Intelligent Design, hiding behind the 'complexity' of living system


Laurence Moran at Sandwalk comments on a video excerpt with Bill Dembski, recently touted by the Discovery Institute’s Robert Crowther. What is fascinating that despite more than a decade of Intelligent Design ‘research’ this is the best ID has to offer.

Ironically, Dembski starts of by stating that “what darwinists have done is hidden behind complexities of living systems”. How ironic can this be… While science, as I have shown in several examples, deals in explanations, pathways and hypotheses, Intelligent Design has contributed exactly zero to our scientific understanding of these systems. Worse, while Dembski mentions some complex systems, he also avoids some examples of complex systems science understands quite well how they may have evolved.

My thanks to Robert Crowther for presenting the “best’ response ID has to offer. You be the judge.

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Moran wrote:

Bill Dembski doesn’t like this idea. He doesn’t like the idea of evolution either. Here’s a video where Dembski displays his ignorance about evolution in general and molecular evolution in particular. The title of his talk is “Molecular Machines and the Death of Darwinism.”

I sometimes wonder just how intelligent Dembski is. Does he really think that the eye is our best example of the evolution of molecular machines. Does he think that the bacterial flagellum is the only other molecular machine? Apparently he does because he doesn’t mention replisomes, photosynthesis complexes, blood clotting cascades, the citric acid cycle, or any of the other molecular machines and complex systems where we have a good handle on how they evolved.

But Dembski goes even further than complex machines. He has the inside track on some research that will bring down the Darwinian idol. It’s at the level of individual proteins where we’re finally going to see proof of the existence of God. I can hardly wait.

Compare this to Dembski’s latest approaches so well documented by ERV. It is safe to say that Intelligent Design is equivalent to “scientific” stasis.

As Nick, one of the commenters at Sandwalk observes

Ugh, he really doesn’t understand how science works, and he’s probably wilfully ignorant of the actual research done into protein evolution. This isn’t just bad, it’s a stunning example of intellectual dishonesty on Dembski’s part. The claim we hide behind the “complexity” of the bacterial flagellum being the main example. Either he’s never looked at the research, or like most creationists (and I do view him as that) he’s purposely, dogmatically ignoring it. Which is supported by ERV’s series on that talk he recently gave.

Now my attempt to transcribe part of the talk, however painful it is for me to be forced to listen to Dembski’s description of how science explains the evolution of the eye, a description which has little foundation in reality.

Dembski wrote:

they gesture at various intermediate systems that might have existed and then basically say “prove me wrong”, “show me that it didn’t happen that way”.

And so they put the burden of evidence on the design people when in fact the burden of evidence should be on them because these systems by any standards look like designed systems and so if they look designed maybe indeed they are designed.

Now, how can you challenge that though because we are now in the minority, it’s the Darwinists who hold the position of power and influence and prestige in the academic setting so how do you overturn that way of looking at things. Well as I said, they are hiding behind complexities. In William Paley’s days, the eye, a mammalian eye was as good an example of design as you could find and he made a design argument based on the eye.

Along comes Darwin, along come his successors and they say look there are all this different eyeballs out there in organisms, slap em down on a table, draw arrows between them from those who are less complex to those who are more complex. It Evolves…

End of story

that’s it

and you see this actually, there is a book derived from the PBS Evolution series that came out in 2001 by Carl Zimmer, the Triumph of Evolution, that triumph is not going to be around too much longer, but if you look at the cover, there are all these different eye balls there and the implication is “obviously the eye evolved”. They eye is so complex, I mean, multi cellular layers and layers of complexity, how are you going to get a handle on that evolutionarily? So what do we do as design theorists? Well, let’s look at simpler systems that are still sufficiently complex so we can get a better handle on that. Now were Behe took the analysis was to the sub-cellular level looking at these irreducibly complex molecular machines these complexes of cells. Now what’s happened with Behe?

The argument so far? Scientists propose scientific hypotheses, Intelligent Design is a minority, so how do we respond? Well, obviously by using an argument based on ignorance.

Note how Bill Dembski argues that 1) the eye in Paley’s day was a good example of design 2) scientists have provided explanations that strongly suggest that the eye evolved, leading to the obvious conclusion that what was a good example of design in Paley’s is no longer such a good example given our increased understanding of science. So much for the reliability of the Explanatory Filter.

Is this really how scientists establish a plausible evolutionary path for the eye? I will explore this in a future contribution. Sufficient to say that ID has yet to explain the origin and evolution of the eye in their own terms beyond “we don’t understand how science explains it thus we believe that design should still be allowed as a plausible explanation”.

As many have already pointed out, ‘design’ is always a ‘logical’ explanation, the real issue is to find evidence which allow one to formulate a scientific hypothesis. ID however considers such an approach to be ‘pathetic’. I can understand since the development of a scientific hypothesis is hard work.