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Evolution is a Fact!

Just so we are clear, I am certain that everyone who posts at this site believes evolution is a fact (or fact! fact! fact! as some of our more breathless opponents prefer). 

Whoa Barry!  Are you telling us that Uncommon Descent does not oppose the concept of evolution?  Yes, I am telling you exactly that.

Then what is all the fuss and disagreement about?  I’m glad you asked.  But before I answer that question, let me begin with what the fuss and disagreement are NOT about.

 The fuss and the disagreement are not about whether evolution occurred.  Obviously evolution occurred if by “evolution” one means, “things are different now than they were in the past.”  I don’t know anyone who disagrees with that.  That bare fact is uninteresting, even trivial. 

The important question is not WHETHER things are different now than they were in the past.  They obviously are.  The important question is “WHY are things different now than they were in the past?”  As Phil Johnson has pointed out, the Darwinist starts with the following proposition:  “Given materialist premises, Darwinian evolution or something very much like it simply must be true.”  Therefore, since the Darwinist already “knows” that Darwinian evolution exhausts all of the options open to investigation, he interprets all of the data to – big surprise here – confirm Darwinian evolution.  It is almost literally the case that a Darwinist is incapable of seeing data that does not confirm or tends to disconfirm his theory. 

But the Darwinist’s initial premise is false even on materialist terms.  Even uber-materialist Richard Dawkins admits that the complexity and diversity of life might be the result of the actions of super-intelligent aliens.  This explanation requires no supernatural act to have occurred and violates no precept either of philosophical or methodological materialism.

Therefore, the fuss and the disagreement is about whether “intelligent cause” must be ruled out from the beginning as a possible causal factor for why things are different now than they were in the past.  It is exactly like two police detectives standing over the body of a person whose head has been bashed in by a blunt object and having the following conversation:

Columbo:  “I am a materialist.  Therefore, given my premises I know for a certain fact that this person’s death must have been caused by blind, unguided natural forces.  Therefore, I already know that all of the data I find will support that conclusion.  Moreover, the certain knowledge I have before I ever even look at the data means I will never even have to consider the possibility that this person’s death was caused by the acts of an intelligent agent, and I can safely ignore any data that might tend to disprove my starting point or confirm an “intelligent agent” theory.  My theory is that a rock fell from above and hit him in the head.  Probably the rock was dislodged from the side of a hill by the wind or rain and rolled down the hill and smacked him.  Bad luck all around.  By the way, I call the rolling rock theory a “theory” only for form’s sake.  We both know it is a fact! fact! fact!  Bad luck all around.  Case closed.”

Holmes:  “I am not going to make up my mind in advance about whether this death resulted from blind, unguided and exceedingly bad luck or whether it is the result of the acts of an intelligent agent, that is to say, murder.  By the way, I am willing to assume materialist premises too, at least on a methodological basis, but you are wrong to say that assumption precludes the act of an intelligent agent.  All murderers of whom I am aware have been quite human.  I understand your rolling rock theory, and I just don’t think it is supported by the data.  First of all, the body is almost at the top of the hill, so it is unlikely that even if a rock were dislodged by the wind and rain it could have gathered enough momentum to do the work you ascribe to it.  Also, I note that there are no bloody rocks anywhere around the body.  Finally, I note the presence of a bloody club near the body, and on that club are the fingerprints of the dead person’s worst enemy who swore to kill him only two days ago.  I conclude that the “accident theory” while not impossible from a mathematical or logical perspective is not the most likely explanation.  This scene bears indicia of design.  I conclude the victim was murdered.”

 Columbo:  “Fundamentalist cretin!”

If the case were to proceed to trial, we might also have this:

Judge Jones:  “I understand that Holmes went to Sunday School when  he was  a child.  Therefore, his theory must be disregarded as the musings of a religious fanatic.  Case dismissed.  Bailiff, set the defendant free!”

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108 Responses to Evolution is a Fact!

  1. 1

    Barry,

    Why make Columbo the enemy? I like him. :)

    Anyway, good analogy. I especially like the Judge Jones bit, because that’s exactly what happened in Dover, only Holmes was Dr.Behe.

    What’s interesting though, is that Behe is not even a particularly staunch ‘religionist.’ One would expect the treatment he received if he was a biblical literalist or fundamentalist, but he’s not. He even accepts common descent, which goes against the beliefs of many Christians.

    This particular dynamic only goes to show the lengths the Darwinist lobby will go in mischaracterizing anyone who disagrees with them – scientific credentials be damned.

  2. Speaking as someone who has read every Sherlock Holmes story there is I am bound to concur with ‘his’ theory.

    I think, however, Holmes would concede that materialism does not exclude the possibility of design where there is evidence for the existence of a designer.

    Thus, whenever critics point to the improbability of some aspect of evolution I am inevitably reminded of his famous dictum: “When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”

    The trick, of course, lies in being able to exclude the impossible.

  3. Barry,

    “Therefore, the fuss and the disagreement is about whether “intelligent cause” must be ruled out from the beginning as a possible causal factor for why things are different now than they were in the past.”

    Only supernatural design/intervention is excluded from ‘explaining’ evolution & abiogenesis since it makes no predictions and can’t be tested. If you want to propose a naturalistic design for evolution/abiogenesis then you need to present a testable hypothesis which makes scientifically meaningful predictions. Some supporting evidence would help your case.

  4. Megan:

    Only supernatural design/intervention is excluded from ‘explaining’ evolution & abiogenesis since it makes no predictions and can’t be tested.

    If abiogenesis occurred by design then it cannot be tested. Current approaches proceed under the assumption that there was no design and no predictions are possible and testing is futile if design is real. That could explain results of origin of life research. Science cannot reproduce what did not happen.

  5. If abiogenesis occurred by design then it cannot be tested. Current approaches proceed under the assumption that there was no design and no predictions are possible and testing is futile if design is real. That could explain results of origin of life research. Science cannot reproduce what did not happen.

    AFAIK, OOL research is a thriving subdivision of scientific inquiry.

    But since it is not crucial to the ToE, why not just take it from there and start our investigation from what we do know: Life got started!

    BT, science can of course reproduce what did happen – we can repeat what nature did, or what the designer did. He did have to something to create life, didn’t he? Even if by magic, he had to manipulate matter.

    We are even in a better position than the designer when we attempt recreation of life: We know what life is, how it looks, how it works!

    While the designer, unless he is one or more of ‘the little green men’ that presumably already are life forms (but they hardly could have landed on the young Earth more over 3 billion years ago) had to start from scratch with absolutely no information about life. Where to start, what to do, how to do it?

  6. The important question is not WHETHER things are different now than they were in the past. They obviously are. The important question is “WHY are things different now than they were in the past?” – Barry Arrington

    This is a great post, because it’ll let me ask what is really my biggest question about Intelligent Design: What is the current consensus among ID propenents:

    Did the designer act ONCE, at some point during (I guess the beginning of) life, setting up the starting conditions intelligently, and then microevolution has brought us the rest of the way?

    Or does the designer act continuously, effecting change step by step in life, much like evolution, but with an intelligent agent at the helm?

    Or is there some other intermediate model of interaction with life that the designer adopts that I haven’t grasped?

  7. Like Bond, JamesBond, I too would like to know what the proposed hypothesis is. Let’s get something we can test!!

  8. Cabal:

    AFAIK, OOL research is a thriving subdivision of scientific inquiry.

    There’s money in it but after many decades we cannot predict squat about how life arises.

  9. The important question is not WHETHER things are different now than they were in the past. They obviously are. The important question is “WHY are things different now than they were in the past?

    Has anyone proposed a mechanism which allows for the 6 million odd differences we find within the human genome and yet prevents the 68 million differences we find between our genome and the chimps?

  10. Seversky:

    I think, however, Holmes would concede that materialism does not exclude the possibility of design where there is evidence for the existence of a designer.

    Except that the ONLY evidence materialsm will alow is a meeting with the designer(s).

    IOW science need not come knocking.

  11. camanintx:

    Has anyone proposed a mechanism which allows for the 6 million odd differences we find within the human genome and yet prevents the 68 million differences we find between our genome and the chimps?

    68 million differences?

    I was unaware that someomne has done a complete side by side comparison.

    However that is irrelevant.

    There isn’t any data which links the genetic differences to the physiological and anatomical differences.

  12. James Bond:

    Did the designer act ONCE, at some point during (I guess the beginning of) life, setting up the starting conditions intelligently, and then microevolution has brought us the rest of the way?

    Could be. That is why we need science- to help us make that determination.

    Or does the designer act continuously, effecting change step by step in life, much like evolution, but with an intelligent agent at the helm?

    Could be. That is why we need science- to help us make that determination.

    Or is there some other intermediate model of interaction with life that the designer adopts that I haven’t grasped?

    Could be. That is why we need science- to help us make that determination.

    Hope that helps. :)

  13. Cabal,

    The OoL is relevant because if living organisms did not arise from non-living matter via blind watchmaker-type processes then there wouldn’t be any reason to infer said processes rule over evolution.

  14. MeganC:

    Only supernatural design/intervention is excluded from ‘explaining’ evolution & abiogenesis since it makes no predictions and can’t be tested.

    ID doesn’t require the supernatural.

    Just a targeted search.

    If you want to propose a naturalistic design for evolution/abiogenesis then you need to present a testable hypothesis which makes scientifically meaningful predictions.

    Waiting on you.

    IOW anytime you would like to ante up and actually support your position…

  15. pk4_paul:

    If abiogenesis occurred by design then it cannot be tested.

    Sure it can.

    However how can we test the premise that living organisms arose from non-living matter via chance and necessity?

    We test the design inference by seeing if CSI or IC is present.

  16. If abiogenesis occurred by design then it cannot be tested.

    Joseph: Sure it can.

    You’re right Joseph. I had irony in mind when I wrote that. If a process entails guidance by necessity than nothing short of guidance will suffice to experimentally reproduce the process.

  17. CannuckianYankee:

    He even accepts common descent, which goes against the beliefs of many Christians.

    I am a staunch Christian and I agree with common descent. My understanding is that man was the last creature to be designed. It makes sense that the designer would reuse a mountain of code that had already been perfected. A little addition here, cut a few things over there, modify those in the middle and Bingo! The first human is designed! It makes sense that an intelligent designer would use a compositional model to create new designs.

    If I remember correctly, Sumerian myths claim that the Gods (Anunaki) created humans from apes. As a software engineer and Christian, I find the Sumerian story very plausible. In fact, I’ve proposed just such a hierarchical compositional architecture for all software design. Check it out if you’re into programming.

    PS. to moderators. I’ve tried to be good. Can I be freed now? LOL.

  18. Joseph:

    “Or is there some other intermediate model of interaction with life that the designer adopts that I haven’t grasped?”

    Could be. That is why we need science- to help us make that determination.

    Any current work on this? It seems to be a matter of some criticality.

  19. Finally, I note the presence of a bloody club near the body, and on that club are the fingerprints of the dead person’s worst enemy who swore to kill him only two days ago

    How it helps when you have a theory as to who, how and when.

    To me it is more like this. An old body is found at the bottom of a quarry.

    C: looks like an accident. The victim fell into the quarry.

    H: – ah but what are the chances that it should fall in exactly this position so near the bottom of the quarry when there are a billion other positions it might have fallen in. This outcome is so implausible as to be negligible. Therefore, it was not natural. Therefore it must have been murder.

    C: I think the accident is more plausible.

    H: Plausible! Tell me exactly when and how the victim fell, the path it took in its descent to this spot, and the probability of each point on that path.

    C: Well no – that would be difficult. But tell me who do you think did it? How? And why?

    H: Ah that is for future enquiry. The important thing is we have overwhelming evidence of murder.

  20. The fuss and the disagreement are not about whether evolution occurred.

    Ah good. Then everyone agrees that the earth is about 4.5bn years old, and the fossil record is correct, no?

  21. Mapou, just so you know, I support the “Free Mapou” campaign.

  22. Heinrich,

    Ah good. Then everyone agrees that the earth is about 4.5bn years old, and the fossil record is correct, no?

    How could a fossil record be correct or incorrect? What do you have in mind that they would be “correct” about? Do you mean, are the fossils really fossils or are they fakes?

  23. pk4_paul,

    squat

    I believe ‘squat’ may be a little exaggerated.

    As far as I can tell, science already has done plenty of experimental and theoretical work on the study of OOL chemistry. With rich observational evidence of organic chemistry in places where nobody had expected we would find any.

    Joseph,

    The OoL is relevant because if living organisms did not arise from non-living matter via blind watchmaker-type processes then there wouldn’t be any reason to infer said processes rule over evolution.

    “Non-living matter” strike me as a rather odd term. To me, matter is matter, period. If we leave metaphysics aside for a moment, then from a ‘life’ point of view, it is just chemistry. The ‘life’ component is rather opaque and hard to find under the microscope. There, we see only chemistry.

    Be that as it may. Interestingly enough, ‘blind watchmaker-type processes’ are just the type of processes that from a single cell builds a complete human body. Isn’t that marvellous, magical?

    A thought experiment: If we succeed in creating a living cell in the laboratory, are there any reasons why that cell could not replicate, multiply and be a species of its own, subject to the same evolutionary forces (microevolution?) that characterize all life that we know?

    IMHO, it is irrelevant for evolution how the first cell came into existence.

    Are you saying that if the first cell was not created by natural processes, then natural processes are not present in evolution? (“rule over evolution”)

  24. The OoL is relevant because if living organisms did not arise from non-living matter via blind watchmaker-type processes then there wouldn’t be any reason to infer said processes rule over evolution.

    “Non-living matter” strike me as a rather odd term.

    It doesn’t strike me as such.

    Actually it flows naturally- without supernatural intervention.

    To me, matter is matter, period. If we leave metaphysics aside for a moment, then from a ‘life’ point of view, it is just chemistry.

    That is teh assertion anyway- that living organisms are so reducible.

    And if someone ever demonstrates that is the case ID would fall.

    The ‘life’ component is rather opaque and hard to find under the microscope.

    The computer code on a disc is hard to see under a microscope.

    Does that mean it doesn’t exist?

    Interestingly enough, ‘blind watchmaker-type processes’ are just the type of processes that from a single cell builds a complete human body.

    Too bad there isn’t any data that supports that assertion.

    A thought experiment: If we succeed in creating a living cell in the laboratory, are there any reasons why that cell could not replicate, multiply and be a species of its own, subject to the same evolutionary forces (microevolution?) that characterize all life that we know?

    Not if that is how we designed it.

    IMHO, it is irrelevant for evolution how the first cell came into existence.

    I told you why it matters.

    Are you saying that if the first cell was not created by natural processes, then natural processes are not present in evolution?

    Design is natural. A targeted search is natural.

    I was very clear so please stop misrepresenting what I say.

  25. Cabal “We are even in a better position than the designer when we attempt recreation of life: We know what life is, how it looks, how it works!”

    and if that wasn’t enough “Be that as it may. Interestingly enough, ‘blind watchmaker-type processes’ are just the type of processes that from a single cell builds a complete human body. Isn’t that marvellous, magical?

    A thought experiment: If we succeed in creating a living cell in the laboratory, are there any reasons why that cell could not replicate, multiply and be a species of its own, subject to the same evolutionary forces (microevolution?) that characterize all life that we know?

    WHAT!!!!! – Hey Barry – this I think is a good example of one inference of your post – thinking becomes a problem for such minded / wired types.

    They are doing well mentally IF assumption = fact.

    A legal dictum: “A thing similar is not that same thing.”

  26. Mapou – I would point out to you that Biblically you are NOT a staunch Christian. Otherwise you would amend your position to something like this: The Creator created
    with information in the code to allow for slight modifications in order to preserve the thing/species made and that ability would be multiplied due to the effects of the fall as stated clearly in Romans Chapter one & eight. Perhaps you might want to read these passages in their entirety being concerned as you are I’m sure that you are not subject to Matthew 25:2. I join the “free” Mapou campaign.

  27. How could a fossil record be correct or incorrect? What do you have in mind that they would be “correct” about?

    No, that there is change in species over time, at that happened over millions of years.

  28. Mapou,

    I agree with Alan. Are you rebelling against Christian scripture? I ask in a loving way because:

    (1) Being a Christian means to follow Jesus Christ who claims there is only one way to God, not mythical “Gods.” (John 14:6)

    (2) Scripture says Man is made in God’s image not from a modified ape design, so Sumerian myths are just that – myths. (Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9)

    Be good and be free.

  29. For my money it strikes me that the only ‘evidence’ (and it isn’t really that) for ID is the flaws it tries to find with the theory of evolution.

    Which is absurd. You cannot prove one theory by disproving a competing one. Because perhaps NEITHER are true.

    So could someone please prove me wrong and offer some positive, testable evidence for ID which does not amount to a half-baked attempt to criticise evolution?

  30. For my money it strikes me that the only ‘evidence’ (and it isn’t really that) for ID is the flaws it tries to find with the theory of evolution.

    Your money is blind, deaf and dumb.

    IDists have presented the positive evidence.

    Here is a small sample:

    Supporting Intelligent Design

  31. All right. I tried posting a response to absolutist and, apparently, it was censored by the moderators. So be it. I guess that’s the clue for me to bid adieu to all. It’s been fun.

  32. 32

    Joseph,

    Your link “Supporting Intelligent Design” isn’t working.

  33. 33

    Ritchie,

    “For my money it strikes me that the only ‘evidence’ (and it isn’t really that) for ID is the flaws it tries to find with the theory of evolution.”

    In addition to what Joseph has stated, you must understand that ID is concerned with design inferences. Darwinism started as a counter to design inferences. Therefore, your money and mine, should be invested in determining which argument is best infered by the evidence. Part of that determination involves pointing out the weaknesses of a theory that counters ID. But that’s not all. The weaknesses in ToE actually help the design inference that ToE drove to replace.

    Furthermore, Darwinists continue to this day to claim that ID is not falsifiable, yet the whole theory of Darwinian evolution is concerned with falsifying a design inference. That’s a rather peculiar position. There are many flaws in Darwinism, which strengthen ID. I think we showed you at least one in pointing out (in another thread) that Dawkins’ demonstration of cumulative selection actually supports ID rather than blind evolutionary processes. But ID’s main focus is on the positive evidences in support of a design inference.

    You state: “You cannot prove one theory by disproving a competing one. Because perhaps NEITHER are true.”

    First of all, nobody’s trying to PROVE anything here. What we are attempting to do is show which theory is the best inference by the evidence. This involves comparing ID to the counter theory, explaining why that theory (which started as a counter to design inferences) doesn’t work, and offering positive alternatives as to why the design inference was the correct position all along. That’s how it works with historical scientific theories. Neither ID or ToE are like physics and chemistry, which can be tested in the laboratory. We rely on inferences to the best explanation. You can’t show that your theory is the best explanation without comparing it to the alternative theory.

    You also state: “Because perhaps NEITHER are true.”

    I don’t think there is an alternative between blind unguided forces at work in arriving at the complexity in nature, and intelligent design at work. It’s really an either/or equation – except that ID allows for some naturalistic processes as well. So it’s the Darwinian ToE that is the more dogmatic here, in insisting that it is only blind natural processes at work.

  34. Excellent post, Barry. The one question I can never get a materialist to answer is this: how do you know scientifically that the properties of Nature are such that any apparent design we observe in biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle? I’m the least bit interested in their philosophical, metaphysical or theological speculations on this question. I want to see the science! How has this been confirmed by scientific experiment? Where has it been reported in the relevant peer reviewed science research journals? How might it be falsified?

    Unless and until the materialists answer this question with actual science rather than philosophy, all their whinining and moaning that ID isn’t science, or that nothing in nature gives evidence of actual design, is nothing but bluff and bluster.

    There’s not a single materialist who has EVER provided a scientific explanation for materialism. Philosophical arguments abound…but who cares…we want to see the science!

  35. DonaldM @ 33

    The one question I can never get a materialist to answer is this: how do you know scientifically that the properties of Nature are such that any apparent design we observe in biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle?

    Name a materialist who has actually claimed precisely that. otherwise your question is a strawman and not worth the answering.

  36. 36

    Mapou,

    “I am a staunch Christian and I agree with common descent. My understanding is that man was the last creature to be designed. It makes sense that the designer would reuse a mountain of code that had already been perfected. A little addition here, cut a few things over there, modify those in the middle and Bingo! The first human is designed! It makes sense that an intelligent designer would use a compositional model to create new designs.”

    I don’t know where this “free Mapou campaign” all got started. Could it be in reference to your reply above to my little observation on Dr. Behe’s religious beliefs?

    Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. What I want to point out is that your statement makes sense, but it wouldn’t be the designer as depicted in scripture, and this is a crucial distinction. Your scenario paints God as a tinkerer with His creation in order to acquire optimization. I don’t think scripture supports such a picture. I think the various species were designed with optimal characteristics, which were maligned due to the fall.

    My own view about evolution – and this can change with better evidence – and perhaps a clearer understanding, is that God created humans as humans. I’m not certain if the soul was present immediately, although Genesis could be interpreted as though it did. Scripture seems to suggest that the human body and soul while living are one – and became so when God ‘breathed’ into them.

    Evolution in my view, then is merely adaptation and malignant mutation. We have different races due to adaptation to different environments. We also have modifications in different species for the same reason. Overall, species have devolved from the optimal design they once had, but evolution – which is designed into the system, compensates for many of these malignant mutations, but not always. Observations about fitness, the fossil record, and all of the other Darwinian icons, which are viewed to support common descent and random natural processes are irrelevant to evolution. While some of these observations may be valid, they have better explanations by design than by random natural processes.

    Unlike Behe, I don’t currently accept common descent, and I haven’t found a rigorous scientific explanation for why I should. So common descent really is counter to my own and most other Christians’ understandings of Creation. I can see why some Christians accept common descent, but I don’t see that it fits with a scriptural understanding.

    On the other hand, I have problems with scientific creationism. I don’t think the Bible should nor needs to be viewed as a scientific text. Ultimately I don’t think science and scripture are incompatible, but to use scripture in guiding science is a mistake – since scripture needs to be interpreted within a certain social context and understanding, which are far removed from our own.

    Science is the study of God’s general revelation – nature. We should be able to learn something about God through science, but the more specifics, which nature can’t tell us – through the special revelation of scripture.

  37. 37

    DonaldM: “The one question I can never get a materialist to answer is this: how do you know scientifically that the properties of Nature are such that any apparent design we observe in biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle?”

    Seversky: “Name a materialist who has actually claimed precisely that. otherwise your question is a strawman and not worth the answering.”

    Well, Seversky, I find myself agreeing with you to a point. Let’s use Dawkins as an example, because his observations are very relevant here. He doesn’t state that the appearance of design cannot be design “even in principle.” He states something a little less dogmatic – that the appearance of design is along the lines of a mirage. In fact, Dawkins stated that the appearance of design could be actual design, but not by a supernatural entity.

    My disagreement is with your strawman contention. There are many naturalists who are not as kind as Dawkins on this point (Kind and Dawkins together in one sentence?) :)

    Methodological naturalims IS the driving force behind the Darwinian rationalization on descent. Therefore, it’s not a strawman to observe that by meth/nat we cannot infer design. There are other Darwinists who have stated as much. Now do you want me to name them, or are you satisfied?

  38. 38

    MeganC,

    “Only supernatural design/intervention is excluded from ‘explaining’ evolution & abiogenesis since it makes no predictions and can’t be tested.”

    First of all design/interventions are not necessarily supernatural. The only ones making this assertion are Darwinists.

    Second: evolution does not work without an intervening designer. Fitness scenarios are counterproductive to the theory, because they imply a target, which implies purpose, which implies design.

    Third: Name a Darwinian prediction that can only be explained exclusively through Darwinian theory.

    Fourth: Darwinian theory started as a counter to design inferences. If design inferences cannot be tested, why then do we have a Darwinian theory that attempts to counter them? Furthermore, why are you even here arguing your point if our point can’t be tested?

  39. MeganC,

    “Only supernatural design/intervention is excluded from ‘explaining’ evolution & abiogenesis since it makes no predictions and can’t be tested.”

    A designer is a designer is a designer. What mnakes you think a supernatural designer would be so different from a natural one in its aims?

    True, a supernatural designer would not have a physical modus operandi and hence we could never describe how it did what it did. But the modus operandi of a natural designer who was, say, 1,000 years ahead of us technologically, would also be totally incomprehensible to us, so in practical terms, what’s the difference?

  40. #38

    True, a supernatural designer would not have a physical modus operandi and hence we could never describe how it did what it did. But the modus operandi of a natural designer who was, say, 1,000 years ahead of us technologically, would also be totally incomprehensible to us, so in practical terms, what’s the difference?

    I am not sure that natural/supernatural is a useful distinction in this context – although I 99% agree with Meganc. Leave design for the moment and consider any other unexplained phenomenon e.g. a new type of comet that behaves in a theoretically impossible way. Scientists studying this might come up with various hypotheses. What would you think of the hypothesis that this was caused by an intelligence so advanced that is used methods we cannot comprehend? It would be rightly dismissed unless there was some other way of exploring the hypothesis e.g. communicating with this intelligence or specifying where it came from. Proposing a solution which explains exactly what we observe and nothing else and has undefined powers and motives is to make no progress. It doesn’t really matter whether it is supernatural or a very advanced civilisation of which we know nothing.

  41. In the original post, Barry Arrington states:

    “The fuss and the disagreement are not about whether evolution occurred. Obviously evolution occurred if by “evolution” one means, “things are different now than they were in the past.” I don’t know anyone who disagrees with that. That bare fact is uninteresting, even trivial.

    The important question is not WHETHER things are different now than they were in the past. They obviously are. The important question is “WHY are things different now than they were in the past?”

    I disagree, at least in part. I think that ID folks give the evolution that life has obviously (from the fossil record) undergone somewhat short shrift. Evolution in general usually includes some notion of progress, of increasing sophistication, complexity, capability, or some such (although not always, I admit) and I think it is important to note that the fossil record confirms that the evolution of living things has not only changed, it has substantially increased in complexity and variety over its history. “Things” are not only different than they were, they are noticeably more complex, and I think that this fact is very interesting.

    Why? Because if you believe that life was designed, as I do, then one has to ask the question, “Why did the designer(s) of living things choose to evolve life rather than simply create all the species he/she/they is/were interested in in one go?”

    The answer to such a question is of course outside of the realm of scientific inquiry, but it is extremely important to the philosophical/religious inquiry that the conclusion of design evokes. If you believe that the designer was God, then your theology better include an answer to that question.

    Personally, I don’t believe that the question can be answered until one has a clear idea of the purpose of creation in the first place. And in my humble opinion, it is one of the failures of Christianity (and of all religions with which I am familiar) that the ultimate purpose of the created Universe is never really addressed.

  42. Seversky,

    Read Dawkins. However it can also be traced back to Darwin- that is that the observed design in nature is “apparent” or “illusory” and not real design.

  43. Thanks Canadian Yankee:

    Supporting Intelligent Design- a small sample

  44. Joseph

    However it can also be traced back to Darwin- that is that the observed design in nature is “apparent” or “illusory” and not real design.

    But you’d agree that not every instance of apparent design is in fact an example of explicit design right?

    Joseph, the thing is that if I agree with you there then it means that things like HIV have been recently designed and introduced into humans. What alternative position is there?

    Still, at least you think the designer is active today and not restricted to a role in the background billions of years ago like so many people.

  45. Moseph:

    But you’d agree that not every instance of apparent design is in fact an example of explicit design right?

    True. However every instance of apparent design needs to be investigated to see what caused it.

    Joseph, the thing is that if I agree with you there then it means that things like HIV have been recently designed and introduced into humans.

    Nope.

    What alternative position is there?

    That HIV is like a prion- leftovers from a once living organism with a full genome.

    Still, at least you think the designer is active today and not restricted to a role in the background billions of years ago like so many people.

    I don’t deny the possibility but I don’t see any evidence for it.

  46. Joseph

    True. However every instance of apparent design needs to be investigated to see what caused it.

    Great, now we’re getting somewhere. Presumably you can give me an example of a biological entity that is

    A) Designed
    B) Not-Designed

    Can you do so? I have to assume you can otherwise you’d have made no differentiation between apparent and actual design.

    And what would you say the ratio of designed to not-designed organisms be? 100:1? 1:100?

    If I look at a random biological entity will I probably see design or no-design?

    That HIV is like a prion- leftovers from a once living organism with a full genome.

    I’m afraid I simply don’t understand what you mean. HIV is very unlike a prion. And what do you mean by “once living organism with a full genome”? Are there organisms out there without full genomes?

    And how do you know that in any case, that HIV is a leftover? Where are you getting that information from?

    I don’t deny the possibility but I don’t see any evidence for it.

    You don’t see any evidence for what? The designer being active now?

  47. Joseph

    True. However every instance of apparent design needs to be investigated to see what caused it.

    Has this, in the entire history of Intelligent Design, been done?

    I don’t believe so. Can you prove otherwise?

    Why, then, would you suggest with a straight face that it could and should be done?

    I asked you about HIV and you said

    That HIV is like a prion- leftovers from a once living organism with a full genome.

    Now expand on that for, I don’t know, 2-3 thousand words. Add in some lab work to back it up. And then you might be able to say where HIV came from. But a few lines in a blog and you act live you’ve solved a mystery?

    Big whoop.

    In fact, in the reality based community such a statement would obtain the derision it rightly deserves.

    But at UD it seems I’m the only one calling you on your nonsense.

  48. True. However every instance of apparent design needs to be investigated to see what caused it.

    Has this, in the entire history of Intelligent Design, been done?

    Shouldn’t evolutionists also be doing that?

    Yes they should or else they can’t just assert “apparent design”.

    Why, then, would you suggest with a straight face that it could and should be done?

    How can we tell “apparent design” from “real design”?

    Do you guys flip a coin?

    Or do you say well that looks designed but it ain’t?

    I asked you about HIV and you said

    No, you tried to tell me that HIV means the designer intervened.

    I said:

    That HIV is like a prion- leftovers from a once living organism with a full genome.

    Now expand on that for, I don’t know, 2-3 thousand words. Add in some lab work to back it up. And then you might be able to say where HIV came from.

    I was just answering your question.

    However if you want to pay me I will put together such a report.

    $100,000 may cover the expenses.

    But a few lines in a blog and you act live you’ve solved a mystery?

    I don’t even think I solved anything.

    However I do think my explanation is viable.

    Do you have any evidence for the origin of HIV/ SIV?

    As for nonsense- just look at your posts.

  49. Moseph:

    Great, now we’re getting somewhere. Presumably you can give me an example of a biological entity that is

    A) Designed
    B) Not-Designed

    Can you?

    IOW how was it determined that living organisms arose via blind watchmaker-type processes?

    Be specific.

    How was it determined the design is illusory?

    I’m afraid I simply don’t understand what you mean. HIV is very unlike a prion. And what do you mean by “once living organism with a full genome”? Are there organisms out there without full genomes?

    Prions are leftovers from a once viable organism. Remnants- you do understand the word?

    Viruses are remnants- pices of genome still decaying that picked up a new host and became selfish genes.

    You don’t see any evidence for what? The designer being active now?

    The designer need not be active now- I don’t see any evidence that the designer is active now.

  50. Joseph

    Shouldn’t evolutionists also be doing that?

    Your usage of the word “also” implys that ID proponents are doing the same.

    They are not.

    Yes they should or else they can’t just assert “apparent design”.

    They have already. They determined “evolution” was responsible.

    How can we tell “apparent design” from “real design”?

    Do you guys flip a coin?

    Or do you say well that looks designed but it ain’t?

    Way to dodge the question. Your tactic is only of use in the school ground.

    However if you want to pay me I will put together such a report.

    $100,000 may cover the expenses.

    It’s nice that you admit that your first answer was pulled from nowhere rational. You made a claim then when asked where you got that information from you put a price on finding that information.

    Don’t you think there is a gap in your logic somewhere?

    And anyway, if you want $100,000 then you’d better write a better proposal then that!

    However I do think my explanation is viable.

    This

    That HIV is like a prion- leftovers from a once living organism with a full genome.

    Does not rise to the level of “explanation”. That would be because it explains nothing.

    Do you have any evidence for the origin of HIV/ SIV?

    Evidence? Would that be actual evidence or the sort of evidence you produce when asked?

    There is much work done on the origin of HIV/SIV

    http://www.pnas.org/content/104/15/6095.full

    Read that paper. Then get back to me with why it’s wrong.

    As for nonsense- just look at your posts.

    Then what does that make you, a person who responds to nonsense?

  51. Prions are remnants from what? How are mis-folded proteins remnants? Viruses are decaying pieces of genome? Uh . . . . . . so the new strains of flu are just . . . . further decayed remnants?

    I am so confused!

  52. Fourth: Darwinian theory started as a counter to design inferences.

    Is that a fact?

    As far as I understand, Darwin just did what Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and many others had done before him: Interpreting evidence in a scientific context instead of relying on ancient myths.

    Further, unless I‘ve got it all wrong: The design inference was invented to counter “Darwinian theory.” Before the invention of Intelligent Design the only alternative was creationism, pure, undiluted and still adored in certain religious circles.

    If design inferences cannot be tested, why then do we have a Darwinian theory that attempts to counter them?

    To me, it makes more sense to ask “Why do we have a movement to propagate ID instead of a scientific project of investigating ID?”

  53. Joseph

    IOW how was it determined that living organisms arose via blind watchmaker-type processes?

    Originally people thought that gods living behind clouds on the top of mountains made everything happen.

    Over time those explanations were removed, one by one. They were replaced with rational explanations that did not depend on gods or deamons.

    Extrapolate this process until you reach the point we’re discussing.

    How was it determined the design is illusory?

    It’s not that design is illusory, it’s that it was designed by evolution.

    Evolution is the designer.

    Prions are leftovers from a once viable organism. Remnants- you do understand the word?

    Citation please.

    Viruses are remnants- pices of genome still decaying that picked up a new host and became selfish genes.

    Citation please.

    The designer need not be active now- I don’t see any evidence that the designer is active now.

    When was the designer last active then? Do you have any actual evidence for any time period when the designer was active at all?

  54. Moseph:
    M

    Originally people thought that gods living behind clouds on the top of mountains made everything happen.

    Over time those explanations were removed, one by one. They were replaced with rational explanations that did not depend on gods or deamons.

    Extrapolate this process until you reach the point we’re discussing.

    That doesn’t answer the question.

    Just because some things were found to not require agancy involvement doesn’t mean everything is like that.

    It’s not that design is illusory, it’s that it was designed by evolution.

    Evolution is the designer.

    Citation please- also “evolution” isn’t being debated.

    IOW you don’t even understand the debate.

    Prions:

    ^ Prusiner, SB (1982). “Novel proteinaceous infectious particles cause scrapie”. Science 216 (4542): 136–144. doi:10.1126/science.278.5336.245. PMID 6801762.

    Alper T, Cramp W, Haig D, Clarke M (1967). “Does the agent of scrapie replicate without nucleic acid?”. Nature 214 (5090): 764–6. doi:10.1038/214764a0. PMID 4963878.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/95/23/13363

    When was the designer last active then? Do you have any actual evidence for any time period when the designer was active at all?

    That is what science is for- to help us figure that out.

  55. Moseph:

    Your usage of the word “also” implys that ID proponents are doing the same.

    They are not.

    How do you know?

    They have already. They determined “evolution” was responsible.

    What a truly ignorant response.

    Too bad no one has done such a thing.

    Your tactic is only of use in the school ground.

    Look in a mirror.

    And yes I respond to nonsense so that it can be exposed as such.

    Now if you want to get personal I am more than willing.

  56. ellazim:

    Prions are remnants from what?

    Proteins from a dead animal.

    That is what happens- we feed live animals pyreed scraps of dead animals.

    The proteins don’t break down all the way, get into the living organisms blood and from there start matching up with their “sister” proteins and cause them to misfold.

  57. Moseph,

    The paper you linked to-

    My point is that ERVs are the remnants of what looks loke ERVs in our genome.

    IOW there was this dying organism, and it managed to keep part of its genome viable enough until a suitable host came along and scarfed down on it.

    The dead organism’s remnants then took over the new host’s genetic machinery.

    This concept is easier to see than descent with modification- and it has support with prions.

  58. 58

    Hey didn’t you know that evolution has been a fact since at least 1888? Here is Joseph Le Conte, 1888

    From what has preceded, the reader will perceive that we regard the law of evolution as thoroughly established. In its most general sense, i. e., as a law of continuity, it is a necessary condition of rational thought. In this sense it is naught else than the universal law of necessary causation applied to forms instead of phenomena. It is not only as certain as – it is far more certain than–the law of gravitation, for it is not a contingent, but a necessary truth like the axioms of geometry. It is only necessary to conceive it clearly, to accept it unhesitatingly. The consensus of scientific and philosophical opinion is already well-nigh, if not wholly complete. If there are still lingering cases of dissent among thinking men, it is only because such do not yet conceive it clearly–they confound it with some special form of explanation of evolution which they, perhaps justly, think not yet fully established. We have sometimes in the preceding pages used the words evolutionist or derivationist; they ought not to be used any longer. The day is past when evolution might be regarded as a school of thought. We might as well talk of gravitationist as of evolutionist.

  59. 59
  60. Joseph

    Just because some things were found to not require agancy involvement doesn’t mean everything is like that.

    No, you’ve got it backwards.

    As yet nothing has been found to require agency involvement.

    You act as if your case has been proven already.

    It has not. If it indeed has been, as you imply, then give me an example of such a designed and not-designed organic entity.

    I ask once again:

    Can you give me an example of something organic that was designed and something organic that was not?

    It’s a very simple request. You are making the claim, not I. You have already stated that some organic entities are designed and some are not. So you should be able to back it up by giving an example of each.

    As you have not been able to so far I think it’s obvious to all that you will not be able to.

    IOW you don’t even understand the debate.

    And you don’t seem to understand that when you make a claim you need to back it up.

    Only a few posts up I asked you the same question and you respond with “can you?”.

    Again, that tactic fails outside the playground.

    So, Joseph, how will you go about investigating your hypothesis that HIV is like a prion- leftovers from a once living organism with a full genome?

    Do tell.

    To remind everybody I asked

    But you’d agree that not every instance of apparent design is in fact an example of explicit design right?

    You answered

    True. However every instance of apparent design needs to be investigated to see what caused it.

    One example of each please or retract your claim.

    …….. is explicitly designed

    …….. is apparently designed.

  61. Joseph,

    IOW there was this dying organism, and it managed to keep part of its genome viable enough until a suitable host came along and scarfed down on it.

    The dead organism’s remnants then took over the new host’s genetic machinery.

    And just how have you determined all this? Did you have a vision sitting under your cardboard pyramid?

    Armchair science indeed.

  62. Moseph:

    As yet nothing has been found to require agency involvement.

    Stonehenge, the moai, the pyramids, the loist is almost endless.

    Now there is living organisms.

    And science sez only life begets life.

    Can you give me an example of something organic that was designed and something organic that was not?

    Urea not designed, living organisms designed.

    That said you have failed to tell us how it was determined the design is illusory.

    You ignorantly throw out “evolution” as if that is supposed to solve something.

  63. IOW there was this dying organism, and it managed to keep part of its genome viable enough until a suitable host came along and scarfed down on it.

    The dead organism’s remnants then took over the new host’s genetic machinery.

    And just how have you determined all this?

    It’s as likely as anything you have.

    Heck by your “standards” imagination is science.

  64. Joseph

    Stonehenge, the moai, the pyramids, the loist is almost endless.

    Way to change the subject.

    Get back to biology and the question I actually asked?

    One example of something that is designed and something that is not, in biology please.

    Or did you forget already?

    See, the thing is you already admitted to me that some things are and some things are not designed.

    But when asked you change the subject.

    So I infer that your position is based on belief, not evidence.

    As such, it belongs in the faith category.

    Hopefully you’ve realized this now.

    And science sez only life begets life.

    “Science” says that does it? Odd how when “science” says something you like you believe it but when “science” says something that goes against your beliefs all of a sudden it’s unsupported.

    Odd that.

    Urea not designed, living organisms designed.

    Is that it? Urea not designed? Living organisms designed?

    Putting aside the fact for a moment that I asked for two biological organisms then how did Urea come about? Do you think the designer left that to chance? How could that be if Urea was part of the design of the organisms.

    So, to be clear, I originally asked you if you agreed that some biological organisms were designed and some where not. You agreed. I then asked you for an example of each type and you come back with “all life was designed” and “A chemical was not designed”.

    Did you not understand the question originally?

    So, now we’ve established that every living thing is designed can we talk about Cancer? Hiv? Age related blindness?

    When did your designer design HIV Joseph?

  65. Mark Frank (#40)

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    Proposing a solution which explains exactly what we observe and nothing else and has undefined powers and motives is to make no progress. It doesn’t really matter whether it is supernatural or a very advanced civilisation of which we know nothing.

    Actually, I would agree with your first statement. For precisely that reason, I think it’s important for ID theorists to ascertain why the Designer of life would have used DNA and not some other molecule as the genetic basis of heredity. That at least gives us a motive, and rules out contradictory observations (e.g. life based on some other molecule). I would therefore expect scientists to discover that DNA is biologically optimal, subject to several constraints.

    This prediction appears to have been largely borne out. Francis Crick once called DNA a “frozen accident,” in keeping with the prevailing materialist dogma that it arose as a result of undirected natural processes. But as Dr. Cornelius Hunter points out in his blog:

    We now understand that the DNA code is anything but arbitrary and the evolutionary prediction has been roundly falsified. As had been noticed, the code’s arrangement reduces the effects of mutations and reading errors. They often result in no change to the amino acid sequence, or merely a slight change as a similar amino acid is used in place of the original amino acid. And the degree of this safeguarding is now better understood. As one research study found, the DNA code is “one in a million” in terms of efficiency in minimizing these effects. [4] This structure found within the DNA code was “unexpected and still cry out for explanation,” evolutionists admit. [5]

    …..

    References

    4. S. J. Freeland, L. D. Hurst, “The genetic code is one in a million,” Journal of Molecular Evolution 47 (1998): 238-248.

    5. K. Vetsigian, C. Woese, N. Goldenfeld, “Collective evolution and the genetic code,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (2006): 10696-10701.

    Of course, even without knowing the specific motive of the Designer, one can still make an overwhelmingly strong case for the design of DNA, as Alex Williams’ excellent article, Astonishing DNA complexity demolishes neo-Darwinism , convincingly shows (see here for an update). But if you want to do proper science with the theory of Intelligent Design, you need some sort of working hypothesis as to why the Designer chose to work with that particular molecule (DNA). I’m all for science trying to understand the mind of God, as far as it possibly can.

    As regards your second statement: it entails the very strong (and to my mind undesirable) consequence that SETI is also a fruitless quest, unless: (i) the aliens are only slightly more advanced than we are, which would then possibly enable us to identify their design methodology, or (ii) the aliens deign to explain their M.O. to us technologically backward Earthlings.

  66. Moseph:

    See, the thing is you already admitted to me that some things are and some things are not designed.

    My statement was not related solely to biology.

    Just because you can misrepresent what I post doesn’t mean anything.

    Putting aside the fact for a moment that I asked for two biological organisms then how did Urea come about?

    You have serious issues.

    You asked about ORGANIC:

    Can you give me an example of something organic that was designed and something organic that was not?

    Yes you are a troll and a liar.

    So I will leave you with that- I don’t have time to deal with liars and losers.

  67. Moseph (#63)

    You asked for:

    One example of something that is designed and something that is not, in biology please.

    You may be interested to know that Professor Behe has answered your question in his recent bookThe Edge of Evolution. To quote from a recent review :

    Behe spends some time looking at anti-freeze in a fish (pp. 77–81). He acknowledges that the ‘evolutionary’ (mutations + selection) scenario painted is feasible. However, he points out that the protein fragments that comprise the antifreeze are quite non-specific, with no secondary structure and have no interaction with other proteins. All they have to do is interact with water molecules to inhibit crystallization.

    They are of different lengths, from different genes, and can be regarded as the accumulation of ‘genetic debris’ that happens to be adaptive. He likens it to various pieces of wood, bark and leaves creating a dam in a creek: it can be done incrementally, and almost anything will do to add to the dam. This is the sort of thing that random changes can achieve. As Behe says, ‘Rare examples such as the Antarctic fish set Darwinian pulses racing. But to more sceptical observers, they underscore the limits of random mutation rather than its potential.’ Behe quotes one group of anti-freeze researchers: ‘A number of dissimilar proteins have adapted to the task of binding ice. This is atypical of protein evolution’ (p. 82).

    If you continue reading the same review , you’ll find out why Professor Behe still considers the cilium and the bacterial flagellum to have been designed:

    Behe revisits the cilium (pp. 84–96), discussed in Darwin’s Black Box as an example of irreducible complexity — a biological feature that could not be built by ‘numerous successive slight modifications’ (Darwin) because it has some 200 different protein components. Not only the components have to be explained, many of which are peculiar to the cilium, but also their precision assembly. Exciting discoveries since DBB make the problem even worse for Darwinian naturalism, particularly the realisation that intra-flagellar transport (IFT) occurs (transport of proteins within the flagellum itself) and is necessary for cilium functionality. IFT entails the active movement of protein components, by linear motors called kinesins ‘walking’ along microtubules, for repair of the cilium tip, so that each cilium is continuously rebuilt. Mutations that break IFT result in non-viability because cilia are necessary for such things as embryo development and eye and kidney function. Behe says, ‘IFT exponentially increases the difficulty of explaining the irreducibly complex cilium’ (p. 94).

    He also revisits the bacterial flagellum, which is comprised of about three dozen proteins ( figure 1 ). Much more has also been discovered about this, and it is also much more complex than previously envisaged (pp. 97ff). Behe gives a sketch of the marvellous control systems that are involved in achieving a ‘just-in-time’ organisation of construction of the various parts. It is precision engineering that no engineer would attribute to random changes (i.e. evolution).

    Does that answer your original question?

    You also write:

    So, now we’ve established that every living thing is designed can we talk about Cancer? Hiv? Age related blindness?

    A brief answer: the occurrence of intelligently designed patterns in nature does not by itself establish the existence of one and only one Designer.

  68. Moseph (#52):

    You wrote:

    Originally people thought that gods living behind clouds on the top of mountains made everything happen.

    Citation please.

    Evolution is the designer.

    In ordinary parlance, “design” is an intentional verb. Saying that evolution designed me as just as silly as saying that the laws of physics did.

  69. Joseph

    My statement was not related solely to biology.

    Yet my question clearly was.

    Just because you can misrepresent what I post doesn’t mean anything.

    People can read the thread themselves and make up their minds.

    Yes you are a troll and a liar.

    I know what I am, but what are you?

    So I will leave you with that- I don’t have time to deal with liars and losers.

    No, you’ve got a blog to get back to. I understand.

  70. vjtorley

    Citation please.

    I’m not here to educate you on history. Crack open a book maybe?

    In ordinary parlance, “design” is an intentional verb. Saying that evolution designed me as just as silly as saying that the laws of physics did.

    And yet it’s true. So how silly is that?

    If evolution did not design you, then what did please?

  71. #64 Vjtorley

    You continue to be one of the most polite and logical of the UD supporters on this forum.

    I don’t have time to respond in detail but two points worth raising.

    I would therefore expect scientists to discover that DNA is biologically optimal, subject to several constraints.

    Something can only be optimal relative to some objective. So you are already assuming an objective for the designer. What is it?

    I don’t agree that my second statement makes SETI useless. Imagine that SETI comes across a strange signal which they cannot account for by any known natural process. How will they determine if it might be the result of an alien intelligence? Well some good steps might be:

    * Does it come from a source which might contain a planet.
    * Is there any conceivable mechanism by which an intelligence might have generated the signal?
    * Does it contain something which might be interpreted as an attempt to communicate?

    etc

    If the SETI people just stop at – “this is weird maybe it is the result of an undefined intelligence of undefined powers” then they have made no real progress. If they can start to answer these questions in some small fashion then they have evidence of something.

  72. Joseph,
    Do you agree with vjtorley’s example of something organic (and living!) that is designed and of something living that is not designed?

    I don’t see how you can so agree as you’ve just claimed that all life was designed.

    So when you two come to some sort of agreement perhaps we can continue the debate? As it’s not much of a debate if your side takes both sides in the argument.

  73. Mark Frank (#71)

    Thank you for your post. Regarding DNA, you write:

    Something can only be optimal relative to some objective. So you are already assuming an objective for the designer. What is it?

    Actually, Richard Dawkins addressed the very point you raised in his celebrated article, “God’s Utility Function.” His answer: DNA survival. When I first read his article, I found it intriguing that Dawkins, an atheist, should have felt the need to invoke a theological metaphor in order to explain his vision of how nature works. However, I propose to take him at his word. Perhaps DNA was chosen by a Designer simply because it survives (replicates) better than other candidate molecules, and with a higher degree of fidelity.

    This ties in well with the comment by Dr. Cornelius Hunter which I cited in my post #65:

    As had been noticed, the [DNA] code’s arrangement reduces the effects of mutations and reading errors. They often result in no change to the amino acid sequence, or merely a slight change as a similar amino acid is used in place of the original amino acid. And the degree of this safeguarding is now better understood. As one research study found, the DNA code is “one in a million” in terms of efficiency in minimizing these effects.

    These are just a few musings, as I’m not a biologist.

  74. CannuckianYankee, #38

    Second: evolution does not work without an intervening designer. Fitness scenarios are counterproductive to the theory, because they imply a target, which implies purpose, which implies design.

    Evolution is perfectly capable of filling the roll of designer. It is the “intelligent” part of your theory which it conflicts with.

  75. #73

    That’s really interesting. You have gone beyond the original design hypothesis to one that has some substance. Something on the lines of:

    There is a designer with undetermined powers who has the objective of preserving DNA whereever it is found.

    Now we can begin to ask questions such as why did the designer create DNA that destroyed other DNA, from viruses through parasites to predators?

    There are still some very awkward questions because you have said so little about the designer. Following Sober – if we know nothing about the designers powers than we know nothing about the probability of the designer creating life. It might be even less probable than your estimate of the natural selection creating life.

  76. Moseph,

    ——”vjtorley

    Citation please.

    I’m not here to educate you on history. Crack open a book maybe?”

    Didn’t you ask for citations in a comment above to Joseph? Is Joseph here to educate you but you’re not here to educate anyone else? Crack open a mind maybe?

  77. Joseph [from 43]

    Thanks. I skipped to the relevant part. I found something odd though. Under the bit that explains what would falsify ID I found this:

    “Observe that living organisms arise from non-living matter via a mixture of commonly-found-in-nature chemicals. Observe that while some systems “appear” to be irreducibly complex it can be demonstrated that they can indeed arise via purely stochastic processes such as culled genetic accidents.”

    Has irreducible complexity been thoroughly established? Because if it hasn’t, it seems to me that this falsification condition has been met.

    For the sake of completion it also says:

    ” Also demonstrate that the apparent command & control can also be explained by endothermic and/or exothermic reactions.”

    But I’m not sure I follow it. Any ideas?

  78. Evolution is perfectly capable of filling the roll of designer. It is the “intelligent” part of your theory which it conflicts with.

    how can anything be ‘designed’ without intelligence???

    but evolution is the intelligent designer to evolutionists, when they want it to be…

    ‘”We found this mysterious unknown structure in the sponge, and it is clear that evolution was able to take this entire structure, and, with small modifications, direct its use toward a new function,” said Kosik. “Evolution can take these ‘off the shelf’ components and put them together in new and interesting ways.”‘

    link

    it takes intelligence to ‘direct’ something…

  79. Clive

    Didn’t you ask for citations in a comment above to Joseph?

    A citation for a specific point. Not a period of history.

    If vjtorley is unaware that theistic explanations have largely been the default up until recently, historically speaking, then I’m afraid I’ll not be the person to educate him otherwise.

    Is Joseph here to educate you but you’re not here to educate anyone else?

    I don’t know. When Joseph starts to educate me I’ll let you know.

  80. tsmith, #78

    Evolution is perfectly capable of filling the roll of designer. It is the “intelligent” part of your theory which it conflicts with.

    how can anything be ‘designed’ without intelligence???

    When the design is in the imagination of the observer.

  81. Moseph:

    When Joseph starts to educate me I’ll let you know.

    Can’t educate the willfully ignorant.

  82. Ritchie:

    Has irreducible complexity been thoroughly established?

    Established enough that it hasn’t been falsified.

    ” Also demonstrate that the apparent command & control can also be explained by endothermic and/or exothermic reactions.”

    But I’m not sure I follow it. Any ideas?

    The flagellum- it needs to be controlled. Something has to control it.

    It is useless without that control.

    So either it is controlled just by the fact it exists OR there is something else required.

  83. CIT:

    The butterfly and nature alphabets are nice, but have one failing, the flip side of your in the imagination.

    Mind is implicated in communication in symbols.

    And, that extends to the known cases of origin of algorithmic info, both on the data structure side and the execution process side.

    Can you provide credible evidence of the origin of codes, algorithms, data structures and reading-executing machinery by chance + necessity without intelligence?

    If not, you need to do some serious re-thinking.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Notice the apparent upper limit of one (or maybe a few?) character[s], too? Show us some cases of contextually responsive and accurate or specifically functional messages of significant complexity known to have originated by chance + necessity without intelligent direction.

  84. Kairosfocus

    Can you provide credible evidence of the origin of codes, algorithms, data structures and reading-executing machinery by chance + necessity without intelligence?

    Can you provide credible evidence of the origin of codes, algorithms, data structures and reading-executing machinery by non-human intelligence?

    If not, you need to do some serious re-thinking.

  85. Moseph

    You wrote (#79):

    If vjtorley is unaware that theistic explanations have largely been the default up until recently, historically speaking, then I’m afraid I’ll not be the person to educate him otherwise.

    But that wasn’t what you originally claimed. What you originally served up in your earlier post (#52) was some codswallop about primitive peoples believing that the gods lived high up in the mountains:

    Originally people thought that gods living behind clouds on the top of mountains made everything happen.

    Now, many of the ancient Greeks did believe that their principal gods resided on Mt. Olympus, but the Jews, Hindus and Chinese certainly didn’t believe any such tripe. That was why I had to laugh at your jibe, “Crack open a book maybe?” in response to my demand for a citation. By the way, I’ve been cracking open books all my life. You might like to try it some time.

    I should also add that you are quite mistaken when you assert that once upon a time, most people believed that the gods “made everything happen.” If they’d seriously believed in such fatalistic nonsense, they wouldn’t have bothered trying to court the gods’ favor, by offering sacrifices and asking priests to intercede on their behalf with the gods. Some eminent philosophers have denied free will; common folk rarely subscribe to such lunacy. Neither do law-makers. Every society in history has punished wrongdoers – something which would make no sense at all if it was widely believed that wrongdoers couldn’t help doing what they did. After all, we don’t put chimps in jail.

    In any case, societies which believed in multiple gods usually did not believe that these gods were omnipotent. The ancient Greeks, for instance, believed that their gods were immortal but not all-powerful: they too were subject to fate, which over-rode everything.

    Finally, I would question your naive assumption that polytheism (belief in “gods,” as opposed to God) is the primitive and natural creed of the human race. Had you studied ancient Chinese, Indian and North American religion, you might have realized that belief in a High God was quite widespread in antiquity – even if it usually coexisted with belief in other, lesser gods.

    I have studied comparative religion, and I’ve read many of the sacred books of other religions. I would invite you to do the same.

  86. kairosfocus, #83

    Mind is implicated in communication in symbols.

    And, that extends to the known cases of origin of algorithmic info, both on the data structure side and the execution process side.

    Can you provide credible evidence of the origin of codes, algorithms, data structures and reading-executing machinery by chance + necessity without intelligence?

    If not, you need to do some serious re-thinking.

    GEM of TKI

    Can you provide any credible evidence that the “mind” exists independently from the chemical reactions we observe within the brain?

    If not, then you need to do some serious re-thinking.

  87. kairosfocus #83:

    Thanks for the link you provided.

    In the car on our way to (public) school this morning my daughter asked me to quiz her on her 5th grade science test. I asked “What does observing mean?” She replied: “Using the five senses to find out information about things.” I asked another “What does inferring mean?” She answered: “Coming up with ideas to explain the observations.” I had to ask: “Honey, what do you use to make inferences?” She thought for a second… “My mind” she exclaimed!

    I would have probably reiterated to her that she can actually observe things with her eyes closed but the teacher might send a note of concern home (afterall I can see things quite well while I dream or close my eyes, and a Designer does not need eyes to observe things). This leads me to:

    camanintx #85,

    Can you provide any credible evidence that the “mind” exists independently from the chemical reactions we observe within the brain?

    Certainly. Mind or consciousness exists in different states: thought, desires, volition, beliefs, sensations. Would it be fair to say that my belief about the history of calculus or the multiplication table (or my other thousands of beliefs) are never spatially located, especially when I’m not thinking about them? You may be able to establish correlation with an area of my brain while I’m thinking about them but that does nothing to show that thoughts or beliefs are identical to chemical reactions you speak of. It would be for you to prove that my beliefs in question are identical to a particular set of chemicals or active area of my brain.

    The only way you would know I’m thinking about calculus by the way is if I told you so. I can only know it from a first person’s perspective. Activity in my brain is not the same thing as what I’m thinking or believing.

    The other thing is the problem you now have with information.

    Two points worth repeating. First, you can write two sentences down on separate sheets of paper, one in French and one in English conveying the same information which is on neither sheet of paper. Information comes from mind not matter.

    Second, I don’t suspect you walk into a room and ask yourself which body is yours. You simply know which body is yours from a first person perspective. You do not need to know (much less observe) whether the correct chemical reactions are there. You know it differently than which cell phone is yours.

    Which chemical reactions have you observed that gives you the desire to be a good investigator, or forced you to write the question you posed?

  88. Seversky (in #34)

    Name a materialist who has actually claimed precisely that. otherwise your question is a strawman and not worth the answering.

    It is precisely what Richard Dawkins’s claim is in The Blind Watchmaker. Indeed, its the point of the entire book. Dawkins is almost poetic in his awe of nature’s designs….it just the design is only apparent and not actual and (per Dawkins) easily explained via Darwinian processes. He follows up the same theme in Climbing Mount Improbable. My question isn’t a strawman at all, but cuts to the very heart of the issue…namely that the philosophical worldview of naturalism is simply taken for granted by many in science, especially among those who write the popular books aimed at explaining the findings of science to the general public.

    Another question is: how do you know scientifically that the properties of the Cosmos are such that Nature is a completely closed system of natural cause and effect? On Naturalism, that is the claim being made. But absent a scientific case for that hypothesis, (and there isn’t one), the rest is mere bluff and bluster.

  89. DonaldM:

    It is precisely what Richard Dawkins’s claim is in The Blind Watchmaker. Indeed, its the point of the entire book. Dawkins is almost poetic in his awe of nature’s designs….it just the design is only apparent and not actual and (per Dawkins) easily explained via Darwinian processes.

    To argue that design in biology is only apparent is quite different from arguing that design in biology could not, even in principle, be actual. I don’t recall Dawkins arguing the latter in TBW, but perhaps you could provide some quotes.

  90. #88

    I am sure Seversky will make this point better than me – but you misrepresent Dawkins. As a reminder your question was:

    how do you know scientifically that the properties of Nature are such that any apparent design we observe in biological systems can not be actual design, even in principle?

    He does not not dismiss actual design in principle. He dismisses it because he believes there is incontrovertible evidence for an alternative – natural selection. In fact he has a lot of sympathy for Paley who did not have the benefit of this knowledge. He writes:

    I could not imagine being an atheist before 1859

  91. camanintx (86): “Can you provide any credible evidence that the “mind” exists independently from the chemical reactions we observe within the brain?”

    Take the trouble to read O’Leary and Beauregard’s The Spiritual Brain, Tart’s The End of Materialism, Radin’s The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds. Or maybe you think you don’t need to look at the data.

  92. Moseph:

    Can you provide credible evidence of the origin of codes, algorithms, data structures and reading-executing machinery by non-human intelligence?

    Of course by “credible evidence” Moseph means a meeting with the designer(s).

  93. Excuse me but there isn’t any evidence that natural selction can design anything from scratch.

    So what evidence did Darwin think he found?

    What evidence does Dawkins think there is?

    If the refusal to accept/ allow the design inference is evidence, well…

  94. Absolutist, #87

    Which chemical reactions have you observed that gives you the desire to be a good investigator, or forced you to write the question you posed?

    Maybe these?
    Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain

  95. Joseph [from 93]

    “Excuse me but there isn’t any evidence that natural selction can design anything from scratch.

    So what evidence did Darwin think he found?

    What evidence does Dawkins think there is?”

    Not wanting to sound like I’m blatantly on Dawkins’ PR team, but Dawkins has just written a book answering that very question – The Greatest Show On Earth.

    There is a tonne of evidence that natural selection ‘designs’ things from scratch. Now will you rise to the challenge and actually READ it, or will you simply ignore it and continue to insist that there isn’t any evidence?

    I wonder…

  96. If Dawkins has scientific evidence then he needs to get in into a scientific journal.

    Perhaps you can just post some of the alleged evidence.

    BTW Dawkins doesn’t even know what makes an organism what it is.

    He doesn’t have any clue as to what is responsible for eye development, nevermind its evolution.

    He also makes the mistake of saying 50% of an eye is better than 49% ebven though the system doesn’t work until it is 100% complete.

    IOW can Dawkins misrepresent reality and then say that misrepresentation supports his cklaims?

    Sure- he has done exactly that before.

    So how about an example of natural selection designing something from scratch.

    That way I can decide if the book is worth reading or not.

    Ya see I have read several of his books and they are all very flawed.

    I need a valdi reason to waste any more of my time on Dawkins.

  97. Joseph, #96

    BTW Dawkins doesn’t even know what makes an organism what it is.

    He doesn’t have any clue as to what is responsible for eye development, nevermind its evolution.

    He also makes the mistake of saying 50% of an eye is better than 49% ebven though the system doesn’t work until it is 100% complete.

    Maybe you should tell the Murex snail or the Nautilus that their less than complete eyes do not work.

  98. Joseph [from 96]

    “Perhaps you can just post some of the alleged evidence.”

    Perhaps I can. You be the judge.

    For one thing he points to this experiment by Richard Lenski which shows evolution happening right before our eyes:

    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....e-lab.html

    And here is a very interesting exchange relating to this study:

    http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Lenski_affair

    Then there’s this fascinating study:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....112433.htm

    Although I think my favourite piece of evidence is not mentioned in his book, but it is this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEtnyx0Yo9I

    I am only halfway through the book so there’s more to go. Nevertheless, I think this should be enough for you to be getting on with.

    “BTW Dawkins doesn’t even know what makes an organism what it is.”

    Why isn’t ‘it’s genes’ a good enopugh answer?

    “He doesn’t have any clue as to what is responsible for eye development, nevermind its evolution.

    He also makes the mistake of saying 50% of an eye is better than 49% ebven though the system doesn’t work until it is 100% complete.”

    Utter nonsense. Check this link out:

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

    “IOW can Dawkins misrepresent reality and then say that misrepresentation supports his cklaims?

    Sure- he has done exactly that before.”

    Has he? Where?

    “Ya see I have read several of his books and they are all very flawed.”

    Which ones?

  99. camanintx, #94

    Thanks for the link. In the article summary you provided “this delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.” (emph. mine)

    The word “presumably” indicates an hypothesis or theory for the existence of (a complex rearrangement of matter into) “high-level control areas” (of the brain), not certainty.

    Unfortunately biological parts, or a complex rearrangement of them, do not know the difference between desiring to be a good investigator (as opposed to being incompetent) or answering questions truthfully (as opposed to dishonorably), persons do.

    So what makes the free decisions (moral or not) if it’s not the brain itself? Something that’s not fragmented for starters, something uncomposed or simple. Some substance deeply integrated in the body, but immaterial. The dreaded word – a soul.

  100. camanintx #97

    “Maybe you should tell the Murex snail or the Nautilus that their less than complete eyes do not work.”

    Showing less complicated eyes is like showing less complicated mousetraps.

  101. From the OP:

    Just so we are clear, I am certain that everyone who posts at this site believes evolution is a fact (or fact! fact! fact! as some of our more breathless opponents prefer).

    I had assumed that Dr. Cornelius Hunter disagrees that ‘evolution is a fact.’ Many of Dr. Hunter’s posts object to scientists saying or implying that evolution is a fact.

  102. —Larry Tanner: “I had assumed that Dr. Cornelius Hunter disagrees that ‘evolution is a fact.’ Many of Dr. Hunter’s posts object to scientists saying or implying that evolution is a fact.”

    Dr. Hunter agrees that “things are different now than they were in the past,” which is the way BarryA defined “evolution.”

  103. absolutist [from 100]

    “Showing less complicated eyes is like showing less complicated mousetraps.”

    You are missing the point. The fact that ‘simpler’ eyes work mean that complicated ones can evolve from them. Complicated eyes are not irreducibly complex! Nor are simple eyes, by extension.

    StephenB [from 102]

    “Dr. Hunter agrees that “things are different now than they were in the past,” which is the way BarryA defined “evolution.””

    BarryA may define it so, but who else does? That is simply not the biological definition of evolution.

  104. absolutist, #99

    So what makes the free decisions (moral or not) if it’s not the brain itself? Something that’s not fragmented for starters, something uncomposed or simple. Some substance deeply integrated in the body, but immaterial. The dreaded word – a soul.

    Complex adaptive systems can exhibit some very interesting behavior, can’t they?

  105. camantix,

    The snail and nautilus have complete vision systems.

    So what the heck are you talking about?

  106. I asked for SCIENTIFIC evidence for natural selection designing something from scratch.

    For that Ritchie presents lenski which isn;t anytrhing from scratch but something from an already existing organism.

    From SCRATCH Ritchie.

    And again EVOLUTION is NOT being debated.

    That you are still confused about this demonstrates you do not undersatnd the debate.

  107. Joseph [from 105]

    (to camantix)

    “The snail and nautilus have complete vision systems.

    So what the heck are you talking about?”

    I believe his/her point was that the eyes of a nautilus are much simpler than our are, and represent an earlier stage in the development of eyes. Remember gradualism? At every stage, the eye has to be functional. 50% of an eye has to be better than 49% of an eye. Well, from our point of view the nautilus DOES have 50% of an eye. And it works. Just not as precisely as ours. It is nevertheless more use than 49% of an eye.

    I suggest you take another look at the link he/she cited:

    http://media-2.web.britannica......F00EE8.jpg

    [from 106}

    “I asked for SCIENTIFIC evidence for natural selection designing something from scratch.

    For that Ritchie presents lenski which isn;t anytrhing from scratch but something from an already existing organism.

    From SCRATCH Ritchie.”

    You do realise, I hope, that evolution cannot produce something from absolutely nothing at all? It can only adapt what is already there? So asking for something FROM SCRATCH is a bit unfair, because that is not how evolution operates. Small mutations simply produce small differences, which eventually become big differences. Macroevolution from microevolution. That was the relevance of the links I posted.

    Nevertheless, I assume you are talking about big features such as eyes or limbs. Those work for me. I’ll cite the eye then as evolution producing something ‘from scratch’ (though technically not true, it is what I presume you are asking for). Here’s a link to help:

    http://www.scienceagogo.com/ne....._sys.shtml

    “And again EVOLUTION is NOT being debated.”

    No? Then why do you not see it as amply sufficient to explain all the species, and all the features of all the species we find in nature?

    That you are still confused about this demonstrates you do not undersatnd the debate.

  108. absolutist, #100

    camanintx #97

    “Maybe you should tell the Murex snail or the Nautilus that their less than complete eyes do not work.”

    Showing less complicated eyes is like showing less complicated mousetraps.

    Thank you for refuting the concept of Irreducable Complexity.

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