Intelligent Design and String Theory

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On the Science and theology blog, Matt Donnelly describes better than I could ever, the difference between Intelligent Design and String theory. While some ID activists have claimed that ID is as ‘scientific’ as String theory (or multiverses or …), they miss a few points. Matt Donnelly’s posting is based on an Editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “A scientific leap, but without the faith”written by Amanda Gefter.

In my own words:

1. ID is an ad hoc argument to explain something we do not understand. String theory or multiverses follow logically or mathematically from observations.

2. ID is in principle unfalsifiable, string theory and mutliverses are just hard to falsify

3. String theory and multiverses fall into a category which is best described as

But the real danger is not string theory’s lack of experiments — it is the misrepresentation of what scientific theories are all about. Sure, falsifiability is a key component of the scientific method. But there is something that matters more: the power of explanation. History reveals that the structure of a theory itself — its internal mathematical consistency, its scope, and its beauty — often determines whether it is accepted as science.

That ID is scientifically vacuous is once again beautifully exposed:

The theory of intelligent design is not only not falsifiable; there is simply no way to test it. But that is not the main reason it is not science. The main reason is, that ID does not actually explain anything. When we ask, “Why is the world the way it is?” it answers, “Because it was designed that way.” The world is the way it is because it is that way. That might be the furthest from a useful, satisfactory explanation you can get.

Or “As Columbia University physicist Brian Greene says, “

Brian Greene Wrote:

“String theory is a work in progress. It is science because in its decades of development it has always adhered to the well-established methodology of theoretical physics. So far, we have not revealed enough about string theory to extract detailed predictions that are within reach of today’s technology. If, however, we believed that this latter goal of testing string theory were permanently unattainable - as it most certainly is for ID as currently presented - we would no longer work on the theory. As of now, there is no way to tell how things will pan out. But that’s what theoretical physics is all about: Devise theories, analyze them with rigorous mathematical tools, do your best to extract experimental predictions, and test them. No one can predict how long each individual step in this progression will take.” So be patient!

For an indepth interview with Brian Greene on Nova click this link

At the “He Lives” website David Heddle who describes himself as a ‘reformed nuclear physicist” discussed Susskind’s latest book titled “The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design “. In Susskind’s Sophie’s Choice, Heddle describes his ‘objections’ to Susskind’s solution to the anthropic principle. Since Heddle has much invested in his Cosmological argument, it should not come as a surprise that Heddle objects to Susskind’s arguments. Ironically however he seems to miss the irony in the following statement:

David Heddle Wrote:

Susskind has presented the physics community with what is, for some (not this writer), a Sophie’s Choice: a hidious, complictated, unfalsifiable String-Theory Landscape, or Intelligent Design.

Susskind rocks.

What Heddle forgets to mention is that Susskind’s ‘multiverses’ are a direct consequence of the well supported inflationary theory. Intelligent Design however has no such basis in theory. In other words, why should David’s cosmological argument for ID be seen as scientific when it fails the same standards?

Let me try to give my best understanding of string theory. String theory tries to combine Relativity and Quantum Mechanics into a single theory. Since there are occasions where we need to apply both relativity and quantum mechanics, such a theory is needed.

An early attempt to extend space to 5 dimensions was the Kaluza-Klein compactification. By expanding space to 5 dimensions, electro magnetic force and gravity could be unified. The 5th dimension’s size was so small however that it remains invisible to direct observation. When the weak and strong forces were discovered, the Kaluza Klein solution seems to have failed as it could not explain these additional forces. By extending the dimension to 10 or 11, string theory however can explain and unify these forces. At the moment most work is done to reconcile these models with known principles and observations.

One of the aspects String theory deals with better than particle physics is the treatment of particles of having zero size, leading effectively to singularities. In String theory the particles interact at a Planck distance which resolves the problem with particles.

In the original work of Kaluza it was shown that if we start with a theory of general relativity in 5-spacetime dimensions and then curl up one of the dimensions into a circle we end up with a 4-dimensional theory of general relativity plus electromagnetism! The reason why this works is that electromagnetism is a U(1) gauge theory, and U(1) is just the group of rotations around a circle. If we assume that the electron has a degree of freedom corresponding to point on a circle, and that this point is free to vary on the circle as we move around in spacetime, we find that the theory must contain the photon and that the electron obeys the equations of motion of electromagnetism (namely Maxwell’s equations). The Kaluza-Klein mechanism simply gives a geometrical explanation for this circle: it comes from an actual fifth dimension that has been curled up. In this simple example we see that even though the compact dimensions maybe too small to detect directly, they still can have profound physical implications. [Incidentally the work of Kaluza and Klein leaked over into the popular culture launching all kinds of fantasies about the “Fifth dimension”!]

Link

An interesting overview of String theory and what has been accomplished is given here

Another major flaw of the standard model is that it describes the interactions of elementary particles but not where they come from. This knowledge is known through experimental data only. String theory should explain where the four forces come from, why the particles that we see exist, why these particles have the masses and charges that they do, why there are four spacetime dimensions that we live in, and the nature of spacetime and gravity 3. As strings move through time, they trace out a worldsheet similar to the worldlines of point theory. They vibrate, and these different vibrational modes give rise to the various particles that we can “see”. The different modes are seen as the different masses and spins. String theory possesses the necessary degrees of freedom to describe all known interactions–something that cannot be said about the standard model. These degrees of freedom arise from the spacetime dimensions that strings live in. Whereas we can only see four spacetime dimensions, string theory has ten or eleven. Six or seven of these dimensions are curled and thus effectively invisible; the idea is that motion in these compacted dimensions gives rise to the properties of the particles 2. Kaluza-Klein showed that if a fifth dimension were compacted and added to our spacetime, it would allow a four dimensional theory of general relativity plus electromagnetism. If the electron is allowed this extra degree of freedom, then the photon arises and the electron obey’s Maxwell’s equations 3. Elimination of the extra dimensions through Kaluza-Klein compactification or constrainment of matter and gravity into a three-dimensional subspace called the three brane is called braneworld theories 5. In the case of Kaluza-Klein compactification, the extra dimensions are wrapped on Calabi-Yau Manifolds and Orbifolds that are far too small to be seen with modern technology 2. The extra degrees of freedom afforded by string theory explains more than electrons. They predict the existence of the graviton, include the same gauge theories as the standard model, and predict supersymmetry at low energies such as the electroweak scale. Current particle accelerators are only reaching to about 10^(-16)cm, so point-particle approximations are still successful as approximations. Once accelerators reach smaller scales, however, supersymmetry may be revealed and point-particle approximations may prove to be incorrect 4.

139 Comments

The real difference between String Theory and ID is this: the Stringers are on a constant search for an experiment that can test their theory, while the IDers resist any attempts to find such an experiment for their theory.

Good point. But then again, there is no theory of ID to test :-)

There is also other historical precedent for the type of work going on in string theory that the ID crowd doesn’t understand. Mach hounded Boltzmann into depression over Boltzmann’s work on statistical mechanics because atoms could not be observed even in principle, or so thought Mach. Nevertheless, due to the work by Boltzmann, Maxwell, Gibbs, Einstein, Bose and others, the macroscopic behaviors of gases, then solids, then plasmas finally began to be explained accurately in terms of the behaviors of the underlying microscopic behaviors of atoms and molecules and the laws of classical and quantum mechanics.

Now we can “see” and manipulate atoms using scanning tunneling microscopes and their derivatives. But all along the path, there were experimental checks that verified the validity of the theory. Even with string theory there remains the possibility that someone will find a clever experiment within the range of technology that will check consequences of the theory. It has happened many times before because there are clear links to experiments, even if these are gedanken experiments for the moment.

Where are the string theorists lobbying for their idea to be taught in schools? Where is the PR offensive? Where is the theory’s Dembski, where its Behe, where its Fleischmann and Pons?

Surely no new scientific theory can be taken seriously unless we teach the controversy to teenagers first.

R

You unfairly malign Fleischmann and Pons. They were (and AFASIK still are) experimentalists. Yes, the results do appear to have been in error. But there were results that could be replicated (or not). Pons might have done poor calorimetric measurements, but that does not make him a Dembski.

[Full disclosure: I was in the Chemistry Dept. at the University of Utah when Pons, Fleischmann and the unnamed grad student published the Cold Fusion paper.]

The maligning is even worse than that - IIRC it wasn’t even their decision to hold the infamous press conference that caused so much trouble, it was the university’s decision. And this was with results that were not only gained by valid scientific (if ultimately mistaken) approaches, but with an hypothesis as to causation that was actually broadly consistent with the rest of science. There have even been tantalising hints over the years that maybe they were actually onto something.

And they still got torn apart by the academic community over it. Real scientists, respectable individuals working inside their field of expertise, got minced for not going through the proper steps. And that’s pretty much as it should be. But it does rather kill the IDiots’ claims of persecution.

[Full disclosure: my dad worked for Dr Fleischmann as a grad student. No, he wasn’t that grad student.]

Thanks for the article. The way you explained the dimensions was a big help to me. Just a question.

Sorry. Question. Gribbon explains in his book “Schroedinger’s kittens” than ST (String Theory) will do away with the CC. He fails to mention in what way. It is because ST will explain the CC or that ST does not need any CC in it’s equations?

Comment #78460

Posted by RupertG on February 9, 2006 04:31 AM (e)

Where are the string theorists lobbying for their idea to be taught in schools? Where is the PR offensive? Where is the theory’s Dembski, where its Behe, where its Fleischmann and Pons?

Surely no new scientific theory can be taken seriously unless we teach the controversy to teenagers first.

R

I’m with RupertG. If it doesn’t have a PR campaign, it must not be serious science… :)

Corkscrew and DaryL: Wow, it’s a small world, innit?

About P&F, I know close to nothing about nuclear physics, but I thought their results were NOT consistent with current theories, and in fact one of the things that immediately suggested that something was wrong with their conclusions was that, if their measurements were correct, the experimenters would have been practically incinerated by the radiation emitted by their system.

Also, apart from the press conference (which clearly they should have refused to participate in, regardless of who set it up), I think the reason they were “chewed up” was that they hung on to their conclusions well past the moment they were shown to be extremely fishy, in part abetted in this by spurious results obtained in other labs, as well as by cheer-leading from outsiders and other self-proclaimed “iconoclasts”. (I think that’s where the similarity with ID is, not in their methods, which were indeed scientific.)

A long time ago I read what seemed a pretty good book (if rather negative about P&F) about the whole story, “Bad Science” by Gary Taubes.

Back to string theory now.

You forgot one item in your list of differences between string theory and ID:

4. If experiments show that string theory does not correctly explain observable phenomena in the universe, then string theory will be discarded. That is, scientists working on string theory will acknowledge it if their theory cannot be reconciled with experimental data. ID proponents will not change their minds, no matter what experimental data shows.

Renier, my understanding is that string theory would explain the CC. The CC is the vacuum energy density, which is related to quantum gravity, which string theory seeks to describe.

I would like to go off in another direction: astronomy. It is well-known that Newton could not explain the relative motion of the planets Jupiter and Saturn. I have read, although I have no reference, that as a kind of explanation he postulated “the intermittent action of a deity”.

About a hundred years later Laplace did the calculation with the newly invented technique of perturbation theory to the 3rd order. Newton is said to have done his calculation only to the 2nd order. - Laplace had thus good reasons for answering Napoleon that he had no need for a hypothetical god in his scientific work.

How can a believer in ID creationism be sure that he does not make the same mistake as Newton?

At every string throry seminar I ever attended, at the end an HEP experimentalist would always ask “Is any of this testable ?”. The reply was walways along the lines of “Yes, but you dimwit experimentalists haven’t been able to build a big enough particle accelerator yet”

Good Times.

It would be nice if there was just one proposed falsifiable ID experiment out there, but I haven’t hread one.

It’s simpler than that, really. One may readily come up with a testable model of intelligent design of organisms, it’s just that when one does this one finds that ID has already been falsified.

Once evolution began to make its predictions, life was found to show the marks of evolution, while intelligent claims that life was designed evaporated in the face of vestigial organs and rather unlikely “designs” which are predicted by evolution, and which are actually predicted not to exist by any rational/empirical concept of design. That is, ID is falsifiable, if one simply brings normal design expectations to judge if organisms have been designed or not. When this is done we find that organisms haven’t been designed, rather they are well explained via evolution.

The resurrected concept of ID avoids the problem that it has been falsified by denying the meaningfulness of every reasonable test that we bring to it. While current ID isn’t falsifiable, this is simply because it refuses to accept expected tests of ID because these refute the concept. Therefore, it isn’t due to the nature of ID that it cannot be tested (the designer doesn’t need to be known per se, however this posited designer must follow fairly normal expectations that we have for a designer, or we would have no means to evaluate the design claim), it is merely the denial of reasonable testing criteria which makes ID untestable in its current form. IDists refuse any criterion that will allow ID to be falsified.

We really shouldn’t allow anyone to confuse the issue, since confusion of standards is what ID feeds off of. IDists cannot subject their idea to testing because they already know that normal tests do not find design in organisms. Thus they oppose science itself, and demand that an unknown designer with unknown design criteria, unknown capabilities, and unknown purposes (even in principle) for its designs, be considered to be “science”. They deliberately demand that their ideas must be accommodated within science (or at least science education) after modifying the old claims so that they can no longer be tested, as Paley’s claims were able to be tested. This is why ID is the most malign form of creationism yet.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

Please read the nature article:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journa[…]439010a.html

String theory is not more scientific than intelligent design. At least with intelligent design, there are many tangible artifacts one can analyze and infer conclusions from. String theory postulates ideas that are outside the observable universe. At least that’s the feeling that I’m getting from the article I linked to above.

First, responding to Renier: The cosmological constant has been a puzzle in physics for years, and no theory has ever made a reasonable prediction for its value.

For a long time, every experiment showed that its value was zero to within the experimental uncertainty. At that time, most physicists expected that there must be some physical principle (as yet unknown) that required it to be zero exactly. So people expected that a “theory of everything” like string theory would imply such a principle… but nobody could find it. I’m guessing that the book you mention was written in that era.

More recently, more precise experiments have discovered that the cosmological constant is non-zero, but very, very small. So now, physicists working on string theory have stopped looking for a principle that sets it to zero exactly, and are instead looking for mechanisms that could lead to such a small value. (Some of my own work has been on that topic.) Some still hope that string theory will eventually predict the exact value, while others now suspect that different values might be allowed in different (and very distant!) regions of the universe.

Next, “yellow fatty bean”: In most of the string theory seminars that I’ve been to (or given), the speaker has responded to the question of experimental tests by stating that both the theorists and the experimentalists would need to do better for predictions to be testable. Personally, I figure that we theorists have the farthest to go in bridging that gap: experiment has been making great progress for decades, while we’re still trying to figure out the underlying structure of the theory. But that’s the fun! So I agree: Good Times.

Finally, just as a personal plug, I’ve got slides from my own “Introduction to String Theory” talk on line for those who are interested; it’s aimed at people who took some physics years ago but may not have done a lot with it since. I like to think that I’ve described string theory’s extra dimensions and some of its differences from traditional particle physics reasonably well (at that level). The address is: http://theory.uchicago.edu/~sjensen[…]MITClub2004/.

Here is perhaps a more simplistic explanation for “non” scientist who are interested String Theory In String Theory, the myriad of particle types is replaced by a single fundamental building block, a ‘string’. These strings can be closed, like loops, or open, like a hair. As the string moves through time it traces out a tube or a sheet, according to whether it is closed or open. Furthermore, the string is free to vibrate, and different vibrational modes of the string represent the different particle types, since different modes are seen as different masses or spins. M-theory Apart from the fact that instead of one there are five different, healthy theories of strings (three superstrings and two heterotic strings) there was another difficulty in studying these theories: we did not have tools to explore the theory over all possible values of the parameters in the theory. Each theory was like a large planet of which we only knew a small island somewhere on the planet. But over the last four years, techniques were developed to explore the theories more thoroughly, in other words, to travel around the seas in each of those planets and find new islands. And only then it was realized that those five string theories are actually islands on the same planet, not different ones! Thus there is an underlying theory of which all string theories are only different aspects. This was called M-theory. The M might stand for Mother of all theories or Mystery, because the planet we call M-theory is still largely unexplored. M-theory Apart from the fact that instead of one there are five different, healthy theories of strings (three superstrings and two heterotic strings) there was another difficulty in studying these theories: we did not have tools to explore the theory over all possible values of the parameters in the theory. Each theory was like a large planet of which we only knew a small island somewhere on the planet. But over the last four years, techniques were developed to explore the theories more thoroughly, in other words, to travel around the seas in each of those planets and find new islands. And only then it was realized that those five string theories are actually islands on the same planet, not different ones! Thus there is an underlying theory of which all string theories are only different aspects. This was called M-theory. The M might stand for Mother of all theories or Mystery, because the planet we call M-theory is still largely unexplored.

Anteater Wrote:

String theory is not more scientific than intelligent design. At least with intelligent design, there are many tangible artifacts one can analyze and infer conclusions from. String theory postulates ideas that are outside the observable universe. At least that’s the feeling that I’m getting from the article I linked to above.

Now you are conflating ID with id. The latter one has tangible artifacts, and we understand motives, means, opportunities. With ID no attempt is made to explain a particular system other than letting our ignorance of being able to explain it, lead to a conclusion of design.

String theory indeed postulates dimensions that are at the moment outside our ability to detect but with the new super colliders, we may be able to get to high enough energies where the effects of String theory can be detected. The beauty of string theory is that for instance the unification of gravity and electro magnetism followed directly from a five dimensional ‘universe’ with one dimension ‘compacted’ to a size of the order of a Planck dimension. First of all String theory has to show that it can capture known laws, effects, and then it has to propose how one may be able to test whether or not string theory has any relevance. Compare the amount of literature on string theory and its applications to black holes and other areas with ID… Even ID’s best ‘example’ the bacterial flagellum lacks any scientific explanations as to how it came about relevant to the ID hypothesis.

It’s good to see people who understand string theory much better than I do contribute to this thread. Steuard your webpages are very helpful to me. My understanding of physics is enough to get me into trouble, your pages are enough to get me out of trouble again :-)

Exploring M Theory and strings is quite interesting since for a long time I had a limited grasp of what it was really all about. My goal was to show that ID and string theory are only superficially ‘similar’

Very sorry for the double post, the last part should have read.

There is still a third possibility for the M in M-theory. One of the islands that was found on the M-theory planet corresponds to a theory that lives not in 10 but in 11 dimensions. This seems to be telling us that M-theory should be viewed as an 11 dimensional theory that looks 10 dimensional at some points in its space of parameters. Such a theory could have as a fundamental object a Membrane, as opposed to a string. Like a drinking straw seen at a distance, the membranes would look like strings when we curl the 11th dimension into a small circle

Hello PvM,

Thanks for the response. I agree String Theory may be a beautiful theory. But some may say ID is also elegant.

I personally see no difference between String Theory and ID in terms of metaphysics. Both are on the same footing.

As the nature article suggested, if one can postulate a theory that deals outside of the observable universe, then what prevents one from saying that the universe was the product of intelligent design?

You make a good point by saying that we can potentially observe the effects of String Theory; however, ID claims almost the same point – they’re observing the effects (‘artifacts’) of design.

Hope I am making a little sense. Thanks.

PvM wrote:

“1. ID is an ad hoc argument to explain something we do not understand. String theory or multiverses follow logically or mathematically from observations.

2. ID is in principle unfalsifiable, string theory and mutliverses are just hard to falsify

3. String theory and multiverses fall into a category which is best described as.…”

All the fine distinctions between ID and ST discussed here are stretched and convoluted.

(1) ID proponents also argue that ID theory follows “logically from observations.”

(2) Both theories cannot be falsified right now but can “in principle” be falsified, if that counts. If we could duplicate the conditions on the early earth, either in a lab on earth or find another identical planet, and life evolved in exactly the same way, that would come very close to falsifying ID.

(3) ID proponents argue that ID theory provides a powerful framework that explains various mysteries.

The fact is that working scientists are not philosophers. They don’t go walking around with a checklist in their heads pertaining to what constitutes science. There are no official rules that a paper needs to satisfy in order to qualify as science. The various steps of the so called “scientific method” exist primarily in story books, not the real world.

In the real world scientists propose theories that they feel in their gut advances knowledge or understanding about the behavior of nature. As long as a theory is not contradicted by data, it gets to live another day. The ID proponents believe ID does that. The real reason ID is automatically disqualified by the established scientific community is that it contains a fatal flaw - it implies God. They prefer to artifically restrict the domain of science to so called “natural” explantions, the truth be damned.

The real reason ID is automatically disqualified by the established scientific community is that it contains a fatal flaw - it implies God.

No, it can’t.

They prefer to artifically restrict the domain of science to so called “natural” explantions, the truth be damned.

No, there is no such thing as “artifically restricting the domain of science” because there is no evidence for anything that isn’t natural.

You have some proof that a supernatural anything exists?

Figures that post made it straight through, but my first one got moderated hours ago.

The fact is that working scientists are not philosophers. They don’t go walking around with a checklist in their heads pertaining to what constitutes science. There are no official rules that a paper needs to satisfy in order to qualify as science. The various steps of the so called “scientific method” exist primarily in story books, not the real world.

lol… now THAT is funny.

Carol Wrote:

(1) ID proponents also argue that ID theory follows “logically from observations.”

Incorrect. ID proponents claim that ID follows from observation. They do not ‘argue’ it. In addition, there is no theory of ID. If you believe otherwise, articulate that theory. Please include all hypotheses, falsification tests, research, corroboration from other disciplines, etc.

(2) Both theories cannot be falsified right now but can “in principle” be falsified, if that counts. If we could duplicate the conditions on the early earth, either in a lab on earth or find another identical planet, and life evolved in exactly the same way, that would come very close to falsifying ID.

That would not falsify ID in the slightest. Perhaps you should famliliarize yourself with what ID proponents actually say. The ENTIRE ID claim is, “there exists some aspects of reality that cannot be explained by choice-free processes.”

That cannot be falsified; your proposed test is naive and useless.

(3) ID proponents argue that ID theory provides a powerful framework that explains various mysteries.

No, they don’t. They make that claim, but they cannot support it. Perhaps you can do better? Use ID theory to explain three mysteries.

Go ahead. We’re waiting.

The fact is that working scientists are not philosophers. They don’t go walking around with a checklist in their heads pertaining to what constitutes science. There are no official rules that a paper needs to satisfy in order to qualify as science. The various steps of the so called “scientific method” exist primarily in story books, not the real world.

No, they exist in labs - places you don’t appear to be familiar with.

In the real world scientists propose theories that they feel in their gut advances knowledge or understanding about the behavior of nature. As long as a theory is not contradicted by data, it gets to live another day.

More or less correct - but a theory which produces no predictions is quickly discarded. ID produces no predictions. It is ‘useless’ scientifically.

The ID proponents believe ID does that.

They claim it, but they can’t demonstrate. Can you?

The real reason ID is automatically disqualified by the established scientific community is that it contains a fatal flaw - it implies God.

Gee, not according to the ID folks. According to them, it implies nothing whatever about God. You must be reading someone else; creationists, perhaps?

They prefer to artifically restrict the domain of science to so called “natural” explantions, the truth be damned.

Apparently you know as much about scientists as you do about ID.

Which appears to be nothing.

PvM:

That ID is scientifically vacuous is once again beautifully exposed:

The theory of intelligent design is not only not falsifiable; there is simply no way to test it. But that is not the main reason it is not science. The main reason is, that ID does not actually explain anything. When we ask, “Why is the world the way it is?” it answers, “Because it was designed that way.” The world is the way it is because it is that way. That might be the furthest from a useful, satisfactory explanation you can get.

“Why is the world the way it is” isn’t even a scientific question; it is a philosophical one. Therefore, using it as an example that demonstrates that ID is “scientifically vacuous” is misleading. Answering the question by saying “because chance and necessity and their combination made it that way” isn’t very satisfying either – philosophically or scientifically!

Incorrect. ID proponents claim that ID follows from observation. They do not ‘argue’ it. In addition, there is no theory of ID. If you believe otherwise, articulate that theory. Please include all hypotheses, falsification tests, research, corroboration from other disciplines, etc.

If you buy into the hype that intelligent design can be “inferred” from evidence that we’re not here by accident, then it is inferred by the anthropic principle if the multiverse doesn’t exist, if, as the co-founder of string theory, Leonard Susskind, says… “the appearance of intelligent design is undeniable”.

His is a scientific interpretation that only fails to support ID because he is confident that he can lose the so-called, “implication” in the multiverse, but he’ll have both feet in his mouth if string theory doesn’t pan out, which I don’t believe that it will.

He’s wrong, but not for the reasons that most believe.

The real reason ID is automatically disqualified by the established scientific community is that it contains a fatal flaw - it implies God. They prefer to artifically restrict the domain of science to so called “natural” explantions, the truth be damned.

Carol, please stick with the topic here, which is not “Claims Philip Johnson made 16 years ago.”

Claim CA301.1: If the correct explanation for a phenomenon happens to be supernatural, the naturalistic method of science will miss it. “With creationist explanations disqualified at the outset, it follows that the evidence will always support the naturalistic alternative.” Source: Johnson, Phillip E., 1990. Evolution as dogma: The establishment of naturalism. First Things (Oct.), 15-22. http://www.arn.org/docs/johnson/pjdogma1.htm

refuted at

http://talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA301_1.html

Carol, Lenny said “Carol, would you mind explaining to us (1) why your religious opinions are any more authoritative than anyone else’s (other than your say-so) and (2) why science should give a flying fig about your religious opinions (or anyone else’s)? Do you think that science should consider your religious opinions as evidence? If so, why, and how? and Would you mind giving us an example of how science can utilize super-natural or non-natural explanations? How would one test it, other than someone’s say-so?” So Carol, why don’t you prove Lenny’s statements are erroneous? give us an answer,I for one, am waiting with bated breath

Recent update on this topic here

http://www.physorg.com/printnews.php?newsid=10682 or http://www.nobeliefs.com/

Under Certain Conditions String theory solves many of the questions wracking the minds of physicists, but until recently it had one major flaw — it could not be tested. SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) scientists have found a way to test this revolutionary theory, which posits that there are 10 or 11 dimensions in our universe.

Jonboy that second link has a Christopher Hitchens article that somehow with hindsight seems to have an uncanny parallel WRT this whole ID problem. How and why it has been given permission right from the top.

The article in the first link; a test for string theory, has this line “The computations were so massive, we had to make extreme use of the Babar UNIX farm,” said Rizzo.

I’m just wondering if this is the elephant Carol keeps going on about. Babar. er .….probably not .….one of them is a fantasy and the other is a children’s story.

Carol did you know Babar was an expert in Hypnosis and ran a cult for “Mystical” Physics, Cult Physics, Quack Physics, and Bogus Physics Only joking but all religions rely on these techniques.

PvM asks:

Why is this artificial? It’s based on reality that this is what science can address. What alternatives do you suggest? Explain how this alternative serves science. MN is a proven and workable restriction to what science can address. The supernatural is just not very open to scientific inquiry. Which is why ID is scientifically vacuous. Why should we let our ignorance lead us to conclude ‘ID’? Past examples show that God does not really sling lightning bolts… And yet..

Thanks for your response, Pim. You make a subtle but important shift of meaning when you say “MN is a proven and workable restriction to what science can address.” MN doesn’t just deal with what science can address, if by ‘address’ you mean ‘investigate’. MN also deals with what science can consider as explanatory resources, and in that vein, MN says that, essentially, all natural phenomenon (the “what science can address” part) MUST have a natural cause (the “what science can consider as explanatory resources” part). No one I know of, myself included, disputes the first past. It is the second part that causes problems, because it does place an arbitrary restriction on what science can consider as explanation for an observed phenomenon. Unless we know a priori that cosmos and everything in it is a closed system of natural cause and effect, which we don’t, then claiming that science requires only natural explanations for anything we observe comes pretty darn close to importing full blown philosophical natrualism into the heart of science. In other words, MN is predicated upon shakey philosophical presuppositions.

Perhaps you are familiar with this quote from “Nature, Design and Science” by Del Ratzsch (State University of New York Press: 2001) pg 146.

“People are, of course, perfectly free to stipulate such definitions [of science] if they wish. What no one is free to do, however, is to make such stipulations, erect on those stipulations various prohibitions concerning what science can and cannot consider, then claim that what science produces under those prohibitions is truth, rational belief, accurate mirrors of reality, self-correctiveness, or anything of the sort. The character of the results will be constrained by the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of the original stipulations. If nature does not ignore design and if design factors into relevant empirical structures, then any science built on proscriptions against design will inevitably fall into one of two difficulties. Either it will be forever incomplete (the…promissory note being forever passed along but never paid), or it will eventually get off track, with no prospect of getting back on track (key elements of the track having been placed beyond permissible bounds of discussion), thereby turning science from a correlate of nature into a humanly contrived artifact.”

As I’ve told you before, Ratzsch has it exactly right. I’ve yet to see anyone refute this argument.

Even if string theory were untestable directly, there are many scientific theories that are not. Why are they scientific and ID not? Consilience and fruitfulness. Some of these general theories are even useful to investigate what I have mentioned previously - the metaphysics of science. (Cf., for example, automata theory.)

.…Ah yes .…..Donald M the boohoohoo school of sophistic philosophy …all is suffering. Ratzsch OPINES …thereby turning science from a correlate of nature into a humanly contrived artifact.” SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE available to the senses.

Strange how a tautology doesn’t play well in labs and peer review. Pour a little acid on something and there are no words to describe it …not. Maybe you Ratzsch, Beckwith and all the other Pseudoscientists would like to sit inside the SLAC before they power it up and test that piece of nonsense.

Total BS Donald, how about answering Lenny’s questions while you are here. I noticed Beckky babe has run a mile.

Donald M Wrote:

Thanks for your response, Pim. You make a subtle but important shift of meaning when you say “MN is a proven and workable restriction to what science can address.” MN doesn’t just deal with what science can address, if by ‘address’ you mean ‘investigate’. MN also deals with what science can consider as explanatory resources, and in that vein, MN says that, essentially, all natural phenomenon (the “what science can address” part) MUST have a natural cause (the “what science can consider as explanatory resources” part). No one I know of, myself included, disputes the first past. It is the second part that causes problems, because it does place an arbitrary restriction on what science can consider as explanation for an observed phenomenon. Unless we know a priori that cosmos and everything in it is a closed system of natural cause and effect, which we don’t, then claiming that science requires only natural explanations for anything we observe comes pretty darn close to importing full blown philosophical natrualism into the heart of science. In other words, MN is predicated upon shakey philosophical presuppositions.

This is, of course, utterly false, and represents a mish-mash of badly digested nonsense peddled by such folks as Johnson. MN is NOT predicated on PN - which you would know if you knew anything about science or scientists. MN is a purely pragmatic rule of thumb - a necessity of the very fact of investigation. Let’s try this again: science investigates that which can be investigated. Science proposes explanations that can be tested. That’s all. Untestable additions to such explanations are eliminated via Ockham’s Razor - which once again is a purely pragmatic consideration.

Based on your misrepresentation, a scientist who was also a theist would be an impossibility. You really sure you want to ‘reason out of existence’ thousands of people? Seems cruel to me.

Sorry, Donald M., but Ratzsch is trivially easy to refute, even if one were to grant that his argument is formally correct. Your use of Ratzsch engages in a nasty equivocation, up to the level of begging the question. The so-called prescription of methodological naturalism falls to Ratzsch’s argument, or your abuse of it, only with the shift to an alleged proscription of design. But that’s really the question isn’t it? Is all design natural? Some of us would say yes, although exemplars such as Dembski, Cordova, Behe, and Fafarman, in all his myriad pseudonyms, might lead us to suggest they were the products of unnatural design. Or at least unnatural acts. If you want to rely on Ratzsch’s argument, you have to show that the prescription of methodological naturalism entails a proscription of design. Since we have countless examples which would refute this, your efforts are doomed from the start. Sort of like teaching ID in schools, but for reasons of natural law rather than reasons of human law.

hugs, Shirley Knott

Donald M Wrote:
PvM Wrote:

Why is this artificial? It’s based on reality that this is what science can address. What alternatives do you suggest? Explain how this alternative serves science. MN is a proven and workable restriction to what science can address. The supernatural is just not very open to scientific inquiry. Which is why ID is scientifically vacuous. Why should we let our ignorance lead us to conclude ‘ID’? Past examples show that God does not really sling lightning bolts… And yet..

Thanks for your response, Pim. You make a subtle but important shift of meaning when you say “MN is a proven and workable restriction to what science can address.” MN doesn’t just deal with what science can address, if by ‘address’ you mean ‘investigate’. MN also deals with what science can consider as explanatory resources, and in that vein, MN says that, essentially, all natural phenomenon (the “what science can address” part) MUST have a natural cause (the “what science can consider as explanatory resources” part). No one I know of, myself included, disputes the first past. It is the second part that causes problems, because it does place an arbitrary restriction on what science can consider as explanation for an observed phenomenon.

what science says is that all natural phenomena that it can study must have a natural cause.

Unless we know a priori that cosmos and everything in it is a closed system of natural cause and effect, which we don’t, then claiming that science requires only natural explanations for anything we observe comes pretty darn close to importing full blown philosophical natrualism into the heart of science. In other words, MN is predicated upon shakey philosophical presuppositions.

If you reformulate MN to sound like PM then yes.

Perhaps you are familiar with this quote from “Nature, Design and Science” by Del Ratzsch (State University of New York Press: 2001) pg 146.

Del Ratzsch Wrote:

“People are, of course, perfectly free to stipulate such definitions [of science] if they wish. What no one is free to do, however, is to make such stipulations, erect on those stipulations various prohibitions concerning what science can and cannot consider, then claim that what science produces under those prohibitions is truth, rational belief, accurate mirrors of reality, self-correctiveness, or anything of the sort. The character of the results will be constrained by the legitimacy (or lack thereof) of the original stipulations. If nature does not ignore design and if design factors into relevant empirical structures, then any science built on proscriptions against design will inevitably fall into one of two difficulties. Either it will be forever incomplete (the…promissory note being forever passed along but never paid), or it will eventually get off track, with no prospect of getting back on track (key elements of the track having been placed beyond permissible bounds of discussion), thereby turning science from a correlate of nature into a humanly contrived artifact.”

As I’ve told you before, Ratzsch has it exactly right. I’ve yet to see anyone refute this argument.

Such is life that science may indeed forever be incomplete. But that’s why we have faith, now don’t we? Ratsch is right to point out that if one claims that science is the ‘ultimate truth’ that one cannot exclude the supernatural. Luckily this seems to be mostly a strawman.

Del Ratzsch also has commented on Dembski’s filter

Del Ratsch Wrote:

“I do not wish to play down or denigrate what Dembski has done. There is much of value in the Design Inference. But I think that some aspects of even the limited task Dembski set for himself still remains to be tamed.”

“That Dembski is not employing the robust, standard, agency-derived conception of design that most of his supporters and many of his critics have assumed seems clear.”

ID so far does not seem to be the answer to address your concerns. Perhaps Donald could explain how he would include the supernatural in a manner that can be scientific? God did it seems hardly an explanation worth considering as in the past it has more than once failed due to our ignorance.

Hey Donald, are you gonna answer my questions this time before you run away? Or aren’t you.

Rilke’s Grandaughter writes:

This is, of course, utterly false, and represents a mish-mash of badly digested nonsense peddled by such folks as Johnson. MN is NOT predicated on PN - which you would know if you knew anything about science or scientists. MN is a purely pragmatic rule of thumb - a necessity of the very fact of investigation.

Good. I’m glad to know its just a rule of thumb that can be set aside when not not needed. As to its being a “necesity of the very fact of the investigation”, that would only be the case if your knew a priori that only natural causes were operational to bring about a certain phenomenon. In other words, claiming MN is necessary to investigation begs the question. Thanks, RG, for making that much crystal clear.

Troll, devil’s advocate or sarcasm? I always have a hard time with this kind of absurd statemnt.

Neither of the three; its a simple statement of fact!

artificial in what sense then Donald M? In that it makes science workable?

Donald M Wrote:

Good. I’m glad to know its just a rule of thumb that can be set aside when not not needed. As to its being a “necesity of the very fact of the investigation”, that would only be the case if your knew a priori that only natural causes were operational to bring about a certain phenomenon. In other words, claiming MN is necessary to investigation begs the question. Thanks, RG, for making that much crystal clear.

Nope, it merely assumes that if there are natural causes, science can find them. In other words, science limits itself to what can be studied.

Good. I’m glad to know its just a rule of thumb that can be set aside when not not needed. As to its being a “necesity of the very fact of the investigation”, that would only be the case if your knew a priori that only natural causes were operational to bring about a certain phenomenon. In other words, claiming MN is necessary to investigation begs the question

Operationalize, please.

Please show (do not tell) how this can be done. As it is, you argue circularly.

What configuration of strings leads to each of the known particles? (electron, neutrino, up and down quarks, also the 2nd and 3rd generations of those, and the antiparticle of all of them, and also force carrying “particles”.)

Henry

ID so far does not seem to be the answer to address your concerns. Perhaps Donald could explain how he would include the supernatural in a manner that can be scientific?

Indeed. Since IDers fall all over themselves to tell us that they do NOT bring up anything supernatural (God? Hell no – it could be SPACE ALIENS, I tell ya), it would appear to me as if ID is every bit as “materialistic” and “atheistic” as he says evolution is.

So I’m not sure what it is, exactly, that Donald is bitching about.

I’d ask him, but Donald is only here to preach his religious opinions. He’s not here to answer any questions.

hello all

To dismiss intelligent design as being science because it is untestable is correct. At best it is a logical reasoning, more like a mathematical proof. If you accept its underlying postulates then you can build a case for it. However, to dismiss it as being nonscientific because it is an ad hoc explanation of observation is completely incorrect. The history of science is full of ad hoc explanations for phenomena. Ptolemy’s epicycles, the alphabet soup of subatomic particles prior to Gell-Mann’s work, Planck’s work on quantum mechanics, Fraunhofer’s work on stellar spectra, and the heterotroph hypothesis just to name a few. Ptolemy’s cosmology was the definition of ad hoc, but it was science because it was testable, if ultimately incorrect. Planck didn’t believe a word coming out of his own mouth. For him, Planck’s constant was a giant fudge to make the calculations work. Indeed you can argue that Punctuated Equilibrium is nothing more than an observation of the fossil record. People make a big deal about how it is an alternative to natural selection, yet there is no new “theory” to explain it. Did the study of subatomic particle or atomic spectra miraculously become science on the day Einstein proposed a theory for the photoelectric effect, or Bohr produced moving electrons? No. The only criteria that applies to science is its falsifiability. Can it be proved wrong or not. On that basis ID is not science. However, when a respected Nobel Laureate such as Sheldon Glashow points out that string theory is a completely safe theory and can never be tested, you must say the same about string theory. What this debate really shows is the deep prejudice academia has against people of faith. String theory meets approval because it is a secular philosophy. ID meets scorn because the people who propose it are people of faith. No one in the scientific community bats an eye when Francis Crick proposes that life on earth began from extraterrestrial infection, an equally untestable theory and about on par with an intelligent force guiding the evolution of life. If we find life on another planet, it doesn’t mean that it was the source of life on earth. If we don’t find life on another planet, you can always fall back on the “we haven’t found it yet” or “we don’t know how to look for it” excuses (rather like the we haven’t built a particle accelerator big enough to test string theory argument). A completely safe “theory” that still merits the odd biology textbook quote. I contend that Crick’s musings are tacitly accepted, as is string theory, more because of who says it rather than what is said. For a community that requires, and largely achieves rigorous objectivity, its treatment of intelligent design shows a great deal of bias.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on February 8, 2006 9:00 PM.

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