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Message Theory – A Testable ID Alternative to Darwinism – Part 2

More on testability

In Part 1 of this essay, I noted that testability is an obstacle for many creationists/ID-ists, when they do not accept its profound importance. Some of them reject testability outright. Others mis-define testability by claiming “repeatability is testability.” They are mistaken because repeatability and testability are two separate things. For example, gravity is repeatable, but the theory that “gravity is caused by archangels blowing horns” is not testable. Or, take the theory that Smith did the Denver bank robbery. This example is not repeatable, yet it would be falsified if Smith were seen in Boise or Phoenix at the time. In this case, the explanation is testable, but not repeatable. These examples show that repeatability and testability are separate. These approaches are more typical of the young-earth creationists.

Others mis-define testability into obscurity by defining a “test” as the mere comparison of two alternative theories to see which one is the ‘best’ explanation. This approach is more typical of the ID-ists, but it too is mistaken. For example, Astrology can be compared with Freudian psychology, but that doesn’t mean either one is testable. Testability requires that the theory itself must be empirically risky; there must be a serious possibility of showing the theory is incorrect. If an explanation is compatible with any conceivable observation, then it can scarcely be called a scientific theory.

ID-ists often sound like they embrace testability, but often it plays little role in their actual arguments against evolution or for intelligent design. In practice, testability has little or no value or valuation in their “reasoning to the ‘best’ explanation.”

Evolutionists are nearly unanimous in their endorsement of testability, even in all their court cases. Yet unfortunately many creationists/ID-ists remain confused and dis-united on the issue. This is a leading obstacle for Message Theory to overcome. Message Theory is a testable ID theory; yet many creationists/ID-ists do not hunger for a testable theory.

A comprehensive theory –

The second obstacle for Message Theory is its breadth – its claim to be a comprehensive explanation of life’s major patterns – its claim to rival and surpass Darwinism in giving testable scientific insight into life’s mysteries. That is a good thing; a bounty of riches. But it also involves many evolutionary illusions to unravel, and diverse issues to discuss: from paleontology, embryology, genetics, systematics, and more. This forestalls many people, especially if they are not hungry for testable science, or are overly satisfied with pat ‘religious’ answers. (I wryly include evolutionists also in the previous sentence.)

When evolutionists demand a “paper” establishing Message Theory, they demand a contradiction – their posturing is a tongue-in-cheek mockery – and they know it. They know full well the vast diversity of issues could not fit inside a paper and still be satisfying. When I answer their question about paleontology, they ask about embryology. When I answer about embryology, they ask about biogeography. And so forth to vestigial organs, Junk DNA, classification, biochemistry, and the rest. Around and around, this continues at length. A book is required. Realistically, any plausible alternative to evolutionary theory would require a book – and evolutionists know this before they ask their first question. When evolutionists demand such a paper – as a requirement – (1) They are attempting to belittle Message Theory, and (2) They are attempting to fabricate an excuse for avoiding the challenge posed by Message Theory.

Recall that Darwin never published his theory of common descent in a science journal, and not as a paper. It would have stripped down his ideas to a dozen pages or so, and created a laughable caricature. It would have been counterproductive to Darwin. Given the controversial nature of origins and the strong opposition to Darwin, a mere ‘paper’ would have diminished his theory. It would miscast his theory as less powerful than it was; to friend and foe alike. Instead, Darwin wisely marshaled his various arguments and evidences all together, in one place – as a book. Stephen Jay Gould recognized this was the wise thing for Darwin to do. I followed the same strategy.

Message Theory claims to be a comprehensive testable explanation of life’s major patterns. Unfortunately this places a burden onto readers, because there are so many issues to discuss. Message Theory is blessed and cursed by its comprehensive nature. Therefore be forewarned, the treatment given in my essays here can be only a brief introduction to Message Theory.

Depending on readers’ comments, I hope to be onward soon to discussing Message Theory in the next parts of this essay.

– Walter ReMine

The Biotic Message – the book

[Added Note: The Darwin-Wallace papers to the Linnean Society were on natural selection. The secretary of the Linnean Society, summing up the activities of that year (1858), remarked that it was a bad year and nothing of any real importance had been presented. Darwin's theory of universal common descent had to wait for his book, whereupon even his theory of natural selection took on an expansive, controversial new meaning. -- WJR]

[Added Note: Phrases like "test a graviton" are shorthand for something like "test Smith's theory of gravity." Theories must be testable, but not necessarily 'things' because in many cases, the 'thing' (such as a graviton) is not directly observable. For example, the theory of a Piltdown Hoax is testable, even though the identity of the hoaxer remains unknown and unavailable for observation. (The Hoax theory would be falsified if we found a natural organism having the same characteristics, including those mysterious 'file marks' on the teeth!)  Scientific laws describe, and theories explain, therefore, all scientific laws are testable; whereas some explanations are testable, some are not. There are many theories of gravity: some are testable; some are not -- it depends on whose theory we're talking about. The Law of Gravity is a fact, even though the various theories of gravity remain very speculative. Confusion is often created by interchanging "the law of gravity" with "the theory of gravity." -- WJR]

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25 Responses to Message Theory – A Testable ID Alternative to Darwinism – Part 2

  1. Darwin didn’t need a book to describe his theory, he used the book to provide evidence to support it.

    Here’s Darwin’s theory in a nutshell: Offspring vary from their parents. There are not enough resources for all offspring to survive to adulthood. Any offspring born with a difference that makes them more likely to survive will replace those less favored.

    Can you give us Message Theory in one paragraph? Or tell us how to test it, like the OP’s title suggests you can?

  2. Interesting observations, Walter. Re gravity, it might be worth anchoring your observation in a theory of gravity that a physicist is likely to hold.

    For example, would the existence of an elementary particle such as a graviton be testable? How, for example?

    One problem with the use of gravity as an example is that deliberate confusion is encouraged between the fact of gravity and Newton’s laws (theoretical descriptions) of it.

    As in “Darwin’s theory of evolution is as well established as the law of gravity.” And no one doubts that gravity exists … Therefore Darwinian evolution explains the history of life!

    Few people realize that Newton’s description of gravity is the odd one out of the four fundamental forces of the universe – or that it was always controversial because it posits action at a distance.

    Anyway, we can’t test the theory simply by demonstrating that gravity exists. So how do we test it?

    By the way, I took out the line break at the top of your post.

  3. Walter,

    Nice to see you!

    If you were not aware of it, one of your key claims in Biotic Message regarding Haldane’s Dilemma has been unwittingly affirmed by an National Academy of Sciences member, Masotoshi Nei. Nei affirms the truthfulness of Haldane’s dilemma in his paper Selecitonism and Neutralism in Molecular Evolution.

    Your critics have attacked your use of Haldane’s dilemma to defend Message Theory. Ian Musgrave, Nuny, etc. might consider making retractions in light of these developments.

    I would highly recommend discussing Nuny and Jody Hey’s work. I think your work on population genetics might help get readers more interested in the details of message theory.

    I became interested in message theory because of your exposition on Fisher’s fundamental theorem of natural selection and the work of Motoo Kimura.

    PS
    For the reader’s benefit, and because Walter might be too modest to highlight this fact, the book Genetic Entropy by Cornell’s renowned genetic engineer, John Sanford, was inspired by Message Theory!

  4. Denyse,

    Could you fix the typo in the 2nd line.

    Also could someone give a synopsis of this theory since this is the second post on this subject and the first went nowhere since nothing was said and neither has anything been said here. So are we to continue to wait till something is posted with content about the theory?

    I do like Walter’s observation about how if a Darwinists asks a question and when they get an answer they either nit pick at something irrelevant or go on to another question till they can find a gotcha. Such behavior is paraded around here every day.

  5. I agree with Jerry. Don’t hide behind the skirts of a Victorian toff. Wallace was ready to publish substantially similar arguments as a paper. Various people boil evolution down to phrases like

    RM+NS OOL+CD

    Even the author of Genesis could summarise the relevant ideas in a few chapters. If people ask you to unpack some phrase, it’s just like that old Sidney Harris cartoon – “I think you should be more explicit in Step 2.” Constructive criticism.

  6. That should have been

    RM + NS <==> OOL + CD

    “Random mutation and natural selection implies (and is implied by) Origin of Life and Common Descent”

  7. Asking for a paper would “belittle” Message Theory and the request is “tongue-in-cheek mockery”.

    Come on… is this author serious? Good science (which he claims his is) can always be distilled down to basic elements. And even if Message Theory cannot, surely he should attempt to publish papers? Watson and Crick published their model for DNA in less than a page – and that revolutionized biology. Sorry, but ReMines excuses are plainly ridiculous.

    Much more interesting however are ReMines claims Message Theory is a “comprehensive testable explanation of life’s major patterns”. A google search added the book “proposes a scientifically testable creation theory to take [evolutions] place”.

    Great I thought, I’m deeply interested, when will it be available, what are these predictions?

    Then I saw is was published in 1993. Um, surely 16 years is enough time for such a “comprehensive” and “testable” scientific theory to lead to some research?

  8. jerry:

    So are we to continue to wait till something is posted with content about the theory?

    He’s not going to tell you the theory. You have to buy the book.

  9. Allen,

    “And, more importantly, one should wonder why ReMine’s amazing ‘theory’ can only be read about in his vanity press book? Why has he not written up manuscripts to be critiqued by his fellow scientists? The answer? Creationists prefer writing in a medium wherein they receive only praise from like-minded individuals, such as “John Woodmorappe”, not where those that know better would demolish his flimsy, evidence-less claims.

    This book belongs on the scrap heap of egomaniacal creationist rants.”

    Prove it. I know you quoted it, but if you endorse it, then prove this charge if you maintain that it is true. Otherwise, you are getting personal and invoking a self-styled motive to paint Remine and all other Creationists with a wide brush. If you cannot prove this charge, then this quote of yours belongs in the scrap heap of ego-maniacal evolutionist rants. And that is exactly where it will go if you cannot prove it.

  10. Clive, please don’t apply this standard even-handedly. If bornagain77 has to prove genetic entropy every time he quotes Sanford, we’ll be here forever! Just ask Allen if he read the frickin’ book, and if he says no, delete the comment.

    Which does bring us back to the issue of blog entry as advertising tease. If Message Theory doesn’t put in a timely appearance, we should all ask for these posts to be filed in the Memory Hole. My 2d.

  11. 11

    I’ve been looking at the website for the book, which is here, and Allen does seem to be right that it’s a vanity press. Whether it’s true that creationists prefer publishing in such venues is another issue, but I’m curious as to why it didn’t get published even by a regular creationist press.

    The web site contains a lot of information about the book. For example, it makes this astounding claim about the index:

    Eleven pages of comprehensive index — small-print, single-spaced, triple-column. Stephen Gould is cited so frequently he is included in the index.

    Imagine that.

  12. Even L. Ron Hubbard got a real publisher to print and market Dianetics…

    Even Madison Grant got a real publisher to print and market “The Passing of the Great Race.” Even Margaret Sanger got a real publisher (Harvard) to print and market Woman and the New Race.

    Neener, neener neener.

  13. 13

    Even Madison Grant got a real publisher to print and market “The Passing of the Great Race.” Even Margaret Sanger got a real publisher (Harvard) to print and market Woman and the New Race.

    I know you meant that to be funny — and yet another way to bring up the alleged racism of evolution (gee, I hadn’t heard about that on UD), but you’re just affirming the point. It shouldn’t be that hard. If books like that can find legitimate publishers, why does ReMine have to go the vanity route? Vanity presses have their name for a reason.

  14. I don’t necessarily endorse the review that I posted, but as I have noted several times in the past, negative criticism, especially if it is backed up with citations, are often more valuable than non-specific praise. I posted the review for informational purposes, in response to the query about where one could get a copy of Mr. ReMine’s book, and why we haven’t actually been provided with anything about “message theory” itself. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to obtain one of the five available copies, and so can’t comment on it directly at this time. Also, there is no copy of it in the Cornell University library (the seventh largest library system in the world, BTW), so it will be some time before I will be able to comment on it directly.

    So, if this still strikes you as unfair, please delete the comment (but please keep this one, thanks).

  15. djmullen @ 1

    Darwin didn’t need a book to describe his theory, he used the book to provide evidence to support it.

    Here’s Darwin’s theory in a nutshell [...]

    Walter didn’t say that Darwin needed a book to describe his theory either. Re-read the article. In fact, Walter wrote (my emphasis added):

    Given the controversial nature of origins and the strong opposition to Darwin, a mere ‘paper’ would have diminished his theory. It would miscast his theory as less powerful than it was; to friend and foe alike. Instead, Darwin wisely marshaled his various arguments and evidences all together, in one place – as a book. Stephen Jay Gould recognized this was the wise thing for Darwin to do. I followed the same strategy.

    As you can see, Walter was not saying here that Darwin needed a book to describe his theory.

    You asked if he could give Message Theory(MT) in one paragraph. He does so in his book, “THE BIOTIC MESSAGE”.

    From the website:
    http://saintpaulscience.com/about.htm?b1b7cb08

    You find this:

    The central claims of the theory are simple and plausible: Life was reasonably designed for survival, and to convey a message that tells where life came from. The message can be described in two parts:

    1. Life was designed to look like the product of a single designer.
    2. Life was designed to resist all other explanations.

    I recommend looking up his book yourself. I bought it a couple years ago, and it is very comprehensive. The evidences and argumentation presented therein are clear & robust.

    JG–out

  16. Clive @ 10 “Prove it. I know you quoted it, but if you endorse it, then prove this charge if you maintain that it is true.”

    I’ve been reading ReMine here, on ARN and other various other places for at least five years, both on Message Theory and Haldane’s Dilemma. I’ve asked him to explain both, others have asked him to explain both and he’s never given a satisfactory answer to either.

    Here he says his theory is testable, but he doesn’t tell us how to test it. It’s my considered opinion that he has no way to test it, but if he does, let him:

    1. Explain the outlines of the theory in one paragraph. I’ll even give him a page if he’ll at least try to describe his theory concisely.

    2. Tell us how to test it, for crying out loud! How long are we going to have to wait?

    jguy @ 16: Darwin DID publish a concise description of his theory, along with Wallace, in the Linnean Society’s journal, which you can read here:

    http://www.linnean.org/index.php?id=380

    THEN he wrote the big book showing all the evidence in favor of his theory. Let’s see ReMine do the same.

    “1. Life was designed to look like the product of a single designer.
    2. Life was designed to resist all other explanations.” is not a description of his theory. Darwin tells you how his theory works: offspring vary, not all can survive, variations that are better at making a living survive to provide the next generation.

    Darwin’s equivalent of ReMine would be to say that Species are designed to look designed and frustrate all other explanations. He doesn’t even succeed on that level.

    Somebody said that if a poster hadn’t read ReMine’s book, they should be thrown out. How about ReMine describing his theory in enough detail so we can tell if it’s worth spending the $70 or $80 bucks his book is reputed to cost?

  17. Allen MacNeill quotes Scott L Page who is a well known anti-christian, anti- creation, and anti-ID zealot.

    Now to refute what Walter states all Allen, Scott or who-ever has to do is to step up and show that unguided processes can account for what Walter is talking about.

    IOW show us the data that demonstrates the changes required (if chimp s& humans shared a common ancestor) are even possible.

    That is it- refute Walter by actually supporting YOUR position!

    Imagine that!!!!

  18. djmullen:

    Here’s Darwin’s theory in a nutshell: Offspring vary from their parents. There are not enough resources for all offspring to survive to adulthood. Any offspring born with a difference that makes them more likely to survive will replace those less favored.

    That sounds like the Ceation model of biological evolution.

    IOW there is no way to distinguish betwen Darwin’s theory and the Creation model- that is if we go by what dj posted.

  19. Evolution itself is neither testable more repeatable. While adaptations can be seen after they have happened, no one can prove why they occur or what effect if any they have on the creation of new species. Natural selection—the keystone of evolution— remains unobservable, nonrepeatable, and untestable.

    Evolutionists hypothesize that some changes, such as the evolution of eyes, happened independently at several different times in different lineages, yet their conjecture has no concrete evidence to support it. As far as anyone can tell, such events happen once and every change evolutionists assume happened is unique. Given that evolution fails the tests for testability and repeatability, it certainly fails the final test of falsifiability. Nobody can confirm an invisible, singular phenomenon.

    No hypothesis that attempts to explain the origins and diversification of life can be testable or repeatable.

    Lisa A. Shiel
    author of The Evolution Conspiracy
    http://EvolutionConspiracy.com/

  20. Dave–I know you meant that to be funny — and yet another way to bring up the alleged racism of evolution

    This gets to the heart of the debate. I think most of us on the pro-ID side don’t have any moral issue with considering or studying or believing or working form an evo assumption (providing it is not dogmatic) with regard to explaining biodiversity.

    The moral problem comes with the claims that our existence has no point and that scientific authority can trump revealed universal values. And evolution certainly was used to do so as were other scientific claims.

    If books like that can find legitimate publishers, why does ReMine have to go the vanity route?

    By legitimate you mean approved by opinion shapers. If ReMine was published by the Discovery Institute or a religious organization would you accept that?

  21. There are a couple of reasons to go through a vanity publisher.

    One is more control and this could be a major issue because the publisher may not think the printing will generate enough money to justify the printing so will want editorial control. And the flip side of this is that there may not be a publisher who thinks it will be financially viable.

    Second, you make more money if you do it that way. It cost about $3 per book to get a couple thousand books printed so for an outlay of $6,000 to a printer you can 2,000 books. So if you sell them for $20 you make over $30,000 for this venture. Your time is an issue as you have to write and layout the book and develop graphics etc and this is time consuming so it is not usually done for the money from the book per se but for other reasons.

    I have a good friend who I helped with a book and he got it printed by a local printer. It was very good in its area, the training of athletes. The book became well read amongst a small group of high level coaches and my friends services were enhanced by the book. The book was a passion for him and it paid off by his greater acceptance in his field of interest. If he had used a publisher for his book, he would have made about 50 cents per book instead of the $12 for each one sold but still would have had the peer recognition. But he would have had his book edited to death and he did not want that.

  22. 22

    jerry,

    Cost per book depends on a host of factors including the book length, the binding, and the print run. (I directed a small press once.) Costs are much higher for small print runs.

    I would guess that at most ReMine’s book would have an initial print run of under 2000 copies. A $3 per book cost would have to be a pretty small paperback with a large print run. ReMine’s book is 538 pages: no way in the world it’s getting close to that cost.

    A long book or a hardback can’t be printed cheaply unless it has a huge print run, and getting remotely close would require that it be made of shoddy materials.

    Things are changing these days due to what is called “print-on-demand” publishing, but POD publishing usually leads to a poor quality product. Further, POD publishing wasn’t available when The Biotic Message was published.

    A $3/copy cost also assumes no editorial costs for layout, proofreading, design, etc.

    Your friend in athletic training also had a distribution method (through coaches). Because bookstores don’t buy vanity press books, and reviewers don’t review them, a vanity press book needs to create alternative channels of distribution. Vanity presses can’t get the attention of bookstores and readers because nobody has a stake in their quality except the authors. (Sometimes bookstores will take vanity press books on consignment, if they have the shelf space.)

    Is Mr. ReMine’s book out of print? Used copies are being offered on Amazon for $77.97. If that’s the case, perhaps Mr. ReMine should run another few copies at $3/copy, sell them directly for $12, and save his potential readers money as well.

  23. 23

    Mr. ReMine,

    I understand you cannot do your entire theory justice on a blog page, and you’d rather people read your book. But, after reading both of your blog posts and visiting the book website, the main thesis of Message Theory is still a mystery to me.

    I think it would help generate more interest in your book if you offered a summary of your argument, or at least your main premise. I look forward to hearing more about it.

    Cordially,

    Clumsy

  24. Joseph @ 18,
    I don’t see it. In what way is djmullen’s Darwin elevator speech ‘Creationist’? It doesn’t mention a talking snake. :)

  25. In part 1 of his article, Walter ReMine states:

    “If you are aware of exceptions, let me know.”[i.e. silence or misrepresentation]

    Biologist Gert Korthof certainly seriously reviewed ReMines book in 1999: home.planet.nl/~gkorthof/kortho41.htm”

    He comments:

    “In this part of the review I focus on two main criticisms of the Message Theory: ‘directly created organisms’ and ‘does life look unlike evolution?’. This article is not a summary of Remine’s book and I don’t claim to be complete.”

    Unlike Mr. Korthof, I do like ID (& testability). However, he takes critics serious and gives a thorough response that Mr. ReMine has to address.
    Furthermore, IDEA (Pro ID) gives Korthof’s site the highest (4 star) rating: Creation & Evolution Links.

    So, Mr. ReMine, I’m looking forward to your response to Korthof’s review.

    (Remember I’m pro ID. In fact, the general lack of testability is my main concern.)

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