ID? It’s all OUR Fault!

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Here’s an update to “Is There A Systems Biologist In The House?”, in which I described how the head of the New Mexico chapter of the Intelligent Design Network (IDnet), Joe Renick, put a whole new spin on “Systems Biology” in an editorial commentary published in the Albuquerque Tribune (March 28th):

Joe Renick Wrote:

The greatest threat to the Darwinian dogma today is science itself.

There is a revolution underway in the biological sciences. A whole new field of biology called “Systems Biology” has emerged during the past 10 or 15 years. This revolution is just as profound for the biological sciences today as the transition in physics was from classical physics to quantum physics and relativity in the early part of the 20th century.

In this exciting new field, research is guided not by Darwinian principles but by design principles because design principles are needed to explain design-like features.

The teaching of evolution today in public schools is frozen in the past where it is based largely on a mid-20th century understanding of biology. Research in the biological sciences has moved far beyond that understanding because of the hopeless inability of Darwinian principles to explain the complexity observed in living things.

In my initial responses to Renick, found here and here (comments), I argued that

Sure, “Systems Biologists” use words like “design” occasionally, but that doesn’t automatically mean they think “designs” in nature must be “poofed” into existence by an un-named magical being.

and

Just bear in mind that Systems Biologists use evolution science, and do NOT utilize so-called “Intelligent Design” in any way, shape or form.

Recently, Joe Renick sent me a letter to clarify his position on Systems Biology and Intelligent Design, and allowed it to be published in the April NMSR Reports.

Renick said all this talk about him wanting to get ID into schools is baseless:

Joe Renick Wrote:

You and your colleagues are the ones making the conclusion to a designer, not me.

I kid you not. Read on below the fold.

Joe Renick Wrote:

Dave I see that my reference to systems biology has stirred up a hornet’s nest.

The appearance of design in biology is uncontroversial within science and such terminology is used publicly by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Douglas Futuyma, Francis Crick, David Hume, Michael Ruse, Francisco Ayala, and none other than Ernst Mayr. In every case they argue that it is natural selection that accounts for these design-like appearances. Michael Ruse wrote an entire book on the subject “Darwin and Design” and he carefully makes the distinction between the “appearance of design” in biology and a “conclusion to a designer”. His whole argument is that Darwin found a “designer substitute”, natural selection, with the result that an appeal to a creator was no longer necessary.

Another major point that Ruse makes is that it is impossible to adequately talk about biology without using teleological or “end-directed” thinking because of these design-like features and this is what is happening in systems biology. I get 45,800,000 “hits” when I google “systems biology design”. It appears that many of those “hits” are irrelevant to the context of systems biology itself but many others talk about design principles or engineering principles and their application in the understanding of higher order processes and cellular activities. One of the attachments provides a short list of google hits that capture these ideas and I have attached an article by James Shapiro that provides his views on the subject. Clearly, all research in systems biology is still done within an evolutionary framework and a focus of much of this work is to provide an expanded understanding of how evolution produced these complex systems. This is the way science is supposed to work!

My reference to design principles in my article was made fully within the context of systems biology, not a conclusion to an intelligent designer. You and your colleagues are the ones making the conclusion to a designer, not me. I admit to the obvious implications, but it is impossible to make a conclusion to a transcendent designer within the methological limits of science and I have never done that. As a Christian, I am quite happy with the teleological implications of design just as many materialists are quite happy with the naturalistic implications of natural selection. But our metaphysical views should not drive our science.

So, in teaching students about evolutionary biology, why not let them in on what is taking place at the cutting edge of research in the biological sciences and how those discoveries fit within an evolutionary understanding of the history and diversity of life?

Regards. Joseph D. Renick, Executive Director, Intelligent Design Network, New Mexico Division

Well, excuuuuuuse me! I guess I thought that when the head of IDnet-NM wrote in the Albuquerque Tribune about the “hopeless inability of Darwinian principles to explain the complexity observed in living things,” he was suggesting that natural sciences can not explain the complexity of organisms, and therefore a transcendant “Intelligent Designer” is implicated as such a source.

Isn’t this what ID is supposed to be about? Why, just two days ago, Discovery Institute stalwarts Bruce Chapman and John West wrote this in the Dallas Morning News:

Intelligent design does not challenge the idea that evolution occurs, rather the claim that the development of the intricate and highly functional features in nature is the result of a blind and undirected process that cannot select for future function.

So, if all Renick wanted to do was to have discussions of “cutting edge of research in the biological sciences” in New Mexico science classrooms – e.g., simply teach mainstream, peer-reviewed science – why did he and his followers demand a totally unnecessary NEW LAW from NM’s legislature? (All four creo measures in the 2007 session of the New Mexico legislature were defeated, by the way!) It’s quite clear that Renick doesn’t simply want students to stay “within the methological [sic] limits of science.”

He wants to add just one little thing: the idea that all that science is WRONG.

Joe Renick Wrote:

Research in the biological sciences has moved far beyond that understanding because of the hopeless inability of Darwinian principles to explain the complexity observed in living things.

In other words, Renick wants to teach the Strengths and Weaknesses of Evolution.

These “weaknesses” are the core of “Intelligent Design,” and found nowhere else, except in “Creation Science.”

But when I pointed that out, I’m now told that You and your colleagues are the ones making the conclusion to a designer, not me.

Yeah, right.

59 Comments

Systems biology does use intelligent design. They have been trying to intelligently design custom biomolecular pathways for years now. Those intelligently designed pathways never work anywhere near as well as those evolution has come up with, even the simple ones.

Joe Rennick as is the creationists’ wont is careless with his terms. Design/engineering principles are simply rules based on physical phenomena. Guidelines to be sued so that you do not make something or do something that breaks up what you are making or reduces its useful life or produces a lemon. Since organisms are made of substances containing the same fundamental particles, body fluids, organismal structures would too work pretty much the same way. We are going to be looking for the same properties of matter, and characterising them just as we do with any piece of alloy or composite or polymer.

Interestingly enough, I picked up Christopher McGowan’s Dinosaurs, Spitfires, & Sea Dragons which deals with the body plans of dinosaurs, marine reptiles, pterosaurs, etc. inside & out (and shockingly has no endorsement of ID). It’s a bit dated (1991) but it’s still a good read and applies principles and engineering to biological structure and makes sense of why certain forms seem to work, whether they be the shape of an airplane or of pterosaur skeletons. As always seems to be the case, the IDers seem to have gotten so excited over their new line of supposed evidence that they didn’t even both to actually look at the natural world or do any actual research.

“didn’t even both…”

Oops, that should be “didn’t even bother to”… that’s what I get when I don’t even bother to preview, d’oh!

He’s right!

If, with the others, David Hume says appearance of design in biology within science is uncontroversial, then we Darwinists should probably back off.

Who’s with me?

“My reference to design principles in my article was made fully within the context of systems biology, not a conclusion to an intelligent designer. You and your colleagues are the ones making the conclusion to a designer, not me.”

Did you really mean that Joe, I mean as stated, w/o qualification? Let me qualify it then. I’d put it, “You and your colleagues are the ones making the conclusion of an ‘omnipotent YEC based magical entity’, not me.” Or as Dave Thomas wrongly characterized the ID position, ”… but that doesn’t automatically mean they think “designs” in nature must be “poofed” into existence by an un-named magical being.” The straw man here is ‘Creationism’, and not ID. Joe concluded with, “I admit to the obvious implications, but it is impossible to make a conclusion to a transcendent designer within the methological limits of science and I have never done that.

I can’t speak for Mr. Renick, but I can speak for the ID crowd. Evidence of design is the what is investigated, is evolving as science, and by explicitly not injecting God into science (or the class room). To be fair, this misunderstanding of ID is due in part, to those with religious motives co opting the term ‘ID’ for ‘creationism’, a good example being the school board in Dover PA, William Buckingham et al. Another being the Wedge document, which to be fair sought over time to balance abject materialism with cultural values and a sense of spirituality. Not part of today’s investigative premise, however.

To make ID a little more palatable, picture the cosmos more as a workshop for entities, likely spirit based (as are you guys, like it or not), with the biologic form a vehicle for that entity, allowing it access to earth as a kind of ‘theme park’. If that be true, you guys could well have had a hand in a guided evolutionary process of biologic evolution.

But I am not here to argue conjectural ‘philosophic’ scenarios, but rather to correct your misunderstanding of ID’s central hypothesis. Interesting that while some coreligionists use the term, most fundamentalists detest the concept that their canonical God would have to stoop to ‘genetic engineering’ over eons. So get used to it. ID is a kind of forensic science that seeks to define and analyze that which is designed, and it is a work in progress.

Lee Bowman

Romulan—-Klingon—-just who did do (is doing) the designing? Maybe it was (is) will be the ‘crawling’ macaroni thingie (sorry). Are we done laughing yet? Do you think Mickey D can sell dino-nuggets now? Damn! Maybe it was, is, will be a CLOWN that did, does, will do the designing. That finally makes sense!

Joe Renick Wrote:

The appearance of design in biology is uncontroversial within science and such terminology is used publicly

A turnabout strawman, since it is only used to explain why design is a misappropriated conclusion.

Lee:

Nice to see a well formulated ID comment for once. That will not stop me from coming down hard on the misinformation, of course. ;-)

Lee Wrote:

I am not here to argue conjectural ‘philosophic’ scenarios

But excluding the nature of the designer, ID is a philosophical conjecture. And that is all it is. By not describe properties and mechanisms it can’t be made into a predictive theory. At most observations can be postdictively described, not without conflicts regarding contingent ad hocs, as another fairy tale.

Not a very pretty fairy tale either. Since a designer implies creationism, ID joins the illustrious company of YEC and OEC fundamentalists. It is also trying to explicitly inject theological concepts into science by its very nature as creationism.

However one tries to frame ID the results that follows from containing a designer are unavoidable.

Lee Wrote:

ID is a kind of forensic science that seeks to define and analyze that which is designed

Forensic science, or SETI, must start with a hypothesis of the agent in question, whether a criminal or an alien intelligence. This is what allows it to make predictions that can be verified.

For example, to ascertain that a victim was murdered, a forensic analyst can look for foreign human DNA. But he will exclude DNA from other species in most cases. ID is impotent to do that, since there is by its own admission no definition or analysis of that which is ‘the designer’, the agent or process, of the murder.

Lee Wrote:

evolving as science […] a work in progress

It will not be able to become a testable candidate for science until the day it tries to become a predictive theory. But it can not describe its designer without coming out of the creationist closet. Witness the absence of peer-reviewed work on ID.

So it obviously not science but pseudoscience, it isn’t expected and observed to go nowhere, and as I understand it it is currently trying to hide as a reformulation under a new name containing more criticism of evolution and less own ideas.

At least, that is what the release of a new ‘text book’ after Dover seems to imply for an outside observer. (Which has a hypothesis on the designer in question. :-)

“it isn’t expected and observed to go nowhere” - it isn’t expected and observed to go anywhere.

Torbjorn Wrote:

postdictively described

Possessing the innate ability to predict the past seems almost prophetic. Of course I mean that in a biblical sort of way.

:-)

It’s not just that we’re curious and would like to know who the designer is; we need to know the designer’s characteristics in order to develop useful hypotheses based on ID (as Larsson pointed out). But even more to the matter of “But ID isn’t religion” are the words of the founders of (modern-day) Intelligent Design themselves–they are the ones who spoke of culture wars, of replacing materialistic science with theocratic science, of ID being the Logos.

Lee Bowman -

Let me begin by clarifying that I am addressing your claims about ID as science, not the spiritual conjectures of your message.

As I see it, the pseudoscience of ID boils down to two flawed lines of reasoning, one of which you employ outright, and the other of which you seem to imply.

Flawed line of reasoning number one, the one you overtly employ, is essentially this - “If a sand castle, bird’s nest, or the like can be recognized as a ‘product of design’, than it makes sense to recognize living cells as ‘products of design’”. The flaw here has already been pointed out - forensics, archaelogy, and zoology can recognize the designs of known, natural designers.

Of course, a supernatural or super-powered “designer” with no known characteristics of motivation could design anything, or not design anything. When there is a natural explanation for something, it is instinctively preferred by rational people. Of course every grain of sand on a beach could have been individually crafted by a magical designer, but the natural explanation for sand’s existence is better.

Flawed line of reasoning number two, which you imply, is essentially this - “Certain elements of living organisms, such as the bacterial flagellum or the clotting cascade of vertebrates, cannot have evolved because they are ‘irreducibly complex’, so they must have been designed”.

This is wrong on two counts. On a direct level, all systems claimed to be ‘irreducibly complex’ by Behe have been shown not to be. On a deeper level, it represents a false dichotomy and fortune-telling. Even if there is some aspect of life that currently defies explanation by the theory of evolution (and no such thing has been put forth by ID creationists so far), that doesn’t mean design by a magical designer wins by default, nor that an explanation can’t emerge.

That’s really all there is to ID. Not only that, but ID owes its existence entirely to YEC creationism. ID is a political creation, designed solely to “court proof” creationism in public schools. You are correct that in theory ID could exist (and be wrong) if YEC didn’t exist, but in practice, ID was created to pander to YEC supporters in exchange for political support.

“So, in teaching students about evolutionary biology, why not let them in on what is taking place at the cutting edge of research in the biological sciences and how those discoveries fit within an evolutionary understanding of the history and diversity of life?”

Fine. Let that debate take place in college. High school and grade school students do not need to be involved in the cutting edge of debate in any scientific community. They need basic facts and principles and a firm education in the known and accepted sciences.

Comment #169605

Posted by leebowman on April 13, 2007 3:44 AM (e)

But I am not here to argue conjectural ‘philosophic’ scenarios, but rather to correct your misunderstanding of ID’s central hypothesis. Interesting that while some coreligionists use the term, most fundamentalists detest the concept that their canonical God would have to stoop to ‘genetic engineering’ over eons. So get used to it. ID is a kind of forensic science that seeks to define and analyze that which is designed, and it is a work in progress.

Lee Bowman

The general purpose of ID is to break down the Church/State separation. The specific purpose is to confuse people with bullcrap arguments in order to inject creationism into the curriculum once again while playing the victim to win martyr points, like you’re trying right now.

So save the pathetic whining for your adherents. ID is merely tautology, logical fallacies and untestable, frequently grandiose, claims lacking scientific merit or explanatory power.

Posted by Moses:

“The general purpose of ID is to break down the Church/State separation. The specific purpose is to confuse people with bullcrap arguments in order to inject creationism into the curriculum once again while playing the victim to win martyr points, like you’re trying right now.”

I had stated:

“… while some coreligionists use the term, most fundamentalists detest the concept that their canonical God would have to stoop to ‘genetic engineering’ over eons.”

The meaning of which is clearly that fundamentalist religionists do not embrace Intelligent Design over time, since it contradicts the canonical belief, based on the Genesis account, of creation by divine fiat. I had also stated that certain religionists co opted the term ‘ID’ in place of ‘creationism’ in an attempt to gain scientific legitimacy.

So here are the two basic reasons why ID is not Creationism:

(1) It contradicts a fundamental Creationist belief in creation by divine fiat (or Dave’s ‘poof’ scenario), and (2) There is much evidence that the term has been ‘borrowed’ by religionists, actually used in the place of the term ‘Creationism’, an example being the edited version of “Of Pandas and People”.

Finally the question of who founded the ID movement, and by extension perhaps, the question of who ‘owns’ the term. Recent authorship aside, the concept goes back to the Roman Empire, and probably to the beginning of man’s ability to reason. So while politically, ID has some grounding in current religious movements, by definition it is (or will be) an accepted (by science) hypothesis for studying evidence of design in biologic systems.

“So while politically, ID has some grounding in current religious movements, by definition it is (or will be) an accepted (by science) hypothesis for studying evidence of design in biologic systems.”

By definition??? Are you asserting that if someone uses the term “design”, that means it is designed by an intelligent agency? With all due respect, try looking up the fallacy of circular reasoning.

Just because some biological feature appears to be designed, does not mean that it is/was designed by an intelligent agency. Unfortunately, English does not have a word for design without insinuating intelligent causation.

Ooops, yes it does. That word is Evolution.

Lee Bowman Wrote:

So here are the two basic reasons why ID is not Creationism:

(1) It contradicts a fundamental Creationist belief in creation by divine fiat (or Dave’s ‘poof’ scenario), and (2) There is much evidence that the term has been ‘borrowed’ by religionists, actually used in the place of the term ‘Creationism’, an example being the edited version of “Of Pandas and People”.

Number (2) is true, as was seen in the words and actions of the Dover school board members–but this is neither an argument for nor against the question of ID being Creationism; it is irrelevant. I don’t think number (1) can be accepted. I don’t think there is agreement amongst ID proponents as to how Design was put into Production, especially to what extent evolution occurred. “Poof” as an explanation comes from Behe. What are some possible explanations for turning the Designs into real things that do not evoke the Supernatural? How, in other words, does Intelligent Design theory explain this important aspect of abiogenesis? We have no blueprints, no patents, no mockups, no scale models–only the livings things themselves (and the fossil record). The fact that the concept is old gives Intelligent Design no more credibility than the fact that the demon possession theory of disease is old gives that idea any credibility.

“(1) It contradicts a fundamental Creationist belief in creation by divine fiat (or Dave’s ‘poof’ scenario), and “

ID says nothing about when God “poofed” everything into existence. In fact, ID was specifically created to be the Big Tent that would allow room for both YEC’s and OEC’s.

“(2) There is much evidence that the term has been ‘borrowed’ by religionists, actually used in the place of the term ‘Creationism’, an example being the edited version of “Of Pandas and People”.”

Actually, there is overwhelming evidence that was presented in a US Federal Court that shows ID was specifically and intentionally created by creationists (Kitzmiller). It has no basis outside of a religious agenda.

Ken Miller makes a good point about “Design” versus “Creation,” which I’ve discussed here.

Designs, such as a blueprint for Thoreau’s Walden Pond cabin, are simply idle curiosities until they are used to build something. The Embodiments of Design are Creations, like the actual Walden Pond cabin. We’re talking about real hardware, like the bacterial flagellum. It’s a misrepresentation to say that “design” isn’t really about “creation.”

Without “Creation,” “Design” simply amounts to un-used blueprints.

Dave

“(1) It [ID] contradicts a fundamental Creationist belief in creation by divine fiat (or Dave’s ‘poof’ scenario)”

Where did you get this from? The ‘definitions’ of ID that I have seen have all been along the lines of ‘evolution is not adequate to explain the features seen in living organisms therefore some intelligence is required at some stage in the process’. Please produce a definition of ID written by any ID-promoting organization that specifically excludes creation by divine fiat as I think this claim is a figment of your imagination.

Posted by Shenda on April 13, 2007 3:06 PM (e)

(1) “So while politically, ID has some grounding in current religious movements, by definition it is (or will be) an accepted (by science) hypothesis for studying evidence of design in biologic systems.”

(2) By definition??? Are you asserting that if someone uses the term “design”, that means it is designed by an intelligent agency? With all due respect, try looking up the fallacy of circular reasoning.

(3) Just because some biological feature appears to be designed, does not mean that it is/was designed by an intelligent agency. Unfortunately, English does not have a word for design without insinuating intelligent causation.

(4) Ooops, yes it does. That word is Evolution.

(1) Not just by someone making that assertion, but by backing it up with evidence, as outlined in the classic ‘scientific method’.

(2) I wouldn’t call it circular reasoning to assert that a ‘designer’ would be implicit in a designed outcome.

(3) Yes, but the term ‘intelligent’ is relative. Design does connote ‘intelligence’, but merely an intervening agency’s action to cause change, which could in some cases be referred to as a design.

(4) Darwinian Evolution can account for adaptive changes to improve survivability or the ability to reproduce, but not to facilitate speciation, or innovation beyond a point.

We hear a lot “God did it, and that settles it!” Also, “Since I can’t explain it, it must therefore have been divinely inspired.” We hear those by the way, from ID critics, who love to parrot those false attributions. I’ve never heard an ID advocate make a statement like that, or to infer one (the second statement, specifically).

From the same critics we also hear, “Charles Darwin stated it, there is reams of evidence supporting it, therefore evolution is a fact.” Regarding the ‘evidence’ statement, millions of man-hours and dollars invested do not automatically establish macroevolution as a valid mechanism, either gradual or punctuated. Out of that research, much benefit to humanity has come, but its central hypotheses remains just that.

Darwinian Evolution can account for adaptive changes to improve survivability or the ability to reproduce, but not to facilitate speciation, or innovation beyond a point.

I think this is simply incorrect. Mutations provide variation, selection filters that variation, and the process iterates indefinitely. There is *no end* to the variation, either in time or in variety. There is no “point” where innovation must stop for lack of mutational variation. We observe that this is the case. Claiming otherwise contrary to observation is doctrine.

I think Lee Bowman thinks of evolution as a process that takes existing genetic variation, and breeds concentrations of existing genes to better suit environmental survival. But he can’t seem to get his mind around the notion that brand new, never seen before variations constantly enter the genome, permitting endless creativity to enter the process.

I think he also has some difficultly understanding that a process that makes decisions on a consistent and rational basis IS an intelligent process, very much like an economy is an intelligent process, even though nobody is directing either one and nobody needs to. Evolution can usefully be viewed as the slow “thoughts” of a highly decentralized brain. Both are entirely natural feedback processes in action.

Lee Bowman wrote:

“Darwinian Evolution can account for adaptive changes to improve survivability or the ability to reproduce, but not to facilitate speciation, or innovation beyond a point.”

And what would that point be? How can you claim that “adaptive changes to improve survivability” can occur but could not ever lead to reproductive isolation and speciation? What could possibly prevent this from ever happening? What “innovation” could not even theoretically be produced by random mutation and natural selection? Why do you think that there is any barrier to “macroevolution” if adaptive changes can occur? Do you have any evidence for any of these claims, or are they just your opinions?

Dave Thomas quotes his web page:

“Designs, such as a blueprint for Thoreau’s Walden Pond cabin, are simply idle curiosities until they are used to build something. The Embodiments of Design are Creations, like the actual Walden Pond cabin. We’re talking about real hardware, like the bacterial flagellum. It’s a misrepresentation to say that “design” isn’t really about “creation.””

True, but I wouldn’t call it an argument against ID. Design can come first, then creation, or you could use the term ‘creation’ to include design. In an incremental creative process, i.e. biologic evolution, an envisionment of the final outcome, would not be necessary. When mankind began the automobile cascade, he/they/it in no-way envisioned the cars we have on the road today. By analogy, the biologic phylogeny appears to have evolved in a similar manner. Evolution was the tool, embryology the process, and intervention (when called for) the director of the process.

Is this so hard to envision? We use a similar process to make microprocessors and multilayer circuit boards. No human mind could handle the design process at today’s level of complexity, so software is used, with human input regarding the pathways, components, operational parameters, etc. After hours of computational gyrations, a result is produced. Much of the time the resulting circuit fails to function properly, and further efforts (hopefully) will result in a workable product. Same for biologic evolution.

So on your web page you conclude, “It’s a misrepresentation to say that “design” isn’t really about “creation.” That it is, but alas, it is NOT about ‘Creationism.’ So please, don’t use semantics to produce a false dichotomy.

By the way, I like your web page, and may have some comment (or questions) later on.

Best, Lee

Lee Bowman Wrote:

Evolution was the tool, embryology the process, and intervention(when called for) the director of the process.

Is this so hard to envision? We use a similar process to make microprocessors and multilayer circuit boards. No human mind could handle the design process at today’s level of complexity, so software is used, with human input regarding the pathways, components, operational parameters, etc. After hours of computational gyrations, a result is produced.

OK, I’ll bite. WHO is providing the “input regarding the pathways, components, operational parameters, etc.” in Earth’s Biosphere?

WHO is doing the “Interventions” ?

Dave

P.S.:

Lee Bowman Wrote:

So on your web page you conclude, “It’s a misrepresentation to say that “design” isn’t really about “creation.” That it is, but alas, it is NOT about ‘Creationism.’ So please, don’t use semantics to produce a false dichotomy.

I don’t regard it as a false dichotomy, but rather a Euphemism. Using the word “Design” lets ID supporters attempt to make the same point as creationists, but without having to use the word “creation” itself, as that’s just too hard to divorce from “creationism.”

Dave

Lee Bowman -

I notice that you cherry pick the points you respond to.

It’s been shown that both your understanding of evolution, and your understanding of intelligent design, are somewhat wrong.

Speciation is an observed phenomenon. The precise definition of “species” is controversia, but the theory of evolution can easily account for the divergence of a single species into two or more undeniably distinct species (with or without extinction of the original parent species).

In fairness, your wrong versions seem to be a lot closer to the truth than actual Discovery Institute-endorsed ID, or the misrepresentations of evolution by the likes of Dembski, Behe, Wells, and other actual ID-promoting figures.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is, you seem to think that you accept “intelligent design” because you have an exaggerated view of the limitations of the theory of evolution, and an exaggerated view of the reasonableness of ID.

“(1) Not just by someone making that assertion, but by backing it up with evidence, as outlined in the classic ‘scientific method’.”

Ok, where is the evidence?

“(2) I wouldn’t call it circular reasoning to assert that a ‘designer’ would be implicit in a designed outcome.”

You are assuming design and therefore a designer. This is a classic circular argument.

“(3) Yes, but the term ‘intelligent’ is relative. Design does connote ‘intelligence’, but merely an intervening agency’s action to cause change, which could in some cases be referred to as a design.”

Again, you assume design. Complexity does not equal design.

“(4) Darwinian Evolution can account for adaptive changes to improve survivability or the ability to reproduce, but not to facilitate speciation, or innovation beyond a point.”

What prevents evolutionary change from causing speciation? What is the mechanism for preventing small changes from becoming large changes? Is there an invisible hand that says “this much change, but no more”?

“We hear a lot “God did it, and that settles it!” Also, “Since I can’t explain it, it must therefore have been divinely inspired.” We hear those by the way, from ID critics, who love to parrot those false attributions. I’ve never heard an ID advocate make a statement like that, or to infer one (the second statement, specifically).”

These are not false attributions. We hear the first one quite frequently in numerous forms from YEC’s. While most ID supporters do not publicly take this position, it is not hard to infer it from their actions and evasive (and not so evasive) statements. As for the second one, substitute intelligently for divinely, and you have the basic definition of specified complexity and irreducible complexity which form the basis, if not the entirety if ID.

“From the same critics we also hear, “Charles Darwin stated it, there is reams of evidence supporting it, therefore evolution is a fact.” Regarding the ‘evidence’ statement, millions of man-hours and dollars invested do not automatically establish macroevolution as a valid mechanism, either gradual or punctuated. Out of that research, much benefit to humanity has come, but its central hypotheses remains just that.”

Macroevolution is a result, not a mechanism. I have never heard or seen any scientist use “Charles Darwin stated it…” as evidence for evolution. The “millions of man-hours” do not *automatically* establish anything. It is the results generated by those man hours that have moved evolution from a hypothesis to a scientific theory.

Lee, please do a little more research. All of your statements have been addressed and refuted numerous times. If you actually have actual evidence as insinuated in point #1, please provide it. Otherwise you are wasting your time and ours.

Shenda

P.S. Opinion and philosophical possibilities are not evidence in this context.

Lee Bowman said:

To make ID a little more palatable, picture the cosmos more as a workshop for entities, likely spirit based (as are you guys, like it or not)…

Um, no. There is no evidence of “spirit-based” intelligences existing. That’s part of your (and ID’s) problem–you assume your conclusion.

Strictly materialistic, non-intelligent processes can (and have) created complex and novel life forms. I’m sorry you have a problem accepting such a fact, but the principle has been repeatedly demonstrated and verified. So really, your objections concerning evolution are unwarrented, as is your solution to that non-existent problem. “Spirits” are neither a necessary assumption nor a supportable one. It’s pure theistic supposition, and can in no way can be concluded from study of the natural world.

Dave said:

“I don’t regard it as a false dichotomy, but rather a Euphemism. Using the word “Design” lets ID supporters attempt to make the same point as creationists, but without having to use the word “creation” itself, as that’s just too hard to divorce from “creationism.””

You’re write Dave. Creationism has become a bad word. But the two words are distinctly different, and one should not conflate with the other. Almost as bad as conflating ID with IDiot … :)

Cherry picking is exactly correct. I note that Lee Bowman ignores EVERY substantive rebuttal to his claims, selecting only those points that provide him a springboard to preach his religious views. No discussion is going on here.

ID is just creationism disguised and not very well. The central point is identical, a supernatural being poofed the world into existence just the way we see it.

It is also the old argument from incredulity fallacy disguised with a few shovelfuls of bafflegab. “I don’t see how my foot evolved so this proves god did it.” Pretty stupid when you reduce it to essentials.

The main weak point in ID is that it starts out by postulating an Intelligent supernatural Designer. Which has never been proven or disproven. They try to hide the Designer behind a curtain without much success. Don’t let them get away with that nonsense.

Who is the Designer and how many are there? Anyone who reads comic books knows it is cthulhu (all hail, might cthulhu). Greeks and Norse know it Zeus or Odin and entourages. Some biologists believe it is the flying spaghetti monster. The cultists say Jehova of course. Until they confront the central point of the theory and the central questions, it is just creo bafflegab.

PS Anyone who calls ID cutting edge science is delusional and doesn’t know what science is or does. Most scientists haven’t heard of it and the ones that have are either amused, or appalled at this attempt to launch the USA back to the dark ages.

Lee Bowman Wrote:

(4) Darwinian Evolution can account for adaptive changes to improve survivability or the ability to reproduce, but not to facilitate speciation, or innovation beyond a point.

Lee Bowman Wrote:

By analogy, the biologic phylogeny appears to have evolved in a similar manner. Evolution was the tool, embryology the process, and intervention (when called for) the director of the process.

William Dembski said: “Thus, in its relation to Christianity, intelligent design should be viewed as a ground-clearing operation that gets rid of the intellectual rubbish that for generations has kept Christianity from receiving serious consideration.” - Intelligent Design’s Contribution To The Debate Over Evolution: A Reply To Henry Morris, 2005.

Phillip Johnson said: “This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science, it’s about religion and philosophy.” - World Magazine, November 30, 1996.

(The last 2 quotes from Nightlight, accessed 27 July 2005.)

Lee:

(1) It [ID] contradicts a fundamental Creationist belief in creation by divine fiat (or Dave’s ‘poof’ scenario)

Where did you get this from? The ‘definitions’ of ID that I have seen have all been along the lines of ‘evolution is not adequate to explain the features seen in living organisms therefore some intelligence is required at some stage in the process’. Please produce a definition of ID written by any ID-promoting organization that specifically excludes creation by divine fiat as I think this claim is a figment of your imagination.

The first time I asked you this you ignored the question. I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps you were lying when you wrote it. Or perhaps you wrote too hastily (it’s OK to admit that. Most of us have done it at one time or another.)

Mark Duigon Wrote:

“Poof” as an explanation comes from Behe.

It also comes from Dembski, who entertained the means of unfocusable infinite wavelength, zero energy waves in some quantum field. As close as “poof” as physics terminology gets. I suppose we’ll be told Dembski and Behe are irrelevant ID hangers-on.

Well, Dembski and Behe ought to be irrelevant…

:-)

Posted by Mark Duigon:

“William Dembski said: “Thus, in its relation to Christianity, intelligent design should be viewed as a ground-clearing operation that gets rid of the intellectual rubbish that for generations has kept Christianity from receiving serious consideration.” - Intelligent Design’s Contribution To The Debate Over Evolution: A Reply To Henry Morris, 2005.

Phillip Johnson said: “This isn’t really, and never has been, a debate about science, it’s about religion and philosophy.” - World Magazine, November 30, 1996.

I can’t speak for either of these distinguished gentlemen. That said, I’ll give you my opinion …

Dr. Dembski is a Christian. He sees that evidence of Intelligent Design, if it’s there, to be tacit evidence of a Creator. ID doesn’t necessarily point toward a personal, intervening God, but may in fact remove existing obstacles that some might have which would keep them in the Skeptic’s camp. One of the tenets of any religion is to want to (or be expected to) enlist others. He believes that there is evidence, beyond pure faith, and that the evidence is scientifically addressable.

Regarding Phillip Johnson’s quote, it’s been asked by PV Myers and others, “was the quote literal or an interpretation of the author?”, and without context, it’s difficult to comment on. My take though, is that the question of origins is philosophical, but science, while once a branch of philosophy, deals only with evidence, preferably empirical. As a debate, however it leans heavily toward philosophy, but benefits in its conclusions from scientific findings that help to conjecture a designer/ creator’s motives and yes, the nature of the designer.

Dr. Dembski is a Christian. He sees that evidence of Intelligent Design, if it’s there, to be tacit evidence of a Creator.

Nothing wrong with that. Many people take the fact that they and the universe even exists as tacit evidence.

Most christians don’t feel the need for convoluted sciency sounding pseudoscience.

No one would care or think twice about the ID viewpoint except for one thing. They want to teach a cultist viewpoint about a religion in.….BIOLOGY CLASSES.

People believe all sorts of things, Raelians, Heaven Gaters, Bagwan Rajneesh, bigfoot, flying saucers, and more. None of this sort of stuff belongs in biology classes. I really don’t want my kids hearing about how Zeus and Hera designed the biosphere.

Lee Bowman wrote:

“…the biologic phylogeny appears to have evolved in a similar manner. Evolution was the tool, embryology the process, and intervention (when called for) the director of the process.”

OK, so speciation cannot happen but “phylogeny appears to have evolved”. Would that be a species phylogeny? Would that require “intervention” at every speciation event? Maybe as many as 20 million “interventions”. Got any evidence for any of these “interventions”?

You have been repeatedly asked for evidence to support your assertations about what evolution supposedly can or can not do. Why not provide the evidence? Why can’t speciation occur? Why can’t “macroevolution” occur? Inquiring minds want to know.

By the way, my response to the argument from incredulity is always the same. You can’t possibly imagine how this or that could ever happen, therefore it didn’t. Well I can’t possibly imagine how someone could willfully ignore all the evidence that it did in fact happen, therefore no one could possibly think it didn’t.

This Just In I’ve been reminded by a real-live journalist in a real-live Commentary Department that

The Renick piece you mention is not an editorial; it is Renick’s personal opinion, published as commentary. Calling it an editorial implies that the views it expresses are those of the newspaper as an institution (which is possible but very unlikely). Most papers publish a variety of opinion pieces, often in conflict with the newspaper’s editorials.

I’ve made a correction in the main Post. Thanks, Linda!

Dave

Lee Bowman said: ID doesn’t necessarily point toward a personal, intervening God, but may in fact remove existing obstacles that some might have which would keep them in the Skeptic’s camp.

In fact, that is its purpose: make creationism seem more reasonable to unbelievers. Pretend you are just drawing a general conclusion, that something designed something sometime, when you know quite well that once that is granted, the push will be quite strong to conclude, after careful examination of the evidence of course [/sarcasm], that the designer must be God.

The most revealing trait of ID is the refusal to address the natural questions that would follow as to the nature of the designer(s), as well as the methods and times of design implementation.

Imagine if scientists in Egypt unearthed a secret room in the pyramids with Star Trek-like technology and blueprints of pyramids both here and on other planets. The scientific world would go bonkers over this. They’d want to know everything they could about the designers, the how’s, when’s, and why’s. Debates would rage, and brand new areas of research would spring up overnight! Is it not preposterous to imagine scientists saying “we should ask nothing about the designers of the pyramids until we get the theory of Alien Pyramid Design taught in schools”.

The ID claim is no less stupendous. That they pretend to have no interest in these questions is the smoking gun that it is a political, not scientific, movement.

Intelligent Design may not “point to a personal, intervening god” as Lee Bowman said; but ID does point to some sort of Supernatural Entity that acts outside of known laws of nature. The unanswerable question remains–how did Design get put into Production? Likewise, if speciation occurred with the intervention of that Supernatural Entity (which may or may not be God) then what were the physical characteristics of that intervention? From the point of view of Pope Benedict, we really need to bring Intelligent Design into the laboratory and witness the creation of new species using techniques the Supernatural Entity may have used.

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Lee Wrote:

“It’s a misrepresentation to say that “design” isn’t really about “creation.” That it is, but alas, it is NOT about ‘Creationism.’

That is a category mistake. Being creationist, ID is either tantamount to YEC or OEC. Pick one.

Re “That is a category mistake. Being creationist, ID is either tantamount to YEC or OEC. Pick one.”

What if you get somebody who claims the Earth is between 10 and 20 million years old? What do you call him/her? :)

Henry

I get 45,800,000 “hits” when I google “systems biology design”,

Well I get 47,000,000 “hits” when I google “systems design magic”

- so I conclude that a lot of conjuring is involved in the process.

Incidentally I get 35,000,000 hits for “Is God Gay” - but let’s not jump to conclusions…

“What if you get somebody who claims the Earth is between 10 and 20 million years old? What do you call him/her?”

Egyptian. They are in de Nile.

Re “Egyptian. They are in de Nile.”

Egyptian? Nah, I think she said she’s Alaskan.

Henry

Henry,

You’re right again. But she’s in de Fairbanks just doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Though, “she’s in de-Anchorage” might suggest that she’s unmoored.

“unmoored” - Yeah, that might fit.

What if you get somebody who claims the Earth is between 10 and 20 million years old? What do you call him/her? :)

Um. Confused?

Maybe Middle Earthers?

With Aluvatar–or maybe JRRT–in the role of Omnipotent Designist Dude?

Re “Maybe Middle Earthers?”

Let’s not make a hobbit out of it! :)

was that your “tolkien” contribution for the day?

:p

Sheesh!

You give’m an ent and they take a mile.

Exactly!

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This page contains a single entry by Dave Thomas published on April 12, 2007 7:29 PM.

Did T-Rex taste just like chicken? was the previous entry in this blog.

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