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Abiogenensis Research Is ID Research

An ID hypothesis is that abiogenesis is practically impossible without intelligent agency. A predictionmade by this hypothesis is that no method of abiogenesis absent intelligent intervention can ever be demonstrated in a laboratory. The prediction may be falsified in principle by demonstrating a chemical pathway whereby abiogenesis takes place. This is a legitimate hypothesis that makes a testable prediction. Therefore all attempts to demonstrate that abiogenesis is possible absent intelligent intervention is an attempt to falsify biological ID. So I don’t want to hear the tired canard again that ID has no research programs. We have many of them and they’ve been going on for God only knows how long. At least since Aristotle in 350 B.C. said it was a readily observable truth that aphids arise from the dew which falls on plants, fleas from putrid matter, mice from dirty hay, and so forth. Through Louis Pasteur’s experiments showing sterile mediums remain sterile forever in 1862. To the Miller-Urey experiment “demonstrating” how electrical discharges, water, and a few noxious gasses could produce a dilute concentration of a few amino acids. Biological ID research has thus demonstrably been proceeding for thousands of years and continues through today most recently with Harvard University throwing its hat in the ring setting out to prove abiogenesis is possible and plausible committing $1 million per year to the effort. But don’t you dare say that 2000+ years of failure is anything more than an argument from ignorance you ignorant IDers! :razz:

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90 Responses to Abiogenensis Research Is ID Research

  1. This is an open question to anyone who thinks they have an answer, but I am particularly interested in Dr. Dembski’s reaction.

    It seems to me that, at the core, ID theory hinges on the notion that an intelligent agent’s causal powers are irreducible to physical laws acting upon material entities. If this is indeed the case, do you expect ID to become a more mechanistic theory once the neurosciences more fully elucidate the causal powers of the mind?

  2. “If this is indeed the case, do you expect ID to become a more mechanistic theory once the neurosciences more fully elucidate the causal powers of the mind?”

    I think ID cannot be ID and be mechanistic at the same time. True agency is _choice contingency_. You see if an “agent’s causal powers are irreducible to physical laws acting upon material entities” then likewise the neurosciences will also find that their science is “irreducible to physical laws acting upon material entities”. In fact, that is precisely the kind of thing that is described in Schwartz’s paper.

    ID can be quantitative and qualititative, and it might even be predictive of a limit, limits, or an average, but it cannot continue to be ID and be deterministic.

  3. Davescot: “An ID hypothesis is that abiogenesis is practically impossible without intelligent agency. A predictionmade by this hypothesis is that no method of abiogenesis absent intelligent intervention can ever be demonstrated in a laboratory. The prediction may be falsified in principle by demonstrating a chemical pathway whereby abiogenesis takes place. This is a legitimate hypothesis that makes a testable prediction. Therefore all attempts to demonstrate that abiogenesis is possible absent intelligent intervention is an attempt to falsify biological ID. So I don’t want to hear the tired canard again that ID has no research programs.”

    So does ID have a positive research program, with labcoats and pipets and stuff, that follows this protocol, or is it merely counting on the “Darwinist” research programs into abiogenesis to fail into perpetuity?

  4. Thanks johnnyb for your input.

    I believe we have diverging definitions of mechanistic. The neurosciences can, in principle, describe the *kinds* of decisions — or actions, or computations, or whatever — an intelligent agent can make. That is not to say scientists will ever be able to fully describe what a mind *is*.

    Penrose writes extensively on the noncomputability of the human mind. Specifically, he points to the Godel-Turing conclusion. Although he hasn’t fully described the underlying ontology, he has illustrated our ability for higher order logic (something that can’t confortably be subsumed in a materialist paradigm).

    Hypothetically speaking, if our minds have causative powers that
    1.) determine micromolecular events
    2.) defy reduction
    and
    3.) are algorithmicaly sophisticated enough to create microstructures that exhibit specified complexity

    then this, in my opinion, would strong confirming evidence for ID.

  5. cjok

    Yes, there are positive ID programs! Many intelligent researchers are trying to create a living cell artificially by abiotic means. So far as I recall they’ve reconstructed a functional polio virus from nothing but sequencing data and some bacteriophage as well. That’s not a cell but it’s a good start and it’s certainly a really good indication that intelligent agents are capable of crafting a living cell from inanimate chemical precursors. ID predicts that intelligent agents are capable of bringing about abiogenesis so we expect these research programs to succeed while at the same time we predict that abiogenesis attempts absent intelligent agency will fail.

  6. Davescot: “ID predicts that intelligent agents are capable of bringing about abiogenesis so we expect these research programs to succeed while at the same time we predict that abiogenesis attempts absent intelligent agency will fail.”

    Back up the bus a second. I always hear that the failure of “Darwinist” scientists to explain abiogenesis is de facto support for ID. Now you are saying that if a researcher is able to define the chemical pathways to abiogenesis, that is proof of ID? That is claiming the same victory regardless of the outcome. Dude, that isn’t a falsifiable research hypothesis, that is a rhetorical sleight of hand.

  7. cjok

    You misunderstood. Intelligent agents using any means at their disposal (for instance gene splicing machines, DNA sequence libraries, tightly controlled temperatures & pH &
    concentrations of chemical agents, manufactured catalysts) are predicted to succeed in crafting a cell from non-living components. Means to abiogenesis that are restricted to only what was available to nature absent any intelligent agency (no machines, no laboratory environments that don’t mimic those found in nature), are predicted to fail.

  8. “A predictionmade by this hypothesis is that no method of abiogenesis absent intelligent intervention can ever be demonstrated in a laboratory.”

    This is not a very practical prediction. It may take million or even more years for scientists to demonstrate ID-free abiogenesis in a laboratory.

  9. This is not a very practical prediction. It may take million or even more years for scientists to demonstrate ID-free abiogenesis in a laboratory.

    It may be done next year too. Discovery is like that. No one knows how long it will take. If we knew how long things will take to discover we could prioritize our efforts rather nicely. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. How long will it take to discover a cure for aids? How long will it take to develop practical fusion reactors to generate electricity? Nobody can answer these questions. Welcome to science and engineering.

  10. I mentioned on one of the other abiogenesis threads the idea that even if we could get self-replicating molecules in a lab , that this still would not in any way show that intelligent agency is absent from biogenesis. What if the agency which organizes molecules into life is non-material but acts upon matter? Then, this assemblage could well be repeated anytime the perfectly appropriate conditions are met physically. Is this faulty thinking? Help! I beg y’all not to ignore me this time… :)

  11. Davescot: “You misunderstood. Intelligent agents using any means at their disposal (…) are predicted to succeed in crafting a cell from non-living components. Means to abiogenesis that are restricted to only what was available to nature absent any intelligent agency (no machines, no laboratory environments that don’t mimic those found in nature), are predicted to fail.”

    So, if I understand correctly, you assertion that successful abiogenesis research is actually ID research rests on the premise that scientists will use lab techniques that could not have ever occurred in nature in the last, oh say, 3 billion years or so? No how, no way?

    If that is true, then I stand corrected. This is more than a rhetorical slight of hand. It is a rhetorical slight of hand and a god-of-the-gaps argument all wrapped up into one. You are trying to assert that since intelligence has (presumably) caused abiogenesis, that only intelligence could have caused abiogenesis.

  12. Northen Breeze: “It may take million or even more years for scientists to demonstrate ID-free abiogenesis in a laboratory.”

    This is the only statement I’ve ever read on UD that made me laff out loud.

    Thanks!

    Anyway, I’d replace “million” with “billion”, or maybe even “trillion.”

    But while we’re holding our breath, let’s just see if anyone can get some good computer simulations first, with random mutations leading to virtual cells with 1% of the mechanical complexity of an E Coli. That would really be something.

  13. cjok just doesn’t get it and is no longer with us

  14. DaveScot, seems like cjok missed where you said “no laboratory environments that don’t mimic those found in nature”. When I read this, I take it to mean that scientists could work in labs, but they would have to emulate the conditions of nature way back when. Right?

  15. How long will it take to discover a cure for aids? How long will it take to develop practical fusion reactors to generate electricity? Nobody can answer these questions.

    Dave,
    Aren’t you saying the opposite of this? Ie, that ID can answer these questions? (or at least the abiogenesis question)

    Saying that no method of abiogenesis absent intelligent intervention can ever be demonstrated is not really a testable, falsifiable statement. For one, the time scale is too vague. Second, it’s not a positive statement. A testable, falsifiable prediction is something like “if X, then Y”, not “if not-X, then Y”. In order for your statement to be testable and falsifiable, you would need to show that abiogenesis actually cannot occur without an intelligent agency, not that we cannot demonstrate that it can occur. To use an oldie but goodie, absence of proof is not proof of absence.

    I don’t like to get bogged down in abiogenesis because I think it is virtually impossible to say anything of certainty about what happened in a world with conditions we aren’t entirely certain of. One thing I am certain of is that 150 years is not really nearly enough time for us to have figured out everything about everything.

  16. DaveScot,

    “The prediction may be falsified in principle by demonstrating a chemical pathway whereby abiogenesis takes place. This is a legitimate hypothesis that makes a testable prediction. Therefore all attempts to demonstrate that abiogenesis is possible absent intelligent intervention is an attempt to falsify biological ID.”

    I can’t remember which one of you guys claimed (it might just have been a comment, btw) that doing evolutionary experiments are useless, since they are intelligently designed.
    The conclusion was that all these experiments would actually tell us is that an intelligent designer can cause evolution. IF(!) that is an ID position, then any successful abiogenesis experiment would by default point towards an intelligent designer. Your hypothesis would, thus, not be falsifiable. Your own statement:

    “A predictionmade by this hypothesis is that no method of abiogenesis absent intelligent intervention can ever be demonstrated in a laboratory.”, seems to support what I just said.

  17. The intelligent agents you are talking about are humans. Humans came about as a result of the things (ribosomes, DNA etc) that are to be explained. Not only that, but humans can only do some form of abiogenesis because of what they know about the biological world. It seems to me that claiming ID due to what humans can, or might, do is begging the question.

  18. DaveScott said: “Yes, there are positive ID programs! Many intelligent researchers are trying to create a living cell artificially by abiotic means. So far as I recall they’ve reconstructed a functional polio virus from nothing but sequencing data and some bacteriophage as well”

    Do you have more information on this — who’s doing it and where is this research being conducted. Any links?

  19. 19

    “Biological ID research has thus demonstrably been proceeding for thousands of years and continues through today most recently with Harvard University throwing its hat in the ring setting out to prove abiogenesis is possible and plausible committing $1 million per year to the effort.”

    If I understand this argument correctly, you are stating that all research into the origins of life on earth conducted within a strictly naturalistic framework is actually ID research. All of it. And this therefore refutes the tired canard that ID does not have a research program.

    Downright Orwellian.

  20. Abiogenesis means life from non life.

    The reasonablness of interpreting any experimental results as falsifying ID will be determined by the amount of specific design necessary to achive what is produced.

    If the experiment requires very special ingredients (like mixtures of only the 20 of the 64 possible amino acids present in life, and only their L forms, and very precise temperature and pressure situations and the output is not very impressive, then it will not be considered that ID has been falsified.

    Information is a real and non physical quantity in spite of the denials by those who find it inconvenient.

    see http://idnet.com.au/files/pdf/.....atural.pdf “Life is not natural”

  21. bebbo,

    You are the one begging the question when you assume the human mind is entirely physical.

  22. DaveScot: “The prediction may be falsified in principle by demonstrating a chemical pathway whereby abiogenesis takes place. This is a legitimate hypothesis that makes a testable prediction.”

    Leading IDists definitely have not accepted that positive findings in the study of abiogenesis would falsify ID. Faced with a demonstration of abiogenesis, someone like Bill Dembski would immediately claim that the specified complexity of something in the pathway was too high for the pathway to have a natural explanation.

    DaveScot: “A predictionmade by this hypothesis is that no method of abiogenesis absent intelligent intervention can ever be demonstrated in a laboratory.”

    Tell me if I am wrong, Dave, but for you a lab experiment uncontaminated by intelligent intervention is an oxymoron. So it seems you are playing a game with us here. Sure, we can falsify intelligent design. All scientists have to do is to do the impossible. Isn’t that what you’re saying?

  23. DaveScot,

    I’m quite glad you brought up the issue of abiogenesis. Since, by your very own definition as far as I can tell, abiogeneis can’t be separated from a designer, you must assume that somewhere along the line, there must be some form of supernatural intervention. Sure, maybe aliens intelligently designed us, but they can’t have arisen without intelligent intervention, etc., etc. Logically, this would seem to imply that intelligent design can’t be religion-neutral – there simply must be something supernatural.

  24. Tom English wrote

    “Faced with a demonstration of abiogenesis, someone like Bill Dembski would immediately claim that the specified complexity of something in the pathway was too high for the pathway to have a natural explanation.”

    People like Dr Dembski are not committed to their view being either fixed or eternally correct. They are open to new evidence.

    If abiogenesis were demonstrated I do not hesitate to say that I would change from a strong IDer to a weak ider. I think we would have no alternative.

    However, what you and your people often claim to demonstrate, is often very different to what you actually can substantiate given the unextrapolated experimental results.

    What people like Dr Dembski are interested in is TRUTH not ideology. It is the Truth, not ideology that sets us free.

  25. Hawks

    but they can’t have arisen without intelligent intervention

    I’m sorry, but unless I have some inkling of how a designer or designer is structured I can’t agree with any assertions about what they must or must not be like. All they MUST have is some mastery of organic chemistry. What you’ve brought up is the classic “but who designed the designer” argument. I have no more idea of who designed the designer than I have of where the matter and energy in the univserse comes from. Maybe the designer came from there too. I can only analyze what I can observe and all I can observe in the realm of life is organic life here on earth.

  26. Tom English

    I can’t speak for Bill Dembski nor predict what he will say. I can only speak for myself. Are you some kind of clairvoyant or mind reader or something?

    Yes, in demonstrating abiogenesis I believe I am asking for the impossible. But that’s okay because in principle I’m asking for the possible. Valid hypotheses must be falsifiable in principle. If the hypothesis is correct it cannot be falsified in practice. Wasn’t it a clear implication of “demonstrated in a laboratory” that the environment where the demonstration takes place is a laboratory mockup of the presumed natural environment and intelligent intervention would be creating conditions that aren’t a faithful reproduction of the natural environment?

  27. DaveScot: “Yes, in demonstrating abiogenesis I believe I am asking for the impossible. But that’s okay because in principle I’m asking for the possible.”

    Dave, lab experiments would necessarily manipulate a model (an abstraction, a simplification) of a prebiotic environment, not the environment itself. In past discussion of simulation models of evolution, you have demonstrated amply that you find abstraction acceptable:

    “… did you emulate random factors in nature that happen to kill the fittest? Did you emulate forest fires and arbitrarily kill whole familes of variants? Did you send in any floods to drown them, volcanoes to bury them, predators to eat them, etcetera? [...] In nature when an antelope gets faster he also requires more food which is a disadvantage in some situations. Did you try emulate the complexity of the environment that RM+NS in nature must confront?”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....hives/1481 (post 24)

    So with your high “principles” of evidence, it is in fact impossible for abiogenesis in the laboratory to satisfy you. And this leaves out entirely the fact that you and others here impute intelligent direction to any system set in motion by humans. (Enter Salvador, Schrödinger’s cat, and quantum mysticism.)

  28. DaveScot: “I can’t speak for Bill Dembski nor predict what he will say. I can only speak for myself. Are you some kind of clairvoyant or mind reader or something?”

    Here’s a secret I am surprised you have not caught on to: Much of the time you argue with me here, I am sticking close to what Bill has written, and you are not. If it seems to you I am mind reading, it must be that you have not read “Searching Large Spaces,” “The Conservation of Information,” and “Specification,” or you have not understood their import.

    idnet.com.au: “However, what you and your people often claim to demonstrate….”

    Who, precisely, are my people? Projecting tribalism onto me ain’t bright, and it sho’ ain’t right. I am here to learn about ID, and I think debate is a great way to learn. The fact that I challenge ID fans on their putative knowledge of ID and the consistency of their statements does not make me The Enemy. Precious few people here understand the significance of Bill’s recent work. I don’t fully endorse it, but folks here could learn from me if they were not so suspicious and defensive.

  29. Qualiatative, it doesn’t matter whether the human mind is entirely physical or not. DaveScot is arguing that abiogenesis needs intelligent agency. To do that he’s relying on what humans can do. So he’s trying to explain the origin of DNA, for example, by human beings and their minds which exist because of the very thing to be explained. That’s begging the question.

  30. Wow, that’s really desperate! Evolutionary research, of course, is carried out by people who use evolutionary theory to make predictions and guide their research. But since there is essentially no significant ID research carried out on that basis, you are anxious to claim research being carried out by people who quite obviously have no interest or belief in a role for ID in the origin of life or existing species.

    For example, don’t think that it is pretty ridiculous to acclaim attempts to develop engineered organisms as ID research? After all, there is no scientific doubt that “intelligent agents are capable of crafting a living cell from inanimate chemical precursors.” There is nothing in evolutionary theory to suggest that this is impossible, so you are just setting up a straw man (and you aren’t even bothering to knock it over yourself; you are looking to somebody else to knock it over for you).

  31. trrll

    Since when do the motivations of researchers define the applicability of anything they might discover?

  32. tinabrewer wrote:

    I mentioned on one of the other abiogenesis threads the idea that even if we could get self-replicating molecules in a lab , that this still would not in any way show that intelligent agency is absent from biogenesis. What if the agency which organizes molecules into life is non-material but acts upon matter? Then, this assemblage could well be repeated anytime the perfectly appropriate conditions are met physically. Is this faulty thinking?

    Sorry, Tina, but, yes. “acts upon matter” has to be a real, detectable, measurable phenomenon. If you believe supernatural agencies can affect the natural world, you should be able to detect those effects at the interface.

  33. Dave,

    What say you to the idea that deep sea vents, say 3 billion years ago, could have been a possible venue for abiogenesis. Insulated from atmospheric conditions, meteor bombardment, high UV, complex chemicals could have been formed in the hot rocks below the sea floor and fixed when spewed out into the cool sea water. Chemosynthesis (sulphur) rather than photosynthesis could have been the energy source for the first life-forms.

  34. DaveScot,

    “I’m sorry, but unless I have some inkling of how a designer or designer is structured I can’t agree with any assertions about what they must or must not be like. All they MUST have is some mastery of organic chemistry. What you’ve brought up is the classic “but who designed the designer” argument. I have no more idea of who designed the designer than I have of where the matter and energy in the univserse comes from. Maybe the designer came from there too. I can only analyze what I can observe and all I can observe in the realm of life is organic life here on earth. ”

    In the absense of evidence for strictly natural abiogenesis, you claim that a designer, by default, is responsible for designing life one Earth. My response to this was, indeed, a “but who designed the designer” argument. If the original designer was neither alive nor super-natural, you are left with something that should REALLY set your incredulity alarm, not as much ringing, as howling.

  35. Alan Fox,

    “Sorry, Tina, but, yes. “acts upon matter” has to be a real, detectable, measurable phenomenon. If you believe supernatural agencies can affect the natural world, you should be able to detect those effects at the interface.”

    Can you provide a completely hypothetical example of this? I mean.. what would a supernatural agency’s effect on the natural world look like?

    And if you’re dealing with an omnipotent or omniscient being, why would a supernatural agency need to actively intervene? Even if abiogenesis were demonstrated – even if it was exceptionally unlikely – said being could have foreseen this even prior to the universe’s creation.

    That’s my one worry, and the most intriguing part of ID. How do you know when what seems like an event of utter chance really is such? And that seems like the ultimate conflict between ID and darwinism – chance versus intention. If non-living matter has given or can give rise to living matter, is non-living matter really.. non-living? But those are philosophical questions.

    This is my first post, by the way, and I hope to stay within the rules of this very interesting site at all times. Thank you.

  36. To DaveScot — see comment #18 and your comment “Yes, there are positive ID programs! Many intelligent researchers are trying to create a living cell artificially by abiotic means”

    What are these ID programs and who are conducting them? There are lot of people skeptical that there is any real research being done on ID so if there is it might be a good opportunity to advertise this act.

  37. Since when do the motivations of researchers define the applicability of anything they might discover?

    I did not say that the results are not applicable to issues of interest to ID advocates (although some of them clearly are not). I said that they are not ID research, in the sense of research based upon the predictions of an ID theory and designed to test those predictions.

  38. trrll

    I did not say that the results are not applicable to issues of interest to ID advocates (although some of them clearly are not). I said that they are not ID research, in the sense of research based upon the predictions of an ID theory and designed to test those predictions.

    What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet. – William Shakespeare

    They are ID research in every sense that matters. Motivation is irrelevant.

  39. John Singleton asks for examples of research programs trying to create a cell by abiotic means.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.c.....414B7F0000

    http://www.sciencenews.org/art.....3/fob8.asp

    http://syntheticbiology.org/

    These links should get you started. Enjoy! I sure have.

  40. Dr Behe:

    “Coyne’s conclusion that design is unfalsifiable, however, seems to be at odds with the arguments of other reviewers of my book. Clearly, Russell Doolittle (Doolittle 1997), Kenneth Miller (Miller 1999), and others have advanced scientific arguments aimed at falsifying ID. (See my articles on blood clotting and the “acid test” on this web site.) If the results with knock-out mice (Bugge et al. 1996) had been as Doolittle first thought, or if Barry Hall’s work (Hall 1999) had indeed shown what Miller implied, then they correctly believed my claims about irreducible complexity would have suffered quite a blow. And since my claim for intelligent design requires that no unintelligent process be sufficient to produce such irreducibly complex systems, then the plausibility of ID would suffer enormously. Other scientists, including those on the National Academy of Science’s Steering Committee on Science and Creationism, in commenting on my book have also pointed to physical evidence (such as the similar structures of hemoglobin and myoglobin) which they think shows that irreducibly complex biochemical systems can be produced by natural selection: “However, structures and processes that are claimed to be ‘irreducibly’ complex typically are not on closer inspection.” (National Academy of Sciences 1999, p. 22)
    Now, one can’t have it both ways. One can’t say both that ID is unfalsifiable (or untestable) and that there is evidence against it. Either it is unfalsifiable and floats serenely beyond experimental reproach, or it can be criticized on the basis of our observations and is therefore testable. The fact that critical reviewers advance scientific arguments against ID (whether successfully or not) shows that intelligent design is indeed falsifiable.

    In fact,[I] my argument for intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal.[/I] Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwin’s Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can’t be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellum–or any equally complex system–was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven.

    How about Professor Coyne’s concern that, if one system were shown to be the result of natural selection, proponents of ID could just claim that some other system was designed? I think the objection has little force. If natural selection were shown to be capable of producing a system of a certain degree of complexity, then the assumption would be that it could produce any other system of an equal or lesser degree of complexity. If Coyne demonstrated that the flagellum (which requires approximately forty gene products) could be produced by selection, I would be rather foolish to then assert that the blood clotting system (which consists of about twenty proteins) required intelligent design.”

    Seeing that living organisms are the ultimate in biological IC demonstrating that they (it) can arise from non-living matter via unguided, purpose-less processes would falsify ID- by Dr Behe’s criteria.

  41. Also it isn’t about ID research vs evolutionary research. Right now it is about conducting scientific research and being allowed to have a design inference if that is what the data affords.

  42. Can you provide a completely hypothetical example of this? I mean.. what would a supernatural agency’s effect on the natural world look like?

    Like a magic trick, presumably. If one were observing the interaction, the supernatural cause would be invisible, but the effect would manifest itself by an abberation in the physical properties of matter. A supernatural soccer player kicks a real ball. We only see the ball fly off the ground.

    And if you’re dealing with an omnipotent or omniscient being, why would a supernatural agency need to actively intervene?

    I am probably not the best person to answer this question, but, why indeed?

  43. nullasalus,

    Your questions get asked frequently.

    “what would a supernatural agency’s effect on the natural world look like?” – In Christian theology, a resurrection. In Judeo Christian theology, manna from the sky. in science, the appearance of a universe that is incredibly fine-tuned and the appearance of a cell that is also incredibly fine-tuned. Now there are no current witnesses to any of this so it would be difficult to assess any of this first hand.

    “And if you’re dealing with an omnipotent or omniscient being, why would a supernatural agency need to actively intervene?” – This has been discussed ad nausea here. One of the issues is that some believe there is no need for God to intervene because He could have set the whole thing in motion because as you say He is omnipotent or omniscient. However, others have looked at the evidence and concluded at some point an intelligent being did something and that is what Intelligent Design is about. Here is the link to ID’s definition

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....d-defined/

    There is no need for the designer to be supernatural in terms of the cell. The universe is another issue.

    The no necessity to intervene philosophy is called “theistic evolution” and many very strongly defend it. They do not like the idea of a Tinkering God even though a Tinkering God is part of Judeo Christian theology but so is an omnipotent God.

    Probabilities play an important role in defining what is chance or not. A lot of ID is based on applying probabilities to observed events. If you hit the lottery, that is not necessarily chance since someone will win it. If you hit it twice in a row everybody will suspect something is wrong. If you hit it three times in a row everybody will know something is wrong. Darwinists believe in hitting the lottery everytime you turn around. It is incredibe the number of lotteries they have hit. ID people know that when you hit the jackpot that often, something has been fixed.

  44. 44

    Let’s say someone creates a self-replicating system that qualifies as being alive. Are we to believe that creature will now evolve into more complex organisms? Let’s get real shall we? Probably not.

    Dreaming about abiogenesis is just about as realistic as SETI was, a monumental waste of resources and time if you ask me, or even if you don’t ask me. If life existed elsewhere in the cosmos we would have been made aware of it long ago. The origin and evolution of life WAS never a statistical matter and there is no place for chance in either ontogeny or phylogeny. There never was.

    “Neither in the one nor in the other is there room for chance.”
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis, page 134

    “Everything is determined…by forces over which we have no control.”
    Albert Einstein

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  45. Dreaming about abiogenesis is just about as realistic as SETI was, a monumental waste of resources and time if you ask me, or even if you don’t ask me.

    Hey! In the immortal words of Archie Bunker: “I resemble that remark.”

    I used to dream about SETI being successful. It’s been a great disappointment. A waste? Maybe. I think we had to give it the old college try. The Copernican Principle of Mediocrity was at stake. Mediocrity is a lame duck as far as I’m concerned now. This our third rock from the sun appears to be quite special. There’s probably a lot of technology spinoff with other applications too. SETI is basically an exercise in scanning a zillion different radio frequencies as fast as possible looking for signs of intelligence in all the junk. The same techology could be used someday, for example, to find things worth watching on cable TV.

  46. Alan Fox,

    “Like a magic trick, presumably. If one were observing the interaction, the supernatural cause would be invisible, but the effect would manifest itself by an abberation in the physical properties of matter. A supernatural soccer player kicks a real ball. We only see the ball fly off the ground.”

    But even in the situation you just mentioned (supernatural soccer player kicking a ball), you have both intention (agent wants to kick the ball) and result (ball is kicked). In this case, we can’t deny that it has happened – at the same time, we can’t deny that there is a mechanism in place that allowed this to occur. And, of course, if we were ever to discover the mechanism, it would cease to be supernatural.

    That’s my problem with the concept of ‘supernatural’. All it (and words like it) really do is highlight the fact that we’re in the dark as to how it happens – because, as near as I can tell, it is impossible to have both a supernatural effect, and to understand how it actually works. Not that I have a suitable alternative definition; for my part, I’m starting to wonder if everything in the universe (and outside of it, naturally) qualifies as supernatural, as we’re all the result of agencies beyond our comprehension. Anyway, that’s philosophical, and not for this thread – I just think that “supernatural” has become almost a nonsense-word.

    jerry,

    “The no necessity to intervene philosophy is called “theistic evolution” and many very strongly defend it. They do not like the idea of a Tinkering God even though a Tinkering God is part of Judeo Christian theology but so is an omnipotent God.”

    Thanks for the additional clarification. I’m interested in ID (and theistic evolution), and still have much to learn. Personally, I don’t see how someone’s belief in theistic evolution could eliminate the need for a tinkerer God. In fact, such a God would have to be tinkering constantly; even an event which is a result of entirely mechanical processes could be truly miraculous (Fatima comes to mind as a potential, if non-biological example) as every mechanical possibility was lined up well in advance to account for visions, prophecy, and miracle.

    Either way, enough questions and comments from me. I have a lot to learn, and so I hit the links you’ve pointed out. Thanks once again!

  47. John Davison:
    If life existed elsewhere in the cosmos we would have been made aware of it long ago.

    We have been made aware of it, long ago as well as the present.

  48. I used to dream about SETI being successful. It’s been a great disappointment. A waste? Maybe. I think we had to give it the old college try.

    It was always fundamentally a long shot, based upon the rather doubtful assumption that we had reached such a pinnacle of technological development that a substantial fraction of interstellar civilization would be using communication systems similar to ours, and furthermore, would be actively broadcasting to space (a somewhat doubtful assumption, considering that we aren’t doing it ourselves). But you never know unless you look.

  49. 49

    DaveScot – message 45

    The only regular programming worth watching on cable TV is the Fox News Channel, Channel 76 here in Vermont. But that is just me. I have it on all the time.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  50. 50

    joseph

    What are you yout talking about in # 47 or would you rather not say?
    I don’t get it.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable,”
    John A. Davison

  51. John Davison:
    What are you yout talking about in # 47 or would you rather not say?

    They’re here. We’ve been visited. We are not alone. There are others who have figured out much more about the universe and the laws that govern it than we have.

    John Davison:
    I don’t get it.

    That’s OK. It isn’t for everyone to “get”. You appear to be doing quite well with the things you do “get”. And even those with first-hand accounts don’t “get it”.

    PS I was married in Vermont…
    —————————————————————————————

    to trrll,

    We have been actively broadcasting into space, for quite some time, ie several decades.

  52. I’m not sure if this question is appropriate here, but I am curious as to the answer for it.

    Is there a list somewhere that names (potentially) IC structures in existing biological organisms? The reason I ask is because I’m not sure on how to search for it, would like to see what constitutes as being IC, and how these structures are related to each other.

    My idea is that if an intelligent designer was involved, then there should be some type of reasoning behind the designing and that reasoning would most likely be shared among the designs of the IC structures. Example of a reason could be the advancement of a particular type of organism.

    Also, if there could be found evidence that the timings of the designing of the IC structures are similar to each other, the more I would be able to see a possible intelligent designer (or at least some significant event) being responsible for the similarities. Of course, this assumes that the designer only tweaked stuff once or twice, and doesn’t take into account the potential of multiple designers (all with different intentions).

    Actually, is there a proposed timeline of any sort of when the intelligent designer(s) tweaked/designed organisms (an answer of “once, at the very beginning of life,” gives too much omnipotence to the designer, I think)? Is the designer still capable of designing things? If not, why not? If so, can we ever possibly observe it happening? Even if the designer can’t be detected itself, can’t we at least be lucky enough to see the instantaneous (since for some reason there’s supposedly no mechanism to observe) designing of a new IC structure?

    Sorry for all the questions at the end there. It’s just that I can’t help but question and speculate about the motives/intentions of a designer when, by definition, IC structures are to have been designed with some purpose/function in mind. And once I start speculating on motive, I start wondering about the potential future behavior of the designer. So, can someone be kind enough to provide a list? Thank you.

  53. I just think that “supernatural” has become almost a nonsense-word.

    Yes, giving a concept a name does not give it existence.

  54. Yes, Alan, existence is the essence of the debate. Why does anything exist? And why does it exist with such exquisite precision? The cause of both should be given a name.

  55. 55

    joseph

    Now that they are here where can I find one? I want to discuss certain matters with it.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a pesent evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  56. John Davison:
    Now that they are here where can I find one?

    Unfortunately it isn’t as easy as that. Most times you will be found or you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

    John Davison:
    I want to discuss certain matters with it.

    Get in line.

  57. Monimonika:
    Is there a list somewhere that names (potentially) IC structures in existing biological organisms? The reason I ask is because I’m not sure on how to search for it, would like to see what constitutes as being IC, and how these structures are related to each other.

    The only “list” I am aware of is in Dr Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box”. However that list does not contain a living organism.

    In “No Free Lunch” Wm. Dembski provides the following:

    IC- A system performing a given basic function is irreducibly complex if it includes a set of well-matched, mutually interacting, non-arbitrarily individuated parts such that each part in the set is indispensable to maintaining the system’s basic, and therefore original, function. The set of these indispensable parts is known as the irreducible core of the system.

    Numerous and Diverse Parts If the irreducible core of an IC system consists of one or only a few parts, there may be no insuperable obstacle to the Darwinian mechanism explaining how that system arose in one fell swoop. But as the number of indispensable well-fitted, mutually interacting,, non-arbitrarily individuated parts increases in number & diversity, there is no possibility of the Darwinian mechanism achieving that system in one fell swoop.

    Minimal Complexity and Function Given an IC system with numerous & diverse parts in its core, the Darwinian mechanism must produce it gradually. But if the system needs to operate at a certain minimal level of function before it can be of any use to the organism & if to achieve that level of function it requires a certain minimal level of complexity already possessed by the irreducible core, the Darwinian mechanism has no functional intermediates to exploit.

    Monimoniker:
    Actually, is there a proposed timeline of any sort of when the intelligent designer(s) tweaked/designed organisms (an answer of “once, at the very beginning of life,” gives too much omnipotence to the designer, I think)?

    No timeline yet exists. We are still studying the data, as well as still detecting the design(s). Nothing about the designer is known via the (a) scientific method- except that the designer is/ was much more intelligent than we are. We don’t know if the designer still exists- the design does so we study it.

    And I doubt we could use the designs to predict what, if anything, will be designed in the future.

    As for motives/ intentions of the designer- “The Privileged Planet” authors (Gonzalez & Richards) state that the purpose for the design of the universe was for scientific discovery. And in order to do that one needs discoverers somewhere in the design which will allow for that.

  58. 58

    joseph

    I regard your response as a cop out. Sorry about that.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”

  59. John

    The Discovery Military Channel (formerly Discovery Wings) is pretty good. So is Animal Planet, National Geographic, The History Channel, and a number of others. Out of 500 some channels I get the pickings are surprisingly slim. In the near future there might be 500,000 and then the SETI stuff might actually come in handy for finding which ones contain intelligent programming.

  60. John Davison:
    I regard your response as a cop out. Sorry about that.

    If you referring to post #56 I find your response to it rather strange. I never claimed to know exactly where “they” are. I never claimed to know exactly where “they” will turn up. And even if I knew I would not post it on the internet.

    That said, I, for one, am not going to dismiss the evidence that we have been and continue to be visited.

    But now we are way off-topic, so I offer my apologies to DS for bringing the thread down this tangent.

  61. Alan Fox,

    “Yes, giving a concept a name does not give it existence.”

    I think you misunderstand the extent to which I was saying that. Even if there is a God, if there is a soul, an afterlife – by the definitions laid down for supernatural, these things can’t be… supernatural. Because anything that truly exists does not fit the definition. You can’t demonstrate the supernatural, only because to demonstrate it – no matter WHAT ‘it’ is – would make it no longer supernatural.

    Supernatural is just another way of saying ‘unknown but real’.

  62. Thank you for your answer, Joseph.

    I can understand that ID is still in the beginning processes of accumulating supporting evidence, narrowing down the specific aspects (number of designers, when designing was accomplished, how many times designing occurred, whether there is an ultimate purpose, etc.) and thus may not be able to answer my questions for a long time to come.

    However, this point struck me as odd:

    As for motives/ intentions of the designer- “The Privileged Planet” authors (Gonzalez & Richards) state that the purpose for the design of the universe was for scientific discovery. And in order to do that one needs discoverers somewhere in the design which will allow for that.

    So, according to prominent IDists, not only did the designer shape the universe from its very basic beginnings so that there will eventually be humans (or some type of semi-sophisticated intelligence) to discover the designed aspects of said universe, the same designer (or maybe a different demi-designer) designed the bacterial flagellum and the immune systems (which are both IC structures according to Behe). I am just stuck on the the very big leap from stars, planets, supernovas, etc. to the microscopic structure of a bacteria. The relation between the extremes seems stretched.

    What also struck me was the lack of a list of structures that could be called IC. Bacterial flagellum was given as an example (not sure if that is old news or not) and the immune system was also mentioned in Dover. I’m quite sure there are more that get talked about even here on this blog. So why is there no list compiled somewhere? I don’t expect it to be a definitive list (too early for that), but with so much talk about there being a lot of evidence for design, I’d expect that such a list of design examples would be easy to make.

    The only “list” I am aware of is in Dr Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box”. However that list does not contain a living organism.

    It doesn’t? This is the first time I have learned of this (I’ve always assumed otherwise). What is on that “list”, then? What’s the point of mentioning Darwin/evolution if the design inference is only applied to non-living, non-organic things?

    I think I’ll just have to wait a bit more and hope that someone can either find the organic (non-human created) IC structures list or tell me how to go about finding it myself.

  63. 63

    I love the Animal Planet Channel, especially when they stage Dachshund races which they do on a regular basis. Otto is an incredibly fast Dachshund, considering he is so “crippled” as one your posters described him. He loves to run and “do laps.”

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  64. Joseph,

    regarding Dembski definition of IC, you quoted: “If the irreducible core of an IC system consists of one or only a few parts, there may be no insuperable obstacle to the Darwinian mechanism explaining how that system arose in one fell swoop. ”

    Does that, in essence, mean that ID admits that IC can arise “naturally”?

  65. Nullalus

    Even if there is a God, if there is a soul, an afterlife – by the definitions laid down for supernatural, these things can’t be… supernatural. Because anything that truly exists does not fit the definition. You can’t demonstrate the supernatural, only because to demonstrate it – no matter WHAT ‘it’ is – would make it no longer supernatural.

    I agree. Quite a dilemma, isn’t it?

  66. Nullasalus (sorry for previous typo)

    It would seem you can reduce the problem to a choice of “stuff exists or it doesn’t” or “stuff exists and we can detect it, and stuff also exists that we can’t detect”. Science can, in my view, progress with either assumption, and may, from time to time make discoveries of new stuff that was previously undetectable. The problem for science is to look for stuff without any idea of what to look for or where to look. This is why I suspect it is a waste of time looking for a soul, for example. Physics and metaphysics are very different subjects; one might say orthogonal.

  67. Hawks asks:
    “Does that, in essence, mean that ID admits that IC can arise “naturally”?”

    Yes, as defined originally by Behe.

    In fairness, however, I should note that Dembski did attempt later to distinguish between IC systems having low specified complexity versus those having high SC (CSI), arguing that the latter could not have arisen through natural processes.

    Dembski’s refinement runs into trouble, though, because he admits that to determine that a system has CSI, we must estimate the probability of its production by natural means. Systems with CSI have a low probability of arising through natural means.

    This renders the reasoning circular:

    1. Some systems in nature cannot have been produced through undirected natural means.
    2. Which ones? The ones with high CSI.
    3. How do you determine the CSI of a system? Measure the probability that it was produced through undirected natural means. If the probability was vanishingly small, it has CSI.
    4. Ergo, the systems that could not have been produced through undirected natural means are the ones which could not have been produced through undirected natural means.

  68. regarding Dembski definition of IC, you quoted: “If the irreducible core of an IC system consists of one or only a few parts, there may be no insuperable obstacle to the Darwinian mechanism explaining how that system arose in one fell swoop. ”

    Hawks:
    Does that, in essence, mean that ID admits that IC can arise “naturally”?

    “Naturally” has nothing to do with it as both intelligence and design are “natural”. Also it all depends on the complexity (or lack thereof) of the system. Even a two part system would/ could be IC. And no one I know would say that sheer-dumb-luck couldn’t cobble together some 2 part system. But it all depends upon the starting point.

  69. Monimoniker:
    I am just stuck on the the very big leap from stars, planets, supernovas, etc. to the microscopic structure of a bacteria. The relation between the extremes seems stretched.

    Aples and oranges. One is a design inference from biology and the other is a design inference from other sciences. IOW TPP demonstrates the design inference extends beyond biology and is not limited to it.

    The only “list” I am aware of is in Dr Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box”. However that list does not contain a living organism.

    Monimoniker:
    It doesn’t?

    I should clarify. What I meant was that a living organism, as in life itself, which we know is IC, is not in his book. All he talks about are the structures contained in living organisms.

    To find out what structures are IC look for the following (Dr Behe’s original criteria):

    “Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components ” (emphasis added)

    I am sure the list will be very long and that is why Dr Behe focused on the systems he did. And seeing that biology is about living organisms that is probably why he didn’t include a living organism as that is outside of biology.

  70. 70

    Biology is a science and nothing anyone says will ever change that. It was as an experimental science that the whole fabric of the Darwinian myth was destroyed and that was done by a Darwinian named Theodosius Dobzhansky. It is no wonder that the current generation of “Darwimps” pretend he never existed.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  71. To Karl Pfluger,

    The correct reasoning is as follows:

    ID is based on three premises and the inference that follows (DeWolf et al., “Darwinism, Design and Public Education”, pg. 92)-

    1) High information content (or specified complexity) and irreducible complexity constitute strong indicators or hallmarks of (past) intelligent design.
    2) Biological systems have a high information content (or specified complexity) and utilize subsystems that manifest irreducible complexity.
    3) Naturalistic mechanisms or undirected causes do not suffice to explain the origin of information (specified complexity) or irreducible complexity.
    4) Therefore, intelligent design constitutes the best explanations for the origin of information and irreducible complexity in biological systems.

    Also CSI has a defined lower limit of 500 bits of information (Shannon information is useless in this regard as it does not consider content. IOW to Shannon 500 bits of random characters has as much “information” as 500 bits of meaningful data).

    It should be noted that this can be easily refuted by demonstrating that 500 bits of information (not Shannon info) can arise from scratch via unguided, purposeless processes. Anything less than that (the demonstration) is mere whining.

  72. Joseph, so I take it there was a slight misreading of what I asked for earlier.

    By me in comment #52:

    Is there a list somewhere that names (potentially) IC structures in existing biological organisms?

    I asked for examples of IC structures inside living organisms, not for the (entire?) organisms themselves.

    By Joseph in comment #69:

    To find out what structures are IC look for the following (Dr Behe’s original criteria):

    “Our ability to be confident of the design of the cilium or intracellular transport rests on the same principles to be confident of the design of anything: the ordering of separate components to achieve an identifiable function that depends sharply on the components ” (emphasis added)”

    I am sure the list will be very long and that is why Dr Behe focused on the systems he did.

    I can’t help but be disappointed with the reasoning here. If the list would become so long, why is it supposedly so hard to come up with one here? I’m not asking for the entire list, I’m asking for a list long enough (around 20 items will do, any more and I’ll probably nod off) that could be used to compare/contrast and get a better grasp of what the criteria means. It’s so I could see if there are similarities beyond the criteria present within that list.

    By Joseph:
    Apples and oranges. One is a design inference from biology and the other is a design inference from other sciences. IOW TPP demonstrates the design inference extends beyond biology and is not limited to it.

    Okay, I’ll accept that the design inference can extend into other areas, but then I start to wonder about what part of the reality we live is definitely not designed? What’s to stop a designer from designing things specifically so that I would be sitting here typing this sentence up? Would you consider that this specific act of mine is too insignificant to have to have been carefully planned out from the very beginning? Why or why not? Where would the line be drawn?

    How would you know how far ahead the planning of the designer(s) went? What would be the criteria for labeling something as unplanned/undesigned when even we know that intelligent beings like humans can design things to appear as if by random?

    Hey, I’m smelling a whole new area of scientific research based on the ID theory…

  73. Joseph,

    ““Naturally” has nothing to do with it as both intelligence and design are “natural”. Also it all depends on the complexity (or lack thereof) of the system.”

    The reason I put naturally in quotes was that I, in effect, meant non-designed. I swear I will be more careful in the future.

    “And no one I know would say that sheer-dumb-luck couldn’t cobble together some 2 part system. But it all depends upon the starting point. ”

    I know of someone who probably would (or at least should) say “that sheer-dumb-luck couldn’t cobble together some 2 part system”. PaV (or was it BarryA) tried to argue that RM+NS could not create new information. If you were to hold that belief, I find it hard understanding how a “2 part system” could possibly be created by sheer-dumb-luck.

  74. Joseph,

    The argument you quote can be summarized as follows:

    1. If it has CSI, it’s designed.
    2. Biological systems have CSI.
    3. Undirected natural processes do not produce CSI.
    4. Therefore, biological systems are designed.

    The problem is that this argument remains circular if CSI is defined in terms of the probability that an undirected natural process could produce the system in question:

    5. A system is defined as having CSI if the probability that it was produced by an undirected process is low enough.

    What you need is a definition of CSI which is independent of this probability. Lacking that, the argument continues to suffer from circularity.

  75. To Karl Pfluger,

    As I already stated CSI can be tested absent of probabilty. Just look at the number of bits. Then to falsify that inference demonstrate that 500 bits of information can arise without the aid of an intelligent agency.

    IOW we have direct observations of intelligent agencies creating CSI. We have NEVER observed unguided, purposeless processes do so. Therefore when we observe CSI and do not have direct observation of the cause it is safe to infer ID. And like any inference it can be either confirmed or refuted via future research.

    And just because you can “summarize” the statements doesn’t mean that summarization is correct.
    ————————————————————————————–
    to Hawks,

    A see-saw is a 2-part IC system although the ‘C’ part may be questionable. Now for sheer-dumb-luck to produce a see-saw just requires trees and a very strong wind. One tree falls south and the tree directly to its west falls east. No intelligent intervention required. Or it could be one tree falling and resting on a big rock that was already near-by.
    —————————————————————————————

    To Monimoniker,

    I do not have time to compile a list for you. That is why I gave you the criteria so you could do some looking.

    Monimoniker:
    Okay, I’ll accept that the design inference can extend into other areas, but then I start to wonder about what part of the reality we live is definitely not designed?

    Dr Behe provides an answer:

    “Intelligent design is a good explanation for a number of biochemical systems, but I should insert a word of caution. Intelligent design theory has to be seen in context: it does not try to explain everything. We live in a complex world where lots of different things can happen. When deciding how various rocks came to be shaped the way they are a geologist might consider a whole range of factors: rain, wind, the movement of glaciers, the activity of moss and lichens, volcanic action, nuclear explosions, asteroid impact, or the hand of a sculptor. The shape of one rock might have been determined primarily by one mechanism, the shape of another rock by another mechanism.

    Similarly, evolutionary biologists have recognized that a number of factors might have affected the development of life: common descent, natural selection, migration, population size, founder effects (effects that may be due to the limited number of organisms that begin a new species), genetic drift (spread of “neutral,” nonselective mutations), gene flow (the incorporation of genes into a population from a separate population), linkage (occurrence of two genes on the same chromosome), and much more. The fact that some biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common, or important.”

  76. 76

    In the previous post, the last paragraph by Behe is without foundation. Just because “some evolutionary biologists” insist on those several factors does not mean that they are true.

    Natural selection, migration, population size, founder effect, genetic drift amd gene flow – none of these ever had anything to do with either the emergence of any new life form or that of any of the higher taxonomic categories. They are purely illusory, based on the unfounded assumption that chance and circumstance had played a role in phylogeny. Besides, evolution is finished. How many times do we, Robert Broom, Julian Huxley, Pierre Grasse and myself, have to tell you?

    “Of the few innocent pleasures left to men past middle life – the jammimg common-sense down the throats of fools is perhaps the keenest.”
    Thomas Henry Huxley

    After he had been replaced as Prime Minister, Churchill became a member of Parliament. He seemed to be asleep much of the time. One Member of Parliament whispered to another – “They say he is senile.” Churchill responded – “They say he is deaf too.”

    That’s me, old senile John A. Davison (He was once a decent scientist but something happened to him in the 1980s), only it is not I who is deaf. It is my many adversaries on both sides of the ideological fence.

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable,”
    John A. Davison

  77. Joseph wrote:

    As I already stated CSI can be tested absent of probabilty. Just look at the number of bits. Then to falsify that inference demonstrate that 500 bits of information can arise without the aid of an intelligent agency.

    Joseph,

    Bill Dembski disagrees with you. From page 96 of The Design Revolution:

    Indeed, to attribute specified complexity to something is to say that the specification to which it conforms corresponds to an event that is vastly improbable with respect to all material mechanisms that might give rise to the event.

    And on page 97:

    Specified complexity would be immediately overturned if some probability distribution induced by known mechanisms operating in known ways rendered the thing we’re trying to explain reasonably probable.

    Besides, where do you think the magic number of 500 bits came from? It’s derived from a probability bound:

    From Intelligent Design, p. 166:
    In The Design Inference I justify a more stringent universal probability bound of 10^-150 based on the number of elementary particles in the observable universe, the duration of the observable universe until its heat death and the Planck time. A probability bound of 10^-150 translates to 500 bits of information. Accordingly, specified information of complexity greater than 500 bits cannot reasonably be attributed to chance. This 500-bit ceiling on the amount of specified complexity attributable to chance constitutes a universal complexity bound for CSI.

  78. Karl Pfluger:
    Joseph,

    Bill Dembski disagrees with you.

    I know how he defines it. And seeing this is his blog I will take his word for it when and if he tells me. It also appears he agrees with what I said- that is according to what you posted:

    me- As I already stated CSI can be tested absent of probabilty. Just look at the number of bits. Then to falsify that inference demonstrate that 500 bits of information can arise without the aid of an intelligent agency.

    WD: Specified complexity would be immediately overturned if some probability distribution induced by known mechanisms operating in known ways rendered the thing we’re trying to explain reasonably probable.

    So where is your demonstration? Instead of harping on semantics that is what you should concentrate on- showing us any information can arise without the help of an intelligent agency. Then we can compare what you can demonstrate to what we observe

  79. Joseph,

    “to Hawks,

    A see-saw is a 2-part IC system although the ‘C’ part may be questionable. Now for sheer-dumb-luck to produce a see-saw just requires trees and a very strong wind. One tree falls south and the tree directly to its west falls east. No intelligent intervention required. Or it could be one tree falling and resting on a big rock that was already near-by.”

    And how precisely could a biological system generate a 2-part system without an increase in information? That was the question, after all. Without an increase in information, it does not matter how much luck, selection or directing you do to try to get your new 2-part system. You won’t get it. And yes, I’m willing to discuss exactly what information could be in this instance.

  80. By Joseph in comment #75:
    I do not have time to compile a list for you. That is why I gave you the criteria so you could do some looking.

    I ask for a list, thinking that it must exist given the claims that the evidence for ID is abundant. You (Joseph) say there is no such list, as far as you know, but that it would be a long one if someone were to simply apply the criteria provided by Behe. I ask for you (or someone else) to actually make at least part of this long list (mostly because Behe’s criteria is way too vague to me. So examples, such as those on this not-yet-existing list, would’ve been very helpful in understanding what the criteria meant). You say you “don’t have time” (which, by the way, I actually do think is a valid reason) and that I should be the one to make The List. (Note the “The” in front of “List”.)

    I think I’m being given the run-around here, so instead I’ll drop the discussion about this obviously-never-going-to-be-made list.

    As for the second part addressed to me, does this mean that if we humans don’t know (or can’t imagine) how something came about, we should default to “intelligently designed”? That’s how I read it. Doesn’t that kind of push ID theory into a corner each time there is a new discovery or insight into how things work or came to be (thus shrinking a few more items off The List)? Or does Behe think that our present scientific knowledge of the natural world is all that there will ever be from now on?

    By Behe:
    The fact that some biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common, or important.

    But what are these biochemical systems and how are they related to each othe- Oh, yeah, list doesn’t exist. Sorry about that. You can ignore me now. Thor, the intelligence behind lightning, is causing a big booming sound outside and I need to shut the windows.

  81. Monimonika

    I don’t think the problem is that there is no list. The problem is there is no consensus list. Some people will point to the human eye, I’ve even seen the knee used, flagella, immune system, blood clotting, the human brain, consciousness, etcetera.

    For me there’s only two interdependent structures in the list. Ribosomes and DNA.

    So there. Now you have a list. Happy now? Somehow I don’t think so. You came here with a chip on your shoulder, a conclusion that ID is BS, and not a sincere question in sight. Tell me I’m wrong.

  82. 82

    There must be something the matter with me because I always regarded Intelligent Design as a given without which nothing in either ontogeny or phylogeny could possibly make any sense. Anyone who has ever performed transplantations between amphibian embryos would feel the same way I am certain. Most Darwinians are armchair theoreticians who never did an experiment in their entire lives. They don’t need to do experiments as they have all the answers don’t you know. They are pathetic creatures, “born that way,” “prescribed” losers.

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  83. Monimoniker:
    As for the second part addressed to me, does this mean that if we humans don’t know (or can’t imagine) how something came about, we should default to “intelligently designed”?

    Only if it also fits the criteria. The process is that everytime we observe X or X-like and know the cause it has ALWAYS been due to an intelligent agency. And we have NEVER seen unguided, purposeless process produce X or anything X-like. Therefore when we observe X or something X-like and don’t know the cause we can safely infer an intelligent agency was involved.

    And yes new discoveries can either confirm or refute that inference. But that is how it works in all fields!

    And the more we discover about living organsims the longer the list of IC systems will be. IDists know that discovery will confirm our premise just as it has to date. IOW the more we find out about living organisms the better ID is as an explanation.

    —————————————————————————————

    Hawks:
    And how precisely could a biological system generate a 2-part system without an increase in information?

    By taking a more complex structure and reducing it. Or by taking two existing structures and combining those. Neither instance is an increase of information.

  84. 84

    The only committed Darwinian that ever did experiments was Theodosius Dobzhansky and the current crop of Darwinian mystics led by Richard Dawkins pretend he never existed. Not only did he provide a sensible criterion for what a species was, which the Darwinians ignore entirely, but he also destroyed the whole selection fantasy with experiments on the pet animal of the Darwinian geneticists – Drosophila, an animal which has not changed in millions of years.

    The mystery is how Dobzhansky managed to remain a Darwinian. The same can be said about Julian Huxley who, in no uncertain terms, presented convincing evidence that evolution was not even going on any more. It boggles my mind.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”

  85. The only committed Darwinian that ever did experiments was Theodosius Dobzhansky

    If we had more asylums more Darwinians could be committed.

  86. Joseph,

    “By taking a more complex structure and reducing it. Or by taking two existing structures and combining those. Neither instance is an increase of information. ”

    The reduction of a more complex structure could, indeed, be an increase in information (depending on your definition thereof). But remember that we are talking about how non-designed evolution could cause this 2-part system. The 3-part (or 4,5,6-whatever-part) system from which it came from must have come from information increases.

    Taking two existing structures and combining them sounds an awful lot like co-adaptation. I thought you guys claimed that it couldn’t happen(?). In either case, it is still an increase in information.

  87. By DaveScot on comment #81:

    The problem is there is no consensus list. Some people will point to the human eye, I’ve even seen the knee used, flagella, immune system, blood clotting, the human brain, consciousness, etcetera.

    For me there’s only two interdependent structures in the list. Ribosomes and DNA.

    So there. Now you have a list. Happy now? Somehow I don’t think so. You came here with a chip on your shoulder, a conclusion that ID is BS, and not a sincere question in sight. Tell me I’m wrong.

    To be honest, I am happy. Thank you for actually taking some time to point to even two examples of what you would call ID structures. I’ll read up on them a bit more (particularly ribosomes). I’m hoping for there to be some non-criteria-defined similarities between the two things you mentioned (as well as with the flagellum, just to have a possible third item to compare with). Such similarities could (I think) bolster support for there being a shared designer, at the very least.

    Also, I see that you pointed out how subjective the interpretation of the “criteria” could be in making the list. I think that this is the main reason that I have this chip on my shoulder (and why I have a problem with Joseph’s answers). You seem to draw the limit at the basic(?) levels of what makes up living organisms (as opposed to non-living materials that the living are made out of), while a few others seem to claim that the limit can go as far as to include the entire planet and everything on it (and maybe beyond) as being completely planned out by a designer.

    I mean, the basic laws of physics all being expressly designed so that a single planet within a solar system on the edge part of a galaxy among billions of other galaxies would be formed to support life, and life on that planet would not only eventually evolve to discover these basic physical laws, but also be in the unique position to observe and learn about the rest of the universe? Context-wise, it’s a bit hard for me to see what’s so special about this location we humans inhabit compared to a lot of other locations that could have been. (I’ll skip expressing my other concerns about TPP.)

    Similarly, going from claiming that DNA is an IC structure to also including something like the entire human brain as being IC is just taking way too big of a leap in scale in my opinion. If ID theory is applied to the creation of the laws of physics, then even the leap from designing the properties of matter to designing DNA is hard to swallow. If such leaps are allowed, context becomes meaningless because then everything could have been designed to work the way they do, no matter how much the processes involved could be narrowed down and specified.

    I do not think that the possibility of there being designers for either the basic properties of matter and life itself can be completely thrown out, but such theories get tested when some IDists (due to human-nature) start assigning intentions to the designer (or designers if there were/are more than one).

    Perception on what the intentions of the designer might be/have been is, in my opinion, what either makes or breaks the believability of ID theory for most of us. One may say that ID theory does not take into account the intentions of the designer, but the very point of describing something as designed is because some sort of intention was recognized (or imagined in some cases).

    Some, particularly those who believe in a certain kind of God, may say that the intentions were human-centric and will use it to explain why many things are the way they are. Others may limit the scope of what the designer did to only a few very basic things early on at the beginning of life (or the universe). I’m more toward being sympathetic to the latter, although I can’t get myself to accept both life and the universe being the points of design in the same reality because of the scale differences.

    Some others may say that the process of design occurred more than once at different times (and are not necessarily all for the sake of us human beings). But that suffers from the problem that the intentions inferred from it become inconsistent with each new design example given. At least with the second one, the intention to create life on this planet is simpler to understand. How far the designer planned the results of how life would develop/evolve would vary depending on intentions assigned, but I’m leaning toward “not much, just planned enough so that there would be replication, along with the desire to keep replicating, and left it at that.”

    Okay, I’m off to read up on ribosomes. Thanks again, DaveScot!

  88. Well don’t I feel like the ahole now. Sorry for questioning your sincerity, Monimonika.

    Ribosomes and DNA are interdependent. One can’t exist without the other. Ribosomes are machines that construct proteins according to the digitally encoded specifications contained in DNA (coding genes) and the proteins are (among other things) components of cellular machinery that replicate the DNA molecule.

  89. Hawks:
    The reduction of a more complex structure could, indeed, be an increase in information (depending on your definition thereof).

    It would be a decrease. Just like withdrawing money from a bank account is a decrease in that account’s funds- or removing an air conditioner from a car would be a decrease in that car’s components.

    Hawks:
    But remember that we are talking about how non-designed evolution could cause this 2-part system.

    Yes I know.

    Hawks:
    The 3-part (or 4,5,6-whatever-part) system from which it came from must have come from information increases.

    No one is saying that the more complex structure arose via “non-design evolution”.

    Hawks:
    Taking two existing structures and combining them sounds an awful lot like co-adaptation. I thought you guys claimed that it couldn’t happen(?). In either case, it is still an increase in information.

    Well to you subtraction is really addition. In that sense it would be an increase. However in reality the best it could be is a reshuffling of existing information, meaning neither an increase nor a decrease took place. But in other cases it is a clear loss.

    And I thought it was evolutionists who said co-adaptation couldn’t happen? IOW adaptive evolution was a no-no. Organisms don’t really adapt. Those already suited when some change came survived and were better able to pass on their successful trait.

  90. Monimoniker:
    I mean, the basic laws of physics all being expressly designed so that a single planet within a solar system on the edge part of a galaxy among billions of other galaxies would be formed to support life, and life on that planet would not only eventually evolve to discover these basic physical laws, but also be in the unique position to observe and learn about the rest of the universe? Context-wise, it’s a bit hard for me to see what’s so special about this location we humans inhabit compared to a lot of other locations that could have been. (I’ll skip expressing my other concerns about TPP.)

    We aren’t on the edge of the galaxy. The edge of the galaxy does not have enough heavy elements to support or create a solar system like ours. We are prety close to being at the halfway point between the edge and center. We are also between two major spiral arms.

    Also I would like to know about the other locations that would have better suited us to make scientific discoveries.

    Of Newton, Kepler, & Galileo in the book “Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty” by Morris Kline, Kline states that these scientist-mathematicians believed that “God had designed the universe, and it was to be expected that all phenomena of nature would follow one master plan. One mind designing a universe would almost surely have employed one set of basic principles to govern all related phenomenon.”

    So I guess being a Creationist or IDist would limit our scientific capabilities and understanding to that of Newton, Kepler, Galileo and Copernicus. I can live with that.

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