Scientific Vacuity of ID: Evolution hypothesis requires that the genome be a “multiple independent collection of selectable genes”

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In the last few days we have witnessed a virtual epidemic of ill informed claims from our ID friends, so this time I will address a claim by Bornagain77 at UcD who argues:

I would also like to point out that since ENCODE found “an extensive overlapping network” for the human genome, this recently discovered fact clearly indicates that scientists are completely misinterpreting the genetic data from their preconceived evolutionary perspective, since the Evolution hypothesis requires that the genome be a “multiple independent collection of selectable genes”. Thus I predict all similarity based evidence culled from different genomes in support of the evolution hypothesis will have to be reinterpreted, from the proper engineering perspective, since it is now clearly impossible for the evolutionary scenario to overcome the the demonstrated poly-constrained nature of a poly-functional genome (Sanford Gentic Entropy; 2005)!!!

Despite Bornagain’s blind reliance on the work by Sanford, scientists have done some real science and shown actually quite the contrary. I will show that an interdependent network of is not only an inevitable outcome of evolutionary processes but that the nature of these networks, contrary to ‘intuition’ facilitate evolution rather than prohibit it. See for instance the work by Barabasi on scale free networks, the work by Stadler, Schuster, Toussaint and others on neutrality, RNA networks and many more:

Just a quick example:

The Emergence of Overlapping Scale-free Genetic Architecture in Digital Organisms by Gerlee

We have studied the evolution of genetic architecture in digital organisms and found that the gene overlap follows a scale-free distribution, which is commonly found in metabolic networks of many organisms. Our results show that the slope of the scale-free distribution depends on the mutation rate and that the gene development is driven by expansion of already existing genes, which is in direct correspondence to the preferential growth algorithm that gives rise to scale-free networks. To further validate our results we have constructed a simple model of gene development, which recapitulates the results from the evolutionary process and shows that the mutation rate affects the tendency of genes to cluster. In addition we could relate the slope of the scale-free distribution to the genetic complexity of the organisms and show that a high mutation rate gives rise to a more complex genetic architecture.

It somewhat surprises me that Sanford and IDers are unfamiliar with the extensive research on Scale Free networks, especially since I have discussed them in depth on Pandas Thumb. Contrary to intuition, overlapping scale free networks are not only common in the genome but their origins and evolution can be quite well explained using evolutionary theory.

I thank BornAgain for his contribution which allowed me to put to rest yet another creationist myth.

Poor St Augustine.

Since the concept of scale free networks, Gavrilets Holey Landscapes, protein protein interaction etc are quite dear to me, I intend to revisit some of these issues, on which I have extensively posted, to show how contrary to Sanford’s claims, the Evolution hypothesis does not require that the genome be a “multiple independent collection of selectable genes”.

I can understand why ID proponents may be gullible to accept this since from an uninformed perspective it seems quite reasonable that poly-functional and poly-constrained networks are less able to evolve. Yet, contrary to ‘common sense’, it is exactly the opposite.

I have a harder time understanding Sanford’s claim, as a geneticist he should know better.

57 Comments

I’m a scientist (geophysicist), and I agree almost all of the time with you and the other contributors here.

But, I have to point out that whenever I see the words “vacuity of ID”, I know immediately who wrote the piece. It’s kinda like hearing Kent Hovind talk about the “religion of evolution” . … …

No question that ID is empty of science, just hoping that you can expand your verbal pallet a bit. Makes things more interesting.

waldteufel: surely you mean “palette?” Or are you just trying to make things more interesting?

waldteufel:

I’m a scientist (geophysicist), and I agree almost all of the time with you and the other contributors here.

But, I have to point out that whenever I see the words “vacuity of ID”, I know immediately who wrote the piece. It’s kinda like hearing Kent Hovind talk about the “religion of evolution” . … …

No question that ID is empty of science, just hoping that you can expand your verbal pallet a bit. Makes things more interesting.

And yet it is a powerful meme which annoys Davescot, what more could I want :-)

See A Monkey with a Meme: The Creative Vacuity of Pim van Meurs

It may not be very creative or interesting but it very well captures the fact that ID is scientifically infertile. The term was used by Ryan Nichols in his paper

Nichols Wrote:

In my argument against Intelligent Design Theory I will not contend that it is not falsifiable or that it implies contradictions. I’ll argue that Intelligent Design Theory doesn’t imply anything at all, i.e. it has no content. By ‘content’ I refer to a body of determinate principles and propositions entailed by those principles. By ‘principle’ I refer to a proposition of central importance to the theory at issue. By ‘determinate principle’ I refer to a proposition of central importance to the theory at issue in which the extensions of its terms are clearly defined. I’ll evaluate the work of William Dembski because he specifies his methodology in detail, thinks Intelligent Design Theory is contentful and thinks Intelligent Design Theory (hereafter ‘IDT’) grounds an empirical research program.1 Later in the paper I assess a recent trend in which IDT is allegedly found a better home as a metascientific hypothesis, which serves as a paradigm that catalyzes research. I’ll conclude that, whether IDT is construed as a scientific or metascientific hypothesis, IDT lacks content.

Source: Ryan Nichols, Scientific content, testability, and the vacuity of Intelligent Design theory The American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, 2003 ,vol. 77 ,no 4 ,pp. 591 - 611

It avoids the demarcation problem which is so often quoted by ID proponents when arguing that ID is not scientific. It’s much easier to avoid the argument about demarcation between science and non-science and show that ID is scientifically without any content.

Things must be quiet in the ID world if you’re reduced to taking apart bornagain77’s stuff. Although I notice you’ve picked one of his shorter posts.

Bob

Why does Dave have such a problem with monkeys? They look a lot like people.

1) Look at monkeys. 2) Then look at people.

They look a lot alike! Shrug.

LoL. If you biologists bump in to something while you’re rolling around on the floor laughing, it’s probably a GA researcher.

But but if there aren’t multiple independent genes then how on Earth will the IDers be able to naively multiply the probabilities in order to prove that Goddidit?

Things must be quiet in the ID world if you’re reduced to taking apart bornagain77’s stuff. Although I notice you’ve picked one of his shorter posts.

agreed.

perhaps it would be worthwhile to explore the latest research on H. Floresiensis that I posted a link to in a thread a couple days back?

ah, here ya go:

http://www.physorg.com/news109516501.html

This study offers one of the most striking confirmations of the original interpretation of the hobbit as an island remnant of one of the oldest human migrations to Asia.

my god, how much more interesting is that than the stale poots of UD?

Interesting seeing people waisting so much time on something so “scientifically empty”.

But, I have to point out that whenever I see the words “vacuity of ID”, I know immediately who wrote the piece.

Of course, now everyone else will start using it, just to annoy you :P

Interesting seeing people waisting so much time on something so “scientifically empty”.

AIDS denial is also scientifically empty. Should we just leave that alone?

BornAgain77 is hardly a high profile target. He comes out with the Twelve Disproofs of Materialism for god’s sake, in which theism triumphs over materialism by the power of words looking slightly similar to each other.

Defending the integrity of science isn’t a waste of time. The reason why the people on Pandas thumb spend so much time refuting the intellectually dishonest claims of ID is because ID proponents refuse to take on board any refutations, they simply filter them out and carry on repeating fallacious arguments over and over and over. If you people would actually listen and learn no one would have to “waste time” on William Dembski’s intellectually dishonest attempt at christian apologetics. As it stands someone has to be there point out the holes in the arguments lest this nonsense gain any kind of traction with people who don’t know any better.

“Vacuity” is a suitable frame (and shtick for PvM), so while I’m bored too, it is forgivable. Really, what isn’t boring about the several thousand old dogmas and oft repeated lies of creationists?

Another suitable frame is ID creationism, or IDC. Not to mention that YEC/OEC/IDC symmetrically describes the history of creationism.

Now we are waiting for the up and coming ‘problems in sciences’ creationism (PSC) to succeed the dying ‘teach the controversy’ (TCC) creationist paradigm. We’re going to run out of acronyms…

melior Wrote:

but if there aren’t multiple independent genes then how on Earth will the IDers be able to naively multiply the probabilities in order to prove that Goddidit?

Indeed, it is the creationist strawman of evolution, complete with the falsified ‘irreducibly complexity’, which doesn’t allow the dependent selectable genes we observe. While interlocking complexity is an old and verified prediction of evolution.

Bornagain77 reads the wrong books. (Duh!)

PvM Wrote:

It avoids the demarcation problem which is so often quoted by ID proponents

But it is easy to point to testability as a necessary characteristic of theories. That it isn’t sufficient to identify potentially viable theories is a different problem for science. And the philosophical demarcation problem is loosely connected to the later.

And in fact I have never heard an IDCer refer to demarcation. It is curious, but they are even worse on philosophy than on science, perhaps because philosophy isn’t as dangerous to their faith. But you can’t really be surprised by any expression of the depth of their ignorance.

Mats Wrote:

Interesting seeing people waisting so much time on something so “scientifically empty”.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t react to a known troll, but this warrants a reply for any innocent readers, even if the answer is pretty obvious.

Creationism is a socio-religious movement which the scientific pretext has launched several anti-scientific “scientifically empty” enterprises, now latest IDC. It is incumbent on scientists and socially aware individuals to both promote scientific knowledge and demote threats to it.

Besides, it irritates biologists when creationists distorts their science, it irritates scientists when creationists distorts the results of the scientific project, and it irritates literate persons when creationists lie.

If you had a persistent mosquito buzzing around your head, wouldn’t you take a whack at it frequently? Especially if you know it carries a disabling disease?

It is incumbent on scientists and socially aware individuals to both promote scientific knowledge and demote threats to it.

I agree. Promotion of scientific knowledge is what everyone wants, not the propagation of naturalistic myths posing as “science”.

Besides, it irritates biologists when creationists distorts their science,

Creationist scientists, being themselves men and women with certified degrees from respectable institutions, don’t want to “distort science”. What they want is what you said above,meaningly, the promotion of true science, not the indoctrination of their youngsters at public expenses.

The only ones we see being against the true scientific spirit of open debate of all theories are Darwinists. So I guess I should say, “physician, heal thyself”.

The only ones we see being against the true scientific spirit of open debate of all theories are Darwinists.

Please cite any scientific theories you know of, other than MET, which address the origin of biological diversity.

Where I would dissent from the expression “scientific vacuity”, it is about the need to restrict it to scientific. ID is empty, not only of scientific content, but - and deliberately so - of just about any content at all. That’s no matter of dispute, for its advocates advertise, as one of the its benefits, that it doesn’t have anything to say about Who or When; and it’s quite apparent that there is nothing about What, Where, How, or Why. ID would not be acceptable as an expository essay in a high-school writing class.

Mats:

Promotion of scientific knowledge is what everyone wants, not the propagation of naturalistic myths posing as “science”.

I hate break it to you Mats but science IS naturalism by its very definition. If you introduce non-naturalistic elements, you are no longer doing science. Can’t you understand this? The only naturalistic explanation for biological diversity that has any evidence going for it is the theory of evolution. And it has 150 years of constant study and masses of empirical evidence supporting it. MASSES. That is why it is the scientific consensus (contested only by religious fundamentalists, as these are the only people who have any reason to disagree).

ID is the thing “posing as science” since it contain no scientific content, is based around a religious belief that is contradicted by all the available evidence, and exists only in the form of blog postings and books that have not been peer reviewed. When these shortcomings are pointed out, Dembski just stick his fingers in his ears and makes up excuses, or constructs dishonest lists of peer-reviewed ID papers which are upon cursory inspection nothing of the sort. He repeatedly ignores solid refutations of his claims. This is the very definition of Pseudo-science, ie. “posing as science”.

Mats: Creationist scientists, being themselves men and women with certified degrees from respectable institutions, don’t want to “distort science”.

Getting a degree does not suddenly validate you as a good scientist. Publishing and peer review of your papers in recognised and relevant journals validates you as a good scientist. If this was the genuine intent of “creation scientists” then the journals would be replete with paradigm challenging papers. What do we actually see from “creation scientists?” that heinous creation “museum” and some confused books that are published directly to totally avoid the scrutiny of peer review. Book which I might add, have always been soundly refuted over and over. “Creation scientists” want science to fit the bible. The problem is IT DOESN’T. IT JUST DOESN’T. You think science is distorted because it is out of synch with the bible, and that by figuring out a way to make the evidence fit what the bible says you are correcting science. The trouble is this approach is antithetical to how science works. Once you bend and cherry pick the evidence to fit your preconceived notion, you have stopped doing science.

The only ones we see being against the true scientific spirit of open debate of all theories are Darwinists. So I guess I should say, “physician, heal thyself”.

If the evidence supported a 6000 year old earth, or a flood, or a creation event, over the past 200ish years of geology and biology would have have found undeniable overwhelming evidence that this was the case. But we haven’t. We’ve found that the earth is 4 billions years old and that we are all descended from a common ancestor, and that humans and apes share a more recent common ancestor. Everything that has been studied in last 150 years has just reinforced this explanation to the degree that certain aspects of it are to all intents and purposes irrefutable. That is why scientists treat common descent as fact. Not some slavish devotion to a dogma.

James writes; If the evidence supported a 6000 year old earth, or a flood, or a creation event, over the past 200ish years of geology and biology would have have found undeniable overwhelming evidence that this was the case.

In fact, the case for the literal truth of the Genesis story had already fallen apart by the end of the 18th century, before Darwin was born. Early scientists like Buffon, Cuvier, and Hutton had already shown strong evidence that the earth was very old; that it was inhabited by different species in ancient times; and that many species had gone extinct. Scientists consequently viewed Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution not as much as an attack on the bible as a way out of the difficulties they were having making theoretical sense of their data. The one-on-one conflict, evolutionary theory vs. literal biblical creationism, has only been fought in the arena of public opinion. It was never a real scientific debate at all.

Mats:

Of course you try to answer. But you are back to your self adopted role of not making sense:

Per definition scientists decide what is science, however you as a lieman :-P feel about that. Do you have any peer-reviewed results that you care to share with us? How is it ‘creationist’?

And in fact I have never heard an IDCer refer to demarcation. It is curious, but they are even worse on philosophy than on science, perhaps because philosophy isn’t as dangerous to their faith. But you can’t really be surprised by any expression of the depth of their ignorance.

Especially the earlier work of Meyer, Beckwith

" rel="nofollow external ">Laudan, demarcation and the vacuity of Intelligent design and Intelligent Design in Public School Science Curricula: A Legal Guidebook

Do a Google search on “demarcation intelligent design”

Mats Wrote:

Creationist scientists, being themselves men and women with certified degrees from respectable institutions, don’t want to “distort science”. What they want is what you said above,meaningly, the promotion of true science, not the indoctrination of their youngsters at public expenses.

It’s not that they do not want to distort science, it is that some of them, especially ID and YEC, need to distort science to make it fit their distorted religious views. And indoctrination of our youth with true science is also known as public education.

Geez..

Mats Wrote:

The only ones we see being against the true scientific spirit of open debate of all theories are Darwinists. So I guess I should say, “physician, heal thyself”.

Liar.

Mats spoke about “Creationist scientists” - a moron spouting an oxymoron !

The only ones we see being against the true scientific spirit of open debate of all theories are Darwinists.

Mats, I would love to hear you explain that in light of UD’s moderation policies.

Things must be quiet in the ID world if you’re reduced to taking apart bornagain77’s stuff. Although I notice you’ve picked one of his shorter posts.

I picked a comment in which he referenced Sanford whose ‘work’ seems to be popular amongst YEC ID proponents. If Bornagain77 correctly represents Sanford’s claims then I am amazed at the lack of scientific depth displayed here.

Note that to the naive, uninformed layperson, the claim that evolution requires distinct genes and that poly-functional and poly-constrained genes form an obstacle to evolution, may sound plausible. Deserves a response, and can be used as yet another example where ID creationists are bending science to fit their own purpose.

Mats wrong as usual:

Interesting seeing people waisting so much time on something so scientifically empty.

Never bothers you to be completely wrong. Have you ever thought of going to school?

In point of fact, we could care less what anyone believes. Humans believe all sorts of weird stuff, ESP, astrology, Elvis, UFOs, Bigfoot, Xenu, the galactic overlord and his billions of thetan ghosts, witchcraft, magic crytstals, the earth is the center of the solar system, etc., and that the earth is 6,000 years old. It is a free country.

ID and its associated mythology attempts to Wedge its way into our childrens science classes as part of an attack on science and indoctrination program for other peoples kids. The ultimate goal, as they state often, is to overthrow the US government, set up a theocracy, and head on back to the dark ages.

That we care about. That we object to. It would just be an interesting weird development if the US became an Iran class third world banana republic except for one thing. Most of us live here and have higher aspirations for our home.

The IDists would just be another of countless pseudoscientific and mystical cults and no one would really care, except that it is really a means to an end.

A yes or no question for Mats: Did God leave scientifically verifiable fingerprints on creation?

If you answer “yes,” then we have evidence for God and faith has no role left to play. The history of religion and mankind’s relationship with the almighty can be divided into “before” and “after” revealed truth was verified and faith was made superfluous.

If you answer, “no,” then you acknowledge that Creation Science and ID and so on are useless endeavors.

And a follow-up question to Mats. Assuming that the answer is that God did not leave any scientifically verifiable fingerprints on creation, what does this mean for your faith? Does it really matter that much? Isn’t the power of faith that much amazing when it is reached not based on scientific evidence?

Interesting seeing people waisting so much time on something so “scientifically empty”.

Yes, it is. Even more interesting is that people like you desire to distort and possibly destroy science with your worthless tripe, especially since you can’t make a single meaningful argument.

It is not, of course, very interesting that science seeks to counter the violence inherent in ID’s attempts to destroy the Enlightenment. It is interesting that the tiresome BS of creationism/ID prevented science from taking the violence of ID seriously for a long time.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

contrary to Sanford’s claims, the Evolution hypothesis does not require that the genome be a “multiple independent collection of selectable genes”.

As usual, the IDists/creationists (I don’t know what Sanford is, but he’s not my issue) have no concept of what evolutionary theory predicts, versus what ongoing evolutionary science understands. Nothing in Darwin’s writings indicated that a “multiple independent collection of selectable genes” was needed for evolution, and it is impossible to see how it could ever be surmised from evolutionary principles. The barebones “change in the frequency alleles in a population over time” definition does not leave out “independent” only because it is so sparing, but because it has nothing to do with evolution itself.

It was a genetic dogma that genes were independent, not an evolutionary dogma. As with “junk DNA,” it is Mendelianism that led some to positions which have not been borne out by the evidence. Unsurprisingly, neo-Darwinism accepted the science of the time and essentially went with the traditional concept of the gene and its primacy, but that’s just because neo-Darwinism is integrated with the rest of science.

The fact that science changes with the evidence is being used against evolutionary biology yet again. Don’t the IDists claim that evolution is a religion? Then why doesn’t it act like one? ID certainly does, for it makes the same worthless claims no matter how successful evolution is, and with essentially no thought about the fact that one can’t do science with ID (all actual science they do, however little it is, really is standard, including evolutionary, science).

The problem with ID is not so much that it fails to be science, but that it fails even to comprehend what science is, and why it is important.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

I agree. Promotion of scientific knowledge is what everyone wants, not the propagation of naturalistic myths posing as “science”.

And yet you betray essentially no knowledge of what science is, nor do I see any promotion of science by you as it is understood by those who actually do science. The fact is that you’re a grotesquely anti-science and ignorant cretin.

Creationist scientists, being themselves men and women with certified degrees from respectable institutions, don’t want to “distort science”.

And yet they do. We’ve explained it, why don’t you for once in your idiotic diatribes try to explain yours and their complete incapacity to do or say anything honest and undistorted.

Anyhow, your “chain of reasoning” is a non sequitur, not that I have any indication that you could recognize that, logical categories, or empirical data.

What they want is what you said above,meaningly, the promotion of true science, not the indoctrination of their youngsters at public expenses.

Yet they sign their names to oaths not to question the Bible in most places. So they’re committed to indoctrination and the opposite of the questioning stance of science. Still, you’re far too dumb to understand this rather simple inference.

The only ones we see being against the true scientific spirit of open debate of all theories are Darwinists.

I suppose you’re right. But since biologists aren’t “Darwinists”, I guess you’re admitting that biologists want to do good science. You’re right about that, wrong that your dishonest heroes want the same.

See, moron, you have to learn how to use words properly, or you end up telling the truth where you prefer to tell your relentless lies.

So I guess I should say, “physician, heal thyself”.

Except that you’re not a physician, hence you can’t heal the gaping wasteland within your skull.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

To use the same word, “vacuity,” repeatedly like PvM does desensitizes the reader to it, and lessens its desired impact. People utilize synonyms in order to pique interest and to be able to emphasize the same concept by using a variety of words that mean either the same thing, or something close to it.

Using synonyms often will stimulate the mind of both blogger and readers to make different verbal and conceptual connections. A simple example is that “vacuity” might be associated with ID’s utter lack of evidence for their purported “design”, while “worthlessness” might be associated with the lack of fertility in science. Practically, however, the variety of synonyms and near-synonyms are more likely to be interchangeable yet to confer slightly different aspects of the vacuousness of ID in their use as modifiers.

I fear that PvM may be too focused on DaveTard’s criticism of his overuse of the word “vacuity,” and does not wish to allow him even the “victory” of varying his words as an apparent “response” to the Tard. To that possibility, I say forget about it. The Tard is a worthless, hateful, ignorant, prejudiced, and outright evil person, like many on that side (at least among ID’s proponents). He is not the preferred target of any of the writing here, and is unworthy to affect anybody’s deportment.

Varying one’s description of ID will be more likely to affect fence-sitters toward a positive view of science. The Tard only cares about putting others down, since he is nothing, and that is almost certainly the main reason why he’s opposed to science and its practitioners. Anything that he writes is flawed and evil in some manner (at least as well as we can discern), but others write for the good of science and the friends of Enlightenment. In that light, I agree with others that “vacuity” could be given a rest now and then.

Glen D http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said: If you had a persistent mosquito buzzing around your head, wouldn’t you take a whack at it frequently? Especially if you know it carries a disabling disease?

Not only disabling, but an intelligently designed disabling disease! (Well, if one believes the IDists. )

Apparently doing a copy/paste of non-English characters into another reply messes up those characters. Is there a way around that?

Long time lurker, first time poster

Mats Said

“Interesting seeing people waisting so much time on something so “scientifically empty”.”

You know, I’ve never understood it either. And I’m sure the scientific community would be happy if the creationists and IDers giving up their mucking about and start doing something constructive for a change.

Yeah I know that’s not what Mats meant but it’s my take on the situation.

I do have a serious question though,

First, about me. I’m an Australian accountant, while not a scientist I have had a long fascination with various sciences. My work is more audit based and as such finding the evidence backing up various claims is what I do for a living. From this approach, I have reached the unavoidable conclusion, from my own search of the evidence, activities and outcomes, that creationism and ID are entirely without merit.

One of the YECers I’ve been debating with has started talking of “sophistication” as evidence of intelligent design. He’s trying to persuade others that this is different from “complexity” by defining sophistication in terms of technical sophistication from a very human view point. Communication, control and moving parts etc. Have any of you come across this relabeling of terms before? I’m right that there is no real difference between complexity and sophistication and that he’s just shifting the goal posts to favour his fantasy.

I’ve been using weather patterns as an example of undesigned sophistication and I was hoping someone here could point me towards a few other examples.

Thanking you in advance

Tenebrous

Tenebrous,

Never heard that one before. Seems to me a person can be sophisticated, but what would a “sophisticated” flower look like? Would it wear a tuxedo to social functions? A good clue is that if people use terms they can not rigorously define or parameters they can not measurw or even estimate, they are probably trying to pull a fast one.

By the way, is that impersonal unguided wheather patterns you study, or are they intelligently designed?

As an alternative to ‘vacuous’ I have described ID as a hollow egg shell that looks pretty from the outside but is empty.

Apparently doing a copy/paste of non-English characters into another reply messes up those characters. Is there a way around that?

What I’ve been doing is deleting the quote marks, apostrophes etc in the quote and substituting my own, but there’s probably a better way. I’ve also been hoping that it’s easily fixable from the PT HQ end but I wouldn’t know.

re: sophistication

creationists in general don’t have actual arguments, so they rely on statements that “feel” right-ish, and hope that people will then accept them as right at face value instead of doing any careful analysis. This is also known as an “Intuition pump” or, ironically, sophistry.

Usually this takes the form “I can’t imagine how X would evolve. So, seeing as X can’t evolve, we know evolution is wrong”. But another common form of pump priming is to describe things with words that suggest connotations beyond what is already demonstrated. Usual case: biological mechanisms can have a specific but complicated function; but it doesn’t advance your argument at all to state that a thing has a function. So you say it has a “purpose”, and voyla! it sounds like you have some evidence for intelligent intention. Note the process: you assign the word purely on the same criteria that justify the word “function”, but once people have accepted that “purpose” is a valid description, you allow them to lose track of the fact that common nuances involving intention haven’t been justified. Your line of argument rhetoric has now acquired statements that are useful to your cause without passing through a point where people stop you for making a sudden leap.

This seems to be the case with “sophistication”. All you really have is biological complexity, as agreed by everybody. But you call some example sophistication, on the basis that sophistication can be used in the simple sense of complexity, and then you start talking like the word always conveys connotations like advanced culture and the artifacts of civilization.

Creationism is nothing if not the discipline of flexible language. When a creationist describes something, you need to persistently stop them with the challenge: “what do you mean EXACTLY when you apply that term”, and then force them to be consistent with that meaning. Remember, if someone can’t supply an exact meaning for a word they are using, then a sentence they construct using that word doesn’t have an exact meaning (is incoherent) and doesn’t do much to advance a rigorous argument.

Tenebrous,

it sounds like your ‘sophisticated creationist’ might be better described as a sophist.

As for a natural example of communication, control and moving parts, I always find a venus fly trap does the trick. It’s also a nice counterpoint to Behe’s mouse trap.

Could it be that by “sophistication” creationists mean highly specialized– as opposed to generalized– adaptations? I’m thinking of things like plants that only attract certain pollinators, snake fangs that are adapted to shoot venom, not just bite, and so on.

If you’re talking to a creationist who isn’t totally beyond the reach of reason– I’m going out on a limb and assuming such people exist– talking about specialized adaptations and how they arise might be less emotionally loaded than trying to discuss “sophistication.”

One of the YECers I’ve been debating with has started talking of “sophistication” as evidence of intelligent design. He’s trying to persuade others that this is different from “complexity” by defining sophistication in terms of technical sophistication from a very human view point.

Going to echo another poster. If they use sophistication in a scientific sense, they need:

1. A rigorous definition. What is the scientific definition of sophistication. Number of legs? Number of eyes?

2. They also need an objective way to measure “sophistication”. One that anyone can use including lab techs and that will give reproducible numbers or results from person to person or lab to lab.

When comparing 2 sequences for homology, we just use computer programs and the results are always the same for everyone. If they weren’t, DNA homology would be a useless concept.

This is why I know that ID is scientifically empty. They use buzzwords like Intelligence, Design, Complexity, and Information repeatedly without defining them or giving ways to measure them. That is why everything is so vague and it never goes anywhere. That is why it isn’t science.

PS: The argument for “sophistication” is just the old fallacy of Argument from Incredulity or Ignorance. “I can’t see how my foot evolved so god exists.”

Richard Simons said: What I’ve been doing is deleting the quote marks, apostrophes etc in the quote and substituting my own, but there’s probably a better way. I’ve also been hoping that it’s easily fixable from the PT HQ end but I wouldn’t know.

That could work with regular punctuation, but even there it’s a nuisance. But up above I replied to Torbjörn Larsson, and I don’t know how to enter my own o with two dots over it.

Henry

Well, his name looks okay in the preview, but let’s see what happens after I submit this.

Well, that’s sort of what I figured would happen. (*sigh*)

You can usually force the desired character by using HTML character encoding. To get a lowercase ‘o’ with “dieresis” or “umlaut” marks you insert an ampersand (&) followed by lowercase ‘o’ and ‘uml’ and semicolon (;), like this: “ö” (minus the double quote marks) where you want the character to appear, producing ‘ö’.

This can also be done using the HTML character encoding decimal values for that character, which is “&#214:” and also produces ‘ö’.

A bit cumbersome, but workable.

Yes, however cut and paste often leads to unexpected results ‘ö’

Hmm that was unexpected…

I suppose that with cut and paste the results may depend on the machine and/or its settings, on which the cut/paste was done?

This method uses what are called HTML “character references.” They are intended to be valid for all HTML renderers (such as web browsers) that make use of the Universal Character Set, which all modern web browsers should support.

While all modern browsers support UCS, they may not display all UCS characters. Many allow users to specify subsets of UCS for use. So, if your browser is told to use US-ASCII, it will not normally display any characters above character number 127.

Similarly, web servers should support UCS but they can be restricted to subsets of UCS. If so, they will either drop characters not in their specified subset or replace them with character from that subset.

HTML character references are intended to provide a character set independent way of specifying characters. They should work in almost all modern browsers, even when using “cut and paste.’

I should have been clearer: the basic set of HTML character references, those defined using   through  and   through- ÿ, should work even when using cut and paste. Character references encoded above decimal 255, such as &amp#1028; (Cyrilic capital И) seem to be somewhat less reliable.

Thanks for your comments, you’ve given me what I need to counter the new mutation of the complexity argument.

David Stanton

Is it possible to intelligently guide weather patterns? If so, then no I was referring to “classic” weather patterns.

Snaxalotl

Tell me about it. I’ve learned the hard way that it is best to get the Evolution denier to state the form that their denial takes early on. YEC/OEC, Bible literalism etc so as to reduce the amount of ambiguity in which they can maneuver.

Tim Hague

Labeling him a sophist might be correct in terminology but I doubt it will useful in debate. One thing I’ve noted is that Christian Creationists tend to be falling over themselves to play martyr. Even Dawkins’ gentle rebukes are perceived to be scathing vicious attacks by these people.

hoary puccoon

I’ve had some success, I’ve been able to convince 2 or 3 people that evolution is real even if you believe in gods. Given that I’m blogging on a theistic themed site I consider that to be pretty good. But even with the most fact resistant, I continue to post refutations of C/ID rhetoric and of developments in evolution because I don’t want other lurkers to think the debate is one-sided. Challenging falsehood might not convince everyone but letting it go unchallenged is disastrous. I particularly enjoy pressing the die-hard C/IDers for any evidence for their claims, the resulting silence is deafening and telling.

raven

Excellent points. I’ll point out the differences between science and C/ID that you demonstrated.

Thanks again for your responses. I appreciate it.

James:

Defending the integrity of science isn’t a waste of time. The reason why the people on Pandas thumb spend so much time refuting the intellectually dishonest claims of ID is because ID proponents refuse to take on board any refutations, they simply filter them out and carry on repeating fallacious arguments over and over and over. If you people would actually listen and learn no one would have to “waste time” on William Dembski’s intellectually dishonest attempt at christian apologetics. As it stands someone has to be there point out the holes in the arguments lest this nonsense gain any kind of traction with people who don’t know any better.

There seems to be a few typos in this comment, so some editing is in order:

Defending the integrity of science isn’t a waste of time. The reason why some people on Pandas thumb spend so much time challenging the intellectually dishonest claims of Darwinists is because Darwinian evolution proponents refuse to take on board any refutations, they simply filter them out and carry on repeating fallacious arguments over and over and over. If you people would actually listen and learn no one would have to “waste time” on Richard Dawkins’s et.al.’s intellectually dishonest attempts at atheistic or naturalism apologetics. As it stands someone has to be there point out the holes in the arguments lest this nonsense gain any kind of traction with people who don’t know any better.

There, now I think its about right.

snaxalot

Creationism is nothing if not the discipline of flexible language. When a creationist describes something, you need to persistently stop them with the challenge: “what do you mean EXACTLY when you apply that term”, and then force them to be consistent with that meaning. Remember, if someone can’t supply an exact meaning for a word they are using, then a sentence they construct using that word doesn’t have an exact meaning (is incoherent) and doesn’t do much to advance a rigorous argument.

Darwinsts are not guiltless when it comes to employing flexible language. Their terms can be very elastic depending on the situation. The very term evolution can have multiple meanings and change the nature of an argument depending on how its intepreted.

Also, some linguists and etymologists who say that no words can have an exact meaning. For example, I could say the word “cat”. Does it have an exact meaning? Not really, it could refer to the cat sleeping at my feet, or the cat outside in the lawn, or an alley cat, or a wild cat, or a white cat or some other kind of cat. A hundred people using seeing the word “cat” will each have in mind a different cat to understand “catness”. But if that term is used in an argument such as:

All cats are mammals Buster is a cat Therefore Buster is a mammal

it wouldn’t matter one iota what image or understanding of “cat” or “Buster” the reader had to the rigourness of the argument. Lacking exactness doesn’t necessarily reduce the rigourness or correectness of an argument. If the premises are true, then the conclusion follows in a valid deductive argument. The inexactness of a term won’t necessarily collapse the argument.

How about this one:

All complex life forms evolved from simpler pre-cursor life forms B is a complex life form Therefore B evolved from a simpler pre-cursor life from.

In evolutionary terms, the argument is deductively valid. But are the terms “exact”? Not hardly. Words like “comlex”, “simpler” and “evolved” can have multiple meanings and it isn’t clear from the argument what their exact meanings are. But that doesn’t stop Darwinists from offering this very sort of argument.

Darwinsts are not guiltless when it comes to employing flexible language. Their terms can be very elastic depending on the situation. The very term evolution can have multiple meanings and change the nature of an argument depending on how its intepreted.

Nothing wrong with that. Compare this with ID define ignorance to be ‘design’ and then conclude that there must have been a Designer involved. The problem is that evolutionists correctly use language but that some listeners lack the familiarity with evolutionary theory to understand how evolution indeed has many different meanings.

Conflation and equivocation (Donald M may want to look up the exact meaning of the terms) are a trademark of ID which is one of the reasons why I find it such a meaningless concept.

Just look at the way they define ‘design’, ‘complexity’, ‘information’ and then freely switch between the many forms freely.

Please let me know what part of scientists using the term evolution confused you. This is a friendly bar after all.

As to the rest of your ‘argument’ you seem to be building a lovely strawman. Would it be a bother for you to present some argument? We can deal with asking for a logical and evidentiary foundation to support your claims later.

Even your editing fails to understand that there is significant evidence supporting the misbehavior of ID creationists, the quote mining, the disregard for science, the equivocation. That’s why so many people have come to consider ID to be content challenged, to use a variation of vacuous.

Perhaps Donald M can show us how ID defines Design and Information?

Donald M wrote:

“There seems to be a few typos in this comment, so some editing is in order:”

Defending the integrity of science isn’t a waste of time. The reason why some people on Pandas thumb spend so much time challenging the intellectually dishonest claims of creationists is because creationists refuse to take on board any refutations, they simply filter them out and carry on repeating fallacious arguments over and over and over. Even after they admit they are completely wrong, they go on makiong the same claims over and over. If you people would actually listen and learn, or maybe take some college courses in biology, no one would have to waste time refuting your nonsense over and over. If you would just stop obsessing over Richard Dawkins, as if he were some kind of god in the world of evolution, then perhaps you could get around to doing some real science in the laboratory. Why don’t you ever present any evidence for any of your claims? Your intellectually dishonest attempts at theistic apologetics convince no one. As it stands, someone has to be there to point out the holes in the arguments used by creationists, lest this nonsense gain any kind of traction with people who don’t know any better.

There, now I think its about right.

How about this one:

All complex life forms evolved from simpler pre-cursor life forms B is a complex life form Therefore B evolved from a simpler pre-cursor life from.

Strawman. Complexity cannot be defined or measured in a consistent way. There is no progress in evolution.

BTW, if you have problems with special characters, make sure that you are viewing this site in Unicode (UTF-8), and make sure that preview doesn’t change that (it probably does).

Perhaps Donald M can show us how ID defines Design and Information?

He knows ‘em when he sees ‘em! What more do you want? ;)

Henry

Although this is discussion about scientific theories and their merits (or lack thereof), I find it helpful to point out that Intelligent Design and New Earth Creationism is exactly what happens when folks interpret faith and the Bible on their own without giving a second thought to the one institution that has been giving a lot of thought to these things for the last 2000 or so years. This is what they have to say:

Intelligent Design Not Science

I just wanted to point out that not all people of faith have a need to mess with established science in order to make sense of their beliefs…

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on September 25, 2007 10:47 PM.

Where’s the Discovery Institute when you need a defender of academic freedom? was the previous entry in this blog.

Impact killed the pleistocene megafauna? is the next entry in this blog.

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