Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A testable case for ID?

95 comments:

David B Marshall said...

Victor: Yes, I think the canard that ID isn't science because it isn't testable, is a threadworn distraction from the real issues. The real question is whether there is evidence for design, or not -- not on which side of an imaginary line called "true science" these arguments lie.

One can easily think of numerous cases in which arguments to design are employed in science that everyone up till now considered entirely legitimate.

In my opinion, ID proponents win that battle -- but it's not a battle that matters, except for in the courts and classroom, where anyway winning will seldom be enough to win.

The real value of this argument, to me, is what it reveals about the mindset of some who take the opposing position.

Anonymous said...

If ID isn't science then neither can my everyday folk-psychology hypotheses be science (explanation in terms of desires, intentions etc.). But if neither are science then science is being drawn far too narrowly to be of interest or to draw any substantive conclusions from.

woodchuck64 said...

While I think ID research can be valuable (looking at the data in a different way can lead to new methods, new discoveries, etc.), the problem with this article is that Luskin simple ignores the fact that evolutionists see his predictions of design as also predictions of evolution. For example:

Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information).

In reality, evolutionists have detailed arguments for the natural appearance of parts in intricate patterns and simply don't find Dembski's "complex and specified information" concept coherent or helpful. See, for example, http://www.springerlink.com/content/a1l08u041t72m227/

The rest of the article follows this pattern, simply ignoring what evolutionists have to say on the subject. If I were to accept up front that evolutionists are generally misguided deceivers and shouldn't be consulted on ID issues, I would find this article helpful. Since I don't, Luskin's article reads to me like extended preaching to the deeply converted.

One Brow said...

I didn't see any tests for ID mentioned. It's hard to have a testable case without any tests. Instead, all ID theory has produced are nebulous concepts like IC and FCSI, arguments from analogy, and confirmations that some things don't happen when no one thought they would happen. Also, they do repeated a lot of warmed-over anti-evolution that used to be used by creationists.

David B Marshall said...

Woodchuck: The article you reference sells for megabucks. Care to explain why the concept of specified complexity doesn't work? I find it both coherent and useful.

One Brow said...

David B Marshall said...
Care to explain why the concept of specified complexity doesn't work? I find it both coherent and useful.

They just had a thread on Uncommon Descent where MathGrrl was asking for a cohernet defintion of specified complexity. None was to be found. What's your coherent defintion?

Since you find it useful, for what do you use it?

Tony Hoffman said...

I think it's David Heddle, a devout Christian and proponent of fine tuning, who has also declared that a hypothesis that cannot be tested is inherently unscientific. So I wonder what would make an untestable hypothesis scientific, and what is revealed in the mindset of Heddle's view.

Tony Hoffman said...

Anon: "If ID isn't science then neither can my everyday folk-psychology hypotheses be science (explanation in terms of desires, intentions etc.)."

Okay.

Anon: "But if neither are science then science is being drawn far too narrowly to be of interest or to draw any substantive conclusions from."

I am not interested in your folk psychology hypotheses principally because you have determined that they cannot be tested. I don't have enough time to concern myself with what everybody thinks they know; it's hard enough to keep up with what is actually known.

Per your point, why should anyone care about ID? I couldn't care less, except for the intrusions on science learning, campaign of misinformation, insults, etc. As for ID proper, it could be interesting, but nobody seems to have figured out how. So, why should I care about ID?

Tony Hoffman said...

Marshall: "The real question is whether there is evidence for design, or not -- not on which side of an imaginary line called "true science" these arguments lie."

Well, no. There's lots of evidence for design. Just like there's lots of evidence for astrology, witchcraft, etc. The real question is whether or not the evidence is good (not a misinterpretation, mistake, deception, etc.), whether or not the evidence is selectively chosen, etc. In other words, what does the process of science say about the evidence for something like witchcraft when viewed with all the evidence for other explanations.

As it turns out, the evidence for witchcraft and astrology can be explained by noise, deception, misinterpretations, etc. And it appears that the evidence for design can be explained by things like humans, or processes like evolution, or misinterpretations. So, the real question isn't whether or not there's evidence for design, but what are the best explanations for the appearance of design. And that's the question that ID, if it wants to be a scientific enterprise, has got to crack. Everything else appears to be just a lot of hand-waving.

Blue Devil Knight said...

woodchuck nailed it.

David B Marshall said...

One Brow: I won't look anything up, but it seems pretty obvious to me:

The world is full of complex objects. A pebble (unless it is a pure crystal) is almost infinitely complex. There is no reason to think an object that is merely complex is designed.

An object whose complexity corresponds to some independent pattern, shows more evidence of having been designed, depending on the complexity of the object and the pattern.

For instance, if you find a garden with the flowers set in the pattern, "Welcome to Victoria Harbor" (I do remember some ID proponent using this), you recognize that it was designed, because the pattern into which the flowers are set corresponds to English letters and words, which are independent of how flowers grow by themselves.

David B Marshall said...

Tony: You're banting words. By "evidence," of course I meant "good evidence." If one says, "I wonder if dinner will be ready when we get home?" it is assumed an edible meal is referred to, not vegetables made out of plastic.

David B Marshall said...

"Woodchuck nailed it."

But can he chuck wood?

Blue Devil Knight said...

In ordinary life, design is one hypothesis among many, typically an abductive inference. The two main criteria we use in constructing our hypothesis that X is the result of design are:
a. We know that things of type X are, or have been, produced by intelligent agents (e.g., if we found a group of pyramids made of hewn stone in the wilderness in New Hampshire).
b. There is enough evidence to exclude alternate explanations of the origins of X (e.g., lacking detailed comparative genomic information about structures such as the flagellum, design inferences do not go through; similar for origins of life arguments: shortage of conclusive evidence is not evidence of design).

Those two criteria are necessary, perhaps not sufficient, to establish something is designed.

[I say perhaps not sufficient since some might add something about rationality of the design. I think that's stupid. For one, even if the design is unintelligent who gives a crap. If my four year old daughter bakes me a cookie that tastes like shit, it's still designed. Insisting on intelligent, even optimal, design is to show your religious cards, and to make your task too difficult. Establishing a and b alone would be sufficient to establish a primae facie case for the design (perhaps not all that intelligent) of something, and that should be the focus of the ID people. So I guess they should call themselves the 'D' movement.]

ID people often present design as just another reasonable hypothesis among many, deserving equal prior consideration if the evidence isn't enough to decide (so if we don't have any information about this newly discovered biochemical reaction in the nostril of the fruit bat, it's just as likely to be the result of design as natural evolution). Maybe in church that kind of thinking might work, but if you want to say you are doing science (which the ID people do), then you don't get to play games with priors that way. Those aren't the priors of biology.

Those coming from a strong religious, but weak biology, background, fail to see just how high the hurdle is they have to overcome to have a seat at the table of real science. Darwin gave Paley a punch in the mouth in 1859, and in the next 100 years Paley received blow after blow. Evolutionary thinking permeates biology not just conceptually or based on philosophy, but based on experimental clout, extended every decade from the discovery of DNA to its offspring, evolutionary developmental biology. In parallel to this direct blast to Paley, methodological naturalism became a core feature of all natural science, not for dogma, but because of its crazy success and the abject failure of its competitor for the past 300 years.

Finally, if you really want to be taken seriously as science, you must stop running to congress/school boards/religious institutions to whine that nobody is taking your views seriously and textbooks should be changed (if I did that in neuroscience I would be instantly, and justifiably, labeled a freak show who has gone off the deep end and stopped being a scientist, but become some nutcase).

In other words, the less we hear about you in the context of school boards and legislative bodies, the better. For all of us.

That said, do a and b above, conclusively, for any phenotype, and you will have your design inference.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Note how my criteria easily explain David Marshall's nice example of the flowerbed. No need to resort to "magical complexity" to push through a design inference.

Anonymous said...

Finally, if you really want to be taken seriously as science, you must stop running to congress/school boards/religious institutions to whine that nobody is taking your views seriously and textbooks should be changed (if I did that in neuroscience I would be instantly, and justifiably, labeled a freak show who has gone off the deep end and stopped being a scientist, but become some nutcase).

ID proponents aren't trying to impress scientists specifically, certainly not ones who are already anti-design. Such people are written off as incurably biased, much the same way Bohr and company wrote off people who were opposed to quantum physics. So sayeth Max Planck: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Let me say it again: ID proponents don't particularly care whether scientists accept their ideas, much current scientists in the majority. They'll be happy to get their ideas considered and judged favorably by everyone else. And on that front, they're having some considerable success.

ID, by the way, is not anti-evolution. Plenty of ID proponents accept evolution and common descent, and simply think the indications are that evolution itself exhibits design. Nor does ID require that other explanations be utterly disproven: Only that design itself is a reasonable inference, even if other explanations may in the future overturn those inferences.

And it seems to me David Marshall's point was that we have experience with design, we know some of the hallmarks of it, and we can look for those hallmarks in nature. Sometimes, we see them. If we do, it's reasonable to infer design. Pretty banal. Given your standards, if we discovered an abandoned spaceship on Mars with no signs of life around, we wouldn't be able to even rationally infer design. That's pretty crazy.

To put it another way, Darwin kicked Paley for years. Paley just got up and punched Darwin in the balls, and then ate his lunch.

woodchuck64 said...

David B Marshall,

Elsberry/Shallit critique of complex specified information.

One Brow said...

David B Marshall said...
An object whose complexity corresponds to some independent pattern,

A complex object that is simple?


... because the pattern into which the flowers are set corresponds to English letters and words, which are independent of how flowers grow by themselves.

I agree, and Blue Devil Knight explains in greater detail, that we detect design primarily by analogy to designs we are familiar with. That is not a definition of CSI, though, and it's not useful for designs we are not familiar with.

One Brow said...

Anonymous said...
ID proponents aren't trying to impress scientists specifically, certainly not ones who are already anti-design.

This would be in contract to, for example, Dr. Lynn Margulis, who responded to the scoffing of people at her theories on endosymbiosis by doing the work that impressed them. Scientists can be impressed by scientific work, you just have to do some.

Such people are written off as incurably biased, much the same way Bohr and company wrote off people who were opposed to quantum physics.

It helped that Bohr & company was able to conduct experiments to demonstrate their theories.

They'll be happy to get their ideas considered and judged favorably by everyone else. And on that front, they're having some considerable success.

It does help to tell people what they want to hear.

Given your standards, if we discovered an abandoned spaceship on Mars with no signs of life around, we wouldn't be able to even rationally infer design.

Given my standards, we identify it as a spaceship based upon our familiarity with machines in general, and spaceships in particular, that is, by analogy.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon wrote:
"Given your standards, if we discovered an abandoned spaceship on Mars with no signs of life around, we wouldn't be able to even rationally infer design. That's pretty crazy."

You must not have read what I wrote, as it would follow trivially. There would be no other reasonable hypothesis (criterion b) and we know such things are the result of design processes (criterion a).

Since you misunderstood (or your post was April fool post), here's another example. DNA changes can be the result of design processes (criterion a). If one of my genetically modified mice escapes from lab, and we find a population of mice with this genotype a year later near Duke University, and we know that this genotype has never been observed, and is extremely unlikely to have emerged in that one year according to natural causes, we would be right to infer that their genotype was designed by me.

I like that example, as it's close to what the ID people are after.

Acc'd to anon, ID folks don't care if they are "convincing" scientists. But they are interested in doing good science. And that doesn't mean running to courts and legislatures and school boards crying that they aren't being taken seriously. That's a self-defeating behavior, as it guarantees you will not be taken seriously.

If you want to sit at the adult table, you need to learn to act like an adult. Do the experiments, get some results, present at conferences to get feedback from competent people, publish in reputale journals with hard-core peer review. Eventually, if your ideas are good enough, and experiments replicated, the evidence strong enough, more people will accept them (most scientists love when great ideas are overthrown with annoying data, contrary to what some sociologists of science or Kuhn-fetishists (those people that tend to blur the lines between science and politics) would have you believe).

And if they are interesting enough, and considered well-established, then some textbook authors would consider putting them in. Indeed, they would pretty much have to put them in (e.g., by 1920 all general physics texts had special relativity).

Changing textbooks is typically the final step, not the first step, in the emergence of a novel experimentally vetted scientific theory. But if they aren't interested in doing good science, or being taken seriously by scientists, or making contributions to biology, then by all means, they should keep running to the school boards and legislators and courts. It is a good indicator of the dirth of scientific maturity, and high levels of quackery among them. As I said, self-defeating. Keep at it, please! More NIH funding for me that way.

Onebrow Margolis is a great example. Endosymbiont theory was first treated as crazy. Did she run to the school boards? I literally laugh when I consider a real scientist doing this.

BenYachov said...

Anyone here ever read Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design by Bradley Monton?

I read part of it & what I read was interesting. Monton is a philosopher and an Atheist.

But of course Thomists have it in for Paley so I find ID a non-starter for Classic Theism and a good philosophy of science.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I have nothing against inferring design (I gave two criteria that should establish design above). I have problems with the way that the ID-advocates tend to go about it while trying to parade themselves as an alternative scientific theory.

Blue Devil Knight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue Devil Knight said...

If I were a theist, I think I would be one of the Thomist variety. Or at least steal the good bits from Thomist and make an eclectic theology a little personal God, a little platonic God.

BenYachov said...

BDK,

I believe God is personal. I just don't believe He is unequivocally a human person except without our limits.

Al Moritz said...

BDK (in particular, but other here atheists too),

I love your good work on this thread, keep it up (says this Christian).

Al

Al Moritz said...

Darn, should be "other atheists here", of course.

BenYachov said...

Tony Hoffman is doing a good job too.

David B Marshall said...

Blue: I don't see that you rebut any of my comments, or even try to; these dances come awfully easy to some folks.

David B Marshall said...

I was asked for a coherent definition of specific complexity. I didn't find one hard to produce. The question was not, "Can one also deduce design by arguments from analogy?" So far as I know, no one has denied that here.

I am looking out on one of my rock gardens. One might deduce, from the shape into which the rocks are formed, that they were put there by an intelligent agent to make a garden -- analogy. That doesn't mean one can't also make the same deduction from the independant coherence of the pattern they fall into. For that matter, one could also make an argument from authority -- I made the garden, I remember making it. Why should there only be one way to skin a cat?

One Brow said...

David B Marshall said...
I was asked for a coherent definition of specific complexity. I didn't find one hard to produce.

Then you should post it. All you've offered so far is a touchy-feely argument by analogy, and the notion of simple complexity.

That doesn't mean one can't also make the same deduction from the independant coherence of the pattern they fall into.

"independent coherence" = "analogy". "Something I have seen before". "Something I find familiar".

For that matter, one could also make an argument from authority -- I made the garden, I remember making it.

There is no such authority for life that strikes me a reliable.

Why should there only be one way to skin a cat?

There doesn't have to be just one way. However, so far there simply is.

Anthony Fleming said...

Could someone please provide for me the "slam dunk" for the theory of Darwinian evolution? As I don't have a problem with the theory I am just curious for what some may provide.

Also why Darwinian evolution vs. punctuated?

Anonymous said...

BDK,

You must not have read what I wrote, as it would follow trivially. There would be no other reasonable hypothesis (criterion b) and we know such things are the result of design processes (criterion a).

Here's your criteria: The two main criteria we use in constructing our hypothesis that X is the result of design are:
a. We know that things of type X are, or have been, produced by intelligent agents (e.g., if we found a group of pyramids made of hewn stone in the wilderness in New Hampshire).
b. There is enough evidence to exclude alternate explanations of the origins of X


Except we wouldn't know A. We'd be in the presence of what seems to be an artifact, but we ourselves would not have made such a thing before. Unless by saying "things of type A" is heavily, heavily abstracted.

But if you abstract that much, then our successes with genetic engineering make it so things like the bacterial flagellum, and even things which are not "irreducibly complex", pass A, and confound B. Better yet, the more humanity advances technologically, the better design becomes as an explanation for everything we see. Does the fact that humanity makes use of evolutionary processes in design now give us reason to think evolution is teleological?

But they are interested in doing good science. And that doesn't mean running to courts and legislatures and school boards crying that they aren't being taken seriously. That's a self-defeating behavior, as it guarantees you will not be taken seriously.

What exactly does "doing good science" have to do with being taken seriously? Scientists are not the embodiment of science. ID proponents could not care less if they're taken seriously, though they may try to ensure that "not being taken seriously" doesn't lead to employment discrimination. "I can't discriminate against you in hiring due to your ideas, but I don't take you seriously."? I imagine the ID response is, "Who cares?"

Also, you apparently equate science itself with getting grants and having people respect you, and if someone's idea isn't respected by most of their peers and they aren't getting grants from the right places (or perhaps in the right amounts) then they can't be doing science.

That's pretty crazy.

David B Marshall said...

One Brow: Instead of raising that brow and relying on blank assertion, if you don't like my definition, you should try to show what's wrong with it.

Tony Hoffman said...

Marshall: “Tony: You're banting words.”

I have to ask – what does “banting” mean? I tried looking it up on the computer dictionary, online, then my hardcovers of American Heritage and the Oxford English Dictionaries. Those that had the term didn’t make any sense.

Marhsall: “By "evidence," of course I meant "good evidence." If one says, "I wonder if dinner will be ready when we get home?" it is assumed an edible meal is referred to, not vegetables made out of plastic.””

Well, the quality of the evidence is determined partly by the quality of the definitions and inferences then, isn’t it? I think one problem with some design arguments is that at first inspection, they look like great evidence for design (the eye, the infamous bacterial flagellum, etc.). But the evidence for these things being designed (they are indeed complex) ended up being not good for only the reason that the inference was exposed as being incorrect.

So, I have to ask, what good evidence for design are you thinking of, then?

Marshall: “An object whose complexity corresponds to some independent pattern, shows more evidence of having been designed, depending on the complexity of the object and the pattern.”

I don’t see any practical difference between the above and Paley’s argument. Paley saw a certain teleology in an eye, and used the analogy of a watch – surely, anyone should infer that both were designed? But Paley’s argument has been exposed for what it is – an argument from ignorance. So I’m curious how you would differentiate your argument from Paley’s.

woodchuck64 said...

David Marshall,

Care to explain why the concept of specified complexity doesn't work? I find it both coherent and useful.

See the article I referenced for details, but my point is more that Luskin embraces science as requiring testable hypotheses but then ignores very real scientific controversy around the testable hypotheses he poses.

But can he chuck wood?

Yes, good sir,
 o      o
( @@ )
   UU
the wood will be chucked.

Anthony Fleming said...

I am interested in the evidence that is most commonly used for Darwinian evolution. Is there evidence that, for the most part, proves it? Why Darwinian vs. punctuated equilibrium?

I really don't put a lot of stock into worrying about whether Darwinian evolution is true or not, I just have trouble seeing it that way. Could someone help me out?

Tony Hoffman said...

Anon: “Also, you apparently equate science itself with getting grants and having people respect you, and if someone's idea isn't respected by most of their peers and they aren't getting grants from the right places (or perhaps in the right amounts) then they can't be doing science.”

Really? How do you get the above from what BDK wrote earlier? Did you miss the part about doing experiments with replicable results? Did you entirely miss the point of the Margolis example?

Anon: “That's pretty crazy.”

Indeed.

What I think is crazy is that so many ID defenders seem to think that attacking science, accusing others of bias while demonstrating their own, and playing a conspiracy card are effective ways to win a battle of ideas.

David B Marshall said...

Tony: "Banting" is a combination of "bantering" and "batting." It means you reply to what someone says, but the response goes into left field.

I didn't say there was good evidence for design; I haven't addressed the issue. But can you tell me why you're so sure the flagellum doesn't qualify?

Paley's argument was not an "argument from ignorance." Paley was, in fact, ignorant about evolution, which may make a difference to whether or not it was an effective one. But both Darwin and Dawkins admit there are limits to what evolution can accomplish -- the question ID asks, is where exactly that line stands, and on which side of it life lies.

Anonymous said...

Really? How do you get the above from what BDK wrote earlier?

Because it's one long rant about what it takes to be respected by the scientific community and how if you push for passing laws to protect people who hold dissenting views from discrimination the community won't respect you and you won't get grants and that's what being successful in science is all about?

BDK's the one connecting respect of peers and getting funding with "doing science". I'm pointing out how crazy that is. You can be rued by your peers and cut off from NIH funding and still be doing science.

What I think is crazy is that so many ID defenders seem to think that attacking science, accusing others of bias while demonstrating their own, and playing a conspiracy card are effective ways to win a battle of ideas.

They say they're not attacking science but being consistent about making inferences regarding intelligence, that they have bias does not mean others do not have bias, and conspiracy cards are very effective ways to win battles of ideas, especially if the "conspiracy" in question is true and well-supported.

What's next? "People who run attack ads don't win political office"?

Blue Devil Knight said...

David: I wasn't trying to refute you, but to give what is a reasonable analysis of how we in fact detect design with no need to advert to "specified complexity" or other arcana.

Anonymous: the spaceship would be a machine that flies, no? That's not very abstract. That was basically Paley's argument, after all: life is an extremely complex machine like a watch. ID people love to push this line of thought. Anyway I don't mind if it becomes abstract, I expect it to become abstract in some cases.

But if you wanted to just restrict it to consideration b, I'd be OK with that.

Basically, we need a good reason to think it was designed, including good reasons to think it was not produced by some other process (e.g., erosion, natural selection).

Just showing we have no idea how it could have happened naturally is not enough (contra Dumbski).

Someone keeps asking about the slam dunk for Darwinism. I don't know many strict Darwinists, most think there are multiple mechanisms of evolution. Even ID, as we have with artificial selection to create dogs, different strains of corn, etc.. That's the best explanation of these strains (oh, and happens to conform well to my pattern above).

Blue Devil Knight said...

To skeptics like me, a good question is: let's say some intelligent being did design various complex machines in living creatures, that this is the true explanation of our origins. Could any evidence convince you that this is true?

The most obvious would be evidence for aliens tampering with the DNA of life on earth. If they were to visit us, explain what they did, and show us the phylogenetic trees with genetic confirmation.

Sort of like my mouse example, but we turn out to be the lab mice.

As for what evidence would convince me that God was a genetic engineer who directed evolution? I'll need to think about that. Luskin is not a very good guide, unfortunately.

Most obvious would be evidence for sudden appearance of truly unique mechanisms/species in nature. With evidence that there were no predecessors or homologous processes that turned into those things naturally.

Ideally this would happen in a lab, while observing a species. God would be like, you want evidence, here's your evidence! BAM! That fruit fly colony just became a colony of bees, doubter (and we have both trying to interbreed and they can't, and we have video of the female fruit flies giving birth to the bees, and can do genetic tests on both, and find that there are different chromosome numbers, e.g., more in the bees, but the bee chromosomes are not just duplicates or shuffles of the fruit fly ones, but truly unique chromosomes in the context.

We put two fruit flies in a jar, watch them mate, watch the female lay the eggs, watch them hatch. No room for error. Bam!

Enough stuff like that I'd have to reconsider my committment to naturalism.

If the tertiary structure of a string of DNA spelled 'Jesus loves you, BDK, and you will find this message on such-and-such a date'. I guess that would be pretty damned compelling.

Papalinton said...

From Anonymous:
"They'll be happy to get their ideas considered and judged favorably by everyone else. And on that front, they're having some considerable success."


Very much in the manner G w Bush sought to successfully spin the story of 'weapons of mass destruction'[WMD]. And trillions of $s later the American people start to rrealize they have been treated as 'bunnies'.
And ID just like WMDs is a spin.

BenYachov said...

Paps the intelligent Atheists are here(i.e. Hoffman, BDK & even One Brow who I have called clueless in the past on other issues but in this area of study he is in his element).

So you have nothing here to contribute. Now be quiet while the adults are talking. I'd like to see how this conversation plays out.

BenYachov said...

BTW I didn't mean to dis woodchuck64 by leaving him out of the list. Except I am not familiar with his metaphysics(Atheist? Agnostic? Theist?).

No offense intended.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anon: doing good science, and getting respect from a community, are different topics. ID fails on both fronts for reasons I explained. Just because I have two related topics in one post doesn't mean they are the same topic.

But they are closely related, in ways you don't understand because you don't understand how science works, and like to mash science together with other disciplines.

So let me explain one more time.

They get no respect from me as scientists because they are trying to bypass the science, not because I have some silly focus on status.

Going to the courts, to politicians, to school boards, to textbook companies is an attempt to bypass doing the science. It is an attempts to bypass experiment, peer review, earnest attempts to falsify, interaction with people skeptical of your views, and the long sometimes tedious struggle with the entire scientific process that might result in something worth puting in a textbook after ten years of work.

Sure, politically they are very saavy. Hurray for them.

Blue Devil Knight said...

David Marshall: flagellum fails criterion b I gave above, as I mentioned it when I first introduced the criteria (see wikipedia entry on evolution of flagella too). Ignorance of how something evolved is not evidence of design. That's also why I brought up the complex chemical reaction in the bat nostril case in my first post. The priors for the two are not equal, again for reasons I articulated in my first post.

Blue Devil Knight said...

A "victory" for ID is getting some school board to agree. A victory of general relativity was observing gravitational lensing. See the difference?

Obnoxious Oblong said...

BDK,

Two points. You say

"Just showing we have no idea how it could have happened naturally is not enough (contra Dumbski)."

But this makes every argument inconclusive. I give you an argument for accepting P; you say "Your argument is very impressive and looks watertight, but you are pushing an argument from ignorance: I shouldn't accept your argument just because I have no idea how to rebut it." Crazy, no?

"Going to the courts, to politicians, to school boards, to textbook companies is an attempt to bypass doing the science. It is an attempts to bypass experiment, peer review, earnest attempts to falsify, interaction with people skeptical of your views, and the long sometimes tedious struggle with the entire scientific process that might result in something worth puting in a textbook after ten years of work."

That's not the way I see it. I view the political stuff as a way of corrected the misleading implications of teaching molecules to man evolution in the science classroom. The stuff they tout there is touted as fact, but if the ID folks are right then evolution is your best bet if you are a naturalist, but not if you are a theist. (I think Johnson goes on about this.) I don't think you would like it if scientists assumed theism/deism in their work.

Obnoxious Oblong said...

"We put two fruit flies in a jar, watch them mate, watch the female lay the eggs, watch them hatch. No room for error. Bam! "

But this is an argument from ignorance! You can't figure out how it could happen naturally, so it didn't?

One Brow said...

David B Marshall said...
Instead of raising that brow and relying on blank assertion, if you don't like my definition, you should try to show what's wrong with it.

1) There is no numerical measure attached to it, so it does not measure specified complexity.
2) It is based on combining two contradictory notions.

If that is not sufficient to spell out "what is wrong with it" to you, I'm OK with that. Either condition would suffice for me, much less both.

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
Could someone please provide for me the "slam dunk" for the theory of Darwinian evolution? As I don't have a problem with the theory I am just curious for what some may provide.

I am guessing you mean common descent. If not, to what aspect of evolution do you refer?

Also why Darwinian evolution vs. punctuated?

Evolution in puntuated equilibrium is "Darwinian" evolution.

One Brow said...

Anonymous said...
Except we wouldn't know A. We'd be in the presence of what seems to be an artifact, but we ourselves would not have made such a thing before. Unless by saying "things of type A" is heavily, heavily abstracted.

If we have not made such a thing, or similar things, how do we know it is an artifact? For example, if is made of metal, we know by analogy because we make metal machines.

Tony Hoffman said...

Marshall: “I didn't say there was good evidence for design; I haven't addressed the issue.”

Well, your first comment here said:

Marshall: “The real question is whether there is evidence for design, or not -- not on which side of an imaginary line called "true science" these arguments lie.

I took that to mean that you thought the issue was about the evidence.

Marshall: “But can you tell me why you're so sure the flagellum doesn't qualify [for design]?”

Really? Because I agree that there is no hypothesis for design of the bacterial flagellum, and without a hypothesis I see no reason to consider it as a plausible explanation. I also found (and it’s been years since I last read it) the explanation (including exaption) for evolution of the flagellum to be plausible. (I also have seen photographic representations of the flagellum, and this appeared far less engineered than the animations and artistic renderings I had seen from ID proponents. It’s not quite a casserole of nonsense, mind you, but

Marshall: “Paley's argument was not an "argument from ignorance."

I understand an argument from ignorance to be an argument that assumes one explanation by default when another explanation fails to adequately demonstrate. I think that by assuming “God designed the eye,” because there was no plausible natural explanation for the eye, Paley was also making an argument from ignorance. (But I agree that his argument could be characterized in other ways as well, if that’s what you mean.)

Marshall: “...both Darwin and Dawkins admit there are limits to what evolution can accomplish -- the question ID asks, is where exactly that line stands, and on which side of it life lies.”

Right, and this is my principal problem with the Design Argument. It appears to want to stake out a territory not currently claimed by natural explanations, and label it all “designed.” But I think this is (as I mention above) just an argument from ignorance.

Upthread there is talk about coherence for design (or specified complexity), but coherence, in my experience, is too low a bar. Lots of ideas are coherent and possible, but without a a hypothesis, I don’t see ID as having much practical value. (It may stimulate other ways of approaching obstinate problems, so I’m not ruling it out as a means of examination, but without those means detailed to the point of being applied to something I believe that all the talk of ID – including on this thread -- is just that.)

One Brow said...

Obnoxious Oblong said...
But this makes every argument inconclusive. I give you an argument for accepting P; you say "Your argument is very impressive and looks watertight, but you are pushing an argument from ignorance: I shouldn't accept your argument just because I have no idea how to rebut it." Crazy, no?

An argument from mechanisms capable of producing an effect is not an argument from ignorance. I suppose you could say every inductive argument is an argument from ignorance, but that is not usually what we mean by the term.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Obnoxious: nonsequitor don't see how you get there from my stuff re arg from ig.

On flies, that was not instantaneous evidence, as I said we'd have to do the genetics. Caterpillar to butterfly isn't instantaneous evidence of design.

Main point: even if this stuff is designed, it isn't clear science would converge on this, given that it seems everything is evolved.

Anthony Fleming said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony Fleming said...

BDK you wrote, "Someone keeps asking about the slam dunk for Darwinism. I don't know many strict Darwinists, most think there are multiple mechanisms of evolution. Even ID, as we have with artificial selection to create dogs, different strains of corn, etc.. That's the best explanation of these strains (oh, and happens to conform well to my pattern above)."

That was me asking the question. Thanks for taking the time to answer. I definitely want to learn more about Evolution. So, mechanistic systems of evolution are the best explanations we have for different strains of different species? Sorry to everyone if I appear so "behind" on here. I would like to make an argument but would first like to understand part of the position against ID.

It seems the essential argument is, "X is a potential proof for ID but it is also a potential proof for evolution and therefore ID does not need to be the primary theory." Am I off base?

Anthony Fleming said...

BDK You wrote, "Ideally this would happen in a lab, while observing a species. God would be like, you want evidence, here's your evidence! BAM! That fruit fly colony just became a colony of bees, doubter (and we have both trying to interbreed and they can't, and we have video of the female fruit flies giving birth to the bees, and can do genetic tests on both, and find that there are different chromosome numbers, e.g., more in the bees, but the bee chromosomes are not just duplicates or shuffles of the fruit fly ones, but truly unique chromosomes in the context."

For one, what about the Cambrian explosion? I know it does not meet all your criteria but it does seem to be a "bam" of sorts.

Lastly, I am not sure if that would be enough for most atheists. It seems if such an event happened people would define it as just another thing that "happens" that we didn't know would happen. I think we would hear something like, "this hasn't happened before and we don't have an explanation but we don't need another God of the gaps argument here, we will find the solution and even if we don't this hasn't happened enough times for us to really know it was of GOd." Then if it happened more people would simply write it off as a natural occurrence.

Obnoxious Oblong said...

"On flies, that was not instantaneous evidence, as I said we'd have to do the genetics. Caterpillar to butterfly isn't instantaneous evidence of design."

Fine, you do the genetics and they come out as incompatible (on our current understanding). But maybe there is a more fundamental level of nature on which that event is completely explicable. You can always advert to hidden natural explanations.

Obnoxious Oblong said...

An argument from mechanisms capable of producing an effect is not an argument from ignorance.

I've no idea what this means or why it is relevant.

I suppose you could say every inductive argument is an argument from ignorance, but that is not usually what we mean by the term.

Sure, so what I am after is an account of arguments from ignorance (assuming such arguments are bad arguments) that lets our ordinary inductive inferences off the hook. I suspect that any such account would also validate ID inferences.

Tony Hoffman said...

Fleming, I haven't responded to you because your questions seem typical of those who have learned about about Evolutionary Theory from those who fear the theory's implications on their religious belief. If you are honestly curious and don't know where to start, I'd go here:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-intro-to-biology.html

I highly recommend reading the book, The Blind Watchmaker -- it should be in your local library, and I'm sure used copies are easy to come by.

And I'm sure that several of the commenters here could recommend an excellent textbook or primer on Evolutionary Biology far better than what I can offer.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anthony:
Cambrian explosion doesn't impress me all that much because for one it took ~10 million years to "explode" and we see transitions in the precambrian period in the fossil record.

yes, we would definitely work hard to discover how this happened (e.g., did bees lay eggs in the fly eggs?). But at some point, I think ID would gain some weight as a reasonable hypothesis. Maybe.

Note how hard it is to get design here. It is hard to get it even when we observe it in the laboratory (my fly to bee example).

But the ID folks have an even harder case, because the data are likely indistinguishable from natural evolution. They used to say God made the earth appear old. Maybe God made it appear as if every animal has evolved acc'd to natural causes. But actually a few times in evolution causes a point mutation here and there. Problem is, that is not something we could ever know.

On general evidence for evolution, Keith Parsons wrote:
"A number of recent books have done a wonderful job of explaining the evidence for evolution. My favorite is Neil Shubin’s Your Inner Fish. Equally cogent is Jerry A. Coyne’s Why Evolution is True. Also excellent are Donald Prothero’s Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters, and Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth. These books leave no reasonable doubt that the diversity of life on earth was the result of a historical process of descent with modification, as Darwin called it. "

I would amend that to have less of a focus on selection, perhaps, but those book suggestions seem useful.

Anthony Fleming said...

Mr. Hoffman,

In a sense you are right. My background did not fear evolution. When I came to Christ though then I started in a certain fundamentalist streak that constantly rejected it for the sake of rejecting it. In the past 6 months I have went through some changes and am interested. I see you guys argue the issue very well and therefore was wondering where to start. Thanks so much for the recommendation.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Best evidence I saw first-hand came from 1) molecular cladistic studies of fish I did as an undergrad, and 2) the natural history museum in Paris, France, and 3) distribution of fruit fly species in Hawaii.

Number two has a stunning collection of fossils and skeletons arranged so that the differences between species is barely perceptible. It starts on the top floor with single-cell organisms, and ends on the ground floor with vertebrates. Those that quibble about micro- versus macro-evolution will leave with a lot of food for thought. I remember leaving that museum thinking that if we had that resource in the US, creationism would die (I know that is false, but that's the impression it left on me).

Blue Devil Knight said...

I don't recommend the blind watchmaker as a starting point it is a bit idiosyncratic and narrow in its view of evolution. It is hard sometimes to separate the poetry from the science there.

Anthony Fleming said...

BDK

I remember hearing people tell me the ole' "God made the earth look old" idea. Even when I always rejected evolution no matter what I still rejected such thoughts.

You wrote, "Cambrian explosion doesn't impress me all that much because for one it took ~10 million years to "explode" and we see transitions in the precambrian period in the fossil record."

I understand that but then couldn't the same thing be said with your fly experiment then? We could say that there were mutations beforehand and that it took how many millions or billions of years to happen. I am not any where near as intelligent as you, but it seems to me that your terms to reject the cambrian as evidence of ID could be used just as easily to reject your ID proving requirement, which at the time would seem miraculous.

You wrote, "Note how hard it is to get design here. It is hard to get it even when we observe it in the laboratory (my fly to bee example)."

Very good point. I plan on taking some time in your recommended readings as well as those from Mr. Hoffman to get a better idea of evolution and the evidence. My problem is that I have trouble starting off each experiment with the fact of evolution. Much of what I have heard from others seems to make some sort of inference which I have trouble following. Like small mutations we have observed = answer for all species in times we haven't observed. I know I sound fundamentalist saying that, which is why I plan to read some of those books.

Thanks again! - tony

Anthony Fleming said...

BDK, I wrote the end of my last comment without seeing your supplied evidence. Very interesting. May have questions later but thanks again. It really means a lot.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anthony never please say you aren't as smart as someone. I know a lot about a few topics (e.g., some topics in neuro and in philosophy) and next to nothing about others (e.g., history of Christianity, theology). In the latter I appear stupid quite often.

As for the fly/bee example it would be different than Cambrian as a) we could observe it directly and b) have access to the genomes to do comparative analysis so we could observe whether there were mutations leading up to it. By hypothesis, we would find that there aren't; we'd find a major genetic change (e.g., new chromosomes not a result of shuffling of the fly chromosomes) that we would have really good reason to think cannot happen using any known mechanism.

Note, even this would likely not be bought as evidence for divine intervention for a long time, after much exploration of the anomaly, exploration of alternate explanations.

This shows just how hard the job of the ID advocate is. I can understand why they would want to bypass the science and go straight to the courtrooms :)

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anthony maybe you should become a Thomist :) Ben?

Anthony Fleming said...

BDK...Lesson learned. I will not say that again.

I agree with the difference between the Cambrian and your lab observation. I get it now, your terms for rejecting Cambrian could be the same ones for rejecting your lab observation but because of more data or "different data" etc you wouldn't reject it as easily.

I know it took a long time to happen but I still can't help but see the similarities between the two (cambrian and your lab) which I don't necessarily think is solved by pointing to how long it took. To me it just doesn't seem like God is rushed being that he is not subject to time.

ID does have a tough job ahead of it. The problem I think is proving what we should find if a God created everything. It is easier if you take Genesis literally, but even many of the early church fathers didn't do that. The point is, one almost has to be God in order to say what God would have done in order to prove that God did it.

On the Thomist thing. I have seen you talk about being a Thomist before only it was in reference to what you would be if you were a theist or a Christian. Are you sure you don't just want me to try it out to see what it is like for you?

:) - tony

Tony Hoffman said...

BDK: "I don't recommend the blind watchmaker as a starting point it is a bit idiosyncratic and narrow in its view of evolution. It is hard sometimes to separate the poetry from the science there."

Interesting. I read it over 20 years ago, so I should probably get another copy (I gave it away a long time ago) and look it over again. I remember enjoying it more than Greatest Show on Earth, and I think the fact that it addresses Paley pretty much head makes it more readable for someone who is curious about evolutionary theory in the context of ID.

I've read some criticism of Dawkins for being, I think, too much of an adaptationist -- is there anything in particular that you think a layman like myself should know about Dawkins' views on evolution that maybe depart from contemporary understanding?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Tony frankly I don't keep up to date with all the stuff any more, so that's why I cited Parsons. I agree that blind watchmaker does take on the design argument nicely, and directly, though. My concern was more as an introduction to evolutionary biology it is a bit narrowly adaptationist (as you already mentioned), and sometimes the rhetoric is a turn-off to someone who isn't already on the boat.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I'd prefer something more modern, that covers evo-devo, for instance, which has exploded since that book came out. Not sure what would fit the bill. Anyone know? 'Endless forms most beautiful' was a great book.

Anthony Fleming said...

By the way, being a Thomist would be pretty sweet. Are you talking about the ones involved in the quarterly review or the approach to theology and philosophy?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anthony, basically those that follow in the tradition of Aquinas. But Ben here knows about all that I know basically nada. It would be interesting to see what you thought. I found it a bit impersonal, but Ben says he doesn't.

Anthony Fleming said...

I get it. I was wondering if you were referring to some groups that call themselves Thomsists or encouraging me to simply be one philosophically. I see now that it is the latter.

I think your right though. I know a few things about being a Thomist but perhaps I should ask Ben for more info. Your referring to BenYachov right?

Blue Devil Knight said...

Yes. And of course Feser is the main Thomistic blogger (is my impression). But be prepared to enter a hosue of mirrors over there...(lots of self reference until you loop back on the original post :))

Anonymous said...

God would be like, you want evidence, here's your evidence! BAM! That fruit fly colony just became a colony of bees, doubter (and we have both trying to interbreed and they can't, and we have video of the female fruit flies giving birth to the bees, and can do genetic tests on both, and find that there are different chromosome numbers, e.g., more in the bees, but the bee chromosomes are not just duplicates or shuffles of the fruit fly ones, but truly unique chromosomes in the context.

And the naturalists would be like, WHAM, we have no idea what caused that but surely there's a naturalistic explanation, it's premature to draw any conclusions about this whatsoever, sudden changes like this are entirely compatible with naturalism, here are some hypothetical possibilities we're entertaining.

Anthony Fleming said...

I've been there before and I have noticed the same.

Anthony Fleming said...

Anon you wrote, "And the naturalists would be like, WHAM, we have no idea what caused that but surely there's a naturalistic explanation, it's premature to draw any conclusions about this whatsoever, sudden changes like this are entirely compatible with naturalism, here are some hypothetical possibilities we're entertaining."

In a sense I agree with you. However, BDK has already addressed this by saying that ID would eventually get more attention. It would, like many things, just take time.

Anonymous said...

In a sense I agree with you. However, BDK has already addressed this by saying that ID would eventually get more attention. It would, like many things, just take time.

No, it wouldn't. Not unless this was happening all over the place, under strictly observed laboratory conditions. And even then, there would be non-design possibilities entertained from the outset: Quantum fluctuations (this sort of thing happens in certain multiverse scenarios..!) Mass hallucination. Trickery (that didn't really happen - we're being duped by someone.) Teleology is apparent in evolutionary theory *as it stands*. It is ignored or explained away. Why should we believe this would change if something inexplicable started to happen?

It's not for nothing that PZ Myers said that no evidence for God was possible in his view, because there was always a naturalistic explanation for any given phenomena, and he would always regard the naturalistic explanation as preferable. Naturalistic explanations are always possible in principle for any state of affairs, because "possibility in principle" is a very low bar.

Here's a question: Does human-orchestrated genetic modification provide evidence for ID? What if something along the lines of, say... a scientist taking some fruitflies and BAM! he's turned them into a colony of bees, count? That's clearly ID. The response may be "that's humans doing it", but ID does not say the designer must be God: Dembski and company expressly admit that the range of possible designers could be humans, impersonal teleological processes, and more.

Anonymous said...

I want to add this. "I would personally be convinced of Y if X took place" does not mean "Therefore we should expect X if Y is true." Jerry Coyne says he would be convinced that God exists if a 900 foot Jesus appeared to him. Does it therefore follow that the lack of a 900 foot Jesus is evidence against God's existence?

Don't confuse someone's personal standard for evidence with an actual reasonable standard for evidence.

Anonymous said...

Oh, one last thing.

One good book to read on the subject of whether evolution itself is designed is the Design Matrix by Mike Gene. He's one example of someone who A) Does not think ID is science, B) Accepts evolution, but C) approaches the question of design and teleology in evolution in a striking way.

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
I would like to make an argument but would first like to understand part of the position against ID.

That is straight-forward. ID uses philosophical arguments and tries to present them as being science. Things they claim are impossible are actually explianed fairly easily.

It seems the essential argument is, "X is a potential proof for ID but it is also a potential proof for evolution and therefore ID does not need to be the primary theory." Am I off base?

Part fo the problem is that ID can explain anything, but not all observations can be explained naturally.

For one, what about the Cambrian explosion? I know it does not meet all your criteria but it does seem to be a "bam" of sorts.

Over how long a period of time would the explosion have to have occured for it not to be a "bam"? 50 million years?

It seems if such an event happened people would define it as just another thing that "happens" that we didn't know would happen.

Some people would write it off as an unexplained, natural occurence. Some would not. I trust BDK's description of his personal standards of credulity, ut then, I happen to agree. That would convince me.

One Brow said...

Sure, so what I am after is an account of arguments from ignorance (assuming such arguments are bad arguments) that lets our ordinary inductive inferences off the hook. I suspect that any such account would also validate ID inferences.

An argument from induction relies on homogeneity (things tend to behave the same way in the same situations). ID argues for non-homogeneity, arguing that what happened in life at some point is idfferent than what we see today.

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

Thank you for the response. BDK covered some of those points but I appreciate your perspective as well.

You wrote, "That is straight-forward. ID uses philosophical arguments and tries to present them as being science. Things they claim are impossible are actually explianed fairly easily."

I agree to an extant. I think some see the evidence pointing to a creator rather than strictly natural events though.

Like DNA. It is an algorithm of biochemical code with a bult-in capacity for transcription and replication which came fully formed with the first appearance of life.

To me it seems that points to intelligence of some sort more than unintelligent and non-rational physical causes.

I haven't done a lot of scientific study which is why many of these discussions are good for me. I will definitely do more reading and take classes in the future.

You wrote, "Part fo the problem is that ID can explain anything, but not all observations can be explained naturally."

I don't think I understand. Do you mean that all observations can be explained naturally? While I don't fully disagree, I think the definition of what is natural is often extended. It seems like if we are able to discover something, even with tools that go beyond capability of our cognitive faculties, then it is considered natural because we can observe it or "see it." In other words, because we can "figure it out" it is natural. The Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). I often wonder that if we discovered God himself we would still try to classify him as Natural.

You wrote, "Over how long a period of time would the explosion have to have occured for it not to be a "bam"? 50 million years?"

Good question and I don't have enough knowledge in the subject to give a good answer. I think it is called the Cambrian explosion because of the relatively short time required for so many diverse life forms to come on the scene. I could look deeper but I am willing to guess it was a "bam" in comparison to other developments. After all, many don't call it the Cambrian explosion for nothing :)

You wrote, "Some people would write it off as an unexplained, natural occurence. Some would not. I trust BDK's description of his personal standards of credulity, ut then, I happen to agree. That would convince me."

I agree with BDK as well and even defended his position earlier.

It is good to note that I don't hinge my belief in God on statements from ID. For one, I think there are more compelling arguments for God's existence.

Secondly, it has always been difficult for me to accept that unintelligence will bring about true intelligence in the assumption that true independent intelligence exists.

Lastly and probably most importantly is an understanding of intelligence outside of myself through subjective understanding in objective events. If I am to roll 5 dice and end up with all sixes I may think it was lucky, especially if playing Yahtzee. If I roll again and get all threes then I may think it was purely coincidence. If I roll again and get a straight to the five and then, on next turn, get all sixes again I may start to wonder if intelligence is involved somewhere.

I know the analogy is weak in the sense that I start with an object which is created using intelligence. Still, For many, they wake up everyday and in their life seem to continue to find intelligence working amongst random events. I am not saying it objectively proves God, I am not that naive. Still, that's how it is with the miracles and things I have seen in my own life.

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
Like DNA. It is an algorithm of biochemical code with a bult-in capacity for transcription and replication which came fully formed with the first appearance of life.

Did you know that there are forms of life that use an slightly altered DNA code? If the code had come fully-formed, I don't think those altered forms would exist.

I don't think I understand. Do you mean that all observations can be explained naturally?

I should have used "hypothetical". Every hypotheitical observation is consistent with ID. many hyposthetical observations can not be explained naturally.

After all, many don't call it the Cambrian explosion for nothing :)

It is unique in the fossil record, as far as I know.

Still, For many, they wake up everyday and in their life seem to continue to find intelligence working amongst random events.

Humans are very good at finding patterns, even in randomness.

Anthony Fleming said...

I forgot to include one thing. As I said earlier, ID has a tough job ahead of it in terms of using natural occurrences or scientific evidence of the natural to prove God's existence.

To do such one would have to prove what God would do or how he would have designed it. Unless someone takes Genesis 1-2 literally I don't think we have such information. It is good to note that even many of the first Church fathers did not take Genesis 1-2 literally.

So I agree that when it comes to most scientific discovery one can look at it two ways in terms of helping prove God's existence.

I am quite conservative but even I oppose most efforts in politics to get ID in the classroom. I don't think it would be a bad idea to teach that some people think evidence points to ID...BUT it isn't strictly scientific etc etc. In my town, and other towns around me, I have found quite a few teachers who are strict Darwinists who also like to use Darwinism to make metaphysical claims saying, "God absolutely doesn't exist because Darwinism is absolutely true." I think those who are so worried about religion or belief in God being lost in the classroom should perhaps start some efforts to get such metaphysical claims out of high school and grade school biology classes rather than trying to get non-science in. I could be wrong. I am open to thoughts on the issue.

Anthony Fleming said...

On your hypothetical, when I quoted you before you had written that all things "can not" be explained naturally. I see now it was just a typo.

I am having trouble finding more source on whether DNA was fully formed or not. I did not know that about DNA being altered in some life-forms. Looks like I will have to do more homework. Thank you.

Anthony Fleming said...

BTW...even with altered versions in different life-forms it still seems to point more towards a creator than not. At least to me. I still have a lot to learn about this type of stuff.

Tony Hoffman said...

Fleming: “I have found quite a few teachers who are strict Darwinists who also like to use Darwinism to make metaphysical claims saying, "God absolutely doesn't exist because Darwinism is absolutely true."”

This seems like an exaggeration to me. It seems more likely that you view the fact that a science teacher, for instance, sees no need for God in scientific explanations as being equivalent to a statement that science proves that God does not exist. But the two are not equivalent.

It is one thing to say that God is not revealed in scientific investigation, and that God appears scientifically meaningless, and another to declare that “God absolutely doesn't exist because Darwinism is absolutely true.” In fact, the last statement seems so outlandish that I doubt you would really be able to find a teacher who would agree to the statement. (Then again, maybe you do really have some odd teachers around there.)

In my experience, things work the other way. I know that when I look back at my high school biology experience, for instance, we studied structures and phyla, etc., but spent very little time on evolution per se. I can’t help but think that high school biology textbooks, school boards, and teachers all struggle to find the best way to teach scientific facts in a way that least provokes those who feel the facts of biology offend their religious beliefs.

Anthony Fleming said...

Tony you wrote, "... It seems more likely that you view the fact that a science teacher, for instance, sees no need for God in scientific explanations as being equivalent to a statement that science proves that God does not exist. But the two are not equivalent."

I agree that the two are not equivalent. I think my previous comments demonstrate my acceptance, to an extant, that God is not necessarily needed for scientific explanation. Not all of the teachers I referenced are biology teachers either.

You wrote, "It is one thing to say that God is not revealed in scientific investigation, and that God appears scientifically meaningless, and another to declare that “God absolutely doesn't exist because Darwinism is absolutely true.” In fact, the last statement seems so outlandish that I doubt you would really be able to find a teacher who would agree to the statement. (Then again, maybe you do really have some odd teachers around there.)"

Well, I don't think I am going to be able to prove my point by getting one of those teachers on here to volunteer. Lets just say that I have actually met teachers who have taken such positions. Here in Wisconsin we have some crazy people. Just look at some of the serial killers that have come out of here :). That was a total joke and I am not comparing teachers to serial killers.

To be more serious, have you seen what Wisconsin teachers are willing to say lately? It's been all over the news for a while. Calling our governor dictator and tyrant etc. The false dilemmas, ad-hominems, appeal to authority, and appeal to motive are a dime a dozen around here right now. I'm not ripping on teachers, I have quite a few good friends who are teachers. Lets just say there are definite illogical and unscientific comparisons going on.

Anthony Fleming said...

I should have said this as well,

Yes I have heard such exact claims as the one I posted. I haven't heard that from everyone but I have heard other very interesting statements as well...

Tony you wrote, "I can’t help but think that high school biology textbooks, school boards, and teachers all struggle to find the best way to teach scientific facts in a way that least provokes those who feel the facts of biology offend their religious beliefs."

I agree and I try not to be one of those who makes it more difficult.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Anthony wrote:
ID would eventually get more attention. It would, like many things, just take time.

This is exactly right. To overthrow 150+ years of naturalistic evolutionary thinking (and strong evidence for this in origin explanations), it will take time, thorough exploration of alternate hypotheses, etc.. To just say, with every unexplained phenomenon in the lab, 'Wow it must not have happened naturally' would kill experimental science. This is because 99.9% of all experiments are done precisely because there is something we don't understand, we need data about it. The first presumption is that there is some series of natural events we don't yet understand.

This is what many don't understand. The presumption of natural mechanism is extremely well-worn, well-justified, and will take some strong evidence to overcome it. It would be as big as the emergence of special relativity and quantum mechanics combined. Overthrow one of the most key guiding heuristics/methodological aids in science.