Intelligent Design

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 9, 2002.

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    JIMMY HIGGINS
    From what I'm reading here, ID is not YEC, however YEC can be ID, kinda like all Nazis are German, but not all Germans are Nazis. I admit, I had the two confused.

    However, the circumstances, what it appears to being said is that ID can be falsible by determining whether a process can occur through natural means. Therefore plunge waterfalls, such as Eugenia or Niagara, occur naturally as the water scours away weaken shales on the bottom waiting for the harder dolostone to fall from lack of support. Other processes such as the water cycle, watershed to clouds then cloud to rain then rain to watershed are natural as well.

    The question I have is, just how large of a process does one look at to determine whether it can occur naturally? For instance, the "fine-tuning" of the universe. Take each individual fine-tuning and the probabilities are good that nature can make that happen. However, when adding the tuned ideals, the numbers become insanely incredible by happenstance. So when evaluating ID, does the "fine-tuning" become a study of individual parts or the whole system. In addition, what is the limit or what leads to such a choice when scrutinizing a process.

    More specifically, when does something become ruled as un-natural? Take a man made element such as Californium. This element does not exist naturally. When made in a laboratory, it exists for a fraction of a second.
    Because it is not observed in the universe and is created in a laboratory, it is safe to say, that Californium is something that exists that is not natural. In light of recent biologic attacks at the hands of right-wing extremists, the biological knowledge of anthrax is out. Some places can alter the anthrax so that it can become more buoyant in the air or be immune to antibiotics. These changes all occur in the lab and have not been seen in nature.
    Therefore, we can, again, state that these additions to anthrax are not natural.
    However, what puzzles me is that ID can't possibly, can it?, recreate certain instances to test whether something can occur naturally, such as the creation of the universe. If certain ideals are currently unknown and some ideals are currently well out of our abilities of recreation because of technology, what are the assumed limitations of falsibility of ID? What do ID scientists believe they can affirmly say something is in need of an ID through current science and technology and what do scientists believe they can not affirmly say something is in need of an ID because of current limitations of science and technology?

    ZERATUL
    I agree with your post, Jimmy, but I have 3 nitpicks.

    1. Hitler was a Nazi, but he was Austrian.

    2. I used to work with Californium. Most of the isotopes have half-lives measured in years. Here are a few:
    Californium-249, half-life 351 years,
    Californium-250, half-life 13 years,
    Californium-251, half-life 890 years and
    Californium-252, half-life of 2.6 years.

    3. Unless I missed some recent breaking news, it is mere speculation that right-wing extremists are involved. It is certainly possible, but I would be hesitant to state it as a fact.

    By the way, my whole problem with the criteria used to infer design is the logic that is used. For example, I was reading through some of the links on one of the other threads. One of the first examples they provided was Paley’s argument that a watch must have a watchmaker. That is a terrible example because we all know that a watch is designed. One of the next examples was trying to define specified complexity. They presented 2 text strings:

    FOURSCOREANDSEVENYEARSAGOOURFATHERS...

    And

    ZOEFFNPBINNGQZAMZQPEGOXSYFMRTEXRNYG...

    Now, the first was used as an example of specified complexity. I couldn’t really understand why. Since I speak English, I recognize it. What if I didn’t? It wouldn’t make any more sense to me than the 2nd string, which might actually mean something in Armenian. So, when we see a string like GATTACA, I am still without a way to test that string for design.

    The other serious shortcoming is that applying the criteria can lead to illogical conclusions. If you have criteria for determining design, they should be consistent. However, any test that I have ever seen proposed for specifying design concludes that the designer must also have a designer. The designer is obviously very complex, and would seem to fulfill all the criteria of a designed entity. So we have an illogical argument.


    HELEN
    Some responses here --

    A lot of people have the ID and YEC groups confused. This is largely due to the deliberate attempt by several groups to promote that confusion. I'm glad I've been able to help clarify at least one thing for one person here!

    Again, the concept of ID being falsifiable is a wrong concept altogether. When I take test strips out to the pool or the spa to check chlorine levels, no matter what the reading, it is not a matter of 'falsifying' the use of the test strip. And because the test strip will not test for bacteria levels does not mean it is a bad test strip. It has a limited use, and it's good for that use. Now if it could be shown that the test strips I buy at the store don't really test for chlorine at all, then I would certainly be using the wrong thing.

    ID is sort of like that. It is not designed to test EVERYTHING that occurs in nature. It can't! It has never claimed to. How far the testing concept can be extended is still a matter of debate among the leading men and women.
    Cellular structures certainly qualify, as do living organisms in total, or even parts of them. Regarding the anthrax, they are using the same sort of tests ID uses to determine where the anthrax came from and whether it can be found naturally or is, indeed, artificially modified. There are tests for this kind of thing, based upon the knowledge of the people involved. ID is no different.

    It is perfectly fine to disagree with the use of this kind of test altogether, but that only says something about your opinion of the test, not about whether or not it is actually valid.

    I think what fries a lot of people is something from a philosophical/theological level. If there is ANYTHING in nature that can be said to be intelligently designed, then the reality of some kind of Intelligent Designer must be seriously considered. It is not ID itself which bothers those who are against it from what I can see, but what it implies if only one thing shows clear evidence of ID. This is why so many will not attack the method itself, but the results or the 'optimality' of the design. But neither of these things invalidate ID itself -- only someone's acceptance of the possible results.

    I posted before regarding the elements of the test which would make something 'un-natural' -- the Dembski filter in conjunction with specified complexity are the pretty commonly accepted methodologies involved. The Dembski filter asks first if the phenomena is the result of natural law. If not, is it the result of probability? If not, then does it exhibit specified complexity? If the respective answers are no, no, and yes, then intelligent design can be concluded.

    Those of us who are YEC in the ID movement are not desperately grabbing for anything. In fact, the YEC members are quite apart from the bulk of the YEC world from what I have read. ID gets attacked by the majority of YEC's for stopping short of identifying the designer, so ID is accused by many YEC's of copping out. The evolutionists see ID as some kind of front for YEC, in the meantime, and accuse them of being deceptive. It's an interesting thing to see -- fights all based on ignorance!

    As a YEC myself, I can look at ID and say, "But of course!" concerning intelligent design. I have never had a problem with it. Since they are dealing with natural phenomena using the same tests available to archaeologists and forensics and such, they should not go beyond what those tests can indicate. As ID, they don't. As individuals, the conversations can get hot and heavy, as ID includes people with many different philosophical and theological views. Nevertheless, the approach that ID takes is supported by them all.

    On the other hand, I don't feel any attempt to dissociate from me personally by any of those involved in the movement. The fact that ID is NOT YEC is something, however, both groups are trying to get through to people, despite the howlings of Eugenie Scott et al.

    However you hit the nail on the head, perhaps accidently, regarding the reason the evolutionist apologist groups are so eager to have ID confused with creationism. That way they can keep it out of the schools as something 'religious,' which it is not. I don't know how long they will be able to continue their hysterical chants about ID and creationism, or even YEC, being the same, but it is a known lie. Do they know it? Yes, they do.

    Regarding complexity:
    Bill Dembski equates complexity with probability, actually. I disagree with his use of this because I think it involves some avoidable circularity. This summer, one presenter at the Discontinuity Conference presented a measurable definition of complexity by dealing with ratios concerning how many input connections are made and how many output connections exist. This was a computer engineer, I think! But there is a much older and more standard way to quantify complexity, and one which I personally prefer: how many different internal parts are there and how many interconnections between these parts? Both are matters of simple counting in the long run, with the higher numbers defining the greater complexity. I have seen arguments regarding the weighting of interconnections vs. number of different parts, but I leave that up to the experts! The fact is, though, there are several ways to quantify complexity so it can be worked with, depending on what the discussing parties agree upon.

    About the Paley's watch issue... the reason we know it is designed is because we have experience to rely on. If a toddler were to run across a shiny rock and a watch, there is a good chance both would be equal in her eyes. Design is something experience teaches us to recognize. So if someone who was totally unfamiliar with watches or timepieces in general, but old enough to have experienced the idea of purposeful design in other parts of his life were to look at a shiny rock and a watch, design would certainly be inferred regarding the watch. In that scenario, Paley's argument is certainly a good one.

    One of the points regarding checking for design in anything is that is depends on the experience of the 'checker' as much as anything else. It is sort of along the lines of the fact that certain things were described as 'chaotic' until a design was finally recognized. I'm not talking about ID here, but simply the recognition of design as being dependent upon the knowledge and experience the observer already has.

    So ID has to tread carefully in many ways. But that, as well, does not invalidate it.

    The 'designer requiring a designer' is a false argument unless the first designer can be identified and observed. ID depends on both. That is why it does not do more than infer a designer by identifying intelligent design. It is the same idea at the scene of a murder. The investigators look to see if it was an accidental death or a murder. Identifying it as a murder does not identify the murderer, but it does mean there IS a murderer. Now one can judge the murderer as smart or dumb or clumsy or sharp or whatever. That is an opinion entirely apart from the fact of the murderer. One does not look at a crime scene and say, "This couldn't be murder -- it was not done the way I would have done it." And yet that is precisely the argument many are making in opposing ID -- "It can't be designed, it's sub-optimal!" That, actually, has nothing to do with whether it was designed or not! That is a judgment about the designer if it was designed.

    Does any of that clear anything up?


    JIMMY HIGGINS
    Helen, thanks for those helpful comments. It puts the ID into a more understandable light.


    The Dembski filter asks first if the phenomena is the result of natural law. If not, is it the result of probability? If not, then does it exhibit specified complexity? If the respective answers are no, no, and yes, then intelligent design can be concluded.

    So it appears that the underlying, and most vulnerable, part of ID study is the knowledge of natural law. So what has ID determined to be needful of a creator based on our current and meager understanding of natural law?


    HELEN
    So it appears that the underlying, and most vunerable, part of ID study is the knowledge of natural law. So what has ID determined to be needful of a creator based on our current and meager understanding of natural law?

    I think it is fair to say that ID folk, like scientists everywhere, can only deal with the laws we are aware of now! By the criteria we have to deal with, as I mentioned above, cells and living organisms certainly qualify for being judged as intelligently designed.

    There is another criteria I have played around with myself, but it's still in a thinking stage -- could one say that ID might be considered (only considered, please!) if one were to see elements doing what they do not do naturally?
    For instance, rocks naturally just sort of lie around or fall down from cliffs and such. When one sees a cemented pile of rocks with water coming out the middle, one infers someone designed a fountain. The rocks are not 'doing' what they normally do. The verbiage is bad there, but can you see what I am playing with?


    JIMMY HIGGINS
    Well, if you think cells are intelligently designed, there is no need to move to larger things such as organisms that consist of ID'ed cells. But why is a cell ID'ed?


    FROGGIE
    I have a couple of question about intelligent design.

    1) How DO you falsify it? Do any of us really know or understand God well enough to be able to make statements about how and why He created everything? Is there some type of observation that if we saw it, we would say, "Oh, that's so dumbly designed, God must not exist?" To me, that seems like a rather silly argument for the existence of an intelligent designer. How do we know what God intended, or thought was hard or easy? Would God mean less to people if creating life was simple?

    2) If we prove a designer exists, how do we go about studying His motivations? For instance, can we really say, "God gave us an appendix for this reason?" For sure, there are many biological structures that seem designed to us, because they are so intricate and complex and marvelous (I am a biologist after all ). But there are also things we see in nature that seem to be a big waste--our appendix, our wisdom teeth, our junk DNA. Why would God give us a worthless organ like an appendix thats only purpose seems to be to employ abdominal surgeons? To me, the mechanisms of intelligent design seem to be philosophical debates, and not scientific ones. Any ideas out there on this subject?

    3) I think about the blind watchmaker or the tornado in a junkyard, and I wonder, are humans making a huge arrogant error by using these analogies? First of all, we KNOW that humans did not create life. So can we really use human invention as an analogy for Gods (or natures) inventions? I have a feeling we can't. I've heard the probability arguments. But let's say that the probability of making DNA from the elements was really high. Would people then turn away from God? Why do people seem to evoke God as an explanation only because it seems hard to make life? Even if creating life was really easy to us, does that mean God didn't make it?


    MR BEN
    [Regarding Dembski’s filter:] This filter works quite well.. it just doesn't come up with the answer Dembski would prefer.
    For example, we apply the filter to an evolved organism...
    1. Is a biological organisms the result of a natural law. Answer: Yes, evolution by mutation plus natural selection.
    2. Is it the result of probability. Answer: Yes, the laws of probability generate the random mutations which are the raw source of the information produced in genetic and evolutionary systems. The entire body of chance mutations is then culled by natural selection, leaving only those which reflect positive replication traits for a given environment.
    3. Does a biological organism show "specified complexity" (in creationist parlance. Answer: Yes, by retaining only the parts of 'random' information which permits a replicator to continue to replicate, the set of information describing the replicator's survival environment is coded into the genome. This is an automatic result of having a replicator, mutations, and culling of purely natural selection, and has been experimentally verified.

    So biological and artificial genetic organisms fail Dembski's test.
     
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    ZERATUL
    Helen: The 'designer requiring a designer' is a false argument unless the first designer can be identified and observed. ID depends on both. That is why it does not do more than infer a designer by identifying intelligent design. It is the same idea at the scene of a murder. The investigators look to see if it was an accidental death or a murder. Identifying it as a murder does not identify the murderer, but it does mean there IS a murderer. Now one can judge the murderer as smart or dumb or clumsy or sharp or whatever. That is an opinion entirely apart from the fact of the murderer. One does not look at a crime scene and say, "This couldn't be murder -- it was not done the way I would have done it."

    Zeratul: So are you then proposing a noncomplex designer? Your analogy of the murderer is off the mark. We may not be able to say whether he was smart or dumb, but that doesn't mean we can't know anything about him. We at least know that he was capable of murder. In the case of the designer, we would know that he is capable of designing very complex systems. I would expect that he is then a very complex entity. Or maybe you have an example of a system being designed by something that was not also designed (according to the ID designer criteria)?


    JOHN PAUL
    For those debating ID, you should read this first:

    IDers are From Mars, ID Critics are From Venus http://www.idthink.net/mars/index.htm

    and then this:

    ID FAQ http://www.arn.org/id_faq.htm

    HELEN
    First of all, thank you John Paul for two excellent links.

    On to some responses:

    Zeratul: In the case of the designer, we would know that he is capable of designing very complex systems. I would expect that he is then a very complex entity. Or maybe you have an example of a system being designed by somethingthat was not also designed (according to the ID designer criteria)?

    No. I am saying that the designer, not being part of the physical universe that we are aware of, would then be unobservable. I said nothing about the complexity of the designer. However, you bring up an interesting point.
    You say that because life is complex, you would expect a complex designer. And yet you reject that entire hypothesis on the grounds of believing that time and chance and no intelligence at all resulted in this complex life?
    That's an interesting problem, I think!

    As far as something being designed which was not also designed, that is essentially the point of the First Cause argument that has been around for, literally, millennia. At some point there has to be an uncaused cause. That is a logical necessity in a universe of cause and effect.


    To Mr Ben: You are presuming evolution without any evidence that one life form was ever able to turn into another life form via time, chance, mutations, and natural selection. That presumption invalidates your scenario there. There is no extant evidence that mutations plus natural selection have ever been able to cause even a bacteria to become anything other than not only a bacteria, but one that is still identified quite objectively as a variant of the original.
    It has not even changed out of that category.

    Yes, random mutations occur. Most seem to be neutral. Of those that are expressed, it is a minimum of a thousand to one that they will be negative -- that is damaging and/or lethal to the host organism. Thus probability alone mitigates against the idea you are proposing.

    And, in the meantime, natural selection is something which deletes; it does not add. In a situation of environmental pressure, those organisms which are not suited will die. It may be the entire population. It may not be. Whatever the result, the potential variability of that population just lost a percentage of its possibilities in the individuals which did not make it. This is called climbing a 'fitness peak.' A fitness peak is one where a population is so extremely and uniquely suited to one particular environment due primarily to natural selection that it can no longer deal with other environments. The result is either endangered or extinct populations.

    In other words, you have to tie your scenario to real life, not to what you simply believe happened. ID cannot deal with any belief system, including that one. It deals with the actual evidence and that's all.


    To Froggie: I responded a couple of times regarding the testing and falsifying argument. Did you read them? I think one was almost specifically to you last night.

    ID does not propose to say anything about the how or why of life. It only proposes the idea that we have, by scientific means, the ability to look at something and determine intelligent design. It simply does not go any further than that. On the other hand, the silliness of the argument of 'non-optimality' is exactly as you suggest.
    But ID does not deal with that, either.

    Regarding 'vestigials,' though -- it is an evolutionary presumption that they are vestigials! The appendix is certainly part of the immune system, is it not? And yes, human jaws may have gotten smaller to the extent that some (certainly not nearly as many as are pulled) wisdom teeth simply don't have the room to erupt without shoving the others around quite a bit. But is this a matter of vestigial? And, as far as 'junk DNA' is concerned, I think that is more a judgment of our ignorance than of the DNA itself. I'm sure there are degenerate portions, but not nearly as much as proposed. We are finding that there are genes we did not know about, which come into play only at particular times, such as stress. So we just need to be careful about labeling something like that which really is probably more a matter of ignorance on our parts than anything else.

    Regarding your arrogance argument, that's in interesting one. But all we can do with ID is the same as we do with everything else -- go off of our own experience. For instance, the argument that so much DNA is 'junk' may also be an arrogant argument, no? It is presuming we know enough about DNA to label certain sections as junk, but we keep getting surprised.

    In the meantime, what-if's do give us interesting mental exercises, and I cannot say what 'easy DNA' would do to any of the people. But I do know that the fact that DNA is incredibly complex is a real one, and one which defies probability or natural law. It is also specified to do certain tasks at certain times in certain ways. This would mark it, in ID terms, as intelligently designed.


    Jimmy: you ask why we might consider a cell intelligently designed. By the ID test it would qualify because

    1. There is nothing in natural laws that we are aware of which produce a living cell from elemental substances (this is the entire goal of the abiogenesis research, however. But what is funny here is that they keep injecting intelligent design into all their experiments and still don't come up with a living cell out of elemental substances!)

    2. The mathematical probability of not just the cell itself, but any of its internal organelles or its lipid membranes coming together by chance is nil.

    3. The cell is complex. It has hundreds of different parts and hundreds of different connections between/among those different parts. There is systematic interaction of parts within the cell.

    4. Each cell part has a specification as per the work that it does to maintain the cell. And the more we dig into the cell, the more specified complexity we find.

    Thus, by the ID test, the cell is intelligently designed. Now, you may disagree with this test, and that is certainly your right to do so. Even if you have no actual grounds except "I don't like it," you are entitled to your opinion.

    But that is the ID test and that is how it works, in very rough fashion, with the cell.


    FROGGIE

    I agree with much of what you said. I still don’t know exactly how ID theories can work though without making a priori assumptions about the designer. We are extremely good at telling if something is man-made or not since we understand human invention and how that works. But I believe in order for ID to work, we must know some basic objective characteristics of the designer. To use another analogy: Let’s say we were trying to discern paintings that were either from Monet or from Picasso. We can sum up characteristics of both artists by using known paintings. Then if we come across an unknown, we see which pattern fits it to guess the artist. But for intelligent design—we don’t really have two systems to compare that we know the mechanisms for. I guess we can compare life forms to human forms. But pretty much all we can say about life is that it’s not designed by us (the only “creators” that we really understand well enough to make assumptions about!). While ID certainly provokes many interesting philosophical questions, I do not see its value in contributing much to scientific understanding any more or less than evolutionary theory does. Evolution equally does a bad job in explaining the “whys.” For instance, I am a firm believer that studying our closest relatives—the chimps and bonobos—may give us insight into our own behavior, ie the tenedency to fight over territory and some of our sexual behavior. But evolutionary theory can’t really tell us WHY chimps evolved to be territorial. Just like gravitational theory can’t explain why we have the particular planets that we do. It can only explain how they orbit.

    I agree with your conclusion that humans often don’t know enough about biology to make statements like “this DNA is junk.” But I think the strongest arguments for evolution do not require our complete understanding of each organ or gene. Instead the DNA sequence analysis coupled with the fossil record and homology studies either make our evolutionary relationships either a big coincidence, or very likely that evolution occurred. I’ve heard the argument that a designer would also make things similar to each other—why would He invent 80 kinds of mitochondria when he can use just one? But then we get back to the problem of trying to understand the mind or intentions of the designer. You are right—we are ignorant about much of biology. But we are even more ignorant about this designer’s mind—as evidenced by the thousands of definitions of Him throughout the world. If only one religion is correct, than there are a lot of ignorant and wrong people about this designer—correct? At least for the most part, biologists are on the same page (and we admit what we know and what we don’t).

    You are right that we can only go off our own experiences in studying nature. But how many experiences do we have with seeing a designer in action creating universes or life forms? If we saw this designer in action, would we even realize it?


    ZERATUL
    Helen: You say that because life is complex, you would expect a complex designer. And yet you reject that entire hypothesis on the grounds of believing that time and chance and no intelligence at all resulted in this complex life? That's an interesting problem, I think!

    Z: Not exactly. I say that if someone is capable of designing DNA, for example, then that entity would demonstrate a great deal of complexity. I accept the fact that there are known mechanisms for naturally increasing the length of a strand of DNA. Base pairs are added without any human intervention. So I am comfortable with the fact that DNA could change over generations from a more primitive form into something more complex. This does not require a designer. But if you want to speculate that an entity capable of synthesizing the DNA for all of the “kinds” on the earth would not be immensely complex, then that is something I can’t swallow.

    Unless you can envision a scenario in which the designer would not be immensely complex, we are now free to test this hypothetical designer for evidence of design. We don’t have to know too much about the designer because we already know he must be immensely complex. Applying the ID test concludes the he must be designed. Therefore, either the designer was designed, or the test is flawed.


    Helen: As far as something being designed which was not also designed, that is essentially the point of the First Cause argument that has been around for, literally, millennia. At some point there has to be an uncaused cause.
    That is a logical necessity in a universe of cause and effect.


    Z: The necessity of an uncaused cause is contradicted by quantum mechanics. Here is some relevant information:

    “Premise 6 (Everything that had a beginning in time has a cause) conflicts with quantum mechanics because, as we have seen, quantum electrodynamics claims that subatomic particles can come into existence through a vacuum fluctuation. These particles have a beginning in time, but they have no cause because vacuum fluctuations are purely random events. Such particles, then, serve as a counterexample to premise 6.” Source: Big Bang Article

    And from Stephen Hawking:

    “There are something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy.
    However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus, in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.”



    Helen: You are presuming evolution without any evidence that one life form was ever able to turn into another life form via time, chance, mutations, and natural selection.

    Z: But aren’t you presuming design without any evidence that a designer exists? You seem to apply a double standard.


    Helen: Yes, random mutations occur. Most seem to be neutral. Of those that are expressed, it is a minimum of a thousand to one that they will be negative -- that is damaging and/or lethal to the host organism. Thus probability alone mitigates against the idea you are proposing.

    Z: Probabilities applied in a vacuum are meaningless (unless the value is 0 or 1). If I have a probability of 1/10 trillion of X happening, and there are 100 trillion opportunities for X to happen, then X will surely happen despite the low probability.


    Helen: It only proposes the idea that we have, by scientific means, the ability to look at something and determine intelligent design.

    Z: Please provide a scenario by which the designer undergoes this test and is not found to also have been designed. Any scenario. Please.
    That’s probably enough for now.



    JIMMY HIGGINS
    Jimmy: you ask why we might consider a cell intelligently designed. By the ID test it would qualify because…

    I appreciate the information. To be honest, discussing with some people that regard their method of idealogy is rarely as fruitful as it seems to be with you.

    With regards to celluar complexity, please allow me to step a level down from celluar interactivity to molecular activity. Lets take the interaction of two molecules. They interact together, in a natural way. However, the forces that control them are complex.

    Now take complex, man-made computer programs for artificial intelligence. Some of these programs have exhibited "personalities" on their own. Just based on their need of survival, they implore certain traits. Now these programs had their purpose, but then "mutated" their own design. When is it deemed plausible that molecules could do the same?
     
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    HELEN
    I'll try to do all three responses in one post…

    To Froggie:
    Anyway, the basic thing behind testability of ID is simply that a test method either works or it doesn't, and you either agree with the results or you don't. But in any event, it is not like a hypothesis that you can actually test to falsify. It is a proposed way of testing at least some natural phenomena to determine if there is EVIDENCE of intelligent design. It's really that simple. Did I do the murder scenario on this thread? I've done it twice now - it's like finding out if a corpse died naturally – accidently -- or was murdered. If the conclusion is murder, then finding the murderer is a whole 'nother investigation. But the murderer is presumed at that point.

    You wrote: I agree with much of what you said. I still don't know exactly how ID theories can work though without making a priori assumptions about the designer. We are extremely good at telling if something is man-made or not since we understand human invention and how that works. But I believe in order for ID to work, we must know some basic objective characteristics of the designer. To use another analogy: Let's say we were trying to discern paintings that were either from Monet or from Picasso. We can sum up characteristics of both artists by using known paintings. Then if we come across an unknown, we see which pattern fits it to guess the artist. But for intelligent design-we don't really have two systems to compare that we know the mechanisms for.

    I don't think the analogy works. With paintings you recognize design from the start and then you look for the designer (artist). When design is not presumed, how would you know if something with paint on it was designed intentionally or not? What would be your criteria? See, ID starts all the way back there. If design is concluded, then looking for the Designer would involve teleology, theology, philosophy, hopefully a little logic, and any revelation He would have given us (if it's a He). So it really is much more like coming on a PRESUMED crime scene to see if a crime really has been committed. No criminal of any variety is even presumed unless there is a crime that has been found to be committed. Does that make sense?

    Froggie: I guess we can compare life forms to human forms. But pretty much all we can say about life is that it's not designed by us (the only "creators" that we really understand well enough to make assumptions about!). While ID certainly provokes many interesting philosophical questions, I do not see its value in contributing much to scientific understanding any more or less than evolutionary theory does.

    It might not… it's simply a proposed method of testing natural phenomena using the same methods and knowledge we use in other fields of science. I'll tell you where I think the possible weakness might be if we try to get too 'large' with it - if there is a Designer, then the argument can easily be made that everything in the universe is designed and therefore we have nothing outside of maybe a teenager's bedroom to judge 'non-design' by. So I think working with this method on a scale we can deal with, such as cells and organisms, is probably a lot wiser than trying to apply it to anything on a cosmological scale!


    Evolution equally does a bad job in explaining the "whys." For instance, I am a firm believer that studying our closest relatives-the chimps and bonobos-may give us insight into our own behavior, ie the tenedency to fight over territory and some of our sexual behavior. But evolutionary theory can't really tell us WHY chimps evolved to be territorial. Just like gravitational theory can't explain why we have the particular planets that we do. It can only explain how they orbit.

    You are presuming we are related to the chimps and bonobos. I don't agree with that presumption, but I think you already know that….grin. And no, gravitational theory cannot tell us why we have the planets we do - in part because we are still not sure what gravity is! However I recently came across something called the Bode-Titius Law - takes a multiple of 3 - eg - 0x3; 1x3; 2x3; 4x3; 8x3; 16x3; 32x3;
    To this multiple of 3 you then add 4 and divide by 10.
    Result is average distance of planets from Sun in Astronomical Units
    Thus:
    0x3 = 0 + 4 = 4 then 4/10 = 0.4 compares with distance of Mercury = 0.39 AU
    1x3 = 3 + 4 = 7 then 7/10 = 0.7 compares with distance of Venus = 0.72 AU
    2x3 = 6 + 4 = 10 then 10/10 = 1.0 compares with distance of Earth = 1.00 AU
    4x3 = 12 + 4 = 16 then 16/10 = 1.6 compares with distance of Mars = 1.52 AU
    8x3 = 24 + 4 = 28 then 28/10 = 2.8 compares with asteroid Ceres = 2.77 AU
    16x3 = 48 + 4 = 52 then 52/10 = 5.2 compares with Jupiter = 5.20 AU
    32x3 = 96 + 4 = 100 then 100/10 = 10.0 compares with Saturn = 9.54 AU
    64x3 = 192 + 4 = 196 then 196/10 = 19.6 compares with Uranus = 19.19 AU
    128x3 = 384 + 4 = 388 then 388/10 = 38.8 cf Neptune/Pluto system = 36.03 AU

    I cut and pasted that from an email I received I think about a week ago. I honestly have no idea as to its value or accuracy, but it's interesting at least! My point here would simply be there is so much to learn that there are a lot of presumptions that maybe should not be presumed yet!


    I agree with your conclusion that humans often don't know enough about biology to make statements like "this DNA is junk." But I think the strongest arguments for evolution do not require our complete understanding of each organ or gene. Instead the DNA sequence analysis coupled with the fossil record and homology studies either make our evolutionary relationships either a big coincidence, or very likely that evolution occurred. I've heard the argument that a designer would also make things similar to each other-why would He invent 80 kinds of mitochondria when he can use just one?

    I have a hard time thinking you would falsify creation because you don't understand the 'why' of the Creator! But to respond to your other points in brief - I don't think homology is a good argument, and I know the fossil record isn't. DNA sequence analysis can point to either design or evolution, certainly. Regarding homology, I think Wells did a good job explaining its problems in Icons of Evolution. I am taking the following from pages 61-62 of the first edition:

    While Owen [originator of the concept of homology] regarded organisms as constructed on a common plan, Darwin regarded them as descended from a common ancestor.
    …The link between homology and common descent was so central to Darwin's theory that his followers actually redefined homology to mean features inherited from a common ancestor. Even after homology was re-defined, however, the Darwinian account remained incomplete without a mechanism to explain why homologous features were so similar in such different organisms. When neo-Darwinism arose in the 1930s and the 1940s, it seemed to have a solution to this problem: Homologous features were attributed to similar genes inherited from a common ancestor.

    Modern Darwinists continue to use homology as evidence for their theory. In fact, next to the Darwinian tree of life, homology in vertebrate limbs is probably the most common icon of evolution in biology textbooks. But the icon conceals two serious problems: First, if homology is defined as similarity due to common descent, then it is circular reasoning to use it as evidence for common descent. Second, biologists have known for decades that homologous features are not due to similar genes, so the mechanism that produces them remains unknown.


    As far as the fossil record is concerned, Henry Gee, an editor of Nature, in his book, In Search of Deep Time, does a good job explaining why that can't be used. I admit that I am taking selected quotes from a series of different pages, and I want to make sure you understand that I know he is a staunch evolutionist. The purpose of Deep Time was to present cladistics in place of the fossil record. With it understood that I am not trying to misrepresent him, I think what he has to say about fossils and the fossil record is important:

    …it is impossible to know, for certain, that the fossil I hold in my hand is my lineal ancestor. Even if it really was my ancestor, I could never know this unless every generation between the fossil and me had preserved some record of its existence and its pedigree. The fossil itself if not accompanied by a helpful label.

    … The obstacle to this certain knowledge about lineal ancestry lies in the extreme sparseness of the fossil record….. The intervals of time that separate the fossils are so huge that we cannot say anything definite about their possible connection through ancestry and descent.

    … A fossil can be thought of as an event in Deep Time. Compared with the immensity of time in which it is found, a fossil is a point in time of zero extent: a fossil either exists or it doesn't. By itself, a fossil is a punctuation mark, an interjection, an exclamation, even, but it is not a word, or even a sentence, let alone a whole story. Fossils are the tableaux that are illuminated by the occasional shafts of light that punctuate the corridor of Deep Time. You cannot connect one fossil with any other to form a narrative.

    …In the end, we never see fossils as they are, but only imperfectly, in the light of models that are more or less approximate. Given this constraint, it is surely hard enough to make progress understanding the evidence we have without leaping way beyond it, with presuppositions about chains of ancestry and descent, and about missing links. Such presuppositions are exposed as vacuous once the evidence finally catches up.



    Froggie: But then we get back to the problem of trying to understand the mind or intentions of the designer. You are right-we are ignorant about much of biology. But we are even more ignorant about this designer's mind-as evidenced by the thousands of definitions of Him throughout the world. If only one religion is correct, than there are a lot of ignorant and wrong people about this designer-correct?

    Yes.


    At least for the most part, biologists are on the same page (and we admit what we know and what we don't).

    Non-biologists credit you with knowing a LOT more than you do…


    You are right that we can only go off our own experiences in studying nature. But how many experiences do we have with seeing a designer in action creating universes or life forms? If we saw this designer in action, would we even realize it?

    Evidently a lot of people don't! But this, then, is the purpose of ID - to get away from the subjective which is where religions start, and aim for straight scientific method of a kind which works in this sort of situation, and see what we come up with.


    Zeratul : You are the one bringing up the complexity of the Designer as an issue. I have never disagreed with you about that! I am simply saying that because He is unobservable, ID, like the rest of science, cannot deal with Him!

    You wrote: I accept the fact that there are known mechanisms for naturally increasing the length of a strand of DNA. Base pairs are added without any human intervention. So I am comfortable with the fact that DNA could change over generations from a more primitive form into something more complex. This does not require a designer.

    Just adding base pairs is not nearly enough! You have enter start and stop codons and timing devices as well as coordination with the rest of the cellular mechanism. Then the cell must somehow know how to respond to the new directions. How did that come about?


    Zeratul: Unless you can envision a scenario in which the designer would not be immensely complex, we are now free to test this hypothetical designer for evidence of design.

    But no one is proposing to test the Designer! We are proposing a way to test FOR design itself - intelligent design.


    Zerutel: We don't have to know too much about the designer because we already know he must be immensely complex. Applying the ID test concludes the he must be designed. Therefore, either the designer was designed, or the test is flawed.

    Again, the designer may be inferred from the test, but it is natural phenomena which are being tested for evidence of design. That's all. You are pushing this WAY past where it is designed to go!


    Z: The necessity of an uncaused cause is contradicted by quantum mechanics. Here is some relevant information:

    No it's not. QM demands the presence of energy for all that. Where did the energy come from? Subatomic particles - indeed everything we think of as mass - might simply be 'conglomerations' of charges interacting with other 'conglomerations.' Mass doesn't even really need to exist at all, right? So whether energy is just 'congealing' for a moment as a subatomic particle which flashes into and out of existence or whether or not the old E=mc^2 is involved in the transformation really does not matter at that point.

    Where did the energy come from? What caused the energy?

    The vacuum, by the way, is loaded with zero point energy - it is not 'emptiness' the way it is commonly conceived as being. There is a certain point at which it is thought to break down into a granular structure as well. Lots of different ideas about it - but it is not called 'fabric of space' for nothing! ITM, Hawkings theoretics are interesting, but not always borne out by the evidence.


    Z: But aren't you presuming design without any evidence that a designer exists? You seem to apply a double standard.

    No, the whole idea is to see if intelligent design DOES exist at all. If not, don't worry about a designer! If there is evidence of intelligent design, then it is left to others to worry about designers. ID is simply trying to test for intelligent design using methods already known and used in other fields of science.


    Z: Probabilities applied in a vacuum are meaningless (unless the value is 0 or 1). If I have a probability of 1/10 trillion of X happening, and there are 100 trillion opportunities for X to happen, then X will surely happen despite the low probability.

    The cell is not a vacuum.


    Jimmy Higgins; I appreciate the information. To be honest, discussing with some people that regard their method of idealogy is rarely as fruitful as it seems to be with you.

    Thanks. Actual discussion can be kind of rare in this sort of context. I appreciate it, too.


    Jimmy: With regards to celluar complexity, please allow me to step a level down from celluar interactivity to molecular activity. Lets take the interaction of two molecules. They interact together, in a natural way. However, the forces that control them are complex.

    Yes, but it is a complexity that seems to obey the natural laws we have formulated to describe electro-magnetic and chemical reactions. So, because of that, they would not pass the "ID test." That is not to say that the natural laws themselves and, in fact, the particles themselves, are not intelligently designed. It is to say, however, that intelligent design cannot be considered as the immediate cause, and that is what is being looked for.


    Jimmy: Now take complex, man-made computer programs for artificial intelligence. Some of these programs have exhibitedal, they implore certain traits. Now these programs had their purpose, but then "mutated" their own design. When is it deemed plausible that molecules could do the same?

    I have no idea! Interesting thought, though!


    froggie
    Helen,
    Thanks for your replies.

    Anyway, the basic thing behind testability of ID is simply that a test method either works or it doesn't, and you either agree with the results or you don't. But in any event, it is not like a hypothesis that you can actually test to falsify.

    I think this is why people see ID as philosophy and not science. I tend to agree with them, but also think that the line between the two is blurry.


    It is a proposed way of testing at least some natural phenomena to determine if there is EVIDENCE of intelligent design. It's really that simple. Did I do the murder scenario on this thread? I've done it twice now - it's like finding out if a corpse died naturally, accidently, or was murdered. ..

    Interesting how we both use murder as an analogy for our beliefs! (For me, I think it’s due to my obsession with Law and Order the show). Do you have any links on what the criteria are? I am interested in learning just how simple it is.


    I don't think the analogy works. With paintings you recognize design from the start and then you look for the designer (artist).

    Neither your nor my analogy completely works of course. But they do serve as examples of where we are both coming from. I still don’t see how we would know for sure whether something is designed or not. For example—I work with viruses. Their proteins will assemble into very complex soccer-ball shaped particles, but they do this spontaneously (with no input of energy). No designer is needed to assemble each virus. However, perhaps the individual parts were designed. Yet the individual parts are much more simple and may not fit the criteria for design. I guess the whole system itself could be designed—but how do we really know? We certainly have examples of entire systems that are designed (I’m typing on one right now), but do we have any examples of systems that we KNOW are NOT designed for a comparison? I guess that was what my painter analogy was trying to show. If we only had descriptions of Monet and Picasso, and we were analyzing a Renoir, than we may come to a faulty conclusion because we do not have enough evidence to evaluate the painting.


    I'll tell you where I think the possible weakness might be if we try to get too 'large' with it - if there is a Designer, then the argument can easily be made that everything in the universe is designed and therefore we have nothing outside of maybe a teenager's bedroom to judge 'non-design' by. So I think working with this method on a scale we can deal with, such as cells and organisms, is probably a lot wiser than trying to apply it to anything on a cosmological scale!

    Yeah I see your point. I guess that is what I was alluding to above.


    You are presuming we are related to the chimps and bonobos. I don't agree with that presumption, but I think you already know that….grin.

    No I am aware of your beliefs. I was just pointing out that both ID and evolution fail to answer the big questions. However, as we learn more about nature, perhaps they will be more insightful later on.


    I have a hard time thinking you would falsify creation because you don't understand the 'why' of the Creator!

    You are right, this is not why I reject creation. I still think that our lack of understanding of the Creator is a scientific weakness of ID. In order for a theory to be scientific, it needs to help us make accurate predictions about the universe. While it may be true that the God of the Christian Bible did design the universe, knowing that fact does not help us understand it any better. Now this may change as we learn about God or about nature. I know how to do the second thing, but how do we objectively learn more about God?

    About the fossil stuff—I do not wish to debate evolution with you here. I have a feeling this conversation would be frustrating for both of us. I am more interested in learning about your beliefs, and why you have them.


    Non-biologists credit you with knowing a LOT more than you do…

    This is true. And I’m not exactly who’s to blame. But one thing I do know is that the USA is under-educated about science. This disturbs me greatly, since our children (in a general sense—I’m single without kids!) will be making very important decisions about DNA forensics, stem cells, etc, and they need to be better educated.


    ZERATUL
    Helen: Again, the designer may be inferred from the test, but it is natural phenomena which are being tested for…

    Z: I am simply checking to see whether the test is logical and universal. In this case, it gives an answer that is clearly illogical. Therefore, the test is flawed.


    Z: The necessity of an uncaused cause is contradicted by quantum mechanics. Here is some relevant information:

    Helen: No it's not. QM demands the presence of energy for all that. Where did the energy come from? Subatomic particles - indeed everything we think of as mass - might simply be 'conglomerations' of charges interacting with other 'conglomerations.'


    Z: Where did the energy come from you ask? I thought Hawking’s explanation was pretty good. I have also seen this explained in a similar manner elsewhere. I have a few links, but they are pretty heavy physics and I doubt that anyone would read them. The idea is simple, though. The total energy of the universe is zero. There is an equal amount of positive and negative energy in the universe. Sort of like 1 + (-1) = 0. But let’s suppose for a moment that energy was required for a Big Bang, and the scenario that Hawking envisioned is impossible. How do you like this for an alternative explanation? The energy is eternal, and therefore did not need a cause. Sound silly?
    Sure, but that is exactly the answer that I receive when I ask about why the designer does not require a cause.


    Helen: The cell is not a vacuum

    Z: No, but you apparently missed the point. You stated, “Thus probability alone mitigates against the idea you are proposing.” My point is that unless you know how many opportunities were available for the event to occur, simply stating that a low probability makes an event unlikely is erroneous.


    HELEN
    to Froggie:
    1. One does not have to know a thing about the murderer to determine if someone has been murdered or, say, died of a heart attack. ID leaves the identity of the perpetrator (like that neutral word?) to others. The question they approach is simply, "was this intentionally perpetrated?"

    the two main websites dealing with ID are http://www.arn.org/arn2.htm -- Access Research Network http://www.discovery.org/crsc/ -- Discovery Institute

    They should have a pretty reasonable amount of stuff for you. But again, the process runs along these lines:

    1. Is this this way because of natural law? (like, maybe, a snowflake)

    2. Is this this way because of probability? (like a bunch of marbles rolled across the floor and three ending up in a straight line)

    3. If the answer to the above two are both 'no' (to the best of anyone's knowledge -- which is all we can ever go on), then does this thing exhibit specified complexity?

    If the answer seems to be 'yes', then a fair inference (and it may be wrong!) is intelligent design.

    The second thing that you brought up is something close to my heart -- science education in the U.S. today.
    Only I would extend that to ALL education in the U.S. today. I taught in private and public schools for almost 30 years. I had high school students who did not know if the Roman Empire came before or after the Civil War. I have had a fifth grade girl who did not yet know how to read. I had a high school freshman who was sure Hitler was still alive because he saw him on a video recently. In science there high school kids who do not know how many planets there are. When I was teaching general science (freshman and sophomore class for high school), I had wanted to get into rotations, escape velocities, atmospheres -- all kinds of stuff I thought would be fun. I found out that first they had to understand there were nine planets. I remember one kid saying "OHHHH, so THAT'S what 'Third Rock from the Sun' means!"

    We won't discuss about a cell being where the bad guys are kept.

    And, from my side, text books that have material in them that is just plain wrong! I'm not talking about the 'icons' stuff that is an evolution/creation issue, but basic wrong stuff. The only example I remember offhand -- no, I remember two -- one was the absurd statement that mentioned something about 'the chloroplasts that are in animal cells.' Yeah.... right.... The other was more understandable, dealing with the last stage of cellular respiration, which it referred to as the hydrogen transport stage, but which is more commonly referred to as the electron transport stage.

    Not that the kids would have known the difference most of the time...

    So many kids are intellectually stifled. Kids with eyes alive until they sit in the classroom chair, at which point the numbness sets in. I know some aren't like that, but too many are. It's a really sore subject with me!


    THE BARBARIAN
    If you want a really interesting variation on Bode's Law, take the values Helen got for the distance in AUs, and take each one to the third power. (multiply by itself twice as in 1.5 X 1.5 X 1.5) Then take the square root of that number, and multiply it by 365.26. You get the period of revolution around the sun for that planet in Earth days.
    Cool, huh?

    Helen is right about a lot of textbooks. One relatively good series included such woofers as "fossils are dated by Carbon-14", "stars shine because of the weak force", and one other that escapes me.

    Things that should never have gotten to press.


    JIMMY HIGGINS
    Originally posted by Helen:
    Jimmy: Now take complex, man-made computer programs for artificial intelligence. Some of these programs have exhibited "personalities" on their own. Just based on their need of survival, they implore certain traits. Now these programs had their purpose, but then "mutated" their own design. When is it deemed plausible that molecules could do the same?

    Helen: I have no idea! Interesting thought, though!


    Helen, this is the problem I see with ID. It runs on the premise that what we know now is sufficient enough to make judgements as to what is possible and not possible through natural means. So I quander again, what is the limitation of ID. What fields are "out-of-touch" for ID research? And what determines whether or not you have enough knowledge in an area to determine if something is ID?


    HELEN
    Jimmy,
    The assertion is that molecules are not created and, most certainly, not man-made. The computer is man-made with various degrees of intelligent design going into it.

    So why are you asking for me to compare the two, unless, of course, you are admitting design in the first place for the molecular structures?

    I have already stated that I think the ID test works best on living systems. That is my own personal opinion. Others have different opinions. The test is still valid as far as our knowledge takes us. The only way past that limitation of knowledge for humans is to depend on revelation, which is not part of science!


    JIMMY HIGGINS
    Please, I'm asking you where ID won't work, not where it will work. Please, can you tell me where ID is an illegitimate method of study for items when dealing with ideals and whether something has a creator.

    As for molecules and computer programs, I'm proposing the interaction. Molecules exist, computer programs exist.
    However, the interaction of molecules or computer programs could be unpredictable. Computer programs are man-made, however the interaction within the program is not! It just happens. Now suppose a molecule has the same "bizarre" result of the computer program. There is the "natural" interactions of a molecule and there is the "natural" interactions of a computer program. However, if a computer program is capable of expanding itself in ways unintended and not programmed, is it also possible that molecules are capable of the same thing?

    [ January 09, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
  4. Administrator2

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    [Administrator: the following is from another, related, thread.]


    JOHN PAUL
    On one hand we have evolutionists proclaiming that the apparent design we observe in living organisms is illusory.
    On the other hand we have IDists and Creationists saying the apparent design we observe in living organisms is NOT illusory.

    OK what is the rationality behind saying the first sentence is scientific and the second statement is not scientific?

    ID FAQ http://www.arn.org/id_faq.htm

    IDers are from Mars, ID critics are from Venus http://www.idthink.net/mars/index.htm

    Several interesting articles pertaining to ID http://www.idthink.net/arn/index.htm

    leading ID websites:
    Access Research Network http://www.arn.org/arn2.htm

    Discovery Institute http://www.discovery.org/crsc/

    Please those of you who do not know what ID is, take the time and look at some of the articles presented by IDists.

    Can ID be falsified- yes by showing purely natural processes can account for life and life's diversity. (Showing does NOT include just-so stories)


    JOE MEERT
    Actually, the 'falsification' of ID is not real but an illusion meant to give it the appearance of science. In essence it concludes everything is intelligently designed and then challenges science to 'prove' everything is not designed. ID is nothing more than pseudoscience trying to masquerade as science by tossing out some scientific terms and claiming to be falsifiable.


    FROGGIE
    Ok, I'll bite. Just so you know, though (hopefully you do), intelligent design does NOT prove YEC true. In fact, I think it proves it false, because ID'ers actually accept most (if not all) current tenets of science, they just add a few more. YEC is against many tenets of science, including basic concepts in chemistry, physics, geology, genetics, etc, etc, etc.

    Thanks for the links. I'll have to devote more time to them later. A cursory glance leads me though to once again criticize ID for a couple reasons (I have read a lot of this before--and used to accept much of it, so don't think I'm automatically biased ok!!)

    1) There is no objective way to define the intelligent designer, and thus there is no way to objectively evaluate whether a creature/organ/gene fits the designer's motivations. Unlike natural selection, whose 'motivations' are survival and breeding. Yes, simple random mutation is probably not enough to explain HOW this occurs. But I am talking about the fundamental 'reason' behind evolution, versus intelligent design. Evolution perhaps is a 'blind, random process,' but the reasons why some things evolve and survive is ANYTHING but random: They survive because evolution 'gave' them an advantage in terms of survival or breeding.

    2) I believe that ID'ers make the mistake of assuming the intelligent designer is like a human engineer. Have they proved this concept scientifically? (Quoting Genesis is not sufficient here, because ID supposedly makes no claims about which God designed the universe, as stated here:

    Intelligent design, on the other hand, involves two basic assumptions:
    Intelligent causes exist.
    These causes can be empirically detected (by looking for specified complexity).

    "This is a very modest, minimalist position," Dembski says. "It doesn’t speculate about a Creator or his intentions."


    So if you can't speculate about the Creator, than how can you use intelligent design as a scientific theory with predictive value? This, I think, is a huge reason why people do not accept ID as a scientific theory (even though they believe in ID--many of my co-workers are either ID'ers or theistic evolutionists).

    I think that you could come up with objective criteria for each god/belief system. But then we would all have to accept that one particular god/belief system. How likely is that? How many sects of just Christianity are there again (with that many new descriptions or definitions of the Creator?) Would ID'ers be open to considering the Hindu god Vishnu as the creator? If not, why not?

    Once again, the "designer" behind evolution is survival & breeding capabilities. These are easy to measure and evaluate scientifically.

    (Stuff from the first link above)
    Imagine that a friend hands you a sheet of paper with part of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address written on it:
    FOURSCOREANDSEVENYEARSAGOOURFATHERSBROUGHTFORTHONTHISCONTINENTANEWNATIONCONCEIVEDINLIBERTY

    Your friend tells you that he wrote the sentence by pulling Scrabble pieces out of a bag at random. Would you believe him? Probably not. But why? One reason is that the odds against it are just too high[...]But there’s more to it than that. If our friend had shown us the letters below, we would probably believe his story.
    ZOEFFNPBINNGQZAMZQPEGOXSYFMRTEXRNYGRRGNNFVGUMLMTYQXTXWORNBWIGBBCVHPUZMWLONHATQUGOTFJKZXFHP

    Why? Because of the kind of sequence we see. The first string fits a recognizable pattern: It's a sentence written in English, minus spaces and punctuation. The second string fits no such pattern.


    I don't think that analogies like this are valid, though. We understand the rules for playing Scrabble. We invented scrabble, and the alphabet used in scrabble. We purposely place scrabble tiles to spell out stuff.

    However, we know that humans did not invent DNA. Do we know for sure that the intelligent designer invented DNA in the same manner as we invented scrabble? No, we don't. Again, you have to define the creator in order to make ID a useful, predictive scientific theory. And now we're back to the quandry above.


    Of course, biologists such as Dawkins and Alberts believe that the apparent design of living things is an illusion—produced not by an intelligent source, but by chance and natural law.

    Strawman. Biologists don't think that the design is an illusion. But many biologists think that 1) natural forces are enough to produce order from chaos (provided enough order gets converted to chaos in the process, thus upholding the 2nd law of thermodynamics) and that 2) Humans see patterns because we are human. Like the "face" on mars. If dogs looked at mars, maybe they would see a dog face. This is NOT because somebody designed mars with all the animal faces. It's because we are in an sense 'programmed' to see faces, because we are a social species.

    Think about the number pi. It is infinitely random, as far as we know. If you converted pi to binary, you would get (in binary) every human literary work, eventually, because pi is infinite. But do we think that pi was 'invented' by Shakespeare and Chaucer? No, we don't.


    JOHN PAUL
    from Joe Meert: :In essence it concludes everything is intelligently designed and then challenges science to 'prove' everything is not designed.

    In essence ID states that which exhibits specified complexity can be inferred as been designed.


    SHAUNR
    Hi JP. Thanks for the refs. I'll check em out. As I've made clear, I think thatYEC is completely out of wack scientifically, but ID looks like it could be credible. A problem with them is that they never put up their version of what happens, they just attack evolution.
    They are also a pretty varied bunch. There's Michael Behe, who is virtually an evolutionist, there's Johnson, who seems to be an OEC, there's Dembski and Wells, who are sort of unclear about where theyre at...They all question evolution, but what's their model? Well, let me do some research and'll be back at you-maybe as a defender of ID!


    FROGGIE
    They are a varied bunch. Just like scientists! This actually adds to their credibility, I think, because they have less of a reason to be biased and therefore fabricate stuff, etc.


    JOHN PAUL
    to froggie: Why do you think ID has to define the creator (actually designer) in order to make it a useful, predictive scientific theory?


    Biologists don't think that the design is an illusion.

    Excuse me but Dawkins uses that phrase quite often- that the apparent design is illusory.


    But many biologists think that 1) natural forces are enough to produce order from chaos (provided enough order gets converted to chaos in the process, thus upholding the 2nd law of thermodynamics) and that 2) Humans see patterns because we are human.

    Crystals are patterns but patterns are not necessarily indicative of specified complexity.


    ARROWMAN
    ...Can ID be falsified- yes by showing purely natural processes can account for life and life's diversity. (Showing does NOT include just-so stories)

    Er - "showing that purely natural processes can account for ..." would by your definition be a "just-so" story, wouldn't it?

    In any case - I doubt that ID can be conclusively falsified. Assuming that instances can be found of complexity which allegedly cannot be explained by natural processes, the task of the falsifier would be to construct a plausible natural process which would account for the given complexity. If they succeed in doing so for EVERY alleged complexity, then they have falsified ID but you would call that "a just-so story". If they fail to explain EVERY alleged complexity (or new ones are subsequently raised), then all you have is a list of "things which natural processes cannot [yet] explain". The leap from that ("we don't know") to ID ("we will NEVER know - there MUST BE an intelligent designer") is what makes ID unscientific.

    The only value of the ID theorists to science is in their ability to challenge science repeatedly with instances of complexity. And there's nothing like a challenge to sharpen up the work of scientists. So I suppose ID does serve some purpose.


    FROGGIE
    Could you please explain what tenets YEC goes against? Please...

    Well, all of mainstream scientists' theories about geology (about how mountains formed, how fossils are laid down, etc) are all incorrect if YEC is true. All of our radioactive decay models are wrong. Which is possible--but it seems unlikely, since all of these theories independently confirm each other as well as ruling out YEC.


    OK I'll bite. Why do you think ID has to define the creator (actually designer) in order to make it a useful, predictive scientific theory?

    Well, I thought that was obvious but I guess not. I'll try to explain. Because by the nature of trying to decide whether something is intelligently designed or not, don't you need to first define intelligent? And designer? Also, it's especially important to know the motivations behind this designer when trying to predict how the design is going to work. For instance evolution 'uses' survival and/or better breeding. If a mutation arises that makes it easier to breed, than it will survive. Of course this is complicated to study, because what's good for, say, human survival may not be the same thing as bacterial survival. But evolution can make predictions such as 1) bacteria and viruses will evolve resistance to antimicrobial drugs, 2) Altruistic behaviors that give a net survival advantage will survive over those that do not, etc.

    Hey, it's your theory, not mine. Why don't you explain how ID makes predictions about what we will find, in say, the DNA code or the fossils?


    Excuse me but Dawkins uses that phrase quite often- that the apparent design is illusory.

    I stand corrected. And I guess I'll have to agree with them and you both. Patterns are not necessarily evidence of design (like the pi argument). But we are good at finding patterns, and sometimes (and incorrectly so) infer design from those patterns. Like the face on Mars.


    Crystals are patterns but patterns are not necessarily indicative of specified complexity.

    But don't most ID'ers believe that God made everything, including the simple un-intelligent rocks? Let's say we agree on a model of ID and it turns out that diamonds don't fit. Therefore do you conclude that only natural forces make the diamond (and that God had nothing at all to do with it)? If you are ready to let ID tell you what God made and what God didn't make, than you must be willing to accept that God did not make some stuff, and that natural processes alone are sufficient to explain them (which would then seem to add credence to ToE, correct??) Are you willing to accept that? If not, than you cannot claim you are being scientific about it.


    DAVID COX
    Can ID be falsified- yes by showing purely natural processes can account for life and life's diversity. (Showing does NOT include just-so stories)

    Now I don't believe that this would falsify ID.
    It would merely show that ID wasn't NECESSARY. Just because life COULD have arisen naturally does not mean that it DID. So this would not be a falsification.


    MR BEN
    How about showing that now concievable method of 'design' could account for the specified complexity of biological organisms.

    Design implies that a closed form solution can be modeled for a system before a physical instantiation of that system is constructed. In the case of complex systems such as biological organisms, however, there are no closed form solutions.

    The problem is that there are to many interrellated variables that constrain the system such that the combinatorial problem of finding a workable (much less an optimal)solution is impossible. In these cases, iterative optimization and approximation techniques are the only method that can approach a solution to these types of problems.

    Evolution is such an optimization technique, and it is the best, and probably the only type of design process that can account for the multi-variable adaptation of complex organic systems.

    Does it make sense to posit a designer, when we know that the combinatorial demands of biological organisms all but precludes the type of closed form 'design' that such a 'designer' might use?

    Positing that the 'designer' has access to means beyond our comprehension does not eliminate the mathematical improbability of such closed form solutions being viable, nor does it change the fact that biological organisms universally exhibit the sort of attributes that are typically associated with iterative 'evolutionary' optimization strategies and not closed form engineering.


    JOHN PAUL
    Could you please explain what tenets YEC goes against? Please...

    froggie: Well, all of mainstream scientists' theories about geology (about how mountains formed, how fossils are laid down, etc) are all incorrect if YEC is true. All of our radioactive decay models are wrong. Which is possible--but it seems unlikely, since all of these theories independently confirm each other as well as ruling out YEC.


    Geology being wrong wouldn’t be a big deal. So what if the mountains formed differently than over eons of time? As for fossils being laid down, what is the ‘mainstream’ version, exactly? On radio-active decay- are you aware of experiments that show decay can be sped up? BTW, the problem Creationists have with radio-metric dating goes beyond decay rates.


    OK I'll bite. Why do you think ID has to define the creator (actually designer) in order to make it a useful, predictive scientific theory?

    froggie: Well, I thought that was obvious but I guess not. I'll try to explain. Because by the nature of trying to decide whether something is intelligently designed or not, don't you need to first define intelligent?


    That is why defining specified complexity is so important. We then attribute the specified complexity to an intelligent agent.


    And designer? Also, it's especially important to know the motivations behind this designer when trying to predict how the design is going to work.

    I don’t need to know the motivation behind Tesla to understand or predict how alternating current works. The same goes for Edison and direct current, the Wright brothers and the airplane and Goddard and the rocket.


    For instance evolution 'uses' survival and/or better breeding. If a mutation arises that makes it easier to breed, than it will survive. Of course this is complicated to study, because what's good for, say, human survival may not be the same thing as bacterial survival. But evolution can make predictions such as 1) bacteria and viruses will evolve resistance to antimicrobial drugs, 2) Altruistic behaviors that give a net survival advantage will survive over those that do not, etc.

    But do viruses and bacteria really ‘evolve’ the resistance? Or is it more like some bacteria (or virus) already had the resistance and those were able to survive and multiply in the presence of the anti-body. I am aware that mutations do take place that make bacteria (and perhaps a virus) more resistant to anti-bodies. But in every case the bacteria remains a bacteria and a virus remains a virus- just what the Creation model predicts.


    Hey, it's your theory, not mine. Why don't you explain how ID makes predictions about what we will find, in say, the DNA code or the fossils?

    ID predicts we will see specified complexity in living organisms. Guess what? We do. It is in the DNA, RNA and the living cell. But as for predicting what a designer would design, I don’t think that is possible.

    Crystals are patterns but patterns are not necessarily indicative of specified complexity.


    But don't most ID'ers believe that God made everything, including the simple un-intelligent rocks?

    As far as I know IDers say nothing about God. Further, rocks, per se, do not exhibit specified complexity. Unless of course you consider atoms and therefore molecules, specified and complex.


    Let's say we agree on a model of ID and it turns out that diamonds don't fit. Therefore do you conclude that only natural forces make the diamond (and that God had nothing at all to do with it)? If you are ready to let ID tell you what God made and what God didn't make, than you must be willing to accept that God did not make some stuff, and that natural processes alone are sufficient to explain them (which would then seem to add credence to ToE, correct??) Are you willing to accept that? If not, than you cannot claim you are being scientific about it.

    But where did the natural forces come from? I guess the point is natural forces alone cannot account for specified complexity.


    MILAN
    But do viruses and bacteria really ‘evolve’ the resistance? Or is it more like some bacteria (or virus) already had the resistance and those were able to survive and multiply in the presence of the anti-body. I am aware that mutations do take place that make bacteria (and perhaps a virus) more resistant to anti-bodies. But in every case the bacteria remains a bacteria and a virus remains a virus- just what the Creation model predicts.

    1. It is not resistance to antibodies -it is resistance to antibiotics, a very different thing.

    2..If some of the bacteria have acquired resistance to a certain antibiotic -by mutation- the selective pressure caused by the presence of the antibiotic in the medium will tend to select the bacteria carrying the resistance, which will eventually proliferate, whereas those which dont have the resistance gene will be wiped out.

    3. The creation model doesn’t predict anything because there is no such thing as a creation model.


    ID predicts we will see specified complexity in living organisms. Guess what? We do. It is in the DNA, RNA and the living cell.

    ID doesnt "predict" specified complexity. ID came up with the useless concept of specified complexity in a futile attempt to legitimize the idea that there must be a designer out there.


    PAUL OF EUGENE
    I'd like to learn just what "Specified complexity" means so I can understand what the people who use the phrase are trying to say.

    I have the impression it means the specification of a target for evolution to reach. As in, imagine a bear, nature, and now evolve bacteria up to become that bear.
    No no, not a dinosaur - (WHACK with an asteroid) try again - ah, that's better.

    Would that be the correct definition?


    JOHN PAUL
    Paul,
    A basic article on specified complexity can be found in the ID FAQ link in the first post here. The second link is a longer article with the premise of how to detect design and the third link is a list of articles (including the two I gave) that can be found on the ID website of Access Research Network.

    Another way to detect design http://www.arn.org/docs/dembski/wd_anotherwaytodetectdesign.htm

    Articles pertaining to specified complexity http://www.arn.org/cgi-bin/htsearch?config=arn&r estrict=&exclude=&method=and&format=long&sort=score&words=specified+complexity


    PAUL OF EUGENE
    Thanks, John Paul, for the links. I found this definition in an article by Dembski:

    "An object, event, or structure exhibits specified complexity if it matches a highly improbable, independently given pattern. "

    Now I get the impression that what this means is, there must be a) a specified pattern or type prepared and known in advance and b) the object exhibiting specified complexity is then brought into conformance with that pre-existing plan or pattern. Like, I had house plans made up, then the house was built, and then we say all of that was due to an intervention of an intelligent agent somewhere along the line.

    The Darwinian hypothesis is that all the complexity we see is due to natural evolution, based on selection for the better reproducers.

    So if we're going to test for specified complexity, we've got to see the evidence for the pre-existing template. Where are those blueprints?

    Or is there something about specified complexity that I'm missing?


    QXR37
    I believe that in Dembski's definition, all that's important is that the specification be independent of the actual outcome--i.e. a pattern you might have thought up without seeing the results. So, for example, if you see the licence plate "WGT-760" and then come up with the specification "sequences beginning with WGT" that's "cheating" since you probably wouldn't have come up with that specification if you hadn't already seen the licence plate. In the case of biological organisms, I think a fair specification to use would be something like "high-fitness DNA sequences," since fitness is a general idea that doesn't depend on having observed any particular organism, and it also seems true that only a tiny fraction of all possible arrangements of nucleotides would lead to high-fitness organisms (the vast vast majority of random DNA sequences would probably not code for viable organisms at all).

    The real problem with Dembski's definition is not "specification," in my opinion, but "complexity." Dembski uses the word in a very weird way, as a synonym for "improbability," which is not what most people mean when they say complexity. And although I would agree that living organisms are highly specified, I see no reason to think they are highly improbable, since Darwin's theory seems to provide a nice explanation for how high-fitness organisms can be generated by lawlike processes. So even if it's true that we should infer design whenever we see specified complexity, Dembski has provided no reason to think that life actually exhibits specified complexity in the first place.

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    [Administrator: from another, related thread...]


    JOHN PAUL John Paul
    I don't need to know who designed the computer in order to know it was designed. And before someone says "well computers don't reproduce", ask yourself how that function (reproduction) in living organisms came to be. Did it just evolve or was it designed in?

    Peering into Darwin's Black Box:The cell divsion processes required for bacterial life http://www.arn.org/docs/odesign/od201/peeringdbb201.htm

    The first thing to do is to realize that life is the product of some design, has a function and purpose.


    THE BARBARIAN
    First, JP, you'll have to demonstrate a phenomenon actually exists, before you can tell us about its properties.


    JOHN PAUL
    I will assume you are talking about the "design" or the "Common Creator" phenomenon. But as far as design goes, specified complexity puts any doubt to rest. The design inference in living organisms is very clear once the "materialistic naturalism' glasses are removed.


    JOE MEERT
    Actually the design inference is only obvious to those who look for design. The design inference requires a less than perfect God.


    JOHN WELLS
    Joe,
    How so? As I understand things I'm reading, DNA is being compared to the "software" of a living cell, and RNA sorta like "fetch commands" in computer terminology. Here is a quote from an article. I'm sorry I don't have the source:

    DNA represents INFORMATION--ordered, codified, structured, data. Think of it like info on your computer's diskette. That info can take many forms...on your screen as photo blips, on the diskette as magnetic blips, or you can write it down on paper as ink blips, etc. The human genome consists of 3.1 billion base pairs, the rungs that make up the ladder-like double helix of DNA. The code appears to be a repetitive readout of A's, C's, T's and G's, the nucleotides that pair up. Scientists do not know what that code says.

    The point: the information is independent of the medium. It is absurd to say that the medium spawned the information. Rather, the info is coded onto the medium, just like the 'blueprints' of DNA are coded onto the physical structure of DNA.

    Makes me think of I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
    (Psa 139:14 NIV)


    JOHN PAUL
    Actually the design inference is only obvious to those who look for design.

    Not so, unless you include Watson/ Crick and a scientists on the Human Genome Project. It was Watson or Crick that said something like (once the double helix was discovered) "We have to remember what we are looking at is not designed, but evolved." I will get the exact quote if necessary.

    Human Genome Map Has Scientists Talking About the Divine http://www.arn.org/docs2/news/genome021901.htm


    The design inference requires a less than perfect God.

    Why is that Joe? Pat [Barbarian] makes the same implication but like you without any further comment. Maybe our definition of omnipotent needs revising. I would say any being or entity that could bring all of this together, regardless of how that was accomplished, deserves the omnipotent title.


    JOE MEERT
    No need to repeat my long discussion on here
    you may read it at http://www.indstate.edu/gga/pmag/id.htm


    JOHN PAUL
    Do you think that the notion of all life owing its ancestry to some unknown population of single-celled organisms that just happened to have the ability to self-replicate, can be tested objectively? Ya know if you guys would STOP with the double standards biological science may actually advance.


    JOHN WELLS
    Must agree with JP here! The theistic evolutionist has made life a little easier, because they can always throw the trump card of "God is involved" to explain away zero probabilities problems. But athiest evolutionists, although they opt out by saying evolution doesn't deal with biogenesis, have to be concerned about it. How do you get from non-living matter to a human brain with more possible neural pathways than there are atoms in the visible universe, and 20 million billion calculations per second, in 4.6 billion years? In a gazillion years?

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    HELEN

    What would Darwin say about the ID approach to
    science education?

    He wrote the following:

    "I am well aware that there is scarcely a single point discussed in
    this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading
    to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A
    fair result could be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the
    facts on both sides of each question, and this cannot possibly be done
    here."

    Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859

    I sort of think he would have approved...
     
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    HELEN

    This letter was published in the Washington Times for Friday, March 22 on page A 20. The web version is at:
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20020322-29360156.htm

    It was the lead letter, directly below the editorial cartoon.

    Science that sounds more like faith

    The March 18 letter to the editor by Nancy Karlen, "Evolution is based
    on
    science," typifies a number of the widely held misconceptions concerning

    both Darwinism and science in general.

    First of all, it is a commonly held misconception that mere adaptation,
    such
    as the adaptation of bacteria to antibiotics, demonstrates evolution.
    This
    is not so. All living creatures are able to adapt to their environment,
    but
    in no such case do they change their genetic structure as evolution
    proposes.

    It also is widely believed that the scientific method of experimentation
    to
    prove a hypothesis is the hallmark of every field of science. This is
    true
    for "hard" sciences such as chemistry and physics, but other fields of
    study, the so-called "soft" sciences, are not amenable to
    experimentation.

    Among the soft sciences are geology, archaeology, paleontology,
    historical
    anthropology, etc., the sciences most often associated with
    investigations
    into evolution. Progress is made by means of uncovering, examining and
    interpreting the historical record, which by its very nature is not
    repeatable. The data in these sciences do not simply speak for
    themselves;
    they can be interpreted any number of ways. Thus, the interpretive stand

    that the scientist takes initially is crucial to the outcome.

    A scientist who has been taught Darwinism throughout school and assumed
    it
    throughout his or her career will find it difficult to interpret the
    data
    with anything other than an evolutionary mind-set, the myth of
    scientific
    objectivity notwithstanding.

    Contrary to Ms. Karlen's claim, the reason intelligent design has not
    gained
    much popularity is not lack of experimentation. By its very nature, the
    evidence of intelligent design precludes experimentation because it
    demonstrates that complex organs could not result from natural
    processes.

    Evolutionists have largely ignored this evidence precisely because they
    have
    no answer to it. The best reply given so far is the expressed belief of
    one
    leading evolutionist that somehow evolution will find a way to explain
    it.
    This is science? Sounds more like faith to me.

    The case for intelligent design has been made very ably by Michael Behe
    in
    his book "Darwin's Black Box." The evidence is considerable and can
    stand on
    its own. Presenting this evidence in the schools can only promote the
    cause
    of unbiased science and should be allowed to proceed.

    THOMAS KRYST
    Silver Spring
     
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    KEVIN KLEIN

    Helen quoted the following editorial:
    Bacterial resistance to antibodies is one example of many clear demonstrations of random mutation and natural selection. As this is believed to be the primary method by which evolution operates, it is considered strong confirming evidence for evolution. Experiments such as these provide unequivocal proof that the alleles of the genome can change over time to produce novel adaptations that in turn help an organism to better survive and reproduce.
    The author's idea that there is a "genetic structure" somehow separate from the alleles themselves is simply fallacious.

    Apparently the author is unfamiliar with the scientific method. The scientific method does not require experimentation, it merely requires observation. Experiment is nothing but a highly controlled method of observation that tends to make the scientist's job much easier.

    A good definition of the scientific method can be found here: http://phyun5.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node6.html

    Note particularly criteria number 4 (emphasis mine):

    "4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results."

    1. 150 years ago, not one single scientist was "taught Darwinism throughout school". Yet in a fairly short period of time after Darwin published his theory, it became generally accepted in the scientific community. If all that keeps Darwinism in favor today is this alleged "indoctrination", then how did these earlier scientists come to embrace it in the first place?

    2. If we were to assume this assertion is true, then how come there hasn't been one single evolutionary biologist in the whole world who has been able see through the "indoctrination" and speak out against it? Especially when you consider how much scientists enjoy proving each other wrong, this strains credulity beyond all reason.

    I challenge anyone on this board to name one single intelligent design experiment published in the professional literature.

    According to the author's previous statement, science requires experimentation. Now he says "intelligent design precludes experimentation". Does he therefore mean that intelligent design is not science? If so, then I have no disagreement.

    And what exactly is "this evidence" that evolutionists have ignored?

    And unfortunately Mike Behe's arguments have been thoroughly demolished by the remainder of the scientific community not affiliated with the Discovery Institute. In particular, Kenneth Miller has a good critique here:

    http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/DI/Design.html

    Should we really allow schools to teach as science ideas that can't stand up to scientific scrutiny?
     
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    HELEN
    Kevin wrote, Bacterial resistance to antibodies is one example of
    many clear demonstrations of random mutation and natural selection. As
    this is believed to be the primary method by which evolution operates,
    it is considered strong confirming evidence for evolution. Experiments
    such as these provide unequivocal proof that the alleles of the genome
    can change over time to produce novel adaptations that in turn help an
    organism to better survive and reproduce.
    The author's idea that there is a "genetic structure" somehow separate
    from the alleles themselves is simply fallacious.


    Kevin, there are some points you raise there which I don’t believe are
    correct.
    First of all, anti-bacterial resistance is probably not a random
    mutation. It appears to often be part of series of mutations and
    back-mutations found in particular hot spots of the genome of the
    bacteria. In other words, these mutations are frequent and go back and
    forth. This does not indicate any kind of progressive change, but could
    easily indicate the intelligent design of the bacteria to allow it to
    fill numbers of niches as environments changed. The fact that we can
    recognize and identify very ancient bacteria, such as the TB bacteria
    found in some of the Egyptian tombs, indicates that these little
    one-celled prokaryotes really have not changed at all through time, even
    though they can vary via mutations in a number of ways around the mean,
    or the central ‘identity’ of the particular bacteria.

    You also said that mutation and natural selection are believed to be the
    primary method by which evolution operates. I would submit to you that,
    rather, that is what evolutionists are stuck with, as there is no other
    known method. However there is the problem that although we see plenty
    of variation, we simply do not see any sign of the kind of evolution
    which would turn a unicelled organism into a bear or butterfly or banyan
    tree no matter how many mutations or how much time was involved.
    Variations simply do not add up to new body plans in our experience.

    Thus it is not really true that the ability of bacteria to mutate back
    and forth would be even evidence of, let alone proof of, the kind of
    evolution which is the subject of these debates. I do think that the
    author of the letter was probably wrong to refer to ‘genetic structure’
    the way he did, as it is very much subject to allele changes and various
    mutations. But I have a feeling he meant body structure, and this would
    have made his statement correct: All living creatures are able to adapt
    to their environment, but in no such case do they change their body
    structure as evolution proposes.

    In response to another part of the letter, you wrote:

    1. It started with the Renaissance… Man started to become enamored of
    his own abilities and thoughts. With Newton came the realization that
    math could be used to express a number of physical phenomena. Hume and
    others took this to a metaphysical level. At this point science had two
    choices: a) admit science could only deal with the natural and material
    phenomena but acknowledge that there was more to the universe and life
    itself or b) declare that since science could only deal with the natural
    and material, all phenomena MUST have a natural, material cause.
    Science chose the second option. Part of the reason was moral, as well
    voiced by Thomas Huxley, grandson of Aldous Huxley (Darwin’s bulldog):
    I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning, consequently
    assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find
    satisfying reasons for this assumption… The philosopher who finds no
    meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure
    metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove there is no valid reason why
    he personally should not do as he wants to do… For myself, as no doubt
    for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was
    essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was
    simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system
    and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the
    morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.

    [Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means, 1937, Harper Bros., p. 312]

    Thus, by the time of Darwin, scientists were already thinking very
    highly of their own abilities and, closely related, rejecting any
    thought of moral accountability to a higher being. Man’s nature being
    what it is, that kind of ‘freedom’ is attractive to many, and so by the
    time of Darwin, it did not take much of a push to get this idea
    accepted, ‘proving’ we did not have accountability to a God.

    2. There is no evolutionary biologist willing to speak out
    against evolution because that is their very line of work and the area
    that has claimed their allegiance. You will, however, find that quite a
    few other sorts of biologists have taken a very strong stand against
    evolution, and many more have serious doubts.

    Later on, you asked what is the evidence evolutionists have ignored.
    Which field would you like first? Let’s just go with mutations and
    natural selection, OK? Most mutations are unexpressed, or neutral. Of
    those which are expressed, it is at least a thousand to one negative to
    even potentially positive. If even one percent of negative mutations
    were not deleted by natural selection, that still leaves ten negative
    mutations to one potentially positive mutation, which may or may not
    make it past sexual reproduction, which tends to eliminate mutations
    regardless of their merit.
    This is ignored, rationalized, marginalized.

    Natural selection cannot select from what is not there. It does not
    create or invent. On the contrary, whenever a section of a population
    is selected against (killed off), some portion of the genome
    variability is lost and the final result, should this continue to happen
    is over-speciation, or a fitness peak, in which an isolated population
    is so adapted to a particular environment that they cannot survive
    outside of that environment and they have also lost the genetic
    potential to have progeny with enough variations so that some can live
    outside that environment.

    And I think it is not only fair, but almost required, to say that
    evolutionists ignore common sense. Dawkins stated that biology is the
    study of things that look like they were designed.

    Who is he to say they weren’t? If it looks like a duck, and quacks like
    a duck, and waddles like a duck…..

    Maybe it’s a duck.

    And, lastly, I saw in person Ken Miller give his ‘refutation’ of the IC
    of flagella. It was a total farce. He started to shift proteins around
    in cells and played a what-if game that would have put Kipling to
    shame. His material had nothing to do with reality, only with his
    imagination. In the hallway afterwards he was confronted by a number of
    Ph.D’s in biology and genetics who took him soundly to task for that
    presentation. I saw that, too. He admitted, in person and privately to
    them, that he had more or less played with the audience. That is not
    something he would ever say in public, however, and I have noticed that
    he has not retracted a thing regarding the farce of his presentation.

    Michael Behe, on the other hand, was commenting about something that is
    in his particular field of study. If Miller wants to answer it even
    reasonably, he needs to involve himself with facts rather than fantasy.
     
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    KEVIN KLEIN

    What evidence do you have that permits you to make an assessment of what kind of mutations are involved? If you have empircal data to support this claim, please provide it.

    Also, it doesn't matter what kind of mutations are involved. The important point is that bacteria are able to evolve novel responses to changes in their environment. You must also consider the fact that some of the antibiotics that bacteria have evolved resistance to are completely synthetic and were not found in nature until we invented them. This argues strongly against any claim that bacteria contained some preexisting resistance capability that was suddenly switched on.

    In contrast to the TB bacterium, we have also observed the appearance of completely new microorganisms like the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Clearly nature is quite capable of producing novelty on her own.

    Many creationists have made this claim, Helen, but so far none have been able to demonstrate the existence of some magical barrier that prevents the "kind of evolution" we all observe and agree on at the micro scale from producing the types of macro changes you suggest. In fact, recent research in areas such as Hox genes provide tantalizing clues as to exactly how this may have occurred.

    Information on Hox genes can be found here: http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/eduweb/virtualembryo/hox.html

    That's just a blatant fallacy of generalization, Helen. Scientists are unique individuals and don't all neatly fit into your little portrait of them. Funny, too, how the Catholic Church, which shares much of your theology, doesn't seem to have a problem with evolution.

    There is no evolutionary biologist willing to win a Nobel Prize by showing that all of evolutionary biology is false? Come on.

    You're generalizing again, Helen. Evo biologists are unique individuals each with their own beliefs and motivations. It is a fallacy to make blanket statements about their supposed allegiances as a group.

    This is just an appeal to authority. Does it help if I appeal to the much larger authority of biologists who have no doubts about the truth of evolution?

    [QUOTE[Later on, you asked what is the evidence evolutionists have ignored.
    Which field would you like first? Let’s just go with mutations and
    natural selection, OK? Most mutations are unexpressed, or neutral. Of
    those which are expressed, it is at least a thousand to one negative to
    even potentially positive. If even one percent of negative mutations
    were not deleted by natural selection, that still leaves ten negative
    mutations to one potentially positive mutation, which may or may not
    make it past sexual reproduction, which tends to eliminate mutations
    regardless of their merit.
    This is ignored, rationalized, marginalized[/QUOTE]

    One need only open any professional journal dealing with evolutionary biology to see that this statement is completely false. In fact, here is a course description I found on the web that covers many of the areas that you have just pointed out:

    (From here: http://www.bioweb.uncc.edu/faculty/leamy/popgen/coursedes.htm)

    That natural selection can lead to over-specialization is true, but to say that it must is not. After all, adaptibility is as much a positive trait to be selected for as any other trait. When one thinks of species that are very adaptible (rats, insects, humans), one generally also finds a species that is very successful.

    Do they sign a contract that mandates this or is it programmed into their brains in college?

    Or maybe it's a decoy.

    I have no idea what Ken Miller does in his personal presentations. I presented a reference to a written critique of Mike Behe's ideas. Please direct any of your criticisms to the work that I referenced and not to some presentation I made no mention of.
     
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    The Metro Voice
    http://www.metrovoicenews.com/news/localnews.shtml

    Tottering fence of Darwinism
    about to take another shot

    By Bob Gingrich
    Thursday, June 27, 2002

    Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
    who never to himself hath said,
    'This evolution stuff is a crock a' baloney'?
    (With apologies to Sir Walter Scott.)

    A crocabaloney, I'm told, is what you get when you cross a crocodile with an
    abalone. Given that scenario, our Darwinist friends would postulate that
    over a period of a billion or so years some maladjusted abalone miraculously
    turned into a crocodile. They would then loudly insist that the world accept
    their postulation as hard science because, uh, well, just because.
    A crock of baloney is what our children have been force-fed for several
    generations regarding their origin, but, thankfully, the theory of evolution
    is being effectively challenged and exposed for the fraud that it is. Not
    everyone is happy with this development since it is a well-known fact that
    when you cross a Darwinist with evidence that his theory is fallacious you
    get a cross Darwinist.

    People interested in attending an interesting and informative discussion of
    evidence "putting Darwin in his proper place" presented by real scientists
    and honest, objective, intelligent scholars should mark July 26 - 27 on
    their calendars. A symposium, entitled Darwin, Design and Democracy III:
    Teaching Origins Science Objectively will be presented in Rose Theater,
    Rockhurst High School, 9301 State Line Road. The symposium, which will be
    presented Friday evening, July 26 and all day Saturday, July 27, will
    include eleven concurrent sessions by scientists, philosophers and
    journalists including Michael Behe, Ph.D, Jonathan Wells, Ph.D, and J. P.
    Moreland, Ph.D, along with the premier showing of The Rule, a play by Dan
    Schwabauer about the trial of a biology teacher who seeks to teach origins
    science objectively.

    Intelligent Design Network, Inc., sponsor of the symposium, is carrying the
    banner for those of us who believe teaching origins science in public
    schools alongside the theory of evolution is the only truthful way in which
    the subject of the origin of life can and should be taught. Teaching
    exclusively the unproved theory of evolution as the only valid theory of
    human origin is dishonest as well as being a form of censorship.

    "Fundamentally, there are two competing scientific hypotheses addressing the
    cause of life and its diversity," said John Calvert, JD, Director of IDN.
    "One hypothesis is that all phenomena, including living systems, result only
    from chance and necessity (natural law) and not by design. This is the
    Naturalistic Hypothesis. The other hypothesis is that life and its diversity
    result from a combination of chance, necessity, and design. This is the
    Design Hypothesis. If the Design Hypothesis is censored so that only the
    Naturalistic Hypothesis is taught, then the effect of this practice will be
    to indoctrinate students in Naturalism. Naturalism is a philosophy and not a
    proved scientific theory or fact."

    Indoctrination, of course, is exactly what the Darwinism confederation wants
    and has been getting away with for much too long with a huge assist by
    liberal-controlled news media. Liberals, the true believers in and pushers
    of the theory of evolution, claim to hate censorship. They only hate it when
    they think it's being applied against them. Otherwise, they have little
    problem with it. Liberal control of public information is slipping away with
    the emergence of talk radio, the Internet, and, at last, the Fox News
    Network. No one can deny the enormous impact Fox News has had on the way
    broadcast news is presented which is why the liberals, when commenting on
    Fox News, have raised vituperation to a new level.

    "Censorship by a school of the evidence of design in teaching origins
    science so that only (so-called) natural explanations may be provided will
    result in violations of the neutrality required by the Establishment Clause
    of the United States Constitution," according to Calvert, a retired
    attorney. "This is because censorship of the Design Hypothesis while showing
    only the evidence which supports the Naturalistic Hypothesis will
    necessarily indoctrinate students in Naturalism."

    Darwinists have achieved some success, with a heavy-handed assist from
    fogbound judges, in maintaining that teaching Design is illegal because it
    promotes religion. Calvert, in commenting on the legal aspects of the
    argument, said, "It is perfectly permissible for a teacher to show the
    evidence which supports the Design Hypothesis to enhance the effectiveness
    of education regarding origins science. The Design Hypothesis is not a
    religion and the evidence and inferences which support it are not religion.
    The Design Hypothesis does not meet any dictionary or legal definition of
    religion. I am not aware of any decided case that has held that the Design
    Hypothesis is a religion or that it is unconstitutional or illegal to show
    the evidence which supports it in a science class in a public school. The
    Design Hypothesis does not derive any authority from any religious text, The
    Bible, The Koran, The Torah, any religious text."

    "Evolution defenders try to confuse the issue by equating Intelligent Design
    with Creation Science. Creation science was defined in an Arkansas statute
    as science that seeks to prove a young earth, a world wide flood and no
    common ancestry, an iteration of the first eleven chapters of Genesis.
    Intelligent Design does not come from a religious text," Calvert explained.
    "Intelligent Design is based on a scientific hypothesis and is supported by
    thousands of scientists."

    Darwinists have had 150 years to prove their case. The best they have able
    to do is to confuse the public by making offhand reference to some mythical
    "mountain of evidence" supporting their favorite delusion. They never get
    around to providing any of that evidence, but that doesn't prevent them from
    making the assertion which a trusting public too often believes.

    The evolution industry has a lot in common with Enron in that Enron, like
    the theory of evolution, has intentionally undisclosed off-balance-sheet
    liabilities that, if disclosed, would do for evolution what full disclosure
    of the facts did for Enron. There is nothing like the bright light of truth
    to set the record straight. Truth seekers will find much to like about the
    Darwin, Design and Democracy symposium. You owe it to yourself and your
    children to attend.

    Detailed information regarding the symposium, including a registration form,
    is available from the Intelligent Design Network, PO Box 14702, Shawnee
    Mission, KS 66285-4702 or from their web site,
    http://www.IntelligentDesignNetwork.org,
     

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