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The core is the definition of science itself

Your responses to this condensed version of an editorial would be appreciated. (This item is available free as a special feature.)

“Anti-Darwin activism is alive and well. The most insidious movement promotes ‘intelligent design’ (ID)the notion that some features in nature are best explained by an intelligent cause - as an alternative scientific theory to evolution by natural selection.

Pro-ID interest groups can be found throughout US and Europe. It becomes increasingly likely for a scientist to be confronted by a pro-ID campaigner or challenged by a student, friend or neighbor intrigued and seduced by the concept of a scientific theory of design.

How to respond is not a trivial matter.

One can choose to fully engage in debate and debunk ID claims one by one with scientific arguments. This, however, requires a good knowledge of the topic and the ability to present it effectively to a lay audience.

Squarely dismissing the ID proposal as nonsense is tempting, but reinforces images, which ID advocates relish, of arrogant scientists dodging critique or even of ‘Darwinian activism’.

It is wise not to make the discussion a religious issue to avoid an unproductive debate about personal beliefs.

The best approach will often be to accept discussing ID but to emphasize the fact that it is not a scientific discipline.

At the core of ID is the notion of ‘irreducible complexity’, which postulates that some features in nature are too complex to have evolved in a step-wise fashion by natural selection and ‘therefore’ must be the result of an intelligent cause.

Because it invokes a supernatural origin for something one cannot yet explain, and because it does not generate testable hypotheses and cannot be subjected to empirical inquiry, ID is not science.

ID proponents often present the theory of evolution as “a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned”, whereas in fact evolution is a scientific theory – one that has stood the test of time and of multiple lines of empirical investigation. Intelligent design is not. Remembering this contrast should inspire scientists to defend their turf.

At the core of the debate is the definition of science itself.”

Condensed from Editorial Nature Methods – (Nov 2007)

Reprinted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd: NATURE METHODS Editorial, copyright Dec1 2007

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51 Responses to The core is the definition of science itself

  1. I read this myself and wondered if it would be picked up here. Way to go id.net!

    I completely agree that many features in nature are best explained as the result of an intelligent designer.

    When i examine a spider web, I know that a spider created it.

    When I examine caddisfly cases or nets, I know that a caddisfly created it.

    When I examine a beaverdam, I know that a beaver created it.

    When I examine a termite mound, I know that termites created it.

    When I examine a molehill, I know that a mole created it.

    When i examine a spearhead, I know that a spear using human created it.

    Now, when I examine a bacterial flagellum, I am certainly open to the idea that a designer of some sort created it that way, but I have no way or parsing this. I know of no entities that create bacterial flagella. I do know of entities that create the other things.

    So how can ID get past this inherent problem of category error?

  2. This “category error” is manufactured. If you found a spider web and had never seen a spider, you would still be at liberty to postulate that it was or was not not the result of natural law.

    Intelligent agency may be, but is not necessarily supernatural. Craige Venter will soon manufacture a living organism from scratch. Is he supernatural?

    The origin of the Designer may be supernatural but the work of the designer need not be supernatural.

  3. “At the core of the debate is the definition of science itself.”

    Well at least they actually understand the core principle and admit as much. That must be a start.

    Maybe they felt they could no longer ignore the elephant in the room.

  4. “It is wise not to make the discussion a religious issue to avoid an unproductive debate about personal beliefs.”

    Confronting a man who insists on fighting with all his faculties – not just the ones his enemies have allowed – is what really terrifies these folks. Personal beliefs, after all, are the only thing any of us ever act on, even when we’re diligently applying the so-called scientific method. These bullies will be brought to their knees most efficiently by men of God who won’t be reduced to calculating machines before the contest even begins.

    It’s not reason alone that makes the crowd applaud at those debates, y’know.

  5. “Anti-Darwin activism is alive and well….”

    Nice admission that Darwinism is a political movement. How much Anti-Gravity activism is there?

    “It becomes increasingly likely for a scientist to be confronted by a pro-ID campaigner or challenged by a student, friend or neighbor intrigued and seduced by the concept of a scientific theory of design.”

    Good God, a scientist being forced to discuss a theory?? In public no less! Thank God there are no scientists that support ID, which is simply an acronym for the Christian right.

    “One can choose to fully engage in debate and debunk ID claims one by one with scientific arguments.”

    That’s a good one. This typically ends with the Darwinist exclaiming, after witnessing his Darwinian idols fall one by one, “God wouldn’t do it like this!” Because the Darwinist knows the Mind of God better than God does – that is, if God existed, which Darwin disproved long ago.

    “The best approach will often be to accept discussing ID but to emphasize the fact that it is not a scientific discipline.”

    What observation would falsify NDE? Anyone?

    “At the core of ID is the notion of ‘irreducible complexity’”

    Coined by Pat Robertson in his book Darwin’s Black Box.

    I’d love to read the entire editorial, but from what I see in this condensed version it’s just more of the same misrepresentation and rhetoric we’ve come to expect from the Darwin party. I’m really so sick of seeing this type of stuff I want to scream. We need some type of breakthrough in research or we’ll have to listen to this rubbish for the rest of our lives. I don’t know what the word “science” means anymore.

  6. At the core of ID is the notion of ‘irreducible complexity’, which postulates…

    This is an intriguing statement. Isn’t the postulate the beginning of scientific inqiury? If we have a postulate, I contend that we have are doing science.

    At the core of ID is the notion of ‘irreducible complexity’, which postulates that some features in nature are too complex to have evolved in a step-wise fashion

    Again, the theory of irreduceable complexity postulates a particular type of complexity, a complexity where there are multiple components which are all required to perform a function. It does get iritating that “experts” cannot even define the theory of IC correctly.

    At the core of ID is the notion of ‘irreducible complexity’, which postulates that some features in nature are too complex to have evolved in a step-wise fashion by natural selection and ‘therefore’ must be the result of an intelligent cause.

    Because it invokes a supernatural origin for something one cannot yet explain, and because it does not generate testable hypotheses and cannot be subjected to empirical inquiry, ID is not science.

    Where does this weak-minded scientist get off throwing his hands in the air, claiming that the IC hypothesis is untestable? If he went into the lab and made a minimal bacterial flagellum, then knocked out one gene — a gene that exists elsewhere in the organism only to get a useful pre-flagellum he would have falsified the IC claim of the bacterial flagellum. Now, it may be true that the ID community would jump hobby horses and ride a different irreduceably complex microbiological machine. However two facts remain: though there are many such machines, there are a limited number and if a half-dozen of the most dramatic were refuted in the laboratory the IC argument would be seen as toast to most of us. Of course, if he wants to take on the irreduceably complex, he may want to start with the simplest known life-form.

    Bottom line — IC is falsifiable! IC is falsifiable! The “IC isn’t falsifiable” argument has been falsified!!

  7. because it does not generate testable hypotheses and cannot be subjected to empirical inquiry, ID is not science.

    That is a load of manure there:

    The Theistic “front-loaded ID” followed by “Genetic Entropy” , is extremely testable and falsifiable. Which is a whole lot more than I can say for evolution which “just so” happens to fit whatever surprises in evidence that come along.

    What a friggin load;

  8. “It is wise not to make the discussion a religious issue to avoid an unproductive debate about personal beliefs.”

    Actually I think the main reason they would seek to do this is that they increasingly get called out for having deep metaphyscial commitments that require that something like Darwinism be true for their beliefs to hold water.

    Seeing as there is no other viable game in town, they must as much as possible lie and lie and lie and pretend that their metaphyscial commitments have nothing to do with it.

  9. If this is how darwinists intend to teach people to defend darwinism, then I find this encouraging news personally.

  10. “It becomes increasingly likely for a scientist to be confronted by a pro-ID campaigner or challenged by a student, friend or neighbor intrigued and seduced by the concept of a scientific theory of design.”

    But what happens when a Darwinian ‘scientist’ is challenged by a ‘scientist’ who is ID orientated? Interesting that this proposition was not canvassed. Oh, wait … there AREN’T scientists who could possibly be IDists, are there??? The article’s author may thinketh not, or try not to show that point.

    I especially like the “seduced by the …”

    I have the Darth Vaders all over me!?!

    Obi-Wan Kenobi: Your father was seduced by the dark side of the force …

    Have we, indeed, been seduced by the ‘dark side’ or are we battling Charles Darth Sidious Darwin?

    May the force be with us …

  11. At the core of the debate is the definition of science itself

    Precisely.

    And I can’t wait for evolution of both macro and micro forms to be branded unscientific: microevolution because the idea that random variation and natural selection can create anything new of any significance has been so well and truly falsified that it has nothing left but anomalies, and macroevolution because that’s just a circular argument for materialism based on evidence interpreted on the basis that materialism is true.

    Then we can get that garbage out of schools and maybe arrest, or at least slow down, the wholesale slide of our societies into corruption through the institutionalised corruption of our children.

    Rags to riches and back to rags again in how many generations? Three? Time’s about up.

  12. ID proponents often present the theory of evolution as “a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned”, whereas in fact evolution is a scientific theory – one that has stood the test of time and of multiple lines of empirical investigation. Intelligent design is not.

    Ah, but the editorial itself is incorrect. According to the high priest of popular atheism, once again, on British Television this week, Richard Dawkins, Evolution is not a theory – it is a fact that cannot be contested. Perhaps Darwinists of this stripe need to recognize it’s what is deduced by them as ‘fact’ (a meaningless universe) that makes many realize that there is serious failing here.

  13. Oh well:

    At least this lot accept that there is a growing challenge, though of course they wish to frame it to their advantage.

    So also, they admit that the core of the issue in crucial part lies in questions of philosophy as it impinges on science, not science proper. For, the definition of what is science is plainly a phil question, not a sci one, and immediately raises the vexed question of demarcation of science vs non-science.

    Let’s go back to basics, as Janice has at 11 [you sound like my kind of MD!]

    First, what is a reasonable, historically well-warranted summary definition of science and of scientific methods?

    Let’s try out a couple of devcent level dictionaries:

    science: a branch of knowledge conducted on objective principles involving the systematized observation of and experiment with phenomena, esp. concerned with the material and functions of the physical universe. [Concise Oxford, 1990 -- and yes, they used the "z" Virginia!]

    scientific method: principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge [”the body of truth, information and principles acquired by mankind”] involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. [Webster's 7th Collegiate, 1965]

    Now, contrast that ever so reliably politically correct Wiki, on Naturalism (philosphy) — there is no separarte articel on methodological naturalism, a dead giveaway that something funny is afoot:

    Many modern philosophers of science[1][2] use the terms methodological naturalism or scientific naturalism to refer to the long standing convention in science of the scientific method, which makes the methodological assumption that observable effects in nature are best explainable only by natural causes, without reference to, or an assumption of, the existence or non-existence of supernatural notions. They contrast this with the approach known as ontological naturalism or metaphysical naturalism, which refers to the metaphysical belief that the natural world (including the universe) is all that exists, and therefore nothing supernatural exists.

    Now, of course, the first part here says in effect we do not make the issue explicit. Then, it artfully conflates empirical detection of intelligent cause with the inference to the ontological existence of the supernatural.

    That of course begs a few questions. First, if one is only allowed to infer to causes compatible with an evolutionary materialist account of the cosmos from hydrogen to humans, one is implicitly assuming and insulating from empirical test the metaphysics of materialism.

    Second, it is well known that we infer to a triad of possible causes all the time, namely [i] chance, [ii] mechanical necessity manifesting itself in identifiable natural regularities, [iii] agency. If one precludes consideration of the third whenever it may be relevant but inconvenient to evo mat views, that is a plain case of selective hyper-skepticism.

    Then, to misrepresent inference to agency with inference to the supernatural, acts to cut off a reasonable chain of evidentially anchored inference:

    –> Do agents exist and cause things to happen that would not otherwise have happened in the empirical world? [Yes.]

    –> Can we detect empirical signs of such agents at work? [Yes, that is routine in many scientific and scientifically based fields, most notably in statistical inference.]

    –> Is such detection of agent action logically dependent on knowing the nature or identity of the particular agents or what class they belong to? [No, as we are looking at signs of intentional intelligent action from the empirical traces left by such action. All that is required is that we are open to the possibility and that we have reasonable tests.]

    –> What does the empirical detection of intelligent action imply? [That we have reason to believe that the inferred agent(s) in question, whatever their identity or nature, existed and acted at the relevant point in time.]

    –> Is that the same as assuming or inferring prior to empirical evidence, that the agents exist and are supernatural? [Plainly, not.]

    –> In some cases, can we go on to examine arguments that might lead a reasonable person to infer that the agents in question were or are supernatural in say the theistic sense? [On inference to best explanation through philosophical comparative difficulties across worldviews, yes. For instance, the organised, fine-tuned complexity of the physics of the cosmos to make it life habitable plainly convinced Antony Flew of that. One can make the argument that the CSI and IC of life forms and the nanotechnology of the cell are at least compatible with such a cosmogenetic designer's further action, having already set the stage by creating a life-habitable cosmos.]

    Do you see why I smell a rat?

    GEM of TKI

  14. The “natural / supernatural” dichotomy plays seems critical to this whole discussion. Is there a clear definition of either term which doesn’t beg the question?

  15. re #2, I have thought about this a bit. I think you are the one contriving here. We HAVE seen spiders and spiderwebs so perhaps that is not an appropriate analogy. You are ‘at liberty’ to postulate whatever you wish, but the question is how to distinguish the null from the test. I’m not so sure that there is possible here given the category error.

    Interesting. I for one do not have the faith you apparently do that Craig Venter will manufacture an organism ‘from scratch’. As the old saw goes, God said ‘Get your own dirt’.

    As far as the last paragraph (origin vs work) I am having trouble understanding the relevance. I’m with #14, do we have a good definition of the terms?

  16. Now this editorial is really too precious. What is “science”? It is the knowledge of nature and how it works.

    Science can get along quite well, thank you, without the help of Darwin. Hundreds of basic research papers are published every year in first-rate journals that do nothing more (or less) than look at nature on its own terms an attempt to describe what is seen there. Nature is so marvelous and mysterious that there is plenty of opportunity for science without the help of any superannuated theories.

    But Nature is not just a “science” journal, is it? No, it also fancies itself a philosophy journal. Philosophy is not merely the knowledge of nature; it also involves an attempt to define the nature of being itself and render value judgments about happiness.

    Enter Darwin. Like many privileged men of his day, he felt intimidated by the rise of the middle class. Happiness for the cultural vanguard meant distinguishing themselves from “the herd” and “middle-class morality.” And Darwin’s theory intimated that it was possible to do just that– through struggle; through the survival of the fittest, in which surely men of his superior temper, genius and pedigree would prevail.

    When Nature calls upon her votaries to rise up and defend Darwinism, she is perpetuating the elitism that was initiated in the 19th centruty and is the dominating theme in Modernism. But a belief in supermen and the transcendent value of struggle is not “science.” It is philosophy.

  17. The title of the editorial is:
    “Scientists are increasingly likely to be called upon to discuss the myth of intelligent design as a scientific theory.”

    WAIT A MINUTE! This can’t be right. Judge Jones buried ID once and for all two years ago this month. How can it possibly be that scientists are INCREASINGLY having to deal withe the ID challenge?

  18. Interesting. I for one do not have the faith you apparently do that Craig Venter will manufacture an organism ‘from scratch’. As the old saw goes, God said ‘Get your own dirt’.

    If physical laws + chemistry + time can do it with no guidance whatsoever, then adding intelligent agency should make Venter’s project completely doable (in time). I think your dodging the argument.

    But there are other examples. What about the storing of data in the DNA of bacteria? This project has been discussed here recently. If you discovered code in the DNA of some bacteria that described the dimensions of all the celestial bodies in our solar system, would you infer design only because humans can write code, or because it requires intelligence to write code that describes things?

  19. How much Anti-Gravity activism is there?

    Just a bit, as it turns out. ;)

    http://www.hotairballooning.org/community/

  20. russ i am not sure i understand what you are talking about. i simply don’t have the same optimism about life from scratch that you do, and that has nothing to do with the your formula of law chemistry and time. I will remain a skeptic. Show me the critters.

    what bacteria has a ‘DNA code’ that describes the dimensions of celestial bodies? Sorry i don’t follow you. Would the fibonacci sequence fit your criterion? Seems like it is information, and it is all over nature. is it CSI?

  21. Digdug you stated:

    Interesting. I for one do not have the faith you apparently do that Craig Venter will manufacture an organism ‘from scratch’. As the old saw goes, God said ‘Get your own dirt’.

    I totally agree with you, Key words “from scratch”

    If any combinations of the 20 L-amino acids that are used in constructing proteins are equally possible, then there are (20^100) =1.3 x 10^130 possible amino acid sequences in proteins being composed of 100 amino acids.

    That is just the possible combinations from a 100 L-amino acid chain, The average sequence of a typical protein is about 300 to 400 amino acids long. Yet many crucial proteins are thousands of amino acids long.

    On top of that to figure out what a totally novel protein will look like will take to long:

    In the year 2000 IBM announced the development of a new super-computer, called Blue Gene, that is 500 times faster than any supercomputer built up until that time. It took 4-5 years to build. Blue Gene stands about six feet high, and occupies a floor space of 40 feet by 40 feet. It cost $100 million to build. It was built specifically to better enable computer simulations of molecular biology. The computer performs one quadrillion (one million billion) computations per second. Despite its speed, it is estimated it will take one entire year for it to analyze the mechanism by which JUST ONE “simple” protein will fold onto itself from its one-dimensional starting point to its final three-dimensional shape.

    “Blue Gene’s final product, due in four or five years, will be able to “fold” a protein made of 300 amino acids, but that job will take an entire year of full-time computing.” Paul Horn, senior vice president of IBM research, September 21, 2000
    http://www.news.com/2100-1001-233954.html

    In real life, the protein folds into its final shape in a fraction of a second! The computer would have to operate at least 33 million times faster to accomplish what the protein does in a fraction of a second. That is the complexity found for JUST ONE “simple” protein. It is estimated, on the total number of known life forms on earth, that there may be some 50 billion different types of unique proteins today. It is very possible the domain of the protein world may hold many trillions more completely distinct and differently sequenced proteins. And actual functional proteins are a extreme rarity as far as total proteins possible go.

    “From actual experimental results it can easily be calculated that the odds of finding a folded protein (by random point mutations to an existing protein) are about 1 in 10 to the 65 power (Sauer, MIT). To put this fantastic number in perspective imagine that someone hid a grain of sand, marked with a tiny ‘X’, somewhere in the Sahara Desert. After wandering blindfolded for several years in the desert you reach down, pick up a grain of sand, take off your blindfold, and find it has a tiny ‘X’. Suspicious, you give the grain of sand to someone to hide again, again you wander blindfolded into the desert, bend down, and the grain you pick up again has an ‘X’. A third time you repeat this action and a third time you find the marked grain. The odds of finding that marked grain of sand in the Sahara Desert three times in a row are about the same as finding one new functional protein structure (from chance transmutation of an existing functional protein structure). Rather than accept the result as a lucky coincidence, most people would be certain that the game had been fixed.” Michael J. Behe, The Weekly Standard, June 7, 1999, Experimental Support for Regarding Functional Classes of Proteins to be Highly Isolated from Each Other

    A totally novel cell with totally novel proteins “from scratch”???

    Not in this lifetime!

    Now of course He can pick over the “Designers Shoulder” and do lots of rearranging of proteins that would be cool! But from scratch: No way Jose’.

  22. This editorial, although more moderate than most darwinian attacks, or perhaps because of that, makes particulatly clear mistakes and wrong affirmations. They are certainly worthwhile commenting upon:

    1) “Anti-Darwin activism is alive and well”.

    I agree. Thanks God.

    2) “The most insidious movement promotes ‘intelligent design’ (ID)”.

    I agree. It is the most insidious (for darwinists) because practically everything ID says is perfectly right, reasonable and demonstrable.

    3) “the notion that some features in nature are best explained by an intelligent cause – as an alternative scientific theory to evolution by natural selection”.

    At least, here is an acceptable definition of ID: not detailed, but acceptable. I would not say alternative, anyway, because evolution by natural selection is not a true scientific theory.

    4)”Pro-ID interest groups can be found throughout US and Europe. It becomes increasingly likely for a scientist to be confronted by a pro-ID campaigner or challenged by a student, friend or neighbor intrigued and seduced by the concept of a scientific theory of design”.

    I agree.

    5) “How to respond is not a trivial matter”.

    I agree. Definitely, for a darwinist, how to respond is a true nightmare.

    6) “One can choose to fully engage in debate and debunk ID claims one by one with scientific arguments. This, however, requires a good knowledge of the topic and the ability to present it effectively to a lay audience”.

    Wrong! That is simply impossible, and at best it requires a very good ability to lie to oneself and to any audience, be it lay or “professional”.

    7) “Squarely dismissing the ID proposal as nonsense is tempting, but reinforces images, which ID advocates relish, of arrogant scientists dodging critique or even of ‘Darwinian activism’”.

    I agree. What a pity that darwinists seem to do that all the time…

    8) “It is wise not to make the discussion a religious issue to avoid an unproductive debate about personal beliefs.”

    Right and wrong. Right that it is not, in principle, a religious issue. Wrong because personal beliefs, both religious and anti religious, are the main cause of bias in practically all the debate, and we should discuss that and become well aware of that.

    9) “The best approach will often be to accept discussing ID but to emphasize the fact that it is not a scientific discipline.”

    Wrong. And very unfair. Very big lie. If the editorial were sincere and correct, it should advice that darwinist try to prove that ID is not a scientific discipline, not just “emphasize” it.

    10) “At the core of ID is the notion of ‘irreducible complexity’, which postulates that some features in nature are too complex to have evolved in a step-wise fashion by natural selection and ‘therefore’ must be the result of an intelligent cause”.

    Wrong. Completely wrong. It cannot be casual that IC, although a very simple concept, remains the least understood by darwinists. It is something like: “if you can’t fight it, misunderstand it!”.
    IC doesn’t postulate anything. It is just the observation that some biological machines have a specific kind of complexity (irreducible) which cannot reasonably be explained by the step by step mechanism of RV + NS.

    11) “Because it invokes a supernatural origin for something one cannot yet explain”.

    Wrong. Completely wrong. An intelligent cause is not supernatural, nature is full of intelligent causes. Besides, the point is not that “one cannot yet explain”, but that one can never explain that kind of observations with that kind of theory, for strict logical and empirical reasons.

    12) “and because it does not generate testable hypotheses and cannot be subjected to empirical inquiry”.

    Wrong. Wrong, false and unfair. But others have already answered to that, so I will not lose any more time on that.

    13) “ID is not science”.

    Obviously wrong. See also the following points.

    14) “ID proponents often present the theory of evolution as “a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned”.

    Wrong. Darwinists do that. Worse than that, darwinist have often stated officially that darwinian evolution is not a theory, but a fact, violating and dissacrating so the most fundamental concepts in science itself.

    15) “whereas in fact evolution is a scientific theory – one that has stood the test of time and of multiple lines of empirical investigation”.

    Wrong. Completely wrong. Evolution is a scientific theory (in the intentions of those who support it), but it is a very bad theory, so bad that one could easily afiirm (and I do affirm that) that it is not so much “scientific”. But, whatever it is, it has certainly not “stood the test of time and of multiple lines of empirical investigation”. That is exactly one of the main points proved by ID.
    Oh, but I forgot: here the authors are probably applying their own counsel, and they are just “emphasizing”, rather than proving…

    16) “Intelligent design is not”

    Wrong. ID is a perfectly scientific theory, self-limited and very, very empirical. And, obviously, it is a very good theory, the best we have at present about biological information. May be the only one we have.

    17) “Remembering this contrast should inspire scientists to defend their turf”

    In the light of what said before, I hope they can find their inspiration somewhere else, poor guys.

    18) “At the core of the debate is the definition of science itself”.

    That’s a very reasonable affirmation, but certainly the implications are not those that the editorial’s authors seem to imagine.

    In brief:

    a) we can define science in a somewhat reductive way, as the pursuit of knowledge about reality by certain definite methods (the “scientific method”, whatever it may be). Whoever has any familiarity with the recent history of the philosophy of science, anyway, knows that such a universal definition of a scientific method is not easy, and probably not possible. Popper has very seriously tried, but his principles, often cited, are more often violated. Polanyi and Feyerabend have certainly offered serious reflections against a reductionist definition of science, method and, more generally, knowledge.

    Or:

    b) We can define science more generally as any pursuit of objective knowledge, any knowledge which can be shared and, in some way, verified. In that case, any strict definition of method can be avoided.

    The interestinf thing is that ID is perfectly compatible with both views: it is a perfectly scientific theory from the point of view of the presently accepted scientific method, even from a stricly Popperian point of view. But it is certainly at ease with any more general definition of science.

    The false argument of reductionists is that science should be limited to explanations compatible with the general principles which we already know and accept. That is simply an ideological lie, and has nothing to do with a definition of scientific method, even the most reductive. Scientific method, if accepted as a definite entity, can at best define the “methods” of pursuing knowledge. It cannot certainly define what knowledge can be, or what limits it must have.

    Much of the ambiguity is evident in the discussions about nature, and what is natural or “supernatural”. In scientific terms, such discussions are meaningless. We have no idea of what nature is or can be. We should just speak of those aspects of reality which can, in some way, be explored through any method which can satisfy us as “scientific”. There is no potential limit regarding what that knowledge can be or must be. When we acquire the knowledge, then we know. Not before.

    Affirming that any knowledge acquired by science in the future “must” be compatible with what we know today of “nature” is the most offensive affirmation against science and reason. It is pure ignorance, pure dogma. It is a dogma which has always afflicted scientific thought, in all ages, and all truly creative thinkers who have revolutioned the perspectives of science have fought against it, in one way or another.

    ID is perfectly compatible with science, in all of its right expressions. The only thing with which ID is not compatible is the dogma that “we already know all” and that “everything which is different from what we have thought up to now should be, in principle, rejected”

    So, while good-willed editorialists go on emphasizing their fantasies, ID can well go on pursuing truth.

  23. Shaner,
    I love your posts.

    Aussie
    Did you guys all really convert to “Jedi-ism” down there?

    BenK
    A good discussion of natural/supernatural is found in C.S. Lewis’s “Miracles.”

  24. Jason Rennie: “Actually I think the main reason they would seek to do this is that they increasingly get called out for having deep metaphyscial commitments that require that something like Darwinism be true for their beliefs to hold water.

    Seeing as there is no other viable game in town, they must as much as possible lie and lie and lie and pretend that their metaphyscial commitments have nothing to do with it.”

    Yes, and I would ask this question to the elitists:

    Suppose the academy abandoned methodological naturalism tomorrow, and, just for good measure, suppose it embraced Dembski”s explanatory filter. How would this new change the way we do mainstream science?

    Would we change the way we think about the dependant and independent variables? Would we stop trying to isolate the independent variable? Would we cease testing hypotheses? Would we compromise the laws of mathematics or do violence to the principles of statistical inference? Would we stop observing and testing data in the laboratory?

    Can anyone think of any negative repercussions at all? Can our adversaries think of any negatives repercussions? If they are going to use terms like “science stopper,” why do we not hold their feet to the fire and say—–“elaborate!”

  25. IC is not just complexity. It is a complex structure that also requires simultaneity to be a natural advantage. They always skip over simultaneity.

  26. I think the people they are lying to is themselves. When a delusion (naturalism) is so in-grained the person you lie to is yourself.

  27. Fist of all this article uses the word evolution and it is not evolution that ID is pitted against or even critiquing it is Darwinian Evolution that competes with ID for the best scientific theory accounting for the history of origins.

    Now I shall destroy this dishonest rigmarole piece by piece.

    1)Because it invokes a supernatural origin for something one cannot yet explain

    The only invoking going on here is the invocation of the word supernatural to minipulate the audiences minds and plant religious suspicions, which is always the defense #1 strategy of the Darwinists. Supernatural, in the vernacular means ghosts, unicorns, Gods etc. But the actual meaning of the word is “above natural.” The problem is what is meant by natural? If there was a God and he say lived on another planet and came down and said “look here I am” would God still be considered “above nature” or seperate of it? No. As anyone can see and as Dembski puts it, the super in supernatural is really a negation or means what cannot happen in nature. The obvious problem here is that there is no way to test what ultimately can and cannot happen. Therefore the useage of the term is really just to set the parameters of the debate and define ID as impossible before the debate has even begun. If aliens did plant or played a roll in the origin of life on this planet under Darwinian Evolution’s bias we wont know know it short of a close encounter of the 3rd kind. This is because according to this author any reference to design in biology is “supernatural.” The fact is the debate should be framed “which explanation is more likely to account for the unexplained sequences of complex specified information in the world, Intelligent Design, or random, unguided, purely material purposeless processes.” Now- which hypothesis seems to be the supernatural one?

    2)and because it does not generate testable hypotheses and cannot be subjected to empirical inquiry, ID is not science.

    This assertion is just plain wrong. Behe is a trained biologist who does regular scientific work outside of his ID related research. Behe would know better than anyone else if his theory of IC had been refuted and either he is a liar or it has not. That is a testable theory. Another is the self assemblage of ribosomes in RNA world. Unfortunately the sequencing problem is still unsolved. The digital code in DNA is unaccounted for, the origin of first life is ignored and still a mystery and there is not one example of Specified Complexity yet ever to be found that has originated in without the aid of a guiding intelligence. Cambrian explosion on the other hand has tested Darwin’s tree of life and his “slow, gradual change, over of long periods of time” hyothesis and has refuted it. Today we have rebooted and subsidized “Neodarwinism” as the consequence of Darwin’s failures.

    3)ID proponents often present the theory of evolution as “a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned”

    This is loaded propaganda. All we (ID advocates) do is question evolution and successfully. What we actually say is that “dogmatic Darwinists” most likely including the polemist of this article “demand no further questioning from the ID crowd and refuse to even acknowledge the fact that ID is a scientific theory.” Which sadly is the truth.

    4) whereas in fact evolution is a scientific theory – one that has stood the test of time and of multiple lines of empirical investigation.

    Yes, Darwinian Evolution is a theory as well is ID- Neodarwinian Evolution has stood the test of time in certain ways but since ID has been scientifically developed into a rigorous scientific program they have both stood up together.

    5) Intelligent design is not. Remembering this contrast should inspire scientists to defend their turf.

    “A scientific theory is an explanation based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena.”

    ID is an explanation based on observations like the cell, the Cambrian fossils, the structure of DNA, the irreducible complexity of certain life forms, the cause and effect structure of the world especially including the known observable effects of intelligence which are SC and the flow of the information inherent in SC shown in NFL (no free lunch theorem). Ribosome engineering, the Millar experiment of the first life on earth and others have all failed to show how life cold have “arisen” via Darwinian pathway while at the same time intelligence is the only known explanation that can account for life‘s SC. As far as reasoning goes, ID is far superior to Darwinian Evolution in its explanatory power. Intelligence can be inferred by its effects in the physical world but can also exists outside of physical world as well which opens up further and deeper inquiry into the origins of the universe and being itself. As a general principal ID has been tested since the days of Aristotle. All of archeology requires the ability to infer intelligent design in given artifacts in order to separate the man made from that which was conditioned but simple natural processes. The consistent results of intelligent agency detection are astounding. Plagiarism can be detected in a paper, fraud in statistics can be detected reliably, artifacts can be consistently and accurately attributed to design, etc. As far as predictive power, ID is its infancy as a scientific programe has plenty of time to develop principles for biological predictions. However Darwin has had a century and given the Cambrian explosion as well as the many other various examples found in nature that have contradicted the theory, it is ID that is still yet to be falsified on any account. I weigh the predictive power very simply with this thought experiment. If a record was kept each time a prediction based on Darwinism resulted in failure and of each time an archeologist attributed a false positive to an artifact believed to be designed, which group would have a higher success rate per capita? Remember Darwinism is a theory about historical explanation. Its not physics. It cant explain what guides the mutations or conditions the environment. An inference to design in man made artifacts is a historical explanation as well. One that does explain the guiding force behind complex specified organizations (intelligence).

    6) At the core of the debate is the definition of science itself.

    “At the core of this debate is the philosophical biases that determine what one’s definition of science is” – would be the correct phrasing of this assertion. Darwinists are bias against any explanation for biological origins where a guiding intelligence plays a role. ID has the bias of rejecting methodological materialism which requires an imminent material non-guided process to explain the evolution of life. But bias is only part of the debate and it should not be at the debate’s core. The real core of the debate is what does the scientific evidence tell us? Where do the facts point? Science is after all about facts. The theory of ID can account for all of the complexity and specification found in life and possibly even in the origins of cosmos itself while taking into account all of the facts. Darwinian Evolution cannot even compete with ID in its range of explanitory power. This is why it continues to misrepresent it, dismiss it and ignore it hoping that it will just go away, but it wont go away and until Darwinism can account for all of its own failures, gaps and inadequacies, it will not be anything like or even resembling “a fact.” Or as Winston Churchill put it “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”

  28. Ellazimm:

    What observation would falsify NDE? … bits of DNA with no clear precedent in common descent.

    You mean like ORFan genes? Or do you mean the many near-identical segments found between unrelated species and attributed to HGT or passed off as convergence?

  29. Re: posts by digdug24, russ, bornagain 77 (great science, BTW)

    Consider the gray wolf and the Labrador retriever. Under purely materialistic assumptions, one is the product of RM+NS, the other of ID (well, intelligent modification, anyway. And IM is the very best that Craig Venter can hope to accomplish) Not knowing anything about the provenance of the wolf and retriever, however, what tests could we use to decide which is the product of RM+NS and which is the result of IM? One way would be to look at their genetic structures. The labrador would exhibit a small number of highly selected genes relative to those of the wolf, all of which have become relative invariant over the eyeblink time period of 400 years (the time period of retriever divergence from earlier dog forms). Just as bornagain77 has pointed out: something new appeared very quickly, then shows little variance until extinction (hope that doesn’t happen–love my retriever!). Yet such a scenario is routinely espoused as supporting RM+NS.

  30. Please keep in mind too that journals such as Nature and Science are highly politicized entities. Major new scientific work appears in them mainly because of their historical status and resulting high “impact factors”. Publishing in high impact journals is critical for a professional scientist to achieve career advancement. Most professional scientists do not take the editorial positions of these “leading” journals seriously anymore. We prefer to read and think for ourselves :)

  31. … whereas in fact evolution is a scientific theory – one that has stood the test of time…

    Interesting, but begs the question, When did it pass the test of time? If it has already passed the test of time, then it isn’t actually a scientific theory any more, as the author points out. If it

    cannot be subjected to empirical inquiry

    then it

    is not science.

    idnet.com.au, you pointed out that

    Intelligent agency may be, but is not necessarily supernatural. Craig Venter will soon manufacture a living organism from scratch. Is he supernatural?

    OMG!! When Craig Venter produces a living organism, will this event trigger the infamous “infinite regress?” WHO DESIGNED CRAIG VENTER???

  32. Speaking of the Labrador, my dog has instincts like retrieving, which would be consistent for front-loading paradigms. Wolves seem to have behaviors front-loaded which would benefit humans.

  33. ellazimm wrote,

    Here is a list of new species that have arisen in historical times:

    and then linked to that same old, same old, talkorigins list.

    There is nothing new of any significance on that list. And “species”; what does that mean? People are still arguing about how to define the word in the same way that people are still arguing about how to define science.

    The only reason “new species” got any traction for Darwin et al was that so many people in his day, following Linnaeus, believed that “species” were the original “kinds” and were therefore immutable.

  34. If species are not immutable, then what again is your problem with the NDE? Some edge or something? I am missing the reason that new species are not of ‘any significance’. I smell rhetoric.

  35. digdug24, “If species are not immutable, then what again is your problem with the NDE?”

    I personally have been very puzzled that the line between macro and micro-evolution is frequently drawn at the species level. I think it should be drawn at the family level myself — all members of the cat family are the product of an original cat that have diverged via RM+NS. In any case, by far the bigger questions remain, that of new organs, new systems, new primary biological technology. Let’s say that a leopard can change his spots into stripes over a million or two years, can we then assuredly extrapolate that an eye can develop by the same mechanism?

    Extreme extrapolation is a dangerous game, a game that the young earth community plays all of the time to prove that an old earth is impossible. Extreme extrapolation is not scientifically verified “fact”, it is conjecture.

  36. Shane:
    Did you guys all really convert to “Jedi-ism” down there?

    In the recent census a significant minority wrote that they were Jedi on their forms under the ‘religion’ title. The census people did not, though, contend that they were really interested in following the spiritual path of the Jedi (!) and enjoyed the joke value instead.

    But, there may be some value in linking Jedi thought to this thread … some.

    Article notes: “This, however, requires a good knowledge of the topic and the ability to present it effectively to a lay audience.”

    Jedi state: “Stopped they must be; on this all depends. Only a fully-trained Jedi Knight, with the Force as his ally, will conquer …”

    Mmmmm? (Yoda inflection required)

  37. There is nothing wrong with NDE except the variation side of it is limited. It explains trivial things in the evolution debate but for the really hard stuff, it has problems because of the limited ability of naturalistic means to create variation.

    If naturalistic means were able to create significant novelty, then the genetic side would take over and spread the novelty if it affected reproduction of offspring. However, NDE comes up short on the creation of variation which is what the Edge of Evolution was all about.

    All you people who are critical of ID should learn this. It is really quite simple to understand and is the essence of the debate. Read the Edge of Evolution and then falsify Behe’s conclusions that naturalistic means fail to produce meaningful variation. None of the heavy weights in evolutionary biology have done it yet.

  38. digdug24 @ 35,

    The Bible says that God created all the different sorts of creatures “after (or, according to) his/their kinds”. (kind = Hebrew, ‘min’; in the Latin Vulgate, ‘species’)

    Genesis 1:25
    “et fecit Deus bestias terrae iuxta species suas et iumenta et omne reptile terrae in genere suo et vidit Deus quod esset bonum” (Latin Vulgate)
    “And God maketh the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, and God seeth that [it is] good.” (Young’s Literal Translation)

    Then Linnaeus set up his system of classification and called his finest division “species” because he believed they were the original created “kinds”. Thus belief in fixity of (Biblical) “kinds” came to be seen as equivalent to fixity of (Linnaean) “species”.

    Thus what was seen as evidence for species change was seen as evidence in favour of Darwinism and, by corollary, as evidence against the truth claims of the Bible (not limited only to Genesis).

    But so what if species change? The changes are insignificant because they are trivial compared to the changes required by NDE and, furthermore, they go in the wrong direction – towards the loss of information rather than towards its gain. Those who say that species change and therefore evolution is true are the ones who are indulging in rhetoric or, better, sophistry.

    bFast @ 36,

    Extreme extrapolation is a dangerous game, a game that the young earth community plays all of the time to prove that an old earth is impossible. Extreme extrapolation is not scientifically verified “fact”, it is conjecture.

    I’m don’t know what you’re referring to in saying that extreme extrapolation is, “a game that the young earth community plays all of the time to prove that an old earth is impossible”.

    But leaving that aside, I did an exercise a few years ago with the kids (14 – 16 year olds) in my Sunday School class in which I invited them to draw a line of best fit through a series of data points shown as determined over the space of 100 years. I then asked them to extend that line for a period of several thousand years. The aim was merely to illustrate that small differences in slope can cause major differences in end points with large extrapolations. One very bright girl (she’s now studying medicine) had done a unit of statistics and said, straight away, “You can’t do that!” Out of the mouths of (relative) babes! What a pity so many people far older and far better educated than she was then don’t appear to know what she learned in high school.

  39. All:

    Excellent discussion. A classic!

    I especially liked Frost’s contribution, GP’s and Janice’s, with BA’s right up there with them too. There are a lot of others that are nice too.

    I think it may be useful to take a bit of a look on the infinite regress/quasi-infinite universe issue.

    1] Who designed the designer?

    Apparently, Dawkins et al have been using this one for years to “stop” debate.

    Frost — never mind his brush with mod policy — has a point, that in some cases observed embodied designers show specified complexity [as our bodies reveal], raising the issue of onward design. In short, we exhibit signs that we are creatures. [Lazarus, if you are watching, that points to the issue raised in Rom 1:18 - 20.]

    However, that does not get at the essentially unitary nature of mind and self. That is, we are — per observation — complex unities. And the essence of the unity part is: simplicity, even in the midst of complexity. That is pointing somewhere significant, in itself.

    However, the rhetorical issue is that we have an exploding chain of designers to deal with. (That is rather like what I asked my parents, then was referred to our pastor at age three: if man-made things are non-living, and living ones are made by God, then who made God? Then, we can extend: who made God no 1? God no 2 . . . ? Or, is there a real ultimate reality that we must start from?)

    This brings up the underlying joint force of two arguments that point to the best explanation, on a comparative difficulties basis – notice, prof Sachs, I am NOT asserting demonstrative “proof” but inviting dialogue:

    2] What do evidences of design and of cause-effect chains point to?

    From lecture 3 intro to phil:

    B. Cosmological:

    1. Some contingent beings exist. (E.g.: us, a tree or a fruit, an artifact, the planets and stars, etc. — anything that might not have existed, i.e. is caused.)

    2. Contingent beings do not exist by themselves – that is in part what “contingent” means – so they require a necessary being as their ultimate cause. [This is not necessarily temporally prior. Causes and effects in our observed space-time world can be simultaneous. For a line of dominoes to topple in succession, the whole chain must be in a gravity field and rest on a surface that can support them.]

    3. If any contingent being exists, then a necessary being exists.
    __________________________

    4. Thus, there exists a necessary being, the ultimate cause of the existence of the many contingent beings in the cosmos . . . .

    C. Teleological/design:

    1. Highly complex objects with intricate, interacting parts are produced by intelligent designers, at least so far as we can determine from cases where we do directly know the cause.

    2. The universe (and/or a specific part of it[3]) is just such a highly complex object.

    3. Probably, it is the result of intelligent design.

    4. But, the scope/complexity of the universe is such that only God could be its designer. [NB: We here plainly go from the empirical inference to design to the philosophical inference tot he capacity and nature of the designer.]
    _________________________

    5. Probably, there is a God.

    In short, design points to designer, and thus to cause-effect chains.

    Such chains of contingent beings MUST be grounded in an underlying necessary reality [observe the postulated multiverse as a candidate necessary being!], which is not necessarily the same as the temporal succession of the chain. [This is not the Kalam cosmological argument, though I think WLC and others raising it have a point. Again, for a line of dominoes to topple in succession, the whole chain must be in a gravity field and rest on a surface that can support them.]

    This is the “get your own dirt” issue — no “dirt” no material basis for the observed complexity of material bodies. So is the underlying reality a wider cosmos as a whole with a mechanism that throws up random variations in physical laws that in turn throws up sub-cosmi; at least one of which “just” happens to be life-friendly?

    If so, whence the “machinery” for the supercosmic lottery — is that not an instance of extreme organised complexity, capable of extremely fine adjustment? [That is, the materialist "explanation" has NOT escaped the issue of organised complexity! It has just managed to rhetorically distract attention by pointing elsewhere, and ducking the duty of comparative difficulties across competing explanations.]

    Or, do we have an intelligent ultimate being who created the cosmos in which we live [and if he wanted to he can use multiverses too . . .]?

    3] The issue of explanation and power:

    Both explanations are at the same ultimate level, of a necessary being. Both are philosophical in nature [i.e. worldview level], and both face difficulties [as does any worldview of consequence].

    So, why is one self-congratulatingly labelled “scientific” and the other pejoratively tagged “religious” — other than exploiting the rhetorical power of secularism in the institutions of power and influence in our civilisation?

    And, why — apart from power-backed question-begging — is it that such centres of power then turn back and impose the former alternative by ruling that empirical investigation of possible agent action is automatically “not science” if it may raise questions that support argument C?

    Could that be in part because of the possible incremental impact of . . .

    4] Argument A: Ontological

    1. If God exists, his existence is necessary. (NB link to B.4 just above. [God, is a candidate necessary being; and observed contingent reality demands such a being as its ground.])

    2. If God does not exist, his existence is impossible. [In effect: if by nature a candidate necessary being -- if he exists -- is necessary, his non-existence is thus rooted in impossibility. Note that we know that observed matter -- the "dirt" of our world, is contingent, starting with the big bang and with the parameters that have to be fine-tuned to get to it. To propose a wider material universe that is "necessary" cuts across our experience of matter. To propose the multiverse, one needs to give an account of a quasi-matter/energy, quasi-space, quasi-time entity with a sub-cosmos making machine that can credibly be seen as a necessary being.]

    3. Either God exists or he does not exist. [Excluded middle.]

    4. God’s existence is either necessary or impossible. [Cf above.]

    5. But, God’s existence is possible (i.e. not impossible).
    __________________________

    6. So, God’s existence is necessary.

    Now, of course, these arguments are hotly disputed, in all their forms.

    But they are a part of the underlying context of the discussion, so we should be familiar with them. And, while I would not claim them as demonstrative proofs, I think we need to look at them in light of the issue of inference to best explanation across comparative difficulties.

    Those alternatives and discussion of comparative difficulties must centre on the issues of contingency, cause and necessity.

    I happen to think that God [who is here viewed as a being who manifests complex unity, i.e is both complex and ultimately simple -- a pattern we can OBSERVE starting with ourselves; i.e it is not a contradiction!] makes better sense as an explanation across comparative difficulties as the necessary being than a wider “material” universe with an unknown complex lottery-making mechanism.

    So, now, what best makes coherent and elegantly simple sense of the facts? Why?

    GEM of TKI

  40. From the editorial:
    “ID proponents often present the theory of evolution as “a sacred dogma that can’t be questioned”, whereas in fact evolution is a scientific theory – one that has stood the test of time and of multiple lines of empirical investigation.”

    This aspect of “doing science” is widely misunderstood and misrepresented within the ID movement. When the author says that evolution as a theory has been tested, that is not a broad, vacuous claim: there is a massive scientific literature attesting to the vibrant and sometimes controversial experimental work that goes on all the time. There’s nothing standing in anyone’s way if they want to learn more about the science. (It appears to irritate some ID proponents that there is a payment wall for many journals, (see O’Leary’s whine about having to pay $30 for access on a parallel thread), but there’s no free lunch. Tip: Any university library will let you look at the journals yourself. Go see.)

    bfast:

    “If he went into the lab and made a minimal bacterial flagellum, then knocked out one gene — a gene that exists elsewhere in the organism only to get a useful pre-flagellum he would have falsified the IC claim of the bacterial flagellum

    Bottom line — IC is falsifiable! IC is falsifiable! The “IC isn’t falsifiable” argument has been falsified!!”

    It has? Fantastic. Can you post the reference to the article that presents the data?

    Oh. Small problem. The experiment you mention hasn’t actually been . . . done.

    I wonder if you’ve ever paused to consider why not. I mean, Behe proposed IC, right? He’s famous for that idea. And he’s a biochemist, with a lab and everything. If anyone has a strong reason to do that experiment, to publish those findings, to answer the doubters in the science community, it’s Behe. All it would take is one solid study to get the ball rolling. Of course, it would have to be replicated in a different lab to gain credibility, but that’s a scientific hurdle every scientist has to face.

    The reason evolution is accepted in the scientific community is not because it is a handy scaffold for a materialistic worldview, and makes it possible to reject deism. It’s because there is that pesky massive body of evidence, based on actual experiments that produced actual data.

    There are lots of interesting, compelling ideas within the ID movement about important features of the natural world. If those ideas can be tested, they should be. So: Where’s the ID data?

    All

  41. ontological proofs are mere affirming the consequent. you could have done that with like a million less words.

    janice, if species are indeed natural kinds or even individuals, then your argument seems to fail. what, from first principles of your biblical argument, is the distinction? what is the baramin? is it different for different kinds of organisms? I have always been interested in this line of reasoning but I have never seen a coherent explanation.

  42. digdug4 says:

    “ontological proofs are mere affirming the consequent”

    Or alternatively: Inference to the best explanation

  43. ellazimm,

    The nylon example has been discussed multiple times on UD. Use google.

  44. MacT stated:

    It’s because there is that pesky massive body of evidence, based on actual experiments that produced actual data.

    And the drum roll please while MacT brings forward just ONE PROOF for evolution that can withstand scrutiny….

    We will be waiting with eager anticipation MacT.

    zzzzzzzzzzz

  45. bornagain77:
    “And the drum roll please while MacT brings forward just ONE PROOF for evolution that can withstand scrutiny….”

    There’s that word again . . . proof. it doesn’t work that way, never did. Science 101: A scientific theory is accepted based on the preponderance of supporting evidence. In the case of evolution theory, acceptance is nearly universal because the evidence is strong. That does not constitute proof of evolution, merely current strength in competition with alternatives. If evidence that is contrary to evolution theory builds to the point that the theory is no longer useful or tenable, then it will be abandoned. That may even start with ideas born out of the ID community, but so far the credibility based on solid lab work is sorely lacking.

    Don’t take my word for it. Do the hard work. Examine the evidence yourself. If you are trained in biology or a cognate discipline, design experiments and produce the data yourself. If not, get trained. Indulging in intellectual games is not research, and won’t cut it in science.

    I’m waiting in eager anticipation.

  46. shaner74 wrote: What observation would falsify NDE? Anyone?

    To which Ellazimm responded, in part:
    “I’m sure you’ve heard this before but a fossil “clearly out of place”. . . ”

    I have no expertise in this area, Ellazimm, but don’t all of those fossils crammed all together in those Cambrian rocks seem clearly out of place to you?

    Let’s put it this way, before ANYBODY dug up ANYTHING, wouldn’t Darwin’s theories of evolution have predicted that we should have found something else, something completely different? Yes or no!!

    I just don’t get it. Ellazimm, how big an “explosion” will it take if the Cambrian explosion is not enough? How far “out of place” are those fossils, and by out of place, I mean too many and all in full phyla dress?

    Because of examples as obvious, explanatory and PARSIMONIOUS as the Cambrian Explosion, Darwinism IMO is so plainly unfalsifiable in principle that I find it difficult to listen to its proponents and trust that they are making any scientific sense at all. They sound more and more like they are just speaking out of willfulness.

    The elephant is still in the room and it just sat in the bean dip! Isn’t anybody from Darwin’s camp going to get a paper towel? No? Pass the chips? What???

  47. —–digdug24 writes, “janice, if species are indeed natural kinds or even individuals, then your argument seems to fail. what, from first principles of your biblical argument, is the distinction? what is the baramin? is it different for different kinds of organisms? I have always been interested in this line of reasoning but I have never seen a coherent explanation.”

    I will not presume to put words in the mouth of one (Janice) who writes so well, but, for my part, it is the alternative view that lacks coherency. Try this:

    If species are mutable, then they resemble each other in ways that defy the very definitions being used. If there is no ontological barrier between, say, ape and man, then there is no ontological barrier between man and (superman). Put another way, if all species are constantly evolving into new forms, then, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a species.

    If organisms are always in flux, that is, if they are always losing some traits and gaining others, then which traits do you choose to identify and define the species. Under the circumstances, there can be no “type,” so it makes no sense to speak of one type morphing into another. All you would have is a changing organism with a passing and arbitrary identity that could be given a temporary name even though that name could not possibly signify anytyhing. It means, further, that there can be no such thing as a “human being” or any such quality as “human nature”.

    Therefore, any discussion about speciation seems irrational since there is no definitive species from which an organism can emerge or to which it can evolve. I don’t think Janice’s perspective is anywhere near that problematical.

  48. H’mm:

    Interesting. I observe on points:

    1] DD, 47: ontological proofs are mere affirming the consequent vs Anton, 48: Or alternatively: Inference to the best explanation

    Anton is right, and it should be observed that I EXPLICITLY spoke of IBE in my comment on the ontological issue at 45: “. . . we need to look at them in light of the issue of inference to best explanation across comparative difficulties.”

    But it does not stop there. For, the basic scientific inductive inference is an IBE argument and is itself open to the affirming the consequent objection. For instance, consider a theory, T and its body of supportive observations, O:

    –> We argue, in science, in effect: IF T Then O; O , so T is confirmed.

    –> But substitute, T = “Tom is a pig.” And, O = “Tom is an animal.”

    –> Immediately, we see: “If Tom is a pig, then Tom is an animal; Tom is an animal, so Tom is a pig. But what if Tom is in fact a cat? [This is the actual example I first used ~ 20 years ago in the training of student Christian leaders on handling issues connected to reasoning and believing at worldviews level.

    --> Thus, we come to the point that scientific inferences are provisional and competitive, and subject to falsification and/or correction in light of further evidence. They ALSO work by inference to best explanation, in short.

    --> Thus, to make the objection to the ontological issue raised in an explicit IBE context, that it "affirms the consequent," is to fall into selective hyper-skepticism, thence logical incoherence.

    So, now, can we get back to addressing the real issue, as at the end of 45: "what best makes coherent and elegantly simple sense of the facts? Why?"

    2] Tim in 51:

    . . . don’t all of those fossils crammed all together in those Cambrian rocks seem clearly out of place to you?

    Let’s put it this way, before ANYBODY dug up ANYTHING, wouldn’t Darwin’s theories of evolution have predicted that we should have found something else, something completely different? Yes or no!!

    I just don’t get it . . . how big an “explosion” will it take if the Cambrian explosion is not enough? How far “out of place” are those fossils, and by out of place, I mean too many and all in full phyla dress?

    Because of examples as obvious, explanatory and PARSIMONIOUS as the Cambrian Explosion, Darwinism IMO is so plainly unfalsifiable in principle that I find it difficult to listen to its proponents and trust that they are making any scientific sense at all.

    H’mm, and what happened when Stephen Meyer submitted an article on precisely this case that passed peer review by “renowned scientists,” and was published by a fair-minded Editor, a certain Rick Sternberg?

    Why is there no Earth-shaking scandal over that, with serious consequences for the perpetrators?

    What is that telling us about the state of science in leading, Taxpayer-funded Science institutions? [Much less, in the media and education systems?]

    3] SteveB, 52: If there is no ontological barrier between, say, ape and man, then there is no ontological barrier between man and (superman). Put another way, if all species are constantly evolving into new forms, then, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a species.

    Correct. And, the road to H^ell yawns open — a road all too frequently travelled over the past 100 years, as was predicted by a certain Mr Charles Darwin in this excerpt from a July 3, 1881 letter to a certain Mr William Graham:

    I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago, of being overwhelmed by the Turk, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.

    But all of this, in a sense, is incidental.

    4] Back on topic

    As the OP puts it by citing the editorial, the central issue is the “proper” definition of science.

    Namely, Nature Methods’ editors argue:

    Because it invokes a supernatural origin for something one cannot yet explain, and because it does not generate testable hypotheses and cannot be subjected to empirical inquiry, ID is not science.

    This is so distorting of easily accessible facts — and note the concession of prolonged explantatory failure by Evo mat! — as to be due to gross, culpapble negligence, or else to willful deception indented to eliminate the “weak” through predatory behaviour. Here, career busting being good enough in Science.

    Sorry, if that sounds harsh, but that is what is plainly going on. And, it needs to stop. NOW.

    Then, if we have acknowledged explanatory failure — after 150 years of trying — on one option, what should that tell us about its [want of] explanatory power?

    Worse, we have in hand another alternative that shows us how empirical data (through an explanatory filter that does not beg the question by eliminating reasonable options) can account for the actual evidence we do observe on CSI, IC and OC.

    This is an option that just happens to be well within the views and approach of most of the founders of modern science, and that of the founders of many of the key sub-disciplines. So if it is “unscientific” somebody has changed a definition without notifying us on its implications.

    So, if that option is now ruled “unscientific” on a false claim that it is not falsifiable, and failing to explain within the evo mat circle of acceptable causes, does that not plainly reveal that the root problem is politically correct metaphysical imposition of a questionable redefinition, by the materialists who happen to hold power in key institutions; not the “correct” workings of real-world, empirically anchored science across time?

    Finally, given the sort of moral consequences SteveB has brought out, shoud we not pause and think again, before it is — again! — too late?

    GEM of TKI

  49. digdug24 @ 47,

    if species are indeed natural kinds or even individuals

    I don’t understand what you’re saying there.

    What I’m saying is that:
    a) there is no agreement as to what a “species” is, and
    b) even if there were there is no reason to believe that (Linnaean) “species” correspond to created “kinds”.

    Therefore the fact that a “species” (whatever that is) may produce offspring that will not interbreed with members of the parent population is interesting but proves only that some change is possible at the (Linnaean) “species” level. It does not prove that the new “species” is “fitter” than the parent “species”, nor does it prove that change is limitless (as NDE requires) or that one Biblical “kind” can change into another “kind”.

    What I’m also saying is that:
    a) there is no agreement as to what “science” is, and
    b) even if there were there is no good reason to believe that philosophising about historical events (after all, nobody can do an experiment on a past event or events) must necessarily exclude consideration of non-material (i.e., intelligent) causes. There are plenty of sociological reasons why one group rather than another gets attributed with “cognitive authority” (see Kuhn, Feyerabend and Fuller) and receives the prizes that follow from that.

    But what has that to do with the search for truth about what is most likely to have happened to cause the existence of us and everything else in the universe?

    The simple fact is that no matter how much or how little any person knows about genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, or whatever, every person wants to know where they came from because the answer to that question provides answers to the other two major questions of life – why am I here, and where am I going? Those who use their currently accepted “cognitive authority” to impose a materialist answer to the first question on everyone who attends school are, as far as I’m concerned, a stain on the face of humanity, a disgrace. They want to be able to choose for themselves what they believe but have no compunction about using the “cognitive authority” they have to persuade even little children that they have no choice at all. That is nothing but a form of child abuse.

    No one can prove, scientifically, that materialism is true. In calling materialism “science”, and insisting that the materialist version of origins can be the only one allowed in schools, what the materialists are actually doing is brainwashing children just as their parents, and maybe even their grandparents, were brainwashed with the same sort of materialist dogma. You can believe it if you want but you have no right, or good reason, to impose it on other people in the way that it is imposed today through compulsory “education”.

    what is the baramin? is it different for different kinds of organisms? I have always been interested in this line of reasoning but I have never seen a coherent explanation.

    Then I suggest not only that you keep looking but that you try to keep looking with a mind that is open to being changed. That’s not easy when you’ve been brainwashed as a child, but it can be done if you value truth.

  50. Ellazimm [54] writes, “Tim, the Cambrian explosion took 30 to 50 million years. Fossils being crammed together (if indeed they are) does not imply out of sequence or uninterpretable. Have you ever been on an paleontological exploration? It takes years to get good at it.”

    Ellazimm, I find your response, er, nonresponsive.

    I did not ask about the length of the Cambrian overall. I did not ask to be quizzed about my “stellar” paleontological cv. (I once dug up a bone in my garden, but I think it was just a stick. . . not really sure.) Nor, did I ask to have “crammed together” parsed. I will be the second to admit that “crammed together” is not the most scientific term. On the other hand, I thought that the idea of “crammed together” combined with, “How far “out of place” are those fossils, and by out of place, I mean too many and all in full phyla dress?” would have put enough meat on the bone for you to understand. In that context, then, crammed together actually does mean “out of sequence”.

    They are out of sequence because they are side by side. This seems plainly obvious to me. I understand that being different phyla side by side does is not a sequence killer alone. But side by side with no transitional forms along for the ride casts Darwinism in doubt.

    For every phyla located in those rocks out of the 40 or so we now delineate shouldn’t we expect to see numerous transitional forms? What is the number of transitional forms that come out of the “explosion”? I honestly don’t know. 0? 1? 10? My point is this: Darwinism would have predicted countless transitional forms. The transitional forms should have outnumbered the static forms by several factors, but the opposite is the case.

    It is interesting to note that although I cannot tell the difference between a bone and a stick (it might have been a piece of rope), I actually can understand the nature of the evidence. I can also tell when my question was dodged, so here it is again:

    Ellazimm,
    “Don’t all of those fossils crammed all together in those Cambrian rocks seem clearly out of place to you?”

    Clearly, you think that those fossils are “interpretable”. I say that a basic understanding of Darwin’s doctrine of “slow and incremental change” is disconfirmed by my interpretation of the rocks of Cambria. What do you say? Speaking of fun Cambrian questions, what about this one: When all of those little squishy things were lining up to get themselves a place in history, how did all the ones enjoying stasis know to hop into the press while all the transitional folks chose to rot?

    Please spare me the “transitional forms are invisible (just too transient to get recorded)” argument. Although it is good for a laugh now and then, I’d really like a more direct answer.

  51. MacT,

    Geez MacT alluding to a perponderance of evidence that proves evolution true.

    I call that dodging the issue.

    I specifically asked for one solid proof. Since you did not provide one solid proof and Ellazimm wanted to know about the nylon bacteria adaptation which was touted as conclusive proof for evolution for a while, let’s look at that “proof”. (I love that word by the way MacT, as I demand solid “proof” for the science I follow!)

    http://www.answersingenesis.or.....cteria.asp

    P. aeruginosa is renowned for its ability to adapt to unusual food sources—such as toluene, naphthalene, camphor, salicylates and alkanes. These abilities reside on plasmids known as TOL, NAH, CAM, SAL and OCT respectively.2 Significantly, they do not reside on the chromosome (many examples of antibiotic resistance also reside on plasmids)

    Well just how long have bacteria been detoxifying the earth of toxins MacT?

    I believe the correct answer is billions of years MacT:

    Sulfate-reducing bacteria helped prepare the earth for advanced life by “detoxifying” the primeval earth and oceans of “poisonous” levels of heavy metals while depositing them as relatively inert metal ore deposits (iron, zinc, magnesium, lead etc.. etc..). To this day, sulfate-reducing bacteria maintain an essential minimal level of these metals in the ecosystem that are high enough so as to be available to the biological systems of the higher life forms that need them, yet low enough so as not to be poisonous to those very same higher life forms. Needless to say, the metal ores deposited by these sulfate-reducing bacteria in the early history of the earth’s geologic record are indispensable to man’s rise above the stone age to modern civilization.

    How about showing some significant change in the DNA of bacteria, over millions of years, to “prove” evolution true MacT?

    there are many ancient bacterium fossils recovered from salt crystals and amber crystals that have been compared to their living descendants of today. Some bacterium fossils, in salt crystals, dating back as far as 250 million years have had their DNA recovered, sequenced and compared to their offspring of today (Vreeland RH, 2000 Nature). Scientists accomplished this using a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). To the disbelieving shock of many scientists, both ancient and modern bacteria were found to have the almost exact DNA sequence.

    “Almost without exception, bacteria isolated from ancient material have proven to closely resemble modern bacteria at both morphological and molecular levels.” Heather Maughan*, C. William Birky Jr., Wayne L. Nicholson, William D. Rosenzweig§ and Russell H. Vreeland ; (The Paradox of the “Ancient” Bacterium Which Contains “Modern” Protein-Coding Genes)

    http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/...../19/9/1637

    You say the evidence is strong for evolution, I say you are severely deluding yourself if you think that is true.

    Again I ask you MacT

    drum roll please,,,

    MacT will now bring forth one solid proof for evolution.

    we will be waiting with eager anticipation.

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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