Plaque–evidence for Design!

| 158 Comments

Every now and then, I check in over at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) to see what new projects they’re up to, as well as to see if they’ve released a particular genome sequence I’m waiting on. Yesterday I noticed this project:

Innovative Metagenomics Strategy Used To Study Oral Microbes

Rockville, MD - The mouth is awash in microbes, but scientists so far have merely scratched the surface in identifying and studying the hundreds of bacteria that live in biofilm communities that stick to the teeth and gums.

In an innovative new project that could help improve the detection and treatment of oral diseases, scientists are now using a metagenomics strategy to analyze the complex and difficult-to-study community of microbes in the oral cavity.

***

In recent years, molecular methods have indicated that there are well over 400 species of bacteria in the oral cavity. But, so far, only about 150 of those species have been cultured in laboratories and given scientific names. Using a metagenomics sequencing strategy, TIGR scientists will be able to identify bits and pieces of the DNA of many of those oral microbes that so far have not been grown in labs and studied.

Now, I know that there are an insane amount of microbes in the mouth, but 400 species? Holy cow.

For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the microbiology of plaque, it’s an incredibly complex mixture consisting of both bacterial and host cells, as well as inorganic material such as calcium and phosphate. The formation of plaque has been fairly well-studied, and can be broken down into several steps.

1) Pellicle formation. This begins as soon as teeth are cleaned. Substances (mainly glycoproteins) in your saliva then adhere to your teeth.

2) In the next step, the pellicle-coated teeth is colonized by a number of gram-positive bacteria, including several strains of Streptococci. These “primary colonizers” produce proteins which allow for attachment and adherence to the pellicle-coated tooth surface.

3) Plaque on the surface then increases as the primary colonizers divide, and as secondary colonizers attach to the primary colonizers, and multiply in number as well. Secondary colonizers include gram-negatives such as Prevotella intermedia and Capnocytophaga species (as well as many others).

4) Tertiary colonizers (generally ~1 week post-brushing–so hopefully most of us aren’t too familiar with them!) These include species of Porphyromonas, Campylobacter, and Treponema, and again, many others. By this time, metabolic reactions in the biofilm may lead to predictable structures in some members of the plaque: for example, a “corn cob” like array of cocci bound to filaments within the biofilm.

While some of the bacteria present feed off of oral nutrients supplied by the host (such as sugars), others within the plaque rely upon nutrients produced by other bacteria within the biofilm. Additionally, some species produce products which inhibit the growth of other species in the biofilm; for example, peroxide or acids. And of course, these acids also play a role in producing the characteristic holes in your teeth that can come from regular accumulation of dental plaque.

Nishihara and Koseki provide this schematic of the current model of dental plaque formation:

Of course, plaque are not the only biofilm we know of. They’re everywhere: on your shower curtain, on medical devices implanted in patients, on rocks in rivers and streams, and in your nose. While the sheer number of different organisms a biofilm may contain makes it a challenge to study, I personally relish that challenge, and would much rather tackle it than throw my hands in the air and say it’s “too complex” to have come about naturally.

158 Comments

Tara Smith Wrote:

While the sheer number of different organisms a biofilm may contain makes it a challenge to study, I personally relish that challenge, and would much rather tackle it than throw my hands in the air and say it’s “too complex” to have come about naturally.

This is a common error ingrained in the naturalist mindset. Were it actually the case that belief in a designer thwarted the desire to study nature and discover its secrets, e.g., Newton would never have written Principia. There are many serious complaints that can be lodged against design arguments - this isn’t one of them.

Let’s differentiate between religious faith not interfering with science and ID arguing from an argument from ignorance. ID does not provide any scientifically relevant hypothesis that outlines biologically complex systems, how they came about, when, where, etc.

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PvM Wrote:

Let’s differentiate between religious faith not interfering with science and ID arguing from an argument from ignorance.

Let’s also differentiate between an investigation of biological systems and an investigation of their origins. The implication of Tara Smith’s comment was that a belief in a designer has adverse effects on the scientist’s desire to investigate biological systems per se: “Why should I study nature? I believe it was designed.”

ID does not provide any scientifically relevant hypothesis that outlines biologically complex systems, how they came about, when, where, etc.

Why is the hypothesis of a designer not scientifically relevant? The biological phenomena are consistent with the hypothesis of a designer. There are predictions that follow from such a hypothesis, e.g., similarities in structure (cf. similarities between different paintings and sculptures of the same artist).

What kinds of explanation (as oppossed to particular explanations) can Darwinism supply that design theory cannot?

Russell Wrote:

This seems a bit simplistic. Had western civilization not been dominated by the Cosmic Watchmaker mindset, who’s to say we wouldn’t have had 10 Newton-like geniuses?

Who is to say? Who’s to say we wouldn’t have had any? I can only look at what in fact occurred: modern science was constructed by men who believed that nature owes its structure to a divine being.

Aah, nothing like talk of oral biofilms to get everyone to brush their teeth a lot! That is a great schematic, I’ll have to er, use it, for my biofilm lecture. In the second week of micro lab, we have the students scrape the base of their teeth, and look at it under the darkfield ‘scope to see Treponema, They usually can find some…even if they brush a lot!

Michael Finley:

Who is to say? Who’s to say we wouldn’t have had any?

No argument from me there. It’s just that this:

Were it actually the case that belief in a designer thwarted the desire to study nature and discover its secrets, e.g., Newton would never have written Principia.

is false.

Russell:

How is it false? If belief in a designer thwarts scientific inquiry, and, e.g., Newton believed in a designer, wouldn’t it follow that Newton’s scientific inquiry would have been thwarted?

Doesn’t the fact that Newton had the drive to write Principia provide a counter-example to the above antecedent?

Michael Finley said:

What kinds of explanation (as oppossed to particular explanations) can Darwinism supply that design theory cannot?

All kinds of explanaitions except the universal blanket “he wanted it so” which is the empty explanation intelligent design theory can give. For example: “Why is the sky blue?” “The Designer wanted it so” “Why do so many species exist?” “The designer wanted it so” etc. ID is an empty theory that explains everything with that one answer and, by extension doesn’t explain anything, because if the sky happened to be green or we happened to be the only species in the planet, they would still be valid answers.

In short, ID has only one explanaition which fits every possible question imaginable. Thus, it is useless.

Hope that helps,

Grey Wolf

Michael Finley Wrote:

Let’s also differentiate between an investigation of biological systems and an investigation of their origins.

I don’t see much difference there, frankly. The issue is complex systems, and how they could have come to be. A flagellum, for example, is assembled in an analogous manner to a biofilm. Instead of different species of bacteria, it’s different proteins that build on each other, with the final product being quite a bit more than the sum of its parts.

The implication of Tara Smith’s comment was that a belief in a designer has adverse effects on the scientist’s desire to investigate biological systems per se: “Why should I study nature? I believe it was designed.”

Not necessarily on a scientist’s desire to study them, though it could affect that as well. However, I do indeed think it has an effect on non-scientists. I’ve asked this many times and never gotten an answer from a creationist/IDist–if we assume something is “designed,” and that this designer can just jump in and poke around with stuff willy-nilly, why bother investigating at all?

I see this as a fundamental difference between Newton and many early Christian scientists, who sought to further understand God by understanding his creation, and modern-day “intelligent design.” ID claims that such “designs” could not have happened without interference–as such, why bother investigating them at all, if they’re too hopelessly complex for we mere mortals to understand?

How is it false? If belief in a designer thwarts scientific inquiry, and, e.g., Newton believed in a designer, wouldn’t it follow that Newton’s scientific inquiry would have been thwarted?

Depends on what their belief is that the “designer” actually did, as I said above. Clearly many people can, and do, believe in a designer who set in motion the wheels of the universe, so to speak, but didn’t intervene at every little step along the way.

Michael, your statement

Doesn’t the fact that Newton had the drive to write Principia provide a counter-example to the above antecedent?

brings up an old saw that we use in intro science courses: If you were in a burning building and could save only two of the following, which would you allow to be lost: A painting by Picasso, a symphony by Mozart, or the Principia Mathematica?

The answer is easy; for all his genius, the work of Newton would be most expendable, because the laws of mechanics would be independently discovered. After all, like the theories of biological evolution, they are founded on data.

See, that’s where my “simplistic” description comes in. Does “thwart” mean “to absolutely prevent” or does it mean “inhibit”? Clearly the sense in Ms. Smith’s post was “inhibit” - so that’s what I’m going with. The fact that there was an Isaac Newton does not prove that those other 9 potential Newtons were not discouraged by the design paradigm. I’m not saying they were; I’m just saying your example doesn’t provide any evidence one way or the other.

Why is the hypothesis of a designer not scientifically relevant? The biological phenomena are consistent with the hypothesis of a designer. There are predictions that follow from such a hypothesis, e.g., similarities in structure (cf. similarities between different paintings and sculptures of the same artist).

That analogy only works if you know the nature of the designer (e.g. human). If you find a watch in the forest, you distinguish the fact that it is designed because the implicit statement is that everything surrounding it (rocks, trees, etc) is not designed. In order to prove otherwise, you need to identify the designer.

What kinds of explanation (as oppossed to particular explanations) can Darwinism supply that design theory cannot?

First of all, it isn’t “Darwinism”. Evolution was expanded upon with the re-discovery of Mendel’s work.

Secondly, evolution can provide us with mechanisms. ID can’t. It can’t even identify the designer, so it isn’t anything more than metaphysics. The hallmarks of ID, IC and CSI, are nothing more than Argumentum ad Ignoratum attempts to classify, and empirically they fail at doing so.

Grey Wolf Wrote:

All kinds of explanations except the universal blanket “he wanted it so” which is the empty explanation intelligent design theory can give. … ID is an empty theory that explains everything with that one answer and, by extension doesn’t explain anything, because if the sky happened to be green or we happened to be the only species in the planet, they would still be valid answers.

As far as I know, the ID explanation to “Why is the sky blue?” is the same as the naturalist’s answer, viz., because light waves corresponding to the color blue are scattered by the earth’s atmosphere.

While it is true that the last explanation in the series of explanations admitted by ID is “Because the designer made it so,” and is therefore “unexplained,” this fact should not bother critics. Naturalistic science is the same.

The current candidate for “ultimate explanation” is super strings. Physicists hope to answer all questions (e.g., why gravity has just the strength that it does, etc.) in cosmogony through the vibrations of super strings. But any philospher or 3-year-old could follow up with the question “But why are strings the way they are, and why do they vibrate in these ways, and…?”

To borrow a phrase from Wittgenstein: “Explanations come to an end somewhere.” Every series of explanations, whether theistic or naturalistic, begins from first principles that cannot themselves be explained.

Why all the fuss?

Tara Smith Wrote:

ID claims that such “designs” could not have happened without interference — as such, why bother investigating them at all, if they’re too hopelessly complex for we mere mortals to understand?

This the sentiment I object to. The ID claim is not that some biological systems are too complex to understand, but that the complexity that is understood is too complicated to arise without design.

Prince Vegita Wrote:

First of all, it isn’t “Darwinism”. Evolution was expanded upon with the re-discovery of Mendel’s work.

Sigh. “Neo-Darwinism” if you insist. Might I suggest a principle of charity instead of rhetorical nit-picking.

Secondly, evolution can provide us with mechanisms. ID can’t. It can’t even identify the designer, so it isn’t anything more than metaphysics.

.

Your correct if you restrict “mechanisms” to “natural mechanisms,” i.e., if you assume naturalism. That may be your preference, but understand that’s all it is, a philosophical preference.

Michael Finley Wrote:

This the sentiment I object to. The ID claim is not that some biological systems are too complex to understand, but that the complexity that is understood is too complicated to arise without design.

And I see that merely as 2 sides of the same coin. Who’s to say that we understand the “complex” systems well enough to be able to claim that they had to be designed?

Sigh. “Neo-Darwinism” if you insist. Might I suggest a principle of charity instead of rhetorical nit-picking.

As a scientist, I don’t believe in charity. I believe in accuracy. “Evolution” would be a good thing to call it.

Your correct if you restrict “mechanisms” to “natural mechanisms,” i.e., if you assume naturalism. That may be your preference, but understand that’s all it is, a philosophical preference.

Please give an example of a supernatural mechanism. This should be good.

This is a common error ingrained in the naturalist mindset. Were it actually the case that belief in a designer thwarted the desire to study nature and discover its secrets, e.g., Newton would never have written Principia.

Strawman and fallacy of affirmation of the consequent. The claim wasn’t that belief in a designer thwarts the desire to study, it was that claims for a designer are presented instead of doing further study. The imputing of motive is yours, not Tara Smith’s, or those with “the naturalist mindset” (I guess that’s the set of rational attitudes).

This the sentiment I object to. The ID claim is not that some biological systems are too complex to understand, but that the complexity that is understood is too complicated to arise without design.

What pathetic equivocation. “understanding” in this context is causal understanding.

I must say, you’re a fancier sort of ID troll than most, but troll you be nonetheless. The charter here is “The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.”

Michael Wrote:

But any philospher or 3-year-old could follow up with the question “But why are strings the way they are, and why do they vibrate in these ways, and … ?”

As I see it, the difference is:

1- Scientist: “Yes, why indeed? Let’s investigate that. I propose this and this hypothesis and these experiments”.

2- IDer: “Because it was designed to be so”.

All explanations come to an end somewhere, but IDers seem to get to that end faster.

ts Wrote:

I must say, you’re a fancier sort of ID troll than most, but troll you be nonetheless. The charter here is “The patrons gather to discuss evolutionary theory, critique the claims of the antievolution movement, defend the integrity of both science and science education, and share good conversation.”

C’mon. Though I disagree with Michael, he’s been quite polite in his discussion. Can we please keep it that way on all sides? There can be “good conversation” even with people who disagree.

Michael Finley Wrote:

Doesn’t the fact that Newton had the drive to write Principia provide a counter-example to the above antecedent?

Even assuming that Newton was driven by his religious faith, how does this validate the central argument of ID which states that anything whose origin cannot be immediately figured out via natural causes should have its origin attributed to divine intervention?

Newton’s belief in a “designer” may have given him inspiration, but he did not rely on divine intervention to explain the previously inexplicable phenomena in question. Had he done so, we would have ended up with some useless apologetics (perhaps in the service of 17th century “cultural renewal”) instead of a rigorous and predictive science.

I would say that Newton’s Principia, and indeed every triumph of science, is a direct counter-example to the ID approach.

Inspired by Russell, I rechrisen ID Ineffective Defeatism.

Please give an example of a supernatural mechanism. This should be good.

Indeed. I’ve addressed this nonsense over in the Dennett thread. Scientific explanations are predictive; they provide justification for the expectation of an observation: “It would have been reasonable to expect [observation] because [explanation]”. “supernatural explanations” aren’t explanations at all, they are just fancy ways of saying “no explanation”. They don’t bear the proper relationship with the explanandum – to pick it out, among alternatives, as a plausible outcome. “It was designed” – why this way, rather than some other way? Why does this design utilize components from previous designs for other functions? Why are similar designs related in just those ways that evolution suggests? “supernatural explanations” are moot on such questions. Finlay claims that “it was designed” is predictive, because it predicts “similar” designs, as paintings by a single painter are similar. But “similarity” isn’t predictive at all – all paintings are “similar” in that they are paintings; all collections of organic molecules are similar by virtue of that commonality. “it was designed” cannot predict any feature of this “similarity”. What sort of dissimilarity could falsify “it was designed”, especially given the range of variability already observed in nature? All the similarity that Finlay refers to is already observed. What does “it was designed” predict? That all future observed organisms will be “similar” to existing organisms? But the whole point of ID is that there are dissimilarities – that these designs could not, they wrongly say, have evolved from a common ancestor. And who is to say that there is just one designer? Perhaps each species, or each “irreducibly complex” mechanism, was designed by a different designer? How does the evidence support one hypothesis over the other? What evidence could possibly distinguish among them?

Finley says that naturalism is “a philosophical preference”. Well, doing science rather than religion is certainly a matter of preference – the IDists and other creationists are welcome to do religion, or expound philosophy. But science is based on “methodological naturalism” – that’s what makes it science, and it isn’t “a philosophical preference” whether “supernatural explanations” are allowed in science – they aren’t, period. And, like being right vs. being wrong, this preference isn’t neutral – it’s the difference between the epistemological expansion that has resulted from the “natural philosophy” of the enlightenment, and the 2500 years of mental masturbation that has been the result of the misnomered “philosophy” – more like sophophobia, often.

Finley wants to know what all the fuss is about because, after all, any series of explanations bottoms out. But the difference is in being forced to bottom out and choosing to bottom out. It’s like this famous New Yorker cartoon: http://www.frameworksoft.com/assets[…]_cartoon.gif “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.” Gee, why all the fuss about a model of biology that has a bunch of “Then a miracle occurs” scattered throughout? What’s the difference between that and a Theory of Everything that contains undecomposable axioms? Perhaps it’s that a) “it was designed” is not an undecomposable axiom and b) we can do, and have done, much better. The difference between naturalists and IDists isn’t just a philosophical preference, it’s that the former produce detailed predictive explanations and theories where the latter not only do not, but they make many factually incorrect claims, such as “irreducably complex systems could not have evolved”.

One of the fundamental tools of science is Occam’s Razor, and it mandates against introduction of such “entities” as “miracle” or “designer” – violations of Occam’s Razor are worthy of a very big fuss indeed. For centuries, Occam’s Razor was considered to be an effective methodological tool, but not a fact or truism. But information theorists have recently proven that Occam’s Razor is a theorem, when expressed in the form “the predictions of simpler (in an information theoretic sense) explanations are more likely to be correct”.

Though I disagree with Michael, he’s been quite polite in his discussion.

Opening a conversation on a site devoted to naturalistic science with “This is a common error ingrained in the naturalist mindset” is not polite, it’s trolling. If he wants to bash naturalists for being naturalists, there are plenty of places where he can find kindred spirits (sic).

I confess to a philosophical preference for arguments backed by evidence. I understand that I’m probably very much in the minority in this preference, for whatever reasons. I also understand that this minority carries an ungrateful, ignorant, and superstitious majority on its shoulders. And that majority uses the very products of the ‘worldview’ they despise (which would never have come to pass without that worldview) to do their jobs, provide themselves with food clothing and shelter, and even write to blogs and bulletin boards to deny the validity of what produces their lifestyle.

It’s kind of a shame that we can’t let those with a philosophical preference for evidence live in one world, and let those with a philosphical preference for magic live in another. I wonder if the lesson would ever penetrate?

Just for completeness, the explanation of Rayleigh scattering (preferential scattering of lower wavelengths) for why the sky is blue is incomplete. Otherwise, the wise student should ask “why isn’t the sky purple?” The complete answer is the convolution of Rayleigh scattering and the frequency dependent sensitivity of our eyes.

Our eyes are most sensitive to yellow, of course.

The general idea that ID thwarts science is belied by those of us who are IDers and who, in fact, do science.

One obvious problem with this discussion is this assumption that belief in intelligent design causes a person to have no curiousity about nature and how things work. I believe in intelligent design, yet I am quite curious to dig down and understand how things work. I would call it simple arrogance to say “I don’t believe in intelligent design, and therefore I have greater curiosity than those who believe in intelliegent design.”

The biological phenomena are consistent with the hypothesis of a designer. There are predictions that follow from such a hypothesis, e.g., similarities in structure (cf. similarities between different paintings and sculptures of the same artist).

If the designer is limited in resources, such a prediction might follow. It does not follow for an omnipotent designer. Be clear what you mean.

Similarities in structure are not required of a very creative designer, nor of an omnipotent one, I would posit. Consider that a mechanical watch can be run either by a springwound mechanism with a regulator, or with quartz-crystal vibrations setting the time and controlling an electric motor. One expects such dramatic variations in design of common-job objects, especially where the design meets other standards (a springwound watch might be good for people in the wilderness, a long way from a supply of tiny batteries, for example).

But otherwise, similarities in structure are required ONLY if there are no other structures that could possibly do the job or if the designer is incapable of conceiving of a different design, as early springwound watchmakers had no concept of electricity and electric motors, or if the designer is incapable of producing the design dreamed of – see da Vinci’s flying machines, for example.

It may also be the case that differences in design argue for different designers. Perhaps the squid has an eye superior to mammals because the squid has a different designer.

Where is the intelligent design lab that is working on any of that?

Why is the hypothesis of a designer not scientifically relevant? The biological phenomena are consistent with the hypothesis of a designer.

Anything is consistent with the hypothesis of a designer, making the hypothesis scientifically irrelevant – it is unfalsifiable, and is the grossest possible violation of Ockham’s Razor, since it is consistent with, and adds nothing to, any set of hypotheses. The point of the unfalsifiability of design has been made many times; I suggest that you learn the rudiments of philosophy of science.

There are predictions that follow from such a hypothesis, e.g., similarities in structure (cf. similarities between different paintings and sculptures of the same artist).

This too has been discussed at length. If you think there are such predictions, then offer one. “We can expect similarities of structure” is as semantically empty as the daily horoscope.

What kinds of explanation (as oppossed to particular explanations) can Darwinism supply that design theory cannot?

First, “design theory” is not a “theory” at all in the scientific sense, it’s just a negative claim against the theory of evolution; this too has been discussed at length.

The kind of explanations that the theory of evolution supplies is the scientific kind – causal explanations that have predictive power. Predictive in the real sense that the predictions are specific and non-obvious in absence of the theory, that they are novel – they go beyond what has already been observed, and are not made by competing theories or hypotheses. OTOH, there are no “predictions” of “design theory” that are specific, non-obvious, go beyond what has already been observed, or are inconsistent with the theory of evolution – “organisms have similar structures” fails on all counts.

Here are some specific predictions of evolution; kindly provide anything of the sort that results from so-called “design theory”:

http://www.X.org/creation/evo_science.html (replace “X” with “don-lindsay-archive” – it seems this site imposes some sort of censorship.)

You might want to read the whole site – you would advance your knowledge immensely from its current state, and it might disabuse you of your confused, mistaken, and fallacious “mindset”.

Re “Perhaps each species […] was designed by a different designer?” Perhaps each species was “designed” by the gene pools of its ancestors? ;)

Re “and let those with a philosphical preference for magic live in another” Abracadabra! (Heh heh)

Henry

Wayne:

There can be no evidence that falsifies ID because you can’t claim to restrict an all powerful being.

Yes, that is what others are saying. With that irrefutable comeback, I claim it is then disingenuous to ask the question. And I also claim you (they) are not really asking “how can I falsify ID?” but are only pretending to ask that. You are really asking “how can I falsify God?” which more-or-less everyone has agreed, through the ages, is impossible.

You asked for evidence that would falsify evolution

Actually I didn’t. I said that the pre Cambrian human fossil is a nonsense example of falsifiability. And I said that you can’t be sure that any particular result would falsify evolution for everybody. Some would have their foundations shaken before others.

More importantly [to falsify evolution] you would need a theory that explained what we see better then evolution.

Why? At least in principle that is not a requirement for falsifying a theory. Certainly a theory can be falsified, leaving us in a state of “it looks like at the moment we just don’t know.” A theory can be falsified without being supplanted.

Hope you are feeling better.

Bob Maurus:

Would you mind laying out the scientific basis for that conclusion?

Not here. I have done that elsewhere and would be happy to do it again, but I wanted to keep this subthread about falsifying ID, not ID itself.

Kinda strains credulity, don’t you think?

No.

Air Bear:

You’re making ID sound an awful lot like philosophical inspiration, like the Eightfold Way, rather than actual science.

That is pretty close to how I think about it.

Then what is ID good for, then?

As a framework. Frameworks are useful in science and philosophy, even if they themselves are not very predictive. The parallel universes research is a similar example. Now since my claim of fasifiability were denied on the basis that it applied only to my private ID, so should my claims that ID is not strictly a science and not (meaningfully) predictive. That applies just to “DHID.”

You can make some predictions, of course. The obvious ones are just the opposite of the falsifying results. If parallel universes falsify ID, then ID predicts that parallel universes will not be detected.

David Heddle Wrote:

Sorry I don’t get it. (BTW, I never claimed ID as a scientific theory.)

This business of “my” version of ID is nonsense. First of all, why do Dembski and Behe (I have read some of Behe) own ID? The ID in the book The Privileged Planet is very similar to what I believe. They also list many ways that ID can be falsified. Does that not count because they (Gonzalez and Richards) are not Dembski or Behe? Or Hugh Ross? I agree with much of what he writes—but falsfying his ideas doesn’t count?

As far as I can tell, nobody will admit that ID is falsifiable because you don’t want to admit that ID is falsifiable.

But you still have this nasty problem that if certain ongoing research turns out a certain way, then certain people (not just me) will drop ID. If that isn’t textbook falsifiability, then I don’t know what is.

1. If ID is not scientific, why even worry about falsification? 2. No, Dumbski (sic) and Behe don’t own ID, they are just as disingenuous as anyone else who tries to push ID as science. 3. This is what you have been waiting for: ID is falsifiable, but only as a philosophical/religious idea. It is not scientifically falsifiable because it is not scientific. That doesn’t mean that scientific means can’t be used to falsify one’s personal philosophy, but it also doesn’t make ID scientific. Furthermore, ID can not be scientific because it relies on a supernatural cause, which by definition can not be proven nor disproven (falsified) by natural means, which are the only things we have available to us, which you seem to agree with in the next quote:

David Heddle again Wrote:

Yes, that is what others are saying. With that irrefutable comeback, I claim it is then disingenuous to ask the question. And I also claim you (they) are not really asking “how can I falsify ID?” but are only pretending to ask that. You are really asking “how can I falsify God?” which more-or-less everyone has agreed, through the ages, is impossible.

It’s not disingenuous to ask when someone pushes ID as a scientific theory. That’s the whole point. If ID is scientific, then it must be scientifically refutable. If you are not pushing ID as science, and it appears that you aren’t, then the discussion is moot.

David Heddle:

I can see that we aren’t communicating, and I can also see that we probably can’t communicate. I’ll try one more time.

Falsifying ID is not the equivalent of falsifying God.

Yes it is! Falsifying ID means demonstrating conclusively that design did not happen and could not happen. There is a vast qualitative difference between (1)demonstrating that something is false; and (2) Not demonstrating that it’s true.

Falsifying ID means there is no evidence of anything other than natural means for things to be the way they are.

Absolutely wrong! Amazingly wrong. David, you don’t seem to have any idea of what it means to falsify something. If an incorrect hypothesis is proposed, it is falsified by the observation of contradictory evidence. That evidence means that the hypothesis is WRONG. If no such evidence is found, the hypothesis is not falsified. That doesn’t mean it’s true, only that it has not yet been shown to be wrong.

Lack of evidence does not and can not falsify anything. Falsification means actual contradictory evidence. If contradictory evidence cannot be produced, ID cannot be falsified.

Why is this a tough concept?

I don’t know. It shouldn’t be. To falsify ID, you must produce positive, reproducible evidence that contradicts ID. If finding such evidence is impossible in principle (as it is), then ID cannot be falsified. If such evidence CAN be produced but so far HAS NOT been produced, then ID is a valid hypothesis pending contradictory evidence. If no evidence can be found either for OR against ID (as is actually the case) then ID is a scientifically empty concept. There is an infinity of hypotheses for which no relevant evidence has ever been discovered.

Incidentally, this is why no scientific theory can be proved true. Every theory, every hypothesis can be PROVED false, at least in some respects, beyond any doubt or probability. Conflicting evidence shows that a hypothesis is WRONG WRONG WRONG! Supporting evidence doesn’t mean the hypothesis is right, only that it’s more probable and falsifying observations haven’t yet been made – but they might be!

Like you (I think) said, God could have made parallel universes.

God COULD have done anything whatsoever. God is defined as omnipotent.

It’s an absurd stance. Some of us who are IDers tell you the experimental results that would make us abandon ID, and yet you insist that ID is unfalsifiable.

So what do you call it if:

Day 1: I am a diehard ID proponent Day 2: Experimental detection of another universe is announced Day 3: I renounce ID

And, after you tell me that, tell me what this is called:

Day 1: I am a diehard steady-state universe proponent Day 2: Experimental detection of the expansion of the universe is announced Day 3: I renounce the steady-state view of the universe

David I want to get your position straight. Do you agree that evolution is falsifiable.

The thought of things like 50 million year old homo sapian fossils is crazy just as a blue M class star is crazy. But if either of these where found we would have to seriously look the theories that say they shouldn’t exsist.

I couldn’t make a post better then TS’s comment # 17633

I personally don’t think you can prove/disprove ID if the creator is supernatural. Nor do I care to try. Most people here don’t care to try to prove or disprove “God”.

Can you elaborate on your this from Comment # 6835

David Heddle Wrote:

how do you falsify the aspects of evolution that go beyond genetics?

Like others have said the only reason we would not expect to find humans in 50 million year old strata is because of evolution. If we did find one that old it wouldn’t be a miracle. It would be a 50 million year old fossil of a homo sapian that we would have to tr to figure out what happened. Would this collapse evolution? It would be a big blow to the theory as it stands .… but just go with TS’s comments. They are much more sensable and not far fetched.

Yes I believe evolution is falsifiable. I didn’t always think so. When you aren’t being called stupid, liar, troll, moron, idiot, crack-head, and, most recently, a child abuser, you can occasionally learn something on this site.

Im am not sure how you want me to elaborate on that question (how do you falsify the aspects of evolution that go beyond genetics?) I don’t what I was thinking about at that time. Probably looking for falsification in speciation.

There can be no evidence that falsifies ID because you can’t claim to restrict an all powerful being.

Yes, that is what others are saying. With that irrefutable comeback, I claim it is then disingenuous to ask the question.

So, if we don’t believe that ID is falsifiable, then it is disingenuous to ask Heddle how one would falsify ID. How droll. And how intellectually corrupt. What is clearly disingenuous is for Heddle to claim that ID is falsifiable (“for me”) when it clearly isn’t, and to continue to offer up ways that it could be “falsified” that clearly aren’t examples of falsification – disconfirming evidence. Demonstrating to Heddle’s personal satisfaction that God did not design us has everything to do with his religious commitments and nothing at all to do with science – and only the most incredibly disingenuous person would deny it. Tara Smith writes to me complaining that calling people “moronic trolls” “makes us all look bad” – but what is she writing to David Heddle? If Heddle’s sort of bad faith and intellectual dishonesty doesn’t make scientists look bad, then nothing does.

Tara Smith writes to me complaining that calling people “moronic trolls” “makes us all look bad” — but what is she writing to David Heddle? If Heddle’s sort of bad faith and intellectual dishonesty doesn’t make scientists look bad, then nothing does.

I certainly agree that there are people who carry the label “scientist” who are intellectually dishonest. However, they are not on this site and supporting my position. ts is. As such, I tend to hold people on “my side” of an argument to a higher standard than I do those on the “other side.” I feel my arguments can be presented, and judged to be superior, without resorting to calling those on the other side of the aisle “trolls” or other such assorted insults.

As such, I’m going to close this for comments at this time. Thank you all for the discussion, and my apologies to those of you who were insulted due to your position. I think that, as adults, we can and should be above that and have good discussion even among those who strongly disagree; and will likely be a bit quicker with the edit function in future posts.

Tara Smith

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This page contains a single entry by Tara Smith published on February 22, 2005 10:24 AM.

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