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Michael Behe On Falsification

In the DVD Case For A Creator, in the Q&A section, Michael Behe was asked, How would you respond to the claim that intelligent design theory is not falsifiable?

Behe responded:

The National Academy of Sciences has objected that intelligent design is not falsifiable, and I think that’s just the opposite of the truth. Intelligent design is very open to falsification. I claim, for example, that the bacterial flagellum could not be produced by natural selection; it needed to be deliberately intelligently designed. Well, all a scientist has to do to prove me wrong is to take a bacterium without a flagellum, or knock out the genes for the flagellum in a bacterium, go into his lab and grow that bug for a long time and see if it produces anything resembling a flagellum. If that happened, intelligent design, as I understand it, would be knocked out of the water. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s easily falsified by a series of such experiments.

Now let’s turn that around and ask, How do we falsify the contention that natural selection produced the bacterial flagellum? If that same scientist went into the lab and knocked out the bacterial flagellum genes, grew the bacterium for a long time, and nothing much happened, well, he’d say maybe we didn’t start with the right bacterium, maybe we didn’t wait long enough, maybe we need a bigger population, and it would be very much more difficult to falsify the Darwinian hypothesis.

I think the very opposite is true. I think intelligent design is easily testable, easily falsifiable, although it has not been falsified, and Darwinism is very resistant to being falsified. They can always claim something was not right.

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148 Responses to Michael Behe On Falsification

  1. I really think that suggesting that ID = irreduceable complexity is a bit of a stretch. To suggest that irreduceable complexity is the irrecuceable complexity of the bacterial flagellum is also a stretch.

    It is perfectly obvious that Behe’s view that the flagellum could not have been produced via the neo-Darwinian process is falsifiable. However, if the flagellum was falsified, I have no question that other IC challenges would arise to replace it. It would probably take the destruction of a half-dozen to a dozen of such IC claims to cause Behe and those of similar bent to abandon the hypothesis. However, that is also not an infinite challenge.

    Of course the greatest single challenge of irreduceable complexity remains to be the challenge of first life. On this topic, science seems to be very far from having found a solution. Until a reasonable path from molecules through DNA can be found, and a demonstrable path to self-reproducing molecules in concievable prebiotic conditions, this will remain to be an unscaleable mount improbable.

    I remember trying to play simple “what if” games with Matzke over on TT. I used the unexpected results found in the human HAR1F gene as my test case. (The human HAR1F differs from the chimps by 18 base pairs, thought the chimp’s HAR1F differs from the chicken’s by 3.) In the context of a real genetic challenge to NDE, Matzke could not even put himself into the hypothetical position of having the “theory” challenged. I, therefore, have come to the conclusion that for many evangelists of NDE, the “theory” is as falsifiable as the virgin birth.

  2. There are Darwinists on various debate forums lately claiming that Behe has left the ID camp and has gone to NDE.

    Anyone know anything about this?

  3. That would be bigger than Antony Flew if true.

  4. Here is a serious question, and the quote from Behe gives me an opportunity to ask it:

    Behe writes,

    “Well, all a scientist has to do to prove me wrong is to take a bacterium without a flagellum, or knock out the genes for the flagellum in a bacterium, go into his lab and grow that bug for a long time and see if it produces anything resembling a flagellum. If that happened, intelligent design, as I understand it, would be knocked out of the water.”

    Let me suppose for the sake of argument that someone were to do this, and in fact sometime along the line the bacteria would develop a flagellum.

    How would we know that intelligent design was not the cause of that flagellum arising? Why could we not argue that we had witnessed a case of intelligent design in action?

  5. Jack Krebs, if we were able to observe a flagellum develop in a bacteria, we would likely see it do so step by step. If not, if it suddenly did a “poof” and had a fully functioning flagellum, well that would cause a stir. However, even if we did see a flagellum develop, it would challenge IC, but would not necessarily challenge other ID hypotheses such as PEH or front-loading. Alas, this is why ID in general cannot be falsified, only the sub-theories developed from the ID framework can be.

  6. Thank bfast.

    You write,

    :However, even if we did see a flagellum develop, it would challenge IC, but would not necessarily challenge other ID hypotheses such as PEH or front-loading. Alas, this is why ID in general cannot be falsified, only the sub-theories developed from the ID framework can be.”

    Even if we saw things happen step-by step in the broad sense of seeing various stages of the development of the flagellum at different places in a sequence of many generations, what could we see or not see that would help us decide whether exclusively natural processes were the cause, or whether ID had been involved? What type of evidence in this case might help one decide if some form of ID had actually happened in the lab?

    As you point out, answering this question would depend on what “sub-theory” of ID one were entertaining – you mention three, but there are others. So let’s try to think more specifically here, to flesh out this exercise: what are various possible sub-theories, and how would each address this question of whether we might have witnessed ID in the lab?

    Let me start:

    1. If if one generation every child bacteria suddenly had a fully functioning flagellum where once there was none, that would be very strong evidence for the “poof” model of ID.

    2. On the other hand, at the far end of the spectrum, I would think that the front-loading hypotheses would have much bearing on this event, as the front-loading was originally activated billions of years ago. (I may be wrong about this conclusion – perhaps a front-loading advocate would like to offer his thoughhst.)

    3. In the middle somewhere is the “intervention by an intelligent agent” sub-theory. In this case, one could certainly argue that the intelligent agent decided to interven, maybe slowly over many generations, to bring a flagellum about. What evidence might or might not support this hypothesis?

  7. I’ve got to learn to edit before I post: I meant “2. On the other hand, at the far end of the spectrum, I would NOT think that the front-loading hypotheses would have much bearing on this event,…”

  8. To some extent, I think that science must bias towards the “natural causes” expanation. I would suggest that if statistical analysis of the chance events that had to have happened calculate out, I would be content to conclude that random processes produced a flagellum.

  9. “There are Darwinists on various debate forums lately claiming that Behe has left the ID camp and has gone to NDE.

    Anyone know anything about this? ” – Borne

    I doubt that very much. If that were true, he would look pretty silly considering his sequel to ‘Darwins Black Box’ is due to be coming out next year.

  10. ps.
    They’re probably just having seizures of denial.. the violent opposition to truth phase is taking a toll on their psyches.

  11. To follow on from Jack’s questioning, if someone carried out the experiment, and showed the flagellum evolving, why couldn’t ID supporters just rely by saying “OK, so the flagellum wasn’t designed. But system X was”. As I understand it, Behe’s position is that a lot of systems do evolve through natural selection, it’s only a few that have to be designed.

    Anyone care to comment?

    Bob

  12. Bob OH, in post #1, paragraph 2 I suggested that exactly that would happen. However, after plan A, plan B and plan C were to be falsified, it would cause many, including me, to question IC beyond first life. First life, on the other hand, remains firmly in the domain of “unexplained by science”.

  13. “They’re probably just having seizures of denial.. the violent opposition to truth phase is taking a toll on their psyches.”

    I’ve been debating Darwinists/atheists for many years and it actually does seem to me that their reasoning capacities have gone done over the past years.

    I’ve never seen such an inability to reason from A to B to C before. Nor such a clear failure to understand or even discern simple logical implications.

    I’m wondering if their relativist stance has some sort of neurological logic breaking tendency and is thus draining away their ability to critically analyse logical arguments clearly.

    Strange.

  14. Here’s how I see the score card.

    First Cause of Matter. ID wins easy because material causes cannot cause mater itself. Therefore, a non-material cause is necessary to explain the existance of matter.

    Fine tuning of physical laws. ID wins because the probability of laws that allow life arising by chance are so low as to be impossible.

    The Big Bang, Another easy ID win because it is really the sum of the previous two.

    Fine tuning of the earth Easy ID win because again, all of the conditions necessary to life that are found on earth are so improbable by chance that design is more probable.

    Origin of Life ID wins on this so easy it is not even funny. Life is IC.

    Evolution of Singel Cell Organisms ID again carries the day because an honest look at the evidence shows no indication of phylogeny.

    Evolution of Complex Organisms ID wins. Why? Two words: “Cambrian Explosion.”

    Fossil Record of Complex Organisms ID wins because of the absence of transitional fossils and stasis.

    I could go on but it is late. I see ID as way ahead of NDE. There might be some areas where NDE makes a good argument but I haven’t seen one in so long that it is not coming to me right now.

  15. Jehu,
    ahh, but NDE wins easily on the philosophy department! Beat that!

  16. Yes, Mike Behe is simply right.

  17. Ill take just one example:

    “Evolution of Singel Cell Organisms ID again carries the day because an honest look at the evidence shows no indication of phylogeny.”

    You actually have to show how ID explains this better than evolution. You can’t just say evolution can’t explain this therefore ID.

  18. There are Darwinists on various debate forums lately claiming that Behe has left the ID camp and has gone to NDE.

    It sound like they are conflating Behe’s long expressed belief in common descent with a rejection of ID. They aren’t the brightest bunch. Behe has a sequal to DBB coming as has been pointed out.

  19. It is a pity no one answered Jack Krebs #6. I have never seen an ID supporter attempt to answer this and yet it goes right to the heart of the problem. Unless you say something about how ID is implemented then any set of events is compatible with it.

  20. More from Dr Behe:

    ]“Coyne’s conclusion that design is unfalsifiable, however, seems to be at odds with the arguments of other reviewers of my book. Clearly, Russell Doolittle (Doolittle 1997), Kenneth Miller (Miller 1999), and others have advanced scientific arguments aimed at falsifying ID. (See my articles on blood clotting and the “acid test” on this web site.) If the results with knock-out mice (Bugge et al. 1996) had been as Doolittle first thought, or if Barry Hall’s work (Hall 1999) had indeed shown what Miller implied, then they correctly believed my claims about irreducible complexity would have suffered quite a blow. And since my claim for intelligent design requires that no unintelligent process be sufficient to produce such irreducibly complex systems, then the plausibility of ID would suffer enormously. Other scientists, including those on the National Academy of Science’s Steering Committee on Science and Creationism, in commenting on my book have also pointed to physical evidence (such as the similar structures of hemoglobin and myoglobin) which they think shows that irreducibly complex biochemical systems can be produced by natural selection: “However, structures and processes that are claimed to be ‘irreducibly’ complex typically are not on closer inspection.” (National Academy of Sciences 1999, p. 22)
    Now, one can’t have it both ways. One can’t say both that ID is unfalsifiable (or untestable) and that there is evidence against it. Either it is unfalsifiable and floats serenely beyond experimental reproach, or it can be criticized on the basis of our observations and is therefore testable. The fact that critical reviewers advance scientific arguments against ID (whether successfully or not) shows that intelligent design is indeed falsifiable.

    In fact,[I] my argument for intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal.[/I] Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwin’s Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can’t be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellum–or any equally complex system–was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven.

    How about Professor Coyne’s concern that, if one system were shown to be the result of natural selection, proponents of ID could just claim that some other system was designed? I think the objection has little force. If natural selection were shown to be capable of producing a system of a certain degree of complexity, then the assumption would be that it could produce any other system of an equal or lesser degree of complexity. If Coyne demonstrated that the flagellum (which requires approximately forty gene products) could be produced by selection, I would be rather foolish to then assert that the blood clotting system (which consists of about twenty proteins) required intelligent design.”

    (bold added)

  21. Chris Hyland:
    You actually have to show how ID explains this better than evolution.

    But ID is NOT anti-evolution. IOW your sentence is incorrect. A more correct way to say what you did is:

    You actually have to show how ID explains this better than the blind watchmaker.

    Also is Jack Krebs suggesting there isn’t any way to objectively test the materialistic anti-ID position? That should mean we have to remove it from science classrooms…

  22. bFast:
    To some extent, I think that science must bias towards the “natural causes” expanation.

    Both intelligence and design are natural. This debate is about intelligent design vesus the materialistic alternative of sheer-dumb-luck.

  23. Back up in comments 4 and 6 I asked some questions that only bfast has responded to, even though they were pretty directly related to the point Behe was making in the opening quote: if a flagellum were to arise in a population of bacteria which had had there original “knocked out”, how could we determine whether that flagellum arose exclusively by natural causes or whether intelligent design was involved. That is, is ID something that could happen in the present in the lab? and if so, how could we know?

    Bfast then said,and I agree with this, that this answer would depend on which ID hypothesis (he used the word “sub-theory”) one were entertaining.

    Then, in comment 8, bfast wrote,

    “I would suggest that if statistical analysis of the chance events that had to have happened calculate out, I would be content to conclude that random processes produced a flagellum.”

    I’ll note first that this doesn’t address the positive question of how would we know that ID was involved, other than implying the general ID position that if the odds of something happening naturally are too small, then ID is inferred.

    But, with all that, let me followup on this quote from comment 8:

    Question: given Behe’s hypothetical lab situation, what kind of statistical analysis could you do to show that “the chance events that had to have happened calculate out?”

    It seems to me that such a statistical analysis would be staggeringly complex and involve data that we could possibly gather. You have billions of bacteria, a sizeable proportion of which are undergoing cell division every minute, and thus billions of opportunities for genetic change. You also have billions of “survival moments” going on all the time (presuming the bacteria are in a environment where there is some selective advantage for motility and in which resources are scarce enough that some reasonable proportion of bacteria don’t survive.) Taking the two of things into account over an extended period of time (let us say a few years) creates a probability tree of immense complexity.

    Is this analysis feasible? Could / would a ID proponent in the above scenario be able to do this in order to show that the event in question was improbable enough to infer ID?

    ========================================================
    However, I’d also like to point out that this train of thought deflects us from my original question. Could ID happen in the lab? Is there a ID hypothesis that ID can happen in the present moment, in small ways, and is likely to be happening as we speak someplace in the world, or are all ID hypotheses about distant events in the place?

  24. Jack Krebs:

    I wonder if the question you’re asking is really this: how can we distinguish ID from NS?

    IOW, per an inversion of Behe’s comments posted by Jehu, if the flagellum is ID, the system producing it is ID. By an iterative process, the process producing the flagellum is ID, etc. Finally, we would have to say that everything is pre-programmed, or “front loaded”, and that what ensues in fact ensues because of the ID present at the highest level/deepest core of the the developmental program. Hence, if the flagellum developed, once knocked out, then how is it possible to distinguish this process from a purely NS driven one since it would look like a “natural” development?

    My answer to that would be the following:

    If you “knock out” the genes that are required, I don’t believe you could any longer call the system “front-loaded”. Hence, if the flagellum were to develop, the sensible conclusion is that NS brought it about.

    There are two levels of complication to this answer that remain. One is: does the fact that the flagellum developed after being knocked out simply mean that there is a ‘restorative function’ built into this “front loaded” genome? But this possibility is low, if not nil, since if this were the case, then one would only have to look at a population of bacteria in which, for some mechanical reason, the flagellum was broken off/torn off and where the bacteria ‘re-grew’ the flagellum. It seems to me if that were the case, we would have heard about by now since the Darwinists would have used that as a case against ID.

    The other complication has to do with how we see the Designer working. If we take a sort of Deist position, or a Platonist position a la Denton, then we would say everything is “front-loaded” and there you have it: everything necessary is present and it simply ‘unfolds’. If, OTOH, you take something like the PEH, one can see the Designer as being the one who intervenes in bringing about chromosomal changes. Now this all becomes a case wherein the degree, or– perhaps better stated– the heirarchical locations of “front-loading” are thrown into doubt since this ‘rearrangement’ results in a different type of “front loading”. This, then, further complicates the first complication since it is possible to argue that the development of the flagellum is at a level/location below that of the last “front-loaded” program level. In response to this scenario, I would argue that if this is, indeed, the way that “front loading” operates, then it would seem that other seemingly IC systems might also be “at a level/location below that of the last “front-loaded” program level”; hence the absence of a general phenomena would be contra-positive of ID.

  25. Jack Krebs,

    As an after thought you ask in 22, “Could ID happen in the lab? Is there a ID hypothesis that ID can happen in the present moment, in small ways, and is likely to be happening as we speak someplace in the world, or are all ID hypotheses about distant events in the place?”

    If you’re asking whether the designer of life as we know it will create on command from us—in the lab—then no, I suspect not. But the beauty of ID is that we are designers par excellence. We can not only design, we can study the process. Darwinism, on the other hand, cannot be observed—it’s only a hypothesis about events in the unobservable past.

    Some folks are disturbed when we compare “the appearance of design” in living things with the design found in man made things. They say it’s a category mistake. And so they argue from ignorance: Because we were not there when the designer designed we cannot call it design—it is therefore chance and necessity of the gaps.

    But then what do I know … might we be able to observe design in the lab? Perhaps just as the growth and development of life on the planet is not subject to a materialist explanation, so also the growth and development of an embryo might not be subject to a purely materialist explanation.

    I guess what Behe is saying is that if chance and necessity can be shown to do the job then ID is falsified–there would be no need to invoke design. I suppose the opposite would be true as well–if we could actually observe the Designer at work then there would be no reason to chalk it all up to pure dumb luck.

  26. Could Common Descent happen in the lab? Is there a Common Descent hypothesis that Common Descent can happen in the present moment, in small ways, and is likely to be happening as we speak someplace in the world, or are all Common Descent hypotheses about distant events in the place?

  27. how can Behe still be using that example?

    if a flagellum (or other functionally irreducibly complex structure) developed under his conditions, how would it refute (falsify) design?

    It wouldn’t falsify frontloading!
    It wouldn’t falsify intervention by supernatural God!

    and so on

  28. How about the second part of Behe’s comment, that proposed Darwinian mechanisms are highly resistant to falsification?

  29. “There are Darwinists on various debate forums lately claiming that Behe has left the ID camp and has gone to NDE.”

    Behe’s new book is coming in summer.

    check here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Evo.....0743296206

    “In this tour de force of evidence and logic, Michael Behe draws on the most extensive and detailed genetic studies available – - concerning the genomes both of human beings and of our worst diseases, especially malaria – - to reveal a stunning fact: Darwin’s theory of common descent is decisively proven, but his mechanism of random mutation and natural selection is woefully, irrefutably insufficient to account for the evolution of life on earth. With The Edge of Evolution, the theory of intelligent design finally has its masterwork, a comprehensive scientific statement that draws the line between random and non-random mutation in nature; defines the principles by which Darwinism evolution can be distinguished from designl fits design theory together with the findings of cosmology, chemistry, and physics into an overarching theory of the universe; and lays out a research program, with predictions, to counter the failed predictions of Darwin’s enthusiasts.

    The Edge of Evolution is certain to be one of the most controversial books of science published in years. Critics have dismissed design theory as mere disguised creationism, and claimed that it is unscientific and/or just another “God of the gaps” argument, yet they cannot say the same about Behe’s new work. Studies of DNA have revealed the various types and rates of mutation. That information, combined with population sizes, makes it possible to define the mathematical limits of Darwinism – - and they are radically circumscribed. Extrapolating from studies of malaria, E Coli, HIV, and the human genome, to the entire history of life on earth, proves that random mutation plays only a minor role in evolutionary change.”

  30. To Jack Krebs,

    I would say ID would be a reasonable inference in Dr Behe’s scenario if and only if every (or almost every) subsequent generation contained a mutation/ mutations that were required to re-construct the bac flag that was originally messed with.

    And I will say it again- with the bac flag as with all appengages, systems and subsystems, just their existence is not enough. They all still require some sort of command and control in order to be any use to the organism. Without C&C they are a waste of materials and energy.

    And yes, something tells the bac flag to rotate CW, CCW and at what speed. Then it also has ‘stop’, so it won’t burn out and won’t just swim by the food. Did I mention it can by rotating CW, and in a 1/4 turn, stop and rotate CCW?

    Command & Control

  31. “How about the second part of Behe’s comment, that proposed Darwinian mechanisms are highly resistant to falsification?”

    That’s what caught my eye. I think Behe is spot on with this one. How do you falsify blind watchmaker evolution? It predicts everything and nothing all at once. If it happened, it’s evolution. If it didn’t happen, it’s evolution. Evidence is found which contradicts the theory, and stories are simply invented to get around the evidence. Why? Because it couldn’t have happened any other way. The only way Darwinism is going to go away is some type of earth-shattering observation, like a flagellum developing from scratch given certain environmental conditions, as discussed here.

  32. Joseph,

    And I will say it again- with the bac flag as with all appengages, systems and subsystems, just their existence is not enough. They all still require some sort of command and control in order to be any use to the organism. Without C&C they are a waste of materials and energy.

    Good point, Joseph. One that needs to be hammered home. Matzke argued that since the chemotaxis mechanism is used in other systems within the cell that it could have been coopted to be used by the flagellum. What he fails to elucidate is HOW this occured. Or HOW the assembly mechanism evolved at the same time the binding sites were moving. So far the argument seems to be “homology proves that it evolved”, but if you focus on the details of assembly and control, the complexity of it all absolutely overwhelms the explanatory power of the neoDarwinian synthesis.

  33. Mats, “but NDE wins easily on the philosophy department”

    That one made me laff out loud.

    Thanks!

  34. Jehu #14 Pretty good summary of the situation. Of course we could easily add a number of major points, but we shouldn’t have to.

    Joseph #21, “This debate is about intelligent design vesus the materialistic alternative of sheer-dumb-luck.” Fine enough. If a phenomenon can be reasonably accounted for by sheer-dumb-luck, then the appropriate conclusion to come to.

    Jack Krebs #22: “It seems to me that such a statistical analysis would be staggeringly complex and involve data that we could possibly gather.” Possibly not. If we knock out an entire gene, and a new one has taken its place, the gene must have come from somewhere. If we find that a gene duplication happened, we should be able to trace where the source gene that got duplicated came from, etc.

    If an incalculable phenomenon happened, our experiment would hardly have proven NDE. However, what if a calculable handful of mutations happened? What if the calculations suggest that chance mutational events, within our pool of bacteria, could reasonably account for it? In this case, we should conclude that NDE is supported in our experiment.

  35. Chunkdz,

    My point is that there are people with eyes that cannot see. People with arms and/ or legs they cannot use. IOW just getting the part, eye, arm, leg is not enough to get a functioning eye, arm, or leg.

    Matzke’s argument fails with homology and homoplasy. Most often one is favored over the other “just because”. And you are right- even homologous proteins do not mean a bac flag can be self-assembled.

  36. If I remember correctly, didn’t Matzke’s paper have about 20 or so co-option events that must take place?

  37. ooops and I meant to ask, how likely is that?

  38. Michaels7, not only did Matzke’s paper have 20 or so co-option events, but he co-opted a mechanism that appears to have devolved from the flagellum.

  39. bFast (@12) – but you’re not using falsification: you’re using induction. The reason for Popper introducing falsification was that induction doesn’t work, because the next case could always be the example that actually works. This is particularly so when the hypothesis is that the designer only intervenes occasionally: in order to falsify the design inference you have to show that it doesn’t work in any case.

    Just a couple of personal observations on this:
    (a) falsification has been pretty much rejected by philosophers of science as a model for science (and, actually, naïve falsification was rejected by Popper in 1933!).
    (b) I love the idea that the designer would be thoughful enough to give bacteria outboard motors. Sod the science, this is fun!

    Bob

  40. In DARWIN’S BLACK BOX, Behe acknowledges that evolutionary biologists can develop scenarios of how evolution could have constructed “irreducibly complex” mechanisms. But this is insufficient, he complains. “Although they might think of possible evolutionary routes other people overlook, they also tend to ignore details and roadblocks that would trip up their scenarios. Science, however, cannot ultimately ignore relevant details, and at the molecular level all the ‘details’ become critical” (65).

    After offering an example of an evolutionary scenario, Behe comments: “Intriguing as this scenario may sound, though, critical details are overlooked. The question we must ask of this indirect scenario is one for which many evolutionary biologists have little patience: but how exactly?” (66)

    Ok, Behe, some might respond, let’s apply to you the standards of proof that you apply to Darwinism.

    Intriguing as your scenario for intelligent design may sound, critical details are overlooked. The question we must ask of your intelligent design scenario is one for which many proponents of intelligent design have little patience: but how exactly?

    Exactly how, when, and where did the intelligent designer create bacterial flagella and attach them to bacteria?

  41. Bob OH

    (a) falsification has been pretty much rejected by philosophers of science as a model for science (and, actually, naïve falsification was rejected by Popper in 1933!).

    Would you agree that if something is neither falsifiable nor verifiable then it’s a just-so story?

  42. Jack

    If we impose the requirement of falsifiablity then it has to be applied equally. How is it possible, in principle, to falsify the RM+NS explanation for the origin of the flagellum?

    Comment by DaveScot — December 27, 2006 @ 1:18 pm

    Dave, I took the liberty of moving your comment to this thread. I hope you don’t mind–Crandaddy

  43. Arnhart: “Intriguing as your scenario for intelligent design may sound, critical details are overlooked. The question we must ask of your intelligent design scenario is one for which many proponents of intelligent design have little patience: but how exactly?

    Exactly how, when, and where did the intelligent designer create bacterial flagella and attach them to bacteria? ”

    I agree, this IS an excellent question and it does deserve some kind of answer.

    Though not an “exact” answer, the solution to this question is that the designer created the complete DNA code for the flagella to be fully operational, once instantiated. Whether as a “hidden” subroutine that was eventually activated at the proper time (i.e. front-loaded), or as part of a fully functioning bacterium fully formed (as oponents of common descent might prefer) might be a question answerable in the future, just as close examination of computer code can reveal aspects of the code’s orignal design and subsequent evolution.

  44. Arnhart,

    Does a forensic pathologist have to identify exactly how and when a poison was introduced into a body in order for his finding that poisoning was the cause of death to be accepted? Of course not. It would help buttress the conclusion, but it’s not required.

    Remember that Darwinism is making the sweeping claim that it adequately explains all biological complexity – all – and so there is no need – none – to investigate any role of intelligence. You’ve obviously read Darwin’s Black Box, so you’re familiar with what Behe’s actual claims are. His claims and those of Darwinism are not symmetrical, so the burden of proof needn’t be as reflexively symmentrical as you demand.

  45. The standard for Darwin and Design are the same. Let’s let designers design, and let’s let chance and necessity do its thing. I see designers design every day, so far I have not witnessed chance and necessity produce anything close even to “the appearance of design”.

    But you’re asking for more than design detection–which is an area where ID should be a fruitful model. In regard to when I suppose we look to the geologic column and one imagines there are also biological indicators, but for how, haven’t the ID folks (WmAD for one) been talking about reverse engineering? It’s one thing to detect design in the Great Pyramid, it requires other skills to determine just exactly how it was built.

    By the way–do you think conservatives should disavow the very idea that the Hebrew God of history has interfered in the course of history?

  46. Arnhart,

    Exactly how, when, and where did the intelligent designer create bacterial flagella and attach them to bacteria?

    Please explain to us why this information is necessary to draw a valid design inference.

  47. Crandaddy writes,

    ” “If we impose the requirement of falsifiablity then it has to be applied equally. How is it possible, in principle, to falsify the RM+NS explanation for the origin of the flagellum?

    Comment by DaveScot — December 27, 2006 @ 1:18 pm”

    Dave, I took the liberty of moving your comment to this thread. I hope you don’t mind–Crandaddy”

    I’m confused – where did this comment from DaveScot come from? I don’t see it above, and I haven’t posted on any other thread lately?

    But anyway, I’m not discussing falsifiability – other people are having that conversation.

    I am asking the following questions:

    Suppose something interesting like the development of a flagellum arises in a population of flagellum-less bacteria in a laboratory setting

    Could this have happened by ID?, and if so, how would we know? How would we distinguish the hypothesis that exclusively natural processes were involved in the development of that flagellum from the hypothesis that ID was involved. What evidence would bear on answering this question?

    This is not a falsification question – this is a confirmation question. (FWIW, I agree with those who say that the naive falsification scenario is not very useful.

    So as far as I can tell, DaveScot’s question doesn’t have much to do with the specific questions I’m addressing here.

  48. “Exactly how, when, and where did the intelligent designer create bacterial flagella and attach them to bacteria?”

    I will tell you if you tell me what is the size of my shoes I am wearing when typing these designed words.

  49. Jack,

    link

  50. [...] UD has a quote from Behe about falsifiability. This criterion seems to a wandering fragment of scientific methodology doomed to roam behind the wreckages of phil/sci incoherence. Before scotching ID on issues of falsifiability, it should be noted that Darwin’s theory of natural selection is essentially unfalsifiable. Not inherently so, nor in all cases, nor in the final analysis (the eonic effect makes many claims for natural selection in human evolution essentially baseless). If you consider what is being said about natural selection you can see that while it is easy to claim NS is falsifiable, in practice it is very difficult to arrive at the correct data. That’s the reason Darwin’s theory persists ad infinitum. All you is to repeat the claim over and over, and get howler monkeys and Pharyngulas to shout contemptuously at critics, and you have it made. Look at the claim that language is the result of adaptive selectionism. This claim is a very wild generalization, but has never been proven, and disproving it is impossible in the absence of the facts, to say nothing of shouting howler monkeys and Pharyngulas. If we had the facts, we could proceed, but verification/falsification requires an immense field of observations over dozens to hundreds plus generations of organisms over vast fields of geographical existence. So the question of falsifiability is a bit vexed. In fact, looking at the eonic effect, we can see that the thesis is essentially falsified because we can see the real scale and process by which an evolutionary sequence occurs. Look at the Axial Age in light of the issue of language. The sudden flowering of immense literatures almost as if on cue shows the way evolution has its finger in the pie, not just of language emergence, but of advanced linguistic behaviors. That makes Darwinian claims seem a bit speculative. As to ID, very similar criticisms apply directly. Generally, Popper’s criterion has found immense popularity, but his methodology of science is basically incoherent, and his criterion, in any case, has been the object of a considerable critical literature, which never enters the public debate over Darwin. The National Academy of Sciences has objected that intelligent design is not falsifiable, and I think that’s just the opposite of the truth. Intelligent design is very open to falsification. I claim, for example, that the bacterial flagellum could not be produced by natural selection; it needed to be deliberately intelligently designed. Well, all a scientist has to do to prove me wrong is to take a bacterium without a flagellum, or knock out the genes for the flagellum in a bacterium, go into his lab and grow that bug for a long time and see if it produces anything resembling a flagellum. If that happened, intelligent design, as I understand it, would be knocked out of the water. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s easily falsified by a series of such experiments. [...]

  51. Bob OH, “bFast (@12) – but you’re not using falsification: you’re using induction.”

    This is true. While Behe’s challenge that the bacterial flagellum is unevolvable is a falsifiable challenge, the fact that there are potentially an infinite number of similar scenerios that could be brought up makes for a position that is not formally falsifiable. On the flip side, though NDE is theoretically falsifiable by demonstrating that there is one feature that is not evolvable, it would seem unfalsifiable in that there are always more possible pathways that could be conceived that might allow the dear thing to have evolved via NDE.

    Ie, as you said, “falsifiability” at some point breaks down — no matter which side of the fence you are on.

  52. bfast, thanks… been a while since I read it.

    It would be nice if evolutionist would test the 20 or so co-opted events too. Isn’t 20 or more co-opted events just as magical a dream as any?

    What are the odds? Has anyone reported on that type of stat?

    Forgive my ignorance, but I’m thinking I might not sit on the grass because it may co-opt my a&%…, then I’d have yet another lawn to mow.

  53. Arnhart:

    Exactly how, when, and where did the intelligent designer create bacterial flagella and attach them to bacteria?

    ID is a theory of design detection, not process. Darwinian evolution is a theory of process, and it is therefore incumbent upon proponents to demonstrate that the proposed process actually has the creative power attributed to it. As a theory of design detection which makes no claims about a particular process, this same burden of proof does not exist for ID.

    As for Jack Krebs’ challenge: If Behe’s experiment were performed and a flagellum did evolve by random mutation and natural selection, we could observe the process taking place, and see the step-by-tiny-step incremental changes with successive generations. We could identify the survival value of each change in the process and sequence DNA to observe which mutations were responsible for the changes. This would pretty much sink ID.

  54. Gil writes,

    “As for Jack Krebs’ challenge: If Behe’s experiment were performed and a flagellum did evolve by random mutation and natural selection, we could observe the process taking place, and see the step-by-tiny-step incremental changes with successive generations. We could identify the survival value of each change in the process and sequence DNA to observe which mutations were responsible for the changes. This would pretty much sink ID.”

    I’m thinking that people are not getting my point. I’m not offering this scenario in order to discuss what would “sink ID.” I’m asking a different question: what would see that might be evidence that ID had taken place, not evidence that it hadn’t.

    Let me try a different angle. Suppose we did see, as Gil writes, “the step-by-tiny-step incremental changes with successive generations. We could identify the survival value of each change in the process and sequence DNA to observe which mutations were responsible for the changes.”

    How would we know that this was not in fact intelligent design at work, and that what we were observing were the steps in the implementation of the design?

  55. GilDodgen,
    “ID is a theory of design detection, not process.”

    Exactly, that’s what people are not willing to understand.

    In my view, ID has to aspects.

    1- Paradigm, that is we don’t deal with nature as if it’s a product of a blind watchmaker (and thus we don’t say this is “junk DNA”)

    2- Detecting design, how to know if something is designed.

  56. Jack Krebs asks a legitimate question:

    “How would we know that this was not in fact intelligent design at work, and that what we were observing were the steps in the implementation of the design?”

    The answer is that we wouldn’t know absolutely–there is the possibility that the designer wanted to deceive us. But if it happened with “step-by-tiny-step incremental changes with successive generations” each functional in its own right, then this would be what the Darwin predicted. Design, though evolutionary as observed in human technology, has saltations and irreducible complexities that Darwin didn’t predict.

    ID is a detection strategy, not a process, as Gil Dodgen says, but one expects those who accept ID to also be interested in the process–did life “evolve” as the Darwinists say, or is human technology the better model?

  57. How would we know that this was not in fact intelligent design at work, and that what we were observing were the steps in the implementation of the design?

    We might not be able to know for sure, but it would be very powerful and persuasive evidence for traditional Darwinian mechanisms.

  58. GilDodgen:

    Yes, you have just pointed to the effective rhetorical strategy of ID.

    Proponents of ID must be careful never to propose any specific process by which the intelligent designer works. At the same time, they must exploit the willingness of Darwinian theorists to propose a specific process by which evolution works. In this way, the Darwinians assume a heavy burden of proof that they can never satisfy, and the ID proponents win the debate when the Darwinians fail to satisfy that burden of proof.

    Behe is particularly astute in pursuing this rhetorical strategy.

  59. Arnhart:

    …you have just pointed to the effective rhetorical strategy of ID… they must exploit the willingness of Darwinian theorists to propose a specific process by which evolution works. In this way, the Darwinians assume a heavy burden of proof that they can never satisfy, and the ID proponents win the debate when the Darwinians fail to satisfy that burden of proof.

    It’s not a rhetorical strategy; it’s just a demand that extraordinary claims be accompanied by commensurately extraordinary evidence. Darwinism proposes a mechanism, a process, whereby a bacterium turned into Mozart in 10^17 seconds through purely materialistic means. This is an extraordinary claim that seems to fly in the face of everything we know about complex, tightly functionally integrated information processing systems.

    I could make a convincing case that Stonehenge was designed without offering the details of its design and construction. If I were to propose a specific process — where the stones came from, how they were transported, how they were hewn, how they were assembled — I would be expected to provide suitable evidence for these specific claims.

  60. When I wrote, “How would we know that this was not in fact intelligent design at work, and that what we were observing were the steps in the implementation of the design?”,

    Rude answered, “The answer is that we wouldn’t know absolutely–there is the possibility that the designer wanted to deceive us.”

    Deceive us into what? Into thinking that perhaps the designer works by creating “step-by-tiny-step incremental changes with successive generations each functional in its own right.”? How do we know that this is not in fact precisely the way that the Designer implements his design?

    If one hypothesizes that design is implemented at the genetic level, or even at the sub-molecular level within the genome, then one might expect the implementation of the design of the flagellum in this hypothetical situation to appear to us as “step-by-tiny-step incremental changes with successive generations each functional in its own right.” There would be nothing deceptive about this – it would just be the way the designer works.

  61. GilDodgen:
    ID is a theory of design detection, not process.

    I humbly submit that ID is about the detection and understanding:

    Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence. — William A. Dembski

    (bold added)

    ———————————————————————–

    Jack Krebs:
    Suppose something interesting like the development of a flagellum arises in a population of flagellum-less bacteria in a laboratory setting

    Could this have happened by ID?, and if so, how would we know? How would we distinguish the hypothesis that exclusively natural processes were involved in the development of that flagellum from the hypothesis that ID was involved. What evidence would bear on answering this question?

    (from comment #30):

    To Jack Krebs,

    I would say ID would be a reasonable inference in Dr Behe’s scenario if and only if every (or almost every) subsequent generation contained a mutation/ mutations that were required to re-construct the bac flag that was originally messed with.

    And I will say it again- with the bac flag as with all appengages, systems and subsystems, just their existence is not enough. They all still require some sort of command and control in order to be any use to the organism. Without C&C they are a waste of materials and energy.

    And yes, something tells the bac flag to rotate CW, CCW and at what speed. Then it also has ’stop’, so it won’t burn out and won’t just swim by the food. Did I mention it can by rotating CW, and in a 1/4 turn, stop and rotate CCW?

    Command & Control

  62. Arnhart,

    If someone went into a lab and designed a self-replicating organism with a 40 some odd protein ion-driven flagellum, would ID then be “proven”* true?

    *science is not in the proving business.

  63. Arnhart,

    The ID proponent dosen’t have to provide where’s, when’s, and how’s of design implementation because ID is not fundamentally a mechanistic reductionist causal account. His position is simple: The phenomenon is as it appears–designed. The burden lies squarely on the natralist’s shoulders to offer a diachronic reforming reduction of the phenomenon in question to show that design is illusory. Sucks to be you. I’m sorry.

  64. Crandaddy writes,

    “The ID proponent dosen’t have to provide where’s, when’s, and how’s of design implementation because ID is not fundamentally a mechanistic reductionist causal account. His position is simple: The phenomenon is as it appears–designed. The burden lies squarely on the natralist’s shoulders to offer a diachronic eliminative reduction of the phenomenon in question to show that design is illusory.”

    If ID offers nothing but “The phenomenon is as it appears–designed” without offering anything at all in the form of hypotheses about mechanism, then why should the “naturalist” bother with “shouldering the burden” of attempting to argue against this hypotheses. Perhaps, as I have been attempting to point out, the implementation of the design is done through everyday means (natural causes), and perhaps all the time. Perhaps when we study the world through empirical observation and then attempt to explain how things work in respect to other things, we are merely investigating the manifestations of the way that the designer works?

    If this ID hypothesis is as good as any other ID hypothesis – that is, if merely saying some things appear designed without any attempt to discuss how design happens is acceptable, then why not accept as a valid ID theory that the designers works through the natural processes mainstream scientists observe, and that the processes described by evolutionary science are the best we can do in understanding the means by which design is implemented.

    P.S. Could someone tell me what syntax is used here to show blockquotes? Do I type html, or bbcode, or what? Thanks

  65. Jack, I think that ID is different than “ops, design happened”. Consider, for instance, the most extreme design hypothesis — YEC. If YEC, then there should be all sorts of “young earth” evidence. If agency happened, then the scope of that agency should become clear. For instance, we see the apparent agency in the HAR1F gene. It involves 18 basepairs. With time, we should be able to determine just what the granularity of agency is. Is there agency but still common ancestry? Then every act of agency should lead to a viable organism. If there was one or two grand front-loading events, then there is likely to be chunks of the super-genonome that started it all floating around. If all design was laid out before the big bang happened — the “law hypothesis”, then a very precise pathway through the maze of nature should be findable, a pathway that has the hallmarks of being intentionally laid. In each case, as a specific ID hypothesis arises, there should be a specific pattern of evidence that supports that position. Though there may be a point when we must simply say, “the designer did that”, we should be able to flesh out details around those specific points of agency. For instance, did the flagellum, with all of its parts, suddenly appear complete in a bacterium somewhere? Maybe. Maybe it was engineered in through a process of multiple generations. We may be able to make that determination with sufficient study.

    Ie, “the designer did this bit” may be the best answer we can get for some portions of nature, but for vast vistas of other portions, we will be able to flesh out a whole lot of detail.

  66. blockquote

    Jack Krebs:
    If ID offers nothing but “The phenomenon is as it appears–designed” without offering anything at all in the form of hypotheses about mechanism, then why should the “naturalist” bother with “shouldering the burden” of attempting to argue against this hypotheses.

    If I said it once…

    The ONLY way that any determination can be made about the designer or the specific process used, in the absence of direct observation or designer input, is by studying the design in question.

    And the reason the ‘naturalist’ “shoulders the burden”, is we have never observed nature, operating freely, do the things ‘naturalists’ claim that is has.

    Also, as reality demonstrates, it matters to an investigation whether or not what we are trying to figure out was the result of intention or blind forces.

    We exist- that is regardless of whether or not one is from Kansas. There are only a few options as to the reality behind that existence. If science has any interest at all in reality…

  67. [Off-topic. Sorry for interrupting.] Video footage of mass NDE indoctrination:

    “Intelligent Design Creationism”
    UC San Diego (apparently mandatory) 11/14/06 convocation address by philosopher Robert T. Pennock
    will be broadcast on UCTV (U of Cal TV) at 11:00 PM EST / 8:00 PM PST tonight.

    Rebroadcasting at 9:00 AM EST / 6:00 AM PST tomorrow (12/28), and 6:00 AM EST / 3:00 AM PST Friday (12/29), too.

    Rated D (Darwinist) – contains n@ked propaganda, violent rhetoric, abuse of language

    Among other things, Pennock:
    - looked like he couldn’t believe what he was saying
    - played the Dover trial for all it’s worth
    - shamelessly misrepresented ID and Dembski’s stance on the Dover trial
    - quote-mined Uncommon Descent
    - didn’t engage any of Dembski’s actual arguments
    - dishonestly took Dembski’s “Logos” quote out of context
    - falsely implied that ID is opposed to evolution and means a “tinkering God”
    - misrepresented Pope John Paul II’s statement about evolution
    - introduced Behe’s concept of IC only in the last 10 minutes
    - falsely said that “natural selection can evolve complex traits” based on Avida research
    - apparently does not understand that if the fitness function is provided by an intelligence, then its not natural selection
    - gave a very effective presentation (if you don’t care about the truth)

  68. “P.S. Could someone tell me what syntax is used here to show blockquotes? Do I type html, or bbcode, or what? Thanks”

    Ok, I give up. I’ve been trying to figure this out, too. Can someone point newcomers to a syntax guide for doing blockquotes, italics, underline, etc.? On a test post, I tried bbcode, but it didn’t work.

  69. Hmmm. I appreciate those comments, but I find them at odds with what Crandaddy said. (Not that there is anything with people having different opinions.)

    Crandaddy says ID has no hypotheses about mechanism, or about why, when and how ID occurred, but you are saying that you think there would be relevant evidence about when and how ID occurred, and that various hypotheses about how ID happened are possible and testable.

    So what would Crandaddy say about the flagellum appearing in the hypothetical lab situation we are discussing? In the absence of a “diachronic reforming reduction”, Crandaddy would appear to hold that we could infer that design had happened right there in the lab, because the product (the flagellum) looks designed.

    I guess this is one of the points I’m looking for clarification on: when and how often is ID hypothesized to happen. Is there any reason why it couldn’t happen in a lab experiment?

  70. Ok, in the syntax below, conver > to blockquote/blockquotei/ib/bu/us/s

  71. This board uses regular HTML. So just do a normal HTML blockquote or underline.

  72. I misspoke when I said “eliminative” because I temporarily got distracted by thoughts of agency, itself. What we’re talking about here is a reduction of the effect produced by agency (e.g. the BacFlag) which is essentially preserved after the reduction. (Our understanding of the phenomenon is reformed but the phenomenon is not eliminated altogether.) The reduction would be diachronic because our concern is with the causal history of the phenomenon.

    It seems to me that you misunderstand the difference between ontological design and epistemic design, Jack. We IDists don’t concern ourselves with ontological design; we’re not in the business of proving anything with this stuff. A person’s epistemic economy includes three physical causal types: necessity, chance, and agency. Any epistemic defense of the presence of agency would have to show that known chance and necessity hypotheses are insufficient causal accounts for a given phenomenon. Ideally, this would include a rigorous probabilistic elimination of chance hypotheses such as is the focus of Dembski’s work. It’s not enough to simply say, “It looks designed; therefore, it is.” Rather, what we ask is, “It looks designed, so why should we think that design is not the best causal explanation?” If a BacFlag ever evolved in a lab we would have to see whether or not the process could be sufficiently chalked up to naturalistic mechanisms.

  73. Hey, my post was cute. It worked perfectly in the “you said” line below this edit window. Let me try again using different encoding. I’ll use square brackets where you need to use greater than and less than signs.

    [blockquote]blockquote[/blockquote]
    [i]italics[/i] [u]underline[/u] [s]strike-through.[/s]

  74. Thanks for the response, Crandaddy

    First, you say,

    It seems to me that you misunderstand the difference between ontological design and epistemic design, Jack. We IDists don’t concern ourselves with ontological design; we’re not in the business of proving anything with this stuff. A person’s epistemic economy includes three physical causal types: necessity, chance, and agency.

    I have no idea what difference you think I misunderstand here – and I know the difference between ontology and epistomology. Can you explain more what point you’re making here.

    Next, you write,

    Any epistemic defense of the presence of agency would have to show that known chance and necessity hypotheses are insufficient causal accounts for a given phenomenon. Ideally, this would include a rigorous probabilistic elimination of chance hypotheses such as is the focus of Dembski’s work. It’s not enough to simply say, “It looks designed; therefore, it is.” Rather, what we ask is, “It looks designed, so why should we think that design is not the best causal explanation?” If a BacFlag ever evolved in a lab we would have to see whether or not the process could be sufficiently chalked up to naturalistic mechanisms.

    As I said much earlier in this thread, I fight it hard to imagine how one could gather and process the relevant data needed to “include a rigorous probabilistic elimination of chance hypotheses such as is the focus of Dembski’s work.” I teach probability and calculus, for what that’s worth, so I have some idea of the complexity of the math that would be needed to model billions of bacteria and multiple billions of genetic events per generation for thousands or millions of generations.

    Do you, or anyone, have ideas about how to do that?

  75. Crandaddy also writes,

    What we ask is, “It looks designed, so why should we think that design is not the best causal explanation?”

    One reason is that throughout the history of mankind’s search for knowledge, we have seen time and time again that what appears to us to be the case turns out to be only just that – an appearance, but not the actual case. Likewise, we have seen time and time again that things that people once thought were the product of an intelligent agent turned out to not be, from the winds blowing to the causes of disease.

    Therefore, I think history tells us that assuming design is the best causal explanation for things that look designed is not a very reliable assumption. If one wishes to establish that design is a possible explanation, one has to have some sense of what evidence one might find, and how one might find that evidence.

  76. Jack,
    Jack,

    You said, [blockquote]Deceive us into what? Into thinking that perhaps the designer works by creating “step-by-tiny-step incremental changes with successive generations each functional in its own right.”? How do we know that this is not in fact precisely the way that the Designer implements his design?[/blockquote]

    The reason Rude said it would be a deception is that it is mighty unlikely that the designer, just because we tinker with some few bacteria in a lab somewhere and knock out some of their genetics, is going to ride in and fix the situation, while we watch. I do understand the point of your question, but this scenario is just silly.

  77. So the last time I tried to use italics it didn’t work, and now I tried to use blockquote, and it didn’t work.

  78. Avocationist, you need to use HTML style, not BBCode styel. This means no [] brackets. Use brackets instead.

  79. *Use <>

  80. Your code should look like this:

    <blockquote>Some text you want indented as a blockquote</blockquote>

    …not like this:

    [Blockquote]This will never work on UD. Only on BBCode enabled forums…[/Blockquote]

  81. In light of what we now know from modern biochemistry and computational technology — not to mention the mathematics of combinatorics and the inadequacies of appeals to deep time — traditional Darwinian mechanisms are simply dead in their explanatory power, and can only be propped up by appeals to authority and lawsuits.

    This is pathetic, and represents the antithesis of genuine scientific inquiry.

    There is a simple explanation for this devotion to a scientifically and mathematically bankrupt proposition: It promotes a religion of nihilism, especially to other people’s children.

  82. This Atom guy is a sharp dude.

  83. One reason is that throughout the history of mankind’s search for knowledge, we have seen time and time again that what appears to us to be the case turns out to be only just that – an appearance, but not the actual case. Likewise, we have seen time and time again that things that people once thought were the product of an intelligent agent turned out to not be, from the winds blowing to the causes of disease.

    This is true, I think the classic example is the rotation of the planets. However, it gives rise to the invalid philosophical argument that all phenomena must have a natural cause. Just because many phenomena have a natural cause, it does not follow that all phenomena have a natural cause.

    In fact, I would posit that one phenomenon in particular, the existance of matter cannot have a natural cause because it is impossible for matter to be its own first cause. Therefore the existence of matter requires a supernatural cause. I suppose the same could be said to be true of time, space, gravity, and the universe. So the issue is not whether some phenomena do not have a natural cause, because some clearly do not, the issue is which phenomena can be explained by natural causes and which cannot.

  84. Robo posted this over on the “Cross-pollination with Telic Thoughts” thread, but it seems appropriate to mention here. It is a reference to an article at what appears to be an ID-hostile site and is entitled “Intelligent Design tries to rally its base.” Most of the article is a critique of Dr. Behe’s ideas and recent presentations:


    http://arstechnica.com/journal.....12/27/6407

    (Thanks for the tips on the html formatting, BTW).

  85. From the hostile article I just linked to, it says:

    He also, as noted, runs into trouble when asked about testability. He suggests that both good and bad designs are compatible with ID, so that discoveries regarding extinctions and inefficiencies are perfectly okay as far as ID is concerned, raising questions about what aspects of ID are testable. Behe stated that the only testable aspects of ID—the only ways it could be falsified—would come by via examinations of evolutionary processes. In his view, if evolution fails, we can accept ID. Design, in short, should be viewed as a default explanation until proven wrong, despite its lack of experimental support. This violates the scientific principle that unexplained or unexamined phenomena are considered just that: unexplained. In this regard, Behe’s talk is perhaps the most blatant admission that ID is a “God of the Gaps” argument.

    How would you guys respond to this? (I myself know very little about biology, so it’s hard for me to discern who’s really telling the truth: thus my curiosity as to how those more knowledgeable would respond).

  86. Jack Krebs:
    Likewise, we have seen time and time again that things that people once thought were the product of an intelligent agent turned out to not be, from the winds blowing to the causes of disease.

    Any legitimate examples of scientists making these mistakes?

    Jack Krebs:
    Therefore, I think history tells us that assuming design is the best causal explanation for things that look designed is not a very reliable assumption.

    As I have stated before- If something looks designed we should be allowed to check into that to see if it was intentionally designed.

    Jack Krebs:
    If one wishes to establish that design is a possible explanation, one has to have some sense of what evidence one might find, and how one might find that evidence.

    What cave have you been living in? Drs Behe, Dembski and Meyer have given us just that- what to look for.

    And btw, design is a mechanism (that is if you use the standard and accepted definitions of each). And it is just as valid a mechanism as RM&NS or any other vague “evolutionary” mechanism. (vague because no one can tell us, for example, what mutations account for what differences in allegedly closely related populations as chimps & humans).

    Jack Krebs:
    I guess this is one of the points I’m looking for clarification on: when and how often is ID hypothesized to happen.

    At least once in the past.

    Jack Krebs:
    Is there any reason why it couldn’t happen in a lab experiment?

    No and I gave a possible ID lab scenario above.

  87. JB:
    How would you guys respond to this?

    As I attempted to read the article JB linked to it became obvious that the author had preconceived anti-ID biases.

    I would tell him that the best and perhaps the only way to refute ID is by substantiating the claims of the materialistic anti-ID position. And that his ID ignorance should not be mistaken as a refutation.

  88. avocationist:

    Jack,

    You said, [blockquote]Deceive us into what? Into thinking that perhaps the designer works by creating “step-by-tiny-step incremental changes with successive generations each functional in its own right.”? How do we know that this is not in fact precisely the way that the Designer implements his design?[/blockquote]

    The reason Rude said it would be a deception is that it is mighty unlikely that the designer, just because we tinker with some few bacteria in a lab somewhere and knock out some of their genetics, is going to ride in and fix the situation, while we watch. I do understand the point of your question, but this scenario is just silly.

    Thanks, avocationist. This gets at the intentions of the designer. How can you know them?

  89. Therefore, I think history tells us that assuming design is the best causal explanation for things that look designed is not a very reliable assumption.

    well I thought history tells us something different.

    We thought that life is very simple that it is not designed, no need to comment on this.
    We thought that Urey-Miller experiment proves that life can emerge naturally, but we know now that it is irrelevant.
    We thought that Archaeopteryx is the ancestor of birds (was considered the best example of intermidiate forms).
    and many other examples.

    the problem is that we underestimated the design in life, and we were afraid to say that feature X is designed so that it is not proved wrong after that.

    But this is not the case now, thanks to information theory and design detection sciences, and the works of Doctors Behe, Dembski, Meyer, Wells and others provided us with reliable ways of design detection.

  90. Jack Krebs

    I’m looking for comparative genomics and molecular biology to reveal evidence that some of the patterns of life were front-loaded. This is essentially Crick & Orgel’s view that life didn’t originate on this planet and was originally placed here by an intelligent agency. If that’s true then we might find evidence of intelligent design as we sequence and understand more of the life that descended from what was placed here. Presumably if some advanced intelligence placed life here it was designed in such a way that it unfolded according to a plan. This would require that genomic information needed in the future would be in place and conserved through some mechanism other than natural selection. Natural selection is at present the only mechanism NDE holds out as capable of conserving information. Already there is strong evidence that some other mechanism of conserving genomic information exists – a thousand non-coding sequences that were highly conserved for 90 million years between mice and men were deleted from the mouse and it resulted in, as far as anyone has been able to determine so far, perfectly healthy mice. NDE has no explanation for how so much genomic information that has no evident function in regard to survival could have been conserved for that long. Natural selection doesn’t work to conserve things with no survival value. This prediction based on natural selection that didn’t pan out cuts right to the core of NDE theory. The front-loading hypothesis on the other hand requires some mechanism of preserving unexpressed genomic information. NDE pundits largely remain entirely convinced that some important function for the knocked out code must exist because they take it as a truism that natural selection and nothing but natural selection can conserve genomic information. If there’s another mechanism that preserves information for future use that’s evidence of planning in advance. RM+NS is incapable of planning for the future – it only reacts to the present.

  91. Daniel King,

    “Thanks, avocationist. This gets at the intentions of the designer. How can you know them?”

    The same way you discern the intention of an artist. You can never know the mind of an artist by looking at tiny fragments of his painting. You have to back up and take in the total picture. To know the intent of the designer of the universe, you look at the universe. And so far to me, it seems exquisitedly tuned for the existence of us. When I dial down to earth, I see the same thing. A perfect environment bed for supernatural entities such as us to be tested.

  92. Re: Daniel King and Mike1962 #91

    In agreement with Mike1962, read The Privileged Planet. I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with the correlation between habitability and measurability…

  93. Jack Krebs,
    May I take a stab at it?
    You asked that if a nonflagellate developed a flagellum in the lab, how would we know if it were designed?
    The explanatory filter can be fooled by something that is designed, yet is indistinguishable from something not designed. Were this the case in the flagellum, then I’d say move on to the next example. Look for something else that the filter can catch.

    That being said, I’d say that the WAY the flagellum developed would provide clues to design detection as well. Was the experiment repeatable, or a frozen accident? Did the flagellum all develop identically? Did various versions of flagellum form? Did some organisms develop other modes of motility?
    Was the mechanistic process of evolution directed or random? Were mutation rates increased in loci dedicated to motility? Was active exaptation observed?

    I think it is the details which will reveal design in this case, not simply the fact that a flagellum grew where there was none.

  94. DaveScot’s observation in #90

    Natural selection doesn’t work to conserve things with no survival value. This prediction based on natural selection that didn’t pan out cuts right to the core of NDE theory… If there’s another mechanism that preserves information for future use that’s evidence of planning in advance. RM+NS is incapable of planning for the future – it only reacts to the present.

    represents yet another nail in the NDE coffin. Actually, this one is more like a tent spike. It will be interesting to see how much longer NDE theory can withstand the counter-evidential onslaught.

  95. Daniel,

    Thanks, avocationist. This gets at the intentions of the designer. How can you know them?

    I don’t see what you are getting at. Because I say the scenario is silly, that means I have ascertained the intentions of the designer?

  96. Hi, avocationist.

    You wrote:

    I don’t see what you are getting at. Because I say the scenario is silly, that means I have ascertained the intentions of the designer?

    It seems to me that you are imputing motivations to your designer when you characterize a hypothetical course of action by the designer as “silly.” And I wonder how you ascertain the designer’s motivations.
    What is the point of equipping bacteria with flagella in the first place?
    Hope this helps.

  97. The same way you discern the intention of an artist. You can never know the mind of an artist by looking at tiny fragments of his painting.

    Sometimes you can’t know the mind of an artist after looking at their work of art either. But one should still recognize the obvious, so here is a satire…all scientific like. Once upon a time there was an artist who painted a picture for a scientist but she noticed that he was looking at it too closely and would not be able to see her big picture. So she said, “Stand back here with me.” But the scientist said, “It looks like it is a compound of pigments…closer study is necessary.”
    “I know what it is, now come back here with me to be able to see the big picture.”
    “I only look at things scientifically. You know, people talking about big pictures have done terrible things in the name of the big picture!” Then he got out a little magnifying glass and studied a corner of the picture intently. Finally she said, “Look, you know me and you know that I would not do anything terrible in the name of the big picture. Now would you just come back here and see it?”
    He said, “It’s not scientific to look at the big picture. No….and the science of me!” Then he got out a knife to take a scraping of the picture but the artist came forward, grabbed his hand and said, “Stop! What do you think you’re doing?”
    “I have to test the materials of it to be able to make some observations.”
    “You’re going to ruin it! You should have stood back to observe it with me if you wanted to make observations. But I can see that you do not want to see the big picture. That’s ashame because it is beautiful.” Then she took it and walked out. The scientist caught a glimpse of her picture as she walked out, it did seem beautiful. But then he thought, “But I once heard that people who see the big picture are a threat to science….science!” So he turned away and went back to his test-tubes.

  98. Let me suppose for the sake of argument that someone were to do this, and in fact sometime along the line the bacteria would develop a flagellum.

    How would we know that intelligent design was not the cause of that flagellum arising? Why could we not argue that we had witnessed a case of intelligent design in action?

    It is rather odd that people who rely on a chain of natural processes, neurons firing, etc., in order to think that they are intelligent would then turn around and say that finding a chain of events disproves intelligence. For that matter, we sit at the end of a long chain of events and unfolded/”evolved” from an embryonic state ourselves.

    It is actually Darwinists who argue that a chain of events or “evolution” disproves intelligent design though, so their own so-called “gill-slits” and the like should be counted against them and their supposed mind of the synaptic gaps.

    To answer the question, in all probability you probably wouldn’t totally know that “intelligent design was not the cause of that flagellum arising” until you came to the end of scientia/knowledge itself because that’s a negative question instead of a positive inference. The question is, how do Darwinists already know “scientifically” that all organisms are not designed? That’s their claim.

    It seems that ID types are just setting out but unfortunately they have the hypothetical goo of Darwinism to deal with, which leaves people like Behe arguing against Darwin’s argument instead of avoiding this sort of hypothetical goo altogether: “If I can imagine a chain of events by which this happened, then that can serve as evidence for my theories. If I can’t imagine something about the past, then my theories are falsified.”

    Darwinian “reasoning” leaves those who accept Darwinism as their foil with this sort of position: “I’ll bet I can find something you can’t imagine.” And the Darwinian reply is usually: “Oh, I can imagine something about that because would you just look at this little thing which seems similar to me! Your personal incredulity can’t falsify my imagination about what happened in the past. Come, imagine things about the past with me!”

    It seems to me that the correct place to start is to reject Darwinian “reasoning” totally, otherwise you’re just inviting Darwinists to begin to cite their own imaginations as evidence again.

  99. mynym,

    It seems to me that the correct place to start is to reject Darwinian “reasoning” totally, otherwise you’re just inviting Darwinists to begin to cite their own imaginations as evidence again.

    That’s what I have done myself pretty much. Their starting philosophy is stupid and stultifactous. And I don’t really give a tinkers damn about anyone’s imagination. I want facts. I want evidence. I want repeatability. I am an empiricist. Darwinists like to posit themselves as scientists on the same plane as the great physicists, and point out that “science” has led to all the great advancement over the last several centuries. And that to question NDE is like questioning gravity. The problem is, the physicists were by and large (and still are) empiricists. And ya gotta love the astrophsycists. They make their theories and their models and they continually get knocked up side the head by new hard evidence. The thing is, they roll with the punches and don’t try to save a theory that is contraverted by the hard evidence, unlike some other brands of “scientists” I hear squeeling.

    It’s time for everyone to face the fact that Darwinism is an ideology. Darwinism isn’t science. It’s time to get tough as nails with these poseurs. This is war and it needs to be fought like one.

  100. stupid and stultifactous

    I like that…

  101. Darwinists like to posit themselves as scientists on the same plane as the great physicists, and point out that “science” has led to all the great advancement over the last several centuries. And that to question NDE is like questioning gravity.

    Even Newtonian mechanics, that was extremely successful, when evidence went against it, they acknowledged that and that got us two great theories (General relativity and Quantam mechanics).
    Imagine if physicists insisted that “everything was ok” with newtonian mechanics!

    Physicists have no problem in telling everybody that general relativity and quantam mechanics are inconsistent (they cannot both be true), they have no problem in saying “we don’t know”.

    But when it comes to darwinists, everything is alright, Darwin predicted everything that happened (and could happen) in biology, there are absolutely NO problem, and there can not be any problem.

  102. <sarcasm>Come on IDist, scientists may disagree over the mechanism of Newtonian Mechanics but there is no disagreement that over the FACT that Newtonian Mechanics applies in every situation. Your religiously motivated attacks against NM are rather silly…no real scientist questions NM. Your disagreement is based on a fundamental falsehood, that NM is somehow incompatable with a belief in G-d. </sarcasm>

  103. Daniel King

    What is the point of equipping bacteria with flagella in the first place?

    I could be wrong of course but it seems reasonable to presume the point of the flagella is to give bacteria mobility.

  104. DS, I believe Daniel’s point is what you stated shows we can ascertain a purpose/ intention. Archaeologists do that quite often- ascertain a purpose for the artifacts they find and study.

  105. Daniel,

    It seems to me that you are imputing motivations to your designer when you characterize a hypothetical course of action by the designer as “silly.” And I wonder how you ascertain the designer’s motivations.

    I didn’t say the course of action by the designer was silly, but that the hypothetical scenario was silly. I can’t know what the designer would do, but if the designer did find some little bacteria in a lab somewhere and re-evolve them it would hard not to impute humor or deception. I could add the desire to be known, but from what I can see neither God nor the alien or whatever designer there is engages in any desperate attempts to be known or seen. Quite the contrary. Certainly, it goes against the patterns that we see, to suppose that the designer would jump in and fix a handful of bacteria out of all the bacteria doing quite fine all over the world. We do not see the designer fixing cystic fibrosis or sickle cell. It appears that the major work of the designing process is done, and has been done for a long time. Things are allowed to deteriorate. That is what we see.

  106. Might I add that I find Darwinists to have very simplistic and magical notions of God. In other words, they have given the matter very little thought.

  107. “Archaeologists do that quite often- ascertain a purpose for the artifacts they find and study.”

    I just got done listening to an mp3 of a debate between Dr. Dembski and Robert Shapiro at the 2005 Columbia University Veritas forum. In it, Dr. Dembski mentioned having just seen some archaeological artifacts on display in the Smithsonian for which no one seems to know the purpose. It was clear that the artifacts were designed and produced by humans, but the purpose of them is unknown.

    This also reminds me of the Antikythera Mechanism which I keep seeing articles about in all the IT trade rags (maybe this is the same thing Dr. Dembski was referring to–he didn’t elaborate on what he saw). For many years, no one quite knew what the purpose of the thing was, but it was sure-as-shootin’ designed by humans. It has only been recently that they’ve figured out what it’s purpose MIGHT have been.

    So there are many instances where we can detect design without knowing the purpose.

  108. Anyone looking at the “current mechanisms” of the flagellum by 1) actual static b&w captured pictures, 2) animation, or 3) engineer drawings of large scale, cannot deny the machinery in place.

    Nano engineers are drooling and NASA should be. Watching micro beauty in action that unfolds complex structures as a power source for mobility.

    Unless one is intentionally obstinate, then describe it and component parts as machine and machine parts. Otherwise, make up new words and definitions.

    Pragmatist realize it is time wasting to create new words for well defined references in known machine design.

    The Flagellum can be designated as a nano inboard motor. Beautifully constructed like no other inboard motor mankind has ever developed. But that is exactly what it is. Each part of this motor was conceived by intelligence for purposes of mobility in and out of water by engineers and inventors during our history.

    As a matter of practical learning tool. I’d tell a child or student or adult that the “flagellum” is a motor, and describe it as an “inboard motor” for those familiar with the concept to enhance their understanding. The remarkable aspect is I would tell them it builds itself thru a series of cascading extensions not fully understood yet.

    Parts as described by impartial scientist not looking to advance ID:
    http://www.fbs.osaka-u.ac.jp/e.....9_img4.jpg
    1) Propeller
    2) Joint
    3) Universal Joint
    4) Driving shaft
    5) Bushing (l-ring, p-ring)
    6 Membrane ( I’d call this exterior motor housing)
    7) Stator
    8) Inner Membrane (inner motor housing)
    9) Rotor (s-ring, m-ring)
    10) Switch regulator
    11) Cytoplasmic Chaperone(assembly carriage transport)
    12) Type III – more groovy machinery not detailed.

    It is not just a matter of the “appearance of design,” but of pragmatics. Engineers do not lack imagination, but are pragmatic in terms.

    Functionality is learned, reproduced, portable, predictable, and can be manufactured.

    Functionality is not random. FSC(see Trevor and Abel).

    NASA would do well to learn from these little nano-bots for future exploration needs on remote places in how to unfold machinery from tight packages to save on weight, versatility, mobility and power.

    Reverse engineering: “A method of obtaining technical information by starting with a publicly available product and determining what it is made of, what makes it work, and how it was produced. This method goes in the reverse direction of usual engineering efforts, which start with technical data and use them to produce a product. If the product or other material that is the subject of reverse engineering was properly obtained, the process is legitimate and legal.”

    Discovering current mechanisms is practical. Trying to discover historical mechanisms thru common descent is an imaginary exercise that has some value, but is overly embellished in science classes. And it is sorely lacking in Origins and proof as the only valid worldview. It is a philosophy.

    Likewise, it is completely meaningless to the Protonic NanoMachine Group that described the parts in the picture of the link above:
    “Protonic NanoMachine Group aims at the ultimate understanding of the mechanisms of self-assembly and its regulation, conformational switching, force generation, and energy transduction by biological macromolecular complexes. By convergence of complementary techniques, such as X-ray diffraction and electron cryomicroscopy for high-resolution analysis of three-dimensional structures, and optical and electronic measurements on individual molecular complexes for analyzing their dynamic behaviors, we try to reveal the basic principles behind their functional mechanisms, in the hope that they will become a basis for artificial nanomachine design and nanotechnology.”

    They’re “reverse engineering” and there is absolutely no way to escape this fact. It takes intelligence to reverse-engineer machines whether it’s history is Front Loading or whatever the latest ToE may be today.

    Teaching children about the flagellum(inboard motor) parts and how it works is science. Teaching them imaginary ideas of how it formed a billion years ago – is not science, that is speculation at best and a waste of valuable time. And it should be called what it is – Speculation. Is the speculation informed guessing? Yes, but its still Guessing until proven otherwise. The onus is upon those who press their Dogma onto an entire society to come up with the goods. If they cannot do so, then teachers should be allowed to call it exactly what it is – Guessing Science or Informed Speculation. But if they’re going to allow Guessing into the Science Room, then all bets are off and you must allow all forms of Guessing into the Room.

    If that is what Dawkins and his minions are determined to live by, by jove, they’re welcome. But stop enforcing only one form of Guessing Science down other peoples throats.

    I’d be very upset as a leader of the Protonics NanoMachine Group if they were sitting around on my Dollar, speculating about the history of the machine before them. I’m paying them to pull it apart, discover all the elements of interaction and learn precisely how it works now, not in the past, nor if it Evolved. The historical perspective can be left to ivory tower blowhards or be done after the real work is accomplished.

    One area is philosophy and the other area is engineering science. One produces a worldview. The other actually produces functional byproducts, I’m tired of the materialist philosophers having the ony legitimate right in our classrooms because the only thing they truly offer is a worldview. They are just as religious in their underpinnings as any other worldview.

    Speculating on 20 or so “co-opted” events is just that, speculation. Engineers can speculate too why a specific design is done one way as opposed to another.

    NDE’s must do the test step by step, show the co-opted events actually work or shut up as being the “only authority” in science.

    ID only need to tear it apart piece by piece, understand how it works, extrapolate the functionality as a whole and in parts and then transfer that learning to other intelligent mechanisms. ID puts other parts together and does not depend upon some random confluence of co-opted events. ID only needs to show in the future that the flagellum can be produced in repeatable fashion like any other manufacturing process.

    Another words, ID only need to be an engineer, pragmatic and precise.

    NDE can wait as the hours, days, months, years tick away.

    ID is already being performed in a 1000 labs. Turning a switch on/off is not evolutionary, it is scientific engineering rediscovering original functionality as it existed before mutations destroyed it. Call it Mutational Correction Science.

    The truth is we will be able to live a thousand years in the future, because we were originally designed that way. The problem is we need to differentiate between deleterious mutations and original design. Thinking in a design mode will uncover the flawed thinking of the past.

    Reverse Engineering Science groups are doing just that – they’re thinking Design Mode. If university research projects do not go into Reverse Engineering Design Modes, they’ll be left in the Dust bin of Evolutionary History.

    And if we do not start teaching our children to think in a Design mode, then other countries that are not so jaded will start to pass us.

    The reason Dawkins and those like him are screaming so much is they see the truth before them and their entire worldview is breaking down. Their knee-jerk reaction is to kick and scream because their god is dead and has been dead. They’re only just now waking up to that reality.

  109. It’s time for everyone to face the fact that Darwinism is an ideology. Darwinism isn’t science. It’s time to get tough as nails with these poseurs. This is war and it needs to be fought like one.

    Someone studying the rhetoric of anti-Darwinists uses metaphors of war to describe the language of those on the leading edge. It seems to me that most who fight well against those with the urge to merge aren’t even Christians. In fact, Christians tend to be defenders of Darwin to this day and throughout history. See: Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders by David Livingstone…hmmm, and for a possible explanation for Christians taking the urge to merge too far see: The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity by Leon Podles. It’s far from hard science but psychology is fun and it does sometimes seem that the little fellows who want to have all things be immanent (All the Yin of Mommy Nature’s womb with no Yang, for it frightens them so!) tend to have many an effete Christian ally, some half-witted theologian to support them.

    Maybe Freud was right about something and people of this sort have a sort of cosmic Oedipus complex in which they must eliminate Father God in favor of Mother Nature and so on. At any rate, on the metaphors of war:

    To Darwin’s skeptics, the coming of Michael Denton in 1985 produced the rhetorical analogue to the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. Darwinism had held the continent of scientific consensus for over a century. At last the time had come to wade ashore and establish the first beachheads of empirically based antievolutionism. The odds against the would-be “liberators” seemed so terrible as to border on the absurd. Everything hinged on the weapon held by the invaders—a 344 page book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, published in England (1985) and the United States (1986). The author was relatively unknown—a British-educated biochemist and medical doctor laboring in the obscurity of the clinical chemistry department of Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

    As the invaders clambered up the cliffs towering over the beaches, they hurled Denton’s explosive charges toward the pillboxes: “Neither of the two fundamental axioms of Darwin’s macroevolutionary theory—the concept of the continuity of nature. . . and the belief that all the adaptive design of life has resulted from a blind random process—have been validated by one single empirical discovery or scientific advance since 1859” (italics mine). MIT’s Murray Eden with his Wistar colleague Schutzenberger joined the invading troops, announcing that Denton “should be required reading for anyone who believes what he was taught in college about Darwinian evolution.” Paul MacLean, a former professor at the Yale Medical School and founder of the Brain Evolution Lab at the National Institute of Mental Health, exulted, “Kant gave credit to Hume for arousing him from his ‘dogmatic slumber. This book promises to arouse an entire audience” (italics mine). Even the celebrated anthropologist Ashley Montagu praised Denton’s breadth of knowledge, noted his “just and telling” criticisms, and welcomed his “valuable contribution.”

    The Darwinian defenders were not asleep. Rhetorical bullets flew in savage counterattack:

    “Denton’s book displays a vast ignorance about Darwin, evolution, and science in general.”
    “A specimen of creationism at its most subtle and up-to-date.”
    “No area escapes misrepresentation and distortion.”
    “a sham”
    “fraught with distortions”

    A trio of prestigious evolutionists—Michael Ruse, Mark Ridley, and Niles Eldredge—wrote strongly negative reviews in prominent journals in an effort to crush Denton’s credibility and repel his attack. When the smoke cleared from the beach landings of 1985—86, the continent was still firmly in the hands of neo-Darwinism. Yet in the cliffs, here and there, certain pillboxes had fallen to the invaders, who were now spraying the countryside with sniper fire.

    I trust the reader will bear with my Normandy metaphors, which of course are my own attempt to capture the wave of projection themes that powerfully chained out in the budding consciousness of early proponents of design when Denton’s attack was published. The imagery fits well with Denton’s comment in a letter in early 1987 that exemplified the Normandy fantasy scene: “I am totally committed to waging unceasing intellectual war on neo-Darwinian orthodoxy.” Denton was blunt, thorough, confident, and cognitively upsetting for anyone who began his reading with the assumption that Darwinian theory rested on ample confirming evidence. In a word (Denton’s own word in the preface), the critique was radical—a notion I shall analyze later in the chapter.

    It is impossible to trace the development of Design in the 1990s and beyond without reviewing the origin of that movement in the rhetorical invasion and bloody skirmishes that were triggered by Michael Denton in 1985. His Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (hereafter referred to as Evolution) is, to an astonishing degree, the initial impetus, inspiration, and even rationale of the movement. Together with The Mystery of Life’s Origin, a more technical critique focused on chemical evolution that preceded Evolution by a few months, Denton practically established the rhetorical matrix of values, communication styles, purposes, perspectives, assumptions, and beliefs that became the substance of the new Design genre. These books also supplied a fund of rhetorical resources—lines of argument, phraseology, and especially patterns of evidence and anomalies gathered from many different biological fields. All of these outfitted the invading marines of the incipient Design Movement as they strategized their next sorties.(Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design
    By Thomas Woodward :47-49)

    Interesting that PZ Myers uses metaphors of war, a more dishonorable gang type war…rather appropriate for the Herd that is united by its urge to merge. His metaphors of war seem to be drawn from things typical to some old Darwinian brownshirts. E.g. “I say, screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots. If you don’t care enough for the truth to fight for it, then get out of the way.”-–Paul Myers

    Translation: “Why, Mommy Nature just naturally selected my smarty pants for me by a happy happenstance! So I’m feeling a bit scientific now so let me at them!”

  110. Hmmm. Avocationist writes,

    Might I add that I find Darwinists to have very simplistic and magical notions of God. In other words, they have given the matter very little thought.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “Darwinist”, but I am a supporter of mainstream evolutionary theory, and I can tell you that have given the matter of God quite a bit of thought, and that I don’t think that I have “simplistic and magical notions” of Him.

    In fact, I think the case can be made that a sophisticated (as opposed to simplistic and magical) view of God is compatible with both Christian theology and mainstream evolutionary theory.

    This remark may seem off-topic, but I think it goes to the heart of the questions I’ve been asking about ID in the lab.

    A very short form of the argument is that God’s being manifests itself to us, as we look outward with out senses, as the physical world. God’s being underlies each moment of both the laws that supply order to the world and the chance events which provide the variety upon which those laws act – and from this interplay of law and chance comes the complex universe that we experience. The physical universe as a whole, and each of its parts, is a manifestation of God’s intelligence.

    So intelligent design happens every day, every moment, all over the universe, at all levels: from the quantum interaction of elementary particles to the daily lives of each living thing, including us. There isn’t, in this view, a category of things that are specially designed because their emergence somehow superceded natural processes. God is as involved in the everyday regularities of the world just as much, and in the same way, as he is in the exceptionable, unusual and improbable events that happen.

    So, to the theist who holds this view, every moment of doing science, and every finding of science, is part of the human activity of trying to understand one aspect of the intelligence of God by studying the nature that he creates.

    Now of course there are those who do not have this view of God, and so they interpret the underlying significance and meaning of the world differently. Some, of course, do not believe in God at all. Others believe in a God that periodically intervenes to override the course of natural processes, specially designing and creating some things but otherwise letting everything else run it’s course. In my opinion, and I know that I am being blunt here, this latter view is more “simplistic and magical” than the view that I have described.

  111. Jack Krebs:
    I’m not sure what you mean by “Darwinist”, but I am a supporter of mainstream evolutionary theory,

    Why? Is there any data that demonstrates that a population of bacteria can “evolve” into something other than bacteria? No.

    Is there any data that demonstrates a population of single-celled organisms can “evolve” into something other than single-celled organisms? No.

    Do we know whether or not any mutation/selection process can lead to the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans? Again No!

    So just how & why does Jack support evolutionary biology?

    Jack Krebs:
    In fact, I think the case can be made that a sophisticated (as opposed to simplistic and magical) view of God is compatible with both Christian theology and mainstream evolutionary theory.

    A contorted view maybe but not a sophisticated view.

    Jack Krebs:
    This remark may seem off-topic, but I think it goes to the heart of the questions I’ve been asking about ID in the lab.

    The question has been answered.

  112. “Archaeologists do that quite often- ascertain a purpose for the artifacts they find and study.”

    jb:
    I just got done listening to an mp3 of a debate between Dr. Dembski and Robert Shapiro at the 2005 Columbia University Veritas forum. In it, Dr. Dembski mentioned having just seen some archaeological artifacts on display in the Smithsonian for which no one seems to know the purpose. It was clear that the artifacts were designed and produced by humans, but the purpose of them is unknown.

    And the only way we could possibly determine a purpose is by continuing to syudy them.

    jb:
    So there are many instances where we can detect design without knowing the purpose.

    That misses the point. The point being is that “purpose” is not out-of-bounds and may be determined via investigation.

  113. Sounds like Jack’s philosophy/theology might fit well with Bill’s idea of how an unembodied designer can influence the natural world by co-opting random processes (indeterministic quantum states) and inducing them to produce specified complexity. Would make design detection nigh impossible since pretty much everything is being interacted with all the time. Still, Jack’s position sounds closer to an ID position than the Theistic Evolution position. I believer Behe considered that position at one time or another but rejected it for some reason?

  114. Thanks for the comment Patrick.

    I would like to make a clarification/disclaimer first, and then respond to Patrick’s key point.

    The disclaimer is this: what I have been describing is not *my* philosophy/theology. I have been trying to describe relatively orthodox Christian theology. I’m not the person whose invented these ideas, although I am trying to apply them to this issue of ID and evolution. I am not trying to argue for or convince anyone to adopt these views – what I am trying to do is get people to understand that they are legitimate and widespread views that can and do reconcile some of ID-related concerns with mainstream evolutionary science.

    With that said, let me respond to this comment. Patrick wrote,

    Sounds like Jack’s philosophy/theology might fit well with Bill’s idea of how an unembodied designer can influence the natural world by co-opting random processes (indeterministic quantum states) and inducing them to produce specified complexity. Would make design detection nigh impossible since pretty much everything is being interacted with all the time.

    I am aware of what Dembski has written that Patrick refers to. However, what I am describing is different than that in some very significant ways.

    The way Patrick describes it, one is still thinking about God as a being who usually is *not* part of natural processes, and who just occasionally “co-opts random processes.” The view I am describing holds that God is present in *every* moment – his being pervades the natural world. The entire physical world, throughout all of space and time, is a holistic manifestation of his intelligent design.

    To one who has this view of God, there is nothing that is more designed than anything else – there is nothing special to detect because every aspect of the world is equally special, and equally a product of the natural processes in which God creatively resides.

    As my friend Keith Miller has pointed out (and I paraphrase) , it is odd to think that the bacterial flagellum contains more evidence of design than does the properties of light and water that produce a rainbow. The fact that we have come to pretty thoroughly understand the latter and not the former does not mean that they are qualitatively different manifestations of God’s being.

  115. Jack Krebs:

    In fact, I think the case can be made that a sophisticated (as opposed to simplistic and magical) view of God is compatible with both Christian theology and mainstream evolutionary theory.

    The only problem is that mainstream evolutionary theory proposes a directionless, unguided, goalless process, without intent or purpose, that produced humankind, and Christian theology proposes that humankind was intentionally created as a goal and for a purpose. These two views are utterly and hopelessly irreconcilable.

  116. Jack,
    As one who tends to subscribe to the view that you are describing, I find Miller’s question to contain the fulcrum of the matter.
    Perhaps it is hubris to imagine that we “pretty thoroughly understand” the properties of light and water that produce a rainbow. This statement seems as foolhardy as saying that we pretty thoroughly understand how gravity works. Being able to predict with limited uncertainty how something might behave really just opens up a world of new questions. This is true with gravity, light, and biochemistry, etc.

    Every question answered generates a myriad of new questions. It is like a universe expanding faster than the speed of light. Science only appears to uncover greater understanding. I submit that science only reveals greater amounts of an incomprehensible infinity.

    If you add this humbling thought to the worldview you describe, we are left with the understanding that, yes, nothing is more designed than anything else. But nothing is really more understood than anything else.

    Applying this worldview to your question about design detection, I must disagree with your opinion that “there is nothing special to detect”. Indeed under this worldview, everything has something special to detect. But it is an illusion to think that we will find some “eureka moment” whereby we understand the object in question. Rather, design (to me) is revealed by the trend of science to reveal greater and more profound complexity, while naturalistic explanations become more and more impotent.

    I believe this is epitomized in the study of human consciousness. The thought that we can somehow break sentient thought down to it’s component parts , and describe it as a program of firing neurons seems ludicrous. But in the attempt we will continue to open up an infinity of unanswerable questions, and stochastic explanations fall like sand through the filter.

  117. Jack Krebs:
    As my friend Keith Miller has pointed out (and I paraphrase) , it is odd to think that the bacterial flagellum contains more evidence of design than does the properties of light and water that produce a rainbow.

    It is odd. However it is easier to point out the design in a bac flag because of its obvious relationship to man-made motors.

    Max Planck inferred design through-n-through:

    “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this minute solar system of the atom together . . . . We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.”

  118. I agree with Jack Krebs.

    Orthodox Christian theology would say that “God is present in every moment.” Therefore, “the entire physical world, throughout all of space and time, is a holistic manifestation of his intelligent design,” and “there is nothing that is more designed than anything else.”

    This rightly leads us to see how the ID argument–trying to detect “intelligent design” as distinct from “nature” and “chance”–is contrary to Christian theology.

    This should also lead us to see how the orthodox Christian view of the entire physical universe as intelligently designed could be compatible with evolutionary theory.

  119. Mr. Arnhart, so then the Ark of the Covenant (specified according to Torah by YHWH himself) wasn’t any more designed than the pile of dirt the structure rested on?

    Obviously, you are ignoring one key factor: INFORMATION. The information/specificational properties of one designed object can be greater than of another. The more information of specified nature, the easier it is to infer design.

    I can design a rule based system (spacetime/physics) but then I can also further design complex machines within that rule based system. The machines have additional information content (as well as a formal, teleological component). This really is quite simple, I’m surprised you overlook it.

  120. What an interesting and diverse group of responses to come home to.

    Gil writes,

    The only problem is that mainstream evolutionary theory proposes a directionless, unguided, goalless process, without intent or purpose, that produced humankind, and Christian theology proposes that humankind was intentionally created as a goal and for a purpose. These two views are utterly and hopelessly irreconcilable.

    Some people, including some prominent scientists, are materialists and thus interpret the findings of science as implying that evolution is a “directionless, unguided, goalless process, without intent or purpose.” However, other people, including some prominent scientists, are Christians and obviously disagree with the materialists about this.

    It is a standard Christian belief that God fulfills his purposes in ways that are mysterious to us. For instance, a chance meeting with someone might change one’s life tremendously, and one might subsequently believe that that encounter and its consequences was meant to be as part of God’s plan for one’s life. The fact that the encounter appeared to be a chance event to us does not mean that it wasn’t a vehicle for the manifestation of God’s will and design.

    These issues are disagreements about philosophy and theology, and they are worth discussing. But the materialists do not speak for science itself, even though some of them may claim to be able to do so.

    chunkdz writes,

    Perhaps it is hubris to imagine that we “pretty thoroughly understand” the properties of light and water that produce a rainbow.

    I agree with his statement, and much of what chunkdz says to support it. Our scientific understanding of light is solid in one sense, and yet vacuous in another. Science is a limited form of knowledge. As it learns more and more about how the world works it also uncovers more and more the fundamental ways in which the nature of reality is mysterious and unknowable.

    But I disagree with chunkdz when he writes,

    Rather, design (to me) is revealed by the trend of science to reveal greater and more profound complexity, while naturalistic explanations become more and more impotent. I believe this is epitomized in the study of human consciousness. The thought that we can somehow break sentient thought down to it’s component parts , and describe it as a program of firing neurons seems ludicrous. But in the attempt we will continue to open up an infinity of unanswerable questions, and stochastic explanations fall like sand through the filter.

    Naturalistic explanations are quite potent within the scope of their applicability. Neurons really do fire in our brains (accompanied by many other biochemical events), and there is a great deal of potent learning to be gained by a reductionistic approach to understanding our the brains works, and how what happens in the brain correlates with our conscious experience. But one can pursue reductionistic explanations without thinking that reductionistic explanations are the only type of useful or valid explanation there is.

    And last, Joseph offers a quote from Max Planck which ends, “We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.”

    I disagree with Planck in respect to the word “must.” There are many different philosophical ways to understand the world. Believing in a “conscious and intelligent mind” behind the universe, be it the Christian God or some other concept, is one way to understand the universe, but there are other legitimate and widely held ways which do not make this assumption.

  121. Arnhart:
    Orthodox Christian theology would say that “God is present in every moment.” Therefore, “the entire physical world, throughout all of space and time, is a holistic manifestation of his intelligent design,” and “there is nothing that is more designed than anything else.”

    Then it is obvious that ID is NOT advancing Christian Theology.

    Arnhart:
    This rightly leads us to see how the ID argument–trying to detect “intelligent design” as distinct from “nature” and “chance”–is contrary to Christian theology.

    That’s wrong. “The Privileged Planet” demonstrates that nature itself is intelligently designed. However accidents do happen.

    Was what Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, et al., doing contrary to Christian Theology when they saw science as a way of uncovering and understanding “God’s” handiwork? No. And all IDists are doing is uncovering and attempting to understand the design. But the only way to truly do that is to see it for what it is- an intentional design.

    Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”–Albert E=MCC

    Arnhart:
    This should also lead us to see how the orthodox Christian view of the entire physical universe as intelligently designed could be compatible with evolutionary theory.

    Only if that view can also be compatible with anything…

  122. Jack Krebs:
    And last, Joseph offers a quote from Max Planck which ends, “We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.”

    I disagree with Planck in respect to the word “must.” There are many different philosophical ways to understand the world. Believing in a “conscious and intelligent mind” behind the universe, be it the Christian God or some other concept, is one way to understand the universe, but there are other legitimate and widely held ways which do not make this assumption.

    Planck’s assumption was based on years of scientific research. Philosphy, if it factored in at all, would have only been a small factor.

    As for legitimate and widely held ways that do not hold that assumption- let the testing begin. Because as I see it following Planck’s lead means I can only be as scientifically compotent as he. And I can live with that. People in Kansas could only dream of being so fortunate ;) .

  123. “To one who has this view of God, there is nothing that is more designed than anything else – there is nothing special to detect because every aspect of the world is equally special, and equally a product of the natural processes in which God creatively resides.”

    No wonder the secular-materialist elites have trouble distinguishing humans from mosquitos and defending the rights of weak and vulnerable humans.

    “As my friend Keith Miller has pointed out (and I paraphrase), it is odd to think that the bacterial flagellum contains more evidence of design than does the properties of light and water that produce a rainbow. The fact that we have come to pretty thoroughly understand the latter and not the former does not mean that they are qualitatively different manifestations of God’s being.”

    But isn’t that the point? ID is willing to say that both are designed whereas the opposition—that is the “theistic” opposition—will admit to design in the early stages of the Big Bang and maybe—just maybe—in the origin of life. Suppose a computer programmer designs a program with a random function. Where is his prowess as a designer manifested the most—in the program or in some chance configuration that emerges from it?

    Oops—started this and had to leave for a while—not much for me to say what with Joseph saying it so well.

  124. Jack,

    However well intentioned your argument. It is a strawman in disguise.

    “As my friend Keith Miller has pointed out (and I paraphrase) , it is odd to think that the bacterial flagellum contains more evidence of design than does the properties of light and water that produce a rainbow.”

    Sorry, who said that from ID proponents? I am unaware of any such argument. Or is this merely Miller projecting his own thoughts onto ID?

    “The fact that we have come to pretty thoroughly understand the latter and not the former does not mean that they are qualitatively different manifestations of God’s being.”

    Again, please point to specific quotes in ID paper, books or material.

    Personally they all speak of Design. Did you not watch the movies produced by Illustra Media in conjunction with DI? They complete the whole picture, not just the flagellum. The Privledged Planet, watch that? I don’t remember talk about the flagellum in that movie. Could be wrong.

    Dr. Ross is constantly pointing to design in astronomy, the laws that govern our solar system, light properties, constants, finely tuned, etc., and other scientist, mathematicians, physicist point to design and laws in their respective fields too.

    So, should it not be obvious that a biochemist, biologist and geneticist point to design in their fields? And with the complexity unfolding and being discovered each day, is it so surprising a mathematician is involved in genetic probability theory?

    In regards to “orthodoxy” I feel a kinda Buddha moment with nature. I is you as you are me and we are all together. Just a little humor.

    Maybe you can point to actual scripture from the Old or New Testaments? And elaborate more clearly your meaning? You think that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was a chance happening event? Or Paul on the road to Damascus? Judas betrayal not foretold? The entry of Christ on a donkey not foretold? And the hundreds of other examples?

    Also, if God is the way you said he is. Was he in the hurricane that hit New Orleans?

    These seem like silly questions, but they are a way of demarcation to draw clear lines in the sand.

  125. Rude writes,

    Suppose a computer programmer designs a program with a random function. Where is his prowess as a designer manifested the most—in the program or in some chance configuration that emerges from it?

    I don’t think the metaphor of God as a computer programmer is a very good one. For God the “program” (the laws of nature and the chance and contingent events which occur as those laws operate) and the events that emerge as those combinations of law and chance unfold are equally transparent. God knows the end result just as well and immediately as he knows the initial conditions.

    The metaphor of God as programmer is really that of a deistic view of God – one where God gets the ball rolling and then sits back and watches the world unfold, possibly stepping in every once and a while to tweak the parameters. This is in diametrical opposition to the idea of God as creatively active in every moment, which is definitely the more orthodox Christian view.

    Also, when I wrote “To one who has this view of God, there is nothing that is more designed than anything else – there is nothing special to detect because every aspect of the world is equally special, and equally a product of the natural processes in which God creatively resides.”

    Rude wrote,

    No wonder the secular-materialist elites have trouble distinguishing humans from mosquitos and defending the rights of weak and vulnerable humans.

    This is a non-sequitur. First of all, I am not describing the views of a “secular-materialist” – I am describing the views of many Christians. Secondly, believing that everything is designed, and that no one thing is more specially designed than another, does not imply at all that one can’t make distinctions about the value of different things.

  126. michael7,

    But if they’re going to allow Guessing into the Science Room, then all bets are off and you must allow all forms of Guessing into the Room.

    But to qualify as “science” only anti-designer guessing is allowed, since that’s what science IS. Everything else is just pseudoscience. Guessing that involves prehuman intelligences is like positing the existence of fairies and leprechauns. Do you still believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy too? What college did you attend? Some Bible college in the deep south? What are you trying to do, establish a THEOCRACY or something? Get real, the idea of a designer has been debunked over and over in the scientific literature. Don’t you know anything? Don’t you follow the consensus about such things? Don’t you watch the National Geographic channel?

    There is no designer and Dawkins is his prophet.

    ;)

  127. 123. Rude

    Where is his prowess as a designer manifested the most—in the program or in some chance configuration that emerges from it?

    Bueno, Rude. I really enjoyed thinking about that question.

    Maybe another way to consider it:

    Can we tell which is the more skilled draughtsman between Cezanne and Pollock by analyzing their most popular works?

    We can’t, because we know Pollock’s concern was not at all the control of line and tone to describe recognizeable everyday objects.

    However, we can absolutely determine which of the two artist’s works are not wholly accidental. We cannot be very sure about many of Pollock’s painting as being works of intent without knowing so beforehand. This is precisely because Pollock chose to incorporate a high level of randomness in his mode of expression.

    This is why (I assume) ID is mainly concerned with biochemistry. This is where, in the human observation space, the mitigation or direction of random effects is most strongly expressed and most incontravertible.

  128. BTW- How can one possibly believe that the level of control of random movement expressed in biochemical systems could itself be the result of random processes?

    I know this is the old “disorder only begets more of the same only worse” argument but it is sincere question.

  129. 125. Jack Krebs

    Actually the idea of God as a programmer is well founded on the idea that this is what we observe in biochemical systems – programming. To say that we know God programs because we see that he’s programmed stuff is not to say that’s all he does or has done in creating. We cannot know in the millionth part how God acts, but we can look where we can see. And when we look at bio. we see programming and great complexity and therefore design.

  130. 126. mike1962

    Great stuff! I believe this is what NDE’s call “openin’ a can o’ Dawkins” on somebody.

  131. Jack Krebs:

    I’m not sure what you mean by “Darwinist”, but I am a supporter of mainstream evolutionary theory

    “Darwinism”, as used by me and others here, apparently, refers to the Blind Watchmaker Hypothesis (BWH.) No plan. No forsight. No intent. It is not meant to refer to the idea of “evolution”, per se, i.e, change over time, or common descent. It is only meant to refer the particular brand of philosophy masqerading as “science” that insists that no designer is needed or possible, and that “modern evolutionary theory” actually *demonstrates* (rather than merely imagining) how the genomic information has progressed on this planet.

  132. Jack,

    This response is comming a bit later than I would have liked, but I thought it worth offering, nonetheless…

    Re: #74,

    Thanks for the response, Crandaddy

    Thank you for keeping us on our toes with your insightful and provocative comments. :-)

    I have no idea what difference you think I misunderstand here – and I know the difference between ontology and epistomology. Can you explain more what point you’re making here.

    If you understand the difference between the terms, then you should also understand that our best epistemic resources may or may not be reflective of an item’s ontology. Why, then, do you speak of natural mechanisms as a possible implementation of design? This may well be the case, but we could never understand it with our reasoning capacities. Any inference to designing agency must rest upon the insufficiency of other causal types to account for what is perceived. Without contrasting causal types, it’s clear that there can be no way to differentiate between intelligent and unintelligent causes. In fact, appeals to where’s, when’s, how’s, etc. are irrelevant to a design inference precisely because they are rooted in the natural causes which are used as foil to defend the understanding that design is present!

    As I said much earlier in this thread, I fight it hard to imagine how one could gather and process the relevant data needed to “include a rigorous probabilistic elimination of chance hypotheses such as is the focus of Dembski’s work.”[...]

    Do you, or anyone, have ideas about how to do that?

    I’m not a mathematician, so I’m not in a position to propose such a rigorous mathamatical approach. My position could be summed up as follows: Any epistemic defense of the presence of an intentional cause must fundamentally rest upon the insufficiency of natural causes to account for a given phenomenon. The degree to which a chance hypothesis could be rendered improbable would seem to be quite relevant to the strength of a design hypothesis.

    Re: #75,

    One reason is that throughout the history of mankind’s search for knowledge, we have seen time and time again that what appears to us to be the case turns out to be only just that – an appearance, but not the actual case.

    Naturalistic science has explained a great deal, yes, but I can see no good a posteriori reason to believe that it should run the table. Certain mental phenomena, for example, appear to be fundamentally impossible to reduce naturalistically (or at least physicalistically).

  133. mike1962 writes,

    “Darwinism”, as used by me and others here, apparently, refers to the Blind Watchmaker Hypothesis (BWH.) No plan. No forsight. No intent. It is not meant to refer to the idea of “evolution”, per se, i.e, change over time, or common descent.

    I thought that was probably the case, but this usage confuses science with the philosophy of materialism. As I have been describing, one can accept evolutionary science from a theistic view.

    The key element – the elephant in the room in this discussion – is the subject of chance and contingent events. There is a significance difference between discussing chance from the limited viewpoint of science versus the viewpoint of theology.

    The simplest way of describing the difference is to point out that what is chance to us is not chance to God. From our limited human perspective, the external world contains events that we experience as chance. However, as I described in a previous post, most Christians accept that at times events which appear as chance to us are actually key elements in bringing about God’s will and design.

    So Christians who accept evolutionary science can understand that the divine guidance present in evolution, just as the divine guidance in our daily lives, contains elements that appear as chance to us.

    Here’s another way of trying to describe this distinction: because we are embedded in time and space, we experience causality – as one moment flows into the next, things are consistently correlated with earlier states. Furthermore, to us, causality is local: things can only influence other things with which they are in contact during consecutive moments.

    This experience of nature that we have is an expression of God’s underlying intelligence, and thus it contains an internal consistency and integrity. Therefore, when we do science we discover regularities and order, and we find coherent explanations for aspects of the physical world in terms of other aspects of the world that are adjacent, so to speak, in time and space – explanations which, as I have said, contain elements of chance, contingency and randomness.

    But this is not how God experiences the world. He is omnipresent, existing at all times immediately and simultaneously. To him, one moment does not cause the next, nor are events not in proximity isolated from each other. All that is and ever shall be is a whole, already created, with each moment as much an act of creation as any other moment. God is not limited to causing things through the types of causality we can experience.

    Therefore, a Christian who accepts evolutionary science can speak as a scientist and understand that evolution proceeds by processes which are local in time only and contain elements of chance in the variations of the genetic process and, at the same time believe as a Christian that the overall state of the world, including the eventual evolution of human beings as a physical creature, are just as God has planned.

  134. I agree with Jack Krebs.

    Orthodox Christian theology would say that “God is present in every moment.”

    I’m not sure that’s orthodox. It seems instead that it is almost pantheism by proxy. The orthodox Christian view is probably more that God is sovereign over time but not necessarily present “in” every moment of it or every willed action that takes place in Nature/space-time/ matter/etc. Christ prayed, “Thy will, not my will be done.” and taught people to pray, “Thy will be done…” Why? Maybe God’s will isn’t being done and the wills of other minds are playing out in chains of events, ultimate sovereignty does not necessarily equal determinism “in every moment.”

    It seems to me that claims about design are statements about the will. You’re right, it may be that the only way that detecting design can comport with Christian theology is for Christians to admit that God’s will isn’t being done. I don’t have a problem admitting that but I know some who will. It is those Christians who most desire security and nurture that will tend to be against ID…so go back to the feminization of Christianity which results in many Christians wanting God to be their security blanky and so on. It matters little if all the scriptural or historical evidence goes against their theology of Nicety if the same psychological dynamics that govern those who want to nurse at the teat of Mother Nature hold.

    This rightly leads us to see how the ID argument–trying to detect “intelligent design” as distinct from “nature” and “chance”–is contrary to Christian theology.

    I’m not sure what orthodox Christianity is or is not but there is much written in biblical texts about Satan, the Prince of this world and so on and so forth. That was what the “Prince of peace” called some invisible being that it seems that no one ever sees, apparently not challenging its dominion. So it would seem that the Christ of Christianity said that a malevolent being has dominion over the world. All of this is rejected by Deists who believe in a clockwork God and Christ as a good moral teacher but what Christ actually said was that you can’t serve two masters or both types of Prince, etc.etc. All of which assumes that there are more wills involved in the world than just God’s will always happening moment by moment, either by the tick tock of Deism or the moment by moment clock of theistic determinism. Was Jesus mistaken to refer to some events as predetermined and treat others as indeterminate acts of will?

    At any rate, you’re going beyond the claims of ID proponents by assuming that all design detection is therefore a detection of God’s will that was preordained since the creation of the world or sustained moment by moment as we go and so on. It is perfectly possible to infer that something is willed without arguing further about the type of mind that would will things so. However, Darwinists have never been able to take a neutral view of theology and at their most obvious tend to rely on negative theology and “pandas thumb” type arguments to this day. E.g., “What type of intelligence would design this? Well, then it must be a natural selection again or somethin’. ” At a broader level they’ve always relied on Victorian era theology in the majority of their assumptions as well, a lot of Darwinian reasoning doesn’t work without it.

  135. And if the designer is not the “God of Christian Theology” then Jack Krebs’ scenario is moot.

    Jack Krebs:
    As I have been describing, one can accept evolutionary science from a theistic view.

    Just don’t try to present it like that in a science classroom…

  136. Joseph writes,

    And if the designer is not the “God of Christian Theology” then Jack Krebs’ scenario is moot.

    Well, what I have been discussing is a Christian view (although not the only Christian view), but some of the same thoughts would apply to other philosophical and religious perspectives. There are definitely people who believe in direct intervention by physical intelligent agents and there certainly are Christian views which believe in multiple supernatural interventions by God. These are all different ways of understanding the world, although some of them are not compatible with the findings of mainstream science and some of them are.

    Also, when I wrote, “As I have been describing, one can accept evolutionary science from a theistic view,”

    Joseph wrote, “Just don’t try to present it like that in a science classroom… ”

    I wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t expect any one else to do so. A science teacher might (but not many would want to) have a lesson on different ways science is understood by different religious perspectives, but this would be a “current events” type of lesson, not a lesson in science itself.

  137. Jack Krebs:

    As I have been describing, one can accept evolutionary science from a theistic view.

    Jack is a nice guy, and has made a valiant defense of this thesis. But it won’t fly, primarily because it has no wings.

    “Evolutionary science,” as generally promoted, is not science at all. It is a glorified extrapolation from an extremely simplistic and primitive 19th-century notion that was born primarily out of a desire to produce a creation story for the death-of-God philosophical movement of that era.

    Attempts to prop up this transparently simplistic and primitive 19th-century notion will continue for some time, but they will eventually fail, because the underlying assumptions are wrong.

  138. Jack,

    I should have said many or most Darwinists, and yes, I was referring to the atheistic, blind watchmaker-believing types. Also, it is certainly so that many religious people also have shallow ideas of God and have given them little deep thought.

    In fact, I rather like your take on things, and think quite similarly.

    You present yourself as one who has thought deeply, but you also are apparently some sort of Christian? The reason the kind of Darwinist I was talking about has shallow ideas of God, is that they have often dismissed God when young and full of hubris, and the God they rejected was a magical and perhaps distasteful one. From that time forward, little of depth tends to be added.

    One reason I may have misunderstood you was this:
    Likewise, we have seen time and time again that things that people once thought were the product of an intelligent agent turned out to not be, from the winds blowing to the causes of disease.

    Now you are back to the tiresome God of the Gaps argument. This is incompatible with what you have written about God being present in all processes. Yes, it was very unsophisticated of our ancestors to think that angels pushed the planets around. But if God is present in all processes, and if we see the incredible array of interlocking laws upholding our marvelous universe, then in what way is it wrong to say that planetary motion (for example) is the product of an intelligent agent?

    All in all, your worldview is very close to ID, as is Miller’s, and it is perplexing that you call yourself a mainstream believer in evolution. What you espouse is not at all the same. Your understanding of randomness and chance, that it only looks that way from our small perspective, is 180 degrees different than what the textbooks are teaching, or most prominent voices in the field are saying. If you have made any valid point, it is perhaps that there IS no mainstream evolution. As I keep hammering, once you posit any God at all, even the deistic one, you are no longer in the same kind of universe, and I respect Dawkins for seeing that.

    Perhaps the problem for people like you is that you have not found an explanation for how evolution occured that appeals to your personal theology. I actually haven’t found one either, but I am sure ID is on the right track, and that NDE has outlived its usefulness.

    I hope you don’t find it offensive that I consider you and Miller IDists. You (I think) believe in God, maybe a personal God, and you think God sees the future and is present in all processes, and foresaw and planned life forms, in events that often (always?) only appear to be random.
    +++++++++++

    Michael,

    If God was not in the hurricane, does that mean it happened outside his will? Is thee a place that God is not? Does it mean that God is present when good things happen to you but absent when bad ones do? How do you know it was not a good event? Can you judge the scheme of things?

  139. Jack

    The simplest way of describing the difference is to point out that what is chance to us is not chance to God. From our limited human perspective, the external world contains events that we experience as chance.

    Just because something appears as chance to you doesn’t means it appears as chance to everyone who isn’t you.

    Richard Dawkins famously said there is the illusion of design in nature.

    This is wrong. Design is not the illusion. Chance is the illusion. Einstein said God doesn’t play at dice with the universe. Who are you going to believe; Albert Einstein or Dicky Dawkins? The choice is clear for me – Einstein – in a heartbeat.

    Evidently you also believe Einstein. Where you and I differ is in whether we believe math, science, and human intellect has the capacity to see through the illusion of chance to unveil the truth that nothing is left to chance. I have more confidence in math, science, and human intellect being able to discern the truth than you do.

  140. Jack,

    The way Patrick describes it, one is still thinking about God as a being who usually is *not* part of natural processes, and who just occasionally “co-opts random processes.” The view I am describing holds that God is present in *every* moment – his being pervades the natural world. The entire physical world, throughout all of space and time, is a holistic manifestation of his intelligent design.

    I understood that. That’s why I said “pretty much everything is being interacted with all the time.” My primary point was that it’s very different from the viewpoint where a Designer–a clockwork God in this case–allowed for evolution to occur by designing the system and the natural laws which do not require constant adjustments (God is not present in every moment but it’s a deterministic system where the results are inevitable). The position that the Designer is interacting all the time is closer to an ID position if you ask me.

    Also, do you yourself support this position or are you posing it as a challenge to the Christians here?

  141. 141

    kvwells

    Interesting choice of using Pollock for an illustration of randomness. I remember reading a piece about fractal analysis of Pollock’s paintings (sorry,I can’t remember the reference if anyone else knows it please post) and his paintings reveal a significant presence of fractals. So the randomness is actually only apparent. The authors of the article thought the unique fractal characteristics could be used to identify forgeries.

    As to the intent or effect of his paintings: “For many, they arouse primitive feelings associated with such sonorous phrases as “the deep” or the “starry firmament”, identifying a universe beyond the human. It was one of Pollock’s singal accomplishments to give such magnitutude and impressiveness to the act of painting as to make us think of the mysteries of natural creation of that “first division of chaos” at the origin of our world.”(Modern Art 3rd ed, 1992, Pub. Harry N Abrams)

    -My professor was right- that modern art class would come in handy some day

  142. 142

    I could not find an online reference (that I could access) for the original Pollock/fractal paper but here is something re the controversy over the paper.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/02/books/02frac. you can also read the article for free by doing a search of -Pollock painting fractals and accessing the article that way.

  143. Avocationist,

    Thanks for the reply, but I was awaiting Jack’s response and he refused.

  144. I refused to do what???? I’ve spent a lot of time on this thread (which appeared to have come to an end), and appreciated the opportunity to do so. I have no idea what Michael7 is referring to, so Michael – would you like to clarify, please?

  145. Hi Jack,

    Did you seem my post to you #138? Yes, it’s a shame so active a thread got submerged below the waterline, but you could take a look at 138, 139 and 140; all replies to you.

    Michael was referring to his question to you, if God is present in all things, then was he present in the destructive hurricane (or tsumnami!)?

  146. When Jack said that God is present in all things, he was probably speaking of God’s omnipresence, an attribute of God that is widely believed. And no, God does not abandon us when disaster strikes. Consider the hymn “It is well with my soul” — and the heartbreaking circumstances that inspired it: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/t/i/itiswell.htm

    (Incidentally, this is the favorite hymn of Stephen Clapp, the dean of the Juilliard School — a wonderful person and devout Christian .)

  147. Hi avocationist – thanks for replying. #After Gil’s post 137 I felt that maybe I’d worn out my welcome.

    Also, to Michael: I don’t think it’s accurate to say that I refused to answer your question. As with any internet discussion, people reply according to their available time, their interests and the contingent path of the thread. Now that avocationist has made an effort to revive the discussion, I’ll offer some thoughts.

    Looking back, I see that Michael addressed post #124 to me. In it he asked, ” Also, if God is the way you said he is. Was he in the hurricane that hit New Orleans?”

    Later, avocationist responded to this by writing, “If God was not in the hurricane, does that mean it happened outside his will? Is there a place that God is not? Does it mean that God is present when good things happen to you but absent when bad ones do? How do you know it was not a good event? Can you judge the scheme of things?”

    It was to this that Michaels7 wrote, “Thanks for the reply, but I was awaiting Jack’s response and he refused.”

    Here’s what I think: anyone who believes in an omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-present God, as most Christians do, have two unsolvable dilemmas to confront: that of evil and that of free will. Millions of words have been written trying to explain how these are reconcilable with an omni-everything God, much less the benevolent and loving God of Christianity.

    I believe we cannot logically resolve these dilemmas because of he limitations of our nature. This is another example of my belief that we can’t possible see the world as God sees the world. We are limited by the fact that we exist in time and space, and by having our rational understanding tied to our use of language. All of the world’s great mystical traditions, including those in Christianity, recognize that the highest spiritual understanding is ineffable, and that the logical dilemmas that we face are resolved only by a humble acceptance of their mystery.

    So, yes God was “in the hurricane” that hit New Orleans, just as he is in every event, big or small, good or bad, but he was not “in the hurricane” in any special sense.

    I like avocationist’s answer to this question, and I’m going to tell a story to illustrate it.

    This summer I gave a number of talks relating to the science standards issue in Kansas, and a part of the talk touched on this issue of how God acts in nature. I had pointed out that some people see some versions of ID as positing an interventionist God who generally lets nature run its course except for those moments when he steps in and designs things, and I pointed out that this was not really in keeping with the orthodox Christian concept of an omni-everything God.

    In the question-and-answer session, a lady said something like the following:

    “I have a daughter,” she said, “who was born with only one arm because of a birth defect. I’m a Christian, and I have faith that what happens is for the ultimate good in his eyes even if it doesn’t appear that way to us, so I have been able to accept this handicap of my daughter’s. But I would be darned angry if the reason my daughter had no arm was because God just wasn’t paying attention that day.”

    ===========================================
    I would also like to respond to a point that avocationist made.

    He writes,

    “All in all, your worldview is very close to ID, as is Miller’s, and it is perplexing that you call yourself a mainstream believer in evolution. What you espouse is not at all the same. Your understanding of randomness and chance, that it only looks that way from our small perspective, is 180 degrees different than what the textbooks are teaching, or most prominent voices in the field are saying. If you have made any valid point, it is perhaps that there IS no mainstream evolution. As I keep hammering, once you posit any God at all, even the deistic one, you are no longer in the same kind of universe, and I respect Dawkins for seeing that.

    I do not see the view I am describing as being close to ID, in two important ways. ID posits that some things are demonstrably designed, and that this can be shown via the processes of science by showing that natural processes could not have produced them. I firmly disagree with that.

    That however, has not been the point of this discussion. My purpose has been to show that one can be a Christian and also accept evolutionary science.

    But I also want to make it clear that one can hold many different philosophical or religious positions (including that of materialism) and accept evolutionary science. Our metaphysical beliefs are choices we make based on factors that go beyond the understanding of the physical world that we reach through the limited means of science. I personally believe that one’s metaphysics needs to be consistent with the findings of science, but I also respect that there are large questions that science can’t answer and that there a variety of legitimate philosophical and religious belief systems available for people to consider.

  148. [...] Michael Behe writes: How do we falsify the contention that natural selection produced the bacterial flagellum? If . . . [a] scientist went into the lab and knocked out the bacterial flagellum genes, grew the bacterium for a long time, and nothing much happened, well, he’d say maybe we didn’t start with the right bacterium, maybe we didn’t wait long enough, maybe we need a bigger population, and it would be very much more difficult to falsify the Darwinian hypothesis [than it would ID]. [...]

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