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ID and the Trajectory of Observational Resolution

If I may be so bold, I would like to excise a commenter’s comment from Denyse’s thread, The canals that just had to exist on Mars, and redirect to what I consider to be the greatest weakness of Darwinian orthodoxy, and that is the trajectory of the evidence, which is almost never addressed by anti-ID advocates.

Regarding the notion that “canals” were early indicators of design on Mars, commenter leenibus submitted:

E.M. Antoniadi, with the aid of improved technology, realized that the appearance of design was false – the “canals” were fuzzy shapes and thus natural features. Unfortunately, while it may be a good example of mindset biasing views, it is hardly a ringing endorsement for those wishing to see Intelligent Design in nature!

The problem is that the exact opposite is the case concerning biological systems. With the aid of improved technology, the formerly fuzzy “canals” of biology (Darwin’s blobs of gelatinous combinations of carbon) are not becoming fuzzier and more easily explained by non-ID theses — they are now known to be high-tech information processing systems, with superbly functionally integrated machinery, error-correction-and-repair systems, and much more that surpasses the most sophisticated efforts of the best human mathematicians, mechanical, electrical, chemical, and software engineers.

To put commenter leenibus’s comment in proper perspective regarding the trajectory of observational evidence concerning the canals on Mars, I would like to submit the following:

The proper analogy would be that with increasing telescope power and other sophisticated analytical capabilities, we could observe that the canals on Mars were supported by suspension bridges, that the water was redirected to hydroelectric plants equipped with generators, that there was a power grid that distributed the power all over the planet, and that there were sophisticated software programs that controlled the distribution of the electrical power and synchronized it all.

This is what we observe in living systems, only raised to the Nth power — and N is very large.

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6 Responses to ID and the Trajectory of Observational Resolution

  1. The thing about illusions of design is that the illusion falls apart on closer examination. The canals on Mars are such an illusion.

    The thing about the design in living things is that no matter how closely you look the appearance of design doesn’t fall apart. Ancients thought that things like the eye showed the appearance of design and couldn’t look any closer. Now we know that the tiniest details of the cells in the eye (and of every other living cell too) at the molecular level, which we’ve only in recent decades been able to examine, look even more designed than the whole eye.

    The appearance of design in living things is, evidently, no illusion as the illusion should have fallen apart on closer examination instead of getting stronger.

  2. Good post Dave.

  3. In real science, as our observational resolution increases we find more and more confirming evidence of a theory that is actually true. The general theory of relativity is a perfect example. As the 20th century progressed, more and more confirming examples were found, and more sophisticated instruments added ever more decimal places of accuracy to the theory’s predictions.

    The exact opposite has been the case for Darwin’s chance-and-necessity theory and materialistic theories of the origin of life.

    If life really did spontaneously generate in one of Darwin’s warm little ponds, attempts to replicate such a process should get us incrementally closer to understanding how it could have happened. In fact, the problem has become increasingly intractable. What was hoped to be a trajectory of confirmation has turned out to be a trajectory of disconfirmation.

    And if random mutation (or random “variation” of whatever sort) and natural selection really do explain all of life’s functional complexity and information content, we should be getting closer and closer to understanding how this could have taken place. But the exact opposite has happened. With greater and greater observational resolution the cell has been revealed to be ever more complex and functionally integrated, and more and more decimal places have been added to the improbabilities that must be overcome by the proposed mechanism.

    So, Darwinian and origin-of-life theorists are left with only increasingly fantastic speculation to support a conclusion that has already been reached, but which is increasingly in conflict with the trajectory of the evidence.

    In any other field of empirical science this would be considered a crisis for a theory. But OoL and Darwinian theory get a free pass, because the alternative is philosophically unacceptable.

  4. Excellent point. I’m reminded of Steven Barr’s discussion in “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith” where he remarks that our common experience is that the closer we look at things (man made, of course) the more defects and irregularities we find. But in nature, just the opposite occurs. The closer we look, the more perfection we find. Barr deepens this line of thought with a discussion of symmetry in physics, particularly in the particle physics area. New particles are predicted from incomplete symmetries among known particles – then are subsequently found through physical investigation. Physicist considering alternative lines of investigation most often choose the one that promises the most symmetry – as time and again this has proven to be a productive “rule of thumb.” Order is incredibly deep in our universe – but the biological sciences just seem immune to it. How odd.

  5. Gil,

    Great post and great concept.

    I firmly believe that darwinism will be finally defeated mostly by the evidence coming from biological research (if possible, with a little help from us IDists!).

    Not only as we deepen our understanding of the living world we find ever new complexity, order and intelligence, but I would also say that the level of complexity increses exponentially, so that each new level of understanding shows new and unexpected levels of mystery. That’s really beaustiful.

    One of the consequences is that, as you have probably noticed, darwinists are forced ever more often to use arguments like “the logical possibility that one day some new knowledge will explain that”, or, as is the case for the important problem of evaluating the size of the target space of functional proteins, to hope that such things will never be clarified, and will always remain vague enough to allow them some extreme defense against ID arguments.

    But their hope is vain. Many things will be clarified, and soon enough. And the more we know, the better for ID.

  6. Very good point Gil. You’ve clearly focused the reason why scientific knowledge is the best weapon of ID.

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