Dembski confused: “Dawkins admits that life could be designed — Is ID therefore scientific?”

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On Uncommon Descent William Dembski claims that Richard Dawkins has admitted that life could be designed and thus wonders: “Is ID therefore scientific?”. As I will show this is a logically flawed conclusion.

First of all lets point out Intelligent Design does not claim merely that life is designed but that such design can be detected via scientific methods. In this aspect if differs from science which admits that design always remains a logical possibility, however science also accepts that if such design is ‘supernatural’ no scientific method can detect such design.

William Dembski Wrote:

I expect that Dover was not the end of litigation involving ID. In the next court case, it will be interesting put depose the people on the other side who appear in EXPELLED as they try to argue that ID is religion given their huge concessions in this film.

It’s ironic that once again Dembski is bragging about how ‘next time… you just wait… next time…’. This promissory note is a typical response from ID creationists whenever reality conflicts with their beliefs. Remember how Dembski was bragging how the next time evolutionists would be under oath, he would certainly be able to expose them using the ‘vise’? In Dembski’s fantasy world of “The Vise Strategy: Squeezing the Truth out of Darwinists”, he explains that next time… we will get the ‘truth out of Darwinists’. When the opportunity arose in the form of the Dover Kitzmiller trial, Dembski was curiously absent and the remaining witnesses for the defense, outlined nicely why ID was religiously motivated and lacked as a science. While the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses were hardly needed to expose this, contributions of Barbara Forrest, which the defense tried to have ‘expelled’ for obvious reasons, as well as the testimony of Ken Miller all but sealed the fate of ID creationism.

So what will it be next time? ID will have erased its history of religious foundations? Unlikely? ID will have shown that it can have a scientific ‘theory’ of ID, a contradiction in terms if I have ever heard one? Unlikely as even staunch ID proponents have come to admit the scientific vacuity of ID. For instance in Berkeley Science review, Philip ‘Father of Intelligent Design’ Johnson expressed his frustrations:

Philip Johnson Wrote:

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.

Source: Michelangelo D’Agostino In the matter of Berkeley v. Berkeley

Could ID be therefore scientific? Sure, nothing is beyond the impossible and science will surely consider this possibility, although so far, ID has done nothing to engage science and to show that ID can indeed be a scientific position.

So wake me up when ID creationists provide a scientific explanation of how the bacterial flagellum was ‘designed’.

In fact, to argue that Dawkins admits that life could be designed is hardly news. After all, as a scientist, Dawkins would hardly reject the possibility of a designer, although he does explain why such a possibility is highly unlikely by using ID’s own arguments. Now that’s just too ironic for words.

In his Time Discussion with Collins, Dawkins for instance stated

DAWKINS: To me, the right approach is to say we are profoundly ignorant of these matters. We need to work on them. But to suddenly say the answer is God–it’s that that seems to me to close off the discussion.

TIME: Could the answer be God?

DAWKINS: There could be something incredibly grand and incomprehensible and beyond our present understanding.

COLLINS: That’s God.

DAWKINS: Yes. But it could be any of a billion Gods. It could be God of the Martians or of the inhabitants of Alpha Centauri. The chance of its being a particular God, Yahweh, the God of Jesus, is vanishingly small–at the least, the onus is on you to demonstrate why you think that’s the case.

No need for Ben Stein and still while miracles like ID becoming scientifically relevant are never beyond a logical possibility, it seems also evident that ID is not making much progress in actually following such a path. Perhaps Dembski can help us understand how ID will be able to testify differently next time… Well, there will always be a next time I guess.

PS: I will attempt to leave a trackback. Of course history tells me that such an attempt is futile. ID is not ready for science.

72 Comments

A poster on UcD left the following ironic message

poachy: It would be awesome to be there in person to see them forced to admit it. I can only imagine how rewarding it would be for you to be part of the team that tighten the screws.

Go get ‘em!

Why would Dembski’s Vise strategy be more successful next time, since it failed to produce anything during the Dover Kitzmiller trial? What has changed? Science admitting to the logical possibility of a designer? After all Ken Miller’s testimony placed the following exchange on the record

A. It’s not support for intelligent design because intelligent design presupposes a mechanism that exists outside of nature, can’t be tested, can’t be subjected to natural examination. If irreducible complexity held up, if we couldn’t find subsets that were useful, it might mean that these systems had to be assembled by a pathway that was different from the Darwinian pathway, from the evolutionary pathway, and we might then look for another pathway or other evidence in favor of that.

Intelligent design would be a possibility, but intelligent design is always a possibility for everything. It’s entirely possible that this universe was intelligently designed ten seconds ago, and each of us was put here with false memories and false childhoods. That’s not a testable hypothesis. Is it possible? Yeah, sure. The problem with intelligent design as a scientific explanation is that it can be used to explain in non-scientific terms literally anything, and that’s why it is not science.

In other words, an expert witness for the plaintiffs admitted that ID is a logical possibility, and explained how it still fails to be a scientific explanation because it explains anything and thus nothing.

Design implies a conscious designer and thus contrary to Kenneth Miller is not useful in evolutionary theory and just adds fuel to the creationists for no reason. We see patterns; to see design is merely an example of pareidolia.Causalism implies dysteology and thus conflicts with design, which implies teleology. Natural selection, being its own boss and showing no design,dysteological, needs no superboss to contradict it with design. Amiel Rossow @ Talk Reason rightly takes Miller to task for casting out ID out the front door, only to bring it in through the back door , just on faith, no reasons given. Theistic evolution is thus an oxymoron.From the side of religion it can be true; from the side of science , no. See God: the failed Hypothesis” and “Has Science found God.” Thanks William Provine ,Paul Hick and Richard Dawkins for speaking up for us non-accomodationists!

Correction: Paul Kurtz.

I suddenly got this wonderful idea. The rubes really believe that Dembski got the goods and he is gonna destroy “evilution”. Most such rubes believe in other nonsense like, “a penniless engineer invented a car that runs on water and the Big Oil suppressed the invention”.

So we should advance the theory that, “Dembski could take down evilution any time he wants, but he is not doing so because he is milking the situation by making money. He billed TMLC 200$ a hour in the Dover trial even though he refused to testify on stand”. Let him explain whether he could not or why he did not destroy evilution at Dover, PA.

In this aspect it differs from science which admits that design always remains a logical possibility, …

Dembski waking up and actually beginning to understand some science and mathematics is also a logical possibility.

Er,… never mind.

So Dawkins says life could be designed, therefore Mr. Dembski thinks that means ID isn’t religion. If Dawkins ever says that there could be a god, that would mean that religion isn’t religion! I hope Mr. Dawkins never says there could be a god! Oh boy!!

Ravilyn Sanders:

So we should advance the theory that, “Dembski could take down evilution any time he wants, but he is not doing so because he is milking the situation by making money. He billed TMLC 200$ a hour in the Dover trial even though he refused to testify on stand”. Let him explain whether he could not or why he did not destroy evilution at Dover, PA.

Heeheehee!

Design implies a conscious designer and thus contrary to Kenneth Miller is not useful in evolutionary theory and just adds fuel to the creationists for no reason.

Perhaps understanding Kenneth Miller, and Ruse for that matter or Ayala or others who have argued why design in nature is inevitable is helpful rather than adding fuel to creationists. Laws of nature, combined with constraints, and fueled by selection inevitably leads to something we call ‘design’. Rather than ignore this, it seems far more sense to embrace this.

I’ve noticed that a lot more average citizens are echoing what Dembski is saying here. I’m coming across quite a few letters to the editor and blog posts that argue ID is merely the concept that life was created. It seems to me they’re basically confusing ID with deism. Is this part of some sort of strategy on the Discovery Institute’s part to gain wider acceptance?

science also accepts that if such design is ‘supernatural’ no scientific method can detect such design.

I think you mean that if such a design is supernatural then it is possible that no scientific method could detect it. There is no fundamental reason that a supernatural designer must be cryptic, inscrutable and/or undetectable, nothing prevents them from signing their work plainly and obviously. It’s just that inscrutability and undetectability are the only excuses left to justify continuing to suggest such an entity, therefore any God Designer still being proposed at this point would have to be of the stealth variety.

The first two words of the title have a sort of “Pope is Catholic” feel to them.

I wish people wouldn’t say “that’s possible” about a claim when what they mean is “that can’t be absolutely disproven at this point”. Inability to disprove something doesn’t imply that the thing is possible, only that we can’t state with utter certainty that the claim isn’t the case.

Henry

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Inability to disprove something doesn’t imply that the thing is possible, only that we can’t state with utter certainty that the claim isn’t the case.

Then how would you define “possible”?

Ravilyn Sanders:

So we should advance the theory that, “Dembski could take down evilution any time he wants, but he is not doing so because he is milking the situation by making money. He billed TMLC 200$ a hour in the Dover trial even though he refused to testify on stand”. Let him explain whether he could not or why he did not destroy evilution at Dover, PA.

So, is Dembski an idiot, a liar, or a crook?

No, I’m being too narrow-minded. He could easily be all three. :P

Alexandra Wrote:

I think you mean that if such a design is supernatural then it is possible that no scientific method could detect it. There is no fundamental reason that a supernatural designer must be cryptic, inscrutable and/or undetectable, nothing prevents them from signing their work plainly and obviously. It’s just that inscrutability and undetectability are the only excuses left to justify continuing to suggest such an entity, therefore any God Designer still being proposed at this point would have to be of the stealth variety.

The problem with this is that we have no way of attributing anything we find in Nature to the design or “signature” of a supernatural being. All we can detect are natural phenomena. The supernatural, by definition, is outside the realm of science.

Several thousand years of attempted deity detection has produced nothing but a divergence of sectarian beliefs and sectarian warfare. On the other hand, only a few hundred years of natural science has produced a convergence of deep understanding agreement about the natural world.

To postulate a deity or designer who acts in only one direction by placing a “signature” on their work doesn’t help either. How is a “signature” to be interpreted as anything different from physical law? Even as strange as, say, something like quantum mechanics is, it is not necessary or even logical to construe it as the signature of a designer.

All the patterns and regularities we find in the natural world are not made any more comprehensible by interpreting them as a signature of a deity/designer. Our existence can be explained as a result of the regularities of the laws of nature, but it is not necessary to throw in an extra entity called a deity or designer. Adding a deity or designer simply adds the same old complications people have been warring over for thousands of years.

Dembski Wrote:

To me the most amazing part of the film is where Dawkins gives away the store by taking seriously a scenario in which a designer might have brought about life on Earth.

Truly amazing. Unless you have read The God Delusion (2006) or possibly earlier texts where Dawkins use this scenario to show that gods are improbable.

So if Dawkins gives away the godie store to Dembski, it is because he thinks it isn’t worth putting money into the business. As opposed to, say, science.

The problem with this is that we have no way of attributing anything we find in Nature to the design or “signature” of a supernatural being. All we can detect are natural phenomena. The supernatural, by definition, is outside the realm of science.

That is not to say that the actions or effects of all supernatural entities or agents must also be supernatural and undetectable. Should God exist and decide to stop the rotation of the Earth (as we hear he has done in the past) that would certainly be detectable to science. It is in this fashion that religious claims such as those concerning the power of intercessory prayer are open to scientific investigation despite their claimed supernatural origin and/or mechanism. In just this way the fingerprints of design, if such design existed, could very well be clearly detectable regardless of the nature of the designer. Whether science could then detect or determine the specifics of the designer is a separate question.

It seems to me they’re basically confusing ID with deism. Is this part of some sort of strategy on the Discovery Institute’s part to gain wider acceptance?

It sure is. Everything about ID, from the name on down, is “designed” to obfuscate. Among other things, there is a constant effort to imply to the general public that they refer only to the “origin of the universe”, or the “origin of life”

Fortunately, there is a solution. The solution is ID itself. This was nicely demonstrated in Dover, and I have had the same experience personally.

A particularly powerful tool for clarifying is anything ID has ever said about microbes or pathogens. As soon as people realize that “ID” is not some vague, spiritual statement about the origin of life or the universe, but a specific claim that things like the bacterial flagellum or malarial parasites “could not have evolved” and had to be directly “designed”, they begin to see through it.

Of course, those who actually support an authoritarian political agenda that wraps itself in the guise of sectarian religious opinion will continue to parrot anything that the “leaders” tell them to. But simply revealing what ID is actually all about rapidly eliminates most of the superficial “support”. And that’s been true in most rural, religious, and conservative communities.

Nobody really “believes” ID as it actually is. It’s always a combination of cognitive dissonance/denial, and overt fakery in the service of a hidden agenda, in varying proportions, depending on the individual, with some more delusional and others more transparently weasely.

All we can detect are natural phenomena.

Okay, then anytime anybody says anything about anything supernatural, we know they are full of baloney. Thanks!!

however science also accepts that if such design is ‘supernatural’ no scientific method can detect such design.

I have to agree with Alexandra here. “Science” doesn’t refuse possible observations of miracles or gods, such as 3 days dead men walking, or what not. It is religion that does.

The supernatural, by definition, is outside the realm of science.

Not as long as religion claims the supernatural is observable, in creations, miracles, or designs.

Laws of nature, combined with constraints, and fueled by selection inevitably leads to something we call ‘design’.

Funny, I thought evolution lead to functional traits.

If you want to call such functional systems “designs” without having a designer, that is you prerogative I guess. But Dawkins have called the same systems ““the illusion of design, or apparent design”. I think that is apt, considering the context. (No designer, no final functional goal.)

Alexandra:

Inability to disprove something doesn’t imply that the thing is possible, only that we can’t state with utter certainty that the claim isn’t the case.

Then how would you define “possible”?

Good question. If there are no other questions, then…

Actually, I don’t offhand know of a non-circular way of defining “possible”. I could list synonyms (“might be”) or antonyms (“can’t be”), but then those would need defining too.

Henry

Alexandra:

The problem with this is that we have no way of attributing anything we find in Nature to the design or “signature” of a supernatural being. All we can detect are natural phenomena. The supernatural, by definition, is outside the realm of science.

That is not to say that the actions or effects of all supernatural entities or agents must also be supernatural and undetectable. Should God exist and decide to stop the rotation of the Earth (as we hear he has done in the past) that would certainly be detectable to science. It is in this fashion that religious claims such as those concerning the power of intercessory prayer are open to scientific investigation despite their claimed supernatural origin and/or mechanism. In just this way the fingerprints of design, if such design existed, could very well be clearly detectable regardless of the nature of the designer. Whether science could then detect or determine the specifics of the designer is a separate question.

I think you misunderstood. Any deity’s stamp or signature in the natural world cannot be linked to a supernatural realm (by definition); otherwise we would have a god detector in the natural world, and the “god” could be construed as an extension of the natural world that was hitherto inaccessible (much like opening up our understandings of the universe by the discovery and technological exploitation of x-rays and other electromagnetic radiation outside the visible spectrum). Thus there is no reason to refer to the newly discovered phenomena as “god”. This has nothing to do with trying to decide whose god it is.

There is no evidence that the Earth’s rotation was stopped by a deity in the past. That is religious myth.

Intercessory prayer has been tested (this has been reported in a number of places, including Dawkin’s book, The God Delusion). But even there, the effect was to cause people who knew they were being prayed for to do worse because of the psychological effects of worry and fear that they were worse off than they were being told. Strong beliefs and superstitions are known to have dramatic physical effects; these effects don’t have to be assigned to supernatural causes. People who don’t know they have a voodoo curse on them are not affected any more than people who know voodoo to be a superstition. So it was an experiment in the natural world, with natural explanations.

Always enjoyed Carl Sagan’s rather mordant commentary on “religious integrity”. He noted that over millennia, with literally trillions of ineffective intercessory prayers on the books, the Official Religious Position was “insufficient data, answer unknown.” Then one day a decade or more back, some folks did a poorly-designed study and found what might (or might not, due to the experimental design) be interpreted as systematic effect of prayer.

And overnight, this became “sufficient data” and a thousand websites trumpeted “scientific proof” of God’s intercession.

Subsequently, the errors in the methodology were correct, the study was replicated many times (including by the original experimenters), and again no hint of any effect at all. Did the religious folks change their tune, back to “insufficient data”? Are you kidding? In true “religious integrity” fashion, they have simply ignored all subsequent studies, and claimed “scientific proof” to this very day.

A wonderful cautionary tale of the mindset we’re always fighting.

Mike Elzinga Wrote:

I think you misunderstood. Any deity’s stamp or signature in the natural world cannot be linked to a supernatural realm (by definition); otherwise we would have a god detector in the natural world, and the “god” could be construed as an extension of the natural world that was hitherto inaccessible

Intercessory prayer has been tested …

So, are you saying that if the intercessory prayer experiment had shown a small but measurable effect in just the way believers had predicted/hoped, this would constitute the “naturalization” of the phenomenon hitherto known as God?

I think you misunderstood. Any deity’s stamp or signature in the natural world cannot be linked to a supernatural realm (by definition); otherwise we would have a god detector in the natural world, and the “god” could be construed as an extension of the natural world that was hitherto inaccessible

I’m not sure how you would define “supernatural”, but there is nothing that would prohibit a supernatural agent from causing detectable events. There is simply no reason we cannot have, as you say, a “god detector”. Most religions make all sorts of claims which, if true, would be readily detectable. That they are not detected suggests that they are not true, not that gods and their effects are somehow immune to science or even rational perception.

If, as I said, the world suddenly stop rotating we would notice that. If all the Christian amputees in the world started spontaneously regrowing their lost limbs in response to prayer, we could observe that. This would not somehow, as you claim, make such miraculous events nor those agents responsible for them “natural” by any normal definition of that word.

Alexandra, I have to come down on your side. I love these extreme hypothetical things to clarify matters.

Suppose the Earth stopped rotating for a couple of hours. Throw in the effect of no other effects (earthquakes etc.), so our civilization doesn’t collapse. Scientists exhaust every possible explanation for this potentially miraculous event, and after decades of hypotheses, and maybe even new areas of physics explored to investigate it, no one can come up with even a whiff of a natural explanation. The event violates so many laws of physics that it is just plain impossible in our space-time continuum. Yet it happened and was witnessed by the whole population of Earth.

I think it would be perversely nitpicky to refuse to call such an event a miracle, and to allow, at least tentatively, attributing it to a power outside our space-time continuum. Could one object to calling that supernatural?

Please don’t assume from the above that I believe that anything of that nature has ever happened, or is ever likely to.

Down here if Florida, burnt toast passes muster as a miracle.

we had a crying statue once; it got on the regular news, people came to pray over it, the reports said that “there appeared to be no natural explanation” for the tears of blood. what they meant was; “we can’t be bothered to think of a logical explanation when we can just use magical thinking”

I’m personally tired of it. I get more PZ every day down here.

Here it is, my neighborhood:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrfGDRFjBC8

So, if intelligent design is a possible explanation for biological complexity, then by your own standards, science cannot address the question of how biological complexity arose, and Darwinian theory is therefore not scientific.

Perfect! The entire ID argument in a nutshell.

“Ladies and Gentlemen: In the one corner we have a mountainous pile of interlocking evidence which has stood up to every effort to find a crack for the past 150 years. In the other corner we have vacuous speculation with no evidentiary backup whatsoever.”

“I hereby declare these things equal, and therefore science knows nothing.”

“There are mathematical methods for detecting design.”

I suspect - and feel free to correct me if I am wrong - that he is making the “pattern recognition” argument that I have seen every once in a while from IDers.

In abstract mathematics pattern recognition is a legitimate topic of discussion. The idea here is that the formulas and devices used to recognize abstract patterns in mathematical expressions can also be applied to physical matter and/or biological specimens. Of course in reality abstract mathematical objects are generally understood by their users as are all the variables affecting them; whereas we still have a LOT to learn about the composition of matter and all the variables in the universe that have effects on its substance and behavior.

Generally this argument isn’t made too often because the vast majority of ID missionaries have no knowledge of higher mathematics and the few that do realize the absurdity of the argument immediately. Nevertheless, it does have a certain appeal to those who lump all “science” together into one grand “evil conspiracy against God,” because if a formula or process works in one “science” then it must be equally applicable to all “science.” Presumably this how a myriad of medical doctors, dentists, and theologians believe they’re qualified to debunk evolutionary biology. :)

And, of course, there is the little problem that even if this argument could be made and various patterns were identified that span all existence, it still wouldn’t prove - or even infer - the existence of a “intelligent designer.” All it would do is add yet another dimension to the mystery of existence and provide fuel for whole new generations of scientists.

And, of course, there is the little problem that even if this argument could be made and various patterns were identified that span all existence, it still wouldn’t prove - or even infer - the existence of a “intelligent designer.”

Very true.

For example, isn’t it a bit suspicious that all life on earth uses the exact same mechanism for information storage - two sets of very specific amino acids arranged in long data strings?!?

Coincidence - I think not!

Um… what? That’s actually evidence for common ancestry.

Oh, ahhh, nevermind.

One problem is that the term “design” is ambiguous in this context. It might mean deliberate engineering by somebody or something, or it might just mean the way the parts of something are arranged and how they interact with each other.

If biological life, or some aspects of it, were deliberately engineered, that would most likely have left observable patterns in the data that could in fact be studied, and which would differ significantly from the patterns expected from evolution. In that case current evolution theory would not have worked as a way of understanding biology.

Pretty much the only way deliberately engineered life could avoid producing observable patterns distinct from those expected from evolution as currently understood, would be if it was deliberately made to look as if evolution were the cause. If that were actually the case, then evolution as presently understood would still be a way of understanding what we see in nature, and therefore would still be science.

Henry

two sets of very specific amino acids arranged in long data strings?!?

Data strings?

Wait, is Bill Gates the designer? :p

Henry

That’s rediculous…haha. Someone actually said that “if design is supernatural then it is undetectible.” Question: How can that conclusion be confirmed? Answer: It cannot be confirmed because it is simply an assertion based on a biased opinion and not scientific experimentation. You can’t test whether or not design is detectible or not. It s simply an assertion. That’s Funny stuff. That’s taking it just a bit (when I say a bit I mean a whole heck of a lot) too far. Mathematical laws…Mathematical Laws limit what can happen and mathematical laws are supernatural aren’t they? We detect mathematical laws don’t we? Mathematical laws exist simply because existence is the way it is. Mathematical laws pre-date our universe otherwise our universe would not exist as it does. We cannot experiment on whether or not mathematical laws “evolved” from some less advanced form of laws (I hope you can sense my sarcastic humor) because every experiment we conduct uses those mathematical laws in order to arrive at a conclusion of whether or not the findings are statistically significant. That’s just basic logic fellas, give me a break! This is one of those ridiculous comments that make me chuckle at the current “scientific” community. Scientists and philosophy…Alright everyone, let’s just go ahead and say it: Being a “scientist” obviously does not qualify you as philosopher. I know everyone was thinking it, but no one said it. Your philosophy will determine your final outcomes. I’ll give you an example. Naturalism is assumed in what people today call “science”. If a “scientist” assumes naturalism, then all their findings will magically detect that all causes are “naturalistic” because that is their only option. That is the problem with the current “scientific” powers that be. Free inquiry is not allowed. It is only allowed if naturalism is assumed. No wonder everyone appears to “prove” naturalism. It is silliness! It’s simply Nietzche’s power philosophy at work, just like his admirer Saul Alinsky wrote about in Rules for Radicals. The problem is that the average Joe doesn’t do his own research. I thought it would help just to clear the air with that one.

God Bless Everyone! Love ya!

You can’t test whether or not design is detectable or not.

Then quit yammering and tell me how to detect it, already.

(Actually, I know you’re not actually going to do that, you’re going to go off on another single-spaced, evidence-free philosophical rant, but I do enjoy pointing out that yet another little emperor graces us with no clothes)

Cue the crickets…

So… our solar system could be, like, an atom in a giant’s fingernail…

(head > desk)

Yes, Kris, mathematical laws are supernatural. Therefore Jesus.

Kris Jones said:

That’s rediculous…haha .… Your philosophy will determine your final outcomes. …

Wowee. So the problem is 2+2. Hegelians determine that the outcome is 7 but Cartesians determine that the outcome is 5.

Kris’s claim is, in his own words, “rediculous”.

fnxtr, I love the humor! Especially the “Jesus” left jab.

This is why I have now fallen in love with the people on this website. All of you have great, witty comebacks and senses of humor! No counter-arguments, but great witty comebacks!

This is what I was commenting on earlier: “…however science also accepts that if such design is ‘supernatural’ no scientific method can detect such design.” How can science make that acknowledgement? If the presupposition denies the possibility of detection, then any detection of design is thrown out “a priori”. That would not be “true” science. True science must acknowledge any possibility; otherwise the results will be skewed.

stevearoni (I still love that name by the way); you ask how we can detect design. I hope you really are curious, though I somehow doubt it. Here is the answer: acknowledge the obvious.

Here is one way to detect design: Everything in the universe actually operates under certain laws, which are not a product of naturalistic evolution. If you acknowledge that the laws did not come about by natural selection then you must acknowledge some type of supernatural cause (also known as a designer) because the laws fall outside of nature. The proof is “in the pudding”.

It is silly if someone asserts that everything came about by natural processes. What about the systems that drive the natural processes? Obviously natural processes cannot design their own systems in which to operate. If that were the case, then the natural processes would be the “designer” and we would all have to acknowledge ID. Either way, the existence of supernatural laws is one proof of design.

Talk to you later, friends!

Kris said:

This is what I was commenting on earlier: “…however science also accepts that if such design is ‘supernatural’ no scientific method can detect such design.” How can science make that acknowledgement? If the presupposition denies the possibility of detection, then any detection of design is thrown out “a priori”. That would not be “true” science. True science must acknowledge any possibility; otherwise the results will be skewed.

Science does not acknowledge the supernatural because, by definition, the supernatural does not operate by natural laws. Intelligent Design is not science because it makes no testable predictions, and makes no attempt at producing any explanations of natural phenomena beyond “it’s too complicated for mere mortal researchers to understand, therefore DESIGNERDIDIT”

By demanding that we include the possibility of supernatural causes, you skew everything, especially since there are no means for scientists to test for or detect supernatural phenomena. Or, are we to assume that you would prefer to go to a doctor who makes blood sacrifices to the Loa, rather than give you prescriptions?

stevearoni (I still love that name by the way); you ask how we can detect design. I hope you really are curious, though I somehow doubt it. Here is the answer: acknowledge the obvious.

Actually, Intelligent Design proponents ignore obvious evidence, as well as subtle evidence, by appealing to ignorance and incredulity in order to push their own anti-science agendas, and avoid doing actual science. And I presume that you have refused to acknowledge the glaringly obvious evidence that the Discovery Institute has never produced a single scientific article discussing Intelligent Design.

Here is one way to detect design: Everything in the universe actually operates under certain laws, which are not a product of naturalistic evolution.

If you assume that scientists think that the laws governing things like gravity, electricity, radioactivity or hydrogen-bonding came through “naturalistic evolution,” then you’re a scientifically illiterate idiot. This not meant to be an insult: it’s meant to be a statement of observation.

If you acknowledge that the laws did not come about by natural selection then you must acknowledge some type of supernatural cause (also known as a designer) because the laws fall outside of nature. The proof is “in the pudding”.

Among other things, the burden of proof is on you and other Intelligent Design proponents to demonstrate that the diversity and mechanics of life came through the intervention of supernatural causes. Having said this, Intelligent Design proponents have been both unwilling and incapable of wanting to either scientifically demonstrate how or even produce a logical explanation of how Intelligent Design works. In fact, the vast majority of Intelligent Design proponents demonstrate a profound illiteracy of basic science.

It is silly if someone asserts that everything came about by natural processes. What about the systems that drive the natural processes? Obviously natural processes cannot design their own systems in which to operate. If that were the case, then the natural processes would be the “designer” and we would all have to acknowledge ID. Either way, the existence of supernatural laws is one proof of design.

So, in other words, the way water shapes itself in order to fit inside of a cup or a bottle is proof of the supernatural?

I mean, if you want to demonstrate how it’s really supernatural forces at work, and not natural selection, that drives the diversity of life, why don’t you take a look at Lenski’s documentation and reports on his strain of citrate-metabolizing Escherichia coli? If you want to show us the very fingerprints of this “Designer,” then show us the fingerprints it left on Lenski’s bacteria.

If you acknowledge that the laws did not come about by natural selection then you must acknowledge some type of supernatural cause (also known as a designer) because the laws fall outside of nature.

Um, no.

You are conflating biology and cosmology. I don’t know if that’s deliberate or if you just plain don’t think clearly.

What, exactly do you mean by “laws”, and “nature”?

In science, “law” is descriptive not prescriptive. It’s an explanation of what happens, not a command.

“Nature” can mean either biological life or the entirety of the universe(s), maybe that’s where you’re getting confused.

So are you calling relativity or gravity or electromagnetism “supernatural” because they didn’t emerge via natural selection? If so, you are just playing Humpty Dumpty, using words to mean whatever you want them to mean.

If you have verifiable proof of supernatural interference in biology, that is, behaviour that doesn’t follow what everyone else calls natural laws, proof that doesn’t depend on “worldview” to accept (note that, for example, E=mc2 whether you are Christian, pagan, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist…), put it on the table. The Nobel awaits.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on March 6, 2008 10:49 AM.

Discovery Institute: Dishonest or Incompetent? I Report, You Decide. was the previous entry in this blog.

Explore the strengths and weaknesses of Florida’s “Academic Freedom” bill is the next entry in this blog.

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