May 02, 2004
Intelligent Design

Today's NPR Weekend Edition had a story about "Intelligent Design" theory, which is an attempt to challenge the theory of evolution with the hypothesis that life was designed rather than evolved.

It's certainly a legitimate avenue of science to examine phenomena that are not adequately explained today by the theory of evolution. At the same time, I pose for your consideration phenomena that are not adequately explained by the theory of intelligent design:

1) Jennifer Lopez

2) Margarine

3) The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at May 02, 2004 02:43 PM
Comments

Functional or not, irreducible complexity...

From whence hast sprung this thing of booty?


Posted by: Bleeding heart conservative on May 2, 2004 03:29 PM

Intelligent design isn't science. It circumvents the whole process of hypothesis testing. It's just Creationism through the back door.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein on May 2, 2004 07:28 PM

Bruce, have you actually read one or more of the main ID texts or are you basing your opinion on what you've heard from critical scientists, the NCSE or other secondary sources?

Posted by: Greg on May 3, 2004 10:42 PM

I've read articles written by proponents of Intelligent Design.

But back to my point, the question of whether there is an intelligent designer is untestable using the methods of science, and therefore is not a scientific claim and shouldn't be taught in a science class.

Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. ID is Creationism through the back door.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein on May 4, 2004 08:29 AM

Why is SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) "good" science, publically funded, and discussed in public school science classes while ID (search for intelligent design in the origin and diversity of life on earth) "bad" science and unconstitutional in the public domain? I fail to see why there's a distinction between the two.

Intelligent agent is not synonymous with God. Intelligent agents in lab coats wielding decidedly unnatural gene splicing machines have taken non-living chemicals and produced living organisms (poliovirus in 2002 and an esoteric bacteriophage in 2003) thus demonstrating that intelligent design is a possible way of creating life. Naturalists, so far, have failed to demonstrate how life can be created by naturalistic means so right now it's not even a proven possibility.

In all likelyhood no one will ever prove that either ID or mutation/selection was THE way it happened. Both will likely remain only in the realm of demonstrated possibilities so they're both on equal footing in regard to "testability".

The real crux of the issue is that the science community is understandably reluctant to admit that what they've been heralding as proven fact (naturalistic origin & evolution) for 150 years might not be fact after all. They're afraid of the loss of credibility and not enough soap in the world to remove all the egg from their faces.


Posted by: DaveScot on December 27, 2004 02:37 PM

DaveScot, lay off the Sauce, willya..? And please, please, with sugar on top, stop confusing abiogenesis (origin of life) with evolution theory already! It is getting o-l-d.

ID is bad (natural) science because of its lack of predictive power, lack of experimentation, and its inherent reliance on the supernatural to boot. At least in the two former cases, ID *can* in principle remedy itself by actually producing some useful theories (I doubt it, but it is up to ID proponents to deliver on that challenge!). ID proponents, like the rest of the scientific community, should kindly accept the scrutiny of fellow scientists, as is the normal practice in the advancement of science. Feigned outrage will not do.

Posted by: Pastor Bentonit on January 17, 2005 10:54 AM

Oh come off it DaveScot, please *please* with sugar on top, stop confusing origin of life (abiogenesis) with evolution (speciation from common descent). It is getting o-l-d by yesteryear.

ID is currently bad science. It does no useful predictions, it has not experimentally supported itself and it presupposes supernatural cause which is a scientific no-no (yes, if superintelligent multi-dimensional aliens designed life on earth, how did *they* come to be? Else God did it.). In fairness, ID could remedy itself in the eyes of the scientific community by producing, at least in the first two cases, some positive results and theory. But the burden of evidence is on ID proponents. You must be aware of the critical minds of scientists (at least an overwhelming majority of them!) by now DaveScot. Then you should appreciate the harsh critisism, in the scientific sense, of ID for what it is. All scientific theories must stand up to critical reviewing! It is only delusional to think that a Grand Conspiracy of Darwinists has made evolution theory uniquely privileged in that respect. To replace evolution theory, one actually has to come up with a theory that fits the evidence *better*. Tell you the truth, I won´t hold my breath when it comes to ID.

Posted by: Pastor Bentonit on January 17, 2005 12:34 PM

Oops! Sorry for the double post. *blush* I had a problem here at my end of the Internets...

Posted by: Pas on January 17, 2005 12:36 PM

Why is ID a pseudoscience?

There has been the oft-repeated claim that ID is untestable and does not make falsifiable predictions. ID in its modern form says that artificial intervention is necessary. This enables it to make empirically testable and falsifiable predictions. Taking the origin-of-life as an example, if an experimental demonstration showed a means where life could be formed via undirected chemical reactions, ID would be summarily falsified in this area. Why? The most obvious falsifiable prediction ID makes is that we'll never find any means life could have come about via undirected chemical reactions. Like the theory or not, this falsifiable prediction has been confirmed throughout the decades. If this prediction continues to be confirmed for another century, should the majority of biologists then take ID theory seriously?

Also, if ID is necessary, we would expect multiple barriers for naturalistic formation (because ID is allegedly necessary, and abiogenesis supposedly is unable to do the job). And indeed, there are a number of chemical problems that plague abiogenesis (e.g. in getting proteins, RNA, DNA, and AMP). The biochemist Michael Behe likens the barriers to a groundhog trying to cross a busy thousand-lane freeway. Simultaneously, the barriers that ID predicts are also problematic for organic evolution (thus enabling us to make an empirically based choice between the two).

Perhaps these alleged barriers will be overcome in the future somehow, nonetheless ID has made empirically testable predictions and can quite conceivably be empirically falsified. And what if there are still severe barriers a century from now? Should the majority of biologists then take the theory seriously? Even the simplest singe-celled organisms are very complex. We may have to face the fact that undirected chemical reactions may not be able to create life. Pretending that the theory must never be abandoned (no matter how long the theory’s problems remain unresolved) is bad science.

I admit that it might not be the right time to accept ID. Perhaps a few more decades of research are needed to see if the old paradigm (organic evolution) can solve its problems before we accept a new paradigm (ID). Perhaps we need to wait for ID to have a known mechanism. There are already known artificial means to create proteins, RNA and DNA, the same is not true for undirected chemical reactions. But I think we need to be prepared for these happenings and accept ID when the proper time comes. After all, what happens of the old paradigm does not resolve its problems, and the predictions of the new paradigm continue to be confirmed? What happens when human scientists will be able to artificially create life but abiogenesis still has no known means?

Look it in terms of two different paradigms in the latter scenario. We have an old paradigm that has no known mechanism a number of unresolved problems. We have a new paradigm with a known mechanism that explains and even predicts the unresolved problems of the old paradigm. Why not accept the new paradigm? Because we just don’t like it philosophically?

The claim that ID requires the supernatural is just plain false. Artificial intervention does not equal supernatural intervention. It's quite likely that we humans can create life from non-living chemicals (with future advances in technology) without the need of the supernatural.

How did the designer(s) come about? That is not within the realm of testable science (yet?), but the mere fact that we can't identify the designer or its origins does not imply that the process to create life on Earth had to be supernatural. It could be that the aliens are a kind of life radically different from ours, a kind of life that could come about naturally. (Before you think this is far fetched, recognize many abiogenesis adherents have claimed that the first life-forms were much different from what we know, in efforts to make abiogenesis more plausible and overcome the known problems of traditional abiogenesis.)

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on May 10, 2005 02:22 PM

Being designed and having evolved are not mutually exclusive. If there was an intelligent designer, it's conceivable - even likely - that he/she/it designed evolution, as a means of emerging complexity.

Posted by: Ellis Godard on May 11, 2005 12:24 PM

It is true that simply "being" design and having evolved are not mutually exlusive. But modern ID (the belief that artificial intervention is necessary) is mutually exclusive to e.g. abiogenesis.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on May 15, 2005 01:32 PM

Call it what you like, just don't call it science. Intelligent Design might have its place in philosophy or the humanities. Maybe it can be presented to students as speculative literature. But as a science it just doesn't wash. Science takes evidence and follows it to a conclusion, whatever it may be and however positively or negatively we react to it. Advocates of Intelligent Design have already reached their conclusion. Their hope is to make the evidence fit their conclusion. Scientific results are based on rational and logical pathways that lead to conclusions. But the conclusions are always provisional until something else proves to be a better explanation. Intelligent Design seeks to hold onto the notion of a creator regardless of the pathway to such a conclusion. Intelligent Design advocates simply have not proved that what they present is real science. They equate complexity in the universe with design. Using this equation as proof, they go on to conclude that there must be a designer to the design. This is pure, unproven, speculation. Complexity in the universe is not proof of design or a designer. It is only proof that the universe can be complex. There is not a shred of evidence so far that complexity is designed or has occured naturally. Until the Intelligent Design advocates prove that an intelligence is behind all this, they have nothing. And they have no business foisting themselves off as a science.

Posted by: CJ on September 15, 2005 12:57 PM

Again I ask, why is ID not real science? CJ says, “Science takes evidence and follows it to a conclusion” but this badly misunderstands how science works. Theories (at least explanatory theories, e.g. evolution and atomic theory) are not made via some rigorous logical procedure from empirical data; they are the result of creativity and invention. As such, constructing a theory and subsequently testing it with empirical evidence is neither unusual nor inappropriate in science. What matters more is the evidence; not how the theory came into being.

As I explained earlier in this page, whatever faults modern ID may have, the theory is at least empirically testable and falsifiable. There doesn't appear to be any reason why ID cannot be considered a legitimate scientific theory (at least as much as abiogenesis).

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on September 19, 2005 02:22 PM

Question. Can we use both views to intelligently
move forward as a society?
Creationists say if evolution is true we should have wings and gills. Scientists say that which cannot be tested is simply not true. Although theory and probability abound.
Why do we have to be so rigid? Can we accept that we do not know? Then move on to what is best for a civilized society? To realize the destructions caused by strick religious beliefs which actually give "God" very little crude credit, as our
"free will" is roughly 20%. The environment that one is born into only leaves us with choices within it's bounds. Although prayer is very helpful and should be encouraged to help one through this "process" it looks as though ever since one and one equaled two "God" is seemingly "Hands Off". This lends to pure "Truth" in the process. Like a play some had to be rich and others poor, some fast and some slow, it is the only way it could Be.

It seems to me all is as it should be if You were the designer. An unfathonable endless cosmos with no bounds. One little planet life experience that is finite rather than the other way around.
As in language all things are named "by what they are not". A rock is not a feather the sky is not dirt and so on. Ultimately this universe Defines that from which it came. Which would be the defining opposite pole. One cannot be without the other to define it. For the scientist the "other realm" cannot be absolute nothingness for it is by definition no thing. Like these computers zero Is some thing and one is the other. Does this point to an existence beyond this dire one which we know will expire one day even if all of our probability theories come true?
Therefore giving life to "that which is not this"?

Posted by: the teacher on September 21, 2005 09:50 AM

Again, ID just ain't science. The world isn't what we wish it would be. It just is what it is. ID is a pre-conceived notion of how some people think the world should be. It is an effort to find whatever facts are available to fit that conclusion and discard the rest. In short, ID'ers are trying to cook the books to make it look like science. There's not a microbe of evidence that would lead any rational investigator to conclude, in spite of his or her wishes or dreams or hopes or fears or prayers, that there is a God or creator or alien or anything out there molding the world into one's wishes. At least one that's providing any evidence of his/her/its existance. Right now, the only avenue to belief in a creator is faith and religion. Which is a fine legitimate approach for those who choose it, but it's still not science. Come back to me with some evidence of a creator and I'll learn what you have to offer. Until then, it appears that ID'ers are desperately trying to fit their thinly disguised creationism back into the classroom by some backdoor method. Make it sound like science and maybe people will believe it's science. Throw in a little Star Trek tech-talk and they're in. Scientists (at least the good ones) do not say "that which cannot be tested is simply not true." Scientist are more likely to say, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Show me." Intelligent Design is a most extraordinary claim. Yet, so far, it's advocates has provided nothing that's convincing enough to make me think it is science..

Posted by: CJ on September 26, 2005 07:05 PM

Again I ask, why is ID not real science? CJ's claim this time is that there's no “evidence.” Like it or not, ID has two major empirically confirmed predictions as I pointed out earlier. That is empirical evidence. You might say that's not “enough” evidence, but one shouldn't pretend that the evidence doesn't exist. To the very least, ID makes empirically testable predictions and unlike abiogenesis, is empirically falsifiable.

The old saying, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” has a number of problems, but I'll consider only one here. One problem is, “who decides what is extraordinary?” For some people (like me) something having the kind of complex organization as life coming about through undirected chemical reactions is an extraordinary claim, one I would like to see very good evidence for before accepting it. One way for that to happen is to do an experiment showing how this could have possibly happened. But we don't have that. Instead we find chemical problems that plague abiogenesis.

Note CJ that I could make the same claims you did (I am partially playing the devil’s advocate here). Abiogenesis is a pre-conceived notion of how some people think the world should be. It is an effort to find whatever facts are available to fit that conclusion and discard the rest. Right now, abiogenesis seems to be based more on faith; which is fine for those who choose but that isn't the same thing as science. Come back to me with some evidence and I'll learn what you have to offer (please tell me what evidence abiogenesis has that makes it a better scientific theory than intelligent design). Abiogenesis is a most extraordinary claim. Yet, so far, its advocates have provided nothing that's convincing enough to make me think it's a better scientific theory than ID.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on September 30, 2005 09:15 AM

Okay,

I'm into Greek mythology. There's no proof Zeus is in charge of Mt. Olympus and can make arbitrary lightning shots at anyone that bugs him. But somehow, someday science must be able to prove he's out there. Look at all the evidence! Lightning kills people all the time. Apollo gets annoyed and hides behind clouds. Ares is constantly starting all those wars all over the world. I insist that Greek mythology be taught in science classes. I want it right there along with all the other hooey that's passing itself off as intellect. Hey, if were going to feed the kids horse hockey, we might as well shove the whole plate down their throats. Meanwhile, countries like Japan who aren't saddled with this foolishness make huge strides, leaving us in the dust.

CJ

Posted by: CJ on September 30, 2005 09:55 AM

"Look at all the evidence! Lightning kills people all the time."

I asked you for evidence for abiogenesis and this is what you have to offer? That's not a very compelling argument for abiogenesis.

It's beginning to sound more like you believe ID should be rejected because you personally don't like it, not because of any scientific reason. Note I can play your sort of game too:

There's no proof the Rosetta Stone was formed by random natural processes. But someday, somehow science must be able to prove it. Look at the evidence! The Rosetta Stone is there.

Obviously, playing these kinds of games gets us nowhere. I have given my reasons for ID (e.g. it's falsifiable and makes testable empirical predictions), please tell me what evidence abiogenesis has that makes it a better scientific theory than intelligent design. I'd really like to hear your answer.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on October 2, 2005 05:19 PM

Abiogenesis or God. Neither can be proven. But then, science doesn't set out to prove one or the other. It makes observations and reasonable conclusions. Where it leads is not preconceived destination but it clearly seems to lead away from ID. ID already has its conclusion. Now it just needs to find some facts to fit the conclusion. That's what the Soviet government did with its scientists. Fit science to the government line. Make science prove that the politbueau was right about everything. If your science proved something else you ended up in a gulag. ID ain't science. It wants so desperately to be right that it tries to pass itself off as science. But it hasn't done that. It's not a fact. It's not a theory. It can barely qualify as a hypothesis. But it still wants equal time with the stuff that has done the boring road of testing and proving. ID so far is a dead end. Chalk it up there with the Piltdown Man and Cold Fusion in a Mason Jar.

Posted by: CJ on October 3, 2005 09:54 AM

"Abiogenesis or God." I think this is a false dichotomy. Atheists have pointed out for many years now that just because life was designed doesn't mean a supernatural agency did it (aliens would be one counterexample).

"Where it leads is not preconceived destination but it clearly seems to lead away from ID. ID already has its conclusion." And so does abiogenesis. Again, it would badly mistake the nature of science to assume that data somehow automatically leads to a theory; theories are usually constructed first and subsequently empirically tested. I have pointed this out before. About "clearly seems to lead away from ID" that is open to debate, to say the least. And while you are quick to make this claim, you seem reluctant to give any details why this is the case. Please tell me what evidence abiogenesis has that makes it a better scientific theory than intelligent design. Thoughtlessly repeated rhetoric is not the same thing as evidence.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on October 3, 2005 10:03 AM

Look,
You want your superstition, go ahead. Just don't put it in my kids' science class. ID is philosophy, it's religious studies, it's debate. But it's not science. You want your debate, keep it out the science class. It has no place there. And I would pull my kid out of any class that would proffer such hooey in the place of science. Perhaps we're both pigheaded and refuse to see each other's points of view. But until I see better proof, ID to me has about as much validity as Santa Claus. It is the wishful belief of the religious right that maybe they can turn the clock back and impose their narrow-minded views on the rest of us. Neither your so-called abiogenesis nor ID can be proven or disproven. Speculate, make your conjectures, count the angels on the head of a pin. It's all mental masturbation, at least in terms of hard science. I would rather my kid investigate how the universe functions than waste his science class on ID. If he wants to debate its merits, save it for philosophy class. ID advocates have already made up their mind. They want their God to take care of them and they want everybody else to think like them. They'll force the square peg into the round hole if that's what it takes. Ever since Newton and Copernicus, science has been eroding away the Christian myth. And Christian's have had to adapt, they've had to (dare I say) evolve. ID is just one more adaptation.

Posted by: CJ on October 3, 2005 07:47 PM

So it seems my suspicions are confirmed CJ. You have not one _scientific_ reason for rejecting ID. You like to call it religion and philosophy, but are without any basis for doing so. So instead you reject it because you personally don't like it. That's not a legitimate reason for scientific censorship.

Most scientific theories cannot be proven or disproven, and the same goes for abiogenesis. But as I pointed out earlier, ID can be adequately disproved: simply conduct an experiment showing how life could have arisen via undirected chemical reactions. That would pretty handily falsify the theory that artificial intervention is necessary.

There was one interesting remark made, “Ever since Newton and Copernicus, science has been eroding away the Christian myth.” Are you aware of how modern science arose? It was devout Christians--not atheists--who were the founding fathers of modern science (Copernicus and Newton are good examples). They believed a rationally orderly God created the universe, and that a rational investigation of nature would be successful. So you can understand why these sort of people might expect to find mathematical patterns imprinted in the universe. Indeed, many of the founders of modern science were Christians trying to demonstrate that humanity lived in an orderly universe.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on October 6, 2005 06:45 PM

I am neither an atheist nor devoutly religious. I neither reject a God nor do I endorse one. ID is a political agenda not sound science. Through the years, dispite all the faults people may find, evolution has soundly proven that it can work. An example may be made of moths found in England prior to the introduction of coal plants. It was white and could hide from predators on various white flowers. Once the smoke began covering the flowers, the moth adapted. Later generations with gray and dark wings arose and used their color to hide on the flowers. This is just an example of tens of thousands of life forms that can be shown to have adapted to their environment. ID is a hypothesis. Complexity in nature does bear the appearance of design. And design, in turn, implies a designer. At least to a human mind. But complexity does not necessarily mean something was actually designed. It could have also arisen of its own accord. Natural circumstances allow the right material to be subject to right natural forces and a complexity arises. Not because a greater intelligence made it but just because that's the way it works. ID has made no inroads beyond the speculation that organization implies design. It is neither proof nor disproof. For whatever faults one may find in Darwin's theory, it functions. It can be tested. It can be reasonably shown with concrete evidence that one thing evolved into another. The steps are visible. ID advocates point out the complexity of an eye as evidence that evolution could not possibly have made the organism. But ID does nothing to show HOW the eye was made. ID is merely speculating a possibility. Then it tries to pawn off this speculation as fact. And the only fact of ID is that it has no evidence other than its claim of supernatural intervention.

ID is a political agenda not science. Its greatest advocates are the Christian right. ID is the closest secular description of their own notion of creation so they push it. Not because it's true or false but because it fits their need to arrange the world according to the bible. It has proven little or nothing at all. I have no problem with a model that works and I'll embrace it until something more rational comes along. ID wants supernatural forces to operate in the universe. As far as I know, there is no proof of the supernatural. There's tons of proof of the natural.

Incidently, the devout Christians who used science to questioned the Church position on the structure of the universe were also branded as heretics. Galileo was forced to renounce his discoveries before he died.

Posted by: CJ on October 8, 2005 05:11 AM

CJ, you claimed "ID is a political agenda not science." Simply repeating claims like these do not make them true. You have failed to show why ID is not a legitimate scientific theory, and you have failed to provide reasons why abiogenesis is a better scientific theory than intelligent design despite my requests. Again, it seems like you reject ID because you personally don't like it, not because you have any legitimate scientific _reason_ to do so.

Is ID a political agenda? For some people it is, since some people would like to introduce it via government legislation. But for many (perhaps most) ID adherents it is not. Many of them (such as the Center for Science and Culture and even the Institute for Creation Research) actually _oppose_ having it legislated into the classrooms, preferring instead to have science teachers introduce the theory of their own volition.

"evolution has soundly proven that it can work. An example may be made of moths found in England..." virtually all creationists accept this kind of evolution. Many critics of neo-Darwinism don't want to trash the theory entirely, only that it should go the way of Newtonian mechanics; that Darwinists have expanded the concept beyond its limits. We have never seen a species of organism to evolve greater _complexity_ and viability. The term "complexity" may be difficult to define rigorously, but one example of evolution producing an increase in complexity would be the evolution of a new organ. And it is noteworthy that while we have pointed to many organs that have deteriorated and become vestigial in extant species, never have we been able to find _incipient_ organs now in the process of development (however slowly). The _kind_ of evolution creationists attack has never been observed (at least not directly).

"Natural circumstances allow the right material to be subject to right natural forces and a complexity arises." This works well in some cases, but not in others. For instance, how to get functional proteins, RNA and DNA via undirected chemical reactions? There are no known ways to do that, and instead abiogenesis faces chemical problems. In contrast, ID has a known mechanism for these things.

"It can be reasonably shown with concrete evidence that one thing evolved into another. The steps are visible." It should be noted that my main beef is with abiogenesis, but a few things should be pointed out here. It isn't always the case that the steps are visible, and there isn't always concrete evidence. For instance, biochemist Behe has noted that the evolution of the blood cascade faces a problem of irreducible complexity (he lists the components and notes that if one of the components is removed, the system does not function at all). Vague theoretical ways could be done to get around this, but none of them have been rigorously developed (those who have tried to explain this, Behe claims, ignore critical details). For many systems there is no known detailed scenario from which they could have arisen. You say, "ID advocates point out the complexity of an eye as evidence that evolution could not possibly have made the organism" but ID arguments tend to be a little more sophisticated than that.

"And the only fact of ID is that it has no evidence other than its claim of supernatural intervention." Have you been paying attention? ID does _not_ require supernatural activity. There is little doubt that we humans can artificially create life without the aid of the supernatural. Additionally, despite some people's claims ID is testable and falsifiable as I explained earlier, and it makes confirmed empirical predictions. That _is_ evidence (you may not think it is good evidence, but please don't pretend that it doesn't exist). Again, what evidence makes abiogenesis a better scientific theory than intelligent design? You have continuously ignored this question, yet you blithely claim that intelligent design is not science.

"Incidently, the devout Christians who used science to questioned the Church position on the structure of the universe were also branded as heretics. Galileo..." was not branded a heretic. Check your history again. The Catholic Church was not perfectly saintly in the Galileo affair, but some relevant facts are often left out: e.g. that the secular scientists of the time opposed heliocentric theory (because it went against the received wisdom of Aristotle, not because of the Bible), that the theory he presented was quite flawed (he assumed perfect circular motion of the Earth, which seemed to contradict empirical observations etc.) that even Galileo himself believed he got in trouble because he "made fun of his holiness" rather than the earth revolving around the sun etc. And the situation of science and religion isn't as one-sided as some critics try to portray. Where there ever conflicts? Sure. But there were other more positive occurrences; even in the more specific case of the Catholic Church and astronomy. For instance, for centuries the Catholic Church gave more social and financial support for astronomy than any other institution at the time. Church buildings themselves were often adapted for solar observations.

But the bottom line is this CJ: you have made some nasty criticisms against ID that seem more like thoughtlessly repeated rhetoric than well-reasoned arguments. You haven’t, for instance, even _attempted_ to give me one shred of evidence that makes abiogenesis a better scientific theory than intelligent design. You have ignored its empirically confirmed predictions (by claiming ID has no evidence) and the fact that it does not require the supernatural. Please start thinking before you speak.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on October 10, 2005 03:11 PM

Wade,

ID wants a superior intelligence to run the show. They can't prove it. ID implies the supernatural. They can't prove that either. You can't, I can't, no one has, nor are we or anyone likely to ever do so, at least in my lifetime. (If you think you can, go see James Randi's website. He's offering a million bucks to anyone who can prove such a thing.) ID, after the dust settles, is just you and me and everyone involved blowing a lot of hot air. Whenever humans reach the end of their capacity to explain something logically or naturally they resort to hocus pocus. An eyeball is too complex for evolution, call in the Supreme Being. Whenever something's too hard to figure out, must be aliens doing it. ID is a cop out, not science. ID is when humanity gives up on trying to seek explanations in the real world and attempts to make the answer easy. God must've done it 'cause it's too hard for us to untangle it. That's a crock. If something happens then it's part of nature and nature has a natural mechanism. And that kind of thing has been proven in many fields time and again. And if we can't figure it out now, we place ourselves into the position that, maybe, sooner or later, the mechanism can somehow be identified to our benefit.

ID is making it's rounds not because it has a proven point of view. It's around because it suits conservative Christians. Any one who cannot see the political agenda behinds ID's push has his or her head buried in the sand. First and foremost, ID's introduction has been all about getting creationism back into the school system. It's connection with real science is less important.

You make some fine points but prove nothing. ID still has no ultimate basis in fact. It is wishful thinking wrapped in science. With any luck, ID will be studied in history class as a crackpot footnote to early twentyfirst century history, not as serious science

Posted by: CJ on October 12, 2005 09:46 PM

CJ, your criticism of ID is that it hasn't been proven? Well, both abiogenesis and ID cannot be strictly proven, though they can have evidence (and ID certainly has evidence, as I pointed out earlier).

You said, "ID implies the supernatural." Are you burying your head in the sand? As I explained repeatedly, the idea that life was artificially created does _not_ imply the supernatural.

"ID is a cop out, not science. ID is when humanity gives up on trying to seek explanations in the real world and attempts to make the answer easy." Really? Well, we have to throw out forensic science then, since that claims to detect for artificial intervention. Archaeology? Fuhgettaboutit! The idea that the Rosetta Stone was designed is a bunch of political hooey.

Obviously something is not quite right here. Saying that ID can't be applied to biology sounds little more than special pleading.

Already addressed the alleged "political agenda" claim; parroting the claim doesn't make it any more true.

"And if we can't figure it out now, we place ourselves into the position that, maybe, sooner or later, the mechanism can somehow be identified to our benefit." Yep, maybe there are natural processes that can create Rosetta Stones and we just haven't discovered it yet. This oft-repeated sort of response is an all-purpose ad hoc hypothesis and is not quite fine-tuned enough.

Once again, if you have one shred of evidence that makes abiogenesis a better scientific theory than intelligent design, let me know. So far you haven't given me any. Thoughtlessly repeated rhetoric does not equal evidence.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on October 13, 2005 02:58 PM

Get real Wade. You use the same circular argument that every cult, religion, or what-have-you uses to distract attention away from their two-bit philosophies. "AH HA! You can't disprove me so I must be right!!" And thus saying so, you smugly pronounce me wrong.

Methane gas has more substance than what your trying to support. Wrap as much techno-babble around it as you want. The whole fundamental basis of ID, that of an exterior intelligence, is absurdly un-provable.

Where is this so-called intelligence implied in your intelligent design? Let's assume the preposterous notion that there's a supernatural or superior being or some space guy behind all this. Where is he/it? Seems this guy has set the machine in motion and then left the room. He doesn't talk to us. And don't give me that garbage about all the cosmic order around us as a sign of His Presence. If The Supreme Being is so darned smart that he can create a universe, it'd be a piece of cake for him to just come down here and explain a couple of things to me. Hell, I'll even buy him the beer. But, I don't see a ghost of a chance of that happening. Now or ever. Maybe he went out for his own beer, maybe he just left the room and forgot about us. But one thing is certain. The machine is still running and we're stuck inside of it. And the machine has its own set of highly consistent and uncompromising rules. Those who don't follow them get nowhere. Those who learn the rules, discover things. They invent things. They progress.

ID says, "Hey, pssst. Look over here. Let me draw your attention away from that boring, un-magical theorizing over reality for a moment. Look! A Supreme Being. OOOOO! Pretty cool, ain't he? Let me show ya something about him. Hocus pocus, alakazam and TA DAAAA! It's Jesus Christ!" . . . . You mean to tell me you really can't see the political agenda behind ID? Wade, you gotta get away from that keyboard and get out once in a while. Read a newspaper or something (there're a couple of good pieces in the current Esquire if you're really interested).

Maybe there is a Big Guy out there. Maybe he invented us and we're his children. But he's a lousy babysitter. He put the machine in charge and left us. If we get anywhere, it's because we figure out how the machine works by ourselves. Tens of thousands of years of praying and sacrificing to gods and deities haven't given us a fraction of the miracles provided by the very human discovery of antibiotics.

Is it abio-wachacallit? Is it Intelligent Design? Should we care? It gets us nowhere. And it sure as hell ain't science. The creator, if there is one, is out to lunch. And regardless of whether he exists or not, he is basically irrelevant (just like ID) because things keep happening according to the rules. It's like debating over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. ID is a dead end and not worth wasting taxpayers money over it.

Posted by: CJ on October 15, 2005 09:52 AM

"Get real Wade. You use the same circular argument that every cult, religion, or what-have-you uses to distract attention away from their two-bit philosophies. "AH HA! You can't disprove me so I must be right!!""

That is not an argument I've been using, and even if I did use it that is not a circular argument (the fallacy I believe you are referring to is an argument from ignorance). To be fair, there is some truth in this half-truth. One of the predictions of ID is that we'll never find a way life could have been created via undirected chemical reactions. If this prediction is falsified, so is ID. In other words, whatever its faults may be ID is at least empirically falsifiable (and that is _not_ the only argument I gave for ID). The fact that ID (unlike abiogenesis) is falsifiable is an important thing to remember, but that is hardly the only prediction ID makes. Still, the fact that ID is falsifiable but abiogenesis isn't racks up a few brownie points. We tend to prefer theories that are more empirically testable. (Some have even gone so far to say that if it isn't falsifiable it isn't a scientific theory--ironically this claim h as been made by evolutionists against creationism, apparently unaware that this criterion would rule out abiogenesis.)


"The whole fundamental basis of ID, that of an exterior intelligence, is absurdly un-provable."

Have you been listening to what I've been saying? Yes, it is true that ID cannot be strictly proven, but that tends to be true with scientific theories in general. So the mere fact that ID cannot be proven is not a legitimate criticism--unless you wish to rule out evolution, abiogenesis, and many other scientific theories among them.


"ID says, "Hey, pssst. Look over here. Let me draw your attention away from that boring, un-magical theorizing over reality for a moment. Look! A Supreme Being. OOOOO! Pretty cool, ain't he? Let me show ya something about him. Hocus pocus, alakazam and TA DAAAA! It's Jesus Christ!""

Stop setting up straw men. The belief that artificial intervention is necessary for the creation of life on Earth is not inherently religious. ID does not make any reference to magic, deities, or founders of ancient religions. So please don't pretend otherwise.


"You mean to tell me you really can't see the political agenda behind ID?"

I am aware that some have a political agenda (in that they want to put ID in schools via the legislature) but my point is that these people are not representative of the entire ID movement. Remember my counterexamples?

And bottom line, you still have not given even _one_ scientific reason why abiogenesis is a better scientific theory than intelligent design. It seems all you have is emotion, straw men, and empty rhetoric. Try writing something with substance in your next post.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on October 18, 2005 01:35 PM

I'm not sure where you got the idea that I endorsed your abio-stuff any more than I endorse intelligent design. I don't. I think both ideas are irrelevant to hard science. You want to put what is impossible to prove or disprove into a class where it has no relevance other than philosophical guesswork. Put it in a philosophy class where it belongs. But you won't hear that. You seem desperate to cling to this notion of a creator, that some big eye-in-the-sky just might take care of you. You seem unready to examine the universe for what it is, to take it for your own. You seem scared that maybe someone else might not be in charge of our fate. You won't accept the fact that no one has ever proved it, no one has proof for it now, and the prospect for proving it either way is phenomonally dim. You want our kids to go off and contemplate their navels while the rest of the world is figuring how this whole system works. Am I passionate about my feelings over this? Do I get emotional? Absolutely! I don't want some sanctimonious twit feeding this tripe to my kids. I see an entire unqualified segment of my fellow citizens working tirelessly to dumb down our kids. No wonder we're falling behind as a nation in science.

But you can't let go of that. You think that theories dripping with research and data such as evolution are unprovable and equal to ID. You think ID is not about religion even though virtually every push to get it into public schools is backed by conservative Christian groups.

But you will hear none of that. You want to hang onto this vision of lala land where you and the aliens build a new tomorrow. So let me try to simplify it for you:

You and I go to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, each intent on dropping a ball. I go up and drop my ball. You go up and pray to some superior force to come and take the ball from your hand and lower it to the ground. Betchya my ball hits the ground first. I demonstrate that there seems to be a force moving the ball to the ground. Possibly gravity. You demonstrate what? That I can’t deny there might be a superior force even though it didn‘t show up this time? You say just because the Force wasn’t with you this time doesn’t mean there isn’t a Force. Well, you’re absolutely right. But I go off and devise a hyper-drive from the evidence that seems to indicate that there‘s a gravitational pull. You on the other hand are still up on the Tower scratching your butt.

ID ain't science. And even if it could be some day, its current practitioners will assure that that'll never happen.

Posted by: CJ on October 19, 2005 04:23 PM

"I'm not sure where you got the idea that I endorsed your abio-stuff any more than I endorse intelligent design. I don't." Really? Then you wouldn't mine if ID were taught alongside abiogenesis in public schools?

"You want to put what is impossible to prove or disprove into a class where it has no relevance other than philosophical guesswork." Theories typically are neither proven nor disproven strictly, and it is _not_ "philosophical guesswork." Both abiogenesis and ID are based upon empirical evidence. They are legitimate scientific theories--even if you personally don't like them.

"You won't accept the fact that no one has ever proved it" I have _repeatedly_ accepted that fact and have _repeatedly_ pointed out that scientific theories are not proven. Are you even reading what I write?

"You think ID is not about religion even though virtually every push to get it into public schools is backed by conservative Christian groups." This would be attacking the proponents, not the actual theory. Newton's stated belief in forming his theories was to promote belief in God. Does this make his theories religious? No. Why not? Because the _content_ of Newtonian mechanics is not religious. Similarly, the _content_ of ID is not religious. There’s nothing inherently religious about the actual _theory_, even if its proponents are religious. Evidence is relevant, motives are not.

"Am I passionate about my feelings over this? Do I get emotional? Absolutely!" My point is that you seem to let your emotions get in the way of your thinking. Note for instance my _repeated_ instances of pointing out that scientific theories are not proven, yet you constantly seem to pretend that "ID is not proven" is a legitimate criticism. It is not.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on October 20, 2005 01:18 PM

You ain't all that sharp, are you, Wade. I'm telling you all along that ID is a useless waste. You know. Mental flatulence that leads nowhere. Worthless, stupid, a tax burden, a dead end, and a general dumbing down of public school science classes. Then you ask me if I agree that it should be taught in schools. Huh?

Okay. I'll say it reeeeel slow so even you will understand.

ID does not have a basis in fact. It is the speculation that the patterns around us might have been formed by an intelligence. It is only a speculation, not even remotely comparable to disciplines that have been tested and confirmed through research. ID proponents want their speculation considered par with real research There is no proof. There is no science to it. If there was proof, it would be the most phenomenal discovery in human history. And as far as I know, nobody’s mentioned such a thing.

Evolution IS based in fact. It really is Wade. You can prove it. And you don’t even have to take my word for it. Ask any biologist. Jeeze, Wade. Ask any college freshman biology student. Even they know. There’s 150 years of research, data, and documentation for you to read on a quiet evening by the fire.

Religion IS the major force behind ID. Conservative Christians endorse it because it is the closest secular idea to their own beliefs. They see it as a way to re-insert creationism back into public schools. Without the religious right’s money, political influence, think tanks, and grassroots efforts to boost ID, few of us would have ever even heard about ID. The idea would be relegated to closed groups of sci-fi geeks writing internet fiction to one another. ID is in our faces BECAUSE of religion.

And don’t underrate passion and emotion. You could use a little yourself. Put a little life in your writing. It is passion and emotion that is the impetus behind most major advancements. You could start by getting a few original ideas of your own. You take lines and lines of my own writing and tell me that I said them. Well, yes Wade. You’re right. I did say those things. But I already know that. And even if you say things like, “But I already told you . . .”, it still doesn’t mean I think you’re right. I think you’re just as wrong as the first time I wrote them.

I’ll concede one thing to you. I’m probably more annoyed with the proponents of ID than I am with ID itself. Stupidity is an offensive thing. But stupidity occurs naturally and often can’t be helped. It’s when intelligent people CHOOSE stupidity. It’s when they embrace ignorance. Now THAT’S scary. And that’s what scares me about the proponents of ID.

You and I are no farther ahead than when we started this debate. I’m no more convinced of your position than you are of mine. In fact you've made me more certain of my position than ever. So I’m going to go. So long. And if you actually run into the super aliens or the gods, tell ‘em I’m sorry I didn’t believe in them. They gave us insufficient evidence.

Posted by: CJ on October 20, 2005 09:53 PM

"I'm telling you all along that ID is a useless waste...Then you ask me if I agree that it should be taught in schools. Huh?" If you paid attention to the context you might have noticed that the question I asked was a bit rhetorical. Remember the context in which I asked the question, particularly regarding abiogenesis (and abiogenesis is taught in biology classes).

"Evolution IS based in fact. It really is Wade. You can prove it." As I said, theories in general cannot be proven--evolution is no exception. Why? A lot of it has to do with how the evidence is interpreted. For instance, no “real” evolution (i.e. evolution of new basic kinds) observed now? That's okay, it's happening too slowly. What about systematic gaps in the fossil record? It happened too fast. A skeptic of evolution comes by and says that maybe it didn't happen at all. The empirical evidence is not exclusively consistent with evolution; there’s more than one interpretation for the data. So the theory’s never actually proven.

And orthodox evolution (mutation-selection mechanism) is certainly _not_ proven; there are a number of problems. For instance, when have we ever observed the evolution of a more complex species? The term “complexity” may be difficult to define rigorously, but one example of evolution producing an increase in complexity would be the evolution of a new organ. And it is noteworthy that while we have pointed to many organs that have deteriorated and become vestigial, never have we been able to find any _incipient_ organs now in the process of development (however slowly). We’ve seen the mechanism produce superficial changes in life forms, but not much more. We haven't seen any (at least not directly) empirical evidence that it can account for all of life’s diversity via producing larger-order changes (e.g. producing new organs), particularly the biological big bang of the Cambrian explosion. It would seem that there are limits to this sort of mechanism. Even if some kind of evolution is true, it need not be the case that orthodox evolution is true (e.g. ID + evolution). (Note: the fossils we find might suggest to us _that_ evolution occurred but it cannot tell us the _how_ it occurred. It could be those organisms got there via another mechanism, e.g. an agent artificially directing evolution).

And what about abiogenesis? Remember, my main beef is with ID vs. abiogenesis. You still haven't given one reason why abiogenesis is a better scientific theory than intelligent design. So why not have it in classrooms in this case? Because you personally don't like it? That wouldn't be a legitimate reason.

"ID is in our faces BECAUSE of religion." Even if true, that says noting about the theory _itself_. Newton's stated motives in forming his theories was to promote belief in God. Does that make Newtonian mechanics religious? No. Why? Because the _content_ of those theories is not religious. Similarly, there's nothing inherently religious about intelligent design theory.

Bottom line is this CJ: you have made some nasty criticisms against ID that seem more like thoughtlessly repeated rhetoric than well-reasoned arguments. You haven’t, for instance, even _attempted_ to give me one shred of evidence that makes abiogenesis a better scientific theory than intelligent design. It seems all you have is emotion, straw men, and empty rhetoric. If you want to leave on that note, that's fine with me.

Posted by: Wade A. Tisthammer on October 21, 2005 01:12 PM
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