Home » Intelligent Design » The arsonist’s tale: Misconceptions about intelligent design

The arsonist’s tale: Misconceptions about intelligent design

When people examine a new idea for the first time, they often approach it from a basis of older, assumed ideas which cause confusion. They can’t really evaluate the new idea properly until the source of confusion has been identified.

In discussing the intelligent design controversy with people, I sometimes hear the following comment:

If scientists conclude that something is designed, then they are just taking the easy way out, and they won’t be able to find out anything more about it.

The comment – actually, more often a passionate outburst – come at such an oblique angle that it requires a bit of unpacking – all the more so because it is frequently followed up by other, similar ones. On rare occasions, time is permitted for a thoughtful response, so here’s one:

Let us look at a real life example: Suppose we say: If the fire marshall’s office (FMO) concludes that a fatal fire has been set deliberately, then they are just taking the easy way out, and they won’t be able to find out anything more about it.

What’s wrong with this picture? Clearly, the question of whether the fire was set deliberately must first be addressed as a question of fact. There is no other way to determine the origin of the fire than to address it first as a question of fact.

Perhaps the origin cannot be determined at all. But only an intensive investigation can demonstrate that.

If the FMO concludes that the fire is arson, far from losing the ability to find out anything more, it is in a position to focus on key details (Where was the fire started? What accelerant and how much? What was the pattern and timing of spread?).*

(*Many other questions can later be asked by the police – for example, were the charred victims intended to die in the fire? Or was their presence unforeseen and accidental? Or were they unlucky arsonists engulfed by flames?)

Assuming that the FMO can render a decision on these questions based on fact, in what sense would it be taking the easy way out?

Not in any sense I can think of. If the police investigate the circumstances surrounding the fire and lay charges, the FMO must defend its verdict against the lawyer for the accused, who will attempt, as one strategy among many, to cast doubt on the FMO findings, imply that the FMO routinely bungles cases or – in a pinch – that virtually any pattern of accelerants can be accounted for by random events or that it is never possible to determine the cause of a fire with certainty. (The analogies to the intelligent design controversy require no unpacking.)

If her client’s case looks pretty bad, the defense lawyer may even try arguing that arson is a natural cause because people are, well, “just natural animals”. (This defense will work better if her client has looked and acted, throughout the proceedings, like a large rodent crammed into a dress suit, and appears truly unable to grasp the moral significance of the accusations against him.)

At any rate, this analogy from everyday law enforcement helped me think of how to respond to the somewhat confused outburst captured above:

Design must first be addressed as a question of fact. Evidence pro or con can only be acquired by investigation and anywhere design turns out to be a fact, it must be factored into further fruitful investigation.

Should scientists refuse to consider design a possibility because they are “objective”? Well, how about this: Suppose the FMO gets a call from a leading local politician announcing that he wants the arson investigation called off because the FMO has no business assuming that someone might have wanted that building torched?

If the FMO thinks it has reasonable grounds for pursuing its present line of inquiries, should it meekly accept that argument? Should we assume that the politician obstructing the investigation is “objective”? Or rather that he is trying to defend somebody or something? In the same way, materialists attempting to suppress ID-friendly scientists are hardly “objective” in the matter.

The reason the outburst above is confused is that the speaker assumes that design is not a conclusion that can be arrived at by considering evidence and moving on to identify patterns. Underlying that assumption is a lifetime of steady indoctrination by materialism.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

65 Responses to The arsonist’s tale: Misconceptions about intelligent design

  1. To borrow a line from the anti-IDists:

    “This type of argument isn’t anything that brass knuckles, steel-toed boots and baseball bats can’t rectify.” ;)

    The sad part is that reality demonstrates that is matters a great deal to an investigation whether or not that which is being investigated arose via intent, accident or nature, operating freely.

    And in the end:

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

    “The study of” is more than enough to show that there is at least an attempt to know something more about it. After all in the absence of direct observation or designer input the ONLY way to make any determination about it is by studying it.

  2. Denyse,

    We are in a rhetorical game and we are losing big time. Many sit here and are so proud that they can answer all the arguments of the Darwinists but what they won’t admit is that ID has a lot of baggage that it cannot shake.

    How can we promote ID as science when it is closely associated with what is considered the major anti-science philosophy of YEC. All science with YEC is driven by a philosophical viewpoint, not the science itself just as all science for the Darwinists is driven by their philosophical viewpoint.

    So how can ID promote itself as science when so many of its proponents are seen as anti-science. We can use all the logic in the world or publish a thousand books and articles but it is so easy to paint ID as anti-science.

    Here is an example that appeared on a major blog a few days ago

    http://boortz.com/nuze/200703/.....servatives

    When major bloggers see this they run as fast as they can from any association with ID.

    I am sorry if this offends the religious beliefs of some here but it has to be said. As long as ID is associated with YEC it will go nowhere. And don’t tell me that many of the YEC people reject ID, because that is irrelevant even if true because many, many do espouse it and it drives what is considered here to a large extent. Few threads that consider something that is anti to the YEC philosophy get more than a token number of comments here.

  3. Jerry, as an evolutionist I agree entirely with you. The single biggest problem facing ID at the moment is its perception and association with YEC, and in all honesty there are vanishingly few ID supporters who are willing to risk cutting off the political support of the YEC crowd.

    As far as I can make out from my time trolling around this blog, most “advanced” ID theorists support common descent and other theories entirely compatible with “mainstream” science; the criticisms of mainstream evolutionary theory tend to centre around abiogenesis and the “speed limits” on evolution. There’s plenty of room for debate around these areas (the only honest answer for a scientist talking about abiogenesis is “we don’t know”), but as long as mainstream science equates ID with YEC, there’s no chance.

    The thing is, the ID community has got to take a stand in order to be taken seriously. Cast off the association with YEC and other blatantly unscientific theories, because if you’re in it for the science then the politics shouldn’t be an issue.

    On a side note: I’ve been very interested in the range of different theories supported by IDers (see above): if I were to set up a quick, highly unscientific poll to see (boradly) what the consensus or range of views of readers of this blog was (from YEC through ID to pure mat-evo), would people participate?

  4. I like the analogy, especially the part about questioning the motives of the interfering politician.

    I have a question. I can understand someone objecting the claim that intelligent design is evidenced in some particular entity because of some particular evidence “x”. However, is the anti-ID community objecting that it would be impossible to detect intelligent design, assuming some organic entities are inherently design? If so, is this because they believe, and have a discussable reason, that any possible test for ID is somehow necessarily doomed to failure, or that intelligent design, if it were to exist in some organic entities, is necessarily empirically undectable. In other words, if a group of anti-ID scientist were given a large grant to come up with a test for ID in organic entities plus a large cash award if successful to boot, what reasons would these scientist likely give for their inability to accomplish this task (outside of their claim that ID is ruled out by the definition of science and any reasons they might have for maintaining that methodological naturalism is the proper way to do science)?

    I ask this question in the spirit of O’Leary’s post: responding well to the anti-ID community.

  5. “If scientists conclude that something is designed, then they are just taking the easy way out, and they won’t be able to find out anything more about it.”

    Sheesh. What a stupid argument.

    I guess that would mean that:
    If mechanics concluded that my car is designed, then they are just taking the easy way out, and they won’t be able to find out why it’s making that funny noise and not running right.

    Or:
    If a doctor (me for e.g.) concludes that the human body was designed, he’s just taking the easy way out and won’t be able to find out what’s wrong with it or anything else about it.

    I’m sure thousands of medical students will be happy to hear they needn’t learn any more about human anatomy, physiology, etc. etc. because if it’s a result of design there’s no use studying it.

    I guess I have to toss everything I learned in medical school, residency, and 15 years of practice because I don’t believe the human body is a result of random processes.
    And what do I tell all the patients whose disorders I’ve diagnosed and corrected over the years? Sorry, I didn’t really know what I was doing, you can’t really walk again, it’s all in your mind, and by the way your mind doesn’t exist either, it’s just an epiphenomenon of your brain?

  6. “Sheesh. What a stupid argument.”

    I agree dacook. It’s no wonder ID has become such a thorn in the side of Darwinists when this is the best argument they can come up with. Personally, I’d be embarrassed to use an argument of this low caliber. But then again, shame and humility can mean anything you want it to in a Darwinist world.

  7. Jerry and Phevan,

    Jerry:

    Thanks for raising an interesting and timely question. I appreciate it.

    That said, I don’t agree that ID would be better accepted if the ID guys blew off the YEC guys.

    To a materialist, ID would be “anti-science” if YEC had never existed, because a materialist understands science as applied materialism.

    In my little parable above, the materialist is like the defense lawyer trying to get Ratcliffe off the hook. She espouses any position whatever on the fire, tandem or seriatim, except that Ratcliffe dunit and knew he dunit. That can never be, no matter what evidence is assembled.

    Consider me as an example: I am at the opposite end of the spectrum from YEC.

    I’m not even an ID supporter in the conventional sense. That is, I don’t know whether current ID hypotheses are the correct way to understand the large amount of information in life forms that is obviously not adequately accounted for by Darwinian fairy tales. So I describe myself as a post-Darwinist.

    There is considerable and mounting evidence that the materialism that Darwinism supports is not true, either. But determining what is true could take decades or centuries. The ID guys are making a start. I don’t have a science background, so I do not attempt to evaluate their assumptions in technical detail.

    My main stake in this controversy is to promote a more responsible debate, less dependent on the US culture wars.

    But if you think for a moment that I am less likely to be attacked by materialists, Darwoids, et cetera, on that account, well, google my name and see what you come up with.

    I am a traditional Catholic, so I don’t even interpret the Scriptures in any way similar to the usually fundamentalist YECs. If I started a row with YEC, it would have to be over Scriptural issues as I have no familiarity with the technical issues. I am not a trained theologian either, but many years of Bible reading and Bible study offer some modest benefits.

    Thus, I would have a big fight on my hands with members of another communion that would serve no purpose except to divide Christians.

    Apart from that, the reality is that all non-materalists have something in common that they do not share with materialists. I think that ID types of whatever flavour would do well to keep that in mind.

    Phevan: Re a poll, I suppose you’d have to ask people if they would participate and see what happens.

    You might set up a blog for the purpose and invite contributors whose identity can be confirmed.*

    One caution is that it takes some study to determine the questions whose answers would yield useful information (which I assume you’ve done or are doing).

    For example, I remember a historian of science who once tried to get me to post on the Post-Darwinist what he assumed to be the positions of various ID types – I guess in an effort to draw them out. I wrote to them first, and a number wrote back and said, in essence, “No, that’s not what I meant at ALL.”

    I didn’t publish the historian’s guesses, and he was a bit put out with me. But what could I do? I can’t publish stuff I know is false.

    My other suggestion would be to interest a social scientist in doing a more scientific poll on the actual beliefs of ID types who meet previously developed criteria as opinion leaders, criteria that – ideally – have been used in other studies of social influence (degrees, books published, numer of mentions in peer reviewed or popular literature, for example).

    Indeed, I see the actual study of these questions as a promising development in a field heretofore dominated by conspirazoid cranks, for whom I have no time and little patience.

    *Use the moderator keys early and often if you are spammed by Internet Darwinists, who usually have much more time on their hands than the regular type and proportionately less to offer your blog readers.

  8. Denyse: “Re a poll, I suppose you’d have to ask people if they would participate and see what happens.”

    That’s what I was hoping to do, at least initially, with that comment ;) I’m genuinely interested in the wide range of theories and opinions amongst ID supporters – the community is a lot more diverse than most people think. I know picking the right questions might be hard but I guess there’s only so far you can go – even something like ranking (say, from 1 to 5) how far you agree with statements like “all living organisms are descended from a common ancestor” is open to debate ;)

    R.e. your parable above, I think the criticism generally applied about the “easy way out” is aimed less at finding the evidence of ID, and more at the stated disinterest in seeking the identity of the designer. IMHO, evidence of design is the relatively boring bit – the who, how, and why are of far more interest. In an investigation, scientists have to play the role of the fire department, the police, and the prosecution lawyer – finding out that the fire was indeed deliberately set is only a first step towards the much more important areas of whodunnit and why :)

  9. My apologies but “guilt by false association” is also a stupid stance.

    In the end there is only ONE reality behind our existence. And science seeks to understand that reality.

    Creationist organizations such as AiG and ICR make it clear they are not the same as Intelligent Design. IDists make it clear ID is not based on any religious doctrine nor does it require a belief in any “God”.

    And reality also says it is a good thing to question Common Descent beacause that same reality has hidden that elusive magical genetic secret that would demonstrate the physiological and anatomical changes required* are even possible.

    Then one has to consider all the scientific data and inferences from “The Privileged Planet”. These demonstrate that the evidences for ID extend well beyond IC and CSI in biology.

    IOW if the universe was designed for scientific discovery then it would also need able observers to do that discovering.

    Why are we the only known planet or Moon that has observers and scientifically illuminating total solar eclipses (along with an atmosphere that allows for the observation)?

    I have many disagreements with religions but I will NOT let that cloud my view of reality. Those who do have their own issues and should discuss them with someone qualified to understand them (the issues).

    *If all of the diversity of living organisms owed their collective common ancestry to some (unknown) population(s) of single-celled organisms that just happened to have the ability to imperfectly self-replicate and metabolize.

  10. Pevan:
    IMHO, evidence of design is the relatively boring bit – the who, how, and why are of far more interest.

    Again- Reality demonstrates the ONLY way to determine the “who, how and why”, in the absence of direct observation or designer input, is by studying the event/ object in question.

    And no, determining design is not boring at all. It may be tedious but it is very necessary. And exciting because then it opens a whole new door to explore.

    IOW determining design is the impetus for futher research in the quest to perhaps answer the “who, how and why”. But reality also slaps us with disappointments. We do not always catch the arsonist or murderer. And the more complex the design the more it takes just to try to understand it.

  11. I absolutely agree. But isn’t taking a stance of “we do not try to understand / identify the designer” equivalent to the authorities saying “yep, it was a set fire, we’re not interested who dunnit” or your car mechanic saying “yep, that engine’s knackered, no idea why”?

    The impression I got was that there are plenty of clear examples of design. Isn’t it now time to start thinking about whether it was God, aliens, or Others(tm)? What evidence is there for each? If design is imperfect, does that imply that it wasn’t God? If it is perfect, does that prove God’ existence? Aren’t these questions far more interesting and relevant than just *whether* something was deigned?

  12. There are at least two major flaws in the arsonist analogy.
    1) We know that there are arsonists; our inferences from evidence of arson are reliable we know something about what happens when someone sets something on fire. We don’t know that a creator/designer of cellular life, for example, exists, and any inference from evidence of design or purposeful construction of a cell is impossible to evaluate because we know nothing about such a process. Which leads to the second flaw:
    2)

    If the FMO concludes that the fire is arson, far from losing the ability to find out anything more, it is in a position to focus on key details (Where was the fire started? What accelerant and how much? What was the pattern and timing of spread?).

    With respect to design or creation of organisms, what is the next step after inferring design? Who is trying to “find out anything more,” and how are they, or would they be, going about it? Is Dembski’s definition (“Intelligent Design is the study of patterns in nature that are best explained as the result of intelligence.”) accurate, i.e., is there any “study” beyond the determination of design?

  13. “If scientists conclude that something is designed, then they are just taking the easy way out, and they won’t be able to find out anything more about it.”

    Of course, if an object really is designed, it would be a waste of effort, and pointless, to spend time figuring out how it came about by chance, time that would be better put to use understanding more about the object itself. It is fortunate that most scientists dealing in biology, conciously or unconciously, understand this, and spend most of their time on the latter.

    This is in contrast to geology, where you actually can figure out how things can come into existance through natural processes, and time devoted to understanding those processes has actually produced more than fanciful stories.

  14. “If scientists conclude that something is designed, then they are just taking the easy way out, and they won’t be able to find out anything more about it.”
    It is not the design conclusion that stops science, it is the supernatural design conclusion. Science can investigate design, it cannot investigate supernatural design.

  15. ThePixie: “Science can investigate design, it cannot investigate supernatural design.”

    Why not? The ID position is that science is failing because of its materialist (== non-supernatural) standpoint. If, as IDists claim, science can accommodate non-materialist explanations, then it can certainly investigate supernatural design.

    Of course, if research indicates that aliens dunnit, then it’s still explicable with materialist science :)

  16. How do you know whether or not it is supernatural design until it is investigated?

    And then once supernatural is determined via vigorous scientific investigation wouldn’t it be a little late to stop it?

    As anyone knows even the materialistic anti-ID position requires either something beyond nature or the just as metaphysical “the universe ‘just is’”.

    Phevans:
    But isn’t taking a stance of “we do not try to understand / identify the designer” equivalent to the authorities saying “yep, it was a set fire, we’re not interested who dunnit” or your car mechanic saying “yep, that engine’s knackered, no idea why”?

    Wow that is just whacked! Who set the fire is usually separate from arson determination and how, although how may be figured out during the determination process.

    The engine being “knackered”- fix it. That does not require knowing who “knackered” it or “why”. How it was knackered may be determined during the repair.

    It appears you just do not understand the basic premises of detecting and studying the design in question.

    And what does the stance of saying “it evolved” tell us? Just curious…

  17. Denyse:

    Good post with a good analogy extended. The politician at the end helps point out the unfortunate nature of some self-proclaimed authorities in the debate.

  18. This looks like a good spot to put in another plug for a look at panspermia:

    http://www.panspermia.org/

    There is a recent article linked (http://sciencenow.sciencemag.o.....2007/319/4)with yet another example of evolutionary biologists being surprised by actual findings in nature.

    ” “I was quite excited by this,” says John Coffin, a leading retrovirologist at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. “All retroviruses are very old, despite what many card-carrying evolutionary biologists have been saying.”"

  19. Pixie posted,

    “If scientists conclude that something is designed, then they are just taking the easy way out, and they won’t be able to find out anything more about it.”
    It is not the design conclusion that stops science, it is the supernatural design conclusion. Science can investigate design, it cannot investigate supernatural design. ”

    However, design is design is design, regardless of whether that design is due to “natural” or “supernatural” causes. It is not that science cannot “investigate” supernatural design, as you note, it is only that science, as done under the blinding veil of methodological naturalism, is incapable of concluding the correct cause of a particular design, if in fact the cause is “supernatural.”

    It is likely, there are no necessary and sufficient empirical distinguishing characteristics between “natural ID” and “supernatural ID.” Therefore, if science is unable to define the intelligent designing cause, why should the YEC’ist be banned from the game? It is not the YEC’ist who has handicapped him or herself by saying they are incapable of postulating a workable theory for who the Intelligent Designer is.

  20. mgarelick:
    We don’t know that a creator/designer of cellular life, for example, exists,…

    We know that living organisms exist. We then put that in cotext with the options available that can account for that existence.

    … and any inference from evidence of design or purposeful construction of a cell is impossible to evaluate because we know nothing about such a process.

    We do have knowledge of how intelligent agencies design things. We do have direct evidence of planning. We have experience with information rich systems. We have experience with command and control systems. And we can couple that with our knowledge and experience of what nature, operating freely, can do.

  21. The whole claim that design by a supernatural being is outside science is nonsense.

    Scientists are out there proposing all sorts of causes outside of our universe for our universe, so why not another. String theory and branes are an example.

    No, the only consistent thing underlying the claim that we cannot make reference to the supernatural is the opposition to organized religion. It is so blatantly obvious that it embarrasing when someone brings it up. They just want to rule out organized religion and in Western Civilization, they especially want to rule out Christianity. In the United States they want to marginalize Conservative Christians. While I disagree with YEC and the basis for their positions, I recognize that they are the main objective in this argument and how ludicrous this particular point is.

    There is nothing else behind the specious claim that science cannot consider the supernatural. So anyone claiming it is just repeating this silly cliché.

  22. Joseph: “How do you know whether or not it is supernatural design until it is investigated?

    And then once supernatural is determined via vigorous scientific investigation wouldn’t it be a little late to stop it?”

    Absolutely! That’s exactly what I’m saying! The investigation has been ongoing for several decades. Either we’ve identified design, in which case it’s time to move on to designer, or maybe there’s no design to identify?

    “Who set the fire is usually separate from arson determination and how, although how may be figured out during the determination process.”

    As I said above – as scientists we have to act as fire department, police, and prosecutor. Who else will do it?

    “The engine being “knackered”- fix it. That does not require knowing who “knackered” it or “why”. How it was knackered may be determined during the repair.”

    But to repair it you need to understand the motivations, techniques, and intent of the designer and manufacturer (although not the identity in this case).

    “It appears you just do not understand the basic premises of detecting and studying the design in question.”

    How so? I’m explicitly divorcing the identification of design from the further study it engenders.

    “And what does the stance of saying “it evolved” tell us? Just curious… ”

    Nothing. But in addition there’s a proposed how (RM + NS) and why (survival pressure), whether or not you agree with it.

  23. Good post O’Leary.

    I think there are two good ripostes to the “science stopper” argument, and your post demonstrates both of them. The argument from analogy to known acts of agency (and there are many other analogies we can come up with. See, e.g., http://www.uncommondescent.com.....f-the-gaps) is very powerful.

    Also, it is important to point to the provisional nature of scientific inquiry. In other words, all scientific conclusions are provisional. The FMO’s conclusion does not settle the matter. His conclusion of “arson” does not stop the defense lawyer from arguing “lightning.” Similarly, Researcher Smith’s conclusion of “design” in no way stops Researcher Jones from continuing to search for an unguided naturalistic explanation that fits the data better.

    In response to the comments about public opinion of ID, we should keep in mind that, as Denyse says, the success of the ID movement is not gauged in the short run. Yes, ID is in one sense an ancient concept. But the modern movement really dates from about 20 years ago.

    Don’t talk to me about whether ID is succeeding based on some blogger’s post last week. Talk to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren 50 or 75 years from now. Then you may get a glimmering of whether ID is going to catch hold for the long run.

    For now, we should comfort ourselves with two thoughts. One, the public really is on our side. Poll after poll after poll shows that overwhelming majorities of the public understand intuitively that the materialistic origins myth is not satisfactory.

    Two, truth exists independently of whether our rigidly orthodox materialist friends believe it or not. They may try to suppress it on religious grounds (their materialist religion, I mean), but in the long run it will out despite their bests efforts.

  24. Wholly naturalistic evolutionary theory is a joke. Not LIKE a joke. It IS one. In fact, it’s this one:

    A guy is walking down the street at night when he sees an old man under a streetlight scouring the sidewalk. The guy walks up to the old man and says, “Sir, did you lose something?” The old man replies, “Yep, sonny, I lost my car keys down the block and so I’m looking for them under this lamp.” Confused, the guy says, “But if you lost your keys down the block, why are you looking for them over here?” To which the old man responds, “The light’s better over here!”

    Mind you, the light of naturalistic materialism is indeed illumanitive. What it reveals, it reveals well. But to say that if the car keys are to be found at all, they will be found under this particlar light and no other, is, in all likelihood, to say that the keys will never be found.

    But if the guy runs off to look for the car keys under the light of design, I suppose the old man will accuse him of “not being scientific.” Riiiiiiiiight…

  25. Actually, I believe the best counter to the argument, “If we assume ‘God did it,’ we stop science!” is that history has continually and endlessly refuted it. Medical research didn’t sit still waiting for Darwin. Those early researchers “knew” God did it, and were nonetheless consumed with the desire to understand how the human body worked. Newton “knew” Got created the universe; that did not stop him from try to understand and codify the laws of physics. Indeed, many early scientific discoveries were only possible because those researching them assumed such laws must exist, that God would have created an orderly and understandable universe.

    I am an engineer. One reason I am is because as a child I loved to tear things apart and understand how they worked. I knew they were designed – be it an engine, a telephone, or a telescope – but that didn’t stop me from a thirst to know how they worked, OR how to build one myself. This really is one of the weakest arguments against ID there is, since it has been patently proven to be false over and over again for thousands of years. The only one arguably weaker is the “God wouldn’t have designed it that way” argument.

  26. I like the way the situation is described by Davies:

    “The main reason why the origin of life is such a puzzle is because the spontaneous appearance of such elaborate and organized complexity seems so improbable.

    In the previous chapter I described the Miller-Urey experiment, which succeeded in generating some of the building blocks of life.

    However, the level of complexity of a real organism is stupendously greater than that of mere amino acids.

    Furthermore, it is not just a matter of degree. Simply achieving a high level of complexity per se will not do.

    The complexity needed involves certain specific chemical forms and reactions: a random complex network of reactions is unlikely to yield life.

    The complexity problem is exacerbated by the mutual functional interplay between nucleic acids and proteins as they appear in Earthlife. Proteins have the job of catalyzing (greatly accelerating) key biochemical processes.

    Without this catalysis life would grind to a halt. Proteins perform their tasks under the instructions of nucleic acid, which contains the genetic information. But proteins are also made by nucleic acid. This suggests that nucleic acid came first.

    However, it is hard to see how a molecule like RNA or DNA, containing many thousands of carefully arranged atoms, could come into existence spontaneously if it was incapable, in the absence of proteins, of doing anything (in particular, of reproducing). But it is equally unlikely that nucleic acid and proteins came into existence by accident at the same time and fortuitously discovered an efficient symbiotic relationship.

    The high degree of improbability of the formation of life by accidental molecular shuffling has been compared by Fred Hoyle to a whirlwind passing through an aircraft factory and blowing scattered components into a functioning Boeing 747.

    It is easy to estimate the odds against random permutations of molecules assembling DNA. It is about 10^40,000 to one against!

    That is the same as tossing a coin and achieving heads roughly 130,000 times in a row.”

    – Davies P.C.W.*, “Are We Alone?: Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life,”
    Penguin: London, 1995, pp.18-19

    Too bad most Darwinists are never able to think things through like this.

    I like Davies’ term “organized complexity”. A nice addition to irreducible and specified.

  27. Barry,

    I disagree with your comment

    “Don’t talk to me about whether ID is succeeding based on some blogger’s post last week.”

    I know no one who accepts ID except for my wife and I and that is really based on the vacuousness of Darwinism and religious beliefs. It is off the table even with my children. My daughter who teaches science rolls her eyes when ever I mention evolution and she and her family go to church every Sunday. Anytime the topic is broached you feel like you have to explain away why you are not some wacko.

    People on this site come from different parts of the country and live in different echo chambers and the one I am most exposed to considers doubts on evolution as parts of the Looney Tunes crowd.

    Read the reactions in the major conservative blogs when Bush said “Teach the Controversy” In the liberal blogs they were jubilant because they knew it would paint conservatism with pseudo-science. In nearly every conservative blog they were angry he said it. Tell me where there is a blog with any following that thinks ID is true? It is not just one blog last week.

    Now we know what the real pseudo-science is but in public opinion polls I doubt most will accept more than God had a special roll in creating man because that is what every organized religion says. But after that I am not sure what people will say. Maybe in fundamentalist Christian religions there is a strong belief but I have not noticed anywhere personally.

    My daughter has story books for her children that teach about Noah’s Ark but she does not believe that. She thinks it absurd and so do I. It is like teaching your children about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Nice stories that make life better but not necessarily the truth. When you grow up you won’t believe it but it makes for nice memories.

    I prefer to win the battle in the next 10 years not wait several generations for it to succeed. As long as ID is tied to YEC there is not much chance. The best bet is a well reasoned argument before the Supreme Court that disavows any connection to either YEC and emphaiszes the obvious materialistic anti-religious objectives of Darwinism and limits the discussion to the critical analysis of the mechanisms of evolution.

    From what I had heard a little while after Dover there was such a move that was well financed and willing to go all the way to the Supreme Court. I have not seen it recently so maybe it died.

  28. Muddle-headed thinking does no good. I reference the joke/analogy TerryL cites (at #23 above) about looking for keys under the street light.

    The joke supposes that the man knew where he dropped his keys, and is absurdly looking elsewhere for them.

    The reality of science is more akin to a man who does not know where he dropped the keys. They may be near the light, or down the street, or in the dark alley he walked thru.

    This is important because it links to the comment at #20 – BarryA highlighted the provisional nature of science. As long as we agree that the keys *might* be near the streetlight, we are granting that it is reasonable for materialists to stay where they think the light is good. But when they say we shouldn’t look in the “dark alley” of design, we can just as reasonably say that we might find our keys there.

    Saying that others are absurd and their efforts a joke is accepting the false dichotomy – and that error will bite you.

  29. Jerry: “The best bet is a well reasoned argument before the Supreme Court….”

    One of the most foolish ideas of the past decade is that the courts can decide what is science. The courts are necessarily the venue for settling disputes (like what will we teach in public schools), but jurists are not scientists.

    First, ID will not be stopped by a court decision – it will stop if and when it runs out of intellectual steam.

    Second – a close corollary – ID will not be helped by a court decision. If it does not yield useful ideas it will wither away despite what Nine Black Robes declare.

  30. Borne, yet Davies also says he sees no reason to invoke design (at least a supernatural act) to solve the OOL problem. See here: http://www.astroseti.org/davieseng.php

    Jerry, I would like to win the origins debate this afternoon, not ten years from now as you suggest. But what I would like and what is likely to happen rarely coincide. That is the price I pay for swimming against the cultural current. Nevertheless, I think I am not only right, but (especially on OOL issues) self-evidently right. But being right and being in the majority are also not always coincidental, at least in the short run. I am less interested in short term success than in resisting the temptation to follow the herd just because that is easiest thing to do.

    I also think it is is misleading to extrapolate from your personal experiences and prejudices about the meaning of the polls to general propositions.

    TerryL, love your joke.

  31. Me: “Science can investigate design, it cannot investigate supernatural design.”
    Phevans: “Why not? The ID position is that science is failing because of its materialist (== non-supernatural) standpoint. If, as IDists claim, science can accommodate non-materialist explanations, then it can certainly investigate supernatural design.”
    KMO: “It is not that science cannot “investigate” supernatural design, as you note, it is only that science, as done under the blinding veil of methodological naturalism, is incapable of concluding the correct cause of a particular design, if in fact the cause is “supernatural.” ”

    If it happens to be the case that something is the product of supernatural creation, then, yes, science will be blind to that. Science investigates what science can investigate. Science can only investigate what it can study, i.e., the natural world. And I would say it has done that with great success (that does not mean it is always right, but is to counter Phevans that science is failing).

    It is all well and good saying we should abandon methodological naturalism, but what does that actually entail? Can anyone tell me how science would set about investigating the supernatural? How would you go about determining how God performs miracles, or what ghosts are made of, or how voodoo magic works?

  32. Pixie,

    What difference would it make if rejected methodological naturalism for a scientific methodology that did not decide, a priori, the metaphysical status of the universe? The first priority of science ought to be seeking to discover THE TRUTH. Once that is RE-established, I am sure we can think of all kinds of creative ways to investigate the intelligently designed entities we find in nature!

  33. Pixie,

    You are presenting bogus arguments. By believing in God and believing He had some input to this world you in no way limit any scientific endeavor. There is nothing that cannot be investigated including voodoo. The only result is that you may never find an answer to some problems but we will not know which ones necessarily before hand.

    By believing that God had no input you may eliminate a lot of potential research options. If you believe in God, then everything is on the table including naturalistic mechanism of the origin of life and Darwinian evolution. By not believing in God you limit the number of potential options to investigate. For example, if life was designed then we may expect other things to be consistent with that which would not be allowed in a purely naturalistic framework. By taking a design paradigm into biology one may research far more than by taking a strictly naturalistic paradigm.

    Believing there is a God does not hamper science in any way. No, it is the elimination of God that limits enquiry.

  34. Pixie,

    It is all well and good saying we should abandon methodological naturalism, but what does that actually entail?

    Heck, science worked fine for years before 1983 when the term “methodological naturalism” was coined by Paul de Vries in its modern form. There are other variants of naturalism, you know. Or, actually, I’m guessing you don’t know…

    I don’t see the big deal about making a demarcation between “supernatural” and “natural”. After all, the basic definition is “of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural”. But the problem is that the word “supernatural” is also used to refer to ghosts, goblins, and other things that are unlikely to exist in reality. So that’s why Bill prefers to ask “what is the nature of nature”. That being the case perhaps the best way to describe the problem is by asking “how might science go about extending nature in a systematic manner?”.

    Let’s say I’m looking at the universe. I posit the supernatural–that is, what is the superset of the known natural–explanation as being a whole set of multiple universes spawning new universes through inter-dimensional friction or something. I just posited the supernatural; am I now stuck based upon Pixie’s assertions? No, my hypothesis might predict that our universe display certain characteristics. So I go about looking to see if the universe does indeed possess those characteristics.

    Unfortunately ID doesn’t possess the ability to pinpoint a Designer. ID is about Design Detection; not DesignER Detection. If the Designer(s) do indeed exist “above or beyond what is natural” then just as in the “multiple universe” example we’ll have to examine the objects at hand–designed objects, in this case–in order to infer what we may about the Designer(s) through the embedded characteristics. For example, in regard to SETI, triangulation along with red-shifting and the nature of the communication method’s speed in hard vacuum might give us information about “where and when”. If the contents of the message itself can be deciphered we might even know “who”. Let’s look at the front-loading hypothesis; perhaps there is an internal clock to such mechanisms that could also give us a general idea about “where and when”. I’m sure many Christians would be disappointed if there is a trademark containing “Property of Universal Seeding and Farming Corporation” but I doubt we’d find something like that anyway…

    Or the Designer(s) could be located within known nature. Or by further investigation we discover how to interact with the superset of nature. Although ID proponents like John Davison believe that the Designer(s) are dead. But the main point is that investigation wouldn’t be halted by ID.

  35. the Pixie:
    Science can only investigate what it can study, i.e., the natural world.

    And what ID seeks to investigate exists in the natural world.

    ID does NOT seek to investigate the supernatural. ID does NOT say anything about the supernatural.

    Two ID experts testified to that fact during the Dover fiasco.

    What ID does say is that if the data points to the supernatural/ metaphysical then so be it. That is if science is interested in reality- and if it isn’t then it is worthless. And in the end it really has to because every PoV requires something either beyond nature or metaphysical.

    Not even the Pixie’s PoV can escape that fact.

    And it should be noted that many of the greatest scientists who ever graced this planet used science as a way of understanding the Creator’s design/handywork.

  36. Phevans:
    “Cast off the association with YEC and other blatantly unscientific theories, because if you’re in it for the science then the politics shouldn’t be an issue.”

    Sorry to bring up somthing so old, but the self contradictory nature of this statement irritated me to no end.
    Does the science of the YEC position (whatever you might think of it) contradict anything in the theory of Intelligent Design? If it doesn’t, what reason do we have to ‘Cast off the association with YEC’? Politics?

  37. jerry, “My daughter has story books for her children that teach about Noah’s Ark but she does not believe that. She thinks it absurd and so do I. It is like teaching your children about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Nice stories that make life better but not necessarily the truth. When you grow up you won’t believe it but it makes for nice memories.”

    There is a view that sits between the “literally true” view and the “just a nice story view.” And that, of course, is the view an the ancient Hebrews themselves (as well as other culture) understood and utilized as teaching tools: the story are morality plays and prophetic pointers to future antitypes. Easy to remember and communicate. (Most people didn’t read or write.) The stories may not be literally true, but they could metaphorically point to something that is literally true, either past or future.

    For example, at a particular point in Israel’s history, snakes invaded the camp and started biting people because of their rebellion. Those who got bit died. Yahweh told Moses to make a bronze snake on a pole and erected for the people to look at. Those who got bit by the snakes could drag their sorry butts to the bronze snake on the pole and “look upon it” which saved them from dying from the snake bite. A nice story? Had to justify it, unless it was some kind of allegory. Is this story literally true? Who knows. Impossible to verify. However, it had a message which became clear in the New Testament by Jesus’ own words.

    The human race is rebellious and under a curse, and because of the rebellion “snakes” were all to “bite” us. This in a NT understand meant that our rebellion allowed “snakes”, ie, demons, supernatural or transdimensional intelligent entities, the power to inflict harm on us, and kill us spiritually and physically. Te cure for this was to “look” (trust) the “bronze snake” (Jesus) on the “pole” (cross) and be healed of the “bite” of the demons.

    “As Moses lifted the snake up in the desert, so must the son of man be lifted up on a cross.”

    The Hebrew prophet Isaiah called this event an “ensign”, a signal to Yahweh’s people.

    Bottom line, the stories may be literally true or not, but their purpose was far more than just a stories to pass the time and to have nice memories over. All of major “myths” of the Old Testament are like this. Whether they are true or not, they metaphorically point to vastly more importantl issues.

  38. Mike1962,

    I appreciate all the stories of the bible and believe they contain a lot of good moral messages and understand the story of Noah as I was taught it as a young child. I just find it absurd to think it is literally true. There are flood myths in several ancient texts, including some that preceded the bible.

    There probably was a catastrophic flood and there is good science to point to such an event but not one, which flooded all the earth but did probably wipe out many major human settlements along the Black Sea as the Ice Age retreated.

    My point was and still is that a lot of people in this debate are not driven by science but by ideology. And it is on both sides. To each side the ideology of the other side is detestable. And until ID sheds the ideology part, it is dead in the water despite all the back slapping that goes on here. The other side controls the media, the academy, the law and popular opinion despite whatever polls one drags out to show the country is religious and doesn’t believe in evolution.

    There was not outcry over the results at Dover. Nobody cared. Even the community which is relatively conservative breathed a sigh of relief when it was over.

  39. StephenA: “Does the science of the YEC position (whatever you might think of it) contradict anything in the theory of Intelligent Design?”

    Yes. All of the front loading hypetheses, together with all the varying levels of acceptance of common descent, require an old Earth. This is a big deal for ID acceptance – no-one seriously debates the age of the Earth apart from biblical literalists.

    Patrick: “Unfortunately ID doesn’t possess the ability to pinpoint a Designer. ID is about Design Detection; not DesignER Detection. If the Designer(s) do indeed exist “above or beyond what is natural” [...] we’ll have to examine the objects at hand–designed objects, in this case–in order to infer what we may about the Designer(s) through the embedded characteristics.”

    Firstly, doesn’t detecting design automatically detect a designer? Or do you mean ID can’t do designer identification? In which case aren’t we deducing, to some extent, the identity of the designer by examining the design? The oft quoted here “poor design != no design” is an interesting one, since detection of poor design essentially rules out God as designer. This is the main reason I think ID is going to implode – once you get beyond identifying design, anything further will lead to internal factions and contradictions.

  40. KMO: “What difference would it make if rejected methodological naturalism for a scientific methodology that did not decide, a priori, the metaphysical status of the universe? The first priority of science ought to be seeking to discover THE TRUTH. Once that is RE-established, I am sure we can think of all kinds of creative ways to investigate the intelligently designed entities we find in nature!”
    Science is not going to reject a methodology that has worked great for over a century just because you are sure we will think of new ways of doing stuff when that happens. What is stopping you and all the other IDists from thinking up these “creative ways to investigate” right now?

    Jerry: “You are presenting bogus arguments. By believing in God and believing He had some input to this world you in no way limit any scientific endeavor. There is nothing that cannot be investigated including voodoo. The only result is that you may never find an answer to some problems but we will not know which ones necessarily before hand.”
    Actually I more or less agree – if I understand you right. God might have created first life, then let evolution do its stuff, or He might have created life 6000 years ago. You do not know until you look at the evidence. And when you find it was the former, you can investigate the evolution part – but not the creation process.

    This is the big difference with the arson investigation. The FMO are considering a natural agent, someone who works within the laws of nature. That means the agent must have had recent physical access to the scene, must have used some instrument to initiate the fire and probably an accelerant too. Indeed, the FMO are specifically considering a human agent, so they can also ponder the purpose of the act, given what they know of human agents. They can build up a pretty good idea of exactly what happened, given enough evidence.

    The supernatural agent works outside the laws of nature. Would it have to be present? Would it need tools? How long does it take? What did it do first, what did it do last? I believe all these questions are unanswerable.

    Jerry: “By believing that God had no input you may eliminate a lot of potential research options. If you believe in God, then everything is on the table including naturalistic mechanism of the origin of life and Darwinian evolution. By not believing in God you limit the number of potential options to investigate. For example, if life was designed then we may expect other things to be consistent with that which would not be allowed in a purely naturalistic framework. By taking a design paradigm into biology one may research far more than by taking a strictly naturalistic paradigm.”
    Again, I agree. Science is neutral on the existence of God. And your suggested application of ID is exactly what IDists should be doing, i.e., establishing a design hypothesis (what was designed when), seeing what that would necessarily imply for nature (making predictions), and then looking for that.

    Patrick: “Heck, science worked fine for years before 1983 when the term “methodological naturalism” was coined by Paul de Vries in its modern form. There are other variants of naturalism, you know. Or, actually, I’m guessing you don’t know…”
    I am not really bothered what what we label it. As I said originally, science investigates what science can investigate. But thanks for the insult, it helps put the discussion in perspective.

    Patrick: “Let’s say I’m looking at the universe. I posit the supernatural–that is, what is the superset of the known natural–explanation as being a whole set of multiple universes spawning new universes through inter-dimensional friction or something. I just posited the supernatural; am I now stuck based upon Pixie’s assertions? No, my hypothesis might predict that our universe display certain characteristics. So I go about looking to see if the universe does indeed possess those characteristics.”
    Just labelling something “supernatural” does not put it outside of science. You have made a hypothesis, that makes predictions about our universe, and so can be studied by science.

    Patrick: “Unfortunately ID doesn’t possess the ability to pinpoint a Designer. ID is about Design Detection; not DesignER Detection.”
    The interesting omission is Design Process Detection. Why do no IDists want to investigate the design/creation process, even in the most general terms such as thousands of years ago or billions of years ago? A scenario positing design 6000 years ago would make very different predictions to a scenario positng design 4 billion years ago. And no IDists seems to want to admit that. This is the ironic thing about O’Leary’s post. There are things IDists could investigate about the design process, but ID seems to shy away from doing so (in the main, anyway).

    Patrick: “Let’s look at the front-loading hypothesis; perhaps there is an internal clock to such mechanisms that could also give us a general idea about “where and when”.”
    There is ID science in the making! Serious, this exactly what IDists should be doing. Formulate a hypothesis, in this case front-loading, and then see what predictions you get from that hypothesis.

    Patrick: “Or the Designer(s) could be located within known nature. Or by further investigation we discover how to interact with the superset of nature. Although ID proponents like John Davison believe that the Designer(s) are dead. But the main point is that investigation wouldn’t be halted by ID.”
    The other problem is that most of ID relies on an eliminative argument: Evolution cannot produce CSI, evolution cannot produce IC structures, etc., not to forget the EF. Let us suppose that the IC hypothesis is accepted (and I pick IC because it was an idea used by IDists at Dover, by the way). Where does that take us? What science do we do now to learn about the designer, the design process or even where to look for evidence of design? The IC concept gives us no clues at all. All it does is stop us looking any further at evolution.

    To refer back to the original post, and the arson investigation, what the FMO do is look for evidence for arson, and each bit helps them produce a picture of what happened. If we decide the bacterial flagellum is IC, what does that tell us about the designer or the design process? What new avenues of research does it give us? Where do we go from there? Nowhere. All we can do is set it aside, and move on to the next one.

    Joseph, thanks for the reply, I think I have addressed most of you points already.

  41. the Pixie:
    To refer back to the original post, and the arson investigation, what the FMO do is look for evidence for arson, and each bit helps them produce a picture of what happened.

    Actually it is a fire investigation in which arson may or may not be determined. And most often one cannot tell who the arsonist(s) was/ were just by looking at the scene. Also fires are much less complex than living organisms or machines.

    the Pixie:
    Why do no IDists want to investigate the design/creation process, even in the most general terms such as thousands of years ago or billions of years ago?

    How do you know waht IDists do and don’t do? Why isn’t any evolutionists investigating whether or not any mechanism can account for the physiological and anatomical changes required?

    ID and mechanisms:

    To say that ID has no proposed mechanism means only that we don’t specifically know how ID was implemented. So what? Do we have any good reason to think that if ID was implemented at the origin of life (for example), then we should be able to determine how ID was implemented? Of course not. The truth of ID does not entail the ability to describe the process of design. Thus, the inability to describe the actual process that was implemented is essentially meaningless apart from its rhetorical appeal.

    As DEmbski stated in “No Fee Lunch” the process is a separate question. Just as abiogenesis is separate from the theory of evolution. That you continue to refuse that simple and basic fact just further exposes your anti-ID agenda.

    the Pixie:
    The other problem is that most of ID relies on an eliminative argument: Evolution cannot produce CSI, evolution cannot produce IC structures

    ID does NOT say that evolution cannot produce IC. That you would say such a thing exposes your ID ignorance. Thanks, although it has been very obvious that you don’t understand the basics.

    the Pixie:
    If we decide the bacterial flagellum is IC, what does that tell us about the designer or the design process? What new avenues of research does it give us? Where do we go from there?

    As I have already stated and reality demonstrates it matters a great deal to an investigation whether or not that which is being investigated arose via intent/ purpose, accident or nature, operationg freely. Again that you refuse to accept reality is very telling.

    The Pixie:
    Joseph, thanks for the reply, I think I have addressed most of you points already.

    I am glad that you think so but reality demonstrates otherwise.

  42. Phevan:
    The oft quoted here “poor design != no design” is an interesting one, since detection of poor design essentially rules out God as designer.

    Why is that? You do realize that no one is saying that “God” had to Create a perfect design or even if the design started out perfectly that it had to remain that way.

    Phevan:
    This is a big deal for ID acceptance – no-one seriously debates the age of the Earth apart from biblical literalists.

    I would say that no one knows the age of the Earth because that requires the knowledge of HOW the Earth was formed. We know designing agencies can speed up processes- just look at man-made diamonds.

    Phevan:
    Firstly, doesn’t detecting design automatically detect a designer?

    No. Detecting design just says there was prior agency involvement.

    Phevan:
    Or do you mean ID can’t do designer identification?

    identifying the designer

    Suffice it to say, I have little patience with the “identify the designer” rhetoric. It’s not just an example of sloppy thinking. It’s a form of sloppy thinking that gunks up any sincere interest in design. It turns an attempt to adhere to logical, responsible thinking into a sinister motive. So perhaps, there is a better question to ask. Why do ID critics refuse to publicly acknowledge that it is illogical to identity the designer using the criteria of mainstream ID (IC and CSI)?

    Phevan:
    This is the main reason I think ID is going to implode – once you get beyond identifying design, anything further will lead to internal factions and contradictions.

    I doubt it but even if so, so what?

  43. Joseph:

    I absolutely, categorically disagree with Mike Gene’s argument. The designer is only off limits because it’s been decided that it’s better to keep it off limits. To use an ID favourite, if you came across a mysterious machine in a field, sure you’d want to know how it worked, but you’d also want to know what it was for, where it came from, and how it was made. Anybody trying to claim that these questions were off limits would be intellectually bankrupting themselves.

    Me:
    Firstly, doesn’t detecting design automatically detect a designer?

    Joseph: No. Detecting design just says there was prior agency involvement.

    Er . . . . que? What is “prior agency involvement” other than a designer? Notice I said “detect a designer” not “identify the designer”.

    For the record, I’m not saying that evidence of design is guaranteed to identify a designer, but it should be able to give evidence for or against classes of designers.

    In essence, it comes down to cause and effect. ID is doing it’s darndest to study the effect, whilst conveniently ignoring the cause.

    Incidentally, I found it quite amusing that just after claiming to The Pixie “ID does NOT say that evolution cannot produce IC” you post a link to me which says “an IC system could not have evolved” ;)

  44. After all the huffing and puffing it is of course still logically possible that we were designed. But if it turns out that we were designed then this would stop science. So we’d best ignore the possibility and churn out myths because by doing so we can continue to do science.

  45. Phevan, I absolutely positively disagree with your argument. I would say that perhaps every reasonable person does.

    The designer is off-limits for obvious reasons:

    1) Reality demonstrates we do NOT have to know who designed X in order to determine that X was designed

    2) Reality demonstrates the ONLY possible way to make ANY determination about the designer and/ or the specific process used, is by studying the design in question.

    3) Resources determine any course of action

    Phevan:
    To use an ID favourite, if you came across a mysterious machine in a field, sure you’d want to know how it worked, but you’d also want to know what it was for, where it came from, and how it was made.

    Where it came from would be minor and may be determined in the course of due diligence. As how it was made. But more importantly I would rather figure out how I could make one- that is if it was useful.

    We study what we have in order to learn what we can.

    Phevan:
    Anybody trying to claim that these questions were off limits would be intellectually bankrupting themselves.

    That was NEVER the claim. Read “No Free Lunch”- pages 111-112. SEPARATE the questions. There is no need to say that we don’t know every anal detail about the designer or the process that ID is bankrupt.

    Again abiogenesis and the theory of evolution are separated even though how living organisms came to be directly impacts any subsequent evolutionary process.

    IOW if living organisms did NOT arise from non-living matter via stochastic, ie blind watchmaker-type processes, there would be no reason to infer those types of processes had sole dominion over the subsequent evolution of those organisms.

    So I guess the bottom-line is you are comfortable employing double-standards.

    Almost 150 years after “On the Origins of Species…” YOU can’t even tell us whether or not ANY mechanism can account for the physiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans. Yet you tell us that we share a common ancestor.

    Phevan:
    In essence, it comes down to cause and effect.

    In essence it all comes down to available resources. And dealing with your ilk drains what is there.

    BTW, IC only implies that it could not have evolved if and only if “evolved” means via blind watchmaker-type processes. IC could evolve if it was designed to evolve. Many people miss that distinction.

  46. Joseph “Actually it is a fire investigation in which arson may or may not be determined. And most often one cannot tell who the arsonist(s) was/ were just by looking at the scene.”
    So? The point is that every bit of evidence for arson is also a clue about how it was done. This is quite different from ID.

    Joseph: “Also fires are much less complex than living organisms or machines.”
    I guess that is why the FMO does not use complexity when trying to prove arson! Not sure why you bring this up though.

    Pixie: “Why do no IDists want to investigate the design/creation process, even in the most general terms such as thousands of years ago or billions of years ago?
    Joseph: “How do you know waht IDists do and don’t do?”
    It is an observation of what the main IDists do. Can you point me to a web page where Dembski discusses how he would go about investigating when the design process occurred, for instance?

    Joseph: “Why isn’t any evolutionists investigating whether or not any mechanism can account for the physiological and anatomical changes required?”
    I think there are well established mechanisms whereby mutations occur (eg http://users.rcn.com/jkimball......tions.html). Scientists are also studying the genome of many creatures, and a comparison will give clues about what mutations occurred and when. So I think evolutionists are investigating those mechanisms.

    Joseph, quoting Mike Gene: “To say that ID has no proposed mechanism means only that we don’t specifically know how ID was implemented. So what? Do we have any good reason to think that if ID was implemented at the origin of life (for example), then we should be able to determine how ID was implemented? Of course not. The truth of ID does not entail the ability to describe the process of design. Thus, the inability to describe the actual process that was implemented is essentially meaningless apart from its rhetorical appeal.”
    There is a huge difference between a design event 4 billion years ago creating front-loaded life and a design event 6000 years ago creating all the various “kinds”. That the ID movement will not get off the fence and put its money behind one or the other tells me a lot about ID science.

    Sure, we cannot determine anything about the creation process. That is because it was supernatural, I suggest. Which was my point.

    Joseph: “As DEmbski stated in “No Fee Lunch” the process is a separate question. Just as abiogenesis is separate from the theory of evolution. That you continue to refuse that simple and basic fact just further exposes your anti-ID agenda.”
    But look at the arson analogy again. The FMO does not collect evidence and declare design, and then go back, re-examine the evidence and consider the design process. Iimagine the conversation. A: “Well, all the evidence points to arson” B: “Good work, and how was it done? Matches, incendiary bomb?” A: “Hey all in good time, all I know is it was arson, I have not had a chance to see how it was done yet”. I do not think so. These two things are done in tandem. Every bit of evidence for arson is also evidence for how it was done. An empty can of petrol might suggest arson, but it also suggests it was done using petrol as the accelerant. Can you think of anything the investigator might discover that would indicate arson without giving some clue of how it was done?

    Joseph: “ID does NOT say that evolution cannot produce IC. That you would say such a thing exposes your ID ignorance. Thanks, although it has been very obvious that you don’t understand the basics.”
    Oh. Well if ID does not say that, then what is the point of IC, how does Behe use it to support the case for ID? I am certainly no expert on ID; I look forward to you helping me understand it better.

    Pixie: “If we decide the bacterial flagellum is IC, what does that tell us about the designer or the design process? What new avenues of research does it give us? Where do we go from there?
    Joseph: “As I have already stated and reality demonstrates it matters a great deal to an investigation whether or not that which is being investigated arose via intent/ purpose, accident or nature”, operationg freely. Again that you refuse to accept reality is very telling.”
    I agree that it matters. The question of whether God exists or not is VERY important to all of us. But how does that relate to my question? If we determine the bacterial flagellum is IC, apparently that does not mean it cannot have evolved even, so what is the next step for the ID scientist? Is there one?

  47. Joseph, I see you answered my question about how IC supports ID in your last post (“BTW, IC only implies that it could not have evolved if and only if “evolved” means via blind watchmaker-type processes.”). I am still wondering, however, where this leads the ID scientist.

  48. the Pixie:
    The point is that every bit of evidence for arson is also a clue about how it was done.

    Maybe and maybe not. Sometimes how it was done is determined after arson was determined. Sometimes arson is determined when the actual cause was an accident and sometimes arson goes undetected.

    the Pixie:
    This is quite different from ID.

    It is quite different from the theory of evolution also.

    the Pixie:
    I guess that is why the FMO does not use complexity when trying to prove arson! Not sure why you bring this up though.

    the FMO uses the knowledge of what intelligent agencies are capable of coupled with their knowledge of what nature, operating freely, is capable of. And that is how IDists procede.

    I brought it up because the more simple the design is the easier it is to understand it.

    the Pixie:
    I think there are well established mechanisms whereby mutations occur (eg http://users.rcn.com/jkimball……tions.html). Scientists are also studying the genome of many creatures, and a comparison will give clues about what mutations occurred and when. So I think evolutionists are investigating those mechanisms.

    That misses my point completely. No one knows whether or not the physiological or anatomical differences are possible via the proposed mechansims.

    the Pixie:
    There is a huge difference between a design event 4 billion years ago creating front-loaded life and a design event 6000 years ago creating all the various “kinds”.

    How do you know that? IOW that is nothing more than a bald assertion.

    And in the end we have to go with what the data presents- even if that leads to planetary colonization by a civilization whose sun was dying. (think Titan-AE or “Genesis- Star Trek).

    the Pixie:
    That the ID movement will not get off the fence and put its money behind one or the other tells me a lot about ID science.

    That you cannot tell us what mutations were responsible for what phyiological and anatomical changes tells me a lot about your science.

    Where does the design inference lead? It should lead us to explore the unanswered questions that arise with such an inference. It should lead us to study the design to better comprehend its purpose and function.

    IOW it would be very similar to archaeology. Find some artifacts and continue investigating until you have enough pieces of the puzzle to put it all together. Geez look how long we have studied Stonehenge and look how little we really know about it or its designers. We can only guess at its purpose. But we press on.

    BTW I would be perfectly OK if the designer was not “God”.

    Again the double-standards are obvious. Anti-IDists want IDists to have or at least search for every anal-retentive detail before they will consider it. All the while knowing that their position is void of details and hangs on imaginative narratives.

  49. ID stays out of theology—as I see it—because detecting design is an empirical problem easily separable from theology. Why tackle everything simultaneously? What you want a theory of everything! Of course not.

    But ID people are free to wear other hats and belong to other movements, and this they do. And it is here that ID’s Big Tent differs from the religious conformity found in other creationist movements. ID is not “Christian” in that it seeks support across ideological lines. I was surprised—but shouldn’t’ve been—to find that Vine Deloria’s Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact rejects both Darwin and the various genres of Christian Creationism while naming and embracing Intelligent Design.

    But just as there are those who want ID to be a religion with a ready made answer for everything, so there are others who would have ID be composed of bland scientists whose only passion is their tiny corner of expertise. But that is utterly impossible and it shouldn’t be difficult to see why. The most important question is and always has been this: Are we designed? Absolutely every ideological issue hinges on how we answer this question. The important thing is that ID be honest, that its facts be facts, that its reasoning be sound, that it tell the truth—not that it be devoid of passion.

    But increasingly we see folks getting sidetracked into discussions of how nice we are or should be—it’s all over the talk shows. The Left—and Darwin, of course, is a leftist icon—never introspects on its own niceness or lack thereof (or on its honesty or lack thereof), but everywhere conservatives are debating whether Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh have gone over the top. But who’s asking whether they are correct. The same goes for ID—we can get sidetracked into endless debates on whether O’Leary or Dembski are too politic and not nice enough and forget all about whether they are right.

    Jerry in 38 is correct when he says, “The other side controls the media, the academy, the law and popular opinion despite whatever polls one drags out to show the country is religious and doesn’t believe in evolution.” But this is all the more reason that we’re in a battle where rhetoric and passion count. The other side has endless passion but little honesty. We must have the honesty—but we cannot win without passion. Even if we end up with zillions of peer reviewed publications stuffed away in dusty journals we still lose because the battle is political. Darwin published without an ounce of evidence and a plethora of pure fancy—his victory was entirely political—the emperor has no clothes!

    Most in ID are not demarcationists. They do not say that identifying the Designer is impossible or that it should be taboo in “science” to seek to do so. This is only true for those who define a priori the Deity as unknowable. But identifying the Designer as, say, the biblical God is a much more complex problem than what ID bites off. It involves history, archaeology, biblical studies, linguistics, theology, perhaps every discipline. But if ID identifies that a Designer was there, why should we assume that the Designer would have us stop our search at that point. Do we not find the thesis of The Privileged Planet compelling?

    Yet why tangle ID up in endless biblical and theological debates? My guess is that there can be no unity of religion until the world to come. First you ask the really Big Question. If the answer is negative then nothing else matters.

  50. Phevans,

    You should know by now that there is a game being played, mostly instituted by atheistic materialists. Any time someone wants to suggest in a publicly funded education setting that a God exists, the atheist objects strongly that this is introducing religion into education and as such violates the first amendment.

    They have managed to steer a significant part of the education in this country to undermine the possibility of there being a God, namely that any answer in science must preclude the possibility of a God having any input or else it isn’t science. Hence a lot of nonsense gets taught as part of biology and other science courses in this country.

    In order to avoid the taint of a God existing, ID points out the obvious. Namely, that some aspects of life could only have been designed. That is all. They stop there.

    You are being disingenuous by pressing for the nature of the designer because you know that most ID people believe it is God and if they admit such you can triumphantly claim that there, it is religion being introduced and as such cannot be taught.

    It is a phony insistence to express care about the nature of the designer. Why not let the student speculate and let science study how the design was implemented and then comment on the nature of the designer in a philosophy course.

    This game of pressing for the nature of the designer has been tried many times before and it shows the shallowness of those asking the question. It is like they are programmed to ask the standard set of questions. They seem to possess no originalness of thought.

  51. Jerry’s right. All this about the designer, rather than the designed, merely shifts the argument from the problems orthodox darwinism has in explaining the seemingly unexplainable.

  52. Joseph: “Maybe and maybe not. Sometimes how it was done is determined after arson was determined.”
    But can you think of any evidence that would indicate arson, but not suggest how it was done? I assume not, as you ignored the question last time around. I know I cannot.

    Joseph: “It is quite different from the theory of evolution also.”
    Sure, but no one has tried to use arson as an analogy to the theory of evolution!

    Joseph: “That misses my point completely. No one knows whether or not the physiological or anatomical differences are possible via the proposed mechansims.”
    I guess I am still missing this. Genetics tells us that one sequence of DNA will produce a man, another will produce an E. Coli bacterium. The physiological or anatomical differences are not just possible, but readily studied.

    Pixie: “There is a huge difference between a design event 4 billion years ago creating front-loaded life and a design event 6000 years ago creating all the various “kinds”.”
    Joseph: How do you know that? IOW that is nothing more than a bald assertion.
    I should have been more specific and said there is a huge difference in what we would see in the natural world between front-loading 4 billion years ago, and a YEC-like scenario. For one thing, the evidence from geology and physics will be quite different.

    Joseph: “Again the double-standards are obvious. Anti-IDists want IDists to have or at least search for every anal-retentive detail before they will consider it. All the while knowing that their position is void of details and hangs on imaginative narratives.”
    Evolutionary biologists are working every day to fill in the details. And have been for a long time; they do actually know quite a lot about the mechanisms. What I expect from ID is some idea of how it would do that, some effort in that direction. Has ID made any effort in deciding if the creation event was 6000 years ago or 4 billion? What evidence is it looking at to make that decision? I get he impression that ID steers clear of that question for political reasons (wanting to keep the “big tent”). There is a huge difference between deciding upon and supporting a specific design scenario and demanding that you “search for every anal-retentive detail”. I hope you can see that.

  53. the Pixie:
    But can you think of any evidence that would indicate arson, but not suggest how it was done?

    Explain the relevance. I am sure I can dream up some such scenario.

    And the theory of evolution doesn’t have any analogies. What do we say- “That tornado whipped through that junkyard and and next thing ya know there was that 747.”?

    the Pixie:
    I guess I am still missing this. Genetics tells us that one sequence of DNA will produce a man, another will produce an E. Coli bacterium.

    That is SOOOO wrong. We know that it is NOT DNA alone. That is exemplified by the FACT that ants in the same colony have the SAME DNA yet can vary in physiology and anatomy.

    IOW genetics have told us we are NOT merely the sum of our genes/ DNA.

    The scientist enjoys a privilege denied the theologian. To any question, even one central to his theories, he may reply “I’m sorry but I do not know.” This is the only honest answer to the question posed by the title of this chapter. We are fully aware of what makes a flower red rather than white, what it is that prevents a dwarf from growing taller, or what goes wrong in a paraplegic or a thalassemic. But the mystery of species eludes us, and we have made no progress beyond what we already have long known, namely, that a kitty is born because its mother was a she-cat that mated with a tom, and that a fly emerges as a fly larva from a fly egg.- geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti

    the Pixie:
    I should have been more specific and said there is a huge difference in what we would see in the natural world between front-loading 4 billion years ago, and a YEC-like scenario. For one thing, the evidence from geology and physics will be quite different.

    And I say that is more hearsay. Both geology and physics require the knowledge of HOW the Earth was formed before reaching a reasonable inference as to when.

    the Pixie:
    Evolutionary biologists are working every day to fill in the details. And have been for a long time; they do actually know quite a lot about the mechanisms.

    We still don’t have any details outside of the observed variations within a population.

    We don’t even know whether or not ANY mechansim, because the mechanisms we do know of don’t offer ANY insight, can account for the phsiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans. We don’t even know how to test such a premise- OBJECTIVELY.

    the Pixie:
    There is a huge difference between deciding upon and supporting a specific design scenario and demanding that you “search for every anal-retentive detail”.

    LoL!!! Just look at the evolution camp. How many different scenarios exist?

    Heck nested hierarchy used to be used as evidence for Common Descent and now that has been refuted and Common Descent still remains. It’s ability to adapt is amazing.

    No OBJECTIVE scientist would get pinned down to ONE scenario. That person would allow the data to lead.

    I hope you can see that.

  54. Pixie: “But can you think of any evidence that would indicate arson, but not suggest how it was done?
    Joseph: Explain the relevance. I am sure I can dream up some such scenario.
    Well my contention is that any evidence for design is also a clue for how and when the design/creation was done, who the designer was. I am inviting you to prove me wrong, with a counter-example. If you can think of some scenario in which the investigator finds something that indicates design (i.e. arson), but gives no clue about the design process (how the arson was committed), I will admit I was wrong.

    Joseph: “And the theory of evolution doesn’t have any analogies. What do we say- “That tornado whipped through that junkyard and and next thing ya know there was that 747.”?”
    Not too sure what this relates too. Is this connected to my comment that no one has made an analogy between an arson investigation and the theory of evolution? Consider me totally confused!

    Joseph: That is SOOOO wrong. We know that it is NOT DNA alone. That is exemplified by the FACT that ants in the same colony have the SAME DNA yet can vary in physiology and anatomy.
    It is a simplification. Sure, there are other factors that determine how the DNA is expressed. So what? How does this help your argument?

    Interesting you quote geneticist Giuseppe Sermonti. From here:

    “From 1986 to 1989 Prof. Sermonti produced three books on hermeneutics of classic fairy tales, showing that they contained (unexpressed) principles of science and technology (e.g. Snow-White is the narrative of the silver purification – cupellation – as well as of the phases of the moon, Red-riding-hood is mercury, Cinderella is sulphur). In these books he maintains that Science is of the same stuff as the Fairy Tales.”

    I think we have some idea of what makes a man a man and what makes an E. Coli bacterium an E.Coli bacterium. We certainly do not know it all, but we are learning more every day, through projects like the Human Genome Project and the National Animal Genome Research Program.

    Joseph: “And I say that is more hearsay. Both geology and physics require the knowledge of HOW the Earth was formed before reaching a reasonable inference as to when.”
    They go hand-in-hand. Astronomy has built up a good outline of how stars evolve and planets form, and generally the history of the universe back to the Big Bang about 17 billion years ago. And all this is giving support to a 4 billion year old Earth. Plate tectonics suggests how the continents forms, and also how old they are.

    But back to my point, if you are positing a universe that is only 6000 years old, then you would predict that you could only see stars that are within 6000 light years, you would predict that radiometric dating would find no rocks older than 6000 years, you would predict that each “kind” would have a distinct genetic code, wih no particular relationship to other organisms. On the other hand, for front-loading 4 billion years ago, you would predict a nested hierarchy of species, a fossil record going way back in the geological column, and a geological column that radiometric dating showed was billions of years old.

    The fact is that ID is unwilling to consider one scenario over another. Why is that, do you think?

    Joseph: “We still don’t have any details outside of the observed variations within a population.”
    Sure we do. Mutations, for example, are well known, and have been observed. The process of selection was well known before Darwin.

    Joseph: “We don’t even know whether or not ANY mechansim, because the mechanisms we do know of don’t offer ANY insight, can account for the phsiological and anatomical differences observed between chimps and humans. We don’t even know how to test such a premise- OBJECTIVELY.”
    I am still not too clear what you think we are missing. We have a record of the human genome, and (I think) a pretty good idea about the chimp genome. There is a shed load of evidence that DNA determines what the organism looks like (eg twins with identical DNA are identical, twins with different DNA are not identical), evenif other factors are involved to a small degree. The biologist can determine the genetic differences between a human and a chimp (yes, objectively). These differences (and the differences with an other close relative, the gorilla) should give clues as to type of mutation that lead to each difference. I doubt we will ever know exactly what mutation happened when, but to claim the mechanisms offer no insight at all is wrong.

    If you are wondering why this DNA gives a chimp, and that a human, i.e., exactly how DNA specifies an organism, then yes, I would agree that the mechanism of evolution does not give any insight (though I think common descent might). The mechanism of evolution explains how evolution might happen, not how DNA is used to build the organism.

    Pixie: “There is a huge difference between deciding upon and supporting a specific design scenario and demanding that you “search for every anal-retentive detail”.
    Joseph: LoL!!! Just look at the evolution camp. How many different scenarios exist?
    Just one that I know of (i.e., one more than the ID camp). There are disagreements about the details, but not the broad picture.

    Joseph: Heck nested hierarchy used to be used as evidence for Common Descent and now that has been refuted and Common Descent still remains. It’s ability to adapt is amazing.
    Has the nested hierarchy been refuted? I must have missed that. Perhaps you could tell me how that happened. Is this refuted as in some big name IDists say it has been refuted, or is there a scientific paper?

    Joseph: No OBJECTIVE scientist would get pinned down to ONE scenario. That person would allow the data to lead.
    No, you do not want to be pinned down, sure. But you do need some scenario to work with. That is what allowing the data to lead means. You look at the data you have (and for all I care that could be Scripture), and you infer a scenario. Then you consider what the implications of the scenario are, the predictions, and you see if they hold up. If not, rather than being pinned down to it, your toss the scenario away, and get a new one (perhaps a modification of the first).
    I hope you can see that.

  55. the Pixie:
    Well my contention is that any evidence for design is also a clue for how and when the design/creation was done, who the designer was.

    Really? So by looking at a light bulb we will be able to figure out how it was designed and who designed it. Some how I doubt that is possible.

    the Pixie:
    I think we have some idea of what makes a man a man and what makes an E. Coli bacterium an E.Coli bacterium.

    I think we do not. I don’t know what you were trying to prove about Sermonti but the quote I posted stands untouched.

    Also Denton tells us that although genes may influence development they do NOT determine it.

    Joseph: “And I say that is more hearsay. Both geology and physics require the knowledge of HOW the Earth was formed before reaching a reasonable inference as to when.”

    the Pixie:
    They go hand-in-hand. Astronomy has built up a good outline of how stars evolve and planets form, and generally the history of the universe back to the Big Bang about 17 billion years ago.

    In reality no one knows. We do know that our solar system is NOT typical.

    the Pixie:
    But back to my point, if you are positing a universe that is only 6000 years old,

    Ahh I see- you are proposing a strawman! Even YECs say the universe can be older than 6,000-12,000 years (that is the range premised by YECs) and still have a very young Earth. Dr Humphreys cosmology explains it rather nicely. That is the universe was Created using relativity.

    Ya see as I have already stated intelligent agencies can and do speed up processes. Man made diamonds cannot be separated from natural diamonds.

    And no one knows how the fossil record was formed.

    the Pixie:
    The fact is that ID is unwilling to consider one scenario over another. Why is that, do you think?

    As I already told you that is because we want the data to lead and not lead the data to some preconceived premise. What part about that don’t you understand?

    Joseph: “We still don’t have any details outside of the observed variations within a population.”

    the Pixie:
    Sure we do. Mutations, for example, are well known, and have been observed. The process of selection was well known before Darwin.

    ALL observed data indicates that culled mutations only account for variations within a population.

    the Pixie:
    I am still not too clear what you think we are missing. We have a record of the human genome, and (I think) a pretty good idea about the chimp genome.

    Great then you should be able to tell us what mutations account for the opposing big toe to line up with the others. Then you can tell us about upright, bipedal walking.

    the Pixie:
    There is a shed load of evidence that DNA determines what the organism looks like

    Not according to genetic researchers. Again caterpillars and the butterfliy they turn into share the SAME DNA. Ants in a colony- same DNA yet can have various anatomies. Termites- the same. Then there is a salamander who can reproduce in its last developmental stage- when it resembles an amphibian. It was initially classified as two separate organisms!

    the Pixie:
    Has the nested hierarchy been refuted? I must have missed that. Perhaps you could tell me how that happened. Is this refuted as in some big name IDists say it has been refuted, or is there a scientific paper?

    From the “Contemporary Discourse in the Field Of Biology” series I am reading Biological Evolution: An Anthology of Current Thought, edited by Katy Human (perhaps related to Mike Gene ;) ).

    The following are just from the introduction:

    Uncertainty, randomness, nonlinearity, and lack of hierarchy seem to rule existence, at least where evolution is concerned.- page10

    the Pixie:
    But you do need some scenario to work with. That is what allowing the data to lead means.

    The design scenario works.
    And just because you can’t see that is meaningless to the rest of us who can.

  56. By looking at an automobile can you tell me who designed it and how it was manufactured? I doubt it.

    We have been studying Stonehenge for how long and still only have vague notions about it. Using your logic that should mean we declare Stonehenge a wholly natural product that did not require agency involvement.

    All unsolved murders are natural deaths. All unsolved arsons revert to being naturally caused fires or accidents. That is if we follow your lead.

    Fire investigators can determine the cause of the fire and with that they can determine arson or not. Determining the cause- accelerant plus spark- does not mean they know how the accelerant got there nor does it tell them who put the accelerant there or what, exactly, set of that accelerant.

  57. Giuseppe Sermonti

    Editor, Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum, Rome, Italy (genetics)

    Giuseppe Sermonti, 72, born in Rome, is Professor of Genetics (Palermo, Perugia, retired). With his studies on Penicillium and Streptomyces (antibiotic producing) inaugurated Genetics of Industrial Microorganisms, at the International Commission of which he presided from 1979 to 1988 (the first meeting was in Prague, 1975, Z. VanÄ›k, organizer). He was the Vice-President of the XIV International Congress of Genetics (Moscow 1978). From 1979 he has been the editor of Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum (Perugia). After his Book Beyond Darwin, Criticism to Evolutionism (1980) he was considered (and blamed) for being the leading opponent to neo-Darwinism in Italy. In 1986 he adhered to the “Osaka Group for the Study of Dynamic Structure” (together with Sibatani, Goodwin, Webster, Ho, Lima-de-Faria, Varela, Petterson and many others). Biology Forum became its Newsletter. In 1974 he wrote a book for children, translating scientific laws and experiments into fairy tales. From 1986 to 1989 Prof. Sermonti produced three books on hermeneutics of classic fairy tales, showing that they contained (unexpressed) principles of science and technology (e.g. Snow-White is the narrative of the silver purification – cupellation – as well as of the phases of the moon, Red-riding-hood is mercury, Cinderella is sulphur). In these books he maintains that Science is of the same stuff as the Fairy Tales. In 1994 published a study on the astronomy of the Ice age man.

    I think it is pretty safe to say that Dr Sermonti knows more about genetics than the Pixie does. (the above is from the Pixie’s link in comment 54.)

  58. Pixie: “But can you think of any evidence that would indicate arson, but not suggest how it was done?”
    Joseph: Explain the relevance. I am sure I can dream up some such scenario.
    Pixie: “
    Well my contention is that any evidence for design is also a clue for how and when the design/creation was done, who the designer was. I am inviting you to prove me wrong, with a counter-example. If you can think of some scenario in which the investigator finds something that indicates design (i.e. arson), but gives no clue about the design process (how the arson was committed), I will admit I was wrong.
    Joseph: Really? So by looking at a light bulb we will be able to figure out how it was designed and who designed it. Some how I doubt that is possible.
    Interesting how you feel the need to change the goalposts. All I claim is that anything you can offer as evidence of design will give us some clue as to how it was designed/created. And you have twisted that so that now I am supposed to be claiming I can tell you everything about how it was designed and who designed it. No wonder you doubt that!

    Last time around you were sure you could “dream up some such scenario” in which the evidence of arson is not some kind of clue as to how the arson was done. How about we stick to that example for now. Unless you are no longer sure you can?
    Joseph: “By looking at an automobile can you tell me who designed it and how it was manufactured? I doubt it.”
    Look at the front of most cars you will see a symbol or emblem; might say “Ford” on it, for instance. That will tell you the name of the company that designed and created it. A big clue I think.
    Joseph: “We have been studying Stonehenge for how long and still only have vague notions about it. Using your logic that should mean we declare Stonehenge a wholly natural product that did not require agency involvement.”
    Vague notions about it, eh? So we do have some clue, then.
    Joseph: “All unsolved murders are natural deaths. All unsolved arsons revert to being naturally caused fires or accidents. That is if we follow your lead.”
    No, that is not what I said. I am only claiming we have some clue about how it happened. If you can tell me how you know it was murder, and not give me any clue about how it was done, I wll concede the point. I bet you cannot.
    Joseph: “Fire investigators can determine the cause of the fire and with that they can determine arson or not. Determining the cause- accelerant plus spark- does not mean they know how the accelerant got there nor does it tell them who put the accelerant there or what, exactly, set of that accelerant. ”
    No, but it does give them some clue about how the crime was done. If they find evidence of a certain accelerant, that would indicate the arsonist used that accelerant.

  59. Joseph: “In reality no one knows. We do know that our solar system is NOT typical.”
    No one knows for sure, but most physists agree on the broad outline, and would say our Sun conforms well to the “main sequence” for a star of its size, which puts it at a few billion years old. Given how little we know of other star systems, I am not sure how anyone can tell this one is not typical.
    Joseph: “Ahh I see- you are proposing a strawman! Even YECs say the universe can be older than 6,000-12,000 years (that is the range premised by YECs) and still have a very young Earth. Dr Humphreys cosmology explains it rather nicely. That is the universe was Created using relativity.”
    I was talkking about a hypothetical ID scenario. I thought that was quite clear, given that ID has no actual scenarios.

    Humphrey’s may well have a more developed scenario, ad indeed more realistic scenario, but he is a creationist, I believe. The question on tht table is why there is no ID scenario being investigated by ID scientists.
    Joseph: “As I already told you that is because we want the data to lead and not lead the data to some preconceived premise. What part about that don’t you understand?”
    It is the bit where you seem not to want to be lead anywhere. The data is there. YECers have decided where it leads them. Mainstream scientists have decided where it leads them. IDists, well I guess we are still waiting. But I hear another textbook is out soon, nevertheless.

    Joseph: “ALL observed data indicates that culled mutations only account for variations within a population.”
    Well, duh!

    Joseph: “Not according to genetic researchers. Again caterpillars and the butterfliy they turn into share the SAME DNA. Ants in a colony- same DNA yet can have various anatomies. Termites- the same. Then there is a salamander who can reproduce in its last developmental stage- when it resembles an amphibian. It was initially classified as two separate organisms!”
    And yet a monarch butterfly always has offspring that are monarch caterpillars, and they always tuirn into monarch butterflies. Why do monarch butterflies not give us red admiral caterpillars, or monarch caterpillars not give red admiral butterflies? I suspect because monarch butterflies and caterpillars have monarch DNA.
    Pixie: “Has the nested hierarchy been refuted? I must have missed that. Perhaps you could tell me how that happened. Is this refuted as in some big name IDists say it has been refuted, or is there a scientific paper?
    Joseph: “From the “Contemporary Discourse in the Field Of Biology” series I am reading Biological Evolution: An Anthology of Current Thought, edited by Katy Human (perhaps related to Mike Gene).”
    Great, so Katy Human thinks it has been refuted, as well as you. Is Katy Human a biologist, what else has she published of note (you claim her as an authority on this subject, can you sggest why I should consider her an authority)? What does she base this claim on, wishful thinking, or real science?

    How about you quote the bit from the book that argues the case rather than her unsupported assertion?

    Joseph: “The design scenario works. And just because you can’t see that is meaningless to the rest of us who can. ”
    Hey good for you. Can you explain in what sense it works and how? Or is that a secret

    Joseph: “I think it is pretty safe to say that Dr Sermonti knows more about genetics than the Pixie does. (the above is from the Pixie’s link in comment 54.)”
    Hey, if you want to trust the science of a guy who has written books relating alchemy to fairy tales, well, I guess we have left the real world anyway.

  60. Not sure why anyone is bothering talking to this guy…

  61. the Pixie:
    All I claim is that anything you can offer as evidence of design will give us some clue as to how it was designed/created.

    And all I am saying it depends on what it is and what level of detail you want.

    the Pixie:
    Look at the front of most cars you will see a symbol or emblem; might say “Ford” on it, for instance. That will tell you the name of the company that designed and created it. A big clue I think.

    “Ford” is meaningless unless you already know about it. Duh.

    the Pixie:
    Vague notions about it, eh? So we do have some clue, then.

    We may and then again we may not.

    the Pixie:
    If you can tell me how you know it was murder, and not give me any clue about how it was done, I wll concede the point. I bet you cannot.

    I believe I have covered this already. The more complex a scenario the more difficult it will be to make any determination about it other than designed or not.

    It took TIME and study to figure out the vague notions we do have about Stonehenge. And Stonehenge is nothing compared to biology.

    And as I have also stated the how can be ascertained while making the “designed or not” inference.

    “The God’s Must Be Crazy”- A coke bottle drops from an airplane flying over a remote part of Africa. The main character never saw a Coke bottle before. He didn’t know what it was but he knew it didn’t come from Mother Nature. He didn’t have to know Coca-Cola. He didn’t have to know anything about glass-blowing or glass-blowers.

    But anyway- on set scenarios:

    “The Privileged Planet” puts it in print. That is scientific observations and predictions based on them.

  62. the Pixie:
    No one knows for sure, but most physists agree on the broad outline, and would say our Sun conforms well to the “main sequence” for a star of its size, which puts it at a few billion years old.

    Relative to what?

    the Pixie:
    Given how little we know of other star systems, I am not sure how anyone can tell this one is not typical.

    We know more about other star systems than we do about what makes an organism what it is beyond what Dr Sermonti stated.

    the Pixie:
    Hey, if you want to trust the science of a guy who has written books relating alchemy to fairy tales, well, I guess we have left the real world anyway.

    So scientists have to be limited in what they write about? Do you even understand what alchemy is? Not the nonsensical version popularized today but the alchemy of Newton? Do you known about that alchemy?

    the Pixie:
    Great, so Katy Human thinks it has been refuted, as well as you. Is Katy Human a biologist, what else has she published of note (you claim her as an authority on this subject, can you sggest why I should consider her an authority)? What does she base this claim on, wishful thinking, or real science?

    The book is part of a reviewed series on the current status, ie the scientific consensus, of biology. Look it up.

    the Pixie:
    The data is there.

    Some of it anyway.

    the Pixie:
    YECers have decided where it leads them.

    I disagree. They decided the data has to conform with scripture. And that it will.

    the Pixie:
    Mainstream scientists have decided where it leads them.

    Again I disagree. “Mainstream” science disallows a design inference a priori.

    the Pixie:
    IDists, well I guess we are still waiting.

    We do have some clue and it is in print.

  63. Pixie: “All I claim is that anything you can offer as evidence of design will give us some clue as to how it was designed/created.
    Joseph: “And all I am saying it depends on what it is and what level of detail you want.”
    Great. Sounds like maybe we agree hat any evidence design is also some kind of evidence for how it was designed/created.

    Joseph: “Ford” is meaningless unless you already know about it. Duh.
    Yeah, but I do. You can look the company up on the web.

    Joseph: “We may and then again we may not.”
    So before you said we had vague notions, and now you are not so sure. I see.

    Pixie: “If you can tell me how you know it was murder, and not give me any clue about how it was done, I wll concede the point. I bet you cannot.
    Joseph: “I believe I have covered this already. The more complex a scenario the more difficult it will be to make any determination about it other than designed or not.”
    Come on, just one specific example to prove me wrong. Simple or complex. Say what the evidence is that would lead you to conclude design, and I will see if I can tell you anything about how it was done.

  64. To the Pixie:

    Murder has been determined in the absence of a body. In those cases murder was determined without being able to determine how.

    And then there is Lacy Peterson. Murder determined before the how was (if it ever was determined how she died).

    Joseph: “Ford” is meaningless unless you already know about it. Duh.

    the Pixie:
    Yeah, but I do. You can look the company up on the web.

    IOW you can’t follow along. I see.

    the Pixie:
    So before you said we had vague notions, and now you are not so sure. I see.

    You really need helping following along- don’t you?

    you said:
    Vague notions about it, eh? So we do have some clue, then.

    Ya see vague notions are not clues. They may be derived from the data but they may be wrong.

  65. The figures on Easter Island were determined to be designed before it was determined how they were designed and how they were moved to their final position.

    The figures on the Nasca Plain were determined to be designed before it was determined how they were configured.

    Stonehenge was determined to be designed before it was determined how it was constructed.

    Do you need more examples?

Leave a Reply