Home » Intelligent Design » Jack Krebs Asking About Common Descent

Jack Krebs Asking About Common Descent

Over on Telic Thoughts Jack is asking about ID’s position on common descent here, here, and here. I’m going to assume this is an honest question.

ID has no position on common descent.

ID is the theory that certain patterns in nature can be best explained by intelligent agency.

There are details about what particular patterns might quality and why they are best attributed to intelligent agency but the gist of it is in the one line above. We might actually be able to publish this stuff in the normal channels if our worthy opponents didn’t Sternberg any editor that dares. But that’s a different rant.

It seems like everyone; Discovery Institute, Dembski, Behe, Berlinski, you name them and they’ve said it; ID takes no position on common descent. Any position on common descent that ID proponents may hold are not positions that ID theory requires. Personally I’m flabbergasted that in this day & age anyone could seriously question common descent. But that’s not an opinion driven by Intelligent Design theory. That’s an opinion driven by reproductive continuity, an almost universal genetic code, and mountains of secondary bits of evidence from the fossil record, molecular and anatomical homology, and etcetera. Not to get off on a rant about common descent again… :-)

Asking what ID’s position is on common descent (it almost seems like our opponents are demanding we take a position on common descent) is like asking what neoDarwinian theory’s position is on how the universe was created. It’s simply a question that the theory does not address. People who support NeoDarwinian theory have all kinds of opinions on how the universe started. Some of them [gasp] even think GOD DID IT! Do we try to brand NeoDarwinism a religion because some of its proponents believe that God chose random mutation plus natural selection as the means to accomplish His ends? No way. We brand it a religion because some of them treat the theory as dogma instead of tentative science ;-) but I digress again.

Notice: Stay on topic. This thread isn’t about whether or not common descent is true but whether or not Intelligent Design Theory takes a position on common descent and about how the association fallacy is being used to conflate IDT with denial of common descent.

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28 Responses to Jack Krebs Asking About Common Descent

  1. If you read the transcripts of the Kansas Science hearings here (http://www.talkorigins.org/faq.....garoo.html), you will see that of the witnesses asked directly about common descent, only two (out of about 18) said they accepted common descent. The rest said they didn’t accept common descent, and many gave “design” as an alternative explanation. i could give more examples, but I think there is ample evidence that the bulk of ID supporters do not accept common descent.

    And of course, in Kansas most of the people on the state Board and on the writing committtee supporting the changes in the standards, which were primarily initiated by the Intelligent Design network, are young earth creationists and thus also do not support common descent.

    So ID, in it’s vaguest sense may be neutral about common descent, but that is because ID in its vaguest sense, is, well, vague. But in practice, hte majority of prominent and active ID advocates do not accept common descent.

  2. The problem seems to be that anyone can make up their own definition of ID to suit their own agenda.

    That’s why Judge Jones made so much reference to the book “Of Pandas and People”. That was what the Dover school board explicitely stated was the reference to use to learn more about ID.

    What should matter in Kansas is what exactly is being proposed to be taught to students. There needs to be something definitive. Just saying ID means nothing since there’s no legal definition of what ID entails.

    Evolution suffers under the same lack of definition. I was stunned that the Wiesel 38 wrote a letter to Kansas BoE stating the evolution was understood to be an unguided, unplanned process. Who made the decision that evolution is an unguided, unplanned process? Or is that just a group of people making up their own definition of evolution to suit their own agenda?

    Perhaps if we knew exactly what “evolution” meant there would be far less debate. A vast majority object to evolution being defined as an unguided, unplanned process. Is evolution understood to be an unguided, unplanned process, Jack? And if so, by whose authority is that definition made?

  3. ds,
    this whole ID -evo debate is messy-Partly due to the way Id has charcterised itself, has changed as the debate as grown.
    Having to deal with more specifics and moving away from the political/philisophical Ushered in initially by Phillip Johnson.
    I for one would love to have an A-> B ->C evolutionary story to understand.
    It would also be helpful to have a clearly defined definition for Id -for me it is very clearly about infering design-its about giving ‘eyes’ to that blind process that and nothing else.
    I am not enamored with common descent but it is of only secondary importance to detecting the ‘Prime numbers’ of life.
    (The more consise the definition the better I belive Dr Bill has a good def -quoted by Mike Gene But I cant find it. )

  4. Leave it to Jack to conflate what IDists think to what ID is. Bad form Jack.

    Reality demonstrates that ID is upfront about common descent- just read “Darwin’s Black Box”.

    ID is NOT Creationism

    Scott refers to me as an intelligent design “creationist,” even though I clearly write in my book Darwin’s Black Box (which Scott cites) that I am not a creationist and have no reason to doubt common descent. In fact, my own views fit quite comfortably with the 40% of scientists that Scott acknowledges think “evolution occurred, but was guided by God.” Where I and others run afoul of Scott and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) is simply in arguing that intelligent design in biology is not invisible, it is empirically detectable. The biological literature is replete with statements like David DeRosier’s in the journal Cell: “More so than other motors, the flagellum resembles a machine designed by a human” (1). Exactly why is it a thought-crime to make the case that such observations may be on to something objectively correct?

    The last paragraph of this comment was deleted as it attempted to argue the merits of common descent. This thread will not devolve into an endless emotional debate about the merits of common descent. -ds

  5. Both ID and Evolution suffer from a lack of precise definition so that when the discussion proceeds people are often talking pass each other. I believe I understand what ID is based on reading what Bill Dembski has said at various places. Based on this criteria, humans could be intelligent designers of life on a planetary system in some future time period.

    Evolution is a fact in the sense that changes did happen over time and these changes seemed to have a direction. If anyone tries to argue against this then they will have a very narrow audience outside their own community. On the other hand what some are calling evolution is a specific mechanism for these changes so the discussion gets messy if others aren’t talking about a mechanism for the changes in their definition.

    If common descent is nothing more than one way to describe these changes, then let’s be clear about it. If something else such as a mechanism is meant, then let’s be clear about that and specify just what is meant. Maybe someone should define common descent.

    I believe the whole evolution debate suffers from a clear lack of definitions. The changes that have happened in biological entities represent a spectrum of very different problems. For example, origin of life and micro-evolution can appear in the same discussion thread yet the implications of each are quite dramatically different. Irreducible complexity and macro evolution are two other completely separate issues. Each represents different problems for ID and for Darwinist. Yet all these ideas can get conflated and discussed in a single post without distinctions being made.

    Also people on both sides of the issues hijack terms for their own agenda. When ID is defined by Darwinists differently from how Bill Dembski defines it, they probably have good examples of people in the anti Darwinist camp who use the term in ways they cite.

  6. I am puzzled by what Joseph writes in post 4 above.

    First he writes, “Leave it to Jack to conflate what IDists think to what ID is. Bad form Jack.”

    But how am I, or anyone, to know what ID is other than listening to what IDists think? I’m not sure what else I could do to understand what ID is.

    Second, I understand that Behe accepts common descent. In fact, he was one of the two out of 18 at the Kansas “science hearings” that did so. I even mentioned this to him in a brief conversation there, and he agreed he was in the minority among the people there on this issue.

    Paragraph removed. Response to argument over merits of common descent. -ds

    So here’s a bigger question. If ID is neutral on the topic of common descent, and if people like Behe (even though he is in the minority) believe that intelligent design could proceed through common descent (that is, birth by birth of individual organisms under some type of intelligent guidance), then I have two questions:

    1. On what grounds would an ID advocate not accept common descent?, and

    2. What alternative would such an advocate hypothesize as the means by which new organisms come into existence?

    And I’d like to thanks that powers that be here at Uncommon Descent for allowing me to participate in this discussion.

  7. Oops, I see that actually discussing whether common descent is true or not is not supposed to be going on here, as the topic for this thread is rather whether ID theory and/or ID advocates take a stand on common descent. So let me strike/amend the two questions at the end of the previous post (because I don’t think I can edit posts here), and say this instead.

    So what I understand is that the point being made is that there is a difference between what ID theory says and what many of its advocates believe, and that therefore those who object to common descent do so for reasons other than the position that common descent is in conflict with ID, because intelligently guided evolution is entirely compatible with ID. Is this a correct understanding?

  8. One of the problems is the name of this forum. All it does is inflame the faithful. The very least one can do is hang a question mark on it. I used to post at Terry Trainor’s forum “Creation? or Evolution?” until I misbehaved so badly he had to ban me, nothing new about that of course. Anyhow, well before my well deserved demise, I had suggested that “Or Both” be added and it was. That is why I feel that adding a question mark after Uncommon Descent” would be a good idea. After all nobody knows for sure or do they? It might just ameliorate some of the vitriol a tad. Then again it might not. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

  9. Wormherder

    How do we go about having a clearly defined definition of ID? We don’t even have a clearly defined definition of evolution and we’ve had 150 years to work at it.

    Which of the following (attribution) should I think when I see the term evolution:

    1.Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature.
    2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population.
    3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor.
    4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.
    5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.
    6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

    Any time there is a discussion such as went on in Kansas, Dover, Cobb, Ohio, etc. where people are arguing this in legislatures and courtrooms, the terms need to be defined since there is no legal or scientific consensus over exactly what they mean. I was thinking of writing an article with a basic definition of ID and Evolution that could be adopted by state legislatures, not as laws but as resolutions, for working definitions for official usage within their states. This would help enormously.

    And if both sides would play honestly it would help too. For instance, JK’s team in Kansas shouldn’t have asked people if they believed in common descent. What should have been asked is whether they believe that ID theory rejects common descent. If that’s what they believe then they’re distorting the Intelligent Design theory according to Bill Dembski and as far as I’m concerned Bill’s got the winning goods in that department.

  10. JAD

    Good point. I’d always assumed the name “Uncommon Descent” was a play on the 2004 book Bill edited “Uncommon Dissent”. http://www.uncommondissent.com is owned by – well just follow it to find out. If Bill couldn’t have that I thought he just went with the next best thing.

    Perhaps Bill could clarify for us why he chose this name given that ID neither confirms nor denies common descent.

  11. Jack Krebs

    “1. On what grounds would an ID advocate not accept common descent?, and”

    I think this is on topic in a limited way.

    Grounds other than Dembski and Behe’s definition of ID.

    It may be personal, religious, scientific, or a defintion of ID that suits an anti-common descent agenda. This is why I said the right question to have asked those testifying against your side is whether they believe ID theory rejects common descent. Then we can nail them for distorting ID theory to suit their agenda. But instead you (not YOU you of course, I mean your camp) asked them for their personal belief. You might just as well have asked them if they’d like to be referred to as Judas. The answer is just as predictable when asking a person of strong Christian faith. That was a patently unfair question the way it was worded. We don’t negate people’s opinions in this country because of their faith. You made them answer based on their faith.

    “2. What alternative would such an advocate hypothesize as the means by which new organisms come into existence?”

    If it isn’t an alternative they propose be taught to children it doesn’t really matter what they hypothesize. If it is what they want taught then it has to be religiously neutral according to judicial precedent. Intelligent Design doesn’t name an intelligence and is thus religiously neutral. Intelligence obviously exists in nature. Intelligence that can modify genomes for fun and profit demonstrably exists in nature (genetically engineered crops and livestock and viruses engineered to repair genetic diseases, for a few examples). How more neutral can you be than to stop with something already known to be possible in nature? We know that nature can have intelligent designers in it capable of altering the natural course of evolution. There’s no scientific reason to presume without doubt mankind is the first intelligence with this capacity. It therefore does not require an all-powerful religious deity to fulfill the intelligence requirement of ID.

  12. It seems to me that “Uncommon Descent” clearly implies that man did not have animal ancestors. I can’t imagine a more effective way to inflame serious evolutionists whether Darwinian or otherwise like myself. So don’t add a question mark. That is just me anyway and I doubt very much if any changes will ensue. Whatever floats each boat seems to be the name of the game here. That is fine with me too. My views are in hard copy and I am not about to recant.

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

    If it is good enough for Big Al Einstein it is good enough for me.
    Isn’t it awful to be such a sheep? Of course it is and don’t you ever forget it.

    “Men are most apt to believe what they least understand.”

  13. Jack

    So what I understand is that the point being made is that there is a difference between what ID theory says and what many of its advocates believe, and that therefore those who object to common descent do so for reasons other than the position that common descent is in conflict with ID, because intelligently guided evolution is entirely compatible with ID. Is this a correct understanding?

    Correct. This is going by the defintion of ID that I understand and that Dembski, Behe, and I’m not sure how many others have confirmed. The only thing that ID explicitely disputes is the idea that evolution is a totally unguided, unplanned process. A guided and/or planned evolution, in part or in whole, is compatible with ID. Special (instant) creation is also compatible with ID. Ken Miller is a confused ID supporter as he doesn’t believe that random mutation plus natural selection is correct. In my understanding he thinks God somehow guided the mutation and selection process meaning it wasn’t really random or natural. If God guided it, and presuming God is intelligent, then Ken is describing a processs that is compatible with ID. The only people who really have a bone to pick with ID are the ones who insist there is no intelligence, material or immaterial, natural or supernatural, of any kind that had anything at all to do with life as we know it. These appear to be mostly positive atheists whose metaphysical conclusion that God is a fantasy is threatened by any hypothesis that doesn’t appear to reject that conclusion. This is why we not only need to arrive at a consensus of what is meant by “id” but also a consensus of what is meant by “evolution”. Under reasonable definitions of both there is no conflict. It is only extremists on each side of the debate that insist on incompatible definitions – Genesis literalists on one side and positive atheists on the other. These two groups will never come to terms in my opinion. That shouldn’t stop the rest of us from reaching a mutually agreeable middle ground.

  14. DaveScot,

    I think your rendition of the “Big Tent” version of ID is pretty accurate.

    I would only take issue with a couple of your statements:

    “Ken Miller is a confused ID supporter as he doesn’t believe that random mutation plus natural selection is correct.”

    The difference is that Ken Miller believes that any intervention by God in the process of RM + NS is so subtle as to be scientifically undetectable. Thus ID, to Miller, is doomed as a scientific project, even though God does have his fingers in the works.

    “The only people who really have a bone to pick with ID are the ones who insist there is no intelligence, material or immaterial, natural or supernatural, of any kind that had anything at all to do with life as we know it.”

    Ken Miller is another, as are all of the people who believe that God set up the initial conditions of the universe, knowing what the end result would be, without actively intervening in the process of RM + NS. You might call these people “non-interventionist theistic evolutionists”. They cannot be said to support ID (at least the Dembski version) since they believe that RM + NS can lead to increases in complex specified information without the intervention of an intelligence, contra Dembski.

    One more bone of contention between evolutionists and ID supporters is the issue of what constitutes science, and the role of falsifiability.

  15. Dembski, on Miller and interventionism.

    “Still Spinning Just Fine: A Response To Ken Miller”

    I always recommend this section when theistic evolutionists assert that ID requires intervention a la the “cosmic tinkerer” criticism.

    Conflating ID with Interventionism:

    According to Miller, intelligent design “requires that the source of each and every novelty of life was the direct and active involvement of an outside designer whose work violated the very laws of nature he had fashioned…. The notion at the heart of today’s intelligent design movement is that the direct intervention of an outside designer can be demonstrated by the very existence of complex biochemical systems” Miller and I have discussed this criticism in public debate on several occasions. By now he should know better.

    Intelligent design does not require organisms to emerge suddenly or be specially created from scratch by the intervention of a designing intelligence.

    But it (ID) is also perfectly compatible with the evolutionist idea of new organisms arising from old by a process of generation. What separates intelligent design from naturalistic evolution is not whether organisms evolved or the extent to which they evolved but what was responsible for their evolution.

    How is ID different from the presentation of most theistic evolutionists? In my opinion, it is summed up here:

    Moreover, intelligent design maintains that the input of intelligence into biological systems is empirically detectable, that is, it is detectable by observation through the methods of science. For intelligent design the crucial question therefore is not whether organisms emerged through an evolutionary process or suddenly from scratch, but whether a designing intelligence made a discernible difference regardless how organisms emerged.

    He continues on interventionism:

    We can tell whether there was design (this is ID’s epistemological point) without introducing any doctrine of intervention (ID refuses to speculate about the ontology of design)

    It is not an interventionist theory at all.
    Indeed, intelligent design is perfectly compatible with all the design in the world being front-loaded in the sense that all design was introduced at the beginning (say at the Big Bang) and then came to expression subsequently over the course of natural history much as a computer program’s output becomes evident only when the program is run. This actually is an old idea, and one that Charles Babbage, the inventor of the digital computer, explored in the 1830s in his Ninth Bridgewater Treatise (thus predating Darwin’s Origin of Species by twenty years).

    Let’s be clear, however, that such preprogrammed evolution would be very different from evolution as it is now conceived. Evolution, as currently presented in biology textbooks, is blind — nonpurposive material mechanisms run the show. Within this naturalistic conception of evolution, the origin of any species gives no evidence of actual design because mindless material mechanisms do all the work. Within a preprogrammed conception of evolution, by contrast, the origin of some species and biological structures would give evidence of actual design and demonstrate the inadequacy of material mechanisms to do such design work. Thus naturalistic evolution and preprogrammed evolution would have different empirical content and be distinct scientific theories.

    We may never be able to tell how often or at what places a designing intelligence intervened in the world or even whether there was any intervention in Miller’s sense of violating natural laws. But that’s okay. What’s crucial for the theory of intelligent design is the ability to identify signs of intelligence in the world — and in the biological world in particular — and therewith conclude that a designing intelligence played an indispensable role in the formation of some object or the occurrence of some event. That is the start. Often in biology there will be clear times and locations where we can say that design first became evident. But whether that means a designing intelligence actually intervened at those points will require further investigation and may indeed not be answerable. As the computer analogy above indicates, the place and time at which design first becomes evident need have no connection with the place and time at which design was actually introduced. 

    In the context of biological evolution, this means that design can be real and discernible in evolutionary change without requiring an explicit “design event,” like a special creation, miracle, or supernatural intervention. At the same time, however, for evolutionary change to exhibit actual design would mean that material mechanisms were inadequate by themselves to produce that change. The question, then, that requires investigation is not simply what are the limits of evolutionary change, but what are the limits of evolutionary change when that change is limited to material mechanisms. This in turn requires examining the material factors within organisms and in their environments capable of effecting evolutionary change. The best evidence to date indicates that these factors are inadequate to drive full-scale macroevolution. Something else is required — intelligence.

    I apologize beforehand if I have lost control of my blockquotes.

  16. Valarie – if God set up the initial conditions then random mutation isn’t random and natural selection isn’t natural. The deck was stacked. That is intelligent design. The stacking of the deck becomes detectable when independently given patterns develop that defy any reasonably probabalistic chance of coming about without design.

    I like to illustrate this with lottery results. If there’s a weekly lottery with a 10,000,000:1 chance in winning, if someone wins it once, that’s chance, because someone must win it. If the next week his brother wins it, the next week his wife, the next his mother, the next his daughter, the next his son, etc. then any reasonable person will conclude this wasn’t by chance but rather that the lottery has been rigged. An independently given pattern (a family) has emerged that beat almost impossibly long odds of having emerged via any means other than by design.

    Life has won so many lotteries it becomes obvious to any reasonable person that the game was rigged. The deck was stacked for it to win. This is essentially design detection. Ken Miller is a confused ID supporter. You might be one too.

    Falsifiability is a red herring. If unguided evolution is scientific then its opposite, guided evolution, must also be scientific as one is the falsification of the other. Falsification pedants don’t get to have their cake and eat it too. Another argument is to ask what philosopher of science was crowned king and then decreed that falsification is forever after a matter of scientific dogma that shall not be questioned? Bill Dembski has a PhD in Philosophy of Science. Isn’t that the expertise we should consult on questions of falsification? Biologists typically aren’t doctors in the philosophy of science so what do they know?

  17. Karl Popper was a lightweight.

  18. Jacl Kreb asks:
    But how am I, or anyone, to know what ID is other than listening to what IDists think? I’m not sure what else I could do to understand what ID is.

    Here’s the problem with that Sir Jack- If we do the same to the theory of evolution people would conclude it is an atheistic theory (“the same” being listening to what evos think as opposed to learning what the theory is all about). IOW I know that the theory of evolution doesn’t make anyone an “intellectually fulfilled atheist”.

    Ya see Sir Jack I have read ID literature and I understand ID to be a premise about the mechanism(s) of evolution. I have also listened to/ read the personal opinions of IDists and can separate the two- personal opinions from ID.

    1. On what grounds would an ID advocate not accept common descent?, and

    On the grounds the biological and genetic data don’t support it. Heck we don’t even have the data that demonstrates that a population of single-celled organisms can “evolve” into anything but a population of single-celled organisms.

    2. What alternative would such an advocate hypothesize as the means by which new organisms come into existence?

    I don’t know if that is the “right” question. I would prefer:

    “What alternative would such an advocate hypothesize as to the reality behind our existence?”

    However to answer Jack’s question- “Evolving Inventions” FEb 2003 Scientific American pgs 52-59. IOW the diversity of life was pre-programmed to evlove from the first life forms. What those lifeforms were and how many will be questions science needs to answer given the data.

  19. Valerie,

    “The difference is that Ken Miller believes that any intervention by God in the process of RM + NS is so subtle as to be scientifically undetectable. Thus ID, to Miller, is doomed as a scientific project, even though God does have his fingers in the works.”

    I find this position deeply illogical. It is saying that the end results could be the same whether a God set up the initial conditions or not – at least enough to fool us. If the end result – our world – looks just as it would if it had not been set up or intervened in, then it must mean either that 1) the setup was not really necessary because this is the sort of thing we observe material processes doing or 2) we go with the idea that the intervention is undetectable, but that is a surpringly defeatist attitude when we consider that we do not yet understand quantum level events, and we also do not understand many things about real origins in biology – such as how DNA arrived on the scene or the genetic and epigentic factors in embryonic development (as pointed out in the Meyer paper).

    It seems a logical conclusion that if our whole, complex world got an intial setup from God it could NOT look similar to one in which it didn’t. Also, if this world did get a setup, we have no other type of world with which to compare it.

    Miller intuits a reality in which there is plenty of room for random events. No intervention was necessary to produce the life forms, yet God “knew” what the result would be given his initial setup. Hmmm. Double hmmm. Based upon what did God know the results?

    If RM + NS can accrue CSI, it means there is a lot more to the intial setup than we know about.

  20. “Heck we don’t even have the data that demonstrates that a population of single-celled organisms can “evolve” into anything but a population of single-celled organisms.”

    Is that true? Sounds like a good talking point if it is.

  21. Anteater,

    All I know is that not one biologist, out of many who I have asked, cannot demonstrate otherwise. However all that means is that they don’t know. However given who I am those biologists would do just about anything to refute what I say.

    If you are on some other discussion board use it and see what response(s) you get. I am more than willing to accept the data. But my point is if there isn’t any data then it fails the “test” test. :)

  22. Interesting related info: “Many bacterial fossils in 3-billion-year-old rocks are identical to living forms found commonly on Earth today. Are they the same species? Unless we can compare the DNA content of the ancient form with that of its living analog, we cannot tell. But our best guess is that they may indeed be the same species; they certainly have the same external morphology.” Ward and Brownlee, Rare Earth, p. 174.

  23. There’s a lot of controversy in any bacterial fossil over 2.5 byo.

    If they are indeed the same species as those living today it really isn’t good news for the Darwinian narrative. One might be hard pressed to explain such perfection in a species that early in evolution that it still survives today unchanged. Of course we will never know because the indisputable genetic evidence is long gone.

    It IS revealing however that the same scientist who looks at rather uncomplex squiggly mark in a rock is so ready to conclude it must be a living thing and not some other natural process while at the same time he looks at the machinery inside a living representative, machinery that makes a human city with all its machines and transport systems look simple in comparison, and is so ready to conclude that all came from some inanimate source. Incredible.

  24. “Bacteria now, bacteria forever!”
    John A. Davison
    after George Wallace’s
    “Segregation now, segregation forever!”

    How’s that for bigotry?

  25. I would like to raise the issue that if one believes in intelligent agency guiding evolution from a common ancestor they cannot at the same time believe that humans were a specific goal of that process. That is unless the intelligent agent also had knowledge of what would happen throuhout the history of the universe.

    There are so many events that disrupted the smooth progression of life on Earth that it becomes difficult to supposse that we were intentional unless every asteroid impact and tectonic event was foreordained. This is possible of course, but believers in the front loaded idea in which life was initiated with a program and then left to the natural world(as I understand it) cannot also believe in human beings being a specific intention of whatever creative force created life (assuming one did).

    I would like to raise the issue that if one believes in intelligent agency guiding evolution from a common ancestor they cannot at the same time believe that humans were a specific goal of that process.

    Nonsense. A Phylogenetic Stem Cell can unfold in a manner just as predictable as an Ontogenetic Stem Cell. Lots of things can interrupt or derail any individual stem cell’s progress. In phylogeny as in ontogeny this problem is solved by not putting all your eggs (hahaha – unintended pun there) in one basket – or in one stem cell in this case. -ds

  26. Take for instance the most popular great event. The asteroid impact 65 million years ago that allowed ammmalian ascendency. Without that do you think that humans would still have evolved?

    Yes. Evolution of species with obligatory sexual reproduction is a story of eventual extinction. Some survive longer than others. The dinosaurs would have died out eventually in any case. -ds

  27. Well I am happy to see that someone else now believes that sexual reproduction is anti-evolutionary. For the past 22 years I thought I was the only one.

  28. It seems like people are really diverting from the topic: Does ID imply a stance on common descent and popular conflation of ID with opposition with common descent.

    My answer: While many/most/almost all of the ID proponents have stated that ID does not take a position on common descent, the book most often referred to in reference to ID “Of Pandas and People” does. The mental (and legal apparently) association between OPP and ID is very strong and, IMHO, very damaging to ID. OPP says at according to ID, “various forms of life that began abruptly through an intelligent agency with their distinctive features of intact – fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings”. Based on this, no wonder people conflate the two (and conflate ID with creationism).

    I’d suggest a popular-level book providing a definition of ID that is distinct from this sort of thing. I think that a revised ‘Of Pandas and People’ is in the works. But, I think that using the same title is a really bad idea. People will consider the ‘ancestry’ of the book and see it was originally a creationist work; ID should strongly disassociate itself with that.

    I agree. I suggested this to Professor Dembski shortly after the Dover decision. I also posted an article here saying I was going to start “clamping down” on comments arguing against common descent. There was so much negative emotion stirred up from that article that I deleted it and softened my stance. But I certainly do agree with you that ID will remain marginalized in the scientific community and stifled in public science education as long as it so closely associated (justifiably or not) ith disbelief in common descent. -ds

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