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Broader Implications of ID

In the popular media, ID is often portrayed as Creationism in new clothes.  And indeed, even among ID proponents, the creation implications tend to be predominantly emphasized.  Yet the theory underpinning Intelligent Design has implications beyond the realm of biological history, perhaps it is a much broader theory than most realize at first.  In fact, it may even describe a comprehensive worldview.  The primary reason that ID has such an impact is because materialism underlies many areas of modern thought, and ID is an alternative hypothesis to materialism.

To understand the insights that ID brings, it is important to have a bit of philosophical background to begin with.  There are two basic concepts that are important to know: efficient and final causes.  This may seem a bit off the beaten trail, but stay with me here.  For any event there are two questions you can ask.  You can ask “how did this happen?” and you can ask “why did this happen?”.  As an example, the event of your web browser navigating to this article can either be described in terms of the very complex computer and network architecture and accompanying electrical signals that lead to the retrieval and display of this article (how), or it can be described in terms of the fact that you wished to view this article (why).  Both are valid explanations.  The first explanation is the efficent causal explanation and the second explanation is the final cause explanation.  Now, to relate these concepts back to the interplay between materialism and ID, materialism implies that all events only have efficient causal explanations, and any perceived final causal explanations can be reduced to efficient causal explanations.  On the other hand, ID implies that some events may potentially have irreducible final causal explanations, and no matter what one may know about how an event occurred they will not be able to completely explain its occurrence.

For an application of these two concepts and ID, consider the realm of economics.  Generally there tend to be two schools of thought regarding economics: the decentralized Austrian school and the centralized Kenseyian school.  ID allows us to say that one school is strictly and objectively better than the other.  To see this, consider how wealth is created.  Wealth is created by the creation of new information in the form of complex, specified inventions.  These irreducibly complex devices are formed from many integrated parts to accomplish a specific function or set of functions.  According to ID, individual intelligent agents are the creators of this information.  Thus, an economic system that incentivizes individuals to create new inventions to fulfill useful functions is strictly better than a system that does not.  In a centrally planned economy, there are only a few empowered information creators, who decide how resources are divided amongst the populace.  However, in a decentralized economy, all individuals are empowered to create information.  Since an Austrian economy focusses on decentralizing information production, it is strictly better than a Kenseyian economy at creating wealth, since the Austrian economy enables an enormously larger pool of information creating intelligent agents. 

But how are materialistic assumptions at play in modern economic theory?  The impact of materialism primarily has to do with the notion of wealth.  If you recall the introductory distinction between efficient and final causes, materialism implies that there is no such thing as an irreducible final cause while ID says there may really be final causes.  The added concept you need to see how this applies to economics is that when an event occurs due to a final cause, then at this point information is created.  So, conversely, if there is no such thing as a final cause, as materialism claims, then no information is ever created.  And, if information is tied to wealth creation, then the further implication is that wealth is not created.  In which case, wealth is no longer tied to inventions, but is instead tied to resources.  Since there are only a limited number of resources in the world, economics becomes primarily concerned with the proper distribution of these resources amongst the population, instead of being concerned with allowing the creation of greater amounts of resources.  So, a centralized Kenseyian economy becomes the best kind of economy within a materialistic paradigm, since it least wastefully allocates resources (at least in theory).  But, if the materialism assumption is removed, then the emphasis for economies is changed.  Once the door is opened to the idea that wealth can be created, then economies can look to provide better avenues for wealth creation.  As discussed above, ID further implies that wealth is better created through a decentralized than through a centralized economy.

Now lets consider a very right brained topic, very rarely under the purview of common ID discussion.  Namely, how are the humanities related to the sciences?  Commonly, they are considered two seperate spheres with little interrelation.  Additionally, the humanities, nowadays, tend to be somewhat looked down upon by the more technically oriented fields.  And, due to the greater difficulty in establishing an ROI for the humanities it becomes much harder to secure grant money and stay afloat in academia.  Consequently, out of a combination of insecurity and poverty, the humanities are beginning to sell out more and more in academia, and adopt the false robes of quantifiable, empirical fields and needlessly obtuse technical language. 

How does ID shed light on a solution here?  Well, underlying the difficulties that the humanities face is the worldview of materialism.  Materialism asserts that the only reality is matter.  If the only reality is matter, then only the fields dealing with the description of matter, matter.  Since the humanities ostensibly do not deal with matter, and in fact traditionally deal with entities such as the soul, God, and other such topics, the humanities are considered to be at best entertaining and at worst dangerous deceptions (per the recent rife of cantakerous anti-religion literature).  ID provides a helping hand here by showing that, at the very least, there is open room to doubt that there is nothing more to reality than particles colliding and quantum waveforms collapsing.  Again, to understand why ID helps, we can rely on the handy distinction between efficient and final causes.  Simply enough, if ID is at least possibly true, then there may be other entities at work than the particles and waves.  Furthermore, if ID is true, then final cause explanations are true and important, and final causal explanations are entirely in the realm of the humanities.  The humanities primarily occupy themselves with answering the question why?, and since final causes are the source of intelligently designed events, the humanities turn out to be even more important than the sciences, at least as far as intelligent design is concerned.

And, ID goes further than even this, as we’ll see in the realm of philosophy.

As any student of the history of philosophy can tell you, the modern era has denoted a dramatic change of focus in philosophy.  What used to be a holistic field that attempted to understand man and his relation to reality in totality with rationality, has bifurcated into two realms: contintental and analytical philosophical traditions.  The continental tradition tends to be occupied with questions of meaning and purpose, while the analytic tradition attempts to remove all ambiguity from discourse.  Perchance can we explain this divide in terms of our efficient and final cause distinction?  Perhaps we can if we first look at this distinction as it applies to language and thought.  The distinction between efficient and final causes shows up in linguistics as the distinction between syntax and semantics.  Syntax describes how a language works, the efficient causal portion of language, while semantics deals with the content of language, the purposeful thought and final cause behind a particular word choice.  Analytic philosophy tends to be primarily concerned with the syntax of our thought and language, and has significant concentration on the fields of logic and language syntax.  Continental philosophy tends to be primarily concerned with the semantics, and is often concerned with fields such as phenomenology and qualia.

So, here, even in the realm of philosophy we can see the same bifurcation as we saw in the humanities.  And, as we saw in the humanities, the analytic portion of philosophy is often considered the more reliable.  However, continental philosophy, instead of trying to make itself more quantifiable and objective has decided to embrace subjectivity.  Here again, ID is able to provide a useful perspective.  As we saw with the humanities, ID implies that the field of final causes may be much more relevant than it is usually credited nowadays, so implies that the syntax of analytic philosophy provides a substrate for the content of continental philosophy’s semantics, in the same way that we need grammar and vocabulary in order to express ideas in language.  And thus, ID provides a precise way of describing the relationship between analytic and continental philosoph, which can provide an approach for integrating the two fields.

By unifying humanities and sciences, and the fields of philosophy, ID now opens the way for providing a framework for ethics and morality.  In the middle ages, and throughout much of western history, morality has been understood within a framework of natural law.  This framework was explained by Aristotle by the notion that everything had a function, and that life was lived well by fulfilling one’s function.  Thus, morality was explained in terms of living according to a purpose, a final cause.  However, with the advent of materialism, the notion of natural function became discredited.  Why this happened is easy to see if we think of functions as final causes.  As explained previously, materialism does away with final causes, replacing them all with efficient causes.  Consequently, with the removal of final causes, so also was functionality and thus natural law based morality removed.  But, if materialism is not a foregone conclusion, then there may well be a system of functionality embedded in our world, within which we can define a moral theory based on natural law.

And with that, I bring to a close my brief, but indepth look at some of the non-biological implications that intelligent design theory has.  There are numerous other interesting implications of ID, but I will need to cover them in a new article.

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54 Responses to Broader Implications of ID

  1. 1

    At a different forum I was involved in a rather lengthy argument about whether or not economics was a zero-sum game, and I realized that many (if not most) socialist-big government advocates in fact believe that wealth cannot be generated, that it is only distributed and redistributed; that the more the wealthy have, the less the non-wealthy necessarily can have.

    They kept referring to limited resources. I asked them how downloadable digital content (movies, music, games, books, etc.) was a limited resource, and their answer was that there was only so much hard drive space that could exist.

    Hats off to Mr. Holloway for an extremely interesting advancement of understanding about ID in terms of the efficient cause / final cause perspective.

  2. William – the deceptive part here is that they are partially right – there is only so much hard drive space. But a good retort might be, how much content could fit on hard drives in the 1920s?

  3. On the other hand, ID implies that some events may potentially have irreducible final causal explanations, and no matter what one may know about how an event occurred they will not be able to completely explain its occurrence.

    I don’t agree. For me, ID is a means of determining whether something was designed which, while not being the final casual explanation, would be an integral step to finding it.

    If one mindlessly believes that a designed object was the product of undirected events, one will NEVER determine the true how-it-was-done causal explanation regarding it.

    Remember, ID does not address the existence of God only of design.

  4. Since we know natural processes can create new information, the core ID argument is sunk.

    But, even if ID worked, your anti-Keynesian logic wouldn’t follow. ID’s skepticalness about natural selection and other self-organization processes would, if ID people were being consistent, lead to skepticism about the invisible hand of the market. Unintelligent processes can’t produce anything but noise and damage, only intelligence can produce coherent and effective function, right? Therefore, clearly, economies would work better if intelligent designers were making command decisions about how they work, rather than just leaving it up to the auto-regulation of the market.

    [heads explode across the ID movement]

  5. Thanks for the response, that’s an interesting point about natural processes. Can you show me the evidence that natural processes create new information? I’ve been looking for such evidence for a long time, but every counter-ID article I’ve read has, unfortunately, resorted to some form of subterfuge. Believe me, if I found good anti-ID fodder I’d be all over it, since skepticism about ID is what originally lead me to investigating its veracity.

    As for your other point, it is also good. Yes, my argument about intelligent designers also implies that there is room for command decisions in an effective economy. The main point is what enables the greatest number of intelligent agents to create intelligent design. Unfortunately, leaving it only up to a few commanders is still a net decrease in intelligent design. This is why during the Cold War the US forces were more effective against USSR forces due to our use of decentralized execution in carrying out missions.

    Also, ID provides a coherent basis for the invisible hand of the market. Since the market is the conglomeration of intelligent design by intelligent agents, ID implies that there would be an emergent order and economy to its behavior. However, ID also provides a significant and very important caution in this regard. At the point where the agents in the market cease to behave rationally, and instead merely follow the crowd or indulge in groundless speculation we know that the market is headed for a bust.

    So, one interesting application of Dembski’s CSI metric would be to measure the amount of CSI being produced in the market. As long as a market segment demonstrated CSI production, we could invest in said market with a fair amount of confidence. But, our confidence should plummet if we noticed CSI drop off.

    An additional point is that our market is likewise in trouble the more that trading becomes automated. The more it is automated the less CSI is being contributed. Instead, we are reduced to a more Kenseyian command economy, such as you describe, leaving the market much more susceptible to collapse. Perhaps our recent economic woes are indicative of this dilemma, since the vast majority of the current trades are accomplished by algorithms. If there were more ways to mass incorporate intelligent agent CSI production into algorithmic trading then we might possess the best of both worlds.

    Again, thanks for your comments Nick, they helped me elucidate my points more.

  6. Nick states;

    ‘Since we know natural processes can create new information, the core ID argument is sunk.’

    Yet it is only by very deceptive means that Nick can make such a statement. The straightforward test, that has never been passed, that would need to be passed to show a violation of genetic entropy, and thus a gain of functional information,,, functional algorithmic information which is ‘non-trivial’, is this test:

    Is Antibiotic Resistance evidence for evolution? – ‘The Fitness Test’ – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3995248

    Testing the Biological Fitness of Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria – 2008
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....-drugstore

    In fact there is a null hypothesis stating that it is impossible for chance and necessity (purely material; Darwinian) processes to generate functional information.

    The Capabilities of Chaos and Complexity: David L. Abel – Null Hypothesis For Information Generation – 2009
    To focus the scientific community’s attention on its own tendencies toward overzealous metaphysical imagination bordering on “wish-fulfillment,” we propose the following readily falsifiable null hypothesis, and invite rigorous experimental attempts to falsify it: “Physicodynamics cannot spontaneously traverse The Cybernetic Cut: physicodynamics alone cannot organize itself into formally functional systems requiring algorithmic optimization, computational halting, and circuit integration.” A single exception of non trivial, unaided spontaneous optimization of formal function by truly natural process would falsify this null hypothesis.
    http://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/pdf
    Can We Falsify Any Of The Following Null Hypothesis (For Information Generation)
    1) Mathematical Logic
    2) Algorithmic Optimization
    3) Cybernetic Programming
    4) Computational Halting
    5) Integrated Circuits
    6) Organization (e.g. homeostatic optimization far from equilibrium)
    7) Material Symbol Systems (e.g. genetics)
    8) Any Goal Oriented bona fide system
    9) Language
    10) Formal function of any kind
    11) Utilitarian work
    http://mdpi.com/1422-0067/10/1/247/ag

    The Law of Physicodynamic Insufficiency – Dr David L. Abel – November 2010
    Excerpt: “If decision-node programming selections are made randomly or by law rather than with purposeful intent, no non-trivial (sophisticated) function will spontaneously arise.”,,, After ten years of continual republication of the null hypothesis with appeals for falsification, no falsification has been provided. The time has come to extend this null hypothesis into a formal scientific prediction: “No non trivial algorithmic/computational utility will ever arise from chance and/or necessity alone.”
    http://www.scitopics.com/The_L.....iency.html

    The GS (genetic selection) Principle – David L. Abel – 2009
    Excerpt: Stunningly, information has been shown not to increase in the coding regions of DNA with evolution. Mutations do not produce increased information. Mira et al (65) showed that the amount of coding in DNA actually decreases with evolution of bacterial genomes, not increases. This paper parallels Petrov’s papers starting with (66) showing a net DNA loss with Drosophila evolution (67). Konopka (68) found strong evidence against the contention of Subba Rao et al (69, 70) that information increases with mutations. The information content of the coding regions in DNA does not tend to increase with evolution as hypothesized. Konopka also found Shannon complexity not to be a suitable indicator of evolutionary progress over a wide range of evolving genes. Konopka’s work applies Shannon theory to known functional text. Kok et al. (71) also found that information does not increase in DNA with evolution. As with Konopka, this finding is in the context of the change in mere Shannon uncertainty. The latter is a far more forgiving definition of information than that required for prescriptive information (PI) (21, 22, 33, 72). It is all the more significant that mutations do not program increased PI. Prescriptive information either instructs or directly produces formal function. No increase in Shannon or Prescriptive information occurs in duplication. What the above papers show is that not even variation of the duplication produces new information, not even Shannon “information.”
    http://www.bioscience.org/2009.....6/3426.pdf
    http://www.us.net/life/index.htm

    further note:

    “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain – Michael Behe – December 2010
    Excerpt: In its most recent issue The Quarterly Review of Biology has published a review by myself of laboratory evolution experiments of microbes going back four decades.,,, The gist of the paper is that so far the overwhelming number of adaptive (that is, helpful) mutations seen in laboratory evolution experiments are either loss or modification of function. Of course we had already known that the great majority of mutations that have a visible effect on an organism are deleterious. Now, surprisingly, it seems that even the great majority of helpful mutations degrade the genome to a greater or lesser extent.,,, I dub it “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution”: Break or blunt any functional coded element whose loss would yield a net fitness gain.(that is a net ‘fitness gain’ within a ‘stressed’ environment i.e. remove the stress from the environment and the parent strain is always more ‘fit’)
    http://behe.uncommondescent.co.....evolution/

    Evolution Vs Genetic Entropy – Andy McIntosh – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028086

  7. Thanks Tribune, I agree with you completely.

  8. Thanks again BA77. As always your comments are very well researched and provide a lot of valuable content. I always value your comments on my articles.

    Have you written any articles here?

  9. Please post here any areas where you’d be interested to see ID applied. I have a few more in mind, but would also like to motivate my readers to start expanding their ID horizons. If you post a topic here I very well may touch on it in my next article.

  10. Moreover, I remind Nick that there is now shown to be ‘non-local’ quantum information within life that is impossible to be reduced to, and thus produced by, the materialistic framework of neo-Darwinism in life; i.e. a ‘non-local’ cause must be supplied to explain non-local quantum information:

    Here is a clip of a talk in which Alain Aspect talks about the failure of ‘local realism’, or the failure of reductive materialism, to explain reality:

    The Failure Of Local Realism – Reductive Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    The falsification for local realism (reductive materialism) was recently greatly strengthened:

    Physicists close two loopholes while violating local realism – November 2010
    Excerpt: The latest test in quantum mechanics provides even stronger support than before for the view that nature violates local realism and is thus in contradiction with a classical worldview.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....alism.html

    Quantum Measurements: Common Sense Is Not Enough, Physicists Show – July 2009
    Excerpt: scientists have now proven comprehensively in an experiment for the first time that the experimentally observed phenomena cannot be described by non-contextual models with hidden variables.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142824.htm

    (of note: hidden variables were postulated to remove the need for ‘spooky’ forces, as Einstein termed them — forces that act instantaneously at great distances, thereby breaking the most cherished rule of relativity theory, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.)

    And yet, quantum entanglement, which rigorously falsified local realism (reductive materialism) as the complete description of reality, is now found in molecular biology on a massive scale!

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA & Protein Folding – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Quantum entanglement holds together life’s blueprint – 2010
    Excerpt: When the researchers analysed the DNA without its helical structure, they found that the electron clouds were not entangled. But when they incorporated DNA’s helical structure into the model, they saw that the electron clouds of each base pair became entangled with those of its neighbours (arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053v1). “If you didn’t have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,” says team member Vlatko Vedral of the University of Oxford.
    http://neshealthblog.wordpress.....blueprint/

    The relevance of continuous variable entanglement in DNA – July 2010
    Excerpt: We consider a chain of harmonic oscillators with dipole-dipole interaction between nearest neighbours resulting in a van der Waals type bonding. The binding energies between entangled and classically correlated states are compared. We apply our model to DNA. By comparing our model with numerical simulations we conclude that entanglement may play a crucial role in explaining the stability of the DNA double helix.
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053v1

    Quantum Information confirmed in DNA by direct empirical research;

    DNA Can Discern Between Two Quantum States, Research Shows – June 2011
    Excerpt: — DNA — can discern between quantum states known as spin. – The researchers fabricated self-assembling, single layers of DNA attached to a gold substrate. They then exposed the DNA to mixed groups of electrons with both directions of spin. Indeed, the team’s results surpassed expectations: The biological molecules reacted strongly with the electrons carrying one of those spins, and hardly at all with the others. The longer the molecule, the more efficient it was at choosing electrons with the desired spin, while single strands and damaged bits of DNA did not exhibit this property.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....104014.htm

    Information and entropy – top-down or bottom-up development in living systems? A.C. McINTOSH
    Excerpt: This paper highlights the distinctive and non-material nature of information and its relationship with matter, energy and natural forces. It is proposed in conclusion that it is the non-material information (transcendent to the matter and energy) that is actually itself constraining the local thermodynamics to be in ordered disequilibrium and with specified raised free energy levels necessary for the molecular and cellular machinery to operate.
    http://journals.witpress.com/paperinfo.asp?pid=420

    i.e. It is very interesting to note that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints, should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy space/time) ’cause’ when the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ falsified material particles as its own ‘causation’ in the first place? (A. Aspect) Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as neo-Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the energy/matter particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself
    not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘specified’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place!
    ,,,To refute this falsification of neo-Darwinism, one must falsify Alain Aspect, and company’s, falsification of local realism (reductive materialism)!

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  11. Eric,

    Good work. You appear to be blazing a new trail by describing the similarities among disciplines from an ID perspective. Trailblazing requires a lot of hard thinking and a willingness to be original, both of which are inseparable from the willingess to take risks. It is one thing to speak of new information in principle, but it is quite another to provide it. The good news is that you have managed to be creative and stay on solid ground at the same time, a rare feat.

  12. ‘Have you written any articles here?’

    No, just a commenter, and a incurable plagiarizer of penetrating comments and articles by others; :)

  13. 13
    material.infantacy

    “we know natural processes can create new information”

    “there are no American troops in Baghdad”

    “the statue of liberty is kaput”

    How terribly disconcerting.

  14. politics as usual. Ugh.

  15. Just watch out if he starts promising “change”

  16. 16
    material.infantacy

    Heh, bullhorn politics: “the core ID argument is kaput.” xp

  17. 17
    material.infantacy

    He already has — change over time is responsible for ingenious, sophisticated, functional, purposeful novelty.

  18. “is you is or is you ain’t my constituency”

  19. 19
    material.infantacy

    I’m a Dapper Dan man.

  20. now THAT’S a platform! A bit wobbly, but it sure is pretty.

  21. “ID’s skepticalness about natural selection and other self-organization processes would, if ID people were being consistent, lead to skepticism about the invisible hand of the market. ”

    If you had read Eric’s post carefully, you would see why this isn’t true. Natural selection *would* work if the mutational process was guided by an intelligent agent. The problem with natural selection is that it presupposes that there is no intelligent agent guiding it. Likewise, for market economies, *anyone*, Keynesian or not, who forgets to include the role of intelligent agents will misunderstand the economy. Eric’s point is that a planned economy has *fewer* intelligent agents acting, since only the top planners are utilized for their creativity. In a free market, *anyone* can act creatively, and thus you have many more intelligent agents acting.

    “Therefore, clearly, economies would work better if intelligent designers were making command decisions about how they work, rather than just leaving it up to the auto-regulation of the market.”

    Again, with an ID perspective, you allow for multiple designers to make intelligent, command-decisions within the domain that they have sufficient information for, rather than only a few making command decisions within domains that they don’t.

  22. But, even if ID worked, your anti-Keynesian logic wouldn’t follow.

    That’s sort of like saying all Darwinists should be disciples of Milton Friedman — and we know that certainly is not the case.

    Therefore, clearly, economies would work better if intelligent designers were making command decisions about how they work, rather than just leaving it up to the auto-regulation of the market.

    I don’t think any of us here claim that natural selection does not exist or that design is the only force out there.

    To say that the work of Beethoven or Tolstoy or Andrew Wyeth or Einstein or name your person of accomplishment was the sole result of the marketplace is akin to the claim that birds and fish and butterflies are the sole result of natural selection.

    And saying that does denies neither the power of the market nor the power of natural selection.

  23. Hi Eric,

    “So, one interesting application of Dembski’s CSI metric would be to measure the amount of CSI being produced in the market. As long as a market segment demonstrated CSI production, we could invest in said market with a fair amount of confidence. But, our confidence should plummet if we noticed CSI drop off.”

    This does sound like an interesting exercise. Could this be set up as an experiment? It could be a good way of demonstrating CSI in action.

  24. The one area where I completely draw a blank in applying ID is chemistry.

  25. But, even if ID worked, your anti-Keynesian logic wouldn’t follow. ID’s skepticalness about natural selection and other self-organization processes would, if ID people were being consistent, lead to skepticism about the invisible hand of the market. Unintelligent processes can’t produce anything but noise and damage, only intelligence can produce coherent and effective function, right?

    No.

    The so-called invisible hand is a figure of speech. When in reality, a free market consists of masses of individual intelligent agents acting in their own self interest to meet their needs and wants from scare resources. While central planning consists of a limited number of individual intelligent agents acting in their own political interest to meet an economy’s needs and wants from scarce resources.

    Central planning does not and cannot work, because it is to simplistic and too stupid.

  26. Would an intelligent research chemist working in a lab to conjure up new drugs for big Pharma. suffice?

  27. 27

    Thanks for the response, that’s an interesting point about natural processes. Can you show me the evidence that natural processes create new information? I’ve been looking for such evidence for a long time, but every counter-ID article I’ve read has, unfortunately, resorted to some form of subterfuge. Believe me, if I found good anti-ID fodder I’d be all over it, since skepticism about ID is what originally lead me to investigating its veracity

    The evolution of new genes with modified sequences and new functions is the origin of new information, if the term “new information” has any biological meaning at all.

    See e.g.:

    Long et al. (2003). “The origin of new genes: glimpses from the young and old. Nature Reviews Genetics.

    http://scholar.google.com/scho.....as_sdtp=on

    This article, and the dozens it reviews, were not written in response to ID or anything like that.

    Essentially all ID responses to this work rely on obfuscation and special pleading about the definition of “information”. Yes, say ID advocates, genes have information. But we disagree that new genes with modified sequences have new information, because…well, there never is any “because” given. The real because is “because this core ID argument would be sunk if we admitted new genes were new information.

    After evolutionists beat up on the ID information argument for years and years with this article, Casey Luskin finally produced a response. But his “response” boiled down to asserting that processes like mutation, rearrangement, transposition, and duplication are “magic” — even though these are well-known, oft-observed mutational processes! Not much of a response.

    Re: economics — I figured you might go the route of saying capitalism has more intelligent designers acting than does a command economy. But this doesn’t really wash as a response. In a capitalist economy, no one is sitting around, planning the amount of national production of products so that supply meets demand. Instead, you have people acting in their local self-interest, completely ignoring the national situation. Nevertheless, you end up with a national balance of supply and demand — it is an emergent phenomenon arising out of the aggregation of simple behavior from many actors making local decisions. The process and result can even be modeled and predicted with equations. Basically, forces balance and find an equilibrium. Similar balanced equilibria occur in many other systems in ecology, geology, biology, etc., anywhere you have negative feedback processes. It is certainly interesting that it happens in economics, but it’s not really intelligent design. Intelligent design would be if someone decided what the best national price is — but we know how poorly that works, compared to letting the market work.

  28. “In a capitalist economy, no one is sitting around, planning the amount of national production of products so that supply meets demand.”

    Correct.

    “Nevertheless, you end up with a national balance of supply and demand”

    No. There isn’t a “national balance of supply and demand”. Demand outstrips supply every time. It is the materialists who ignore this. What makes capitalism work, is that each agent gets to decide, based on price, what is important to them. That is, inherently, an individual choice. What makes centralized economies bad is that not only, as we have pointed out, does it remove designers from the task of making the economy efficient, but it also moves decisions into the hands of people who don’t know or care about the values and needs of the individuals. So, rather than each actor solving for themselves which things are valuable enough to justify their price, in a planned economy, that decision point (i.e. design point) is stripped away.

    What makes the economy work is not an invisible hand, but rather each person decides for themselves what is valuable and worth the price. Therefore, the usage of goods matches the values of the people.

    In a planned economy, you have problems with supply (because not enough designers are empowered to improve capital assets), and problems with demand (because individual consumers are not empowered with decisions regarding their own values). In a free market, supply is increased because the designers can improve capital. Demand is made to suit the needs of the people, because each person makes their own choice about what is valuable.

    Welcome to Austrian economics – one of the few fields which is methodologically dualistic!

  29. Dr Matzke,
    Are you kidding? You should know the market is the estimate by the public of the the value of the various entities of the economy which is the result of of the enginuity and productivity of individual entities (intelligent agents) whose creativity is enormous compared to the few keyseyan central planners. Your Keynsian central planners have just proved their ineptitude with the recent multi-billion deficit ballooning stimulus.

  30. 30

    I’ve used his CSI metric to empirically differentiate my behavior from that of AIs, so I wouldn’t consider it a specious metric. Yes, it is often difficult to apply, but that is more a problem of practice than a problem with the metric itself.

    If you are interested in my application of CSI, let me know. My work currently needs some cleaning up, but if enough people show interest I will indeed clean it up and post it at some point.

    Thanks for the continued exchange, so far it is useful,
    Eric

  31. 31

    Sure, I’ve been thinking about it for awhile. One issue is getting ahold of the right kind of data, I need data that both shows the trades, and also somehow identifies who is trading. The ids don’t need to reveal the actual traders, they can be numbers that show when the same agent is performing multiple trades.

    The way I envision this metric working will be the subject for a future post.

  32. “We’ve all noticed the ID critics all speak outside of their realm of expertise. . . . computer scientists think they know it all when it comes to evolution.”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....evolution/

    And yet here is an ID-supportive computer scientist whose expertise has expanded to philosophy and economics?

  33. Nick, once again you claim that neo-Darwinian evolution is a established fact but you offer no empirical support for your view save for comparative genomics, in which you have presupposed your conclusion in your analysis of the data, yet when it is pointed out to you that there are empirically verified severe constraints to the evolvability of any protein/gene sequences, you simply ignore this as if you are being fair with the evidence:

    Dollo’s law, the symmetry of time, and the edge of evolution – Michael Behe – Oct 2009
    Excerpt: Nature has recently published an interesting paper which places severe limits on Darwinian evolution.,,,
    A time-symmetric Dollo’s law turns the notion of “pre-adaptation” on its head. The law instead predicts something like “pre-sequestration”, where proteins that are currently being used for one complex purpose are very unlikely to be available for either reversion to past functions or future alternative uses.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....f_tim.html

    Severe Limits to Darwinian Evolution: – Michael Behe – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: The immediate, obvious implication is that the 2009 results render problematic even pretty small changes in structure/function for all proteins — not just the ones he worked on.,,,Thanks to Thornton’s impressive work, we can now see that the limits to Darwinian evolution are more severe than even I had supposed.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2......html#more

    Stability effects of mutations and protein evolvability. October 2009
    Excerpt: The accepted paradigm that proteins can tolerate nearly any amino acid substitution has been replaced by the view that the deleterious effects of mutations, and especially their tendency to undermine the thermodynamic and kinetic stability of protein, is a major constraint on protein evolvability,,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19765975

    The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway – Ann K. Gauger and Douglas D. Axe – April 2011
    Excerpt: We infer from the mutants examined that successful functional conversion would in this case require seven or more nucleotide substitutions. But evolutionary innovations requiring that many changes would be extraordinarily rare, becoming probable only on timescales much longer than the age of life on earth.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2011.1

    When Theory and Experiment Collide — April 16th, 2011 by Douglas Axe
    Excerpt: Based on our experimental observations and on calculations we made using a published population model [3], we estimated that Darwin’s mechanism would need a truly staggering amount of time—a trillion trillion years or more—to accomplish the seemingly subtle change in enzyme function that we studied.
    http://biologicinstitute.org/2.....t-collide/

    “Mutations are rare phenomena, and a simultaneous change of even two amino acid residues in one protein is totally unlikely. One could think, for instance, that by constantly changing amino acids one by one, it will eventually be possible to change the entire sequence substantially… These minor changes, however, are bound to eventually result in a situation in which the enzyme has ceased to perform its previous function but has not yet begun its ‘new duties’. It is at this point it will be destroyed – along with the organism carrying it.” Maxim D. Frank-Kamenetski, Unraveling DNA, 1997, p. 72. (Professor at Brown U. Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering)

    “A problem with the evolution of proteins having new shapes is that proteins are highly constrained, and producing a functional protein from a functional protein having a significantly different shape would typically require many mutations of the gene producing the protein. All the proteins produced during this transition would not be functional, that is, they would not be beneficial to the organism, or possibly they would still have their original function but not confer any advantage to the organism. It turns out that this scenario has severe mathematical problems that call the theory of evolution into question. Unless these problems can be overcome, the theory of evolution is in trouble.”
    Problems in Protein Evolution:
    http://www.cs.unc.edu/~plaisted/ce/blocked.html

    Extreme functional sensitivity to conservative amino acid changes on enzyme exteriors – Doug Axe
    Excerpt: Contrary to the prevalent view, then, enzyme function places severe constraints on residue identities at positions showing evolutionary variability, and at exterior non-active-site positions, in particular.
    http://nsmserver2.fullerton.ed.....lution.pdf

    Darwin’s God: Post Synaptic Proteins Intolerant of Change – December 2010
    Excerpt: Not only is there scant evidence of intermediate designs leading to the known proteins, but the evidence we do have is that these proteins do not tolerate change.
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....nt-of.html

    As well, the ‘errors/mutations’ that are found to ‘naturally’ occur in protein sequences are found to be ‘designed errors’:

    Cells Defend Themselves from Viruses, Bacteria With Armor of Protein Errors – Nov. 2009
    Excerpt: These “regulated errors” comprise a novel non-genetic mechanism by which cells can rapidly make important proteins more resistant to attack when stressed,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134701.htm

  34. further notes to the ‘fantasy’ science of Nick:

    This following paper, and audio interview, shows that there is a severe ‘fitness cost’ for cells to carry ‘transitional’ proteins that have not achieved full functionality yet:

    Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness – May 2010
    Excerpt: Despite the theoretical existence of this short adaptive path to high fitness, multiple independent lines grown in tryptophan-limiting liquid culture failed to take it. Instead, cells consistently acquired mutations that reduced expression of the double-mutant trpA gene. Our results show that competition between reductive and constructive paths may significantly decrease the likelihood that a particular constructive path will be taken.
    http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/.....O-C.2010.2

    Testing Evolution in the Lab With Biologic Institute’s Ann Gauger – audio
    http://www.idthefuture.com/201.....lab_w.html

    In fact the Ribosome, which makes the myriad of different, yet specific, types of proteins found in life, is found to be severely intolerant to any random mutations occurring to proteins.

    The Ribosome: Perfectionist Protein-maker Trashes Errors
    Excerpt: The enzyme machine that translates a cell’s DNA code into the proteins of life is nothing if not an editorial perfectionist…the ribosome exerts far tighter quality control than anyone ever suspected over its precious protein products… To their further surprise, the ribosome lets go of error-laden proteins 10,000 times faster than it would normally release error-free proteins, a rate of destruction that Green says is “shocking” and reveals just how much of a stickler the ribosome is about high-fidelity protein synthesis.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....134529.htm

    And exactly how is the evolution new life forms suppose to ‘randomly’ occur if it is prevented from ‘randomly’ occurring to proteins in the first place?

    As well, the ‘protein factory’ of the ribosome, which is the only known machine in the universe capable of making proteins of any significant length, is far more complicated than first thought:

    Honors to Researchers Who Probed Atomic Structure of Ribosomes – Robert F. Service
    Excerpt: “The ribosome’s dance, however, is more like a grand ballet, with dozens of ribosomal proteins and subunits pirouetting with every step while other key biomolecules leap in, carrying other dancers needed to complete the act.”
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20091015a

    Moreover, scientists are finding many protein complexes are extremely intolerant to any random mutations:

    Warning: Do NOT Mutate This Protein Complex: – June 2009
    Excerpt: In each cell of your body there is a complex of 8 or more proteins bound together called the BBSome. This protein complex, discovered in 2007, should not be disturbed. Here’s what happens when it mutates: “A homozygous mutation in any BBSome subunit (except BBIP10) will make you blind, obese and deaf, will obliterate your sense of smell, will make you grow extra digits and toes and cause your kidneys to fail.”… the BBSome is “highly conserved” (i.e., unevolved) in all ciliated organisms from single-celled green algae to humans,…”
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20090630a

    Which begs the question, “If this complex of 8 proteins which is found throughout life, is severely intolerant to any mutations happening to it now, how in the world did it come to be in the first photosynthetic life in the first place?

    Even if evolution somehow managed to overcome these impossible hurdles for generating novel proteins by totally natural means, evolution would still face the monumental hurdles of generating complimentary protein/protein binding sites, in which the novel proteins would actually interact with each other in order to accomplish the specific tasks needed in a cell (it is estimated that there are least 10,000 different types of protein-protein binding sites in a ‘simple’ cell; Behe: Edge Of Evolution).

    What does the recent hard evidence say about novel protein-protein binding site generation?

    “The likelihood of developing two binding sites in a protein complex would be the square of the probability of developing one: a double CCC (chloroquine complexity cluster), 10^20 times 10^20, which is 10^40. There have likely been fewer than 10^40 cells in the entire world in the past 4 billion years, so the odds are against a single event of this variety (just 2 binding sites being generated by accident) in the history of life. It is biologically unreasonable.”
    Michael J. Behe PhD. (from page 146 of his book “Edge of Evolution”)

    Nature Paper,, Finds Darwinian Processes Lacking – Michael Behe – Oct. 2009
    Excerpt: Now, thanks to the work of Bridgham et al (2009), even such apparently minor switches in structure and function (of a protein to its supposed ancestral form) are shown to be quite problematic. It seems Darwinian processes can’t manage to do even as much as I had thought. (which was 1 in 10^40 for just 2 binding sites)
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....hes_t.html

    The Sheer Lack Of Evidence For Macro Evolution – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4023134

    Dr. Behe’s empirical research agrees with what is found if scientists try to purposely design a protein-protein binding site:

    Protein Binding – By Chance of By Design? – Fazale Rana
    Excerpt: When considering this study, it is remarkable to note how much effort it took to design a protein that binds to a specific location on the hemagglutinin molecule. As biochemists Bryan Der and Brian Kuhlman point out while commenting on this work, the design of these proteins required:,,, …cutting-edge software developed by ~20 groups worldwide and 100,000 hours of highly parallel computing time. It also involved using a technique known as yeast display to screen candidate proteins and select those with high binding affinities, as well as x-ray crystallography to validate designs.,,, If it takes this much work and intellectual input to create a single protein from scratch, is it really reasonable to think that undirected evolutionary processes could accomplish this task routinely?
    http://networkedblogs.com/jRdlR

  35. 35

    At 3, Nick claims:

    Since we know natural processes can create new information, the core ID argument is sunk.

    At 3.1, Eric challenges:

    Thanks for the response, that’s an interesting point about natural processes. Can you show me the evidence that natural processes create new information?

    To which Eric replies:

    The evolution of new genes with modified sequences and new functions is the origin of new information, if the term “new information” has any biological meaning at all.

    Note how Nick has simply reiterated his claim, and refers to an article that simply assumes that the generation of novel information is “natural” and not better described as “intentional”.

    Nick, unless you can direct us to research that has developed a metric that can vet such genetic variation as better described as the result of “natural” mechanisms (as opposed to “artificial”, or intentional) within the probabilistic bounds of such unguided systems, all you can do, and in fact all you have done, is assert that such is the case.

    Whether ID proponents obfuscate the term “information” or not is irrelevant to the fact that you and those of your ilk have yet to provide a metric that can be used to substantiate your claims about the categorical origin of biological information.

  36. NickMatzke:

    Since we know natural processes can create new information, the core ID argument is sunk.

    Except that isn’t the argument, Nick. You have been told this many times and you still refuse to listen. That measn you have serious issues and should seek help.

    That said there isn’t any evidence that blind, undirected processes can produce information from scratch.

  37. Darwinist: “Naturalistic forces alone can produce information.”

    ID proponent: “Intelligent agents and only intelligent agents have been known to produce information.”

    Darwinist: “Please define ‘information’ so that I may scrutinize your claim. What do you mean when you use that term?

    ID proponent: “It means whatever you thought in meant when you said that nature can produce it.”

    How can anyone not love this.

  38. Nick matzke:

    The evolution of new genes with modified sequences and new functions is the origin of new information, if the term “new information” has any biological meaning at all.

    Good luck demonstrating those new genes arose via blind, undirected chemical processes.

  39. Hi Eric,

    I’d just like to say thank you for a really interesting, thought-provoking piece, with lots of good ideas. Thanks again.

  40. ID provides a coherent basis for the invisible hand of the market. Since the market is the conglomeration of intelligent design by intelligent agents, ID implies that there would be an emergent order and economy to its behavior.

    An interesting argument for multiple designers during the history of life on Earth

  41. The movie “Time Bandits” is an interesting argument for multiple designers…

  42. Currently ID has no means to make any kind of determination about the possible number of designers involved in Earth’s history, it can only provide a means to detect design. Thus if ID implies that the actions of many (thousands of, millions of) intelligent agents leads to an emergent order from the complex dynamics of the market, then it’s reasonable to follow the inferences.

  43. ID is not about the designer(s). ID is about the detection AND study of the design.

    And then there is Newton’s First Rule- Don’t add unnecessary entities.

  44. The core of ID theory rests on logical inferences – that’s how design is detected. Once accepted, inferences ought to followed if the intention is to consider the “Broader Implications of ID”

  45. 45

    Yeah, that is a good one. One angle I’ve come up with so far is the idea of self organization within chemistry. According to ID, there isn’t really such a thing as self organization, since the information for the “emergent” structures is already implicit in the original chemical state. So, at the very least, it is a good caution for chemists to not put any stock in the concept of self organization.

  46. 46

    Yep, and you should take those comments of mine with a grain of salt. However, I do have some expertise in a couple of those areas, since I have taken quite a lot of philosophy in my undergrad.

    Plus, there’s a difference between what I’m doing and what the critics are doing regarding Dembski’s work. The critics were claiming that Dembski didn’t know what he was talking about in an area where he was clearly an expert and they clearly were not. On the other hand, it is quite appropriate to suggest ways that one’s own expertise can shed light on other fields that one is familiar with, as I attempt to do here.

  47. 47

    The parent deleted their comment.

  48. 48

    You’re welcome. I have a couple more ideas that I hope to have time to write up shortly.

  49. rhampton7:

    The core of ID theory rests on logical inferences – that’s how design is detected. Once accepted, inferences ought to followed if the intention is to consider the “Broader Implications of ID”

    No one is prevented from following any inferences. Wm Dembski states this in “No Free Lunch”. It is that those other questions are separate from ID.

  50. Are you kidding? You should know the market is the estimate by the public of the the value of the various entities of the economy which is the result of of the enginuity and productivity of individual entities (intelligent agents) whose creativity is enormous compared to the few keyseyan central planners.

    But that’s exactly the point that Adam Smith made. The decisions made by the invisible hand are not how to make products, but how to price them, and how many to make. These are not trivial decisions. And they are exactly analogous to the decisions made in biology as to which alleles will increase and which will decline in frequency.

    That is why Darwin attributed his natural selection insight to Adam Smith (or the Scottish Economists, as he put it).

    Adam Smith knew that individual intelligence is probably present in all nations, but that prosperity and wealth was most effectively created not by central planning but by the invisible hand operating in a free market.

    Individuals, no matter how intelligent, cannot set prices and production goals for large entities like nations. And we can observe this in action with the rise and fall of even the largest corporations. No matter how much they plan,their planning efforts are swamped by the market.

  51. Yes, but in an article like this (Broader Implications of ID), the discussion goes beyond what ID theory describes.

    Simply enough, if ID is at least possibly true, then there may be other entities at work than the particles and waves. Furthermore, if ID is true, then final cause explanations are true and important, and final causal explanations are entirely in the realm of the humanities,

    So the who and what the designer(s) are, by necessity, a part of the investigation into final causal explanations.

  52. Okay. I’m here Julie. Present your argument.

  53. One example of complex information (a novel protein) apparently arising from a frame-shift mutation, a nylon degrading enzyme: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm.....9-0153.pdf

  54. Joseph wrote: “ID is not about the designer(s). ID is about the detection AND study of the design.” (#43) (This promoted me to ask the previous question just asked in another thread.)

    In #51, which seems to be a response to #43 as much as the post it quotes, RHampton wrote: “Yes, but in an article like this (Broader Implications of ID), the discussion goes beyond what ID theory describes. / So the who and what the designer(s) are, by necessity, a part of the investigation into final causal explanations.”

    It made me wonder, as a relative new-comer here: is there a consensus or anything near it about this at UD? Is ID ‘supposed to be’ about the (who and what are the) designer(s), or not? There was little to no follow-up about this on the thread.

    I also note that Eric Holloway wrote a rather provocative statement (especially for a computer programmer, if that is indeed what he is) in his article: “the humanities turn out to be even more important than the sciences, at least as far as intelligent design is concerned.”

    Yet no one commented on this, neither objecting to nor even engaging it. Why cut Eric slack that you have not afforded to other proponents of the humanities and social sciences on this same topic? This seems like party-line ideological stuff (not meant negatively), folks, while I’m coming to the table with a non-partisan approach. Are you not willing to listen to someone far ahead of Eric’s holistic-intended conjectures?

    “By unifying humanities and sciences, and the fields of philosophy, ID now opens the way for providing a framework for ethics and morality.” – Eric

    Perhaps people agreed to silently disagree on this. There was just no response to it. But it got me wondering how the ‘origins of life’ and/or ‘origins of biological information’ can be said (or made) to impact ethics and morality?

    It was a surprise for me to read Eric’s 2012 post today and to actually see the article applauded at UD, especially by StephenB in #11, after some of the contrarian things he’s said to me re: “the non-biological implications that intelligent design theory has.” Maybe folks at UD are more ‘reflexive’ and open to hearing about trailblazing approaches than it first appeared! Or perhaps there is a great desire for ‘relevance’ where it has not (yet) been achieved…

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