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Highlights from Mike Gene’s THE DESIGN MATRIX

A friend of mine emailed me the following quotes from Mike Gene’s new book THE DESIGN MATRIX, available from Amazon.com here.

“The vast majority of scientists do not view Intelligent Design as science and I happen to agree with them.” (pg. xi)

“I should make it explicitly clear from the start that I did not write this book to help those seeking to change the way we teach science to our kids. I do not argue that design deserves to be known as science. At best, Intelligent Design may only be a nascent proto-science and thus does not belong in the public school curriculum. Nor does this book argue that evolution is false and deserves to be criticized in the public school curriculum. If the truth is to be told, I oppose such actions.” (pg. xi)

“Unlike the Face on Mars, the biotic face of design remains at the highest relevant resolution.” (pg. 17)

“If living processes are the products of design, it comes as no surprise that so much of biology is more akin to the study of engineering than to chemistry or physics. … Biology, and the language of biology, is not behaving in a manner similar to the relate sciences of chemistry, physics, geology, meteorology, etc.” (pgs. 58, 60)

“the concept of design can be useful as a research guide.” (pg. 83)

“We do not normally infer non-teleological causes when confronted with machinery … The existence of a machine is not something we would expect, or predict, from non-teleological causes. A non-teleological perspective that is confronted with the reality of molecular machines reacts by insisting non-teleological causes could possibly explain their origin. But this is not the way the inferential winds are blowing.” (pgs. 97-98)

“molecular machines conform to a rigorous definition of machine.” (pg. 102)

“[C]ooption and preadaptation do not necessarily follow from random variability culled by maximizing fitness. Cooption and preadaptation are phenomena that follow from the architecture of life itself. … In contrast, it is very difficult to imagine front-loaded evolution without multi-functionality, gene duplication, cooption, and preadaptation, as these are just the type of mechanisms that one would use to unmask secondary designs buried in primary designs. In fact, the hypothesis of front-loaded evolution predicts the existence of such mechanisms of evolution. Life itself, and its stem parts, was designed such that cooption and preadaptation would be made available to Darwinian evolution.” (pg. 178-179)

“the truth of any design inference does not entail that we should be able to uncover independent evidence of the designer.” (pg. 189)

“[T]he hallmark of evolution is the modification of pre-existing parts. What if we find structures that lack this hallmark? What if we find something that does not appear as a modification of a pre-existing structure? This would hint of that ‘clean sheet of paper’ and count against borrowing. With this criterion, we may not only have something that helps us better assess our design suspicion, but we may actually have a clue to help distinguish between front-loading and intelligent intervention.” (pg. 210)

“When we are dealing with molecular machines, (which are composed of functionally indivisible parts), many of the most well documented examples of Darwinian evolution become irrelevant. None of these data amount to evidence that irreducibly complex machines likewise evolved through Darwinian mechanisms. This is a significant point.” (pgs. 214-215)

“If the machine evolved through cooption, we would then expect to find remnants of this evolution in the form of simpler precursors, a myriad of permutations, and functions existing apart from the irreducibly complex system. If, however, the machine did not come into existence through cooption, we would expect to find the system to be composed of largely system-dependent parts, with little or no evidence of any precursor states that predate the machine in question.” (pg. 232)

“Good planning not only requires the use of reason and knowledge, but it also involves an element of foresight. Foresight, which is essentially rationality applied to prediction, is something the blind watchmaker cannot possibly have.” (pg. 254)

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35 Responses to Highlights from Mike Gene’s THE DESIGN MATRIX

  1. proto-science? That’s a slap in the face. People have been doing work on intelligent design for nearly 2 decades, right? It’s gone well past being a proto-science, and well into being an established (if controversial) science.

    I think it’s time to move into the next phase, and do some applied intelligent design work!

  2. I’m a bit confused. Judging from these quotes it would seem Mr. Gene believes two things:

    1) Darwinian mechanisms alone are insufficient explanations of the existence of molecular machines. Something more is needed, such as “front-loaded” information.

    2) There should not be criticisms of the current Darwinian orthodoxy in science classrooms.

    Doesn’t it follow from these two beliefs that Mr. Gene thinks insufficient explanations in science classrooms should go uncriticized and, as is too often the case, be uncritically accepted by students? That seems strange to me. I guess I’ll just have to read his book and hear these quotes in their proper context.

  3. It is exciting following the cutting edge of science and watching as brick after brick is removed from the wall of evolution. I look forward with great anticipation to the day when evolution crumples and is replaced by science which actually explains our physical world. At first the big bang was difficult to accept, so too will be designed life, but good science leads us to the truth.

  4. While I like Mike, I must disagree with him here..

    “The vast majority of scientists do not view Intelligent Design as science and I happen to agree with them.”

    The SETI initiative is science because it employs the science of design detection.

    The ID initiative is science because it employs the science of design detection.

    The SETI project sits well with materialist ideology and is subsequently accepted by the scientific materialist community as science. Biological ID does not sit well with materialism and is subsequently rejected as science. The difference is not science but ideology.

    It seems to me that the initial SETI search for a narrow bandwith signal is a search for a mild (and subsequently suspicious) form of CSI. As soon as a narrow bandwith carrier is discovered the search will be on for whatever CSI the carrier is carrying.

  5. gosh I think that we should be able to criticize all theories in class. Science should be seen as a tentative process and not a collection of facts to memorize that nobody can question.

    On the other hand if the whole point of public school is to indoctrinate kids to produce useful servants of the state then yes I can understand Mike Gene’s view.

  6. “If living processes are the products of design, it comes as no surprise that so much of biology is more akin to the study of engineering than to chemistry or physics. … Biology, and the language of biology, is not behaving in a manner similar to the relate sciences of chemistry, physics, geology, meteorology, etc.” (pgs. 58, 60)

    This is the answer to the Darwinist’s claim that NDE is just as well established as “the other sciences.”

  7. 7

    Interesting. Gene says he does not view ID theory as science, but the quotations you produced seem to suggest he views ID theory as correct. Probably he feels he had to include some anti-ID statements to get the book to be taken more seriously in academic circles.

  8. having said what I said I do not believe that ID as a movement should get into political/legal battles. ID should stick to the science and avoid antagonizing people, even if they are wrong.

    Instead of trying to get schools to do something they don’t want, (and we know they don’t want evolution to be questioned) we should give parents and students the tools to evaluate evolution on their own if they want.

  9. I agree with CB and GS… Mike seems to be trying to distance himself from stereotypical ID, but the substance of what he says agrees with it and not with NDE.

  10. Whatever Gene means this is clear: We need more published repudiations of this demarcationism that assumes a discrete, definable boundary between “science” and other forms of knowledge.

    Also it should be obvious that biology ought not be taught as though the evidence stacks up for Darwin and ID is unconstitutional, but I think government schools are a lost cause in the USA. Privatization and home school are the only remedies till we topple the top down dictatorship and secular zealotry that now reigns supreme. Better to fight in the universities.

  11. “Unlike the Face on Mars, the biotic face of design remains at the highest relevant resolution.” (pg. 17)

    Can someone explain to me what the biotic face of design means?

  12. lars,

    biotic face of design = the appearance of design in living organisms

  13. Read the book and you will understand the picture ;-).

    I confess, that it makes me sad, that I have to read these comments here. In Europe, especially here in Germany, Mike’s views are widely shared among IDists. We have no sympathy for any kind of attempt of getting ID taught (!) in schools by the use of courts etc.
    Well, actually, your approaches create great problems for us, because everyone thinks we want to subvert educational system. It’s not funny. I can completely (!) understand Mike, that he stresses that point so much. I am sure, he will be called “creationist” anyway and people will write articles in newspapers claiming, that Mike wants ID taught at school. I’m sure. That’s the way it works here. I don’t think your journalists are better. Reading some of the comments here, we just shake our heads. I appreciate your work, really. But I think you don’t know, that many times, this blog acts as a deterrent for the average European intellectual?

  14. I am reminded of Nathan Aviezer who wrote an article bashing ID and in the same article wrote:

    With the demise of ID, where does the believing Jew see the “fingerprints of God” in nature? We see them everywhere! (“His glory fills the universe,” Isaiah 6:3.) Scientists state: “As we identify the many peculiarities of physics and astronomy that have worked together for our benefit, it almost seems as if the universe knew that we were coming,” and “The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle, so many conditions had to be satisfied to get life going,” and “Human beings are the result of a staggeringly improbable series of events, which are utterly unpredictable and completely unrepeatable.”
    http://www.ou.org/index.php/je.....icle/9964/

  15. “I am reminded of Nathan Aviezer who wrote an article bashing ID …”

    Mike isn’t basing ID! Maybe he is more contrctive than 100 postings about global warming can ever be?

  16. “The vast majority of scientists do not view Intelligent Design as science and I happen to agree with them.” (pg. xi)

    sounds like bashing ID to me. I don’t know…to me it looks like a good cop/bad cop routine.

  17. On the face of it, the comments seem a bit contradictory, but I’d be willing to bet that if I read the book it would become clear. I’ve read Mike’s blog off and on for a while now and he’s a very lucid and thorough thinker.

  18. @are-freedom:
    Well, to be honest with you – I don’t think, the american IDists have done a good job in arguing that ID is a “scientific theory”. I know only one German ID-advocate, who thinks, ID is a scientific theory (Lönnig). We had an ID-Conference a weak ago or so. It was broad consent, that ID isn’t a scientific theory (that doesn’t mean, that it is junk!). I’m afraid that there are few UD-readers who have read Sober or Ratzsch carefully. You shouldn’t be confused, because there is an ID-advocate who doesn’t think ID is a scientific theory (beyond UD there are MANY)… :-S

  19. ChristopherSaint: Give us more credit, please. My dad got his PhD in biology at the the University of Erlangen and my parents live in Germany. My uncle was a professor of ergnomics at the Technische Hochschule in at the time West Berlin. I know the scene in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. And I have read Ratzsch and Sober carefully — Ratzsch spent a week in a six-week seminar that I conducted at Calvin College in 2000 to discuss his then forthcoming book. Although I like much about Mike Gene’s book, he is an amateur at the philosophy of science. Thus I find those who like Mike try to argue that ID is valuable but not science as engaged in misconceived philosophy of science. I’ll probably write a paper on this sometime — when I get time off from my scientific research with Bob Marks’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab (www.evoinfo.org). Forgive me for slipping this in, but where is the outcry from your colleagues about the suppression of this work?

    Finally, I have and will continue to allow posts about global warming on this forum because the same forces to obfuscate science at work in the global warming debate are at work with the ID debate. I must say, I really grow tired of Europeans finding fault with this blog. I have yet to see anything cutting-edge supporting ID coming out of Europe (prove me wrong). Those like Cees Dekker, who might have contributed, have jumped ship. In any case, I’m fluent in German, so if you have any sites to which you would like to direct me, be my guest.

  20. I don’t think anyone said that ID is a scientific theory like newtonian dynamics where you plug in the numbers into an equation and it gives back a specific result that can be confirmed.

  21. Behe, obviously does not agree with Mike Gene. He recommends research that looks at the limitations of naturalistic methods to produce complexity. For example, he recommends continuing research such as Lenski work with bacteria at Michigan State to show that no novelty develops. He recommends research looking at protein on protein binding in order to estimate the potential for novelty. Are these not ID type research projects?

    What if research showed that most or nearly all new species in the last 50 million years devolved instead of evolved. That is they are sub-variants of an original gene pool with a more restricted gene pool than its ancestors. For example, are dogs, coyotes, foxes, etc. just more limited gene pools of an ancient wolf and do not represent many new genes at all. Are all the tens of thousand cichlid species just variants of an original population with a greater gene pool than today or are they examples of a constant increase in the gene pool? The first would support ID. The second could still support ID if the increase in the gene pool was trivial and not novelty. Only real new novelty in the gene pool would support the ability of naturalistic methods to act as a real source of variation.

  22. Dear Mr. Dembski:
    I wasn’t criticizing you, but a mentality that seems to be typical of many (not all!) ID-supporters at UD. It’s sobering, that they are surprised that there are ID-advocates who don’t think, ID is a scientific theory … the EvoInfo-Lab is a great thing and I think I have emphasized this very often. But the scientific output of ID is small. That’s the REASON, why Cees has “jumped ship”. That’s what he told me. Like many other ID-sympathizers he doesn’t want that much culture and politics but but pure science. And no, we do not ignore the oprression of ID here. I have written several articles on it (http://www.wort-und-wissen.de/disk/d07/1/d07-1.pdf).
    And I think there are few publications outside Germany that have reached the quality of the “Studium Integrale Journal” and the “Studium Integrale”. And I think the ID-Blog we have has some technical discussions too (for example: http://evolution-schoepfung.bl.....ldung.html; http://evolution-schoepfung.bl.....eimal.html; http://evolution-schoepfung.bl.....schen.html …). That’s the stuff we would love to see on your blog!). We are beginning a project right now, that will discuss your arguments in depth. Our team will inclde mathematicians, computer scientists and biologists. Peter Borger is working on some very interesting ideas right now. Siegfried Scherer has done a good job too. Because of his work, the location of the “Edge” was not a big surprise to me (http://evolution-schoepfung.bl.....eil-4.html). And don’t forget “Evolution-ein kritisches Lehrbuch”. You have published your textbooks in 2007, rigt? And no, I don’t think that we say ID isn’t a scientific theory, because of what we do NOT know. But if course, you are free to believe this.
    Again: I appreciate your work. Really! But I would like to see you having success in Europe too. And I don’t think, that you will ever have success there by following this strategy. I AM a global warming sceptic in some sense. But we couldn’t have a discussion of the ID-issue if I “allow[ed] posts about global warming on this forum”.

    Last but not least: I’m sorry, but my English is not as good as your German ;-).

  23. but jerry, these are anti-natural evolution arguments.

    The more interesting IDea is that life is to be viewed as a system and not the result of *any* gradual process, even an intelligently guided process. For example, the famous flagellum but I like this example of a peacock feather since the IC here doesn’t really “do” anything for natural selection:
    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....eacock.asp

  24. ari-freedom,

    There are two choices: a natural evolution or one that is not and this second choice is by default intelligence based. If there is a third choice let me know what it is. So research eliminating one of the two points to the other. The analysis I suggested if true would be devastating to the naturalistic approach and would be ID research. Thousands of studies are now going on that are ID research. They are just not called that. That is why Mike Gene is clueless on ID as science. If this particular type of analysis ends up a dry hole, it does not mean it wasn’t science.

    Everyone now agrees that life is a system. It does not have to be viewed as one. It is one. No one doubts that.

  25. When it comes to MikeGene’s take on whether ID is science, it’s worth pointing out that whatever he thinks of its scientific status at the moment, he does seem to think that it can eventually become a full-fledged science. That alone would put miles of difference between him and most ID critics. He certainly is not dismissive of ID.

    That said, I agree with Dembski that his view comes down to one about the philosophy of science. I don’t think I’d support the teaching of ID in high school or lower science classes for now either. College is another matter. What I would definitely aim for is an explanation of the limitations of evolution in classes, and I don’t think that’s necessarily ID. Showing how, regardless of our ancestral past and how we’ve evolved as organisms, there’s a lot more to humans than merely genes would go a long way in that direction. (Not to mention pointing out that there’s no way to declare evolution guided OR unguided right now, and teaching the latter as fact should not be tolerated as its outside the sphere and applicability of the science.)

  26. the problem is that evolutionists want a theory from ID that explains all the things they think Darwinism already explains such as the progression in the fossil record. Until we do that, evolutionists will consider any challenge from ID research to be a “good question” but that due to all the other evidence in favor of evolution, they have faith our challenges will be resolved eventually.

  27. For those who are interested, I have a review of The Design Matrix here.

  28. “The vast majority of scientists do not view Intelligent Design as science and I happen to agree with them.” (pg. xi)

    I don’t know the context of this quote, but it reminded me of Paul Nelson’s comment:

    Easily the biggest challenge facing the ID community is to develop a full-fledged theory of biological design. We don’t have such a theory now, and that’s a real problem. Without a theory it’s very hard to know where to direct your research focus. Right now we’ve got a bag of powerful intuitions, and a handful of notions such as “irreducible complexity” and “specified complexity” – but as yet no general theory of biological design.

    For me, ID is in the pre-science stage, in the Kuhnian sense, and I think Nelson expresses that very well.

    I don’t agre with ID, but I would like to see it develop beyond this stage. People like Dr. Dembski are working on this (and I suspect Lönnig has a student doing something as well), but my feeling is that it needs more people to work on the science, and develop itself into a fully-fledged research programme before it will be taken seriously by the majority of the biological community.

    Bob

  29. but does an archaeologist need a theory of human design before considering whether something was designed or not?

    Design detection isn’t the problem. I think most people will agree that life appears to be designed which is why people came up with theories to explain it away. Scientists are interested in the origin of life; they are not interested in the origin of a random collection of dirt that is piled up in front of their doorstop even though you will never find another collection of dirt exactly like that one.

  30. I have a couple questions. Is the modern synthesis science? Does Mike Gene think it is science? Because I am not aware of any of its findings.

    Don’t point to micro evolution because that is completely accepted by ID and any evidence for it is also evidence for ID. Micro evolution is a way of ensuring the richness of life and as such is completely ID compatible. All Darwin saw on his trip on the Beagle was micro evolution.

    The rest of what is known as the modern synthesis is just wild conjecture with no empirical basis. It is “just so” stories. So the Mike
    Gene supporters out there and any who are anti ID, please let us know if the modern synthesis is science and why. Should both ID and the modern synthesis be both classified as nascent proto science.

    What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

  31. I am sorry but there is already a very extensive ID program being carried out by scientists all around the world. It is just not identified as such. All the work Behe pointed to in the Edge of Evolution is ID research. Just because the researcher’s intent is something else, the data has implications and there can be more than one conclusion from a set of data. If ID people mine the data and add conclusions consistent with the findings, then so be it. There is nothing wrong with that.

    There is also tons of scientists who are out there with their PCR analysis of genomes collecting data about the gene pools in various species. Each such study is also ID research though no one identifies it as such. The data has implications and if it supports an ID conclusion that novelty does not arise in speciation then that supports ID. That is why Behe said Lenski’s research is the type of thing that is ID research. Lenski, I am sure, would cringe to know that he is doing research supporting ID.

    We are on Dembski’s site but that does not mean his approach is the only research line that is ID. There may be many other lines of research we do not know of yet but to say there is no ID oriented research currently available is nonsense.

  32. Mike Gene is a shrinking violet. He carefully hides his identity so his notions about ID can’t be used to blemish his reputation (whatever that reputation might be). While I admire his thinking on the subject to some extent I don’t have any respect for the man (or possibly woman) himself. His rejection of ID as science is par for the course – my guess is he’s covering his ass in case his boss or peers find out what he’s been doing in his secret life. No doubt he appeals to many Western Europeans. Western Europe has lost its backbone and has become a continent full of shrinking violets. I’m guessing the United States will have to rescue it yet again in the not too distant future when the Muslim horde successfully takes it over.

  33. ari-Instead of trying to get schools to do something they don’t want,

    Unfortunately, sometimes what they don’t want to do is not teach the controversy or ID or even flat out the existence of a creator who endows us with inalienable rights.

    And political strategies — not scientific arguments — keep them from doing this.

    Which means we are stuck being involved with politics.

  34. 1. For the first quote, perhaps Mike Gene is referring to this topic?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....actor-act/

    ID theory at its core is about design detection. Now there are many ID-compatible hypotheses, which are supported by various groups in the “big tent”.

    For example, there are multiple variants of “front loading”.

    1. Design was implemented in the universe itself. Everything is deterministic, and a plan rolled out from the initial implementation.

    2. Design is not only in the universe and its laws but in the Origin Of Life (OOL). Darwinian mechanisms are taken into account by the Designer(s) and the architecture of life itself is configured to be modular, so that multi-functionality, gene duplication, cooption, and preadaptation, etc. are able to unmask secondary information. Of course, this presumes that Darwinian mechanisms are capable of this task, for which we have no positive evidence.

    3. Same as 2 except there is a specific plan encoded into the original life and Darwinian mechanisms play less of a role, only being capable of producing minor variation.

    4. Same as 2 or 3 except that there are multiple instances of Design (multiple Origins Of Life) occurring at the level of kingdom or phylum.

    5. Essentially 2 – 4 except with the addition of Designer Intervention for certain information that is/was not modular but specific to a particular organism.

    He might want ID to “officially” incorporate a particular ID-compatible hypothesis in order to be considered “science”. Personally I think that research into all the hypotheses should be encouraged and it’s way too early to be declaring one to BE ID.

    2. The rest of the quotes seem to be indicating that he thinks that design can be limited to OOL and that the system was set up to take into account Darwinian mechanisms by being modular (the system is configured properly for modification).

  35. Well, we have to understand why Darwinism was adopted in the first place. There was a theory of ID at the time, Paley’s principle, and it was very powerful. Darwin didn’t exactly have a plausible mechanism at the time.

    But what Darwin did was say that while life appeared to be designed, no reasonable designer would design life in the way it appears.

    Therefore since we “know” it can’t ID…it must be some natural selection mechanism, whatever that may be, because we know selection can come up with nonrandom results.

    And today we see that one of the leading darwinist websites is named “Panda’s Thumb” after Gould’s book on this reasoning.

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