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Return to: Intelligent Design

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December 7th, 2009, 9:34 am

First, here is the theory of ID as it is represented by many of the major sites and by most of the major proponents of I.D.:

ID Defined | Uncommon Descent
Intelligent design - New World Encyclopedia

The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.

Note that the theory itself doesn't necessarily implicate a god of any sort. ID theory is based on the observable, quantifiable difference between what humans intelligently design, and that which appears to be not guided by intelligence (chance, natural law, etc.)

1. Intelligent design as theorized in its most ubiquitous form (above) is (I contend) as irrefutable a scientific fact as the most ubiquitous theoretical forms of evolution (populations evolve over time) and gravity. Humans utilize intelligent design to intentionally plan and construct things which we don't expect to be generated by chance and necessity, necessity being the predictable behavior of natural laws.

2. Forms of ID are already in use in the scientific community, whether by name or not, whether denied as ID or not; forensics, for example, determines if a murder or a fire was intentionally designed by a deliberate agent, or if it was an accident. SETI, for example, is searching for evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence (although now they'd like to change their name to "artificiality", which is again simply sidestepping the issue via dishonest semantics).

3. Science itself relies on the intelligent design of theories and experiments to advance. Human intelligent design generates things that are obviously and intuitively different than that which we normally expect chance and natural laws to produce on their own. IOW, if we found something like a very weird-looking spaceship on Mars, that had a power-source and computer-like controls, we wouldn't go around looking for a "natural" explanation to explain it; we would intuitively know it was designed by some form of intelligence.

4. The question isn't really if intelligent design exists, but rather if it exists outside of human beings, and if so, can it offer a more precise and functionally signifcant predictive model that can be used to reliably discern between non-designed phenomena and those produced by I.D.? After all, we might not always be able to intuitively identify artifacts of intelligence.

5. Unless one is going to argue that intelligence is unique to humans, then theorizing that non-humans might also have intelligence is a reasonable scientific theory - much as theories that some animals have various levels of intelligence as displayed by their capacity to innovate tool use and learn and use some rudimentary languages, and plan their actions to various degrees.

Also, we examine what other forces produce on Earth, like vucanism or erosion by air or water, and use those findings to guide our explanations of what we find on other worlds; this is nothing more than extrapolating what known commodities are known to produce into a explanatory framework for finding similar such activity elsewhere.

6. The problem of the definition of "natural". First, in normal usage, "natural" is a juxtaposition of "artificial", which means made by man. However, this dichotomy is false; scientists do not propose that humans, or human intelligence, is unnatural; in fact, according to science, the intelligence and foresighted design capability that humans possess must be generated entirely by natural processes. Humans are part of the natural world, and operate entirely within the natural world, according to science.

Unless one is going to argue that humans are not part of the natural world, then it is obvious that intelligent design is part of the natural world, and does produce phenomena that cannot be readily explained without it. Just as gravity produces phenomena and evolution explain phenomena that cannot be readily (scientifically) explained without appeal to those forces, so too does intelligent design produce phenomena (computers, battleships, space shuttles) that defy description or explanation with it.

7. Unless one wishes to argue that the existence of computers and space shuttles can be best described without appeal to a designing intelligence, then we must agree to the validity of the ubiquitous version of the theory, whether or not any more precise and valid predictive commodities derived from that theory have yet been developed or established.

Intelligent Design, like evolution, is a fact and a scientific theory, whether or not it has yet produced any successful rigorous predictive commodities that can reliably discern ID as the best explanation of a phenomena. Let's not forget that when Darwin first theorized evolution, he had no method for inheritance and no rigorous predictive capacity.

ID theorists are currently attempting to develop a rigorous, predictive model for identifying when a phenomena is best explained as the product of ID; some of those attempts are: irreducible complexity (Behe), the explanatory filter (Dembski), and the FSCI limitation of 500-1000 bits (Meyer).

Contrary to some who believe that such a designation indicates the "end" of scientific research into the phenomena in question, nothing could be further from the truth. A finding of ID only changes the methodology, the direction, the heuristic of further research; it doesn't end it.

For example, we return to the example of finding what appears to be an alien artifact on an apparently long-dead world we visit for the first time. If there is no scientifically valid means of first identifying the artifact as best explained as the product of ID, must we then limit our research to providing natural explanations for the artifact that preclude ID?

If so, why? Is ID not as natural as anything else in the world (see #6 above)? Why should it be excluded as an explanatory candidate?

Can we not attempt to reverse-engineer the artifact? Can we not speculate on design goals for different aspects or about what appear to be functional machines and devices in the artifact, the purpose of the arrangement and layout, the uses of what seems to be equipment, then test, experiment, and conduct research on such hypothesi?

There are entirely different research paradigms involved if the artifact is assumed to be generated by intelligence or if it is assumed to be the product of otherwise natural forces; if we assume it came together largely by chance and mindless, lawful necessity, or if we assume it was constructed with a purpose (or many such purposes) in mind.

Why should we assume either? Why not develop a scientifically rigorous methodology that can determine if something is best explained as product of ID or not?

This is precisely what ID theorists are currently striving to do, as well as to find such phenomena, and then to develop research programs of such phenomena based on the finding that they are intelligently designed.

December 7th, 2009, 1:47 pm

Belinda wrote:
But people who believe in 'intelligent design' believe that there is an other-worldy designer.

Most people that believe in the big bang believe in an other-worldly originator for the big bang. So? What most people believe about any supposed designer is irrelevant to the scientific fact and theory of ID.

Either design is natural and there is no final cause, or design is artifical and there is a final cause. Or to put it even more briefly, nature is either designed with final causes or it is designed without final causes.There is no way that there both is final cause in nature and that there is not final cause in nature.

Whether or not there is some "final cause" is entirely irrelevent to ID fact and theory.

Final causes are the upshots of intentions.Blueprints embody final causes. There is no blueprint that makes oak trees what they are, but only struggle for survival plus random mutations.

Blueprints exist because humans make them and employ them. Unless this means that the human construction and use of blueprints lies outside the realm of science to quantify and describe, then there is no reason that if such a blueprint was used in the generation of oak trees, it cannot be similarly found out and subjected to ID research. Your assertion about how the oak tree has come into existence is nothing more than just that - a bald assertion.

That man made artifacts are made with final causes is true.

It makes no difference if intelligence represents a "final cause" or not, any more than "gravity" represents a "final cause" or not when it comes to quantifying what characteristics we can expect from a phenomena generated or affected by gravity.

If I found this queer spaceship, I would assume that it was designed for a purpose, yes. I assume that a proper space scientist would not assume anything untilthere was significant evidence one way or the other.

How does one go about collecting evidence that the artifact is intelligently designed, if all methods of determining ID from non-ID are by definition non-scientific? If ID detection is not a scientific enterprise, then how can any such "space scientists" collect any scientific evidence to make a determination?

I imagine that if the queer spaceship thingy had working reproductive organs it would be able to reproduce itself by artificial selection if it was intelligent, and by natural selection if brainless.If they were brainless the race of spaceship thingies would evolve according to their struggles for survival in whatever ambience they inhabited.

So are you saying that there is, or is not a rigorous methodology for determining if something is the product of ID or not?

Alun: your counter-assertions have no merit in fact, evidence or in logic.

Scott: ID is an empirical, scientific fact, as humans employ it every day. It is of course a scientific theory.

I see you failed to address the "alien artifact" problem; how are we going to determine if an artifact we find on a dead, alien world is the product of unintelligent forces or intelligent design?

Please try and focus on that example of necessary ID detection and tell me how one would scientifically go about determining if an artifact we found on a long-dead alien planet was best explained by unintelligent or intelligent causation.

December 7th, 2009, 11:57 pm

Scott wrote:What tests have been done on the ID "hypothesis" to make it a theory?

Tests that compare product of human design against product achieved by chance and natural law and which show a significant, quantifiable difference between the two. Such tests are conducted daily in the fields of forensics, fraud investigations, and archaelogy when we recognize a distinct difference between the product of deliberate, intentional design and non-intelligent forces and accidental, non-teleological events.

Intelligent design is an empirical fact; humans have it and employ it to generate product that is quantifiably distinct. The fact that ID is empirically known to exist and generate distinct product advances it beyond the "hypothesis" state in the same way that "evolutionary theory" in Darwin's time was not a "hypothesis" because living things were known to evolve. Evolutionary theory was, and is, a mix of competing models and descriptions that incorporated known facts and speculation.

Just as there were many competing theories on how to best describe evolutionary process, there are competing ID theories on how to reach a determination of "best explanation" by ID; Behe uses IC, Dembski uses the explanatory filter and CSI, and Meyer uses FSCI. Essentially, they seek to rigorously quantify the difference between what can be achieved via chance and natural law, and what requires intelligent ordering to achieve.

Also, what is the ID "hypothesis" in your own words?

ID theory is the theory that some phenomena are best explained as the product of intelligent or intentional design because they have characteristics known to be generated by intelligent agents (humans)which are not known to be generated by unintelligent processes or chance, and that non-intelligent forces or processes are insufficient as explanations for those phenomena. Example: a functioning space shuttle is best explained as the product of intelligent design; unintelligent forces and processes are insufficient as an explanation.

What type of empirical data if found could refute this ID theory/hypothesis?

All that it takes to refute ID as best explanation in any particular case is to show unintelligent forces and chance to be a sufficient explanation for the phenomena in question. ID cannot be "refuted" in the overall sense because we know it exists.

Belinda: your design detection model fails, because purebred Pekingese are not the product of natural selection, and they have ancestors going back millions of years.

December 8th, 2009, 9:39 am

Alun wrote:Neither you nor any ID proponent has defined "design" sufficiently for this to work as an hypothesis.

Neither you nor any "non-design" proponent has defined "non-design" sufficiently to appropriately characterize evolutionary selection as "natural" (i.e., unintelligent) or the mutations required to generate novel, functioning biological features as "random".

On the other hand, only ID proponents have produced the mathematical analysis of evolutionary and ID processes that indicate evolution is entirely inexplicable via random and unintelligent components, and that only ID can provide the necessary active (target) information required by evolutionary searches to reach functional, specified biological targets.

Showing that unintelligent processes are insufficient through the models of IC, the explanatory filter and CSI, and that they exceed the FSCI bound of 1000 bits and showing that ID as we know it to exist is not only a sufficient explanation, but the only known sufficient explanation, are viable means of establishing a phenomena to be best explained as product of ID.

Papers defining the limitations of such unintelligent evolutionary searches, and the necessity for target information to be involved in any such evolutionary search, have been published by Dembski and Marks at IEEE, see http://www.evoinfo.org/Publications/CostOfSuccess. html and http://www.evoinfo.org/Publications/Hagg.html. To my knowledge, no paper has been published showing that unintelligent evolutionary searches have the capacity to reasonably find highly specified targets of novel biological function.

Alun and others here defend Natural Selection as a meaningful component of evolutionary processes. However, it seems that he's missed the funeral of natural selection by the mainstream:

Evolutionary-genomic studies show that natural selection is only one of the forces that shape genome evolution and is not quantitatively dominant, whereas non-adaptive processes are much more prominent than previously suspected. - Darwinian Evolution in the Light of Genomics, Eugene Koonin, Nucleic Acids Research, 37(4), 2009, pp. 1011-1034.

Alun argues that no statistical analysis is possible; that is definitely true because there is no meaningful model of natural selection as a sorting agent. However, since natural selection is no longer regarded as the dominant "selector" of biological diversity by many (if not most) evolutionary biologists:

In the decades since its introduction, the neutral theory of evolution has become central to the study of evolution at the molecular level, in part because it provides a way to make strong predictions that can be tested against actual data. The neutral theory holds that most variation at the molecular level does not affect fitness and, therefore, the evolutionary fate of genetic variation is best explained by stochastic processes. This theory also presents a framework for ongoing exploration of two areas of research: biased gene conversion, and the impact of effective population size on the effective neutrality of genetic variants. - Neutral Theory: The Null Hypothesis of Molecular Evolution
By: Laurent Duret, Ph.D. (Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Évolutive, Université Claude Bernard, France. ) © 2008 Nature Education

Not only is natural selection an insufficient sorting process; it has been largely abandoned by evolutionary biologists for a long time in favor of Motoo Kimura's neutral molecular evolution theories and in light of Gould & Lewontin's work showing that selection for adaptive success is not nearly a comprehensive explanatory framework for describing much, or most, of the variation we see today and in the fossil record.

As Duret explains, the neutral theory virtually eliminates natural selection as a meaningful contributor in evolutionary processes (a fallen state further exacerbated by epigenetics and genetic drift), and that the neutral theory - in contrast to natural selection - allows for statistical models to be generated in regards to the capacity of mutations to generate novel, functioning expressions.

IOW, there was no way to usefully model the contribution of natural selection to the generation of novel, functioning biological forms. Asserting that NS was sufficient and was the primary sorting agent (expressed as a scientific fact in many books on evolution) has been shown to be entirely incorrect.

There was absolutely no science or math that supported NS was a sufficient sorting process for what it was claimed to produce; yes, you can observe it in action, but just because you can observe something doesn't mean that it can accomplish everything you attribute to it.

Today, horizontal gene transfer and epigenetics are the focus of evolutionary developmental research. Other research like Adaptation of Mutation Rates in a Simple Model of Evolution by Mark A. Bedau Robert Seymour show that genetic variation seems to be a regulated process; many other papers show that the environment contains developmental triggers for phenotypical variance, and that these phenotypes themselves can have a recursive effect on genetic expression; this isn't natural selection, but rather an intelligent genetic response to environmental factors that can be inherited.

The idea of "random" mutation acted on by "natural" selection as being the engines of successful, functional biological diversity has been effectively dead for years.

As far as the ID side goes, Dembski and Marks and others have shown that it is possible to formally model the search and success potential of undirected evolutionary searches, and that unintelligent searches (that have no information about the target) are no better than random searches. It appears that evolutionary searches in the real world are not blind; if the environment is triggering genetic variance and expression of corresponding potential stored in the code, and controlled by regulatory enzymes that we have just begun to research, one can hardly make the claim that random mutations generate physical variances which natural selection then acts upon.

There is apparently a regulatory system for the brute mutation rate in effect; a check and library system for mutation correction and storage in non-coding areas; a regulatory system for genetic expression, and what seems to be feedback loops and systems for spreading successful variant expressions through horizontal mechanisms that have nothing to do with "heredity".

The process of evolution is obviously intelligent, not blind, and not random. Formal examination via a statistical analysis of the capacity of blind and random processes to generate successful, novel biological features strongly indicates non-intelligent processes are not up to the task of creating or sorting the information required, while what we know of ID as expressed by humans is up to the coding and meta-regulatory system generation challenge, making ID the best explanation available.

Such findings justify further research of biological phenomena based on the design heuristic. ID theorists predicted such meta-regulatory systems would be found that govern virtually all aspects of evolutionary processes; such systems cannot be accounted for as the results of blind searches acting on random information.

December 8th, 2009, 1:58 pm

Belinda wrote:An artefact is by definition something designed by an agent. Better say some unbiased name, for instance 'entity X'. Let's call it 'Entity X'. If there were evidence that this Entity X had an ancestry going back millions of years and in the probable absence of any visible agents-- such as dog breeders, I'd say that Entity X was a result of natural selection.

You haven't explained how you assess the probability of the absence of any visible agents (I presume you mean intelligent agents), so your detection system is too vague to be useful.

Plus, you might want to rethink the value you place on the capacity of natural selection as a sufficient sorting process. Please read my response to alun above and the papers I've cited about the fall of natural selection from it's former position in mainstream evolutionary biology as a process with any significant explanatory power.

December 9th, 2009, 8:14 am

Belinda wrote:The only agents that can carry out artificial selection, i.e. intelligent design are human or humanoid to the extent that they will have left evidence of other artefacts such as tools, scraped or cut animal bones, burials, statues, cave paintings,storage pits, traces of shelters, standing stones,platforms or stakes for lake dwellings,hollowed out logs, potsherds, metal harness rings, metal weapons, etc. There may also be bog or ice preserved humanoid bodies.

This creature that you describe, Meleagar, given that there is evidence that it has long ancestry* and reproductive organs for transmitting information across generations, and in the absence of any evidence of agents with artefact capability as described above, will therefore probably have evolved by means of natural selection and will not have been artifically designed.

The fundamental flaw in your reasoning here is that in order to identify any item X as artificial, your model requires that there be artificial evidences of intelligent agents present, but none of those things, which are also classified as X upon discovery, can be identified as artificial (tools, shelters, etc.) in your model without first identifying other X's as artificial.

Your model contains a catch-22; no X (questionable item) can be identified as artificial until some or many such X items on that planet have been identified as artificial (tools, shelters, etc. for intelligent agents). This means that no X can ever be identified as artificial.

Belinda wrote:Okay, evolution appears designed. It is designed, but not by a designer rather by its own internal laws of evolution, whether the evolution is the evolution of life forms or plate tectonics there is no hidden hand of God in all this.

The problem is, all you have is materialist faith to support this belief, because it's never been demonstrated that unintelligent forces can do what they are claimed to do in the cased of certain biological features.

Design is not necessarily a plan with a purpose.

Generaly, highly complex, interdependent, functional machinery with instructional coding and regulatory meta-code doesn't come into existence via artistic free-wheeling; it must be deliberately planned for in advance by a highly skilled engineer. The engineer might be artistic too, and might use creativity to overcome unforseen challenges, but without a planned design goal any engineer and software programmer will tell you that a functioning computer just cannot be built.

And what we have in life is far more of a software and engineering marvel than any computer humans have built thus far.

December 10th, 2009, 11:29 am

Belinda wrote:I believe you are right, Meleagar. The scientific approach is materialistic , or at least monistic. Being monistic it is deterministic. The ultimate view of science must be that scientific truth is a coherent body of knowledge. The ultimate view of science cannot be that scientific truth corresponds to What Is, because it's not within human capability to know tne total of What Is.

I'm not sure what that has to do with anything I said, or our debate in general. What has been revealed so far by our debate is only that your explanations of how one would identify "X" as unintelligently or intelligently caused fail.

Thus, the question remains: if we find an X on another planet that seems to many to be an intelligently designed artifact, how does one go about determining if that is indeed the best explanation?

December 10th, 2009, 2:01 pm

Gecko wrote:There seems to be a misapprehension here that science has somehow avoided the issue of biological complexity. Nothing could be further from the case- there is a vast literature on the subject much of which is, admittedly, pretty technical.

To my knowledge, nobody has ever claimed that science has avoided the issue of biological complexity. Straw man.

Re: Intelligent Design. It isn't science, and there simply isn't any science behind it. Its religion dressed up as pseudo-science. For a point-by-point refutation of Dembski try:
- Sahotra Sarkar, 'Doubting Darwin?' (Blackwell 2007

Well, if you and Sarkar say so, it must be true. Perhaps you'd like to take a shot at answering the question I pose in #56 above?

December 10th, 2009, 6:30 pm

Gecko wrote:Its this kind of statement that led my comment on biological complexity. There is, I repeat, a vast literature that deals with the issue of how highly interdependent functional biological systems come into existence without being designed.

Oh, well, if you say so.

It all makes perfect sense without the need for a supernatural designer.

Straw man. ID doesn't postulate a superntural designer.

As I understand it, the question is this:

I arrive on an alien planet and discover an artifact. I want to know how the artifact originated, and there are 2 possible explanations: either it evolved, or it is the product of conscious design. How can I determine which hypothesis is correct?

Incorrect understanding. Object X could be the result of all sorts of explanations. It could be a natural rock formation; it could have been caused by erosion or vulcanism. It could have been generated by swirling eddies of sand or a meteorite impact. The question is that for any object X we find on another planet that appears to some that it is the product of intelligent design, how do we go about making a determination?

The original question (apparently, you can't be bothered to read up on a thread before you participate) was that if we found something that looked like an alien spacecraft or ruin on an otherwise dead world, what would be the means or method by which we would arrive at a finding that it was in fact an artifact of intelligence and not an otherwise naturally occurring object?

Try again if you wish.

Alun wrote:What does 'design' mean?

Do you mean intelligent design? If so, it means a phenomena that is generated by intelligence and exhibits quantifiable characteristics that distinguish it from otherwise naturally-occurring (unintelligently-caused) phenomena.

* How do we detect it?

ID theory can only make a finding of ID as "best explanation" without having direct knowledge of the designer. Some of the models used for detecting ID in this manner are irreducible complexity; the explanatory filter, and FSCI of 1000 bits or more.

* Do we need to know about the designer, or the designer's motives, to detect it?

To be absolutely certain it is intelligently designed, yes. However, science isn't about establishing absolute certainties, it's about arriving at best explanations. You don't need to know anything about the designer to reach a finding of intelligent design as "best explanation".

* Do we need to know about the mechanism of the designing to detect it?


There is no "mechanism" per se in intelligent design; intelligent acts are not "mechanisms". Intelligence can use tools and can establish mechanisms to carry out its design goal; however, quantum experiments have shown that just the presence of a conscious observer can affect the outcome of subatomic states, and subatomic states can affect molecular bindings and characteristics; and delayed-choice experiments indicate that such effects can retroactively affect the past.

Intelligence might require nothing more than observation. intent, or presence to game quantum-sensitive systems such as the molecular bindings and arrangements of DNA. If so, then the only means by which to discover ID in such a system would be to analyze the results in terms of what otherwise naturally-occurring forces could produce, and in terms of what known ID agents regularly produce (humans).

Or, an intelligence might create a regulatory system or a systematic process that operates on materials in conjunction with its goals. Such systems might be found, but then one would have to determine them to be intelligently designed; ultimately, the only two means of establishing design is (1) meeting the designer, or (2) an analysis of results or of the phenomena in question as otherwise described here.

This is why asking about the "mechanism" that a designing agent might use is largely irrelevant, because then that mechanism would have to be identified as the product of ID, the proper means of identifying ID doesn't lie in the tools or mechanisms it might use, but rather in the results it achieves regardless of the tools, and how those results quantifiably differ from otherwise natural results.

Please note that it is not just ruling out unintelligent causation that leads to a finding of ID, but by comparing the phenomena to that which is known to be produced by ID agents - humans. Humans, using intelligent design, regularly generate irreducibly complex phenomena, and phenomena with FSCI of over 1000 bits.

* What does 'design' rule out; i.e. how can hypotheses of design be falsified?

By showing chance and necessity (natural law) to be sufficient explanations.

December 11th, 2009, 8:22 am

Gecko wrote:You don't have to make my word for it. You could actually go out and read some science. :shock:
You might even find that having a degree of scientific literacy is useful when discussing issues in the Philosophy of Science.

Or, you could stop assuming that because people disagree with you, they are ignorant of the subject. But then, that would mean you actually have to make a signifiant effort in your debate. It's so much easier just to assert that those you are debating are ignorant.

I don't think so. Know any ID enthusiasts who aren't also Theists? No, neither do I.

What people personally believe that a theory implies doesn't mean the implication is a necessary aspect of the theory. Most people who got on board with Darwinism believed the theory implied that some races of humans were intrinsically superior to others; most people who originally supported the big bang theory believed it implied a creation point and thus a god.

Re: Artifact X

So first of all you consider the object in its environment, and ask the question: Are there natural forces other than evolution that can plausibly account for the existence of the object?

If the answer is 'Yes' then you have your explanation.

All you've done here is restate the challenge, you haven't explained your methodology. How does one go about demonstrating that natural forces are insufficient to explain X?

BTW, your "evolution" argument doesn't make a case, it just describes a living or evolved entity and then arbitrarily asserts that it sufficiently described by unintelligent processes by assuming those processes are unintelligent, a classic case of affirming the consequent.

While tautological arguments are not necessarily invalid, yours is empirically invalid, because the existence of purebred and domesticated organisms - like the pekingese - demonstrate that some organsims actually exist which can only be sufficiently explained if one includes intelligent design.

December 11th, 2009, 6:25 pm

Gecko wrote:
Could only be written by a person with very little knowledge of the field.

Or, by someone who simply disagrees with you. Less posturing, more logic and facts.

You're ignoring a basic point here. ID posits that biological complexity is the result of a design.

No, it doesn't. ID argues via evidence and logic that the best explanation for some phenomena is intelligent design.

Designs imply designers. So who or what could the designer be, if not God? Well, perhaps an alien, or some unknown mysterious force. But then where does that come from? Perhaps it was designed too? Its a vicious regress of designers, which can only end with either evolution or God.

Your errant arguments above, as well as many others it appears almost certain you will get around to, have been collected and addressed in a nice tidy faq here: http://www.uncommondescent.com/faq/

ID makes no comment on the nature or identity of any supposed Designer, and "infinite regress" of a designer is no more an issue than it is in archaelogy or forensics investigations. Before a finding of arson is found, must we not only identify the arsonist, but his entire lineage as well? No. We don't even need to know the identity of the arsonist to gain a finding deliberate fire-setting.

So ID does imply Theism, as various court decisions in the US have recognized.

The implications of a theory are irrelevant as to whether or not a theory is scientifically sound.

Your methodology for trying to explain X would depend on what and where X was. For example, if X was a ruin-like structure in a desert, you would probably consider geological factors, but you'd rule out marine erosion (unless you dated X to a period when the area was flooded).

So your method of establishing ID as best explanation is simply by establishing that known unintelligent forces cannot account for the thing in question?

The procedure that I describe is not an argument for or against anything. Nor is it intended to be. Its a procedure, nothing else.

A procedure that assumes that living or evolving things do not require ID for a sufficient explanation, which negates it from being an approriate answer in the Alien X challenge because we know domesticated animals exist.

There's no way that myself or anyone else could 'prove' the theory of Evolution in a few posts.

Then it's a good thing that nobody is asking you to. You're conflating "the theory of evolution" with a very narrow and specific challenge. That faq might clear some things up. I'm not asking that common descent or variation and adaption be proven; I'm asking that it be shown that how the process is characterized, i.e. "unintelligent", is in fact a sufficent means for achieving what it is claimed for known evolutionary processes to have achieved.

Otherwise, calling it "natural" (unintelligent) selection and "random" (unintelligent) mutation are unwarranted, ideological characterizations.

If you're really interested in the subject then go and do some reading.

I'll try and remember this sage advice.

Domesticated animals are certainly tricky, and since they are members of lineages that have evolved and then been subsequently deliberately modified, they are in any case borderline between natural/ artificial.

They're not "borderline" anything; they cannot be explained sufficiently without ID. Therefore, not only is ID valid and necessary science, it has actually been applied to lineages of living entities and has produced quantifiable and significant effects. Without accounting for ID as an involved agent, the explanation for such biological organisms is incomplete and entirely erroneous.

One might as well be attempting to explain stonehenge via gravity and vulcanism.

Unless you think that domesticated species are a lot more common than is actually the case.

And there's the problem; neither of us know how much of the evolutionary system has been gamed by intelligence. You and others assume that virtually none of it has been; but that's all you have.

An ideological assumption. Nothing more whatsoever.

December 12th, 2009, 1:04 pm

Gecko wrote:
This is a false analogy.

It's not an analogy; in ID, the arsonist is an example of an intellignet designer, the arson is an example of intelligent design, and arson detection is an example of ID detection.

Positing a Designer, unlike positing an arsonist, is a very big move in terms of what it adds to the 'furniture of the Universe' (i.e. to the class of extant phenomena). It requires further explanation.

We don't need to "posit" a designer; designers exist. We know this factually because humans employ ID. The putative "designer" in ID theory adds nothing to the universe that we don't already know exists, any more than theorizing that volcanoes exist on other worlds adds something different to the mix.

Ah. So you do agree that ID implies Theism.

I agree that it can imply theism; it doesn't necessarily imply it. The Big Bang can imply theism; it doesn't necessarily imply it. Unless a theory necessarily implies something, it is irrelevant to a debate about the theory itself.

Almost. We have to take into account the fact that unintelligent processes that we don't currently have an explanation for might be involved. To return to the example of the 'ruins': We might suspect that they were the result of previous unknown geological forces that we couldn't explain with our current theories. In such a case, we would accept a provisional naturalistic explanation, and try to find out more about the geological forces involved. Of course, we would need evidence for the existence of such forces to make such a move.

If the concept that "there might be unknown natural forces that could account for X" is sufficient to prevent a finding of ID, then you have not offered any means by which one could identify X as best explained by ID; in fact, given the open-ended nature of your "unintelligent-cause" rain check, it appears that one can never make such a finding. Is that your position?

As I said in my previous post, I don't think that natural selection of random genetic mutations is the main driving force behind evolution- I'm not a 'Darwinist'. Its a minority view, but the minority is growing.

Do you believe that, whatever the forces are that significantly drive evolutionary processes, they can be correctly described as "unintelligent"? IOW are we essentially arguing about "unintelligent evolution" vs "intelligent evolution", regardless of the actual processes involved?

You seem to think that the example of domesticated animals is somehow important. I'm not sure why. Chairs are designed. So, in part, are domesticated animals. I fail to see why domesticated animals are any more of a threat to evolution than chairs are.

They aren't a threat to "evolution"; they disprove that all evolutionary product can be sufficiently explained in terms of unintelligent processes. This makes ID a necessary aspect of any comprehensive model of the evolution of life on earth to its current state.

Unless, of course, you think that we can't explain organisms in terms of evolution because we don't know if they were previously domesticated. I really, really hope that isn't what you mean.

You are conflating "unintelligent evolution" with "evolution". The point that domesticated animals raises is a more general one than just "domestication"; since the current state of life on earth cannot be comprehensively explained without the inclusion of ID (by humans), then it is entirely appropriate to theorize that perhaps intelligence might have affected evolution more than currently known, and begin looking for evidence of such intelligent manipulation.

March 17th, 2010, 8:13 am

Alun wrote:I would prefer an affirmative model.

Those are affirmative models. They describe aspects of what we find in other intelligently designed artifacts.

Besides what I would consider to be the misuse of those models, they also do not say anything except what intelligent design is not.

Yes, they do. They describe what are the significant, defining characteristics of many intelligently designed artifacts (designed by humans).

I.e. they all come down to our inability to explain phenomena.

No, they come down to (1) the inability to explain a phenomena using unintelligent processes, and (2) they display characteristics that are known to exist in intelligently designed phenomena, and which are otherwise only known to exist as the product of ID. By abductive reasoning, ID becomes the current best explanation.

Is it really true that if we cannot explain something's occurrence, it must have been done on purpose?

I haven't made that argument.

We affect subatomic states because we're hitting them with light, or letting them hit a sensitive wall. All of our tools actually affect subatomic states. Now, it could be that Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle is actually true just because we're intelligently watching what's happening, but the principle is derived from the fact that we'll always be hitting the electron with light to judge what it's doing, and this will always change what the electron is doing. Whether someone is watching an electron or not, it behaves a standard probability rule--i.e., despite being a particle, it behaves like a wave.

Your convenient counter-speculation doesn't detract from the potential of my theoretical quantum mechanism, a theory which is shared by eminent physicist John Wheeler and others.

You have to talk about the empirical mechanism. There is nothing else that we do talk about when we do science.

One doesn't have to describe exactly what a mechanism is, or exactly how it works in order to invoke it as a sufficient explanation. For example, we don't know exactly what gravity is, or exactly how it works; what we do know is what the effects of gravity look like and we can described the effects of gravity with a high degree of precision. Similarly, we don't have to know exactly what intelligence is, or exactly how it operates, to be able to generate a functional differential between that which is most likely to be the product of ID, and that which doesn't meet the functional criteria.

E.g. one of the prime factors in forensics is not the nature of a scene itself (it looks like someone did it), but the means by which the accused could've acted. It looks like stonehenge was built by people partly because people can lift and arrange things that way, not just because natural causes cannot.

Similarly, ID is found because natural forces are found to lack explanatory power, and because intelligence is known to produce similar artifacts.

We see complex things all the time that aren't caused by humans. How does FSCI apply to a chair, but not to a snowflake? Or a nebula? Or a fractal?

FSCI isn't about just complexity; it's about functionally specified complex information. You can find a very detailed explanation of it here

This is what I mean by not offering any affirmative explanations.

Only, I have done so. You asked me what ID rules out; it rules out anything that can be explained via known natural processes. That doesn't mean that "everything else" is a candidate for ID; if the phenomena doesn't meet one of the current positive models, then it isn't a candidate for ID explanation.

IOW, if we find a regularly-patterned object with complex features that we don't have a current explanation for, that doesn't necessarily mean that ID can be suspected, because it takes more than inexplicable regular, complex features to be considered ID. Even if we cannot identify a particular natural process that can make the thing in question, we already know nature can produce such things (snowflakes, for example). Patterns and complexity do not by themselves indicate ID.

March 26th, 2010, 8:08 am

pjkeeley wrote:
Abiathar wrote:All lifeforms adhere to the same mathematically precise and predictable sequence of numbers. Either Socrates designed the universe, or something that understood numbers did.

Perhaps the numbers simply indicate unconscious universal laws. Who says they had to be designed? You are begging the question by assuming a mind had to be involved.

Since quantum physics indicates that not only do quanta not have qunatifiable attributes, but do not even have a determined history until a conscious mind observes them, it is far from an assumption that mind must have been involved in ordering quanta according to such mathematical elegance.

March 29th, 2010, 10:28 pm

Belinda wrote:
it is far from an assumption that mind must have been involved in ordering quanta according to such mathematical elegance.

It's healthy cynicism that points out that, whatever the case may be, the popular mind tends to anthropomorphise laws of science.

I am unfamiliar with the "laws of science". Perhaps you mean the laws of nature? It isn't cynicism that denies empricial evidence; it is ideology.

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