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Unguided Evolution – Can it be falsified?

Steve Reuland over on Panda’s Thumb is babbling about whether some ID strawman du jour can be falsified. Let’s examine the real issue.

First of all, we’ll use this definition of evolution given to the Kansas Board of Education in a letter from 38 (count ‘em) Nobel laureates better known as the Weisel 38.

“Logically derived from confirmable evidence, evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.”

an unguided, unplanned process

As all of us who don’t cling to strawman versions of ID know, the only bone we have to pick with that definition is the unguided, unplanned part. We are of the position that evolution, in part or in whole, was a guided or planned process.

So how does one go about falsifying unguided evolution? By demonstrating that the process was guided, of course.

ID is the means by which this theory of unguided evolution can be falsified. If ID cannot be falsified and is itself just religion disguised as science, where does that leave unguided evolution? Why it leaves unguided evolution as unfalsifiable pseudo-science.

Sorry Steve Reuland, but you don’t get to have your cake and eat it to. Either ID is science or unguided evolution is pseudo-science. Takes yo pick and let me know when you have a final answer.

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88 Responses to Unguided Evolution – Can it be falsified?

  1. Hmm. I’m having trouble following that logic… maybe I’m not understanding.

    You can falsify unguided evolution by demonstrating a transition which had no external cause to occur, such as, for instance, species A transitions to species B (in the fossil record, presumably) without selection pressure. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible, and would falsify unguided evolution.

    How does that affect whether or not guided evolution is falsifiable? No matter what the record, guided evolution can look exactly like unguided evolution, because the level of guidance is unknown, and can be infinitely close to zero as needed.

  2. Dave, you’re setting up your own strawman–the same false dichotomy that ID proponents always use.

    There are only 2 possible truths about the universe: Evolution or ID.

    This is obviously false. Evolution can be falsified by any number of things…I suppose even by showing that ID is true…. However, TofE can certainly be falsified by any number of other things: fossil record, IC (if this concept can be hammered into anything that actually makes sense) may do it, showing that mutation and adaptation do not occur, proof that the Earth is 6,000 years old, all those kinds of things.

    ID cannot be falsified by any scientific means: hard to falsify a constantly moving and unknowable target.

    This is not an either / or scenario, no matter how much you would like it to be.

  3. “You can falsify unguided evolution by demonstrating a transition which had no external cause”

    If that’s true then it’s already falsified by genetic drift which can cause transition without selection pressure.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G....._selection

    “No matter what the record, guided evolution can look exactly like unguided evolution”

    You’re now saying that guided cannot be distinguished from unguided evolution. This makes the claim of the Wiesel 38 fallacious as they explicitely claim evolution is understood to be an unguided process. That’s okay too. We can immediately correct all the textbooks and standards to say that evolution may have been guided by an intelligence or it may not have been and there’s no way to tell. Random mutation goes out the window because we don’t know if the mutations were random or guided. I’m okay with that if you are.

  4. DaveScot said:

    “We can immediately correct all the textbooks and standards to say that evolution may have been guided by an intelligence or it may not have been and there’s no way to tell.”

    What’s the point of that? How does any statement which may or may not be true, with no way of distinguishing between these extremes, advance our understanding of either the process or the results of anything at all? We shouldn’t ammend the textbooks in this way because there is no need to do so.

  5. “If that’s true then it’s already falsified by genetic drift which can cause transition without selection pressure.”

    You’re right, that was something I had not considered. We would have to consider shifts in non-neutral code.

    “We can immediately correct all the textbooks and standards to say that evolution may have been guided by an intelligence or it may not have been and there’s no way to tell.”

    True. But you could say the same about any natural process – it’s a philosophical matter, not a scientific one. Gravity could be guided or unguided – there’s no way to tell. Same with every other phenomenon of every branch of science. Standards and textbooks follow Occam’s razor and focus on the subject matter, not on such impossible to know context.

  6. Here’s a piece from the archives of ISCID that’s relevant to the discussion: http://www.iscid.org/papers/Wo.....092303.pdf

  7. Welcome back Blipey!

    I made no false dichotomy. It’s not ID or evolution. It’s unguided evolution, guided evolution, or a combination thereof. It’s only 100% unguided evolution as claimed by the Wiesel 38 that I have a problem with. Evolution happened. The question is how.

    We need to edit textbooks if they contain falsehoods! If there is no way to distinguish between guided and unguided evolution and a textbook says that evolution is an unguided process then they are describing a lie. I don’t like teaching lies. Maybe you do?

  8. “We would have to consider shifts in non-neutral code.”

    Not possible even in principle to examine ancient DNA since it doesn’t fossilize although I’m unsure of how that would help even if we could. We don’t even know if Cambrian animals used DNA. It’s totally an argument from ignorance – if they didn’t use DNA what DID they use? No answer? Must’ve been DNA then. Sometimes arguments from ignorance are compelling and I’ll concede that Cambrian animals did indeed use DNA.

    “True. But you could say the same about any natural process”

    Reductio ad absurdum? Sure, I suppose one could say that we really can’t prove gravity and inertia causes the earth to revolve about the sun rather than legions of invisible pixies pushing things about but in reality no one is asking to insert that into textbooks. We can cross that bridge when we come to it. Let’s get back to evolution now.

    I’m not sure I agree with your premise (again) regardless. No one is making the claim that gravity is a random process. Gravity is predictable to many decimal points of precision. That’s not random. Poor analogy. Can you find a better one?

  9. Guided or unguided? Seems exhaustive and mutually exclusive to me.

  10. “Sure, I suppose one could say that we really can’t prove gravity and inertia causes the earth to revolve about the sun rather than legions of invisible pixies pushing things about but in reality no one is asking to insert that into textbooks.”

    LOL! You have a way with words, Dave!

  11. Crandaddy

    I almost said legions of invisible little green men. Then I thought how could something be both invisible AND green? Pixies of unspecified color took over from there.

  12. Hmm. I would think that unguided is the default state. Continuing with my comparison – you would not want textbooks to include a disclaimer saying that gravity may or may not be unguided. It could be that at the core of gravity is divine will, for example. In fact, that’s a good hypothesis, since we don’t know what makes gravity go. That could be reason to include the possible guidance of gravity in experiments. It’s no reason to include that point in textbooks until such time as there is evidence for it.

    Guided and unguided are not equal states. One is the default ‘null’ hypothesis, the other is an active hypothesis that needs to be supported by evidence, beyond ‘there is no evidence against it’.

    “Not possible even in principle to examine ancient DNA since it doesn’t fossilize although I’m unsure of how that would help even if we could.”

    We can examine the expression of that genetic code in the fossil record. If we see that attributes arise which are clearly contrary to unguided natural selection, that would go some way toward casting doubt on the ‘unguided’ aspect of it.

  13. “Guided or unguided? Seems exhaustive and mutually exclusive to me.”

    I agree, more or less. But while they are mutually exclusive, they are not indistinguishable. It is possible to prove something is guided by showing to a clear instance when it was guided. However, it is not possible to prove something is unguided because the amount of guidance can always be claimed to be less than what is observable with current technology.

    It’s sort of like the statements “All crows are black” and “Not all crows are black”. It takes one white crow to disprove the first, but there is no way to disprove the second, since one can always claim that there are still more undiscovered crows somewhere.

  14. Hamilton

    Good point about Occam’s Razor but I think you misapply it.

    Which is simpler:

    1) you see something that looks like a design and presume it’s a design

    2) you see something that looks like a design and spend 150 years arguing that it really isn’t a design and say if you don’t have a PhD in evolutinary biology you can’t possibly understand all the overwhelming evidence that proves it isn’t a design.

    So what would Sir Occam choose given all this? I’m pretty sure he’d pick what’s behind door number 1. Show the good sir a modern genetic engineering lab to prove that intelligent designers able to muck around with DNA for directed purposes are a proven quantity in nature and he’s SURE to pick door #1. And quite frankly I feel only someone with a most unscientific agenda would pick any other door.

  15. Hamilton

    “It is possible to prove something is guided by showing to a clear instance when it was guided.”

    Cool. That is what ID is all about. Showing a clear instance that something was guided. This is the falsification that unguided evolution needs to be real science. We’re back to square one. If ID isn’t science then unguided evolution is unfalsifiable pseudoscience. Unguided evolution is either falsifiable or it is not science. Guided evolution must be verifiable, at least in principle, to falsify unguided evolution. There’s just no way around this.

  16. DaveScot,

    I see now your argument of guided vs. non-guided and will give you the point on false dichotomy, sort of. I agree with Hamilton’s point of guided and not guided being unequal propositions–the crow example is very nice.

    Which brings me to the main thing that troubles me about ID in science curricula. You state that no one is trying to insert faeries into the theory of gravity–obviously true. However, since the main argument of this thread seems to equate the possibilities of gravity faeries and evolutionary green men, why should we insert evolutionary green men into the curricula? Wouldn’t positive proof of either thing be necessary before teaching it to 9th graders?

    And, I’m assuming the following was a joke?

    “Sure, I suppose one could say that we really can’t prove gravity and inertia causes the earth to revolve about the sun rather than legions of invisible pixies pushing things about but in reality no one is asking to insert that into textbooks. We can cross that bridge when we come to it.

    Though, once again, I think the evidence for either is the same, so why not insert those pixies?

    I think Occam’s Razor was applied correctly the first time. This idea applies to the state of being of the universe, not to the number of words used to describe it or to our own presuppositions about a situation. By saying that you see something and presume something about it inserts bias into the equation. What is simply imagined by us is not necessarily the simplest thing that could have happened.

    1)

  17. Guided is, of course, the default.
    Everyone sees the design, Darwin, Dawkins, Crick…
    They all understand that it is there, but explain that we can and must convince ourselves that it is an illusion.

  18. “If ID isn’t science then unguided evolution is unfalsifiable pseudoscience.”

    I think I see where we diverge.

    You are right in that a demonstration of guidance (of ID) would falsify unguided evolution. In that sense, you could say that such a demonstration is scientific in nature. However, it does not logically follow that guided evolution is a scientific hypothesis. In mathematical terms, falsifiability (pardon the term) is not a commutative property. In order for ID to be a scientific hypothesis, something must be able to falsify it, and there is nothing that can do it.

    “So what would Sir Occam choose given all this?”

    This is a very persuasive common sense argument. However, it is not a scientific argument – science does not deal with what ‘feels’ right, but with observation and assumptions. Evolution is observed (more indirectly than other things – but you aren’t arguing that evolution doesn’t take place, so no need to diverge in that direction), so we’ll take that for granted at this point. Guidance is an added variable to this. A lack of guidance is a lack of this additional variable.

  19. DaveScot:

    “Unguided evolution is either falsifiable or it is not science.”

    This is a false dichotomy. This statement defines science as something that is falsifiable and gives no other parameters–in fact, it allows none. This describes facts, not a process. I am 5’8″ is falsifiable; it is not science. I like chocolate is falsifiable; it is not science. What makes my body crave chocolate, or how did I become 5’8″ can be scientific questions, but then we have to look into hypotheses, etc….

    “Guided evolution must be verifiable, at least in principle, to falsify unguided evolution. There’s just no way around this.”

    I suppose this is true, if an example of guided evolution were to be found, unguided evolution (by definition) would be falsified. However, this does not imply, or define, ID as science. Hamilton brings up the point that guided evolution is not falsifiable…so, yes, we are back to square one…with the burden of positive proof in the ID’s court…still waiting.

    Hypotheses in science must be falsifiable at least in principle. This is not a false dichotomy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiability

    One might argue that Karl Popper was wrong but in this case the Darwinian evolutionists have used the argument that if ID is not falsifiable it isn’t science. Falsifiability is a sword that cuts both ways. If ID must be falsifiable to be science then unguided evolution must also be falsifiable. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. But I repeat myself… -ds

  20. Thanks for the link, crandaddy.

    Reading this kind of paper justifies the hours (upon exponential hours) that I sometimes feel I’ve wasted on these topics.

  21. Before I go to bed, just to follow up on the commutativeness of falsifiability.

    Going back to gravity, let’s say you have a hypothesis that states ‘gravity does not always cause objects to be attracted to one another with a force proportional to their masses and the distance between them’. Now, if you have an example of that happening (e.g. gravity causing objects to repel), you will have falsified a basic law of gravity. However, the hypothesis itself is unfalsifiable (since humans are not omniscient), and so it is not scientific until you make a prediction of what will happen under what circumstances.

    While no one is arguing that the laws of gravity need to be amended, the logic here is the same.

  22. What we have to look for in evolution is an endogenous mechanism that can goal seek by many different ways over millions of years and finally produce the final product which is a rational creature capable of proving that is exactly what the mechanism must have been. I’m still waiting for evidence of a younger mammalian species than Homo sapien. It is all over folks. From here on it is all downhill. Trust me, but of course you won’t.

  23. Karl Popper just confused things with all this falsifiable nonsense. Hypotheses are either verifiable or not. I regard Intelligent Design as verified simply because there is no other coneiveable alternative. The elimination of alternatives is a perfectly sound means of scientific inquiry. It has been employed in every aspect of scientific discovery and led to the downfall of the Ether, the Phlogiston and very soon Chance, the cornerstone and the Achilles heel of Darwinian mysticism.

    “Everything has been determined… by forces over which we have no control.”
    Albert Einstein

  24. ID can be falsified by demonstrating that life can arise from non-living matter via unintelligent, blind/ undirected (non-goal oriented) processes. Doing that would fulfill Dr. Behe’s criteria as life is the ultimate in IC and biological ID falls.

    As far as I can tell there are only three options as to our existence:

    1) Unintelligent, blind/ undirected (non-goal oriented) processes
    2) Intelligent, directed (goal oriented) processes
    3) A combination of 1 & 2

    So how would we falsify the premise that (for example) cetaceans “evolved” from land animals via option #1? How can we test the premise?

    Perhaps someone can point out how it was determined that the observed design is illusory (as opposed to real)?

    Then we can compare that to how IDists say intentional design is determined and see which side has the muster…

  25. blah blah blah

    Jack – since I’m banned on Panda’s Thumb from commenting I see no reason why I should allow authors from Panda’s Thumb to comment here. Please make your responses elsewhere. -ds

  26. The ID Minority on the Kansas science standards writing committee inserted this sentence into the standards: “Biological evolution postulates an unpredictable and unguided natural process that has no discernable direction or goal.”

    This seems to be exactly what the 38 Nobel laureates told Kansas evolution was….that being, “evolution is understood to be the result of an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection.”

    Good thing you were able to distinguish what “sense” they meant it in and knew that when they said the exact same thing, they were not really agreeing, but rather disagreeing, with the Nobel laureates.

  27. Jack,

    you wrote:

    “The ID movement mistakenly claims that the inability of science to see and acknowledge divine guidance is equivalent to claiming that such guidance is not there. That is a mistake both about the nature of science and about the nature of God as many conceive him. ”

    It’s not the ID movement that makes this claim, it is prominent supporters of evolution. See the quote from the Wiesel 38 that starts this thread. If evolution really says nothing about guidance, why do famous scientists keep saying it does?

    Richard Dawkins is an Oxford professor whose entire career is dedicated to setting people straight about the true nature of evolution. This is what he has to say in an interview at Salon.com:

    “There is just no evidence for the existence of God. Evolution by natural selection is a process that works up from simple beginnings, and simple beginnings are easy to explain. The engineer or any other living thing is difficult to explain — but it is explicable by evolution by natural selection. So the relevance of evolutionary biology to atheism is that evolutionary biology gives us the only known mechanism whereby the illusion of design, or apparent design, could ever come into the universe anywhere.”

    Dawkins is the “Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science” at Oxford. He’s the guy claiming that evolution is unguided, not the ID movement. ID simply takes evolution as its public defenders define it.

    Cheers,
    Dave T.

  28. “What we have to look for in evolution is an endogenous mechanism that can goal seek by many different ways over millions of years and finally produce the final product which is a rational creature capable of proving that is exactly what the mechanism must have been. I’m still waiting for evidence of a younger mammalian species than Homo sapien. It is all over folks. From here on it is all downhill. Trust me, but of course you won’t.”

    Prof. Davidson, you hit the nail directly on the head. Well put!

  29. See: http://www.discovery.org/scrip.....038;id=584

    “Is intelligent design falsifiable? Is Darwinism falsifiable? Yes to the first question, no to the second. Intelligent design is eminently falsifiable. Specified complexity in general and irreducible complexity in biology are within the theory of intelligent design the key markers of intelligent agency. If it could be shown that biological systems like the bacterial flagellum that are wonderfully complex, elegant, and integrated could have been formed by a gradual Darwinian process (which by definition is non-telic), then intelligent design would be falsified on the general grounds that one doesn’t invoke intelligent causes when purely natural causes will do. In that case Occam’s razor finishes off intelligent design quite nicely.

    On the other hand, falsifying Darwinism seems effectively impossible. To do so one must show that no conceivable Darwinian pathway could have led to a given biological structure. What’s more, Darwinists are apt to retreat into the murk of historical contingency to shore up their theory. For instance, Allen Orr in his critique of Behe’s work shortly after Darwin’s Black Box appeared remarked, “We have no guarantee that we can reconstruct the history of a biochemical pathway.” What he conceded with one hand, however, he was quick to retract with the other. He added, “But even if we can’t, its irreducible complexity cannot count against its gradual evolution.””

  30. bombadil—surely bill dembski’s work on specified complexity is trying to falsify darwinism? so why is it not falsifiable?

  31. I’m not so sure that the goal of Dembski’s pursuit of CSI is to falsify Darwinism as much as it is to make a positive case for observable hallmarks of intelligence in biological systems.

  32. Jack states:
    “The ID Minority’s argument is that the theory of evolution as taught in science implies that mankind is a purposeless accident.”

    I would bet that over 90% of biology classes in the USA don’t imply that, they out-right state it as fact. And when someone in a scientifically important position as is Richard Dawkins states exactly that, people do listen.

    “Biological evolution postulates an unpredictable and unguided natural process that has no discernable direction or goal.”

    Dennett tells us in “Darwin’s Great Idea” that “there is no way to predict what will be selected for at any point in time.” (repeated in the PBS series “Evolution”)

    Dawkins tells us that natural selection is “blind and purpose-less”.

    Now we get to the “random variations/ random mutations” part.

    IOW the sentence is very correct and any objection to it would expose an agenda of deception. Is that how science is taught in Kansas? Leave out the relevant in the hope that no one will notice?

    Why not include the following and state that #6 is the source of the controversy?

    The meanings of “evolution”, from “Darwinism, Design and Public Education”:

    1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature
    2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population
    3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor.
    4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.
    5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.
    6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

  33. I think the use of the words “unguided” and “random” as descriptions of evolutionary processes are misleading. Biological systems are governed by the laws of physics & chemistry; mutations occur through known causal mechanisms; species live or die due to a definite series of causal events – nothing “just happens”. Sure, evolution says that the process is not goal oriented, but in what sense exactly is it supposed to be random? The laws of physics etc… impose guiding (but impersonal and unintelligent) conditions and mechanisms on biological (and all other systems).

  34. bombadil

    isn’t the idea is to calculate whether the specified complexity of organisms we observe is compatible with darwinian evolution? perhaps i am misinterpreting it here but my understanding is that it is aiming to falsify darwinism.

    imagine a situation where it takes an extremely large number of random mutations to go from organism A to organism B. but for some reason you `knew’ that the changes had occurred over one reproductive cycle. it would make it extremely unlikely that random mutation had been responsible.

    AFAI understand it, Dembski’s law is an attempt to make a more refined version of this statement. (I should add that I’m not convinced about how to calculate the P(T|H), but in principle it is a test of Darwinism, surely?)

    But you really don’t think the idea is to try to falsify Darwinism?

  35. Since no one pays any attention to my characterization of Natural Selection as being entirely anti-evolutionary, let me quote my sources for this distasteful but now well established reality.

    “The struggle for existence and and natural selection are nor progressive agencies, but being, on the contrary, conservative, maintain the standard.
    Leo Berg, Nomogenesis page 406

    “Natural selection is a real factor in connection with mimicry, but its function is to conserve and render preponderant an already existing likeness, not to build up that likeness through the accumulation of small variations, as is so generally assumed.”
    Reginald C. Punnett, Mimicry in Butterflies, page 152

    “In all the research since 1869 on the transformations observed in closely successive phylogenetic series no evidence whatever, to my knowledge, has been brought forward by any paleontologist, either of the vertebrated or invertebrated animals, that the fit originates by selection from the fortuitous.”
    Henry Fairfield Osborn, Darwin and Paleontology, page 223

    “A cluster of facts makes it very plain that Mendelian, allelomorphic mutation plays no role in creative evolution. It is, as it were, a more or less pathological fluctuation in the genetic code. It is an accident on the ‘magnetic tape’ on which the primary information for the species is recorded.”
    Pierre Grasse. Evolution of Living Organisms, page 243

    In 1924 shortly before his death, William Bateson, the father of modern genetics, confided to his son Gregory,

    “that it was a mistake to have commited my life to Mendelism, that it was a blind alley which would not throuw any light on the differentiation of species nor on evolution in general.”
    John A. Davison, Is Evolution Finished? Rivista di Biologia, 97: 111-116, 2004

    How do you like them sausages impaled on green sticks cooking over an open campfire? I hope they give the Darwinians indigestion.

  36. Hamilton

    “This is a very persuasive common sense argument. However, it is not a scientific argument”

    Are you saying that common sense and science are mutually exclusive?

    Maybe when it comes to the Darwinian narrative you have a point. But I’d argue that rather than condemn science to senselessness we admit that the Darwinian narrative isn’t really science. It’s a historical narrative without witnesses. A just-so story. That’s really the bottom line in all this. A bedtime story that comforts atheists is being labeled as science when it’s really just a story.

  37. …and a narrative which was founded on the presupposition that molecular life was terribly simple. Now, as we peer deeper into living systems, we know that the opposite is true. Darwin’s plasma blob of a cell, is truly a liliputian wonderland of insanely complex machinery.

    Which would explain why biochemists are employing mechanical engineers in their attempts to understand such machinery.

  38. Joseph

    “4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.”

    This is questionable as a true statement regarding standard theory of evolution. Genetic drift and founder effect become predominant in small populations. Chiefly thus applies only to large population. However, as a commonly held definition of “evolution” it appears to be accurate as most people don’t know drift from drano.

  39. physicist

    “perhaps i am misinterpreting it here but my understanding is that it is aiming to falsify darwinism”

    Only to the extent that Darwinian evolution claims the sole source of variability is random mutation. ID doesn’t make a claim that every bit of variation is due to design.

  40. Bombadill

    I was surprised to see “plasma” used that way. I immediately think of hot ionized gases when I see the term. So I looked it up and it does indeed have a biological definition as well as one from physics. Darwin did say blobs of protoplasm though.

    At any rate, upon further contemplation, I think plasma, the hot gas, IS a good term to use in connection with Darwinian evolution. :-)

  41. bombadill, davescot

    my understanding of bill dembski’s work is that if you can write dwon the appropriate P(T|H) for the postulated RM+NS evolution of a particular organism and hence compute its SC, then the claim is:

    if this SC is extremely large, then RM+NS is correspondingly extremely unlikely to have produced the organism. of course, one of the key things is deriving the appropriate P(T|H).

    why is this not a putative falsification of darwinian RM+NS?

    It is but only in the specific case under consideration. It is not a blanket falsfication of RM+NS everywhere. That ID is in total opposition to RM+NS is a strawman. RM+NS is operative in some cases. Just not all cases. -ds

  42. Regarding testability…with ID all you have to do is find ONE instance of non-intelligence producing IC or CSI by means of the modern synthesis in order to invalidate ID (I’m not going to get into the technicalities of falsification ala Popper). The problem with testing the modern synthesis is that there are so many possible indirect Darwinian pathways. We might be able to test some to our satisfaction but then people could just say “well, it must have occurred by another pathway”.

  43. DaveScot,

    “Are you saying that common sense and science are mutually exclusive?”

    I am saying that one is not sufficient to be the other.

    What is common sense to you is not what is common sense to me. Because of this, science has rules which are more rigid than those of common sense, designed to bring a concensus to accepted hypothesese, and to allow these accepted ideas to change as they are found to be wrong or refined.

    Well Hamilton, what’s overwhelming evidence of unguided evolution to you is not overwhelming evidence of unguided evolution to me. Where does that now leave us? -ds

    I appreciate that to you, unguided evolution seems implausible, and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, that kind of dissent is absolutely necessary to scientific progress.

    However, in order for guided evolution to be a scientific hypothesis, it has to do more than dissent, it has to offer its own position, and that position must be falsifiable. If it is not (and you seem to be agreeing that it isn’t), then it closes the door to other, more refined or more accurate positions later on, which defeats the purpose of the scientific process.

  44. 44

    Dave Scot said.
    “So how does one go about falsifying unguided evolution? By demonstrating that the process was guided, of course.

    ID is the means by which this theory of unguided evolution can be falsified. If ID cannot be falsified and is itself just religion disguised as science, where does that leave unguided evolution? Why it leaves unguided evolution as unfalsifiable pseudo-science.

    Sorry Steve Reuland, but you don’t get to have your cake and eat it to. Either ID is science or unguided evolution is pseudo-science. Takes yo pick and let me know when you have a final answer. ”

    I had to read that several times to grasp the twisted logic.

    Supposing I stated:

    “Gravity claims to be scientific. To disprove gravity I propose that Demons hold things onto Earth. If my claim is rebutted a pseudo-science, then gravity is also pseudo-science.”

    Does that sound daft? Of course it does. How is your claim any different?

    You can falsify gravity by finding something that falls away from the center of the earth with no outside force acting on it. No demons required. If the only way to falsify gravity is by postulating demons pushing things around then gravity fails to be a scientific theory. How can unguided evolution be falsified if not by demonstrating guidance? -ds

  45. What is to discuss? Darwinism is dead as a hammer. That there still could be Darwinians escapes me entirely. Somebody pinch me please.

  46. Well John, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I’m HIGHLY skeptical of Darwin’s mechanism’s ability produce change beyond adaptation within an existing species. To claim it can do more is an extrapolation and I just don’t buy it.

    But that’s just me.

  47. Selection of the most intensive sort not only cannot transform species but, when contiued, results in their loss of fitness and ultimate extinction. I believe it was the Spanish Pointer that would hold a point for 8 hours. It is now extinct for reasons that require no further explanation. The English bulldog bitch can no longer deliver her pups which can only be saved by Cesarean section. Dobzhansky’s failure to transmute Drosophila has been conveniently ignored by the Darwinian establishment which goes right on assuming that Nature can do what the experimentalist cannot. It is a damn disgrace and a scandal perpetuated only by devout mindless devotees convinced that there is no purpose in the universe. These people (I don’t know how else to describe them) have even had to disown their own, notably Alfred Russel Wallace, Theodosius Dobzhansky and Julian Huxley the man wwho coined the term “Modern Synthesis” and then in his book – “Evolution: The Modern Synthesis” – destroyed neoDarwinism in a single paragraph 7 pages from the end. Don’t take my word for it. Turn to page 571, read it and weep. Of course you won’t because it is not available on the internet. How much longer must this madness persist? How many more years, how many more decades, how many more centuries? You tell me. I really want to know.

    It is hard to believe isn’t it?

  48. The difference is we have a positive case for designers. We do not have a positive case for what demons can or cannot do or even how they behave. Also, unless I’ve been missing something in the field of physics we obviously know gravity exists but the ultimate cause of the gravitational force remains an open question and gravity remains an important topic of scientific research. So even in your example, gravity and this demonic hold do not necessarily oppose each other but might be a combination…kind of like what Dave said earlier: “It’s unguided evolution, guided evolution, or a combination thereof. It’s only 100% unguided evolution as claimed by the Wiesel 38 that I have a problem with.”

    And yes, I do heavily doubt that the demons are the ultimate source of gravity.

  49. You don’t have just a positive case for a designer or designers. You have no other choice. Stop pussyfooting around and read the riot act to these Darwinian mystics. There are millions of them. What a deserving target! That is what I am doing and have been doing for years. It is great sport. I am developing a callous on my right thigh from slapping myself silly everytime I read another idiotic Darwinian pronouncement about “Natural Selection,” the biggest joke in all of science.

  50. 50

    Sorry Steve.

    If I can’t comment on Panda’s Thumb you can’t comment here. What goes around comes around. -ds

  51. Stephen,

    You wrote:

    “Gravity claims to be scientific. To disprove gravity I propose that Demons hold things onto Earth. If my claim is rebutted a pseudo-science, then gravity is also pseudo-science.”

    This does not accurately reflect the nature of the debate. That the origin of biological organisms is due to some form of intelligent causation is an old and venerable view. It is the “common sense” view, if common sense is understood as widespread and historically enduring. It’s not merely an arbitrary, ad-hoc claim lately made up to put a roadblock in front of evolution.

    Darwin himself and most of the early evolutionists saw themselves in direct competition with claims of intelligent design. They granted the common sense intuition of design, but said it was overcome by the scientific evidence for evolution. Well, what if the scientific evidence for evolution isn’t really what it is cracked up to be? Then we are back to the common sense case for design.

    What has changed lately is that the argument is no longer made directly against design. Instead of arguing against the evidence of design, as did Darwin, evidence for design is simply ruled out a priori as unscientific by nature. So then we have an allegedly scientific case for evolution with no conceivable scientific alternative, even though the historical origin of evolution was as a direct alternative to design.
    This seems more like sleight of hand than the triumph of the scientific method.

    Cheers,
    Dave T.

  52. “Well Hamilton, what’s overwhelming evidence of unguided evolution to you is not overwhelming evidence of unguided evolution to me. Where does that now leave us? -ds”

    I didn’t say anything about overwhelming evidence. We were discussing the nature of a scientific hypothesis. That’s the original topic, as posted by you.

    We weren’t discussing common sense either but that didn’t stop you from bringing it up. I sense you’re about finished in this thread now. You had your say and it’s been duly noted. Let some others get theirs.

    If you feel that there is overwhelming evidence against unguided evolution, that’s great. Now you need to come up with a competing (falsifiable) scientific hypothesis. With that in hand, it will be possible to find out whose view is closer to an accurate representation of reality. Without that, your view is interesting from a philosophical standpoint, but it’s not science.

  53. Well I guess this is as good a place as any to throw this in.

    I’ve written a paper about ID and would be interested in comments and criticism. I may not respond to the criticism but I will take it into account. My livejournal page is usually used as a response to AL Franken but I threw the ID paper in at the top. http://www.livejournal.com/users/ryguyjay

    A good thoughtful opinion, Ryan. If I could somehow get a permalink to that I’d put it in a headline article here for more exposure. -ds

  54. Bombadill,

    “If it could be shown that biological systems like the bacterial flagellum that are wonderfully complex, elegant, and integrated could have been formed by a gradual Darwinian process (which by definition is non-telic), then intelligent design would be falsified on the general grounds that one doesn’t invoke intelligent causes when purely natural causes will do. In that case Occam’s razor finishes off intelligent design quite nicely.”

    This is incorrect. Occam’s razor is a heuristic, not a law. Showing that guidance is not necessary for evolution to occur does not falsify guidance, because guidance may still be occurring. That is why the hypothesis is unfalsifiable.

    As I said, no matter what the evidence, guidance can still be said to be taking place. It is not just unfeasible or difficult to falsify it, it is impossible in the literal, mathematical sense.

    On the other hand, unguided evolution is falsifiable with evidence that shows it happening contrary to the natural selection gradient. That may be difficult to establish, but it’s possible (again, in the literal, mathematical sense).

    Don’t make me mention again that genetic drift in small populations, as well as founder effect, already causes descent with modification against the selection gradient. I’m losing patience. -ds

  55. “Don’t make me mention again that genetic drift in small populations, as well as founder effect, already causes descent with modification against the selection gradient. I’m losing patience. -ds”

    We’ve already covered this. Genetic drift occurs orthogonally to the selection gradient, not against it. Contrary to the selection gradient (I was careful to choose the term ‘contrary’) means detrimental to the population. I hope you’ll correct your change to my comment to avoid unintentionally misleading others.

  56. “We weren’t discussing common sense either but that didn’t stop you from bringing it up. I sense you’re about finished in this thread now. You had your say and it’s been duly noted. Let some others get theirs.”

    Hmmm, right. Well, so much for a reasonable discussion.

  57. Thanks, Dave, that’s quite a compliment. If you have any use that you are able to put it to, you are welcome to do so. I know it says copyright, but I only wrote it to get information out.

  58. Dave, I asked you a while ago if I could become a permanent blogger, but you never responded back. What’s up with that?

    We have no suitable open positions at this time for you. -ds

  59. The classic case of both genetic drift and founder effect is presented by Darwin’s finches which are probably all one species. So much for founder effect and genetic drift. Here is the question I have asked before and like every other question I ever asked remains unanswered. Why oh why didn’t the Darwinians test Darwin’s precious finches when finches are among the easiest birds in the world to domesticate? Here is what I think. Either they did do it and discovered they were all compatible or they were afraid to do it because they expected that result. And this is science? The last bench test of selection was done by Dobzhansky years ago with Drosophila. The reason he undertook that experiment is because he was convinced it would support the Darwinian model. That is why people do experiments. It is very much to his credit that he admitted that he failed to transmute Drosophila even into a new species in that genus.

    Dobzhansky’s mentor in Russia before he left for the new world was none other than Leo Berg, the greatest Russian biologist of his age.

    In 1969 the English translation of Berg’s Nomogenesis was published in paper back by the M.I.T. Press. Dobzhansky wrote the Foreward which included the following:

    “I need go no further, nor say one word more, to show that Professor Berg holds views of his own, with many of which many of us are little likely to agree.”

    You will notice that Dobzhansky does not speak only for himself, which he most certainly does, but he performs the unpardonable sin of using the collective word “us.” It is no wonder that the American scientific audience might ignore what follows in what I regard as the greatest single volume ever written on the suject of organic evolution.

    What makes matters even worse, Darcy Wentworth Thompson, the great British scholar and author of Growth and Form, a book which had great influence on me as a graduate student, wrote the Introduction which included near the end the following:

    “I need go no further, nor say one word more, to show that Professor Berg holds views of his own, with many of which many of us are little likely to agree.”

    Note again the use of the collective “us.”

    It should surprise no one that Nomogenesis has been ignored by the evolutionary establishment dominated as it was then and still is by Darwinian mysticism.

    Stephen Jay Gould performed a similar despicable trick when he wrote the Foreword to the English translation of Otto Schindewolf’s great 1950 opus, Grundfragen der Palaeontologie when it appeared as Basic Questions in Paleontology in 1993.
    After extolling Schindewolf as the greatest paleontologist of his day which he most certainly was, Gould found it necessary to describe Schindewolf’s thoroughly anti-Darwinian conclusions as “spectacularly flawed.”

    This is but the tip of the iceberg of the kind of tactics that have permitted the hoax of Darwinism to persist as long as it has. We several critics of the Darwinian myth are still not allowed to exist because if we should exist the most failed hypothesis in the history of science would collapse in a millisecond. Trust me but of course you probably won’t.

    Thanks for listening and for letting me vent on one of my favorite subjects. If I accomplish nothing else I will resurrect some of the greatest minds of two centuries from the oblivion the Darwinians have so callously and cowardly committed them. I owe everything in the PEH to the several of my predecessors, not a Darwinian in the lot.

  60. crandaddy or Charlie: I took a quick peek at the paper you cited up above. The abstract says that the author doesn’t consider ID to be a scientific theory because it is based on an analogy from biological systems to man-made machines. But NS is based on an analogy from man-made breeding. Does that invalidate Darwinism as a scientific theory? In other words, is the article worth reading?

  61. Whoops I goofed. I repeated Thompson’s comments. Here is what Dobzhansky really had to say in the Foreword about his former mentor. ”

    “A majority of evolutionists at present,including the author of this Preface, consider L.S. Berg’s theory of nomogenesis erroneous.”

    It is even much worse than that if one should read the whole Preface. I recommend, as an antidote to the Darwinian malaise, that everyone who is really interested in evolution read both Berg and Schindewolf. I think you will find both are in perfect accord with Intelligent Design.

  62. PaV
    I think it is very much worth reading.
    I know the conclusion that ID should not be considered a natural science will bother some, but this is not presented as a denigration in any way.
    It really is an argument for the strength and validity of knowledge gained by analogizing and approaches design as a self-evident truth.

  63. PaV,

    I confess, I haven’t read the whole paper. But I have read quite a bit of it, and what I think he is trying to say is that ID in nature is not a scientific concept because it lacks the causal chain leading to the design which methodological naturalism requires. According to him (and this is if I understand him correctly), instances of supposed ID are analogical to design because they bear the marks of phenomena for which we do have an empirical causal chain to the designer, but this is not to say that ID is a subjective concept which relies on arbitrary assertions. In fact, he supports the views that ID is objective, valid reasoning based on empirical data; that it is “essential to the proper understanding of nature”; and that it holds Darwinism in check, preventing it from becomming an unscientific ideology.

    All-in-all, it seems pretty reasonable to me, even though I have a funny feeling that if I mulled over it long enough, I’d find some details I don’t agree with. As to whether or not it’s worth reading, I suppose it depends on how interested you are in the philosophical side of ID. I plan on eventually reading the whole thing through and thinking its subject matter over; of course, Philosophy is an academic course of study for me.

  64. PaV, here are a few (rudimentary) points from Wolf’s paper:
    Reasoning from analogy, as Wolf contends ID does when it references intelligence, is required to assess what something such as IC is essentially.
    ID is very much scientific when critiquing Darwinism on empirical grounds.
    It adheres much more strictly to natural science than does Darwinism when it limits itself to these critiques.
    ID theory as a heuristic is absolutely indispensable to biology.
    To qualify as a natural science an explanation must refer only to causally immanent, and a transcendent intelligence would obviously not be immanent.
    In order to apply this definition Wolf must exclude some branches which normally qualify as natural sciences. He refers to archaeology, comparative anatomy and forensic sciences in this regard.
    He believes ID should aid and inform evolutionary sciences.
    He says that Darwin’s Black Box does just that as it critiques Darwinism on the premises of natural science.
    The debate is often rancorous because it touches on metaphysics, and that ID should definitely replace Darwinism as a metaphysic.
    “On my assessment, ID theory is the better founded option, because while the Darwinian belief is purely conjectural, ID is the expression of a piece of intuitively compelling rational knowledge. ID theory is not based on an arbitrary belief to which we may or may not subscribe. It is the expression of a cognition whose compelling character is universally recognized. It is based on empirical data and on an analogical interpretation of them.” p 12

    etc etc.

  65. Davescot and bombadil

    me: why is this not a putative falsification of darwinian RM+NS?

    davescot: It is but only in the specific case under consideration. It is not a blanket falsfication of RM+NS everywhere. That ID is in total opposition to RM+NS is a strawman. RM+NS is operative in some cases. Just not all cases. -ds

    I understand that ID is not in opposition to RM+NS in all cases—I am not trying to erect this straw man.

    What I am saying is, and I think Davescot you agree with me, that Bill Dembski’s work is intended to falsify RM+NS as a possible mechanism for the evolution of some specific organisms.

    If this falsification is successful, then one has falsified the claim that RM+NS is solely responsible for the evolution of *all* the organisms we observe (the Darwinian claim, right?).

    No-one is trying to falsify RM+NS in all cases. But, bombadil, surely the idea of dembski’s work is to falsify darwinism as a theory of *all* evolution, by showing it *can’t* work in some specific cases.

    is this wrong? if it’s right, why do you say that darwinism is not falsifiable?

  66. @John Davison

    I have read through your site (Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis). I was intrigued by one comment pointing out all the scientists you cite are dead, and all but Grassé had retired from active scientific study before the elucidation of the genetic code. You disassociate yourself from “darwinists” and “Intelligent design supporters”. Are there scientists who are working on your hypothesis actually?

  67. Are there any other examples in the real world of systems organizing themselves?
    Why should organic matter act differently from all other entropic systems, open or closed?

  68. Physicist: “No-one is trying to falsify RM+NS in all cases. But, bombadil, surely the idea of dembski’s work is to falsify darwinism as a theory of *all* evolution, by showing it *can’t* work in some specific cases.

    is this wrong? if it’s right, why do you say that darwinism is not falsifiable?”

    I believe I answered that question above:

    “The problem with testing the modern synthesis is that there are so many possible indirect Darwinian pathways. We might be able to test some to our satisfaction but then people could just say “well, it must have occurred by another pathway”.”

    Note that this is more a problem with falsification in a practical sense. Darwinism might be falsifiable but it’s just not practical to test the trillions and trillions and trillions ad infinitum of possibilities.

  69. I wrote this yesterday in a quick off-the-cuff email to Dave:

    As for the focus of this post: “West and Luskin are will now agree that ID is false given the existence of a pre-Cambrian chordate”. [Note that this is a quote from a comment that was zapped.] That’s kind of an odd claim considering he [Reuland] previously worded it this way: “other pre-Cambrian fossils that are POTENTIAL precursors to modern groups”. It’s not the existence of these creatures that West and Luskin would have a problem with, it’s the claim that they are in fact precursors [by means of RM+NS] which is what Reuland’s argument relies on. Where is the direct line of evidence for this? How many layers of CSI and IC are required to be overcome? Is this informational barrier a quick hop or the Great Wall of China or the Maginot Line? [And nobody better mention blitzkrieg tactics. ;) ]

    There’s also one wee little issue he ignores completely. Let’s just assume that the creatures mentioned are in fact precursors as he claims. Even then he still hasn’t provided a case based upon evidence that RM+NS was the cause. He just automatically assumes that to be the case. Instead it could be the latent library[/prescribed evolution] you [Dave] favor automatically causing self-modification or it could be the intelligent designer at work.

    He’s also completely ignoring my post on testability. He’s focused on the predictions of some ID theorists. To nail ID to the wall all he has to do is showcase [as in...detailed, not a just-so story] ONE instance of RM+NS overcoming the CSI/IC barrier and thus ID’s method of design detection is rendered unreliable.

  70. 70

    Dave T said,

    “This does not accurately reflect the nature of the debate. That the origin of biological organisms is due to some form of intelligent causation is an old and venerable view. It is the “common sense” view, if common sense is understood as widespread and historically enduring. It’s not merely an arbitrary, ad-hoc claim lately made up to put a roadblock in front of evolution.

    Darwin himself and most of the early evolutionists saw themselves in direct competition with claims of intelligent design. They granted the common sense intuition of design, but said it was overcome by the scientific evidence for evolution. Well, what if the scientific evidence for evolution isn’t really what it is cracked up to be? Then we are back to the common sense case for design.

    What has changed lately is that the argument is no longer made directly against design. Instead of arguing against the evidence of design, as did Darwin, evidence for design is simply ruled out a priori as unscientific by nature. So then we have an allegedly scientific case for evolution with no conceivable scientific alternative, even though the historical origin of evolution was as a direct alternative to design.
    This seems more like sleight of hand than the triumph of the scientific method.

    Cheers,
    Dave T.

    Comment by taciturnus — January 20, 2006 @ 1:56 pm ”

    OK a couple of points that I find interesting.

    “That the origin of biological organisms is due to some form of intelligent causation is an old and venerable view. It is the “common sense” view, if common sense is understood as widespread and historically enduring.”

    Granted. I agree that a lot of things in this universe appear designed. I would argue against common sense being any reliable measure for science though. Common sense indicates that a lump of lead is solid. Yet on the microscopic/sub-atomic level, it is nearly empty space. Even individual atoms are nearly all space. Weird, totally not common sense, but true.

    “Well, what if the scientific evidence for evolution isn’t really what it is cracked up to be? Then we are back to the common sense case for design.

    What has changed lately is that the argument is no longer made directly against design. Instead of arguing against the evidence of design, as did Darwin, evidence for design is simply ruled out a priori as unscientific by nature. So then we have an allegedly scientific case for evolution with no conceivable scientific alternative, even though the historical origin of evolution was as a direct alternative to design.”

    I would propose that in order to make design scientific you would need positive evidence of design. Something that can be shown with repeatable experiments. This is the difficult part. Do not forget that people once believed that heavier objects fell faster than lighter ones. It took repeatable experiments to prove this to be wrong. Common sense said one thing, experiments proved something else.

    The way I see it at the minute, design could be true. However it offers nothing (as far as I can see) to benefit science. If design is detectable then demonstrate it. If design is not detectable, then it may as well be ignored.

  71. physicist

    What I am saying is, and I think Davescot you agree with me, that Bill Dembski’s work is intended to falsify RM+NS as a possible mechanism for the evolution of some specific organisms.

    If this falsification is successful, then one has falsified the claim that RM+NS is solely responsible for the evolution of *all* the organisms we observe (the Darwinian claim, right?).

    That seems to be a fair characterization. It should be some specific patterns found in nature rather than “organisms” though. Strictly speaking no extant organism is hypothetically possible without intelligent agency because every last one uses DNA and a ribosome which together are the finest example of irreducible complexity in my opinion. The mother of all paradoxes is which came first – the enzymes required for DNA replication or the coded instructions in DNA which describe the enzymes. Find a plausible mechanism (detailed, with proposed chemistry verified in a laboratory, in a simulated environment found in nature) for DNA and ribosomes to self-assemble without intelligent agency and I’ll drop ID like a hot potato.

  72. Stephen Elliot is no longer with us.

  73. Patrick, we might be talking about different things. I think you are talking about Behe’s assertion that certain organisms are IC. Indeed this assertion is practically not possible to prove, as you point out.

    But isn’t Bill Dembski’s work slightly different? In the sense he is looking for patterns in nature that are exceedingly unlikely to have arisen by RM+NS.

    (I wonder though if determining the appropriate P(T|H) in Dembski’s expression for specified complexity is equivalent to specifying a darwinian pathway, or whether one can make more general arguments for what P(T|H) should be—a discussion I’ve been having with PaV on another thread).

  74. Hi Davescot—if that is a fair characterization, then doesn’t it mean that the hypothesis that Darwinian RM+NS is responsible for all evolution *is* a falsifiable hypothesis?

  75. To question Intelligent design is to question ones own existence. I have absolutely nothing further to offer on this thread.

  76. Charlie and crandaddy: Thanks for the feedback. I’ll give the article a look-see.

  77. physicist

    RM+NS is falsifiable via the verification of design. If there is no way, in principle, to verify design then RM+NS is unfalsifiable. The bottom line remains that either both are scientific or neither are as one constitutes the falsification method of the other.

    Whether ID is falsifiable and verifiable is a question I cannot answer. What I do know is that if it isn’t then neither is its complement RM+NS.

    The position of Darwinian evolution apologists seems to be that RM+NS is science while ID is not. This is clearly wrong. Either both are science or both are pseudoscience.

  78. Davescot

    I follow your logic to some extent. Except (1) that you and other people here have been trying to convince me that RM+NS is *not* the complement of ID.

    And (2) I find it strange that whether ID is falsifiable is a question you feel you cannot answer. Can anyone else here answer that?

  79. “I think you are talking about Behe’s assertion that certain organisms are IC. Indeed this assertion is practically not possible to prove, as you point out.”

    Let me see if I’m understanding your viewpoint. Are you saying in order to “prove” IC we’d first have to test the trillions, etc. of possible indirect Darwinian pathways?

  80. I have nothing more to add to this thread as nobody is listening anyway. Each has his own ax to hone. That is the way it is supposed to be. Enjoy. I think I will write another paper and get it published. That is all that matters in the long run anyway.

  81. Hi Patrick

    Yes, I think irreducible complexity for a given organism is a very difficult assertion to rigorously prove. Don’t you?

  82. PS Patrick just to clarify, if you can work out P(T|H) and apply dembski’s law maybe it will be possible to show it is extremely unlikely for an organism to evolve via RM+NS (but has this been done for any case?). What I mean above is that checking by brute force whether there exists an evolutionary pathway is an intractable problem. Surely we agree on that?

  83. So in your view there cannot be any doubt before ID could be valid. But let’s consider this question: in your view to “rigorously prove” the RM+NS-based Darwinian narrative would you have to provide (direct evidence/thorough documentation) of every transition that has occurred where RM+NS was the cause? That goes along with your previous statement.

    My original observation was simple:

    1. The IC barrier has not been documented has having been overcome by means of RM+NS.
    2. All you have to do is find ONE instance of non-intelligence producing IC or CSI by means of the modern synthesis in order to make ID’s design detection methods unreliable, thus invalidating ID.
    3. Until that occurs Intelligent Design is the best explanation for these mechanisms we’re finding.
    4. The problem with testing the modern synthesis is that there are so many possible indirect Darwinian pathways. We might be able to test some to our satisfaction but then people could just say “well, it must have occurred by another pathway”.
    5. In short, it’s relatively easy to test IC but very difficult to test RM+NS as an explanation.

    If you disagree, why? Personally I think you’re arbitrarily defining unreasonable standards for “rigorously proving” IC and being easy on RM+NS.

  84. Hi Patrick

    yes, I think I do have adifferent viewpoint from you but let’s see if i can answer your questions.

    you: So in your view there cannot be any doubt before ID could be valid.

    No. Intelligent design could be valid. my statement is that IC has not been rigorously proved for any cases.

    you: But let’s consider this question: in your view to “rigorously prove” the RM+NS-based Darwinian narrative would you have to provide (direct evidence/thorough documentation) of every transition that has occurred where RM+NS was the cause? That goes along with your previous statement.

    yes, and I don’t think RM+NS has rigorously been proved (solely) to underly evolutionary processes. there is evidence, in that for simple systems in the lab one observes RM+NS. but i’m not sure how you could rigorously prove RM+NS is the sole cause.

    IC is an undecided question. do we agree on that?

    1. The IC barrier has not been documented has having been overcome by means of RM+NS.

    Well, I guess it is not universally accepted that it is a barrier. but yes, I agree, I don’t think anyone knows every step in say the evolution of the flagellum. I think it’s actually even harder than just writing down a possible pathway in isolation—you’d have to know the interactions with other organisms too.

    2. All you have to do is find ONE instance of non-intelligence producing IC or CSI by means of the modern synthesis in order to make ID’s design detection methods unreliable, thus invalidating ID.

    Well, I agree it would make the design detection methods unreliable—but it doesn’t stop you developing better methods, so i don’t think showing that the bacterial flagellum can be produced by RM+NS disproves ID in all cases. Why would it? Obviously it might make RM+NS more plausible for some people, but I don’t think you’d have falsified ID in general.

    3. Until that occurs Intelligent Design is the best explanation for these mechanisms we’re finding.

    Well, I’m not sure about that. I think that is a matter for much debate! I think IC has to become more than an assertion for it to become compelling for biologists to supplement RM+NS with ID.

    4. The problem with testing the modern synthesis is that there are so many possible indirect Darwinian pathways. We might be able to test some to our satisfaction but then people could just say “well, it must have occurred by another pathway”.

    but this is true, right? unfortunate, but true.

    5. In short, it’s relatively easy to test IC but very difficult to test RM+NS as an explanation.

    well, i think it is extremely hard to test IC, actually, for reasons discussed. how is it easy to test something is IC?

    if you meant to type that it is easy to test ID—well in a sense I agree with you, in that it is difficult to imagine any system which cannot have arisen by ID.

    yes, it is very difficult to test RM+NS as an explanation of the evlution of *all* biological systems. but this is a very complex interacting system and four billion years is a long time. you can at least see RM+NS in action in lab for simple systems, right? the same with many other scientific theories, you test them for idealised situations, and hope they work in more complex situations until someone proves they *can’t* work.

    anyway, hopefully that set of responses is at least consistent, even if the POV is different from yours.

  85. In fact, let me supplement that with what I think is a summary (after contributing here for a little while).

    It has not been proved rigorously that any organism is IC. Neither has it be proved that no organism is IC.

    IDers would find RM+NS (without ID) more plausible if a detailed pathway were shown for one of the claimed IC organisms. (This would not prove that solely RM+NS underlies *all* cases, so it is only a plausibility argument.)

    So I think IDers feel that the onus is on biologists to provide at least this one case to make RM+NS seem more plausible. I think this is the crucial point—this `onus’ is a matter of opinion.

    For biologists, the evidence of RM+NS in simple cases is compelling enough not to invoke new laws for more complex cases. They feel the onus is on IDers to prove IC, or to demonstrate ID in action. THis is analgous I think to many cases in physics, where we test our theories in experimentally idealised set-ups, but assume that no additional laws are needed for more complex physical situations where the precise results are hard or impossible to test. I suppose this is the scientists belief that nature has so far yielded to description by relatively simple, well-ordered and consistent laws.

  86. i think that’s a fair summary of the ID skeptic’s position—I’d be interested to know what you think.

  87. “Well, I agree it would make the design detection methods unreliable—but it doesn’t stop you developing better methods, so i don’t think showing that the bacterial flagellum can be produced by RM+NS disproves ID in all cases. Why would it? Obviously it might make RM+NS more plausible for some people, but I don’t think you’d have falsified ID in general.”

    Good point. It might be possible in very, very specific types of circumstances that indirect Darwinian pathways may be able to overcome IC. But it’s likely these circumstances may not occur in the vast majority of cases. So if that turned out to be the case we’d have to tweak the design detection methods to deal with those circumstances. Either way, it’s speculation at this point.

    “Well, I’m not sure about that. I think that is a matter for much debate! I think IC has to become more than an assertion for it to become compelling for biologists to supplement RM+NS with ID.”

    I’m not expecting wholehearted acceptness at the beginning of a paradigm shift but I’d just be happy if when interpreting the data they’d at least mention Intelligent Design as one of the possibilities and not ignore it entirely.

    “IC is an undecided question. do we agree on that?”

    Not quite. And that leads to…

    “well, i think it is extremely hard to test IC, actually, for reasons discussed. how is it easy to test something is IC?”

    For something to be IC you primarily need to consider DIRECT Darwinian Pathways. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. This is easy to test with any knowledge of engineering and is the main claim by Behe. The problem is that Indirect Darwinian Pathways claim to take systems with completely different functions (and whether or not those other systems are IC according to their function just compounds the problem) and Co-Opt them into a new functional system. In short, I’d say IC is definitely a decided question when it comes to Direct Darwinian Pathways. As for Indirect Darwinian Pathways while not 100% certain IC still poses quite an information barrier.

  88. me: “IC is an undecided question. do we agree on that?”

    patrick: Not quite. And that leads to…

    me” “well, i think it is extremely hard to test IC, actually, for reasons discussed. how is it easy to test something is IC?”

    patrick: …As for Indirect Darwinian Pathways while not 100% certain IC still poses quite an information barrier.

    well, I’m not sure this informaton barrier has been rigorously proved to exist. and i would include indirect darwinian pathways as part of Darwinian RM+NS. so i still feel that IC is an undecided question.

    i think the basic difference is as I said in #85—ID supporters feel the onus is on darwinians to make pure RM+NS more plausible. Darwinians feel the onus is on ID supporters to prove that pure RM+NS is not sufficient. So there is a question of POV, there. Do you agree?

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