The “D” of ID is science — lessons from our dealings with Nick Matzke
|March 2, 2014||Posted by scordova under Philosophy, Intelligent Design, News|
I have debated Darwinists for many years, and I don’t debate them in order to persuade them, but rather to humiliate their claims as best I can, and this is done by arguing from the most unassailable positions possible.
We didn’t ask Nick, “are 500 coins heads designed” or “are 500 coins heads intelligently designed” or “are 500 coins heads intelligently designed, and therefore isn’t ID science” we asked:
If you came across a table on which was set 500 coins (no tossing involved) and all 500 coins displayed the “heads” side of the coin, would you reject “chance” as a hypothesis to explain this particular configuration of coins on a table?
I had a feeling the question would make Nick uncomfortable because it would demonstrate we can in principle build independent specifications which can reject the chance hypothesis. He knew what was at stake, and predictably he went into full Chewbacca defense mode, and just dug the hole deeper. It got so bad that it resulted in this:
Nick, Sal said that a 2-headed coin would preclude chance as a mechanism even in principle with respect to a 500 all-heads coin pattern. You disagreed and said, “not really”.
Can you elaborate further how there is a chance tails could emerge as an outcome with a 2-headed coin since you insist chance can still have a role in the final outcome.
If some of my ID colleagues wonder why I’m sometimes quite austere in my criticism of ID it is because I’m trying to put forward arguments that are not easily assailable. I don’t get into arguments with Nick about whether ID is science or not, those aren’t the sort of arguments you can make to humiliate Nick’s claims. If you give Darwinists like Nick an opening by saying “ID is science”, you’ll be cornered into defending red herrings to no end.
I probably will not make many friends at UD and in the creationist community if I provided my list of “Arguments IDists and Creationists should not use”. You’d think my criticisms would be so harsh that you’d almost call me a Darwinist, but that is not my aim. I don’t want future generations of IDist and Creationists debating Darwinists and losing, I want them crushing and humiliating their opponents claims. A model debate was not Ham-Nye, but Steven Meyer and Peter Ward. It was such a lopsided exchange even IDists felt sorry for Peter Ward.
Do I think ID is science? I’ve avoided a direct answer because I don’t feel comfortable saying it is, and I don’t feel comfortable saying it isn’t! Eric Anderson suggested, I should just say, “if Darwinism is science, then ID is science.” That’s about as good an answer as I can give…
ID is composed of two separable theories as attested by this insightful statement:
it is useful to separate design from theories of intelligence and intelligent agency
The theory of design is that there exists artifacts that are not the product of chance and law, and by chance I mean a process that maximizes uncertainty in a configuration. If you put fair coins in a box and shake the box, you maximize the uncertainty of the heads-tails configuration. That is formally separate from theories of intelligence. Thus ID is composed of “D” theories and “I” theories.
Someone asked me what I think defines science. I’m not a philosopher of science, I don’t claim to speak for all scientists, I’m not even a scientist! In my view, not all true or reasonable inferences are science. Science is the development of ideas that lead to predictable and testable outcomes, at least testable in principle if not in practice.
In my opinion “D” theories of ID count as science, we can make predictions and testable outcomes regarding artifacts. A good example was the expectation of 500 fair coins, and making a testable prediction that chance and law will not make 500 fair coins heads. The same can be done for homochirality and uniform linkages in biomolecules.
Even hypothesized, but unproven and unobserved mechanisms can be included in science, if it leads to predictable outcomes. A good example is Dirac’s prediction of the existence of anti-matter which wasn’t observed until years later. It was science even though the hypothesized entity was not yet observed because the entity had predictable properties.
To some extent, we can even predict the structure of what a random process will generate, for example 500 fair coins has an expectation of 50% heads.
To me, scientific claims have the form of: “random process is expected to generate outcome X and not outcome Y”, “anti-matter electrons are expected to do Z”, “Dark Energy is predicted to create observation W”, etc.
However, once we start invoking mechanisms that lack predictability, that have free will we run into difficulties. “Intelligent agent gamma is expected generate outcome… Uh, well, we can’t make predictions of what capricious intelligent mechanism will do or not do, but we know it’s still science even though we can’t predict what it will do, right?”
One might assert, “only intelligent agency is capable of doing X”, that is falsifiable and is a prediction, but it leads to complications. For example, 500 fair coins heads can be constructed by a machine, thus do machines count as intelligence since they make artifacts that pass the EF? If machines can count as being intelligent, why not nature? In fact, Bill Dembski pointed out that in principle Nature could have been fully front-loaded to create designs that pass the EF. The complications of “I” theories as science theories seem to have no end. I accept ID, my “I” theory is “God did it”, I believe God is the Designer of life, but I don’t classify that claim as science.
Demonstrating “D” theories as science is easy and tidy (as Nick Matzke discovered first hand), whereas demonstrating “I” theories as science is not so tidy, I don’t even try…
ID is composed of two separable theories, theories of Design and theories of Intelligence. I claim theories of Design are science. As far as theories of Intelligence or Intelligent Design being science, I defer to Eric Anderson’s answer, “if Darwinism counts as science, then ID counts as science” or maybe Richard Dawkins answer:
You then realize that the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science.
but you know, deep down, I feel some discomfort saying it.
If you guys really want to compare your list of arguments IDists and Creationists should use or not use or arguments they should emphasize or de-emphasize, we can start a thread on it, but I foresee it will likely be contentious and everyone will be stepping on each other’s toes. I’ve taught ID and creationist extra curricular courses to interested university students. I try to equip them knowing what they might face in their class rooms….
Here are my lists:
List of claims I do make:
1. you can identify things that look designed, you have an explanatory filter embedded in you brain
2. 500 fair coins heads violates expectation, so do the homochiral molecules of life and the uniform linkages in biopolymers
3. biology resembles man-made designs, exceeds them, and cannot be products of processes with no foresight
4. Origin of life is not product of chance or law or any conceivable law
5. Irreducible Complexity
6. Specified Improbability (CSI Version 1)
7. Behe’s Rule
8. Genetic Entropy, law of biogenesis
9. Darwinian evolution is false and incoherent
10. Life resembles computer hardware and software
11. There is no salvation in Charles Darwin.
List of claims I don’t make or have little intention of defending:
1. ID is science
2. Kelvin-Plank and Clausius versions of the 2nd law of thermodynamics proves creation
3. Believe in creation because the Bible says so, here, it says it right here in the book of Genesis
4. There is a positive case for ID
5. CSI version 2
6. LCI and claims of non-information increase in biology
7. FSCO/I, dFCSI or whatever….(no disrespect intended to the pioneers of these theories, it just nothing I teach)