Can biology do better than faith?

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In Can biology do better than faith? Edward O Wilson describes Intelligent Design quite accurately as

They support the alternative explanation of intelligent design. The reasoning they offer is not based on evidence but on the lack of it. The formulation of intelligent design is a default argument advanced in support of a non sequitur. It is in essence the following: there are some phenomena that have not yet been explained and that (most importantly) the critics personally cannot imagine being explained; therefore there must be a supernatural designer at work. The designer is seldom specified, but in the canon of intelligent design it is most certainly not Satan and his angels, nor any god or gods conspicuously different from those accepted in the believer’s faith.

Dembski is not amused by Wilson joining the ever growing group of people who have come to understand why Intelligent Design is scientifically infertile as it is at best a position of ignorance.

Dembski objects

Two comments:

(1) ID does not argue from “Shucks, I can’t imagine how material mechanisms could have brought about a biological structure” to “Gee, therefore God must have done it.” This is a strawman. Here is the argument ID proponents actually make:

In fact, since design is the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance, this is indeed how ID does it. But let’s see how Bill misunderstands his own theory.

* Premise 1: Certain biological systems have some diagnostic feature, be it IC (irreducible complexity) or SC (specified complexity) or OC (organized complexity) etc.

* Premise 2: Materialistic explanations have been spectacularly unsuccessful in explaining such systems — we have no positive evidence for thinking that material mechanisms can generate them.

Let’s explain the terminology here: Diagnostic feature: A feature which cannot be explained by science yet. Since material mechanisms have failed, we should allow the supernatural to have shot at explaining the system. Sadly enough, ID is not in the business of explaining much of anything, as Phil Johnson has recently figured out

I also don’t think that there is really a theory of intelligent design at the present time to propose as a comparable alternative to the Darwinian theory, which is, whatever errors it might contain, a fully worked out scheme. There is no intelligent design theory that’s comparable. Working out a positive theory is the job of the scientific people that we have affiliated with the movement. Some of them are quite convinced that it’s doable, but that’s for them to prove…No product is ready for competition in the educational world.

I could not have said it better, thanks Phil

* Premise 3: Intelligent agency is known to have the causal power to produce systems that display IC/SC/OC.

And yet when asked how, ID remains empty handed. It is this unsupported leap of faith that intelligent agency can produce IC/SC/OC systems that remains fully unsupported by any factual evidence. In fact, it is worse, ID has had to accept that natural processes of regularity and chance can indeed generate IC and SC so the diagnostic criteria are obviously lacking as such.

* Conclusion: Therefore, biological systems that exhibit IC/SC/OC are likely to be designed.

Nothing in ID shows that biological systems that exhibit these features are ‘likely to be designed’ in fact, nothing in ID can show that ID’s explanation (whatever it may not be) is better or worse than our ignorance. We do know how various God of the Gap arguments have done poorly when additional evidence became available so it seems safe to take the position that without any ID explanation beyond ‘X cannot be explained’ we should insist on actual evidence. But that is just a pathetic expectation according to ID proponents.

But Dembski gets worse

(2) Wilson’s claim that proving “the existence of intelligent design within the accepted framework of science will make history and achieve eternal fame” is disingenuous. The accepted framework of science precludes ID from the start. Wilson and his materialistic colleagues have stacked the deck so that no evidence could ever support it.

Science only precludes ID if it involves the supernatural, however science does not reject ID and in fact applies design inferences quite successfully in in such areas as criminology, archaeology etc.

ID proponents such as Dembski have undermined their own position by misunderstanding science and even though many have corrected them, they seem to not have learned from their mistakes.

One may amaze at the fact how Dembski can be so unfamiliar with both his own ‘theories’ as well as with the concept of science but the impact of this on his disciples seems to be even more devastating.

Now that Salvador Cordova is no longer contributing to ID, much of his role seems to have been taken over by Denyse O’Leary who is not happy with what Wilson has to say

Wilson insists that all the ID guys have to do is come up with “evidence” - so why don’t they?

The critics forget how the reward system in science works. Any researcher who can prove the existence of intelligent design within the accepted framework of science will make history and achieve eternal fame. They will prove at last that science and religious dogma are compatible. Even a combined Nobel prize and Templeton prize (the latter designed to encourage the search for just such harmony) would fall short as proper recognition. Every scientist would like to accomplish such a epoch-making advance. But no one has even come close, because unfortunately there is no evidence, no theory and no criteria for proof that even marginally might pass for science.

There is something almost obscene about a smug - and so they say - gentlemanly* prof sitting pretty at Harvard , writing this disingenuous garbage, in full awareness that none of his cowering colleagues will ask the obvious question: What happened to people who DID come up with evidence against Darwinism (and therefore maybe for intelligent design)?

Note the bait and switch, nicely hidden under a thin veil of ‘ad hominem’? Let me point it out to you. Wilson states that all ID needs to do is to present evidence for intelligent design. Denyse turns that into “look what happened to those who argued against Darwinism and therefore maybe for intelligent design”.

While I appreciate the impact of ID critics on the ability of ID proponents in forcing them to continue to weaken the ID approach from ID is that which science cannot explain to ‘ID is maybe that which science cannot explain yet’. Or in other words, ID is nothing more than a position of ignorance.

Well done Denyse, I knew that it would be inevitable for ID proponents to come to this conclusion, perhaps gently guided by scientists exposing the scientific vacuity in Intelligent Design.

But back to the issue at hand, Wilson stated that it is sufficient for ID proponents to show some positive evidence for ID, and Denyse switches to ‘but what about those poor souls who were dedicated to finding flaws in Darwinian theory, flaws which may or may not have any relevance to Intelligent Design”? What happened to them

What ABOUT Rick Sternberg, Guillermo Gonzalez, and Robert Marks? To say nothing of Mike Behe?

Sternberg made an unfortunate decision to allow a poorly argued paper to be published in a journal, and the journal apologized for the oversight. Since Sternberg’s advisor had passed away, and Sternberg was unable to find a sponsor, his position was changed. Gonzalez failed to impress his tenure committee with his publication record, his new research, his ability to bring in external funding, and more. Robert Marks was asked to not link his “Evolutionary Informatics Laboratory” (sic) to Baylor and finally, Behe, after an interesting but eventually flawed argument in his first book, he failed to do much of any research in the area of biochemistry, or publish anything other than a single paper which was quickly shown to be flawed. Worse, Behe decided to write another book in which his arguments were found to be based on very shaky arguments based on an off hand remark by a malaria researcher.

If you are interested in hearing one of the better arguments furthered by Denyse O’Leary then I suggest you read this posting

My favorite:

It’s hard to explain to kids, but here’s the deal: Balancing the books of the Enron of biology will not be done without serious cost. If you’re not safe, stay out of the way and no problem. But don’t undermine the ID people who hold the future in their hands.

Does she really believe that ID holds the future? The future of what? Continued ignorance that has led so many Christian to oppose science?

To come back to Wilson’s question “Can biology do better than faith”, the answer in case of Dembski or O’Leary seems to be, without any doubt

In case of O’Leary she truly seems to believe

Also, just look at the filth written by other people’s students about prof Mike Behe. And his crime? Behe KNOWS that what Wilson is saying is not true. Natural selection acting on random mutation rarely produces worthwhile information.

sigh… Behe may KNOW this but that seems to be based more on his faith than on science.

34 Comments

So, aah, Miz O’Leary, what else is new?

* Premise 2: Materialistic explanations have been spectacularly unsuccessful in explaining such systems — we have no positive evidence for thinking that material mechanisms can generate them.

Have Dembski and the other IDists (who haven’t come right out and identified the designer as God) always included this premise in the so-called theory of ID?

I thought that at first they at least pretended they didn’t infer the designer could not be material. It would seem foolish for Dembski to insist on ruling out an advanced alien civilization as the putative designer of life on Earth since it would appear to be a lot more likely than the designer being the God he worships. Or would an alien race, equipped with a hyper-advanced biology lab for designing RNA and DNA, not be considered a materialistic explanation? I am confused.

In a way, if would be a lot of fun if our alien designers from the planet Graag popped in to explained how they did it. Sure it would mean that we were wrong and the IDists were right, but they would only have about ten seconds to enjoy their victory before all their heads exploded!

Entertaining to be updated on the Dishonesty Institute in what is predicted to be its waning years.

I wouldn’t know what O’Leary would be up to otherwise, since she is a singularly boring read. Cordova managed to entertain by his constant weaseling mischaracterization and lies on facts and persons. It was like taking a mud bath - amazingly it doesn’t stain you but cleans out any accumulated dead matter by its abrasive nature.

In fact, since design is the set theoretic complement of regularity and chance, this is indeed how ID does it.

Nitpicking, this is giving Dembski all of what he can’t have. Any ‘intelligent designer’ for life ultimately falls back on a religious creator. And the history of the ID movement itself is proof of this. A third reason is that Dembski’s premises all fail trivially, so there is nothing here between ignorance and “goddidit”. And a fourth reason is that ID proposes to replace science with anti-science, re Behe in Dover, in order to avoid current knowledge.

Let’s explain the terminology here: Diagnostic feature: A feature which cannot be explained by science yet.

Again giving Dembski what isn’t. No IDer have ever presented such a diagnostic feature, which is why premise 1 trivially fails. And it is fully expected to, no single measure of features can capture all possible information from it, a fact Dembski conveniently forgets to mention his non-mechanical, non-materialistic stance requires.

Premise 2 is simply an outright lie, which even a fairly inexperienced mathematician would predictably recognize by studying biology. But, d’oh - Dembski is no mathematician, he is a circumscribed apologist fettered to his fabrications. Notice how his latest exploits is ever more weakened forms of his old attempts, just as Behe is stuck in the same rut in his way to the unavoidable cliff of unrealized expectations?

And premise 3 is made another outright lie by the failure of premise 1.

Natural selection acting on random mutation rarely produces worthwhile information.

For once O’Leary said something interesting. If ID now have retreated from ‘evolution degrades information’ to ‘evolution rarely produces “worthwhile” information’ as a result of “Edge of Evolution”, they are preparing to lose the marginal support of frontloaders such as Behe, including some few perhaps non-religious crackpots. (Remember old “charlie wagner”?)

Has Behe written himself out of his job? Looks like future updates may continue to entertain.

PvM Wrote:

Let me point it out to you. Wilson states that all ID needs to do is to present evidence for intelligent design.

But one of many ironies is that ID does not even need to do that. It can stay 100% within the framework of methodological naturalism, and give the hopelessly compartmentalized rank-and-file creationists what they have been desperately hoping for. That is, evidence that our lineage shares no common ancestors with any other. Not only can’t they do that, the only major IDers who dared to speak beyond weasel words like “common design,” conceded common descent!

Torbjörn Larsson, Wrote:

Has Behe written himself out of his job?

My bet is that the big tent is safe as long as people keep focusing on the designer’s identity or whether ID “is” creationism, instead of forcing IDers to come clean on exactly what happened and when in biological history. Sure, we’ll keep hearing nonsense like “…it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail…,” but they can only say that so long before their fans start demanding more.

the alternative explanation of intelligent design

There is no alternative explanation of intelligent design.

Intelligent design does not explain anything. At best, it says that there is something missing from the explanations given by the sciences.

ID does not offer a Who, What, Where, When, Why, or How. So it doesn’t even come up to the standards of a expository essay.

ID does not tell us “why this, and not something else”. Any explanation does distinguish between what things are more likely than others.

“For once O’Leary said something interesting. If ID now have retreated from ‘evolution degrades information’ to ‘evolution rarely produces “worthwhile” information’ as a result of “Edge of Evolution”, they are preparing to lose the marginal support of frontloaders such as Behe, including some few perhaps non-religious crackpots.”

Indeed. It’s a pretty spectacular shifting of the goalposts. Until pretty recently, all major IDers claimed natural selection never produces information, it can only affect already existing information, if it does that at all.

TomS Wrote:

ID does not offer a Who, What, Where, When, Why, or How. So it doesn’t even come up to the standards of a expository essay.

But as I have been saying for a decade, if the critics would stop obsessing on the “who” - especially since Judge Jones put the final nail in that coffin, some of the fans of ID will start seeing that it is nothing but a bait-and-switch scam.

Ginger Yellow Wrote:

Until pretty recently, all major IDers claimed natural selection never produces information, it can only affect already existing information, if it does that at all.

Speaking of bait-and-switch, IDers and the classic creationists before them know that its “mutation,” not “natural selection” that produces “information.” That’s how they trapped Dawkins on his famous “pause” (that plus the fact that he realized that he had been scammed). IDers will of course spin the concession as “the increase in information is nowhere near enough.” But even the concession is nothing new. Dembski tries to categorically rule out that “nature” produces “complex specified information,” but knows that he can’t. But once his fans are hooked on his sound bites and critics are baited into highly technical rebuttals, he concedes that it is merely “improbable.”

As usual, everything is presented as though it were all inverted. Premise #1, invariably, is that the creationist’s god exists and does stuff to influence the natural world in ways the Believer prefers. And this premise is simply not open to question, nor amenable to any sort of evidence. It just IS.

Now, given the outrageous failure of reality to ratify this faith, it becomes necessary to construct logical arguments which smuggle this conviction in somehow - in what they assume, in how they are phrased, in the context they derive from, etc. And so we’re back to the usual “Here are the conclusions. Now, how can we support and justify them when the more we learn, the wronger they become?”

Some of these various efforts deserve at least some points for creativity, but most of them deserve even more points for sheer chutzpah. If misdirection and misrepresentation, deliberate confusion, baits-and-switches, shifting definitions, and other finesses don’t work, then flat assertion (“The theory of evolution has spectaculary failed to explain anything in biology…”) always works.

And these things work because the goal isn’t to explain anything; the goal is to provide plausible rationalizations for what the target audience already believes, as a stepping stone to social power and influence.

I’ve said this at Larry Moran’s Sandwalk already:

Abbrevations.com lists 99 meanings for IC. My favourites:

  • Ignore Case
  • Instant Creation
  • Ignorant Confidence
  • Information Circular


  • For SCSC you’ll find 122 results. My favourites:

  • Second Class
  • Short Cut


  • 58 meanings for OC are listed. My favourites:

  • Of Christ
  • Organized Crime


  • And you won’t find irreducible, specified or organized complexity there.

    Please re-read Dembski’s statement:

    * Premise 3: Intelligent agency is known to have the causal power to produce systems that display IC/SC/OC.

    The UFO aliens or Galactic Computer model of ID is still supernatural. It just puts the problem of identifying the Designer back. Who designed the aliens or Holy Supercomputer. Or did they evolve?

    ID also fails at the historical/theological level. It is a method of proving or disproving the existence of god(s). Any theory that is capable of proving the existence of god has to be capable of disproving its existence as well. No one has been able to do this in the last few millenia. A few hacks at a propaganda doublethink tank in Seattle aren’t going to be the first.

    If ID was a real theory, the fundies might be in for a big surprise.

    Science only precludes ID if it involves the supernatural, however science does not reject ID and in fact applies design inferences quite successfully in in such areas as criminology, archaeology etc.

    At this point there is little excuse for bringing up the “supernatural,” which only serves ID by hopelessly confusing the matter.

    But that’s only a minor quibble. I know that Pim is using ID differently than the DI does, however that is a problem because it thereby is used equivocally in that sentence. Of course we identify design all of the time (though we don’t usually write “identify design,” since “design” is a general and fuzzy concept, while science wishes to do better wherever possible), only by no means do we operate by using their “methods of detection.” We use actual scientific methods, that is, we use the known to identify the unknown, by matching the capabilities and desires of humans (and perhaps animals) to the artifacts found.

    We make “design inferences,” however we do not make ID’s “design inferences.” We rely on the traces of purpose and rationality, among other issues, to “identify design–and then primarily with non-reproducing, non-evolving entities. It could be quite difficult to show “design” in evolving organisms, due to the fact that evolution is capable of producing elegant (as well as daft) solutions, so that anyone who tried would need a very sophisticated understanding and analysis to show where evolution left off, and “design” began. Which task the IDists have entirely failed to achieve, or really even to attempt (Behe’s latest was laughably bad).

    So of course this:

    * Premise 1: Certain biological systems have some diagnostic feature, be it IC (irreducible complexity) or SC (specified complexity) or OC (organized complexity) etc.

    * Premise 2: Materialistic explanations have been spectacularly unsuccessful in explaining such systems — we have no positive evidence for thinking that material mechanisms can generate them.

    amounts to what Dembski said that ID was not, except that he has to lie through his teeth to claim that MET has been unsucessful in explaining such systems—rather, any telic process is extremely incapable of explaining anything about biology, since for every elegant solution to a problem, there is an appallingly “unintelligent” solution, and the more so where MET predicts an even greater percentage of second-rate solutions, in transitionals like Archaeopteryx.

    MET explains the decidedly un-designed nature of so many biological systems, which, when its earlier incarnation was up against the past ID, demonstrated just how much better it was than any “design inference” in biology. That is, it explains and predicts the how, why, and even “when” in many cases, derivative and undesigned characteristics appear in organisms. ID, of course, explains nothing at all, especially not the extreme conservatism expected in evolution and unexpected in any designer intelligent enough to deal with the intricacies of molecular biology.

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

    “My favorite:

    It’s hard to explain to kids, but here’s the deal: Balancing the books of the Enron of biology will not be done without serious cost. If you’re not safe, stay out of the way and no problem. But don’t undermine the ID people who hold the future in their hands.

    Does she really believe that ID holds the future? The future of what? Continued ignorance that has led so many Christian to oppose science?”

    Whenever a born again Christian speaks of ‘the future’ or ‘keys to the future’, keep in mind that the most important thing in these people’s minds is redemption and the ‘imminent’ 2nd coming. O’Leary isn’t worried about quality of education, or science, - it’s fairly obvious to me that she’s saying that (Freudian slip?)not that ID is the ‘future’ of science - but that those who don’t embrace ID (creationism/ Christ) are damned (LITERALLY)

    Does anyone here have a reference for the Phil Johnson quote? I’d like to be able to cite it in context with proper credits.

    In the matter of Berkeley v. Berkeley by Michelangelo D’Agostino, Berkeley Science Review, Sprint 2006

    Russ:

    Does anyone here have a reference for the Phil Johnson quote? I’d like to be able to cite it in context with proper credits.

    http://sciencereview.berkeley.edu/a[…]le=evolution

    Flint Wrote:

    Premise #1, invariably, is that the creationist’s god exists and does stuff to influence the natural world in ways the Believer prefers.

    Unfortunately for classic creationists those who believe that their god(s) intervene(s), and that it’s not via evolution, are hopelessly deadlocked on the whats, wheres, whens and hows of intervention. Hence the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ID strategy (which began life before “cdesign proponentsists”).

    The problem is not the ~20-25% of the public who would never reject Premise #1 under any circumstances, but another ~40-50%, that has no problem with IDers’ neglecting to provide even the “pathetic level of detail” that YECs and OECs willingly provide. That group, roughly half of which even claims to accept evolution, thinks that it is OK to “teach the controversy” under the pseudoscientists’ terms.

    PvM said:

    Science only precludes ID if it involves the supernatural…

    This is a bad way of stating this. Science does not preclude the supernatural, it precludes the untestable. Science can and have studied supernatural phenomena many times, including ESP or prayer studies. This is possible because concrete predictions were offered by proponents.

    The only reason that some supernatural phenomenon would be precluded from scientific investigation is if defined by its proponents as untestable. If ID isn’t amenable to scientific investigation, it is because IDers wish it to be untestable. Scientifically vacuous = untestable = indistinguishable from a fiction = must be taken on faith. ID is religion precisely because it is empirically unsupportable. That is not because of a limitation in science. It is because of the self-imposed limitations of religion.

    Thanks Humbert, much better

    The theory of “intelligent design” is hidden away in what I like to call “Behe’s Black Box” (but without too much of a stretch we could call it “Dembski’s Black Box”): the who, what, where, when, how, and why of the designer. “Design” is apparently supposed to be self-evident without ever asking any of those awkward questions about the designer or the design process itself.

    In reality there IS a well-developed theory of intelligent design but it isn’t being used by the ID advocates: it’s being used by the scientists who are discovering and tracking the genes of genetically modified (GM) organisms that are escaping into food crops or wild species. And oddly enough, they don’t seem to have any problems with figuring out who or what “designed” the genes, or when, or how, or why–in fact they can often trace these genes to a specific scientist or group working in a specific lab. Yet if we are to believe ID proponents this should be completely impossible; they should be throwing up their hands and saying that any number of mysterious unknown (but possibly supernatural) intelligent entities might have manipulated or altered those genes, for any number of mysterious unknown reasons.

    Glen Davidson Wrote:

    MET explains the decidedly un-designed nature of so many biological systems, which, when its earlier incarnation was up against the past ID, demonstrated just how much better it was than any “design inference” in biology. That is, it explains and predicts the how, why, and even “when” in many cases, derivative and undesigned characteristics appear in organisms. ID, of course, explains nothing at all, especially not the extreme conservatism expected in evolution and unexpected in any designer intelligent enough to deal with the intricacies of molecular biology.

    Panda’s thumb, anyone? I wonder how many IDiots even know what the name of this blog signifies.

    jasonmitchell: Whenever a born again Christian speaks of ‘the future’ or ‘keys to the future’, keep in mind that the most important thing in these people’s minds is redemption and the ‘imminent’ 2nd coming. O’Leary isn’t worried about quality of education, or science, - it’s fairly obvious to me that she’s saying that (Freudian slip?)not that ID is the ‘future’ of science - but that those who don’t embrace ID (creationism/ Christ) are damned (LITERALLY)

    And yet, Born-Again Christians bristle at the suggestion that they look and act very much like death cultists who are counting down to the end of the world, so that they can then dance on the fresh graves of their hated enemies.

    So strange.

    strange indeed

    - this belief also adds a dimension to some people’s attitudes towards conservation, global warming, other environmental issues.. If the world is going to end any day now anyway, why should I care about an ecosystem being unsustainable in 20 years? Cut down those trees - we need the wood to build things and print books etc -

    jasonmitchell:

    strange indeed

    - this belief also adds a dimension to some people’s attitudes towards conservation, global warming, other environmental issues.. If the world is going to end any day now anyway, why should I care about an ecosystem being unsustainable in 20 years? Cut down those trees - we need the wood to build things and print books etc -

    Print books? Don’t you mean burn books?

    Thanks be given to Dembski. With his “premises”, specially premise #1, he made it that more easy to show how futile and hollow the ID enterprise is as a scientific proposition. Now all a scientist has to do is to demonstrate/show the fallacy of IC/SC/OC since those are not better than arguments from ignorance.

    Dembski is not amused by Wilson joining the ever growing group of people who have come to understand why Intelligent Design is scientifically infertile as it is at best a position of ignorance.

    Hm, hasn’t Wilson been at this for awhile? I seem to remember he was on the cover of Seed a year or so ago.

    E.O. Wilson Wrote:

    Rapprochement may be neither possible nor desirable. There is something deep in religious belief that divides people and amplifies societal conflict. The toxic mix of religion and tribalism has become so dangerous as to justify taking seriously the alternative view, that humanism based on science is the effective antidote, the light and the way at last placed before us.

    This seems to point to a dilemma faced by the science community with regard to the issue of science, religion and politics.

    The fact that the human imagination has been useful in survival and because of its flexibility and ability to imagine a nearly unlimited range of explanations for the world it sees, this ability also becomes one of its primary weaknesses. It can be hijacked by other humans bent on domination. The tactic of the demagogue projecting his desires onto gods has a long and successful history.

    There is also the practical fact that most people, during their lifetime, can’t slog through the seemingly unlimited possibilities (including deities) and select those ideas that really do correspond to reality rather than just appearing to work. Life is too messy to get the best science education and tools, so they fly by the seat of their pants. This makes them ripe for exploitation when political groups come along and distort the findings of science in order to make it impossible for individuals to trust the tools that help sort out the good stuff from the junk.

    It places science in the position of appearing unsympathetic and just as political when scientists attempt to prevent or undo the damage. And science has to do this without becoming itself an inhibitor of human imagination and creativity.

    Wilson’s article is over 2 years old.

    jasonmitchell:

    strange indeed

    - this belief also adds a dimension to some people’s attitudes towards conservation, global warming, other environmental issues.. If the world is going to end any day now anyway, why should I care about an ecosystem being unsustainable in 20 years? Cut down those trees - we need the wood to build things and print books etc -

    If you’re not old enough to remember, look up the name James G. Watt.

    “For once O’Leary said something interesting. If ID now have retreated from ‘evolution degrades information’ to ‘evolution rarely produces “worthwhile” information’ as a result of “Edge of Evolution”, they are preparing to lose the marginal support of frontloaders such as Behe, including some few perhaps non-religious crackpots.”

    That rarity of producing “worthwhile information” - could that be why it took billions of years?

    Henry

    frontloaders such as Behe

    well, this is real frontloading

    Sparc,

    Looks like they caught design implementation in the act again. ;-) Of course IDers will never admit that, because that would alienate the “design vs. ‘macroevolution’” crowd. If I had any remaining doubt that IDers knew that they were playing a game, it was eliminated a few months ago by their refusal to answer my simple questions regarding the whats and whens of the most recent design actuation events. They’d love to tell their YEC followers “the last and only design actuation event was the creation of all those ‘kinds’ that week ~6000 years ago,” but they know that that simply ain’t so.

    Billions of years, indeed. IDers never figure in the species that went extinct because a useful mutation never occured for them. Nor do they explain why the Designer let them go extinct…

    * Premise 2: Materialistic explanations have been spectacularly unsuccessful in explaining such systems — we have no positive evidence for thinking that material mechanisms can generate them.

    This is, of course, spectacularly untrue, but even if it were true, it means that ID is seeking non-materialistic explanations …

    * Premise 3: Intelligent agency is known to have the causal power to produce systems that display IC/SC/OC.

    Given Premise 2, this must be only referring to non-materialistic intelligent agency. But neither non-materialistic intelligent agency nor non-materialistic anything else is known to have “causal powers”. (In fact, “non-materialistic” and “causal” are contradictory.)

    * Conclusion: Therefore, biological systems that exhibit IC/SC/OC are likely to be designed.

    Here’s a giant clue: scientific theories aren’t syllogisms. Scientific theories are part of an ongoing process of discovery, they don’t reach some conclusion and stop. What Dembski has presented is obviously a form of the argument from design – a purported proof that God exists.

    Science can and have studied supernatural phenomena many times, including ESP or prayer studies.

    There’s nothing at all “supernatural” about ESP, or even prayer. If studies had shown that prayer was effective, we would still be left with explaining its mechanism. Hint: “God answered” isn’t a mechanism, it’s question begging.

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