to question 1:

    10 minus 10^-150.

    That takes the cake!

    8. rhampton7

    You make a very good point about micro vs. macro-evolution. I’d like to see where the boundary is too – although I’d place it tentatively at around the family or superfamily level, and just possibly the order level.

    9. africangenesis

    I appreciate your honesty. I think cases of bad design pose a real problem too, and I agree that “unfathomable purposes” is not an adequate response, particularly at a scientific level.

    10. Chris Doyle: good one about Descartes’ Demon! That’s a tough one to refute.

    11. Many thanks to Collin, kairosfocus, nullasalus, Neil Rickert, tragic mishap, bornagain77, Mung, Ilion, George R., johnnyb, markf, Scootle, niwrad, lamarck, ForJah, CannuckianYankee, Chris Doyle, junkdnaforlife and all the other contributors who have responded to the quiz so far.

  41. “An ID supporter can accept that the laws and initial conditions of the cosmos suffice to explain life – but he/she would also say that these laws and conditions show signs of having been designed.”

    I wouldn’t say they show scientific evidence of being designed. But I would say they show signs of being amazing. For me, the amazing part validates my world view of faith. But it doesn’t satisfy my scientific mind for a second, nor need it.

    Furthermore, I find it humorous that many people find this an existential question. David got it right. Creation is what it is, and God is I am.

    Another answer to Question 5 I would like to rip off from a commenter at Ed Brayton’s blog is that ID is not biologically useful:

    If there was real science in ID that answered real questions, everyone would be clambering all over it, from glory seekers to profiteers. The fact that 20 years of agressive promotion of ID has not led to any interest or application is telling.

    And then, you see surveys like these which feel like marketing surveys for a public relations campaign. You don’t see surveys like this for scientific theories that have been proven and have real day-to-day applications.

    Finally, I appreciate your graciousness to all opinions of believers and unbelievers, and the believers and unbelievers amongst them!

  42. 42
    LivingstoneMorford

    1. Not meaning to be pedantic, but I don’t believe in intelligent design. I do my best to go wherever the evidence leads, and so there’s not much belief about it. That said, my conviction that biological intelligent design is true is about 9.9, and I can’t really put a number on my confidence in the validity of cosmological intelligent design since that’s not my field.

    2. I think that the best argument for intelligent design is the amazing intricacy and specificity that defines the processes of life (e.g., protein-based machines, the genetic code, etc.), and, in a lesser sense, the uncanny parallels between molecular machines and human technology.

    3. The best argument against biological intelligent design is the absence of a robust framework that can generate real predictions at a very specific, biological level. This is partially due to the general lack of any attempt to define the mechanisms which the intelligent designer(s) used, although Mike Gene has done some nice work in this area.

    4. Intelligent design needs some work in the area of testing the idea with real, laboratory research. Doug Axe has done some progress in this direction. Moreover, intelligent design as a biological theory must be developed to the point where it can generate robust predictions, and predictions that are not made after-the-fact. For example, in response to the Darwinian claim that homology at the protein level demonstrates evidence of Darwinian evolution, we argue that an intelligent designer often re-uses components. However, we need to be able to develop the theory to the point where we can predict which components would be re-used, and which components would not be, so that we could predict which protein systems would have homologues, etc.

    Well that’s all I’ll say for now.

  43. 43

    1 (my belief level in ID): 2 (note: this is my level of belief in intelligent as a fact; if you’d asked by level of belief in ID as valid science, it’d be much closer to 0)

    2 (best arg for ID): The brute intuition that it takes intelligence to create.

    3 (best arg against ID): Occam’s razor + the fact that attempts to back that intuition with anything more solid haven’t panned out (I am NOT impressed with the attempts at ID-science), which tends to suggest it’s just an artifact of human mental biases. (Note: this is the best argument against ID, not the best argument for evolution; they’re not simple opposites, so that’d be a different question with a very different answer.)

    4 (what args for ID need): They have a meta-problem: they’re constructed as arguments, by ID believers; rather than as the results of investigation that happen to point to a particular conclusion. I’ll give you an example: in the MathGrrl/CSI thread (the parts I read anyway), the biggest fact that struck me was that nobody actually used CSI for anything other than a basis for polemics, and as a result nobody actually knew how to compute it. (And you seemed to be about the only one actually trying to figure it out.) Another symptom: poor quality control: there are so many bad arguments put forward for ID that the good ones (if they exist) get lost in the noise.

    5 (what args against ID need): In theory: better familiarity with ID arguments (i.e. no strawmen or oversimplifications), less mistaking evidence for evolution as evidence against ID, less “sola scientia” (“if it ain’t science, it’s bunk!”). In practice: less concentration on the “scientific” aspects, more on the real reasons people believe ID: intuition and religion.

    6 (b) (explanations less rational than ID): I don’t regard belief in ID as irrational, so much as unsupported and unnecessary. Worse options: reality created retroactively by quantum observations; evolution driven by Teelaism; Cartesian demon/brain-in-vat hypotheses; Boltzmann brains; next wednesdayism (the belief that the universe will be created next wednesday, along with our memories of what’s happening “now”); it’s all a massive coincidence; …

  44. 44

    johnfromberkeley:

    Finally, I appreciate your graciousness to all opinions of believers and unbelievers, and the believers and unbelievers amongst them!

    Hear, hear!

  45. @vjtorley #39.

    You respond by asking me:

    Does describing something as “an intelligent cause” constitute saying something positive about it?

    To keep the discussion on topic: does that say enough to allow answers to the quiz?

    Take as an example question #3: I don’t know how to answer this. What would evidence against an intelligent cause look like? What sort of thing could an intelligent cause not be responsible for?

    Evolution? There are plenty of people who believe that an intelligent cause created evolution.

    Random events? Many creative artists use chance in their work.

    Impossible objects? The Penrose triangle was designed by intelligent agents (Oscar Reutersvard and Roger Penrose).

  46. @vjtorley #39.

    You respond by asking me:

    Does describing something as “an intelligent cause” constitute saying something positive about it?

    To keep the discussion on topic: does that say enough to allow answers to the quiz?

    Take as an example question #3: I don’t know how to answer this. What would evidence against an intelligent cause look like? What sort of thing could an intelligent cause not be responsible for?

    Evolution? There are plenty of people who believe that an intelligent cause created evolution.

    Random events? Many creative artists use chance in their work.

    Impossible objects? The Penrose triangle was designed by intelligent agents (Oscar Reutersvard and Roger Penrose).

  47. @vjtorley #39.

    You respond by asking me:

    Does describing something as “an intelligent cause” constitute saying something positive about it?

    To keep the discussion on topic: does that say enough to allow answers to the quiz?

    Take as an example question #3: I don’t know how to answer this. What would evidence against an intelligent cause look like? What sort of thing could an intelligent cause not be responsible for?

    Evolution? There are plenty of people who believe that an intelligent cause created evolution.

    Random events? Many creative artists use chance in their work.

    Impossible objects? The Penrose triangle was designed by intelligent agents (Oscar Reutersvard and Roger Penrose).

  48. Here’s a response from a skeptic named J.O. who kindly emailed me his responses:

    Here are my answers. I have a question for you at the end regarding your view, I hope you’ll answer.

    1) 1: not a believer, but not a “diehard”. My opinion is that ID is not creationism in a cheap suit, but as of now ID is the latest cheap suit that creationists are using to try to get religion into US public schools. See Dover for an example. Other theists find it appealing because it gives some credibility to their religious beliefs.

    2) best argument for intelligent design is . . . well, what are the arguments for intelligent design?

    The existence of irreducible complexity in organisms? I think it is clear that irreducible complexity fails because all it really means is that nobody has figured out how something could have evolved. As yet there is no way to prove that something could not have evolved.

    Complex specified information in organisms above some numerical threshold? Well, as far as I can tell, there is no agreed upon definition of information, let alone a way to measure the amount of it “in” anything.

    The fact that there is no plausible and complete naturalistic theory as to the origin of life? I think that is not an argument for intelligent design, given that there is no plausible and complete intelligent design theory of the origin of life either.

    The philosophical arguments? I want to see some data, if ID is supposed to be science.

    3) Best argument against ID (as a scientific theory?):
    It doesn’t explain anything better than the generally accepted theories. It’s not a scientific theory at this point, it’s an intuition.

    4) To improve ID arguments?
    Make some specific positive hypotheses: what changes exactly is it that naturalistic processes couldn’t accomplish, and when did they occur? What was the last population in a lineage that did not have a flagellum (or whatever), and what was the first population that did, and when is the dividing line between them?

    5) To improve anti-ID arguments? There is no need to improve them.

    6) What is less rational than ID? Most of your choices, except something out of nothing, seem less rational than ID to me: the future created the past; every logically possible world exists out there somewhere; I am the only being in the cosmos and the external world is an illusion requiring no explanation; only minds are real, so the physical universe is an illusion requiring no explanation. I don’t think the existence of God is impossible, but I don’t think aliens or time travelers are plausible candidates for a designer.

    My question for you has to do with this statement you made in a comment on the quiz post:

    “You make a very good point about micro vs. macro-evolution. I’d like to see where the boundary is too – although I’d place it tentatively at around the family or superfamily level, and just possibly the order level.”

    Is it your understanding that micro-evolution happens, but macro-evolution can’t, and that each family, super-family, or order (whichever it may be in any particular case) must therefore have been either separately created from nothing or by a design intervention of some sort? If so, what do you think it is that makes it impossible for a population of organisms to split into two populations and then evolve differences large enough to place them in different families/super-families/orders?

    Thanks.

    —————————

    Vjtorley responds:

    According to Professor Michael Behe’s “The Edge of Evolution” (pp. 198-199), cell types are distinguished by their own genetic regulatory networks, and each such network is irreducibly complex, having a multitude of components (three is the maximum that could arise by undirected processes, according to Behe). Behe is tentatively inclined to think that each family of organisms has its own unique cell types, and he’s quite sure each class has. So it seems that each family of organisms has some feature of some of its cells that requires an Intelligent Design-style explanation.

    I think the Designer intervened in the process of evolution to produce these new cell types.

  49. Here’s another response from a skeptic whom I’ll call T.H.:

    I have a number of issues which I will address while answering, but one jumps to mind immediately — this is not a quiz. A quiz is designed to test your knowledge of a subject. This is a survey. It’s asking your opinion. I am sure the poster will take the results and turn it into some sort of marketing message in support of ID. After all posting it on Uncommon Descent already shows their prejudice.

    [vjtorley responds: This is a rather pedantic quibble. OK, maybe I should have said "questionnaire" rather than "quiz". And no, I am not planning on using this survey for marketing. I simply wanted to get people's opinions.]

    Well here goes:

    1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design? (Minimal Definition of Intelligent Design: The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process.)

    T.H.:
    I dislike that definition, diehard supporters have stated time and time again that the designer is the Christian God, so wording it this way perpetuates the constant marketing efforts to disassociate ID from its religious underpinnings. But I will be happy to answer: 0.

    Second answer: ‘What, no negative numbers allowed?’

    ————

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

    T.H.:
    There aren’t any. All arguments for ID are unsupported philosophy, wishful thinking, and/or conjecture. There is no evidence, no one seems to be working on providing any evidence. Your own little ‘quiz’ is another example of marketing instead of substance.

    ————

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

    T.H.:
    Anything that has some actual evidence, like real Science, Biology, Evolution, Astronomy, Cosmology, Geology, Paleontology, Physics, Chemistry, to name a few.

    The next best argument against ID are the ID publications and public presentations themselves. Self-published (Discovery Institute Press), religious imprint of publishers, like HarperOne, and publications in the popular press offer the argument that you already know you have no substance. The constant appearance of ID proponents giving presentations at religious locations, religious schools, and sponsored by ministries also add to the picture that not only is ID religious, but you are trying to hide it and doing a poor job.

    Another argument against ID is the unwillingness of ID to follow even the most basic scientific methodology. You declare it a scientific theory and demand space at the science lectern. This unwillingness also shows the paucity of your own position more clearly than anything I say.

    ————

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    T.H.:
    Stop marketing and go to the Lab. If you want ID to be taken seriously as anything more than conjecture and wishful thinking, YOU need to provide the evidenciary support for it. Don’t whine that other folks aren’t agreeing with your philosophies, get off your ass and do the actual scientific work, follow scientific methodologies. It is the ONLY way you will belong anywhere other than the Fiction section of the library, right next to the Tarot Cards, Astrology, and Feng Shui books.

    ————

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    T.H.

    These arguments against ID do not do any work specific toward ID to make them more effective. These argument continue exploring the world around us and we learn more and more on a daily basis. Learning more about the world shows us how bereft ID is from anything resembling support. It must be galling to be a sideshow instead of a mainstream effort of scientific research.

    ————

    6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos? (e.g. The multiverse [restricted or unrestricted?]; Platonism; the laws of the cosmos hold necessarily, and they necessarily favor life; pure chance; time is an illusion, so CSI doesn’t increase over time.)

    T.H.:
    None, it’s all garbage. ( I know, I shouldn’t have answered this one, but it’s irresistible!)

    (b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design? (e.g. Everything popped into existence out of absolutely nothing; the future created the past; every logically possible world exists out there somewhere; I am the only being in the cosmos and the external world is an illusion requiring no explanation; only minds are real, so the physical universe is an illusion requiring no explanation.)

    T.H.:
    No, ID is irrational, along with other pseudo-scientific explanations. It’s not possible to compare these different explanation on any scale of irrationality.

    See what I mean, a survey, not a quiz. I do plan on posting my responses, it will be interesting to see if it even makes it on the site.

    ====================================

    [vjtorley responds:

    Well, I have posted your response, T.H., although I have to say that its sneering, arrogant, know-it-all tone only confirms my belief that you're blustering.

    T.H., you state on your Website that Information Technology and computer programming are your areas of expertise, and that you teach at a college. Fine. I'd like you to have a look at the Website of Dr. Don Johnson, who has Ph.D.s in both informational and natural sciences, who taught 20 years in universities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and Europe, and who once believed anyone not accepting the "proven" evolutionary scenario was of the same mentality as someone believing in a flat Earth. Now he's an ID supporter. Please tell me why I should believe you instead of Dr. Johnson. It seems that he has a lot more academic experience than you do. By the way, have you read his book, "Programming of Life"?

    You talked about "real Science, Biology, Evolution, Astronomy, Cosmology, Geology, Paleontology, Physics, Chemistry." Funny. There are real scientists in all those fields who support Intelligent Design. How do you explain that?

    You say ID proponents should get out in the lab more often. Have you ever heard of a guy named Douglas Axe, and the work he's doing with proteins? And there are dozens more people doing good scientific work like Dr. Axe. Have a look here, to see just a few names: http://biologicinstitute.org/people/ . You're saying all these people are deluded, and you're not?

    By the way, your own post contains one spelling mistake and one major grammatical error. I won't even bother mentioning the other minor ones.

    "Evidenciary" is a mis-spelling. The correct spelling is "evidentiary". And "dissociate" is preferable to "disassociate".

    Finally, we say "bereft of", not "bereft from".

    I dislike pedantry myself, but I won't tolerate being lectured by you in that tone, thank you very much. Goodbye.]

  50. TomS (#44, 45, 46)

    Thank you for your post. You ask:

    What would evidence against an intelligent cause look like? What sort of thing could an intelligent cause not be responsible for?

    Even if there’s nothing that couldn’t have been designed by an intelligent being, the point is that there are still entities that an unintelligent being is incapable of producing, because it lacks foresight. If we can find something in Nature that requires foresight to make, then that is evidence for the existence of an Intelligent Designer.

  51. Even if there’s nothing that couldn’t have been designed by an intelligent being, the point is that there are still entities that an unintelligent being is incapable of producing, because it lacks foresight.

    As best I can tell, everything lacks foresight. You have just declared that intelligence does not exist.

    One should distinguish between genuine foresight (which does not exist, as best I can tell), and the use of observed statistical trends.

  52. vjtorley:Even if there’s nothing that couldn’t have been designed by an intelligent being, the point is that there are still entities that an unintelligent being is incapable of producing, because it lacks foresight.
    Neil Rickert:As best I can tell, everything lacks foresight. You have just declared that intelligence does not exist.

    You (and all the “nice” people) will take this wrong … and frankly, I don’t give a damn … but are you an idiot? Are you really incapable of understanding a fairly simple English sentence?

  53. 53

    Foresight exists.

    At least in the sense in which people usually use the word.

    People, for example, and some animals, are capable of simulating the results of alternative actions and feeding back the simulated outcomes as weightings on the selection.

    It’s a neat trick and saves on carnage. RM+NS does without, and lives with the carnage.

    But both work pretty well.

  54. 1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design?

    I’d say 0. Way back when I was first introduced to the idea I was around an 8, but that dropped as I researched it.

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

    I only hear arguments AGAINST evolution rather than FOR intelligent design. Even then, upon further research the arguments turn out to be based on a misunderstanding or bad logic.

    I guess IC? But even then it’s a faulty argument.

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

    See above.

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design.

    The would need to provide a better explanation than alternatives, not just say “you can’t explain it, therefore ID” which is what most boil down to.

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design.

    I don’t see any problems. Certainly some individuals are better at explaining scientific concepts than others, though.

    6(b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design?

    I’m sure I can. The more unfounded things I suggest together the more irrational it is. A generic designer where none is needed or evidenced is irrational, but a specific one (still without evidence) is even less rational. A specific one WITH a pet unicorn is worse. A specific one with a pet unicorn and a magic banjo is even more irrational. And so on.

  55. 1: 10
    2: Inference to best explanation, based on [im-]probability (Demski)
    3: It’s not science in the currently understood meaning of the word, that is, it’s not empirical science. (same applies even better to Darwinism). Even if scientists found “designed by God” written on each cell, that would contribute nothing to experimental science; except an incentive to decipher God’s design, giving up blind reliance on “undirected evolution”. ID is philosophy of science, or science in the classical sense that philosophy is science: orderly knowledge of things by their causes, or something like that.
    4: Clarify the term “science”; clarify that Behe’s irreducible complexity is a particular case of Dembski’s (and in my opinion comes very close to a God of the gaps); clarify that ID does not depend on whether we know/don’t know, will discover or not, a step-by-step explanation of the evolution: a full step-by-step explanation does not eliminate the inference to design: we know how a computer works, but that does not mean it’s not designed; find a way of rejuvenating Phil Johnson!
    5: The same as 4. It cuts both ways.
    6: There is an infinite (to the infinite power) number of universes, hence everything that is not absurd must happen. I even like that, philosophically/theologically, except that it would destroy the foundations of science and perhaps even reason itself, or at least its usefulness.

  56. vjtorley #49:

    Question #3, which is what I was using as an example, is about possible evidence against intelligent design.

    Your response is to bring up a different subject.

  57. Neil Rickert:

    Thank you for your comment. I think you are confusing foresight (which relates to the execution of steps for the sake of realizing a long-range end) with foreknowledge (which embraces all future events). I believe that only God has the latter.

    TomS:

    OK, I see where you are coming from. In the abstract, it is true that an intelligent being could design any kind of entity. However, the point of the fine-tuning argument is that the universe was designed to permit the possibility of life. And if DNA was designed, then it was designed to permit the proliferation of life-forms on Earth. So I’m taking those as the presumed objectives of the Designer.

    Proof that the constants of Nature or the basic structure of DNA are less than ideal for life might therefore constitute evidence a Design hypothesis. I hope that answers your question.

  58. Here’s a response by a biologist at a State University. Since he was kind enough to give his full details, I’ve listed his name: Dr. Stephen W. Schaeffer, of Pennsylvania State University.

    ——

    1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design? (Minimal Definition of Intelligent Design: The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process.)

    Update: When I say “certain features”, I mean, “certain generic features of the universe-as-a-whole (e.g. constants of Nature) and of living things in general (e.g. the specified complexity of DNA”. When I say “an undirected process” I mean a process lacking long-range foresight.

    Dr. Stephen W. Schaeffer:

    Science is based on evidence not belief. One can say that you believe the evidence for ID is strong or weak, but as soon as you state that you believe in anything, you are no longer doing science. On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means that you are not convinced by the evidence for ID and 10 means that you are convinced by the evidence for ID, I am a 0.

    ——

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

    Dr. Stephen W. Schaeffer:

    None of the evidence convinces me that ID is a better explanation for biological life on this planet than the evolutionary process.

    ——

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

    Dr. Stephen W. Schaeffer:

    Common descent as inferred from DNA sequences and gene order data from chromosomes in the genome. These data show a genealogical hierarchy of organisms on this planet.

    ——

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Dr. Stephen W. Schaeffer:

    ID proponents suggest that the molecular mechanisms of the cell such as the motors that move chromosomes during meiosis are irreducibly complex and look like they are designed. I once argued on the Uncommon Descent blog, that these cellular motors are not a perfect design because they fail fairly frequently. Fifteen percent of all human conceptions end up as spontaneous abortions and result from imperfect segregation of chromosomes during meiosis (S ANKARANARAYANAN, K . , 1979. The role of non-disjunction in aneuploidy in man: An overview. Mutation Research 61: 1-28.). I argued that this system was not well designed given the failure rate associated with meiosis. ID proponents made the argument that no one said that the designer was perfect. Once one starts trying to decide if the designer is perfect or imperfect, there is no way to critically evaluate ID because an imperfect designer could explain anything.

    ——

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Dr. Stephen W. Schaeffer:

    Work in evolutionary biology can falsify irreducible complexity by showing how a complex system can be assembled by individual steps. This has been done in the study of flight evolution.

    ——

    6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos? (e.g. The multiverse [restricted or unrestricted?]; Platonism; the laws of the cosmos hold necessarily, and they necessarily favor life; pure chance; time is an illusion, so CSI doesn’t increase over time.)

    (b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design? (e.g. Everything popped into existence out of absolutely nothing; the future created the past; every logically possible world exists out there somewhere; I am the only being in the cosmos and the external world is an illusion requiring no explanation; only minds are real, so the physical universe is an illusion requiring no explanation.)

    Dr. Stephen W. Schaeffer:

    I restrict my work to questions that can be critically evaluated with experiments or analysis of DNA data where we retroactively test what explanations are and are not consistent with extant data. This is a similar approach used by geologists and astronomers.

    Sincerely,
    Stephen W. Schaeffer

    ——

    [vjtorley responds:

    I'd like to thank Dr. Schaeffer for being kind enough to respond to my questionnaire. He makes a valid point about my use of the term "belief", which is unpopular among scientists. He prefers the locution "be convinced by the evidence for X". That's fair enough, although I'd like to point out that the word "conviction" (the noun corresponding to the verb "convince") sounds a bit unscientific too.

    I was mystified by Dr. Schaeffer's citing the evidence for common descent as evidence against ID. Quite a few ID proponents - including Dr. Michael Behe - accept both.

    I was most intrigued by Dr. Schaeffer's point that cellular motors that move chromosomes during meiosis are not a perfect design because they fail fairly frequently. I'd just like to ask him: can he suggest a better design? If he can, well and good. If he can't, then how can he call the current design imperfect?

    Dr. Schaeffer argues that an imperfect designer could explain anything. Not so fast. What I'd ask is: what kind of mistakes does the imperfect designer make? Do they fit the pattern we'd expect for someone of limited intelligence? (For example: difficult design problems are solved poorly; easy problems are solved well.) I'd also like to point out that there are things that an imperfect designer is capable of producing, which non-foresighted processes are not.

    Once again, I'd like to thank Dr. Schaeffer for taking the time to respond to my survey.]

  59. Dr. Torley speaking of meiosis, it is funny that he (The Doc) does not find any wonder in the fact that meiosis works at all, but finds himself competent enough to use a theological argument that meiosis ‘must have’ evolved because God certainly would not allow it to operate with such a failure rate. Dr. Torley is he a theologian or a scientist? Perhaps he would care to actually show us exactly how meiosis evolved instead of playing the Theologian telling God how, and when, He should and should not act within nature???:

    The machinery for recombination is part of the chromosome structure
    Excerpt: “The more we learn about meiosis, the more mysterious it becomes”, says Franz Klein from the Department for Chromosome Biology of the University of Vienna. “It is surprising that maternal and paternal chromosomes find each other at all. Because at the time of interaction all chromosomes have generated a sister and are tightly connected with her like a Siamese twin.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....osome.html

    ,,,Instead of griping that he could of done it better that God, why does he not just go ahead and do it better???
    ==============

    Refuting The Myth Of ‘Bad Design’ vs. Intelligent Design – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIzdieauxZg

    In fact, it has been pointed out, by many people besides Dr. Craig, that the whole neo-Darwinian argument is, at its core beneath all the rhetoric, a theological argument:

    On the Vastness of the Universe
    Excerpt: Darwin’s objection to design inferences were theological. And in addition, Darwin overlooked many theological considerations in order to focus on the one. His one consideration was his assumption about what a god would or wouldn’t do. The considerations he overlooked are too numerous to mention here, but here’s a few:,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-362918

    Here is a peer-reviewed paper which points out the fact that the primary arguments for Darwinian evolution turn out to be theological arguments at their core, not scientific arguments:

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    From Philosopher to Science Writer: The Dissemination of Evolutionary Thought – May 2011
    Excerpt: The powerful theory of evolution hangs on this framework of thought that mandates naturalism. The science is weak but the metaphysics are strong. This is the key to understanding evolutionary thought. The weak arguments are scientific and the strong arguments, though filled with empirical observation and scientific jargon, are metaphysical. The stronger the argument, the more theological or philosophical.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....riter.html

    ========================

    Perhaps he would care to show us how ANY molecular machine came about:

    Astonishing Molecular Machines – Drew Berry – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6861283

    Dna Molecular Biology Visualizations – Wrapping And DNA Replication – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8NHcQesYl8

    Getting a tighter grip on cell division – November 2010
    The molecular machinery that shepherds and literally pulls the chromosomes apart consists of paired microtubules radiating from opposite poles of the dividing cell and an enormous, but precise, molecular complex called a kinetochore.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ision.html

    Dividing Cells ‘Feel’ Their Way Out Of Warp
    “What we found is an exquisitely tuned mechanosensory system that keeps the cells shipshape so they can divide properly,” – Douglas N. Robinson, Ph.D.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142402.htm

    Molecular machines – notes:
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfMzlkNjYydmRkZw&hl=en_US

  60. Dr. Torley speaking of meiosis, it is funny that he does not find any wonder in the fact that meiosis works at all, but finds himself competent enough to use a theological argument that meiosis ‘must have’ evolved because God certainly would not allow it to operate with such a failure rate. Dr. Torley is he a theologian or a scientist? Perhaps he would care to actually show us exactly how meiosis evolved instead of playing the Theologian telling God how, and when, He should and should not act within nature???:

    The machinery for recombination is part of the chromosome structure
    Excerpt: “The more we learn about meiosis, the more mysterious it becomes”, says Franz Klein from the Department for Chromosome Biology of the University of Vienna. “It is surprising that maternal and paternal chromosomes find each other at all. Because at the time of interaction all chromosomes have generated a sister and are tightly connected with her like a Siamese twin.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....osome.html

    ,,,Instead of griping that he could of done it better that God, why does he not just go ahead and do it better???
    ==============

    Refuting The Myth Of ‘Bad Design’ vs. Intelligent Design – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIzdieauxZg

    In fact, it has been pointed out, by many people besides Dr. Craig, that the whole neo-Darwinian argument is, at its core beneath all the rhetoric, a theological argument:

    On the Vastness of the Universe
    Excerpt: Darwin’s objection to design inferences were theological. And in addition, Darwin overlooked many theological considerations in order to focus on the one. His one consideration was his assumption about what a god would or wouldn’t do. The considerations he overlooked are too numerous to mention here, but here’s a few:,,,
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-362918

    Here is a peer-reviewed paper which points out the fact that the primary arguments for Darwinian evolution turn out to be theological arguments at their core, not scientific arguments:

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    From Philosopher to Science Writer: The Dissemination of Evolutionary Thought – May 2011
    Excerpt: The powerful theory of evolution hangs on this framework of thought that mandates naturalism. The science is weak but the metaphysics are strong. This is the key to understanding evolutionary thought. The weak arguments are scientific and the strong arguments, though filled with empirical observation and scientific jargon, are metaphysical. The stronger the argument, the more theological or philosophical.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....riter.html

    ========================

    Perhaps he would care to show us how ANY molecular machine came about:

    Astonishing Molecular Machines – Drew Berry – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6861283

    Dna Molecular Biology Visualizations – Wrapping And DNA Replication – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8NHcQesYl8

    Getting a tighter grip on cell division – November 2010
    The molecular machinery that shepherds and literally pulls the chromosomes apart consists of paired microtubules radiating from opposite poles of the dividing cell and an enormous, but precise, molecular complex called a kinetochore.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ision.html

    Dividing Cells ‘Feel’ Their Way Out Of Warp
    “What we found is an exquisitely tuned mechanosensory system that keeps the cells shipshape so they can divide properly,” – Douglas N. Robinson, Ph.D.

    Molecular machines – notes:
    https://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AYmaSrBPNEmGZGM4ejY3d3pfMzlkNjYydmRkZw&hl=en_US

  61. 61

    1. 10

    2. I really like cosmological fine-tuning, because I like very large numbers. I also like that there is no mathematical model for “natural selection” (it is such a nebulous concept, existing in whatever form is most convenient at the time, that I doubt it can have a mathematical model or that it even meets the criteria of science). Mutations not producing new genetic information (where did information come from in the first place then?) and life not being able to self-assemble (abiogenesis) are also good ones.

    3. Suboptimality (the designer either does not no how to, cannot, or will not design an optimal world for what reason(s)?). Actually, this is not an argument against ID, just certain assumptions about the nature of the designer. That said I can’t think of any counter arguments I think are good.

    4. Perform A LOT MORE experiments, which necessarily entails mainstream science opening up to the possibility of ID. I would also like to see more atheist/agnostic ID proponents, or even just more non-Christian ID proponents (or at least Christians who don’t quote the Bible as scientific evidence).

    5. Stop with the snarky cheap shots like talking about ID versus “real” science or claming that it is religion or the “overwhelming evidence” for RM+NS that is genuine evidence but nowhere near “overwhelming”, nor is it “fact” or demonstrated as well as gravity. Either rebut ID on purely scientific grounds or admit you don’t like it for religious reasons and that’s why you attack ID proponents.
    Demonstrating that life can self-assemble, or at least that all the proteins needed for life can self-assemble. Demonstrating that random processes can produce completely new information, not just delete or rearrange pre-existing information in a genome.

    6. (a) I don’t think there are any acceptable alternatives that are purely materialistic. I suppose if I had to choose I would say that the alternative I see as best is that the future act as a teleological attractor to the past, guiding the evolution of forms in the past to a predetermined future (I’ve read this somewhere).

  62. Here’s a comment from Ed Brayton, over at http://scienceblogs.com/dispat.....d_quiz.php . Ed Brayton is a journalist, commentator and speaker. He is the co-founder and president of Michigan Citizens for Science and co-founder of The Panda’s Thumb. Here are his responses, followed by my comments.

    Vincent Torley at Uncommon Descent offers a short quiz about intelligent design, so let’s answer it.

    1. On a scale of 0 (diehard disbeliever) to 10 (firm believer), how would you rate your level of belief in Intelligent Design? (Minimal Definition of Intelligent Design: The idea that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, and not by an undirected process.)

    Ed Brayton:

    That’s not a “minimal” definition of intelligent design, it’s a deceptive definition. Substitute “God” for “an intelligent cause” and it would be accurate. And the answer is 0.

    [vjtorley responds: It is the right of the Intelligent Design movement to define the meaning of Intelligent Design, and that's how we define it. The fact that we count Hindus, Deists, agnostics and Raelians among our members speaks for itself. How would Ed Brayton like it if ID proponents arrogated to themselves the right to define neo-Darwinian evolution?]

    ———-

    2. What do you regard as the best argument for Intelligent Design?

    Ed Brayton:

    There are none. The central premise of ID is a logical fallacy that requires misrepresenting the evidence in order to reach a predetermined conclusion.

    [vjtorley responds: And that premise is...?]

    ———-

    3. What do you regard as the best argument against Intelligent Design?

    Ed Brayton:

    See above. Every ID argument is just a newly gussied-up version of the same old creationist tropes that have been disproved many times over.

    [vjtorley responds: Point out to me the flaw in Dr. Douglas Axe's research, then. Show me a non-foresighted process that can generate a protein, and attach supporting calculations. Numbers, please!]

    ———-

    4. I’d like you to think about the arguments for Intelligent Design. Obviously they’re not perfect. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Ed Brayton:

    This is a bit like asking what you could do to make Celine Dion less annoying. If she didn’t exist, she’d be less annoying. Same for ID — the only answer is to drop those bad arguments and accept reality.

    [vjtorley responds: See above. And your remark about Celine Dion was uncalled for.]

    ———-

    5. Now I’d like you to think about the arguments against Intelligent Design. Obviously they could be improved. Exactly where do you think these arguments need the most work, to make them more effective?

    Ed Brayton:

    They don’t need to be improved, they are supported by reality.

    ———-

    6. (a) If you’re an ID advocate or supporter, what do you think is the least bad of the various alternatives that have been proposed to Intelligent Design, as explanations for the specified complexity found in living things and in the laws of the cosmos? (e.g. The multiverse [restricted or unrestricted?]; Platonism; the laws of the cosmos hold necessarily, and they necessarily favor life; pure chance; time is an illusion, so CSI doesn’t increase over time.)

    That’s quite a straw man he’s constructed there.

    [vjtorley responds: I take it you're a supporter, then? Seriously, I suggested those alternatives because they're not as easily refutable as textbook "explanations" of the origin of life.]

    ———-

    (b) If you’re an ID opponent or skeptic, can you name some explanations for life and the cosmos that you would regard as even more irrational than Intelligent Design? (e.g. Everything popped into existence out of absolutely nothing; the future created the past; every logically possible world exists out there somewhere; I am the only being in the cosmos and the external world is an illusion requiring no explanation; only minds are real, so the physical universe is an illusion requiring no explanation.)

    I’d say those are all about equally irrational.

    [vjtorley responds: Not even Professor Richard Dawkins goes that far. He's prepared to at least consider the possibility of Deism.]

  63. vjtorley August 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm
    Proof that the constants of Nature or the basic structure of DNA are less than ideal for life might therefore constitute evidence a Design hypothesis.

    I presume that you mean “evidence against a Design hypothesis”.

    Although one could make a case that the existence of life in spite of less than ideal conditions would be evidence for a Design. I’ll try to move the discussion forward by making that presumption, for the point of discussion has been what would count as evidence against a design hypothesis.

    And you have introduced a new undefined term, “ideal”. It seems to me that being able to determine what is ideal or less than ideal would be dependent upon our knowledge of purposes, and thus “ideal” is only meaningful if we assume teleology.

    I can’t quite understand you if you are saying that there is something “ideal” about the world of life as we know it. After all, the vast majority of space is extremely hostile to life as we know it, as you surely are aware.

    As far as I can tell, the question has only slightly shifted, from what would be an example of something not designed, to what would be an example of something less than ideal for life.

  64. Perhaps the discussion is operating on too abstract a level. So I’m going to propose an example of something which, if it were the case, would be evidence against purposeful design:

    By way of setting up the example, observe the nested hierarchy of features of various living things which is known as the “tree of life”. The conventional explanation for this is that it is a result of common descent with modification. I don’t know of any suggestion for an alternative explanation. If there is not common descent, then the tree of life is just a chance event of no significance. So I propose the following as possible evidence against design:

    If there is not common descent, then the tree of life is something which is not purposefully designed.

  65. vjtorley August 13,2011 at 3:35 pm #57 wrote:

    Proof that the constants of Nature or the basic structure of DNA are less than ideal for life might therefore constitute evidence a Design hypothesis.

    But plenty of things that everybody agrees are designed are less than ideal, so I don’t think that being less-than-ideal is a sign of non-designedness.

    A car which is poorly designed for the person who buys it and drives it may be well-designed for the manufacturer, because it may cost more to make another car without generating more sales.

    A broken watch or one which is just poorly manufactured can still be seen to be designed.

    Bad poetry is still designed. In fact, sometimes bad poetry is deliberately written for humor.

    As far as life is concerned, a feature which is better for its possessor may be worse for its prey (or its predators, or its environment). A living thing which is ideal in the sense of being long-lived and producing many offspring would overwhelm its environment in the long run.

  66. I guess that you’ve given up trying to defend your position, so I’m not going to bother checking here any more.

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