Home » Intelligent Design » Message Theory – A Testable ID Alternative to Darwinism – Part 3

Message Theory – A Testable ID Alternative to Darwinism – Part 3

The central claims of Message Theory –

Life was reasonably designed to meet three simultaneous goals:

  1. Survival
  2. To look like the product of one designer (or unified design team acting together as one), and unlike the product of multiple designers acting independently.
  3. To resist all other explanations of origin.

This is a plausible set of design goals. Life’s designer is also a message sender, and the message is: Life came from one designer; not from anything else. These goals put constraints on what the designer should do, and should not do – constraints on the patterns we should see, and should not see. From this, the theory makes testable predictions.

*

Evolutionists misrepresent Message Theory by attacking one design goal in isolation, as though it were the only goal. (For example, Gert Korthof.) So I remind readers, the three goals are taken together in combination. The system of life is designed to meet all three goals, not just one goal.

Goal 1 – design for survival – was the traditional focus of creationists. The classical creation books take this line of reasoning. Message Theory adds to it.

Goal 2 – design to look like the product of one designer – is a plausible goal for a message sender. Remarkably, this message was even conveyed to low-tech civilizations. For example, the ancient Greeks had a pantheon of many gods, but they allowed that only one of them created life. They saw the unity of life displayed: within the embryos of diverse lifeforms; within life’s coherent patterns of theme and variation; and within the ability of diverse lifeforms to function together as a system of life. Although numerous ancient civilizations developed in isolation around the world, I am aware of none that attributed known lifeforms to the actions of multiple designers acting independently. Our modern biochemical-genetic laboratories now make this point indubitable, and falsify the notion that life came from various interstellar astronauts (or high-tech civilizations) acting independently. All life had but one designer.

Goal 3 – design to resist all other explanations – is astonishing and where much of the curiosity of Message Theory resides. This goal claims life was designed to resist all (macro)evolutionary explanations – Darwin’s, Lamarck’s, Gould’s, Syvanen’s, the “It came from Space” theories of Crick, Orgel, and Hoyle – and even your evolutionary theory, whatever it may be, should be resisted. Life was designed to resist all (macro)evolutionary theories, not just Darwin’s – this is the key.

The ingenious Darwinian mind is renowned for “explaining” everything and its opposite. Message Theory now turns Darwinians on their heads, by asking them to identify the things they could not explain. (Is there anything Darwinians could not “explain”? …) This set turned out to be smaller than anyone ever imagined. Then subtract those things that would look like the result of multiple designers acting independently. Then subtract those things that would not be reasonable designs for survival (such as a “bookshelf bear” or an “air conditioner elephant”). After this process of elimination, few things are left on the table – and one of them is our system of life. I claim life displays an ingenious solution to this design problem.

Occasionally, tradeoffs must be made between these design goals, and on such occasions people will sometimes disagree on precise details of the optimal solution. However, the tradeoffs are reasonable and rationally solved in life. I claim life displays at the very least, a nearly optimal solution – perhaps the optimal solution.

Message Theory is not about the ages of the Earth or Universe, nor about global torrent – it is neutral on those issues. Rather, Message Theory is about life’s major patterns. I challenge you to describe major patterns of a life system that would meet these three design goals clearly better than does our system of life. If you could do that – if you could show that life clearly fails to follow these design goals, then Message Theory would be falsified. This is a general way to test Message Theory – by identifying a clear disparity between how life should be designed, and what is observed. I will also identify various specific tests in later parts of this essay.

Before you get started, I must forewarn you. There are many illusions about evolutionary theory and the data – and these must be dispelled before you can see clearly. Indeed, most of my discussions are spent dismantling evolutionary illusions. I show that (macro)evolutionary theory, as practiced today, is amorphous, structureless, and untestable. Evolutionary theory adapts to data like fog adapts to landscape. Evolutionary theory is a vast smorgasbord of “explanations,” and life was designed to resist the smorgasbord. Ironically, most of your challenges against Message Theory are favorably reversed by a deeper understanding of evolutionary theory.

Evolutionists often mock their opponents, saying, “Why did God design life to look like it evolved?” (Yes, they use the G-word.) I answer them earnestly: They do not understand evolutionary theory, as they have little idea what would look ‘unlike’ evolution. They have not considered it much.

Message Theory turns evolutionary thinking inside-out and upside-down, and will challenge people to think in ways they never have before. I look forward to the conversation.

– Walter ReMine

The Biotic Message – the book

Part 1 of this essay

Part 2 of this essay

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33 Responses to Message Theory – A Testable ID Alternative to Darwinism – Part 3

  1. Makes sense to me.

  2. I’m having difficulty wrapping my head around Goal 3, that life was designed to resist all other explanations of origin.

    Evolutionists often mock their opponents, saying, “Why did God design life to look like it evolved?”

    I’ve given this some thought, lately. If God were to create life where environment changes (i.e. this Universe), he would HAVE to create adaptive life. Otherwise it would not survive. This is a genius solution.

  3. How would you even test for goal number 2? IDists are often accused of saying that something is designed simply because it looks designed. And now ReMine extends this by saying that something was designed by one designer simply because, to him, it looks like it was designed by one designer??

    Isn’t goal 3 fairly easy to falsify? How about the possibility that there were multiple designers? They could have had committee meetings, making it look like there was only one designer.

    What am I missing here?

  4. Optimal design?
    •Hernias are due to a roundabout loop that the spermatic cord takes as a result of our evolutionary past.
    •Hiccups are often due blockages of nerves that are the legacy of tadpole anatomy.
    •Increased birth complications due to a widening of the head and static width of the pelvis over human evolution.
    •Google for details please.

    What is the point of goals 2 and 3?

    I claim life displays at the very least, a nearly optimal solution – perhaps the optimal solution.

    Well if the universe is so great, so optimal, why is there death/destruction/disease/suffering. Wouldn’t it be better if there were no carnivores no pathogens, no natural disasters? The excuse that these elements are required to make the best possible world is lame. Why? Because if God truly is so great and powerful then he can make a optimal world without all those negatives things.

    But, let me guess, you guys dont claim the designer is god right?

  5. Optimal design?

    Optimal depends on the purpose of the designer. If the purpose is to teach one to love others and enjoy their company with the understanding that existing circumstances are temporary, there will be things like suffering to teach us compassion and cooperation, and sexual reproduction to teach us love.

    OTOH, if simple efficient survival is paramount, why not stick with bacteria?

    But, let me guess, you guys dont claim the designer is god right?

    The science of ID does not identify a designer — quick quiz does evolution involve OOL? — discussions on an internet board, of course, are not limited to the science.

  6. [5]

    You have ignored what I have said. If god is so great and powerful, then he CAN create a world without suffering etc and STILL allow us to learn “compassion and cooperation” etc.

    Now god is limited…?

  7. 7

    eintown @6,

    He can also do whatever he chooses.

    But anyway, you seem to have fallen into the same trap that Darwin did, favouring evolution for reasons that are ultimately theological rather than scientific. You have a right to do that, but please don’t then claim that you have the scientific high ground.

  8. eintown,

    Your criticisms are attacking a strawman. The majority of religious believers in the world believe that life is now imperfect due to man’s sin, not due to God’s failed creation. And yes, man was created by God, but we also have free will.

    Basically what you’re disproving when you discuss things such as hernias and hiccups (and everything else that is wrong with biological life) is the belief that “God did it” BECAUSE the world is perfect, which it obviously is not.

    I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but are you not basically arguing that since the world does not appear how you believe a god would have created it, then there was/is no god? Please correct me if I’m wrong – I don’t want to misrepresent you.

  9. How would you even test for goal number 2? IDists are often accused of saying that something is designed simply because it looks designed. And now ReMine extends this by saying that something was designed by one designer simply because, to him, it looks like it was designed by one designer??

    How I read it was not to try to distinguish between one god and “a committee of gods”, but between one source and a host of independent sources (a committee would not be independent of itself).

    I might be wrong, but I believe this is why many predict that if we find life somewhere else in the universe, it will also be DNA-based.

    Goal #2 alone does not disprove NDET, from what I can tell. Some believe life bubbled out of a single primordeal “soup”, which would also explains why all of life seems to share a similar fundamental design.

    A problem I have with #2 is why couldn’t God create two different kinds of life that appear to come from two different designers? Maybe this has to do with the nature of intelligence (i.e. the “image of God”).

  10. eintown @6

    You should understand that constantly answering Theological objections to ID is very tiring.

    ID makes no claims regarding omnipotent or omniscient designer as tribune7 clearly pointed it out to you.

    As you ask these questions in earnest maybe it is a good idea to consult Theological resources that will at least give you some answers:

    A. Plantiga; God, Freedom and Evil

    P. van Inwagen; The Problem of Evil

    P. Kreeft; Making Sense out of Suffering

    R. Rice; When Bad Things Happen to God’s People

    On this thread we should rather keep to objections/discussion to Walter’s proposal

  11. [8] Uoflcard, yes that is correct; that is what I am saying – in regards to ReMines thesis.

    ReMine claims god’s world is ‘optimal’. I would object due to crime/poverty/disease/disasters etc.

    But thank you Uoflcard for the mature and engaging responses. I don’t see why Morris has to resort to ad hominem attacks.

  12. I think the evidence points to a nested hierarchy of subordinate designers, each of which is limited by the basic framework of what its immediate superior has done but otherwise free to experiment.

    The original designer of it all, and perhaps many of its original subordinates, could well be retired, or even “dead” (in respect to whatever way they existed in the first place) by now.

  13. eintown

    ReMine claims god’s world is ‘optimal’. I would object due to crime/poverty/disease/disasters etc

    ReMine

    I claim life displays at the very least, a nearly optimal solution – perhaps the optimal solution.

    I would disagree that life displays optimal design (IMO, disease, etc. due to sin), but I would agree with it being “nearly optimal”, in the sense that there is an abundance of brilliance in its operation.

    I don’t want to have Walter’s argument for him, but he doesn’t strictly say “life is optimally designed”, although he says that it is a possibility (a possibility I disagree with, both scientifically and theologically)

    Also, maybe I misread, but I don’t see “optimal design” include in the three goals he listed for Message Theory, just in the commentary afterwards. Those are what he hinges the theory on.

  14. hazel,

    I think the evidence points to a nested hierarchy of subordinate designers, each of which is limited by the basic framework of what its immediate superior has done but otherwise free to experiment.

    Brilliant! Is there a notworthy smiley on this blog?

  15. You have ignored what I have said. If god is so great and powerful, then he CAN create a world without suffering etc and STILL allow us to learn “compassion and cooperation” etc.

    He did, but then He also allowed us to be free agents, and the problems started with the choices we made.

    Here’s an observation about which I’m confident stands up: the more people follow God’s basic commands — do unto others, love your neighbor, refrain from superstition — the less natural suffering there is.

    Dams get built to restrain floods, winter is conquered with strong homes and abundant fuel, ways are found to keep crops from failing, dangerous animals disappear, and disease becomes less whether through improved sanitation or advances in medical knowledge.

    OTOH, the less people follow these commands, the greater the suffering.

  16. Tribune writes “… refrain from superstition …”

    Many people would see that as ironic, given that for people of other religions, and no religion, God is a superstition. How do we tell which are superstitions are which are not?

  17. 17

    Walter ReMine writes:

    The central claims of Message Theory –

    Life was reasonably designed to meet three simultaneous goals:

    1. Survival

    2. To look like the product of one designer (or unified design team acting together as one), and unlike the product of multiple designers acting independently.

    3. To resist all other explanations of origin.</i

    If these are the goals, then the designer isn’t doing very well:

    1. Survival.

    a. Mayflies die immediately after mating. Soldier ants sacrifice themselves in defense of the colony. The goal for an organism is not so much to survive as it is to get its genes into future generations. Survival can be a means toward that end, but the end itself is the transmission of genes, as the mayfly and ant examples show.

    b. 99.9 percent of all species have already gone extinct and today’s world is full of species that compete for resources and eat each other. How does this cohere with the idea that the designer wants all species to survive?

    2. To look like the product of one designer (or unified design team acting together as one), and unlike the product of multiple designers acting independently.

    The designer has done a bad job of this as well. For example, any minimally intelligent designer who wanted to give an impression of unified design would not fill niches in Australia with marsupials and equivalent niches in Europe and Asia with placentals. Nor would a designer with such a goal put cacti in American deserts, but create other succulents for equivalent deserts elsewhere in the world. There are many other examples like these.

    3. To resist all other explanations of origin.

    If this is a goal, the designer has failed miserably. The scientific community used to be overwhelmingly creationist. Now, based on the evidentiary “message” that the designer has purportedly sent, all but a few biologists have embraced modern evolutionary theory. That includes theistic scientists who would happily embrace a theory of design if the evidence supported it. Not a very effective “message”, is it?

    If none of its three claims survive scrutiny, Walter, then why should we accept Message Theory?

  18. What are the testable predictions, and how are the tests going?

  19. Isn’t it a bit preposterous to think we may know anything about the mind of God?

  20. Hazel –Many people would see that as ironic, given that for people of other religions, and no religion, God is a superstition. How do we tell which are superstitions are which are not?

    Hazel, if you want some irony ponder the dictionary definition of the word: a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation.

    Many people fallaciously equate superstition with supernatural.

    The real test of superstition, however, is whether the belief entails imbuing material objects with supernatural powers i.e. a carved image bringing luck or (cough, cough) chemicals self-organizing into amino acids which then self- organize into proteins.

  21. 21

    “…or (cough, cough) chemicals self-organizing into amino acids which then self- organize into proteins.”

    And then coordinate themselves by chance events into complex inter-related functions which then then spontaneously begin to record their existence by means of a conventional code of digital information and begin to exhibit an observable survival instinct…

    Like flipping a quarter and getting heads then tails in perfect succession for 100,000 flips…its just one of those things.

  22. uoflcard

    I’ve given this some thought, lately. If God were to create life where environment changes (i.e. this Universe), he would HAVE to create adaptive life. Otherwise it would not survive. This is a genius solution.

    Read ReMine’s essay closley. I’ve often noticed that he chooses his words very carefully. In the above essay he wrote:

    Life was designed to resist all (macro)evolutionary theories, not just Darwin’s – this is the key.

    [bold emphasis mine]

    Life adapting in a non-macroscopic way to it’s environment would also satisfy Goal #1, without violating Goal #2 or #3. Small adaptive changes in fur length, color etc… do not imply macroscopic evolution.

    ——————

    uoflcard:

    Goal #2 alone does not disprove NDET, from what I can tell. Some believe life bubbled out of a single primordeal “soup”, which would also explains why all of life seems to share a similar fundamental design.

    No evolutionary theory actually predicts universals, even if it is from the same “soup”. Any such claimed predictions are post-hoc at best.

    Never-the-less, if such an evolutionary theory did exist, then life would be found accountable by something other than a single designer – namely naturalistic processes without any kind of designer. Therefore, Goal #2 is incompatible with NDET – even in the form as you argued some people might hold.

  23. …continued from my last post…

    I want to add that such a theory would be resisted because universals do not logically follow from any evolutionary theory. If you argue life has universal code, for exmaple, then what I think you are doing is adapting the theory to new data with a post hoc storyline… not predicting it.

    This may be in alignment with what ReMine warned about:

    Before you get started, I must forewarn you. There are many illusions about evolutionary theory and the data – and these must be dispelled before you can see clearly. Indeed, most of my discussions are spent dismantling evolutionary illusions. I show that (macro)evolutionary theory, as practiced today, is amorphous, structureless, and untestable. Evolutionary theory adapts to data like fog adapts to landscape. Evolutionary theory is a vast smorgasbord of “explanations,” and life was designed to resist the smorgasbord.[...]

    [all emphasis mine]

  24. #5:

    quick quiz does evolution involve OOL? —

    But neither does it rule out OOL research as a scientific endeavor …
    #8

    The majority of religious believers in the world believe that life is now imperfect due to man’s sin, not due to God’s failed creation.

    But man is part of god’s creation …?? Did god disavow indemnity?

  25. #17:

    Isn’t it a bit preposterous to think we may know anything about the mind of God?

    Isn’t the very phrase “mind of god” based on unwarranted (and, I would say, incoherent and ultimately idolatrous) assumptions about who/what god is?

  26. #18:

    The real test of superstition, however, is whether the belief entails imbuing material objects with supernatural powers i.e. a carved image bringing luck or (cough, cough) chemicals self-organizing into amino acids which then self- organize into proteins.

    There are scientists working to find out how chemicals self-organize into amino acids and then proteins. Isn’t this the very antithesis of “superstition?”

  27. 27
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    Walter ReMine,

    I just wanted to say that I am nearly done with your book, “The Biotic Message: Evolution versus Message Theory”. I am compelled to say two things:

    1. It is the most exhaustive critical examination of Darwinian theory (and Neutral Theory and Punctuated Equilibrium) that I have ever read. If anyone says there are no “weaknesses” to evolutionary theory, they just need to spend a few minutes with your book. Well done!

    2. You counter Evolutionary Theory with Message Theory. This is a striking way to reconceptualize the existing data. Evolutionists dismiss it without engagement, as did Galileo’s critics who would not look through his telescope. But it provides a real challenge to conventional evolutionary theory.

    I heartily recommend it to anyone who wishes a deeper understanding about what this debate about “strengths and weaknesses” is all about.

  28. Evolutionary theory adapts to data like fog adapts to landscape. Evolutionary theory is a vast smorgasbord of “explanations,” and life was designed to resist the smorgasbord.

    How does this differ from Intelligent Design? ID theorists eschew all attempts to describe or define the Designer but this simply means that, whatever he, she or it may be, it is defined by what is asserted to be designed. In other words, the nature of the putative designer “adapts to data like fog adapts to landscape”. If the entire Universe is held to be designed then the Designer is functionally equivalent to the Christian God. As a scientific explanation it explains nothing because it can be expanded to explain anything. Evolution could at least be falsified by discovering “fossil rabbits in the Cambrian” or something equivalent but how do you falsify the theory of a Designer who can do literally anything?

  29. Pubdef—

    ID doesn’t claim that OOL research is unscientific, it simply doesn’t apply to it — just as I have been often told evolution doesn’t apply to it.

    There are scientists working to find out how chemicals self-organize into amino acids and then proteins. Isn’t this the very antithesis of “superstition?”

    No, your statement assumes the self-organization which makes it a fine example of superstition.

    Now if you said “There are scientists working to find out if chemicals can self-organize into amino acids and then proteins ” that would be a description of a scientific endeavor.

  30. I want to add that such a theory would be resisted because universals do not logically follow from any evolutionary theory.

    Remine noted in his book that the imaginary events which many base the “theory” of evolution on often rest on the rejecting biologic universals, not predicting them.

    E.g., the root of the tree of life:

    Evolution never did predict biologic universals, it merely accommodated them. In fact, evolutionists are on the horns of a dilemma. They have rejected each of the biologic universals. They insist that other life forms must have existed on this planet. They postulate the earthly existence of life bearing no resemblance to anything known today:

    life without DNA,
    life without predominantly left-handed amino acids,
    life without predominantly a-bonded amino acids,
    life without the twenty proteinous amino acids,
    life without ribosomes,
    life without the genetic code,
    life without RNA,
    life without the bi-layered phosphatide construction of cell membranes,
    life without any membrane of any kind,
    life without any enzyme known today,
    life without protein,
    the list goes on.
    (The Biotic Message By Walter ReMine :93)

    Those intent on imagining mythological narratives of naturalism would be greatly helped if the “gap”* or difference between life and non-life could be blurred together. One way out is to simply avoid the issue by claiming that “evolution,” whatever it may be, has nothing to do with the origin of life. Yet if there is more than one origin of life then there may be no single tree of life, etc.

    *I.e. information, specification and integrated complexity linked to function…. i.e. a gap defined by knowledge, not created by ignorance.

  31. ad hominem:
    1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect
    2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent’s character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

    I thought Mr. Morris made a pretty good point that wasn’t ad hominem.

  32. People complained in the first two parts that Mr ReMine did not tell us his theory. OK, now he has! But now we have to wait for part 4 I think, because I cannot think of a way to test this theory.

  33. 33

    Walter Remine:

    The central claims of Message Theory—

    Life was reasonably designed to meet three simultaneous goals:

    1. Survival

    2. To look like the product of one designer (or unified design team acting together as one), and unlike the product of multiple designers acting independently.

    3. To resist all other explanations of origin.

    In other words (excluding #1 which is presupposed) life corresponds to the concept seen in “Mastermind.” This is exactly what the evidence in toto supports.

    Evolutionary theory is a vast smorgasbord of “explanations,” and life was designed to resist the smorgasbord.

    Well said, I completely agree. Darwinism/evolution is ad hoc nonsense—bullsh*t—in the eyes of any honest and objective observer. This is what happens when God is excluded: bullsh*t ensues.

    Evolutionist Scott L. Page has a review posted at Amazon. He points out that you support undisputed claims ad naseum but fail to support disputed claims.

    I haven’t read your book but I can tell that Page has made a careless blunder or deliberate misrepresentation. Knowing evolutionists, I am quite confident that the latter is true.

    The so called disputed claims are actually the correct explanations of the undisputed claims—explanations (or conclusions) that support #2 and #3 undoubtedly. And if you had failed to support the so called undisputed claims then he would have said you wrote a book full of unsupported assertions.

    Ray

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