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'intelligent design is not creationism in any shape or form' - yeah, right!

A few weeks ago one of my fellow SciBloggers, Siouxsie Wiles, wrote an interesting piece about a childrens' film that she'd seen where the underlying message seemed to be: you don't have to understand, you just have to believe. Which as she says, does rather encapsulate a lot of pseudo-scientific nonsense that's promoted these days (homeopathy, 'miracle mineral supplements', etc etc etc). Anyway, Siouxsie mentioned creationism in her post, & now a new commenter has dropped by to inform us that 'intelligent design... is not creationism in any shape or form, but serious scientific debate about the latest evidence for the origins of life.' My immediate response emulated the famous Tui billboards (here's an example), but then I & other regulars there went on to point out that this comment is a long way off-base. And I thought the subject was worth revisiting in a separate post.

For Siouxsie's correspondent is wrong - so-called 'intelligent design' is creationism, pure and simple, and not a valid scientific explanation for life's diversity. There's a lot of evidence out there to back up this statement.

One line of evidence is actually rather farcical. It came up at the "Dover trial' (of which more later), where it transpired that a popular creationist text, Of Pandas & People, had been remastered into an 'intelligent design' volume. Very clumsily remastered, as Barbara Forrest demonstrated (after an exhaustive comparison of the orginal book and a draft of the intelligent design version). On page 3-40 of the 1987 creationist version there's the phrase "Evolutionists think the former is correct, creationists accept the latter view." The 'intelligent design' version (also 1987) says "Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view" (emphasis added by Forrest). The editors of the Pandas book had simply gone through the earlier version & replaced all instances of the word 'creationists' with the phrase 'design proponents'. All instances but one, that is...

More substantive data comes from what could be regarded as the ID movement's founding document, the so-called 'Wedge' strategy written by Phillip E. Johnson & setting out the goals of the 'Centre for Renewal of Science & Culture' (a Discovery Institute think-tank, now called the Centre for Science & Culture). This document begins with the following statement: "The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built" and claims to have "re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature." And the Wedge document's 'Five Year Strategic Plan Summary' clearly states that the goal of the ID movement is to replace current scientific understandings of the world with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.  If that's not a creationist viewpoint then I don't know what is.

I'm in good company in this: as many of you will know, the proposition that 'intelligent design' is a valid scientific alternative to evolution was tested in the 'Dover trial' - and found wanting. In 2005 the Dover, Pennsylvania school district board attempted to introduce the ID version of Of Pandas & People as a science text. A group of concerned parents & teachers (Kitzmiller et al.) took the board to court, citing a failure to observe the legal requirement for separation of church & state. Although ID supporters argued that intelligent design is science, not a thinly-disguised religious viewpoint on life's origins & diversity, the judge ruled that this was indeed an attempt to have creationist material presented in science classrooms. You can read Judge Jones' very thorough and detailed decision here, and the full transcripts can be found in the TalkOrigins archives. There's also an excellent PBS documentary available on-line.

In fact, the defendants' arguments relied substantially on setting up a false dichotomy, along the lines of 'evolution can't explain X, so therefore intelligent design is true,' something that the judge ruled was not neither scientific nor evidence for ID. Judge Jones also noted that two of the witnesses for the Dover school board admitted that their personal view is that the designer is God and Professor Minnich testified that he understands many leading advocates of ID to believe the designer to be God. In addition one of the defense's expert witnesses stated quite explicitly that intelligent design is a form of creationism, and allows for the inclusion of supernatural explanations for observed phenomena. This led the judge to conclude that  that ID is not science (contrary to the assertions by Siouxsie's commenter), for the following reasons:

(1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s; and (3) ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. ... [It] is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.

Whatever else it might be, ID is not science.

 

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108 Comments


Why do you not mention Stephen Meyer`s book The Signature in the Cell.. Are you a molecular biologist able to refute his arguments incorporated in his book ??

Because Meyer 'sees' design in the way the cell operates, but offers no actual mechanism - in science it's not enough to say 'a designer did it'. Whereas things like the bacterial flagellum, for example, can be explained as the result of natural selection.


Methinks you have not read Stephen Meyer`s book Signature in the Cell. Otherwise you would not have written him off so lightly. Could I ask you to comment on the term " Junk DNA"

Let's just cut right to the chase: here is a summing up of Meyer's point of view, in his own words from the end of his book:

Despite a thorough search, no material causes have been discovered that demonstrate the power to produce large amounts of specified information.

Intelligent causes have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified information.

Intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate, explanation for information in the cell.

Since he doesn't provide a workable definition of 'specified information' (apart from the tautology that The term specified complexity is, therefore, a synonym for specified information or information content, then his first statement fails at the first hurdle. And in any case is incorrect; biologists can produce a considerable amount of evidence on how the amount of information in a cell (in terms of changes in its DNA) occur without any need of some undefined external 'intelligence'. Because that first statement is erroneous, then the whole syllogism falls down.

In addition, as I commented previously, Meyer provides absolutely no evidence to back up this conclusion - no mechanism by which his 'intelligent designer' could act. (I note that he is a philospher of science, rather than a molecular biologist, but if the evidence is there you'd think he would be able to cite it.)

On the 'junk DNA' - you may be referring to the ENCODE project? A recent research paper examined the data generated by this project (van Bakel H, Nislow C, Blencowe BJ, Hughes TR (2010) Most "Dark Matter" Transcripts Are Associated With Known Genes. PLoS Biology 8(5):1-21) & concluded:

The human genome was sequenced a decade ago, but its exact gene composition remains a subject of debate. The number of protein-coding genes is much lower than initially expected, and the number of distinct transcripts is much larger than the number of protein-coding genes. Moreover, the proportion of the genome that is transcribed in any given cell type remains an open question: results from "tiling" microarray analyses suggest that transcription is pervasive and that most of the genome is transcribed, whereas new deep sequencing-based methods suggest that most transcripts originate from known genes. We have addressed this discrepancy by comparing samples from the same tissues using both technologies. Our analyses indicate that RNA sequencing appears more reliable for transcripts with low expression levels, that most transcripts correspond to known genes or are near known genes, and that many transcripts may represent new exons or aberrant products of the transcription process. We also identify several thousand small transcripts that map outside known genes; their sequences are often conserved and are often encoded in regions of open chromatin. We propose that most of these transcripts may be by-products of the activity of enhancers, which associate with promoters as part of their role as long-range gene regulatory sites. Overall, however, we find that most of the genome is not appreciably transcribed.

Most of the transcripts of 'junk DNA' are from areas near known genes, which leads to the conclusion that they are the result of artefacts (like extended transcription) or are regulatory bits & pieces. Thus there are still large amounts of DNA that are not transcribed & have no apparent function - hardly surprising, given how much of it is pseudogenes or the remains of things like endogenous retroviruses.


"Despite a thorough search, no material causes have been discovered that demonstrate the power to produce large amounts of specified information.

Intelligent causes have demonstrated the power to produce large amounts of specified information.

Intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate, explanation for information in the cell."

Sorry I have not been able to locate these three statements you cited from the end of Stephen Meyers book. But assuming they are there I fail to see how they negate his assertions in the rest of his book.
As a non-scientist I have been intrigued with his explanation of the case for Intelligent Design. It appears that many high ranking people in the scientific community have indicated support for Stephen Meyer and their ranks are growing.
My belief is that the source of the intelligence incorporated within our DNA provides a mystery which the ENCODE project has not solved. Darwin himself did not tackle the problem of the origin of that specified information but somewhere along the history of our origin it must have had its beginnings..
Perhaps you can enlighten me !!

Well, the issue with Meyer's book is that he doesn't actually produce any evidence for his assertions. (Setting up a false dichotomy eg evolution can't explain X so therefore ID is true, doesn't count.) It's not enough to be skeptical about something without actually producing evidence in support of that skepticism.

Science isn't a popularity contest; issues are determined on the basis of evidence. So the number of scientists on the DI's list of those who oppose evolution/support intelligent design really is immaterial. However, if numbers are important to your argument, last time I checked the number of scientists named Steve who support the theory of evolution exceeded the total number of names on the DI list.

The other thing to remember is that the backgrounds of those scientists is important. I don't weigh into arguments about, say, engineering because I'm not an engineer & so don't have a particularly good understanding of the issues in dispute. The same can be said for, say, the engineers on the DI list.

People can have beliefs about a great many things, but unless those beliefs can be shown to be supported by evidence then in the scientific community they are simply at the level of anecdote.

Sorry but you are being very harsh in your dismissal of the content of Stephen Meyers book Signature in the Cell.. I do agree that science should not be a popularity contest, one in which truth is often seen to be the victim..
Much publicity was generated at the verdict passed down at the so-called Dover trial in U.S. The pro Darwinists applauded Judge Jones but as time has passed several aspects of the trial have generated concern in the scientific community as to the reliability of the verdict and the judge`s summing up . In particular I mention scientist Ken Millers evidence regarding the Human Immune System and its design component. The court was misled by Miller whether intentionally or not. The judge accepted his evidence.. Truth is not always revealed by numbers nor is it always promulgated by experts".
The ongoing discoverys of the complexity of the DNA molecule is a far cry from the "blob of plasma" as it was described by T.H,Huxley an associate of Darwin and a leading authority of his day. So with todays often highly regarded experts and their certainties..

but as time has passed several aspects of the trial have generated concern in the scientific community as to the reliability of the verdict and the judge`s summing up . In particular I mention scientist Ken Millers evidence regarding the Human Immune System and its design component. The court was misled by Miller whether intentionally or not.
The judge accepted his evidence.

Citation please. "the scientific community" is a pretty big place & I'd like to know exactly who is raising these concerns & where their expertise lies.

You might also like to read my latest post on the rules of rational debate ;-) as I can't help feeling that you may be moving the goalposts somewhat. Suggesting that Miller is wrong (& I have yet to see evidence supporting that contention) & therefore Meyer is right is to commit the 'false dichotomy' fallacy, as I think I mentioned earlier. I also notice that you haven't addressed my comments regarding Meyer's lack of good evidence to support his contentions.

""In the case of Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al., Judge Jones ruled that a pro-intelligent design disclaimer cannot be read to public school students. In his decision, he gave demarcation criteria for what counts as science, ruling that intelligent design fails these criteria. I argue that these criteria are flawed, with most of my focus on the criterion of methodological naturalism. The way to refute intelligent design is not by declaring it unscientific, but by showing that the empirical evidence for design is not there.""
Prof Bradley Monton Uni of Colorado


Donald L. Ewert
Dr. Ewert received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Georgia in 1976. As a microbiologist and virologist, he operated a research laboratory at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia for almost twenty years. The Wistar Institute is one of the world's leading centres for biomedical research. His research, supported by National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and Department of Agriculture grants, has involved the immune system, viruses, and cellular biology.
In an interview with Tracy Luskin of Discovery institute
Dr Ewert said the origin of the Immune System was a centrepiece of the evidence given by Ken Miller a key witness for the plaintiffs at the Dover trial. In Dr Ewerts assertion Miller misled the court.It was a "masterpiece of courtroom deception" and the judge took it on board.. This interview is available on the Web and is quite illuminating.

.
As for the shifting of the goalposts I submit that your broad based dismissal of the contents of Stephen Meyers book
requires refutation covering many complex areas

Regarding recent discoveries about the DNA...
The discoveries have one common theme: Cellular processes long assumed to be "genetic" appear quite often to be the result of highly complex interactions occurring in regions of DNA void of genes. This is roughly akin to Wall Street waking to the realization that money doesn't make the world go 'round, after all.
"It's a radical concept, one that a lot of scientists aren't very happy with," said Francis S. Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. "But the scientific community is going to have to rethink what genes are, what they do and don't do, and how the genome's functional elements have evolved." "I think we're all pretty awed by what we're seeing," Collins said. "It amounts to a scientific revolution."

Meyer in his book makes precisely this prediction.

further to my submission re "junk DNA" this may prove to be significant..

The First Animal Cell Required Complicated All-or-Nothing Structure

In an October 2010 issue of Nature, evolutionary biochemist Nick Lane of University College London reported that any eukaryotic cell requires a fully functional mitochondrion that is already in place.1 Eukaryotic cells, which have a nucleus and make up plants and animals, have mitochondria that are responsible for manufacturing fuel for the rest of the cell to constantly “burn.” Without these particular components, such cells could not survive.

This result implies that it is impossible for a Darwinian, naturalistic, step-by-step process to have developed the first eukaryotic cell. Instead, Lane and study co-author William Martin proposed that the first eukaryotic cell “suddenly” received a fully functioning mitochondrion when one bacterium engulfed a smaller one. The problem is, in the words of today’s pre-eminent evolutionist Richard Dawkins, “Without gradualness in these cases, we are back to a miracle.”2

Many More Uses for ‘Junk’ DNA, All of Them Vital

Only a decade ago, many biologists thought that most human DNA was useless “junk.” Evolutionists hypothesized that with each evolutionary transition, certain non-coding “left over” DNA would be carried forward in the new organism. Nature supposedly tinkered with all that surplus DNA, some of which accidentally became useful enough to allow a human to eventually form from a fish. But studies in 2010 and prior have kept revealing uses for that “useless” material.

One class of this “junk” DNA has turned out to have a specific regulatory function. It yields “long, non-coding RNA” that actually operates as a switch that helps turn off gene expression.3 Members of another class of formerly-called junk DNA, known as “pseudogenes,” were also found to play an important role in regulating gene expression.4 Additional unforeseen classes of sequences, like microRNAs, add to the robust and complicated regulation networks upon which cellular life depends.5

Not only does the sequence of non-gene DNA have vitally important functions in cell and DNA regulation, as well as embryonic development, but it helps set up chromatin into a stunning three-dimensional layout that provides ready access for DNA processing machinery during the daily life of the cell.6

Conclusion

Eukaryotic cells had to have been created by a miraculous event. A fully functional mitochondrion is required to process all eukaryotic DNA, and mitochondrial power generators cannot be invented by strictly natural processes. Likewise, DNA—both genes and non-genes—is almost totally packed with information that is vital or very useful to the functioning and survival of the cell, just as if it had been intentionally created. As, indeed, the Bible indicates it was.

References

Thomas, B. Study Demonstrates Complex Cells Could Not Evolve from Bacteria. ICR News. Posted on icr.org October 8, 2010, accessed December 29, 2010.
Dawkins, R 1996. River Out of Eden. New York: Basic Books, 83.
Thomas, B. Another Setback for ‘Junk’ DNA. ICR News. Posted on icr.org October 18, 2010, accessed December 29, 2010.
Thomas, B. ‘False’ Gene Discovery Confirms Creation Prediction. ICR News. Posted on icr.org July 12, 2010, accessed December 29, 2010.
Thomas, B. Complicated Cells Leave No Room for Evolution. ICR News. Posted on icr.org May 5, 2010, accessed January 7, 2011. See also Khraiwesh, B. et al. 2010. Transcriptional Control of Gene Expression by MicroRNAs. Cell. 140 (1): 111-122.
Thomas, B. Genomes Have Remarkable 3-D Organization. ICR News. Posted on icr.org November 15, 2010, accessed January 3, 2011.

On the origins of mitochondria - endosymbiosis. An excellent example of a non-Darwinian evolutionary process.

"References" - while this looks all science-y I notice that all of them are references to the ICR website. I would find references to peer-reviewed publications in mainstream science journals a whole lot more convincing.

Interesting recent comment and food for thought.....

Proc Royal Society B
doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1427
.. Kelly, Wicksteed and Gull

Origin of the Archaea and the thaumarchaeal origin for the eucharyotes..
Accepted 6 September 2010..

"Among the big questions facing evolutionary biologists
today are the origin of cellular life and the subsequent
emergence of modern-day eukaryotes. Regarding the
latter, an initial and popular view was that genes in the
eukaryotic lineage with detectable bacterial or archaeal
homology can be split into two groups. Genes associated
with operational functions such as metabolism and biosynthesis were thought to be predominantly bacterial in
origin, whereas those associated with informational processes,
such as transcription, translation and replication
originated from the Archaea [7,12,17,18]. However,
with the exception of the cyanobacterial genes found in
plants [19,20] and the a-proteobacterial genes acquired
from the mitochondrion [7,8,20], this initial view has
more recently been called into question. Recent interrogations of the source of many eukaryotic operational
genes suggest surprisingly different origins from within
both Bacteria and Archaea [13]. Though the origin of
the informational genes is less ambiguous, displaying an
almost exclusively archaeal ancestry, the identification of
the precise archaeal lineage involved remains elusive."

Re peer reviewed articles It has been the experience of some editors that to publish articles by intelligent design scientists puts their future tenure in jeopardy.. Truth should not be subject to solely intellectual or scientific vested interests or endorsement

Nothing in that RS paper negates endosymbiosis.
On the issue of editors & tenure - please give examples. In my experience editors will go out on a bit of a limb to publish potentially provocative material provided that it has a solid basis in science. To date the material I've seen coming out of the ID camp lacks that basis.

In reply to your comment
The classic case of editors and tenure concerned the Journal called Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington and the publication of the first peer-reviewed article advancing the the theory of Intelligent Design in August 2004. As a result the editor Richard Sternberg lost his office. Two later investigations by U.S government offices found that senior administrators at the Smithsonian had fomented a misinformation campaign against Sternberg and he was demoted..
The basis of much controversy today is the question "what IS science ?" I would be interested to read your definition of "science".
Regarding editors,, one could retort that in the 1980s and 1990s we were repeatedly bombarded with scientific editorially approved statements that " most of our DNA is junk". Now there has been a turnaround and because of "a movement of thought" the common scientific opinion accepted by editors has been amended..
Finally if any of your students display pro Intelligent Design tendencies in their tests or theses how are they marked as a result of examiners biases ??

In this particular case 'peer review' was more the editor deciding to publish; there was no thorough peer-review process.

Science is an evidience-based system of examining the world that is based on repeatedly advancing & testing hypotheses as possible expllanations of observations. Those hypotheses may be accepted or rejected on the basis of the evidence for or against them. The outcome is a 'worldview' that is testable, predictive, evidence-based, and fluid in the sense that our understandings can and do change when evidence accumulates to support such change. Unfortunately (for ID) intelligent design seems to be based largely on wishful thinking.

I've responded previously to your comments on 'junk DNA'.

And on how my students are marked - I expect them to understand how science works. If they can't demonstrate that then of course they are likely to do less well. If, for example, a student were to use examples such as the bacterial flagellum to advance an ID view then they should expect to be marked down; that particular creationist trophe has been well & truly discredited. ID is not science (no matter its protestations to the contrary) & I don't expect to see explanations from that quarter in science class - unless we're discussing the nature & philosophy of science. Whiich is something that happens in a class on evolutionary biology - students look at different models that attempt to explain life's diversity & are asked to consider the explanatory & predictive power of those models. Because at heart the 'explanations' offered by ID come down to 'goddidit' then in intellectual terms they're fairly bankrupt - they offer no intellectually satisfying explanations, nor do they open up new avenues for further explanation.

Thank you for your comments.
I shall inwardly digest the content.At this stage there are several points where I disagree. Some study needs to be done before I comment further on your scathing attitude towards Intelligent Design in general and its many well qualified proponents.

Do remember that many of the 'well qualitied proponents' of the ID movement are not biologists. As a biologist I don't know enough about (say) engineering to comment on an engineering proposition in any way other than as a lay person. The same is true for engineers (& other non-biologists) who support the idea of intelligent design & denigrate evolutonary biology.

replying to your posts of March 1


Regarding: " If, for example, a student were to use examples such as the bacterial flagellum to advance an ID view then they should expect to be marked down; that particular creationist trophe has been well & truly discredited"

I would say: That’s sad that you would mark down a student simply because they accept intelligent design. You cite the Dover ruling, but Judge Jones made multiple mistakes about the bacterial flagellum, including the fact that:

- The Type 3 Secretory System cannot serve as a precursor to the flagellum.

- The Type 3 Secretory System only contains about ¼ of total flagellar genes.

- The Type 3 Secretory System does not refute irreducible complexity because it doesn’t show that the flagellum can evolve in a step-by-step fashion. The fact that a few subparts of the flagellum can perform other functions does not refute irreducible complexity, any more than the fact that my laptop’s power cord can also be used to power my toaster explains how a laptop could arise in a step-by-step fashion.

For details, see:

Do Car Engines Run on Lugnuts? A Response to Ken Miller & Judge Jones's Straw Tests of Irreducible Complexity for the Bacterial Flagellum

http://www.discovery.org/a/3718

Spinning Tales About the Bacterial Flagellum

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/01/spinning_tales_about_the_bacte031141.html

Regarding: "ID is not science (no matter its protestations to the contrary) & I don't expect to see explanations from that quarter in science class - unless we're discussing the nature & philosophy of science. “

I would say: Again, it seems like your mind is closed and you are refusing to even let students endorse ID in class. This is sad that you don’t believe in academic freedom for views you disagree with. But ID is science because it uses the scientific method to make its claims:


Again
ID is science because it uses the scientific method to make its claims.

The scientific method goes from observation --> hypothesis --> experiment --> conclusion.
Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if objects were designed, they will contain CSI. They then seek to find CSI. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity (IC). ID researchers can then experimentally reverse-engineer biological structures to see if they are IC. If they find them, they can conclude design.

(http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1154)

Regarding: " Because at heart the 'explanations' offered by ID come down to 'goddidit' then in intellectual terms they're fairly bankrupt - they offer no intellectually satisfying explanations, nor do they open up new avenues for further explanation."

I reply: That couldn’t be further from the truth! Intelligence is a feature we understand from studying nature and it actually promises to open up many lines of investigation. For example: Below is a brief listing of some of the scientific fields where ID provides a framework for predicting, understanding, and explaining the patterns we observe in nature:

 Biochemistry, where ID explains and predicts the presence of high levels of complex and specified information in proteins and DNA;

 Genetics, where ID predicts and explains function for so-called "junk" DNA while neo-Darwinism stifles such research;

 Systematics, where ID explains why there are similarities between living species, including examples of extreme genetic "convergence" that severely conflict with conventional evolutionary phylogenies;

 Cell biology, where ID explains why the cell resembles "designed structures rather than accidental by-products of neo-Darwinian evolution," allowing scientists to better understand the workings of molecular machines;

 Systems biology, where ID encourages biologists to look at various biological systems as integrated components of larger systems that are designed to work together in a top-down, coordinated fashion, which is what biologists are finding is the case;

 Animal biology, where ID predicts function for allegedly "vestigial" organs, structures, or systems whereas evolution has made many faulty predictions here;

 Bioinformatics, where ID explains the presence of new layers of information and functional language embedded in the genetic codes, as well as other codes within biology;

 Information theory, where ID encourages scientists to understand where intelligent causes are superior to natural causes in producing certain types of information;

 Paleontology, where ID's prediction of irreducibly complexity in biological systems explains paleontological patterns such as the abrupt appearance of biological life forms, punctuated change, and stasis throughout the history of life;

 Physics and Cosmology, where ID encourages scientists to investigate and discover more instances of fine-tuning of the laws of physics and properties of our universe that uniquely allow for the existence of advanced forms of life;

(http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1499)

Additionally, consider this:

Below are about a dozen or so examples of areas where ID is helping science to generate new knowledge. Each example includes citations to mainstream scientific articles and publications by ID proponents that discuss this research:

- ID has inspired scientists to do research which has detected high levels of complex and specified information in biology in the form of fine-tuning of protein sequences. This has practical implications not just for explaining biological origins but also for engineering enzymes and anticipating / fighting the future evolution of diseases. (See Douglas D. Axe, "Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors," Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 301:585-595 (2000); Douglas D. Axe, "Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds," Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 341:1295-1315 (2004); Douglas D. Axe, "The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds," Bio-Complexity, Vol. 2010).)

- ID has inspired scientists to seek and find instances of fine-tuning of the laws and constants of physics to allow for life, leading to a variety of fine-tuning arguments including the Galactic Habitable Zone. This has huge implications for proper cosmological models of the universe, hints at proper avenues for successful "theories of everything" which must accommodate fine-tuning, and other implications for theoretical physics. (See Guillermo Gonzalez et al., "Refuges for Life in a Hostile Universe," Scientific American (October, 2001); D. Halsmer, J. Asper, N. Roman, T. Todd, "The Coherence of an Engineered World," International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(1):47-65 (2009).)

- ID has inspired scientists to understand intelligence as a scientifically studyable cause of biological complexity, and to understand the types of information it generates. (See Stephen C. Meyer, "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004); W.A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); A.C. McIntosh, "Information and Entropy -- Top-Down or Bottom-Up Development in Living Systems?," International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(4):351-385 (2009).)

- ID has inspired both experimental and theoretical research into how limitations on the ability of Darwinian evolution to evolve traits that require multiple mutations to function. This of course has practical implications for fighting problems like antibiotic resistance or engineering bacteria. (See Michael Behe & David W. Snoke, "Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues," Protein Science, Vol. 13 (2004); Ann K Gauger, Stephanie Ebnet, Pamela F Fahey, Ralph Seelke, "Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness," Bio-Complexity, Vol. 2010).

- ID has inspired theoretical research into the information-generative powers of Darwinian searches, leading to the finding that the search abilities of Darwinian processes are limited, which has practical implications for the viability of using genetic algorithms to solve problems. (See: William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, "Conservation of Information in Search: Measuring the Cost of Success," IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics-Part A: Systems and Humans, Vol. 39(5):1051-1061 (September, 2009); Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, and Robert J. Marks II, "Evolutionary Synthesis of Nand Logic: Dissecting a Digital Organism," Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, (October, 2009); William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, "Bernoulli's Principle of Insufficient Reason and Conservation of Information in Computer Search," Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, (October, 2009); Winston Ewert, George Montanez, William Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, "Efficient Per Query Information Extraction from a Hamming Oracle," 42nd South Eastern Symposium on System Theory, 290-297(March, 2010); Douglas D. Axe, Brendan W. Dixon, Philip Lu, "Stylus: A System for Evolutionary Experimentation Based on a Protein/Proteome Model with Non-Arbitrary Functional Constraints," PLoS One, Vol. 3(6):e2246 (June 2008).)

- ID has inspired scientists to study proper measures of biological information, leading to concepts like complex and specified information or functional sequence complexity. This allows us to better quantify complexity and understand what features are, or are not, within the reach of Darwinian evolution. (See, for example, Stephen C. Meyer, "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004); Kirk K. Durston, David K. Y. Chiu, David L. Abel, Jack T. Trevors, "Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins," Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 4:47 (2007); Chiu, David K.Y., and Lui, Thomas W.H., "Integrated Use of Multiple Interdependent Patterns for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis," International Journal of Fuzzy Systems, Vol 4(3):766-775 (September, 2002).)

- ID has inspired scientists to investigate computer-like properties of DNA and the genome in the hopes of better understanding genetics and the origin of biological systems. (See Richard v. Sternberg, "DNA Codes and Information: Formal Structures and Relational Causes," Acta Biotheoretica, Vol. 56(3):205-232 (September, 2008); Ø. A. Voie, "Biological function and the genetic code are interdependent," Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, Vol 28(4) (2006): 1000-1004; David L. Abel & Jack T. Trevors, "Self-organization vs. self-ordering events in life-origin models," Physics of Life Reviews, Vol. 3:211-228 (2006).)

- ID has inspired scientists to reverse engineer molecular machines like the bacterial flagellum to understand their function like machines, and to understand how the machine-like properties of life allow biological systems to function. (See for example Minnich, Scott A., and Stephen C. Meyer. "Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits in Pathogenic Bacteria," Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004); A.C. McIntosh, "Information and Entropy -- Top-Down or Bottom-Up Development in Living Systems?," International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(4):351-385 (2009).)

- ID has inspired scientists to view cellular components as "designed structures rather than accidental by-products of neo-Darwinian evolution," allowing scientists to propose testable hypotheses about causes of cancer. (See Jonathan Wells, "Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force?." Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum, Vol. 98:71-96 (2005).)

- ID has inspired scientists to see life as being front-loaded with information such that it is designed to evolve, expecting (and now finding!) previously unanticipated "out of place" genes in various taxa. (See, for example, Michael Sherman, "Universal Genome in the Origin of Metazoa: Thoughts About Evolution," Cell Cycle, Vol. 6(15):1873-1877 (August 1, 2007); Albert D. G. de Roos, "Origins of introns based on the definition of exon modules and their conserved interfaces," Bioinformatics, Vol. 21(1):2-9 (2005); Albert D. G. de Roos, "Conserved intron positions in ancient protein modules," Biology Direct, Vol. 2:7 (2007); Albert D. G. de Roos, "The Origin of the Eukaryotic Cell Based on Conservation of Existing Interfaces," Artificial Life, Vol. 12:513-523 (2006).)

- ID helps scientists explain the cause of the widespread feature of "convergent evolution," including convergent genetic evolution. (See Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, "Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis, and the origin of irreducible complexity," in Valerio Parisi, Valeria De Fonzo, and Filippo Aluffi-Pentini eds., Dynamical Genetics (2004); Nelson, P. & J. Wells, "Homology in biology: Problem for naturalistic science and prospect for intelligent design," in Darwinism Design and Public Education, Pp. 303-322 (Michigan State University Press, 2003); John A. Davison, "A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis," Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 155-166.)

- ID helps scientists understand causes of explosions of biodiversity (as well as mass extinction) in the history of life. (See Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, "Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis, and the origin of irreducible complexity," in Valerio Parisi, Valeria De Fonzo, and Filippo Aluffi-Pentini eds., Dynamical Genetics (2004); Stephen C. Meyer, "The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories," Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Vol. 117(2):213-239 (2004); Meyer, S. C., Ross, M., Nelson, P. & P. Chien, "The Cambrian explosion: biology's big bang," in Darwinism Design and Public Education, Pp. 323-402 (Michigan State University Press, 2003).)

- ID has inspired scientists to do various types of research seeking function for non-coding "junk"-DNA, allowing us to understand development and cellular biology. (See Jonathan Wells, "Using Intelligent Design Theory to Guide Scientific Research," Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, 3.1.2 (Nov. 2004); A.C. McIntosh, "Information and Entropy -- Top-Down or Bottom-Up Development in Living Systems?," International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4(4):351-385 (2009); Josiah D. Seaman and John C. Sanford, "Skittle: A 2-Dimensional Genome Visualization Tool," BMC Informatics, Vol. 10:451 (2009).)

(http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/11/does_intelligent_design_help_s040781.html)

Regarding: “"Science is an evidience-based system of examining the world that is based on repeatedly advancing & testing hypotheses as possible expllanations of observations. Those hypotheses may be accepted or rejected on the basis of the evidence for or against them”

I would say: Yes, that’s exactly right, and ID makes testable hypotheses and is based upon evidence. For example, as discussed at

http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1156

ID makes the following predictions, which are validated by the evidence:

Table 2. Predictions of Design (Hypothesis):

(1) High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will be found.
(2) Forms will be found in the fossil record that appear suddenly and without any precursors.
(3) Genes and functional parts will be re-used in different unrelated organisms.
(4) The genetic code will NOT contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA".

Regarding: "Do remember that many of the 'well qualitied proponents' of the ID movement are not biologists. As a biologist I don't know enough about (say) engineering to comment on an engineering proposition in any way other than as a lay person. The same is true for engineers (& other non-biologists) who support the idea of intelligent design & denigrate evolutonary biology."

I reply: Actually, there are a significant number of ID proponents who are biologists and many who are not are nonetheless well-trained in some aspects of evolutionary biology. So you can say what you want but dismissing someone because of their educational background is a logical fallacy called the genetic fallacy. You need to respond to their arguments and not dismiss them with a closed mind.

Alison's dangerous dogmatic stance on evolution and origins science has been called out by Casey Luskin, who's also shown the many flaws in hew views on irreducible complexity, exposing her as not only ignorant but also dishonest.

Want a Good Grade in Allison Campbell's College Biology Course? Don't Endorse Intelligent Design - Evolution News & Views

I do hope Alison realizes the extreme harm she's bringing to science education by peddling
Victorian Era ignorance at the expense of modern science.

It's embarrassing that, in our age of enlightenment, a silly mid-19th century argument-from-ignorance like Darwin's could still hold so much power and be accepted by so many.

The fact is, Darwin's ideas were spurred on by ignorance. Neither he nor his contemporaries truly understood biology. How could they given the lack of technology available in their time? They filled-in their absence of knowledge with dangerous and unwarranted extrapolations, as well as positing that random mutation somehow had immense creative power─something which remains evidence-free to this very day.

Unfortunately, what they accomplished was far worse than simply spreading junk science. In the process they also created an atheist creation story; a makeshift religion for God-denialists. Suddenly, non-intelligent comatose forces of nature were as creatively gifted as immense intelligence─perhaps even more so (they allegedly created intelligence, after all)─and magical mutations could do what even our greatest of engineers, combined and in millions of man-hours, could only dream of doing.

This was, still is and will forever be an extremely attractive proposition to God-denialists, for obvious reasons, hence why it's so ardently defended by atheists like Eugenie Scott, Richard Dawkins and the notorious alcoholic, Christopher Hitchens. If you need any further evidence of this, I challenge you to go to YouTube, search for videos on Darwinian evolution and take a close look at those who most passionately and vitriolically defend it. Nearly all of them will be atheist, with friends lists full of other atheists and subscriptions to channels that proselytize for atheism. Their constant attempts to try and label the scientific revolution of Intelligent Design as religion is their attempt at deflecting from their own religious motivations, namely the blatantly obvious fact that Darwinian evolution acts as their own religion, right down to celebrating their own version of Christmas, Darwin Day.


At this point, views on origins seem to be divided into three groups:


i) Those who accept modern, science which has proven that living organisms are "software-driven biological machine(s)," chock full of mind-blowing technology. A true nanofactory of the world's most sophisticated machinery, all working in brilliant unison with a single goal─making life operate.

These people are rational and take the parsimonious interpretation of these findings by concluding that they're the work of a great intelligence, an intelligence which makes Einstein's look like a housefly's by comparison.

These people are the saviors of biology; the ones who want to take biology into the 21st century by correctly linking it to the information, computer and engineering sciences--all which screams out "intelligent design."


ii) Those who accept modern, science which has proven that living organisms are "software-driven biological machine(s)," chock full of mind-blowing technology. A true nanofactory of the world's most sophisticated machinery, all working in brilliant unison with a single goal─making life operate.

Sounds good, right? Wrong. You see, these people are irrational and insist that magical random mutations, coupled with the non-force, non-mechanism tautology called "natural selection," has created all of this brilliant and beautiful engineering. This despite the evidence of random mutation being able to create even simple novel structures being non-existent. All examples of mutations creating any notable evolution have come via the destruction of previously-existing structures, something which makes random mutation-driven micro-to-macro extrapolation untenable and, yes, stupid as hell.

These people are irrational and are motivated by their emotions, not logic nor evidence. Most fall into the category of atheist who use Darwinian evolution as a makeshift religion and are trying to inject their faith into science, which is a big no-no. They may be worth holding a discussion with, but keep in mind the state of their mental health while doing so. If they get too nutty and/or violent, I'd recommend blocking them immediately before they drag you down into their pit of archaic pseudoscience.


iii) Those who reject modern science and deny that living organisms are everything that reality has shown them to be (see above).

These people are full-blown insane and/or dangerously ignorant. They should be ignored at all times, bar those of you who are good-hearted, charitable and brave enough to attempt helping them.

To flip Alison's argument-from-authority around on her, I'd like to point out that Stephen C. Meyer is a Cambridge-educated historian and philosopher of science whose specialty is the history of origin of life research and of the scientific method. He is thee definitive authority on whether or not I.D. qualifies as science, and he says that it does while making a very powerful argument as to why it does.

Alison doesn't seem to know enough about the scientific methods (yes, there are more than one) to have a valid opinion herself, hence why she's resorted to copying-and-pasting others' failed attempts at discrediting Meyer. She's doing exactly what she (falsely) accuses I.D. proponents of doing.

So, who do we side with here: The authority who makes a very powerful argument, Stephen C. Meyer, or the non-authority who makes a very weak argument, Alison Campbell?

If you must think about that question for more than three-seconds, you're motivated by an agenda that's anything but promoting good science, an agenda shared by Richard Dawkins (atheist), Eugenie Scott (atheist), Barbara Forrest (atheist) and Alison Campbell (hmm...).

You could easily have put your argument without the personal attacks & I would have been happy to engage you. However, your response here really descends to the gutter. I will ban you for future posts with this tone.

Jared Jammer,

My "instant thought" on reading Casey Luskin's post about Alison's writing is how ironic for him to run it under "academic freedom" and "free speech", when he disallows any reply! (No comments are allowed.)

I have to laugh at his attempt to twists Alison's words around. Pretty standard for Casey from what I've heard from others.

But ignoring that, he drops in the "standard" misrepsentation about the Kitzmiller ruling, claiming was about banning or dismisses others for "alternative" "scientific" views -- in essence it was about disallowing pushing theology as science and demanding that theology be presented as science to students, a very different thing. But that's a standard ID/creationist name switching game, to call their theology "science".

Trouble is word games don't make something science. This, in turn, is the nub of the ruling in many respects.

The fact is, Darwin's ideas were spurred on by ignorance.

Of sorts, but not of the kind you make out. Science does work to ‘fill in the blanks’ on knowledge as everyone knows. It's nonsensical to present that as something wrong, as you have. (Among other things, it’s make *all* new explanations "bad"!)

They filled-in their absence of knowledge with dangerous and unwarranted extrapolations,

Ah, yes, the long jump to a straw man argument.

as well as positing that random mutation somehow had immense creative power─something which remains evidence-free to this very day.

Not true and Darwin did't quite posit this, either. Mutations came on the scene much later. Darwin talked about variation. No personal slight in this—just saying it as it stands—but you're showing an ignorance of basic biology and science history.

In the process they also created an atheist creation story

Not correct. Darwin and his colleagues didn't work on the origin of life, nor is the work on the origin of life a "religion". On top of that you've got yourself arguing both ways here, that science is a religion while the same opposing religion, i.e. not being a religion. "Does not compute" ;-)

notorious alcoholic

Irrelevant personal pot-shots show you prefer that over substance. Think about it. Not a good look.

You seem to have a problem with your three alternatives: (i) and (ii) are identical ;-) (Both being "Those who accept modern, science ... with a single goal─making life operate.")

You might want to replace the second with what is meant to be there.

These people are rational and take the parsimonious interpretation of these findings by concluding that they're the work of a great intelligence, an intelligence which makes Einstein's look like a housefly's by comparison.

This begs the question. (Fallacy.)

Life doesn't work life software. I ought to know, too: I’m a computational biologist. I believe PZ Myers has an excellent explanation of this.

these people are irrational

Straw man argument. (Again!)

non-mechanism tautology called "natural selection,"

This is self-contradictory: natural selection is a mechanism. It makes me wonder if you understand what natural selection is as off-hand I can't see why else someone would make this error.

This despite the evidence of random mutation being able to create even simple novel structures being non-existent.

False. There's a lot evidence for that. The simplest for those not steeped in molecular genetics may be gene duplication, followed by divergence.

All examples of mutations creating any notable evolution have come via the destruction of previously-existing structures

I just knew this would have to be in there somewhere :-) Simply not true. Mutation really just means "change", it does not imply "loss", "damage", etc. - that's just what some B-grade science fiction writers do to jazz things up. Many changes are neutral, some are gain-of-function, where mutation creates a new activity. There's documented cases of each.

These people are irrational and are motivated by their emotions, not logic nor evidence...

This whole paragraph is one big straw man argument - not worth a response.

Conclusions:

All of this is such "standard" stuff from the ID/creationist camp it is clear to me that you don't critically think about what they tell you.

In particular, if you want to criticise something you *have* to understand it. It's an absolute tautology. If you don't understand something, you can't criticise it. You don't understand biology - you don't have the needed knowledge to criticise it. Until you do you're stuck, really.

Enough for a day. A week, even :-)

What Grant said.

It's a supreme (& hilarious) irony to be accused of stifling free speech & academic freedom (which incidentally does not mean that students can write pretty much anything - without supporting evidence - and expect it to be well-received) by someone who does just that. You'll notice that you are able to post on this site, provided you observe some basic tenets of common courtesy, but that Mr Luskin's posts are closed to commenters.

Trouble is word games don't make something science. This, in turn, is the nub of the ruling in many respects.

Nor do court rulings by a non-science oriented judge make something science. Alison (and others) have stated that only biologists, geneticists, paleontologists et al can cogently rule on evolutionary matters. Engineers, physicians and other scientific but non-specifically related fields are exempt from analysis and critiquing the data. But the ruling of a US District Court Judge with no scientific training is held to be concise, factual, and authoritative?! I see an inconsistency here.

No, the “nub” of the ruling was the conclusion that the Board violated two prongs of the ‘Lemon Wedge’, had religious motives, lied regarding funding of the Pandas and People books, and that the book which purported science, had been edited to remove references to creation, -ism.

No argument there (overall) since the evidence largely supported his finding based on the above and of citing similar rulings, but in his ancillary findings (second part of the ruling) he was completely off base.

Interesting that in a PLOS interview he admitted no familiarity with ID, or of its salient issues contra to mainstream evolutionary theory prior to the trial.

… although I consider myself reasonably well-read, I could not remember hearing about ID before, so I really didn't know what it was.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2588113/

Judge Jones was ruling on a legal question: whether the use of ID materials was an attempt to bring creationist materials into the school classroom. His job was to weigh up the evidence on either side & make a decision. The evidence was presented to him by experts for either side.

If your analogy were correct then judges wouldn't be able to rule on much of what comes before them, as they are not experts in forensics, accounting, reproductive biology etc.

"If your analogy were correct then judges wouldn't be able to rule on much of what comes before them, as they are not experts in forensics, accounting, reproductive biology etc."

True to a degree, but here are some points to consider. As we both know, courts do (of necessity) rely on expert testimony, as in this case as well. Problem is/was, the smattering of information given Jones was plainly insufficient to rule on the efficacy and validity of teleology as a factor to consider when analyzing biologic data. For a jurist with no scientific training, and who admitted to unfamiliarity with even the term ‘ID’, he was not qualified to make the sweeping judgment that ID was not science.

To do this, he conflated ID with Creationism, based on biased testimony (NCSE’s agenda), on the copy and paste editing of P&P, and of the Board’s actions, even though the School Board members were also unfamiliar with the tenets of ID. Conflating ID with Creationism was based on isolated incidents where Creationists may indeed have had religious motives, or appeared to, rather than a concise analysis of ID proper.

Michael Behe’s testimony was misrepresented by the Plaintiffs as being not only wrong, but of him having voodoo beliefs (Astrology, a bald lie), and various theatrics before the judge. Miller’s args supportive of natural causation regarding flagellar evolution have not then, or since, held up as correct, but were accepted by Judge Jones as ‘proof’ of evolutionary causation. Removing 40 proteins to show a ‘base’ with the same construct as the TTSS does nothing to validate the upward assemblage of those 40 proteins by natural causation to arrive at the flagellum. Nor is it been shown to be likely that the TTSS preceded the various flagellum, since it would be non-functional without cellular propulsion.

But regardless, was Judge Jones qualified to assess the data in making that determination? Not at all. In short, no court of law is in a position to rule on the scientific validity or non-validity of teleology reasoning regarding biologic progressions, and in particular, based on several purportedly valid examples. If ID has validity, only continued research will result in verification or falsification, not a court of law.

Lee,

No, the “nub” of the ruling was the conclusion that the Board violated two prongs of the ‘Lemon Wedge’, had religious motives, lied regarding funding of the Pandas and People books, and that the book which purported science, had been edited to remove references to creation, -ism.

With all respect, you've mixed up the means used to determine the ruling (the Lemon test*) and the ruling itself. I referred to the latter. I am, of course, writing in general terms not getting into nitpicky specifics - just the broad gist of the rulings.

That a judge isn’t an expert in the topic at hand would be routinely the case, as Alison has pointed out.

* Test, not wedge! You’ve crossed wires with the Wedge document, I think :-)

As I've said, your argument that no court of law can rule on scientific issues would make an awful lot of legal issues invalid. But as both Grant & I have noted, that wasn't what Judge Jones was doing.

Jones was given a 'smattering' of information? Jones was provided with an enormous quantity of information. If you feel that what he got was 'insufficient to rule on the efficacy & validity of teleology', then that is a short-coming of the ID camp (as I recall, several of their 'experts' declined to take part in the hearings, leaving Michael Behe to do the lion's share).

Conflating ID with Creationism was based on isolated incidents... - this has been ably done by spokesmen for ID; William Dembski, for example, has said that ID “is just the Logos of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”

”As I've said, your argument that no court of law can rule on scientific issues would make an awful lot of legal issues invalid. But as both Grant & I have noted, that wasn't what Judge Jones was doing.”

’Specific’ issues or cases sure, but not an overreaching statement regarding a whole field of research.

”Jones was given a 'smattering' of information? Jones was provided with an enormous quantity of information.”

OK then, does establishing natural causation for the flagellum (which Miller did not), the removal of a few intrinsic clotting factors (before the split) in the case of the Puffer Fish, or a stack of books and papers purporting to support evidence of immune function evolution, and without actual citations, presented to a non-scientist constitute a plethora of information? Sure, forty days of trial with full day testimony seems like a lot of information, but little in the way of actual data to support an all-inclusive ID discreditation.

”If you feel that what he got was 'insufficient to rule on the efficacy & validity of teleology', then that is a short-coming of the ID camp (as I recall, several of their 'experts' declined to take part in the hearings, leaving Michael Behe to do the lion's share).“

Granted. There was little support for ID, with most of it heaped on Behe’s shoulders. Further, the defense missed multiple opportunities (I feel) to object to prosecution testimony. One was ‘leading-the-witness’ regarding the Astrology ID conflation. Another was a pile of books and papers, w/o actual citations given to support them as evidentiary. And there were other points where assertions by prosecution witnesses could have been challenged.

And again, all the more reason to refrain from judgment regarding ID as non-science; totally unwarranted.

”William Dembski, for example, has said that ID “is just the Logos of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.””

Sure, I’m well aware. This was a personal take, spoken to a religious gathering. I’m certain as well that there are many who have observed evidences of design/ creation in the world, and may well arrive at a theological (or even a religious) position based on the evidence.

Where Creationism departs from ID proper, is basing scientific conclusions on scripture, rather than evidence. Irreducible complexity and specified information are what support ID, rather than a personal view based on religious teachings, and are perfectly valid tenets for continued research.

To conclude these thots, ID and Specified Information Theory stand on their own merits

"With all respect, you've mixed up the means used to determine the ruling (the Lemon test*) and the ruling itself. I referred to the latter. I am, of course, writing in general terms not getting into nitpicky specifics - just the broad gist of the rulings."

And I was commenting in general terms as well. I kind of like the analogy of "word games don't make science" to "courts of law don't make (determine) science."

Regarding rulings of this sort, have you considered what the evo camp would have declared had Judge Jones ruled in favor of ID? 'Biggoted, non-scientific overtly religious, Bush appointed', and more. As it turned out, the diehard evos loved to state that Jones was a "Bush appointed conservative" who actually agreed with them in toto, makeing their case even stronger.

And yes, many ID'sts would have gloated as well. But I approach the key questions from a scientific, cause-and-effect, and statistical probability position, NOT religious precepts. Science is via observation and unbiased and objective analyses. Unfortunately, most of us are agenda bound, and that impinges negatively on rational thought.

So let's treat science as it is intended; open to objective inquiry. ID is clearly on the table, with evo processes likely intertwined as designed-in support systems.

"Test, not wedge! You’ve crossed wires with the Wedge document, I think :-)"

Hey, you're spot on. In fact, exactly right in the association, since I once said on another blog, "Having a 'lemon wedge' in my tea makes more sense ... "

I was debating Pim van Meurs over on OPPOSING/VIEWS regarding DI's historic Wedge document, and I guess it crossed paths with my fingers as I was typing.

http://www.opposingviews.com/comments/having-a-lemon-wedge-in-my-tea-makes-more-sense

Cheers ;~)

Lee,

To do this, he conflated ID with Creationism

Nope, he noted that ID was the same creationism under another name. Big difference.

Miller’s args supportive of natural causation regarding flagellar evolution have not then, or since, held up as correct, but were accepted by Judge Jones as ‘proof’ of evolutionary causation.

Not correct. See Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2010 Feb;22(1):68-74 for a discussion. There is an active body of work on the origin of flagella.

Nor is it been shown to be likely that the TTSS preceded the various flagellum, since it would be non-functional without cellular propulsion.

Flawed logic, sets aside valid explanations out-of-hand. Early complexes may have had other roles and later acquired a locomotory role, e.g. a protein export system (as has been proposed). You should also be aware that there many kind of flagella and only 2 of the proteins found in them are in common between the different kinds of flagella.

(You may wish to note my final point to Jared in the long comment earlier. There’s no point in criticising biology without knowing it correctly.)

Lee,

All this focus on this particular court case to me is a fine illustration of that ID is defined in terms of legal issues, which is precisely the point about ID being creationism placed another another hat for legal reasons.

You keep banging on about the judge not knowing science in detail. It would be true for essentially all court cases that the judge is not an expert in the profession of those under his ruling, unless they were from his own legal profession. It’s a false argument, through and through.

Judges work with laws and logic. Testing the false dichotomy Alison referred to ('evolution can't explain X, so therefore intelligent design is true'), for example, does not need a degree in science, it's just basic logic. Understanding the basic process of science, does not need a detailed knowledge of molecular biology. And so on. It helps to remember judges are smart people, too.

Thank you Professor Campbell.

Casey Luskin has tried to raise issues not just with your article, but with your reply to one of your commenters. As usual, he did a bad job.

First of all he doesn't like your logic, at least he thinks you didn't support your position. I disagree. You clearly stated ID is not science, therefore any further justification for your position is unneccesary.

What I find more interesting is that in a recent post on the so-called academic freedom laws the Discovery Institute is pushing, Luskin said that it was a lie when anyone claims that these laws would bring Intelligent Design into the classroom. Yet in his response to your post, he specifically claims that these laws would rpevent you from down grading a student who answered a biology question with an ID answer. He is trying to use your comments to justify these pseudo-academic freedom laws.

He also fails to realize that your comment "ID is not science (no matter its protestations to the contrary) & I don't expect to see explanations from that quarter in science class - unless we're discussing the nature & philosophy of science. Whiich is something that happens in a class on evolutionary biology" demonstrates that as long as you are discussing the nature and philosophy of science, you certainly can discuss ID in class. And that is under current academic freedom laws and academic rules -- making his pseudo-laws un-needed.

I did enjoy his last comment: ""So if you're a student at the University of Waikato taking biology from Allison Campbell, beware: don't talk about intelligent design, and you probably also shouldn't admit if you believe in God. Unless, of course, you don't mind being "marked down." "(italics added)

So how can Luskin claim there is nothing religious about ID when he makes a comment like this?

Professor, thank you for your article and thank you for addressing many of the commenters as you have. You are my hero!

Ted Herrlich
tedhohio@gmail.com
http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com

Lovely to hear from you, Ted, & thank you very much indeed for your supportive comments. I agree that there does appear to be something of a comprehension problem underlying the DI post :-)

Goodness Alison we seem to have created a cosmic storm.
Can any or all of your correspondents comment on this observation.....


"DNA Double Helix: Its Existence Alone Defeats any Theory of Evolution
The scientific reality of the DNA double helix and its function can single-handedly defeat any theory that assumes life arose from non-life through materialistic forces. Evolution theory has convinced many people that the design in our world is merely "apparent" -- just the result of random, natural processes.
However, with the discovery, mapping and sequencing of the DNA molecule, we now understand that organic life is based on vastly complex information code, and such information cannot be created or interpreted without an Intelligent Designer at the cosmic keyboard.

Hi George - I think this post & the associated Nature paper address this question in providing a model for self-assembly, no 'desigher' required.
I think it's important to remember that any argument for design needs to include the likely mechanism by which the designer might have acted. To date I have yet to see anything in this area from the ID camp. Without this, ID cannot claim to be 'doing science' & in fact continues to fall into the 'false dichotomy' logical fallacy.
cheers, Alison

RATS left out the url: http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/05/origin-of-life-building-an-rna-world-from-simple-chemicals.ars

George wrote:
"I reply: Actually, there are a significant number of ID proponents who are biologists and many who are not are nonetheless well-trained in some aspects of evolutionary biology. So you can say what you want but dismissing someone because of their educational background is a logical fallacy called the genetic fallacy. You need to respond to their arguments and not dismiss them with a closed mind."

Their arguments are addressed, by Alison and others. Their arguments are the same kind of ones being brought up by you, and have been refuted. Then what often happens is people such as you attempt a kind of argument form expertise, i.e. bringing up ID’s supposed ‘many well qualified proponents’. (The ‘hey look, scientists agree with us too!’ argument.) If you’re going to bring up the issue of qualifications in your case for ID, it’s valid for your opponent to address that issue. (In this case by pointing out that a majority of your well qualified proponents are not actually experts in the particular field under discussion.)

Jared wrote:
"To flip Alison's argument-from-authority around on her,"

She didn’t make an argument from authority.

"These people are rational and take the parsimonious interpretation of these findings by concluding that they're the work of a great intelligence,"

That is just hilarious.

Hi Alison,

Not enough time in days to junk all the junk about junk DNA (hehe), gene regulation or epigenetics.

One point though: a key problem with creationists/IDists (same thing, different names) is the the term 'junk DNA' was never meant to be taken in the very literal absolute way creationists/IDists use it.

This statement by George Watson, for example is rubbish: "Likewise, DNA—both genes and non-genes—is almost totally packed with information that is vital or very useful to the functioning and survival of the cell, …"

In practice it’s neither. There are small elements that have functional roles, but there are also vast swathes that have—best as is known thus far—no real function. (You can delete them and the deletion causes the organism no harm or loss of function.)

In addition to it being an example of non-Darwinian evolution, George writes as if the mitochondrion were still a bacterium. As we know you can't take a mitochondria, remove it and have it grow on it’s own. It evolved over time to lose elements and become totally dependent on the host cell. They have very tight interactions with the cell, they’ve not now the engulfed bacterium they once were.

Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI).

I find this excellent (read: hilarious). George is saying the ID is founded on a fallacy in your own words. A fallacy I said it was based on earlier, as it happens; pity I didn't see this example earlier.

He's saying ID is based on begging the question. I agree.

This isn’t an observation that “intelligent … (CSI)” but an a priori assertion which pops the answer into the question - begging the question.

Enough for one night. (Or a weekend.)

Dear Miss (Ms? Mrs?) Campbell,
You are a heroine to continue with your patient attempt to educate George. You even avoided the obvious comment "Elementary, my dear Watson", (though he would not have found it so).
I am so glad that civilisation is still alive and well, albeit in a far-off land. (And I grieve for those involved in the Christchurch tragedy).
Keep up the good fight, non illegitime carborundum!
The Clam

"So how can Luskin claim there is nothing religious about ID when he makes a comment like this?"

There is a reason why the term "Disinformation Institute" has some currency, along with the phrase "lying for Jesus". Both of these are standard techniques used by the creationists, whether of the YEC: 'There are NO transitional fossils!' or the ID style of creationism: 'ID is science not religion and by banning it from classrooms you're being mean to Christians.' as exemplified by Casey Luskin.

" Because Meyer 'sees' design in the way the cell operates, but offers no actual mechanism "

There is a mechanism, but they're shy about using its name. The mechanism of ID is, of course, a miracle. In each case where ID is alleged to have operated, such as the acquisition of quinine resistance by a malaria parasite (according to Behe), there was a miracle.

IDCers deserve no more respect than the chess analyst whose explanation for each move made by Bobby Fischer is that 'Bobby Fischer made that move.'

That also leads into the explosion of the false claim there's any parsimony to IDC. IDC would only be parsimonious if you think the chess analyst above was providing a parsimonious explanation for why the game was played as it was.

Correction (my apologies):

For "George is saying the ID is founded on a fallacy in your own words."

Read "George is saying the ID is founded on a fallacy in his own words."

And as I said before, this is where the whole ID thing comes unstuck. It's simply saying "goddidit", & this is not an explanation, it's not a mechanism, it's just hand-waving. It offers no openings for further research & is thus meaningless from a scientific perspective.

One more thought about Luskin's blog post.

There's comment thread here.

Why couldn't he just reply, like everyone else?

Combined with his not offering comments on his blog, I'd say he's too timid to reply in person.

He can't have a lot of conviction in his beliefs if he is unable to have to them questioned by others or to discuss them with others.

George,
You made a comment on a "significant number of ID proponents who are biologists . . .", care to back that up? What is a significant numbber? 1, 10, 100? A commenter to my blog tried to play this cardas well, so I tried to find out and the results were enlightening, but far from supportive of your position.

First stop was the Discovery Institute. I figured if there was a 'significant number', they would be trumpeting it from every possible vantage point. Unfortunately for you, they aren't.

You might know that the Discovery Institute has a petition they started in 2001 that currently has over 700 names. Originally they claimed the list held over 700 Doctoral Scientists, but a closer examination shows that not only are they not all have Doctorate degrees, but many are not even scientists -- and while the title of the petition is "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" the primary reason many of the signers signed was due to a religious rather than a scientific objection. The list also had about 18% of people working in biology related field. 18% of 700 is hardly significant.

The reason I bring up the list is because it took 8 years to break 700 signers, even ignoring the other issues with the petition (Few Biologists but many Evangelicals Sign Anti-Evolution Petition, http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E00EEDB113EF932A15751C0A9609C8B63), it was presented as an amicus curiae brief in the Kitzmiller v. Dover court case in October 2005. The the list was used in an attempt to show this upswelling of support for Intelligent Design (Something my poster was claiming).

So a check of the petition site http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/index.php) and I found the site has changed a lot since I was last there. First of all the number of signers is no longer displayed. And to think they were so proud of their 700+ names. Second some names on the list show more than one position. For example:

Charles E. Hunt is both a Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Professor of Design University of California, Davis and also, Visiting Professor of Physics University of Barcelona (Spain).

It makes the list look even longer, but if you are correct I would expect to see a bunch of new names, but it doesn't look like they have passed 800. No, I didn't count them all, there are about 40 names per page and 18 pages . . . Rory, you can do the math. Oh and just in case you ask, the site says the list was last updated in January 2010.

In contrast, after the Dover Trial and in response to the use the Discovery Institute put their little list -- a grass-roots effort petition supporting the teaching of evolution was started. (A Scientific Support For Darwinism). In four days 7,733 scientists signed up and, unlike the DI's list, over 68% work in biology or a biology related fields.

So George, if you know something the rest of us don't, I would appreciate if you would offer some support instead of nebulous comments.

I did cut and paste most of this from a blog post of mine, the original post is here: http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com/2010/07/in-response-to-comment.html I also discuss a few other steps I went through looking to substantiate the idea of a 'significant number'. You might check it out George. You won't like it, but you might check it out anyway -- in the interest of fairness, right?

Ted

Ted Herrlich
tedhohio@gmail.com
http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com

Okay Grant, let’s go at it.

”To do this, he conflated ID with Creationism”
“Nope, he noted that ID was the same creationism under another name. Big difference.”


–verb (used with objects)
to fuse into one entity; merge: to conflate dissenting voices into one protest.
-adj blend, coalesce, combine, commingle


But anyway, on to the real issues.

”Miller’s args supportive of natural causation regarding flagellar evolution have not then, or since, held up as correct, but were accepted by Judge Jones as ‘proof’ of evolutionary causation.”

“Not correct. See Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2010 Feb;22(1):68-74 for a discussion. There is an active body of work on the origin of flagella.“

That piece and many other PubMed pieces attack but do not resolve the flagellum / IC issues. One that I feel was more to the point, and with more data is Nick Matzke’s ‘Evolution in (Brownian) space’
http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html

” Nor is it been shown to be likely that the TTSS preceded the various flagellum, since it would be non-functional without cellular propulsion.”

“Flawed logic, sets aside valid explanations out-of-hand. Early complexes may have had other roles and later acquired a locomotory role, e.g. a protein export system (as has been proposed). You should also be aware that there many kind of flagella and only 2 of the proteins found in them are in common between the different kinds of flagella.”

I am fully aware of those points, but regarding exaptation (earlier roles) of component parts, which may have subsequently acquired (coopted) other functions down the line, it’s often used conjecturally (wishful thinking). Exaptation occurs, but not to the degree that it is applied to evolutionary scenarios, specifically as a result due to random mutations, which would then require selection to become fixed in a population. Intelligent input by ‘gene tweaking’ (altering genetic coding) to revise an organelle’s design/ function is a viable prediction, since we ourselves are doing similar work. Speciation by intelligent input is actually within our grasp, and therefore passes the test of ‘testability’. And remember, the ‘actual’ speciation events that have occurred historically are not.

”There’s no point in criticising biology without knowing it correctly.”

Although with no degree in that field (mine is biomedical engineering), I follow PNAS papers (and others) on a near daily basis, and have for over ten years. I’ve also done some bench work of my own. So “knowing it correctly” is not an issue. If you have followed other commentators, you should know by now that a rather small percentage are actually cell biologists, geneticists, paleontologists, etc, but have nonetheless done research online, and followed the salient issues. A good example is Ted Herrlich, a staunch opponent of ID, and with a background not in biology, but in Information Technology and Computer Programming. But you won’t see him criticized on biology related sites such as this one, since he is in agreement with the consensus viewpoint that ID is pseudoscience.

Consider also, that a working cell biologist may have a rather narrow view of evolutionary theory, having been indoctrinated with the prevailing views, and will never ever entertain for a moment the possibility of intelligent intervention in the processes, at least not publicly, and for obvious reasons. No tenure, no more grant money, and ridicule from colleagues to name a few. Does that make his ‘consensus’ thinking regarding the underlying (and largely unrepeatable by empirical experiment) tenets of evo processes? The so-called ‘plethora of evidence’ for evolution is rather a consensus view regarding a ‘plethora of data’. Alternate interpretations of the data are certainly worthy of consideration.

Granted that the vast majority of research is done by those in the field, and yes, most all of the innovative finds are by those individuals. But need all others be excluded? Historically, innovative thought and groundbreaking discoveries have often come about by those outside, or in a somewhat distant field (science v. engineering for example). And today, given the plethora of information available online, and the overlapping of the various fields of study, even philosophers (Daniel Dennett et al) are allowed in.

So no, I don’t buy the argument that only those working in directly related fields can comment effectively on evolutionary/ genetic topics.

@Mike from Ottawa
"Because Meyer 'sees' design in the way the cell operates, but offers no actual mechanism "

”There is a mechanism, but they're shy about using its name. The mechanism of ID is, of course, a miracle. In each case where ID is alleged to have operated, such as the acquisition of quinine resistance by a malaria parasite (according to Behe), there was a miracle.”

That might be a Creationist’s take (goddidit), but not a true IDsts. Behe and others see evidence of intervention in the evolutionary (actually, likely prior to embryogenesis) process, by modification of the sperm or ovum genes. Or during embryogenesis, if a method was available. Call it gene-tweaking if you like, and not necessarily by the man-with-the-beard, but by other cosmic entitiy(ies). ID discerns intelligence, ergo any entity or mechanism capable of a directed response, as operative in radical speciation (novel revisions of a body plan). But miracle?! No, simply cause-and-effect by an intelligence.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2969-gene-tweaking-safely-doubles-lifespan.html
http://www.newser.com/story/16393/gene-tweaking-dramatically-extends-life.html

By the way, that slang expression will continue to garner more hits (now around 2,000) as time goes on. If we can do it, why not other intelligences? To not at least consider the possibility that there is other intelligence in the cosmos is short-sighted. But in any regard, it’s the evidence of design that support its premise; not a religious push from religionists.

“IDCers deserve no more respect than the chess analyst whose explanation for each move made by Bobby Fischer is that 'Bobby Fischer made that move.'”

Intelligent Design Creationists perhaps (IDC), but not IDsts. And regarding miracles, assuming that just because phylogenic lineages are in evidence with progressively complex visual systems that they evolved via selective pressures (hmmmm, I need better night vision so I will only reproduce with someone with a tapetum lucidium layer on his retina) is conjecture.

‘Selection’ , is of course not random. It’s what is available to select from. Ergo junk mutations. No, incremental redesign is a more viable explanation, unless or course, you believe in miracles.


Can you say … “Mutantdidit”

That was my thought - that the descent to personal invective & insults, combined with the lack of commenting opportunity on Mr Luskin's shoot, suggests that there's little to back up his point of view. A case full of sound & fury, signifying nothing...

"Hmmm, I need better night vision so I had better..." - come on, Lee, surely you can do better than a mischaracterization of the way natural selection operates!

You speak repeatedly of a designer & of that designer having "tweaked" things on various unspecified occasions. Lee, This.Is.Not.Science. It's an appeal to the supernatural. It offers no explanation, no possibility of future predictions, no mechanism other than this 'unknown' designer. (I used the quote marks advisedly since, in his diatribe about me, Mr Luskin makes it fairly clear that the designer is god.) None of that bears any resemblance to the way that science works.

I'd just like to point out that while Ted comments regularly on issues to do with evolution & creationism, he isn't claiming to be doing actual science In that area. this is somewhat different from the approach of the DI.

don’t buy the argument that only those working in directly related fields

Sidesteps what I wrote and put words in my mouth. I wrote *understanding*. What your degree is, what you read, etc., wasn't the point. You have ILLUSTRATED that you don't understand aspects. That's already been done whatever else you point at.

Your complaint about exaptation being sometimes used conjecturally, etc., has no relevance: stick to the system at hand. You're hand-waving.

Hi Grant,

One more thought about Luskin's blog post.
There's comment thread here.
Why couldn't he just reply, like everyone else?
Combined with his not offering comments on his blog, I'd say he's too timid to reply in person.
He can't have a lot of conviction in his beliefs if he is unable to have to them questioned by others or to discuss them with others.

Well, I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t make his comment on his own blog. People should be entitled to respond to things they read on the net in their own manner, and on their own websites if they see fit. (It’s what Ted Herrlich did, after all.) He should have let her know, though, with a comment here.

Regards comments on his blog, I emailed Luskin a couple of questions, one of which was on that subject, and received a response. To that issue he made the not unreasonable point that comments policy on the site was not his and was made before he joined Evolution News, and that the people who established the site decided they would not have time to moderate the excessive number of “hate comments” they would receive. They are reconsidering the policy and have allowed comments on some posts, for e.g. see this post

I assume the website he’s part of gets more traffic than Alison’s, so it would have been appropriate for Alison, or anyone else, to be able to post a response either in full in a comment to his blog, or at least post a link back to Alison’s resply.

Lee,
I have never pretended to be working in any biology related field -- my bio on my own blog makes that clear. My education, as you rightly said, is in Information Technology. My education in biology is that of a pretty typical high school, college, and graduate school student. That being said I comment for several reasons.
First of all I am a target of the groups that push pseudo-science, like Creationism/Intelligent Design. Not me personally, but I am the exact type of person at which the Discovery Institute, the Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis (to name a few) take aim. They aren't trying to convince scientists, if they were, they might actually do scientific work. No, they are after those of us who are not biologists and who are not scientists. We are the people who elect school boards, attend parent-teacher meetings, and rant and rave at our politicians. When my children's teacher is wrong, I have no issue letting them know that! If those groups can sell me on their ideas, I would be doing their job for them at my local and state school board and with vote for various politicos! That's why they spend orders of magnitudes more money marketing and politicking than supporting actual science.
Secondly, I am not against Intelligent Design. When I first heard the idea I was intrigued, if you read back in my blog you might realize that. What I am not in favor of is teaching Intelligent Design as if it were science, because right now it is not. No one is doing the scientific leg-work. No one seems to be able to move past the appearance of design. Yet they make unsupported claims as they publish in popular and religious press -- including the Stephen Meyer diatribe (published in Harper One, the religious imprint of Harper-Collins) and never seem to offer anything actually peer-reviewed. They opened their own lab, which hasn't done it. They have started their own journal, and still haven't done anything with it. They even opened their own publishing house so they can get more of their material into bookstores without any requirement of actually supporting their ideas. Professor Campbell already mentioned the Sternberg controversy. I know ID proponents claim all sorts of conspiracies against them, but the one arena where their ideas would gain traction with biologists and other scientists is the one arena they seen to avoid like the plague, the scientific lab. Until they do the work, I am against them being included in the science classroom. As I am against Astrology for Astronomy and Alchemy for Chemistry. The world isn't flat either.
Finally I am also against just about every tactic used by groups such as the Discovery Institute. You can read back in my blogs and see some of them. They lie, mis-direct, make unsupported claims, build straw-men arguments and then tear them down -- never advancing their own pet ideas past the wishful thinking stage. I mean look at what Casey Luskin tried to do with a teacher who simply said 'if a student answers a biology question with intelligent design with get down graded' (paraphrase). Why would anyone have an issue with that? But Casey is trying to use it to support a law that Casey previously said would not bring Intelligent Design into the classroom. And that is not even close to one of the worst tactics in their quiver.
So while I am not, nor have I ever pretended to be, a biologist. That has no bearing on what I have commented on. I fully expect Professor Campbell and others to correct any errors I do make. She's a teacher, I think it comes with the job. The reason is not because I am pro-science, but because I am entitled to my opinion and I haven't tried to pass off bad information as if it were correct.
I will leave you with the words of Dr. Chancey, Chair of the Religious Studies Department at SMU to place my participation in a better perspective:

"Many religious groups-Christian and other-do not regard evolutionary theory as a threat. For many people of faith, science and religion go hand in hand. When scholars criticize ID, they are not attacking religion. They are only asking ID proponents to be transparent in their agenda, accurate about their representations of scholarship, and willing to play by the same rules of peer review and quality control that legitimate scholars and scientists around the world follow every day."

Ted

Ted Herrlich
tedhohio@gmail.com
http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com

Hmm, in my previous post I seemed to have botched the html...

Here is the link to the blog of Luskin's with comments allowed:
http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/02/lobbyists_resort_to_myth-infor044241.html

”Hmmm, I need better night vision so I had better..." - come on, Lee, surely you can do better than a mischaracterization of the way natural selection operates!”

That was humor, Alison. Kind of an analogy to the logic behind a fundamental precept of evolutionary theory, captioned as ‘chance and necessity’, where all improvements in the structure and aesthetic nature of life forms came about because of a need for improvement or of radical redesign.

I fully accept adaptive modifications, particularly where survival is at stake. When environment gets nasty there are several possibilities; that of an adaptive modification that allows the species to adapt and survive (more fur, increased metabolism to confront colder temps, etc.), population losses, but in some cases extinction.

In addition, not all adaptations are due to mutational changes, but are due to inherent variability of existent traits, i.e. finch beaks for example. This variability allows for the requisite adaptations that must occur over time, and that I view as a ‘designed in’ evolutionary mechanism to do just that; aid in survival.

While the retinal layer for reflectivity mentioned increases night vision, and is viewed as an adaptive trait, it could well be a designed modification as well. But as stated, I threw that in as humor and as a parody of natural selection to account for all species diversity. I take no actual position, however, that that feature had to be designed; just that it’s a possibility.

I do take a harder stand however regarding the placement of Müller glia between the photoreceptors to channel the photons through the outer ganglion layers, and other features of the vertebrate and invertebrate eyes that defy the naturalistic causality.

But my bad Alison. I should have followed that remark with a smiley. ;~)

”You speak repeatedly of a designer & of that designer having "tweaked" things on various unspecified occasions.”

In proposing an alternate hypothesis to natural causation (ID), I would suggest it be regarded as merely that, rather than a developed theory. And in the same way that alternative hypotheses exist with regard to other theories.

”This.Is.Not.Science. It's an appeal to the supernatural.”

Supernatural is a nebulous term. Does it mean outside the natural universe (supra-), or simply in violation of natural laws (miracle). I view biologic life progressions as the result of natural, but guided causation, part and parcel. IOW, within and operating via existent natural laws.

You mentioned ‘self-assembly’ earlier. Self-assembly is evident in embryogenesis, and in cell replication and cellular repair later on, since bioforms must proceed on their own. I draw the line however at employing the term to explain the production of novelty (such as radical revisions of body plans, or of amino acids to form chromosomes in the original stages of RNA development).

”It offers no explanation, no possibility of future predictions, no mechanism other than this 'unknown' designer.”

Many, including some within mainstream ID, have proposed it as all encompassing, supernatural, and even as short-termed and miraculous. My predictive position is that ID is an alternative hypothesis within the existing theory of evolution, including adherence to the chronologies proposed (vast time), rather than a fully developed theory, and that it would apply to biologic lineages only, not cosmic formations for which there is no direct evidence.

Fine tuning sure, although some have proposed that as explainable by multiverse theories. I don’t buy into those, but admit that they are an attempt to reconcile the statistical improbability of cosmic parameters holding to such precise values that seem to defy chance. Even if the universe was designed, it was at a much earlier time, and of totally different modalities. Thus, I exclude it from my definition of ID, at least for now.

”So no, I don’t buy the argument that only those working in directly related fields can comment effectively on evolutionary/ genetic topics.”

”Sidesteps what I wrote and put words in my mouth.”

I didn’t say that you stated that directly, although it could be argued that you inferred as much.

12:55 ” … word games don't make something science.”

2:02 ”You don't understand biology - you don't have the needed knowledge to criticize it.”

Anyway, it was intended as a general statement regarding criticisms oft heard of non-scientists critiquing evolutionary theory, not as an actual quote by you.

Hi Ted,
You wrote:

” I have never pretended to be working in any biology related field -- my bio on my own blog makes that clear. My education, as you rightly said, is in Information Technology. My education in biology is that of a pretty typical high school, college, and graduate school student. That being said I comment for several reasons.“

In an earlier comment regarding the prevailing bias against IDsts by the scientific community, I had mentioned that the reason often given for repudiation was of an IDst residing outside of the biology sciences (engineering, medicine, computational science, etc). My point was that those with similar backgrounds were never criticized IF they sided with evolutionary theory.

I had stated:

”If you have followed other commentators, you should know by now that a rather small percentage are actually cell biologists, geneticists, paleontologists, etc, but have nonetheless done research online, and followed the salient issues. A good example is Ted Herrlich, a staunch opponent of ID, and with a background not in biology, but in Information Technology and Computer Programming. But you won’t see him criticized on biology related sites such as this one, since he is in agreement with the consensus viewpoint that ID is pseudoscience.”

I wasn’t saying that you were unqualified to critique ID, but that the science community openly demeans and ostracizes any of a similar background who negatively critique evolutionary theory, and warmly supports those who don’t. My point was merely to highlight the open bias that exists.

”First of all I am a target of the groups that push pseudo-science, like Creationism/Intelligent Design. Not me personally, but I am the exact type of person at which the Discovery Institute, the Institute for Creation Research, and Answers in Genesis (to name a few) take aim.”

I know the feeling.

”Secondly, I am not against Intelligent Design. When I first heard the idea I was intrigued, if you read back in my blog you might realize that. What I am not in favor of is teaching Intelligent Design as if it were science, because right now it is not.”

No disagreement there, since many non-scientifically oriented groups have weighed in, impinging ID’s true (by definition) empirically based approach, and thus encroaching upon its integrity. ID is often spoken of as the ‘big tent’, but that concept can be taken too far afield. Religious orientation is fine, as long as to does not compromise the scientific method. I do feel however, that due to that point being continually stressed that today, the tent has shrunken a bit.

”No one is doing the scientific leg-work. No one seems to be able to move past the appearance of design.”

But design inferences are a starting point. What remains is statistical, empirical, and perhaps modeling to confirm or falsify that premise, a work in progress. Absolute verification or falsification will likely never be achieved, however.

”Yet they make unsupported claims as they publish in popular and religious press -- including the Stephen Meyer diatribe (published in Harper One, the religious imprint of Harper-Collins) and never seem to offer anything actually peer-reviewed.”

It’s far from diatribe, but I agree that being published by Harper One was perhaps not wise, due to the obvious implications. One result: All of the Barnes and Nobel stores I’ve been in have the book placed in the religious sections, even though its content is strictly science based. Want to hear a coincident irony? ‘The God Delusion’ is placed in on the science shelves.

And don’t blame IDsts for a lack of peer-review, since ID being mentioned in a positive (or even an investigative) light is overtly prohibited by the funding and regulatory organizations.

”I know ID proponents claim all sorts of conspiracies against them, but the one arena where their ideas would gain traction with biologists and other scientists is the one arena they seen to avoid like the plague, the scientific lab. Until they do the work, I am against them being included in the science classroom. As I am against Astrology for Astronomy and Alchemy for Chemistry. The world isn't flat either.”

It’s not that IDsts avoid the lab, it’s rather that there are virtually no labs willing to take the heat. No funding, no peer-review, no tenure granted, and thus, little if any research geared toward ID.

And regarding the three straw men you named in the last sentence, I’m sure we ALL would agree. ;~)

”I will leave you with the words of Dr. Chancey, Chair of the Religious Studies Department at SMU to place my participation in a better perspective:”

"Many religious groups-Christian and other-do not regard evolutionary theory as a threat. For many people of faith, science and religion go hand in hand. When scholars criticize ID, they are not attacking religion. They are only asking ID proponents to be transparent in their agenda, accurate about their representations of scholarship, and willing to play by the same rules of peer review and quality control that legitimate scholars and scientists around the world follow every day."

I have no argument with those words, and I sincerely feel that DI would agree as well. I have to say that they have been unfairly maligned. While we may not agree in that regard, we do agree, in principle, with the way science should be pursued, do we not?

I’ll conclude with the sincere feeling that legislating science from the bench, and with regulatory organizations operating in a fascist mode is the true science stopper. Were that not the case, I’d simply throw in the towel. But truth be known (or unknown), we either are or are not alone in the universe. One grain of sand on a vast cosmic beach inhabiting the only conscious life? As Bill Clinton once said, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word is, is.” In short, regardless of what you profess to be true, reality ‘is’ whatever ‘is’. So why not pursue that reality …

Supernatural is a nebulous term. Does it mean outside the natural universe (supra-), or simply in violation of natural laws (miracle). I view biologic life progressions as the result of natural, but guided causation, part and parcel. IOW, within and operating via existent natural laws.

This has me confused. If the progressions are the result of natural, but guided causation, how can it all be operating within existing natural laws? The guidance can’t be natural, so it must be supernatural. And if it is natural, what on earth (heh) is it?

I wasn’t saying that you were unqualified to critique ID, but that the science community openly demeans and ostracizes any of a similar background who negatively critique evolutionary theory, and warmly supports those who don’t. My point was merely to highlight the open bias that exists.

Firstly, the scientific community doesn’t, I think, have any problem with specific criticisms of aspects of evolution theory. It’s the wholesale ‘you know how to resolve all those problems and unanswered questions in evolution theory? Just replace it with ID!’ approach that will get a frosty reception. Anyway, what you highlight here isn’t a bias. It would be if the biologists with expertise in this area were embracing someone like Ted because he was a scientist, then you might have a point. But they don’t agree with him because he happens to be categorised as a scientist, they agree with him because they agree with his arguments. He could be a philosophy of science lecturer, or a lawyer, and they’d still embrace his case. Your point seems tautological: specialists in evolution science don’t embrace the arguments of the people whose arguments they disagree with. Imagine that!
I’ve noticed anecdotally that if anything it seems to happen in the reverse way. ID supporters often try to highlight the ‘reputable scientists’ that agree with their views. For example, see earlier in this very thread – George Watson brought up the ‘many well qualified proponents’ who support ID. When Alison addressed this point, he called “genetic fallacy” on her, and said qualifications weren’t important and she should address their arguments. That doesn’t make sense – if qualifications aren’t important, why did he bring them up?

Hi Lee,

You wrote:

My point was that those with similar backgrounds were never criticized IF they sided with evolutionary theory.

I disagree. I have had a number of commenters point out errors in some of the posts about evolution. Most of them have done so in the interest in educating me. As I have said I'm not a biologist and sometimes simplify things down too far. I like using analogies, and when they do not track, they don't hesitate to point it out to me. It's honest criticism, that's all. Now when a Creationist doesn't like what I have to say, that's when it gets fun. Because they never offer details, just wishful thinking, conjecture, and usually a large dose of projection and rationalizations.


For example of rationalization, this would qualify, in my opinion.


but that the science community openly demeans and ostracizes any of a similar background who negatively critique evolutionary theory,

I disagree. What I find happens is the scientific community generally ignores those who argue against evolution, much in the same way they usually walk past the Tarot Card Reader at the County Fair. When they do address their criticisms the first thing they ask for is evidenciary support. Those who fail to provide support for their criticisms are dismissed. Those who continue to critic without evidence might get be demeaned and even ostracized, but they tend to just be ignored. A few might be demeaned and even ostracized, but for the most part they are ignored -- and rightly so. I have found much more tolerance of views on the science side than from a much higher percentage of Creationists. Here is a sampling of the 'Christian' behavior of one over on Topix: http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com/2008/03/recent-happenings.html


I have yet to see any evidence of:


. . .impinging ID’s true (by definition) empirically based approach . . . But design inferences are a starting point. What remains is statistical, empirical, and perhaps modeling to confirm or falsify that premise, a work in progress.

Who is doing this work? Please don't tell me the Discovery Institute. There reliance on the Conservative Christian Right is visible at every step they take. While they scream over and over again how scientific ID is, their actions are strictly based on their religious beliefs. From their Wedge Strategy document to 'conferences' at religious organizations to publishing in religious presses -- there doesn't seem to be much 'statistical, empirical, or modeling going on.


I certainly do blame ID for their lack of peer review. Look at the history of science and you will find that EVERY scientific theory that stands today went through periods on nonacceptance and outright dismissal and hostility. Not just Evolution, which didn't become an accepted theory (in the scientific sense of the term) until decades after Darwin's death. But look at Continental Drift, which was laughed at and dismissed. The difference is that those scientists not only kept at it, but produced. ID is just marketing. My suggestion to them has been consistent. They should get out of the books stores, out of the marketing, out of the school board meetings and go into the lab and not come out until they do the leg work. How else do unpopular ideas become theories. It's not from saying the same unsupported junk over and over again, it's not from pandering to politicians, it's not from making teachers afraid to cover the material. It's doing the work and following the methodologies. Read Stephen C. Meyers "Signature in a Cell" for a perfect example. Loads of science terminology, lots of opinion, even a bit of re-writing history, but nothing that shows evidence, methodology, or even a process by which he arrived at his opinions. Claiming some conspiracy isn't the answer either. Doing the work is.


As for whether or not wee agree is beside the point. I also disagree that we are legislating science from the bench. The issue wasn't so much ruling on science, but a ruling on what should be taught as science. It offered a chance for ID proponents to make their case. If they could have shown their ideas to be science, I think the ruling could have been very different. But they did not, and the witness whose testimony was given a lot of weight in the final decision was Michael Behe's.

Ted

I'm quite intrigued by the succession of people commenting in the thread. It begins with George Watson, who refers so often to "Stephen-Meyer's-book-The-Signature-in-the-Cell" (never the author's name on its own, or the book's name on its own, but always the two in combination) as to force me to the conclusion that he had the phrase installed on his PC as a macro. Or else he is being paid by the publishers for every instance of product placement. He gives no impression of responding to or having read the original post.

Eventually George exhausts his supply of talking points -- there is no discussion, he ignores any rebuttal of his previous claims and simply moves on to make a new claim -- and passes the baton on to Jared Jammer. Unfortunately Jammer's level of invective is set too high and he gets himself banned. Fortunately Lee Bowman comes to hear of the debate, and takes over.

Have I missed anyone?

Well, I didn't actually ban master Jammer, I just said that if he continued to address me in the tone of his first posts, then that would be the consequence. Grant suggested, & I'm inclined to agree, that Jammer could be one of Demski's students - do you remember a little while back, PZ talking about how said students could get credit for a course by posting on blogs that discuss evolutionary matters. (it's a nice hypothesis, anyway!)

that Jammer could be one of Demski's students

I asked that (wasn't too sure if it was right) and someone else said it might be Behe‘s lot. Who knows, I don’t! I vaguely remember PZ's article on it, though. Seemed an extra-ordinary was to get credits if true.

At risk of being quote-mined - again! teehee - I will stick my neck out & say that if Jammer was indeed doing what you've suggested, it's not something my students would get credit for. No evidence of critical thinking, total inability to engage in any meaningful way with the original post, & a conspicuous absence of common courtesy.

Lee: My predictive position is that ID is an alternative hypothesis within the existing theory of evolution...
except that it's not an hypothesis, not in the scientific sense, because (& I say it again) it offers no possibility of being tested. 'A designer did it' but in your view did 'it' (whatever that was) outside the bounds of the everyday natural world. Well, how on earth is that testable? No suggestion of how 'it' was done, let alone what 'it' actually was. Once more with feeling: This.Is.Not.Science.

And while we're at it - why multiple takes on the same problem? As herr doktor bimler has pointed out, 'the' bacterial flagellum is not a singular thing - bacterial flagella have evolved at least twice, in the Eubacteria & Archaea. I suppose we could also take a stab at sub-optimal 'design'...

I was intrigued to learn (pace Jammer) that evolutionary theory is an intrinsically atheist (or "God-denialist") doctrine, with the corollary that ID is intrinsically linked to theism... Lee Bowman was forced, a few comments later, to protest that ID and religion are only conflated "in isolated incidents". Jammer is also very keen on appeals to authority as a form of argument... again followed shortly after by Lee Bowman's complaints that the Discovery Institute's court battle relied too heavily on appeals to authority.

Lee Bowman has been left with a lot of damage control.

Interesting that we have some Stephen Meyer supporters in the comments. Meyer employs his logical device: "argument from best explanation". He (and Dembski) make up something called complex specified information, then says that we've only ever seen intelligence create complex specified information so therefore DNA is designed by an intelligence. He says a creator intelligence is the "best explanation".

But what Meyer COMPLETELY ignores is history. A creator intelligence was the "best explanation" for lightning before we discovered a natural explanation. A creator intelligence was the best explanation for the movement of the stars and planets until we discovered a natural explanation. Newton himself thought the "best explanation" for what set the planets in motion was a creator intelligence (God), until later generations of scientists determined natural explanations. A creator intelligence was the best explanation for the arrangement of the continents and water bodies on Earth, until a natural explanation was discovered.

The repeated failures of "creator intelligence" as an explanatory mechanism DO matter when determining what a "best explanation" might be. Meyer does not attempt to distinguish between "cannot be discovered" and "hasn't yet been discovered". He assumes the "best explanation" is that a natural, unguided cause CANNOT be discovered. In so doing, he makes one of the most spectacularly unsuccessful assumptions in the history of rational thought.

But setting aside the weaknesses in his argument, we must also look at HOW he presents his arguments, and what his motivations are. When a bright man undertakes a fundamentally dishonest mission, it is important to highlight what is really going on.


Proponents say: "Intelligent Design is the scientific search for evidence of design in nature."

In theory, that may be true. In practice however, ID is an advertising campaign and a tool for fundamentalist Christians who see it as a wedge with which to drive Genesis back into science classes and public policy.

Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the ID "researchers" are not the actions of scientists seeking actual truth. They do not attempt to convince their scientific peers with weight of evidence. They treat criticism as an attack, as a shunning, rather than as part of the gauntlet that any new scientific idea must run. Then they hire Ben Stein to advertise their victimization at the hands of those mean scientists. The sophisticated ID proponents like Meyer appeal directly to the public with scientific-sounding books like "Signature in the Cell", using math and terminology that the vast majority of the general public is not equipped to critique.

And they use lawyers and press releases. The Discovery Institute in Seattle is promoting intelligent design with a media machine that is churning out several press releases every week. Using funding from Young Earth Creationists, the lawyers and politicos who head the Discovery Institute keep the ID "manufactroversy" in business.

If there are any actual honest ID "scientists", people actually trying to study something scientifically and trying to devise actual falsifiable tests, they are lost in sea of bamboozle and mis-direction that is the heart and soul of the "Intelligent Design" lobby.

The pseudo-scientific advertising machine of the Discovery Institute most closely resembles the ad campaigns by Big Tobacco in the late 60s. But where Big Tobacco were (by their own admission) marketing doubt in the science that showed smoking causes cancer, the Discovery Institute (by its own admission) markets doubt in the materialist science of evolution.

These are not the ACTIONS of people of science. They are the actions of people of politics and religious ideology.

So let's not confuse what Intelligent Design should be with what Intelligent Design is.

”Supernatural is a nebulous term. Does it mean outside the natural universe (supra-), or simply in violation of natural laws (miracle). I view biologic life progressions as the result of natural, but guided causation, part and parcel. IOW, within and operating via existent natural laws.”

This has me confused. If the progressions are the result of natural, but guided causation, how can it all be operating within existing natural laws?

First, ‘existing natural laws’ likely encompass as yet undefined laws and principles, quark-gluon and other sub-atomic relationships for one. Does a spirit realm exist? It is highly in evidence, but is either beyond the reach of today’s physicists, or working physicists and neurologists would just rather avoid dealing with that possibility. I feel that since it is discernable, it is likely within the natural universe, but it could reside in a close-by parallel dimension as well. Might depend upon how one defines it.

So when I say “natural, but guided causation”, I mean real, rather than magic or imaginary, and conscious, rather than natural in the inanimate sense. If spirit entities exist, a subset of that population might well consist of genetic tinkerers. That would make earth a biologic workshop or sorts, and life’s experiences a kind of sabbatical experience by those very entities (or others), with spirit entities themselves inhabiting the biological constructs to animate them. Since there is much evidence that consciousness is (or is at times) external from the body (OOB experiences), it would fit that scenario. And if the above is true, that would place we ourselves into a spirit-based lineage of the designing entities.

Daniel Dennitt and others have tussled with the problem of defining consciousness, but shy away from a non synaptic explanation of thought, although I feel it is just that. Brain functions color thoughts, add emotive responses (fear, anger, lust), interpret sensory input (vision processing requires a large percentage of brain function), and direct muscular actions, but are not necessarily the end point of consciousness. You are not your DNA.

The guidance can’t be natural, so it must be supernatural. And if it is natural, what on earth (heh) is it?”


Your guess is as good as mine ….

Does a spirit realm exist? It is highly in evidence, but is either beyond the reach of today's physicists, or working physicists and neurologists would just rather avoid dealing with that possibility. I feel that since it is discernable, ...

Er, Lee, I think you had better present the evidence in support of this particular claim. I've read nothing in the scientific literature that would suggest that a 'spirit realm' is 'highly in evidencie'. You may, personally, feel that it is discernable, but that's subjective, anecdotal, and not the sort of evidence that's going to be accepted in a science-based discussion.

Lee: My predictive position is that ID is an alternative hypothesis within the existing theory of evolution...

Alison: except that it's not an hypothesis, not in the scientific sense, because (& I say it again) it offers no possibility of being tested.

Both ID and macroevolution are forensic and historical studies, and neither can be empirically tested or duplicated in the laboratory.

Alison: 'A designer did it' but in your view did 'it' (whatever that was) outside the bounds of the everyday natural world. Well, how on earth is that testable?

Neither scenario is testable (empirically replicable).

Alison: No suggestion of how 'it' was done, let alone what 'it' actually was.

From the earliest stages, no. From later stages chromosome alterations by ‘gene tinkering’, coupled with environmental pressures and natural selection to cause the minor variances.

Alison: This.Is.Not.Science.

Then neither would be novel body plans and complex muti-dependent systems (each w/o a survival/repro advantage w/o the other) science, since not empirically observable or testable. Same for SETI explorations, since it would involve the study of intelligences which would not be explainable by natural laws alone.

Alison: As herr doktor bimler has pointed out, 'the' bacterial flagellum is not a singular thing - bacterial flagella have evolved at least twice, in the Eubacteria & Archaea. I suppose we could also take a stab at sub-optimal 'design'...

There are various flagella, both eukaryotic and prokaryotic, and some would say that heliobacter pylori have a destructive purpose, and raise questions of motive, if designed. In an earlier proposed scenario where I inferred MDT, or multi-designer theory, I mentioned competiveness within nature. This would include predator/ prey, parasite/ host, and heliobacter as a cause of stomach ulceration, not to mention cancer and other illnesses. Some of that might have evolved due to opportunities that presented themselves, but if designed, would degrade, by inference, a designer’s motives.

Nonetheless, there are elements of nature too complex to have evolved by chance, and becoming embodied by selective pressures. I sometimes use the term NEC, or ‘non-evolvable complexity’, a term for systems that are co-dependent, and if not put into place together would not offer selective advantages, and thus would not become fixed in a population.

Even the motility function of the various flagella (the rotary variety) would have no reason to evolve upward until motility was achieved. The proposition that various other intermediate functions allowed its upward progression is not supported by evidence. Read Nick Matzke’s piece, mention earlier, to see where those conjectural scenarios are tossed around, but fall far short of achieving explanatory power. But I complement Nick for his efforts, a paper well done.

Lee: Does a spirit realm exist? It is highly in evidence, but is either beyond the reach of today's physicists, or working physicists and neurologists would just rather avoid dealing with that possibility. I feel that since it is discernable, ...

Alison: Er, Lee, I think you had better present the evidence in support of this particular claim. I've read nothing in the scientific literature that would suggest that a 'spirit realm' is 'highly in evidencie'. You may, personally, feel that it is discernable, but that's subjective, anecdotal, and not the sort of evidence that's going to be accepted in a science-based discussion.

Precisely. Mainstream science avoids the concept. But it is highly in evidence outside the ivy covered halls and the NIH funded laboratories. There are numerous documented OOB cases, many originating from within surgical suites where a patient on the table observed unobservable things while under anesthesia, and in a some cases where bodily functions had ceased, then were renovated.

While not widely accepted within science circles, there are some (within the science) community that are taking dualism seriously. The alternative? DNA/ synaptic function only. But there is substantial evidence (OOB inferences) to support the spirit essence as coexisting within the body, and much of it reported by nurses, anesthesiologists and surgeons rather than voodoo cultists. And they certainly would not benefit by lying about it.

Precisely. Mainstream science avoids the concept.

Twisting statements to other meanings or putting words in other's mouths doesn't make you right! What Alison wrote was a request for evidence, not "avoiding the concept".

There are numerous documented OOB cases, many originating from within surgical suites where a patient on the table observed unobservable things while under anesthesia, and in a some cases where bodily functions had ceased, then were renovated.

There is neuroscience pointing to the cause of these apparent OOB experiences, based on evidence and research, not anecdote as the support you offer is.

There is neuroscience pointing to the cause of these apparent OOB experiences, based on evidence and research, not anecdote as the support you offer is.

There will always be attemps to explain away OBE's, and those explanations are worthy of consideration. But so also is the possible reality of them as well. Bear in mind, that most of the occurrences have been hushed, due to institutions not wanting to garner any negative publicity.

Here's something from the Netherlands regarding several documented OBE events:
http://profezie3m.altervista.org/archivio/TheLancet_NDE.htm

And a detailed follow up analysis:
http://www.zarqon.co.uk/Lancet.pdf

there are some (within the science) community that are taking dualism seriously.

Yes indeedy. Sir John Eccles comes to mind, from the neurology speciality, but no doubt there are other examples. So you *can* research dualism without being cashiered from the scientific community; there are no black-coped Inquisitorial gentlemen gravely intoning "Thou shalt not ask these questions" as they lead heretical researchers down into the dungeons.

And if anyone finds any evidence of interaction between the physical universe we've encountered so far and some other aspect of the universe which one might as well call the "spirit realm" -- any information acquired through contact with an intelligence that manifests in that aspect, which could not have been otherwise acquired -- then it would be very exciting. Whole new research areas, job security, woot!

Perhaps this would be a more productive line of research than looking for evidence of interaction with a spirit realm in the evolution of bacteria 3 billion years ago (i.e. the bacterial flagellum issue), because the only trace of what the original design of the flagellum looked like is in bacterial DNA, which has since been recopied literally trillions of times. It is all very well to look at the current design of the flagellar motor and not to be able to see how it could have arisen from a mutation of some other trans-membrane bacterial function, but the original design -- before a trillion iterations of trial-and-error optimisation -- would have been considerably different.

Anyway, the reason the "spirit realm" line of research has fallen out of favour is simply that no-one has found any reproducible phenomena. Surgeons have tried placing concealed messages around their operating theatres in places where an out-of-body consciousness could see them and report them back, but the out-of-body experience never seems to involve anything that the individual didn't already know.

Does a spirit realm exist? It is highly in evidence, but is either beyond the reach of today’s physicists, or working physicists and neurologists would just rather avoid dealing with that possibility.

Oh really? Do you have evidence of that? More rationalization with a little projection tossed in.

Lee, you remind me of some folks who claim that we need to be open-minded to the possibility. I think you, and they, are in error. Being open-minded does not mean being open to any possible explanation, no matter how improbable. I mean look at what being close-minded is usually referred to, that when presented with the evidence, you reject it. Open-minded means that when presented with the evidence, you accept it, at least to the point of considering it. It's the evidence that makes the difference. The problem is here there is no evidence, none. There is conjecture, there is wishful thinking, there is some level of hope -- but there is no evidence. And just because there are things that are unexplained -- doesn't automatically means a pseudo-scientific idea is the best answer. This is frequently called the 'God-in-the-gaps' argument and is a form of logical fallacy.

As soon as someone says: "Both ID and macroevolution are forensic and historical studies, and neither can be empirically tested or duplicated in the laboratory", you know they are pushing soundbites and are not interested in truth.

Not all science is done in a lab. And Lee knows this, as a veteran of online comment battles as he valiantly promotes the Discovery Institute's creationist agenda.

Theories in astronomy can be "tested". Newton didn't study gravity in a lab. Theories in geology can be tested. Epidemiology is science, even though it doesn't happen in a lab.

Tell us, Lee - do we equate "intelligent mountain creation" with "tectonic plate theory"? By your definition neither can be "tested". Have you considered speaking in front of a geology conference and explaining how mountain formation through tectonic plate movement cannot be tested?

Talkorigins assembled a nice list of falsifiable tests for evolution, quickly found if you google "29 evidences evolution".

So the statement that neither evolution nor intelligent design is "testable" is nonsense.

Now Lee - please present falsifiable tests for ID. And please explain how "undesigned" life would look different from "designed" life.

OK, Lee, I think we have to agree that the ID camp (for which you seem to be the only one speaking here at the moment) cannot provide any evidence for its suggestions concerning the actions of the 'designer' - you can't tell us what 'it' did, how 'it' did this unknowable thing, or when 'it' acted. Instead, you seem to have retreated to, well, handwaving about the possibility of the 'designer' operating from some spirit world, & the evidence for that is apparently suppressed by some equally unknown shadowy establishment figures. This is a combination of special pleading and conspiracy theory, and really just reinforces my original comment that ID isn't science.

Being open-minded does not mean being open to any possible explanation, no matter how improbable.

I absolutely agree.

I mean look at what being close-minded is usually referred to, that when presented with the evidence, you reject it.

Correct. And I’ve never put it that way, however.

Open-minded means that when presented with the evidence, you accept it, at least to the point of considering it. It's the evidence that makes the difference.

Evidence is generally defined as something helpful in forming a conclusion, or concerning ‘scientific data’, as germane to arriving at a conclusion, but here is where we often get into trouble. When one analyzes data while holding an a priori belief or certitude regarding a theory, hypothesis, or even a tentative premise, however based, it may color his/her assessment of the data. In some cases, data gravitating contra to a held premise may be disregarded as irrelevant, or at least tabled while ‘better data’ is sought.

And with any field of study where evidence (data) can have varied inferences, this skewing is not only possible, but likely. Adherents of a particular field of research may fervently deny that their data can have alternate conclusions are the ones who I would term ‘short sighted’, or more to the point, ‘biased’. And it’s completely understandable if one is in a field where contra views are forbidden (frowned upon at minimum), or if funding and tenure are dependent upon a stated (AAAS literature) or inferred adherence.

In my studies, I seek to be objective, and to remain open to that stance, and attempt to stifle any wishful thinking regarding the design premise that I might hold to. But in reality, there is no wishful thinking involved. I could care less either way, since reality trumps non-reality. The conclusions I presently hold are NOT due to indoctrination (church, DI fellowship, books read, or a desire it be true), but purely an objective view of the data. And believe me or not, I am open to data that refutes or is contra to conclusions I now hold.

One more point of relevance. Labels ending in –ist should be avoided. Categorical terms ending in –ism are OK, since unfortunately, they exist. But to label someone a xxxxxxx-ist is as demeaning as one can get, since it implies being wedded to categorical beliefs and perhaps dogma, or at a minimum, adherences held by others in that grouping. That is why I sometimes laugh inwardly when I see the tying together of ‘rational thought’ or ‘free thinking’ with atheism, and I’d be happy to debate that correlation with David Hume if I had the chance. We can accept either theism or atheism is the ‘soft’ sense, but to assume either in the ‘hard sense’ is contra to free thought. So choose either as a favored position, but never take the position that your position is irrefutable. Even Dawkins admits to being 6.9 on an atheist scale of one to seven.

So let’s all strive for free thot, but never let the ‘group’ dictate our thinking. A group consensus can exist, but regarding cogency, to each his own.

And finally Ted altho I agree with most of what you wrote, I must take exception to one statement you made: “The problem is here there is no evidence, none.”

If that were true, the issue at hand would have been put to bed long ago.

RickK on March 8

… “Both ID and macroevolution are forensic and historical studies, and neither can be empirically tested or duplicated in the laboratory"
Not all science is done in a lab. And Lee knows this, as a veteran of online comment battles as he valiantly promotes the Discovery Institute's creationist agenda.

Let me clarify my point. Neither ID nor macroevolution are empirically testable anywhere, in the lab, out of the lab, or in one’s bedroom. Nor, are they observable. Sad but true.

Similar to a court case, but only in that sense, that of entailing and analyzing forensic evidence, after which a certain degree of conjecture ensues. Does that lead to undisputable conclusions? Keine tat, ask any juror.

That’s why comparing evolutionary theory to the clearly and easily observable theory of gravity is not only absurd, it’s sophomoric. While it’s true that Darwin mentioned that this planet had gone cycling on, according to the fixed law of gravity, that’s no reason to infer a relationship. One is a complex, historical and forensic process, perhaps multiple processes, autonomous, directed or both, while the other is simple molecular attraction. But I digress.

Anyway, so the point that it can be observed to a degree, and researched off the bench is true, but not the point I was making. Neither is replicable.

Tell us, Lee - do we equate "intelligent mountain creation" with "tectonic plate theory"? By your definition neither can be "tested".

I’m sure now that I’ve clarified, you’ll retract that question. And yes plate tectonics are forensic, but observable to a degree, and inferences regarding prior continental drift can be made. This is obviously a totally natural phenomenon, and if any directed outside forces were ever applied, there is no evidence of it. God holding the planets in orbit (or tweaking the orbits) is based on an earlier, less informed genera of scientists, and has no correlation with today’s body of knowledge and available tools.

Meyer does not attempt to distinguish between "cannot be discovered" and "hasn't yet been discovered". He assumes the "best explanation" is that a natural, unguided cause CANNOT be discovered. In so doing, he makes one of the most spectacularly unsuccessful assumptions in the history of rational thought.
But setting aside the weaknesses in his argument, we must also look at HOW he presents his arguments, and what his motivations are. When a bright man undertakes a fundamentally dishonest mission, it is important to highlight what is really going on.

Not sure that he makes those distinctions, but you might consider doing an Amazon review of his book based on your conclusions, but with actual text citations to support them.

You follow with the political arguments, the motive mongering and the jostling of the purported facts to make their case. To a degree, sure, but I see a more flagrant example of that coming out of the NCSE, one example being Barb Forrest’s IDC conflation, and with people like Eugenie Scott and Robert Pennock tossing out the term at speaking engagement after speaking engagement. I’d say that NCSE wins the political connotation hands down.

You say that these are not the actions of “people of science”, and I would agree, any more than those at Fox News are the ones running and managing our country. Sadly however, politics rules the day, and rather than exuding truth, it seems to be those with the biggest and best platforms rule the day.

So let's not confuse what Intelligent Design should be with what Intelligent Design is.

And let’s not confuse publicly spewed rhetoric with what is ultimately uncovered by research. And to some degree, I see the tide turning.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=evolution-education-abroad&WT.mc_id=SA_CAT_EVO_20110307

(note) I’m not cheering on ‘Creationism’, just the lowering of teleological restraints that allow ID as an investigative hypothesis.

Neither ID nor macroevolution are empirically testable anywhere, in the lab, out of the lab, or in one’s bedroom.
I fear you are wrong; it is possible to generate predictions about macroevolution and test them, using existing data. David Penny's work would be a case in point.

Lee said: "Neither ID nor macroevolution are empirically testable anywhere, in the lab, out of the lab, or in one’s bedroom. Nor, are they observable."

Evolution is observable on a small scale - what you would call "micro evolution". Why is ID not observable on a small scale, Lee?

Give us the scientific explanation why "intelligent design" did happen, but doesn't any more.

I content that the statement "ID doesn't happen today" is an example of the logcal fallacy of Special Pleading.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading

Prove me wrong.


Lee said: "That’s why comparing evolutionary theory to the clearly and easily observable theory of gravity is not only absurd, it’s sophomoric."

Actually, it's completely relevant. Our understanding of the mechanisms of gravity are incomplete. People even toss in the term "God particle". So it's interesting that while you're interested in injecting a directive intelligence into evolution, you seem to have no interest in doing so in gravity.

What is also interesting is that there are serious challenges to our understanding of gravity. Those challenges are being made and addressed within scientific circles: respected journals, conferences, etc. MOND promoters are not bypassing the scientific community and going direct to lobbyists and school boards. MOND promoters are not writing secret marketing strategies to appeal directly to the public to get gravity changed through political pressure.


An interesting contrast with ID promoters, don't you think?


Lee, you didn't like the comparison between evolution and plate tectonics.

Plate tectonics and evolution are DIRECTLY comparable.

We look at small plate movements within observable timeframes just as we look at small evolutionary changes in observable timeframes.

We infer larger changes (mountain ranges, macro evolution) from those small changes.

We look at evidence to understand how those changes happened over time: geologic strata and fault lines for plate tectonics; DNA, morphology and retroviral insertions for evolution.

They are directly comparable.

There is one big difference, however. We don't have any snapshots of early continental formations. We don't have any "baby pictures" of the Alps or Andes.

But we DO have very detailed, very clear snapshots of the earlier stages of evolution: fossils! We have millions of images of the intermediate forms that evolutionary theory requires (demands).

And we have zero explanation for why an intelligent designer capable of creating irreducibly-complex, or un-evolvable features would leave a fossil record full of trial and error.

So, to use your words, Lee, we can say that evolution "is obviously a totally natural phenomenon, and if any directed outside forces were ever applied, there is no evidence of it."


As for reviewing Meyer's book, I started to. But I found it hard to improve upon this thoughtful review.
http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2010/01/signature-in-the-cell-1-rjs.html

And I figured RJS, as a devout Christian, could reach the target audience much more effectively than mean old materialist me.

Finally, Lee - don't blame Barbara Forrest for the ID-Creationism conflation. Blame Stephen Meyer, whose name you'll find on "The Wedge". You know, the document that maps out the Discovery Institute's strategy to use design theory as a tool "To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God."

It is the Discovery Institute and its fundamentalist Christian backers and its few covert creationist scientists who have inextricably intertwined "design" with the Bible.

Hmm... "I content" should read "I contend"

You actually said:

When one analyzes data while holding an a priori belief or certitude regarding a theory, hypothesis, or even a tentative premise, however based, it may color his/her assessment of the data. In some cases, data gravitating contra to a held premise may be disregarded as irrelevant, or at least tabled while ‘better data’ is sought.

You know, you might be able to make this claim about a single scientist. Scientists are human as well. But for this to be a viable problem, you have to apply it to the entire scientific community. Sorry, Lee, it doesn't wash. Please don't try and claim ID is an example, because as a number of us have tried to clue you in, ID has NO evidenciary support. You cannot claim some institutional prejudice against something with no institutional standing. It's not prejudice when there is nothing to be prejudice about.

Now please take a look at the 'scientific community'. Do you really think that over the past 150 years evolution has been the center of a multi-national, decades-long, conspiracy of silence to prevent your favorite religious point of view from getting a fair hearing? Do you really think such a collection of individuals and groups could really accomplish this? The little tiny Discovery Institute can't get their own lies straight, how do you think the rest of the world could do it. Just because you claim a conspiracy theory, doesn't mean there is one. It's a convenient method to avoid actually doing the scientific work needed, but that's all it is -- an excuse.

You are also trying to sell this:

In my studies, I seek to be objective, and to remain open to that stance, and attempt to stifle any wishful thinking regarding the design premise that I might hold to. But in reality, there is no wishful thinking involved. I could care less either way, since reality trumps non-reality. The conclusions I presently hold are NOT due to indoctrination (church, DI fellowship, books read, or a desire it be true), but purely an objective view of the data.

Your own posts here reveal that you are prejudiced against valid science. You make assumptions on the validity of Intelligent Design and fail to recognize the lack of scientific work that would be required for it to be a viable scientific theory.

Yet you might also look into why are they campaigning so hard to introduce their pseudo-science ideas into the HS science classroom. Look at the so-called academic freedom bills, High School. Look at the attempted Santorum amendments to the 'No Child Left Behind', targeting high school students and even elementary school students. Look at the so-called educational materials being pushed by the DI -- high school. Is High School the right place to introduce something that . . . even if you gave it every possible benefit of the doubt . . . still isn't science. You might consider the whole picture and not just your personal philosophies

The issue of ID has been put to bed, in the scientific sense. Over and over again actual scientists have asked for the DI, and other ID proponents, to get out of marketing and into the lab. Do the work, support their ideas, show the rest of us why they are viable science. Yet those calls fall on deaf ears. What we get are unsupported diatribes in popular press, cries of imagined conspiracies, conferences at churches and non-secular schools, made-up political bills invoking catch-phrases like 'free speech' and 'academic freedom' and folks like you getting all defensive. In other words, we get nothing.

as for your little 'ist' phobia, you are preaching to the wrong people. Creationist is not a pejorative label from non-creationists. The is a label they put upon themselves. It's also a common use for people who support a particular philosophy. Now, on the other hand, Darwinist IS a pejorative term coined by Creationists as a way of putting down pro-science and evolution supporters. At least here in the States it is. In England it has a different meaning, but it's use here is strictly designed to be an insult. It's also an attempt to convince folks that evolution is just another philosophy. Simply put, it's not, it's science.

If you want to be taken seriously as science, take it back to the lab. You can continue to cry conspiracies -- which just proves you aren't serious about science. You can also continue to whine that you aren't given the same level of funding as real science, but until you support your case -- you don't deserve it and you should not expect it. You should also work on your patience because you shouldn't be allowed near the HS science classroom as science until you make your case. You also have to be willing to walk away if you are unable to make your case. So far the appearance is you are unwilling to try. But if you keep 'not trying' long enough, even the support of right-wing conservative Christians have limits. Just ask Glenn Beck about the million or so supporters he's lost in the past 6 months. Think about it.

Lee said: "Neither ID nor macroevolution are empirically testable anywhere, in the lab, out of the lab, or in one’s bedroom. Nor, are they observable."

Evolution is observable on a small scale - what you would call "micro evolution". Why is ID not observable on a small scale, Lee?

Contra to a widely held popular belief, micro-[adaptational]-evolution does not build to macro-[body plan revision]-evolution. If that statement is true, macroevolution is not observable. As mentioned earlier, talkorigin’s piece by Douglas Theobald (29+) claims to show by example how macro- events have been observed. In short, they have not.

Most examples, including speciation examples due to sexual and physical (geographic) isolation*, and are thus termed ‘speciation events’. Macroevolution is considered to be speciation. Therefore, macroevolution has been observed. False. Ernst Mayr’s concept of speciation has nothing to do with body plan revision, or as explanatory for the formation of complex, and in particular ‘co-dependent’ systems.

Secondly, while Theobald gives examples of hip bone relics in some whales, it isn’t supportive of natural causation. If that purported artifact is indeed ancestral, it would not rule out designer intervention to produce a new species, since rather than the ‘poof’ scenario, my design premise is based on altering what’s there to another function, tentatively by gene tweaking (cut and try).

Exaptation claims substantially the same thing, but fails statistical probability. In other words, depending upon ‘vast time’ to get the job done seldom comes through, and can be demonstrated statistically. The mere fact that certain land mammals preferred water habitation, or were running out of habitable land space, would not cause the requisite morphological changes needed to produce the whale species. Selective pressures could well select for the needed traits, but my prediction is that those traits would never occur spontaneously to allow that selection. The overemphasis of genetic mutations to produce novelty is, to borrow an expression, ‘hand waving’.

* allopatric, sympatric, parapatric, peripatric, and hybridization

Lee said: "That’s why comparing evolutionary theory to the clearly and easily observable theory of gravity is not only absurd, it’s sophomoric."

Actually, it's completely relevant. Our understanding of the mechanisms of gravity are incomplete. People even toss in the term "God particle". So it's interesting that while you're interested in injecting a directive intelligence into evolution, you seem to have no interest in doing so in gravity.

Wasn’t ‘Intelligent falling’ something that the FSM cooked up? ;~)

And yes, our understanding of how gravity works is incomplete, warranting further research, but it is still just a force field of some sort, possibly a function of quantum mechanics, and has no analogous kinship (parallel or correlation) with a vast, ongoing series of re-programmed functions, however programmed. Adaptive evolution is a function of embryogenesis, put there to aid in environmental adaptation, AND to create diversity (so we vary in appearance). It could well have been set up to produce identical progenies, clones, rather than varied and diverse ones. But radical speciation entails a redesign of phyla, and likely coupled with adaptive changes as well.

Plate tectonics and evolution are DIRECTLY comparable … We look at evidence to understand how those changes happened over time: geologic strata and fault lines for plate tectonics; DNA, morphology and retroviral insertions for evolution.

Both investigative methodologies have some similarities, yes, but it stops there. There are no causative nor observable similarities between the two.

As for reviewing Meyer's book, I started to. But I found it hard to improve upon this thoughtful review. http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2010/01/signature-in-the-cell-1-rjs.html

He mentions the culture war between theists or various ilks, and of scientists fabricating evidence, and of name calling and guilt by association. He appears to take a theistic evolution approach, but his main criticism of Meyer in this brief piece is for claiming that the ‘appearance of design’ is used throughout the book (or what he’s read so far), and that it explains nothing, or is not definitive.

He also says he finds fault with both extremes, and is postulating a middle ground. How about intelligent particles? And where are his follow up review segments?

By the way, read the comments, as they tend to say more than he does.

And finally, the ‘Wedge’ document, and that you claim it establishes ID as religiously motivated. Remember though, that that internal document only represented the views at that time of one group of ID proponents, and its focus was not so much on an ID substantiation by objective study and research (which was detailed later, in other memos and articles), but on an endorsement of promoting spiritual values. It never claimed that those values were central to, or indicative of the actual evidence for ID, just that they would likely go hand in hand with the outcome of an ID awareness. This is my interpretation, and similar to theirs (“The Wedge Document: So What?”).
http://www.public.asu.edu/~jmlynch/idt/wedge.html

It is the Discovery Institute and its fundamentalist Christian backers and its few covert creationist scientists who have inextricably intertwined "design" with the Bible.

I’ll just quote form the above paper. So what. ID stands on its own, regardless of its possible inferences, or of those whose lives have likely been shaped by them and have become caught up in promoting it. Once one accepts the obvious conclusion that life is designed, and by extension, plausibly having purpose and direction (good, bad or indifferent), where does one go from there? As I wrote earlier, to each his own.

Macroevolution is considered to be speciation. Therefore, macroevolution has been observed. False. Ernst Mayr’s concept of speciation has nothing to do with body plan revision, or as explanatory for the formation of complex, and in particular ‘co-dependent’ systems.
The problem here, Lee, is that you're attempting to rewrite definitions to suit your own particular viewpoint. To biologists, speciation is an example of macroevolution.

In other words, depending upon ‘vast time’ to get the job done seldom comes through, and can be demonstrated statistically. Meyers' supposed 'proofs' of this have been rather comprehensively demolished by statisticians & bioinformetricians.

my design premise is based on altering what’s there to another function, tentatively by gene tweaking (cut and try).
Back to the supernatural again, are we? Mechanism please, & evidence that this actually happened and cannot be explained by what we currently understand of molecular biology.

The mere fact that certain land mammals preferred water habitation, or were running out of habitable land space, would not cause the requisite morphological changes needed to produce the whale species. Of course it wouldn't, Lee. And in fact this sentence shows a lamentable lack of understanding of evolutionary mechanisms. You appear to be channelling Lamarck again.

” Ernst Mayr’s concept of speciation has nothing to do with body plan revision, or as explanatory for the formation of complex, and in particular ‘co-dependent’ systems.”

The problem here, Lee, is that you're attempting to rewrite definitions to suit your own particular viewpoint. To biologists, speciation is an example of macroevolution.

I’m not disagreeing that speciation occurs, or even with accepted definitions of speciation, just to some false conclusions regarding an end point of some of those events.

As we know, there are species (fish as a common examples) that no longer interbreed, and are considered by Mayr’s definition to be separate species, while there are morphologically differing species that interbreed just fine, although some only produce hybrids. And yes, there can be significant morphological alterations, but these should be largely classified as mere cosmetic variations. Nonetheless, radical morphologic revisions, and the introduction of novelty and new function has not been demonstrated to be the result of those type of modifications.

An analogy often trotted out is comparing a walk to the mailbox to be the same as a walk from LA to NY, given enough time, and that that correlates with micro- alterations eventually amounting to macro- alterations, ergo radical morphological speciation events.

The inherent fallacy of that pipe dream is that the needed evolutionary events would be varied and complex, and each would (of necessity) need to offer a reproductive or survival advantage, and for each one to become fixed within a population, there would need to be successful cohabitation, and the altered gene would need to remain non-recessive, or if recessive, both subsequent parents would need to have that recessive gene. In a large population, there is a good chance that the gene would at some point be lost, due to geographic isolation with the larger part of the population.

One more point. Given the rather long mammalian reproductive life cycles, these requisite evo events could extend well beyond the available time spans. And once again, the primary objection is that some/most intermediated alterations would be either deleterious or neutral to the species at that point in time, and would offer no reproductive advantage.
Anyway, here’s that analogy, simply put:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8FvcYfLpOs

Avian flight developed from earlier non-avian species, but the example of protofeathers tied to theropods evolving into flight feathers (barbed), and with revised muscular, metabolic, and respiratory support, along with bone and hip revisions would have required re-design input at strategic points. Studying bird morphologies from an engineering standpoint is revealing. Rather than embracing Dawkins’ canard, “No engineer would have done it that way.”, it might be more logical to propose that no group of chance mutations would have done it that way.

Avian flight developed from earlier non-avian species, but the example of protofeathers tied to theropods evolving into flight feathers (barbed), and with revised muscular, metabolic, and respiratory support, along with bone and hip revisions would have required re-design input at strategic points. This will of course be news to those palaentologists and ornithologists who have spent considerable time studying the evolution of birds. Come on Lee, you keep dodging the point, & the more you come up with fanciful statements like this, the weaker your argument appears. What 're-design input', when, how, & by whom? To postulate design at every point where you personally can't imagine how natural selection might have done it (& considering the very large number of anatomical features that maniraptorian theropods & birds have in common, your statements here suggest that you know rather little about the subject) is simply applying god-of-the-gaps theology. The committed Christians whom I know, consider this to be a very sad philosophy indeed.

Lee: ”When one analyzes data while holding an a priori belief or certitude regarding a theory, hypothesis, or even a tentative premise, however based, it may color his/her assessment of the data. In some cases, data gravitating contra to a held premise may be disregarded as irrelevant, or at least tabled while ‘better data’ is sought.”

Ted: You know, you might be able to make this claim about a single scientist. Scientists are human as well. But for this to be a viable problem, you have to apply it to the entire scientific community.

It’s not universal. I doubt the figures often given as to the number of scientists that are hard materialists are anywhere near accurate. Brian Alters, former NCSE board member and expert witness at the Dover trial stated in an article published by NIH that “99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution.” In other words, In a stadium with 20,000 scientist attendees, only 20 would side with ID. Do you buy those numbers? Even allegorically? If so, you’d get five stars on Yahoo Answers, The Onion, or on Huffington Post. But if the true number were known, I’d place it nearer to 60-70 percent. And if rigorous scrutiny were allowed in academia, w/o the frowns from the proffs if you mention ID (except to belittle it), I’d put the number nearer to 50 percent, or perhaps 40/40/20 (yes/no/maybe).


Sorry, Lee, it doesn't wash. Please don't try and claim ID is an example, because as a number of us have tried to clue you in, ID has NO evidentiary support. You cannot claim some institutional prejudice against something with no institutional standing. It's not prejudice when there is nothing to be prejudice about.

If you meant that ID has no institutional support I would agree.


Do you really think that over the past 150 years evolution has been the center of a multi-national, decades-long, conspiracy of silence to prevent your favorite religious point of view from getting a fair hearing? […]
Just because you claim a conspiracy theory, doesn't mean there is one.

First, it’s not a religious view. Secondly, I’m not a conspiricists. There’s even been cultures in the past where a religious position was foisted. It’s not so much that I want ID to get a ‘hearing’ per se; just be allowed as an alternate hypothesis without bias. And there is considerable bias attached at all professional levels.

One more point of relevance. Labels ending in –ist should be avoided. Categorical terms ending in –ism are OK, since unfortunately, they exist.

As for your little 'ist' phobia, you are preaching to the wrong people. Creationist is not a pejorative label from non-creationists. The is a label they put upon themselves.

Both Creationist and Darwinist are pejorative terms.

It's also a common use for people who support a particular philosophy. Now, on the other hand, Darwinist IS a pejorative term coined by Creationists as a way of putting down pro-science and evolution supporters.

It’s one I don’t use in debate, to refer to a person.

Your own posts here reveal that you are prejudiced against valid science. You make assumptions on the validity of Intelligent Design and fail to recognize the lack of scientific work that would be required for it to be a viable scientific theory.

I DO acknowledge that the work is not being done, and that it’s become way too political. It’s a valid hypothesis however; just not developed. So no, I’m not prejudiced against science. Quite the reverse.

If you want to be taken seriously as science, take it back to the lab. You can continue to cry conspiracies -- which just proves you aren't serious about science.

Once more. NO conspiracy among scientists. The negatives have come primarily from NCSE, AAAS. Conspiracy, though? They consider it ‘serving science’.


You can also continue to whine that you aren't given the same level of funding as real science, but until you support your case -- you don't deserve it and you should not expect it. You should also work on your patience because you shouldn't be allowed near the HS science classroom as science until you make your case. You also have to be willing to walk away if you are unable to make your case. So far the appearance is you are unwilling to try. But if you keep 'not trying' long enough, even the support of right-wing conservative Christians have limits. Just ask Glenn Beck about the million or so supporters he's lost in the past 6 months. Think about it.

I’m a left-leaning centrist by the way, if that means anything. By and large, however, one should never place themselves in a ‘box’. Best to remain independent in one’s thinking, and never allow coercion, from any camp. Wouldn’t you agree?

” … rather than the ‘poof’ scenario, my design premise is based on altering what’s there to another function, tentatively by gene tweaking (cut and try).”

Back to the supernatural again, are we? Mechanism please, & evidence that this actually happened and cannot be explained by what we currently understand of molecular biology.

Supernatural? Not in the classic sense. Actually, my view of the process matches the observed data, i.e. that of chromosomal homologies in related species, as well as morphological homologies. I don’t deny evolution in that there are phylogenetic progressions.

And no, I do not support the ‘poof’ scenario (instantaneous creation) by Young Earth Creationists (Ken Ham et al). The creative process is simply embryogenesis, but the DNA coding is modified where necessary to radically alter species. The supernatural bugaboo comes from the supposition that if there are cosmic interveners, that they must be supernatural.

I disagree, in that our overseers (or who/whatever) is/are not that far removed from us, and that we may-in-fact be in a direct spiritual lineage to that group. That’s conjecture and may be way off base, but the multitude of design inferences are not, and those are what I rest my case on.

“The mere fact that certain land mammals preferred water habitation, or were running out of habitable land space, would NOT cause the requisite morphological changes needed to produce the whale species.” (emphasis mine)

Of course it wouldn't, Lee. And in fact this sentence shows a lamentable lack of understanding of evolutionary mechanisms. You appear to be channelling Lamarck again.

Think again about what I said. I fervently denied that that would have taken place. No Lamarckian process, and as stated, no ‘self-induced’ evolutionary process as well. Whales and other cetacean species have a multitude of unique features far removed from ancestral species, but for them to have acquired them, designer interaction would have been required. And I feel that further research will confirm that.

And if so, is science harmed by the verification of cosmic intelligence? Would the dogma of purely materialistic causes be missed if modified? And finally, would that necessitate one to become religious or else? That will always remain a personal choice.

Let’s do objective science, and stop dictating limitations and boundaries, if shown to be unwarranted, and I’m sure that Karl Popper would agree.

Cheers Alison and all …

So when I say “natural, but guided causation”, I mean real, rather than magic...

You’re begging the question. I know you believe it’s real, but you can’t describe it in a way that doesn’t bring in the supernatural (eg spirit entities) for which you have no evidence.

If spirit entities exist, a subset of that population might well consist of genetic tinkerers. That would make earth a biologic workshop or sorts, and life’s experiences a kind of sabbatical experience by those very entities (or others), with spirit entities themselves inhabiting the biological constructs to animate them. Since there is much evidence that consciousness is (or is at times) external from the body (OOB experiences), it would fit that scenario. And if the above is true, that would place we ourselves into a spirit-based lineage of the designing entities.

Sounds good. As the premise or background to a science fiction, fantasy or speculative fiction story. As classroom science, not so much.

Give us the scientific explanation why "intelligent design" did happen, but doesn't any more.

Lee’s still working on the answer to this – will be right with you.

Lee have you actually read Meyer's book? Look again at the section where he "mentions the culture war between theists of various ilks, and of scientists fabricating evidence, and of name calling and guilt by association." Look at his few examples.

Now here is the challenge, go do a little independent research on his few examples, and by independent research, I mean avoid Creationist and Discovery Institute sites. Meyer's is regurgitating a party line that is far from the reality of the situation. Look up the Sternberg controversy, of which Meyer was a party. His re-writing of the actual event is entertaining, but not very factual. Don't take my word for it, do the research for yourself!

While you are at it, you might look up 'Cold Fusion' and 'Hwang Woo-suk' and you might get a much more realistic picture of what happens to a scientist that fabricates evidence. This is one reason the methodology is so important. A scientist doesn't just publish their conclusions, they have to show the data, experimentation, results, and methodology so others can trace through their entire line of thought that led them to their conclusions. How ofter has Meyer done this? Or Dembski? Or Johnson? How about never! It's not a requirement when you publish in the avenues used by the Discovery Institute and their ilk.

Or you can look at Piltdown Man and see a classic example, that is often hailed by Creationists as an example of science gone wrong. Who was it that determines Piltdown Man was a hoax? Creationists or Scientists? How soon after the discovery was it announced? Who kept pushing Piltdown Man with exhibits and side-shows? Who finally put final nail in it's coffin and when? You might be surprised at those answers. No, I take that back, you will be surprised at those answers because your opinion of scientists seems to be a list of all the worst characteristics of human nature. If you have an honest bone left in your body, your own research into these area might be fruitful.

Ted

tedhohio@gmail.com
http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com

You asked:

Brian Alters, former NCSE board member and expert witness at the Dover trial stated in an article published by NIH that “99.9 percent of scientists accept evolution.” In other words, In a stadium with 20,000 scientist attendees, only 20 would side with ID.

Sure, why not? Look at it this way, over a 10 year period the Discovery Institute collected 700 signatures for a petition doubting 'Darwinism'. Now aside from everything else that was wrong with that petition, let's just look at the numbers. Of that 700 less than 20% were biologists (128) of one stripe or another. That list was submitted to the Ohio State School Board as support for the supposed controversy coverning evolution in scientific circles.

Because of that submittal, a grass roots effort got underweigh and in 4 days collected over 7700 signatures of scientists, with over 68% biologists, that supported Evolution. 700 in 10 years with less than 20 percent biologists, 7700+ in 4 days with more than 68% biologists. Look up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissent_From_Darwin, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Scientific_Support_For_Darwinism, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Steve for details.

You might also look up the Clergy Letter Project and see how many American Christian Clergy members support evolution and the teaching of evolution to our children. I think they have passed the 11,000 mark.

So you admit that true numbers are not known, yet you insist on them making a claim as to what you personally would find acceptable. How about supporting those claims with an actual numbers. You can't support it, but you insist on putting a stake in the ground. In other words you are just like the rest of the ID supporters, long on claims, short on evidence.

Let's see, the DI's list had 128 biologists, the grass roots campaign had 5236. If you add up the biologists on both lists, you will see that dissenting biologists only make up about 2% of the total. I would easily put that well within a reasonable error range for surveys. While the figure of 99.9% might have been a touch allegorical, it's certainly well within the realm of being acceptable.

'Creationist' is no more a perjorative term than Creationism. As I said it's a label most often applied by Creationists to themselves. Kennie ham refers to himself as a Literal Creationist, or Biblical Creationist. I identify you with your philosophy when I call you a Creationist. How many Darwinists have you seen so self-identified in the United States? Not a one. Is there a philospohy called 'Darwinism'? Nope, another term made up by Creationists for the express purpose of trying to drag down science to the level of philosophy. The fact is Biology doesn't even use either term because that tends to make people think that the Theory of Evolution has been frozen in time since Darwin first published over 150 years ago. No, Darwinist is a perjorative term used by Creationists. You may not like it, but it's the truth.

No, no conspiracy. The organizations you have mentioned have repeatedly asked for scientific support for both Creationism and Intelligent Design. It's your [you as a collective] failure to provide that support that ensures such organizations have no reason to take you seriously. Even the Judge Jones decision in the Dover case laid it out in much the same way. But you would rather cry 'Conspiracy!' in a public forum than come close to crying out 'Eureka!' in a lab. Don't blame me for your continued failings.

And now you are trying to hint that I have been somehow coerced into thinking the way I do when you said

Best to remain independent in one’s thinking, and never allow coercion, from any camp. Wouldn’t you agree?

You really don't get it. Yes, I learned evolution in school. My first science teacher was a Catholic Priest. I also learned Creationism in religion class from a lay teacher and a Nun. The three of them seemed to understand that one is not in conflict with the other -- providing you keep things straight. It's not God that has the issue, it's when some men, like you, insist that perfectly natural phenomena have to have a supernatural cause. You take that insistence and apply it to specific things, like the origin and evolution of life, the age of the earth, the prolifieration of languages across the globe . . . among others. The you make up the most far reaching rationalizations to sell your ideas to other people. Science tends to shoot those ideas down, much in the way no one takes Zeus as the originator of lightening anymore. Then you take exception and start building new rationalizations like super-secret conspiracy theories. And you try to hint that I am being coerced somehow? You really need to work on your own house before you start tossing more stones at someone elses.

I suggest you look up St. Augustine's opinion of such things and the damage he said such dogmatic thinking causes -- because you are living it.

Ted
tedhohio@gmail.com
http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com

Hmm, I see I misspelled 'philosophy' as 'philospohy', no that wasn't deliberate. If I were trying to make a point I would have used two 'o's and spelled is 'philospoohy'.

Ted

LOL

Lee, you seem to equate being religious with believing an Intelligent Designer interferes with natural processes to do things that evolution can't do alone.

You imply active intervention by "The Designer" for macro evolution (which you now limit to major body plan changes). Seriously, Lee, if you move the goalposts any farther back, they'll be out of the stadium and across the parking lot.

Now, do you REALLY think 50% of biologists think that "The Designer" diddled with molecules to make wings or fins or the spinning hair on a germ's rump?

I think most biologists believe natural phenomena have natural causes, and I present as evidence over 100,000 research papers on PubMed on various aspects of evolution, none of which invoke "The Designer" to explain evolutionary pathways.

Lee, it all comes down to faith. You just assume design, and your belief is faith-based. As you said: "Once one accepts the obvious conclusion that life is designed..."

By the way, is it obvious a field of force is gluing you to a thin crust of rock atop an ocean of seething magma on an enormous ball spinning 1000 miles/hour while hurtling through a vacuum?

Lee, science isn't done by accepting what's "obvious".

Your idea that I’ve moved the goalposts to garner more acceptance, or because I’ve softened a ‘hard religious’ stance due to being brow beaten, or of coming to my senses is absurd. My views/ conclusions change over time regarding mechanistic details of evolution, as would any objective observer as new data/ evidence is gleaned and assessed. But my general overall conclusions have remained largely the same. I’ve been imbued with a vision of design inferences dating probably to diaper days, when crawling around, I started taking things apart. I could plainly see design in the purposeful placement of parts, as Behe might put it, but I saw essentially the same in viewing and assessing all the natural phenomenon around me.

Now, do you REALLY think 50% of biologists think that "The Designer" diddled with molecules to make wings or fins or the spinning hair on a germ's rump?

I think most biologists believe natural phenomena have natural causes, and I present as evidence over 100,000 research papers on PubMed on various aspects of evolution, none of which invoke "The Designer" to explain evolutionary pathways.

If you’ve followed my comments over years past, and they’re pretty much archived for review, you’d know that I don’t attribute anything happening daily in today’s world to active intervention by a single, omni^3 “Designer”, or Cosmic Entrepreneur. I hold more to MDT, or multi designer theory, as a more viable explanation for conflicts extant in nature, including predator/ prey and parasite/ host. Rather than just one, a hierarchy is more plausible, with the grunt work being done by a combination of design team surrogates (equitable to the workers at GM), but also employing a succession of automated mechanisms put in place to propagate species (embryogenesis).

So yes, I do attribute life at this level as intentional rather than accidental. To view the complexities, aesthetics and robustness that has ensued can rationally assessed lead nowhere else. And the percentages of biologists who would outwardly (publicly) agree is likely small, given the conditions and requirements that exist in the industry. But do most hold religiously to hard materialism? Doubtful, even if the PubMed papers don’t list their person beliefs as a sidebar. But I read them, and have gained knowledge through them, thanks to Google Scholar.

Lee, it all comes down to faith. You just assume design, and your belief is faith-based. As you said: "Once one accepts the obvious conclusion that life is designed..."

Try to get it right, Rick. I don’t ‘assume’ design, nor are my conclusions ‘faith-based’. They are based solely on evidence. Design is a certainly the more logical conclusion, and trumps the naturalistic premise. Nor does my agenda have anything to do with what one might imply regarding design inferences. In fact, the more logical position to hold based on the evidence would be agnosticism. And finally, as stated earlier, a hard atheistic position simply does not coalesce with free thought.

By the way, is it obvious [that] a field of force is gluing you to a thin crust of rock atop an ocean of seething magma on an enormous ball spinning 1000 miles/hour while hurtling through a vacuum?

Not really, but you might think of submitting that corollary to the writer of ‘Prince of Thunder’ to include in his opening voice-over-script.
http://deanzacharyart.com/scripts/prince_of_thunder_script.pdf


So cheers to all, but time to move on. And Alison, if your students have followed these discussions, it might be interesting to have them comment anonymously regarding the points made/ supported/ refuted. Multiple choice is advised, with NO signatures attached, to ensure the privacy of their opinions.

Philosophical questions could be asked as well, like is there a supreme god, or angelics acting under authority, surrogates of an unknown predecessor, or even savant-idiots with nothing better to do.

And for sure their take regarding ID, and NOT the political ramifications (Dover, DI, et al), but regarding the validity of design inferences based upon complexity, non-resolvability, aesthetics, the power of chance + necessity, time allowed for selection and fixation, etc. Answers would be based on a one to five likelihood, or some such.

Ted, I invite you to do the same. And remember to phrase the questions without bias, even though you may feel strongly aligned against ID in any form. The results might be interesting.

Bye

But of course, Lee - after I've explained the 'argument from complexity' to them. You'd hardly expect them to make an informed decision without having all the necessary information to hand, would you?

If spirit entities exist, a subset of that population might well consist of genetic tinkerers.

Sounds good. As the premise or background to a science fiction, fantasy or speculative fiction story.

Physicists have no problem with other realms with which we interact only weakly, so long as those interactions are lawful. Case in point: neutrinos. We know of the entire "neutrino universe", though it only interacts with the mainstream universe through the Weak Force (and the even weaker force of gravity) because those interactions are completely predictable, and completely account for certain nuclear-physics phenomena that are not otherwise explicable. Thus it is seen as an extension or adjunct to the mainstream universe. Also, though more speculatively, dark matter in cosmology.

My problem with the "spirit realm" story-line is that any putative interactions with it are (by definition) unpredictable, because it involves intelligent entities -- who might influence our own familiar realm sometimes and sometimes not, according to their own unknowable motivations. So they can be used to explain anything and predict nothing... there is no disprovability.

The spirit realm sounds a lot to me like a hiding place for the Deus Absconditus.

And "If spirit entities exist", why should they be smarter then us? Rather than "a subset of that population [consisting] of genetic tinkerers", observation of human intelligence suggests that they're just as likely to be genetic vandals who get drunk and cover the bacterial genome with obscene graffiti.

Lee, are you really saying that when you were in infant, you were 'taking apart' biological organisms? While I will admit the survival of the goldfish we would win at the local fair was normally measured in days, we didn't dissect them! What you are describing is the appearance of design. That's as far as your implied analogy between human-created devices and biological organisms can go. There is a key difference that you seem to refuse to recognize and that is self-reproduction. Mousetraps, tables, cars . . . they do not self-reproduce. Mice, goldfish, dogs and cats do. So your self-serving analogy can only go so far.

So You are also not into monotheism. Why do I care? Neither you, nor anyone else, has provided any evidence supporting design, so whether one, two, or an entire Greek Chorus of Gods did the designing, you have a long way to go and you haven't taken the first actual step. You are once again slipping away from parsimony to imply your multi-designer idea. You just keep making things more and more complicated so it suits your personal philosophy. Remember what I said about Rationalizing? You are still doing it. There is a difference between being 'rational' and 'rationalizing'. I know they sound the same, but they are very different things. You are not being rational; you are making up stories to avoid having to question your own philosophy. What's next, going to go all Noachian on us and try and refute geological evidence as well?

As I have said, you can attribute life to whatever you wish. But what you are saying cannot be taught as science because you haven't met the basic criteria of science. You philosophize but never support, you wax poetic, but wane when it comes to evidence. Look at your questioning people's beliefs -- yet I have said any number of times -- who cares. You can believe what you want, but you have no justification to ask me to believe it with you.

I see Alison has already mentioned 'argument from complexity'. I would suggest to her to also discuss 'argument ad absurdum' because while your argument might not meet the legal definition of the term, it certainly matches the intent. Thanks for the entertainment, it was enlightening, but not in the way I think you intended. Bye Lee.

Ted
tedhohio@gmail.com
http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com

Seeing as "Wintery Knight" (http://bit.ly/fDWvDY) has cowardly deleted my comment pointing out a few of his many rather basic errors in his spiel on Alison’s article, above, I offer my comment as posted to his site in full below:

You have contradicted yourself in trying to make out she has no idea what ID is then pointing to references where she has written about ID/creationism. Sloppy, biased reporting. But then what else to expect from someone trying to shore up their beliefs?

Additionally, as she’s not research staff, not it’s meaningful to complain about a lack of “research” publications. It wouldn’t have been hard to find that out yourself with a few minutes on google and the university website. You obviously didn’t try.

Her interests are with the school-university interface, as her publications clearly indicate, and those are publications; you can’t pretend they’re not with word games!

“It’s not clear to me that she actually knows any biology at this point.”

Actually, it’s quite obvious she does. You clearly haven’t even tried. In fact, you must have avoided what she wrote in the article that you link to.

“and she refused to give them to me”

Not in the way you’re making out.

"'intelligent design... is not creationism in any shape or form, but serious scientific debate about the latest evidence for the origins of life.'"

As I'm fairly sure the very lengthy thread has noted, that is rich. Design is an old creationist argument of Paley et al, and it was leveled against evolution. Not against "the latest evidence for the origins of life".

This is btw reflected in Graham Fox comment where he goes on to claim that "we now know that every biological bio-chemical machine ... cannot be explained in a step-wise Darwinian process" which is exactly what Darwin's theory predicted in the first place.

And which is plentiful tested to the amount that no other science is as well tested now. So "irreducibly complex devices" is an idea that fails to predict the same massive amounts of observations. It is better applied to less demanding areas like gravity: "intelligent falling" and their "irreducibly complex pathways".

Not that it concerns the fact of evolution itself, but let us return to the latest evidence for the origins of life. A few weeks ago a crucial result was presented. It turns out that decades of chemistry assumption on reaction rate temperature dependence is wrong, based on early but not general experiments.

Recent experiments show that reaction rates of biochemical reactions will increase order of magnitudes as temperatures approach boiling, the slowest most. This will mean two vital things: a) reactions with rates that approach the age of Earth at room temperature will take mere tens of years b) with global cooling, enthalpic catalysts akin to todays protein enzymes will naturally be selected, as cofactors in an evolving metabolic network.

That is an excellent basis for pathways such as Shostak's spontaneously ordered lipid membranes and nucleotide replicator protocells to originate. RNA world hereditary "parasites" could simply occur and take over from such well known evolutionary mechanisms as variation and selection. From probiotic chemical evolution to protobiotic biological evolution in a seamless fashion, out of the known thermal and chemical history of Earth.

And while we don't see how creationism can threaten evolution theory by predicting the same facts and more, we also don't see it participating in a "serious scientific debate about the latest evidence for the origins of life". According to creationism, which really doesn't make predictions of its own, the appearance of a new and realistic abiogenetic pathway would be impossible. Eppur si muove!

Hi Torbjorn, lovely to see you here. Thanks for dropping by!

Hmm, seems Lee Bowman is not above repeating vacuous arguments even after he has used them before and had them refuted elsewhere. Such a shame that IDers prefer propaganda and apologetics over science.

And that they appear unable to learn from experience.

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Recent Comments

  • Alison Campbell: And that they appear unable to learn from experience. read more
  • Darth Robo: Hmm, seems Lee Bowman is not above repeating vacuous arguments read more
  • Alison Campbell: Hi Torbjorn, lovely to see you here. Thanks for dropping read more
  • Torbjörn Larsson, OM: "'intelligent design... is not creationism in any shape or form, read more
  • Grant: Seeing as "Wintery Knight" (http://bit.ly/fDWvDY) has cowardly deleted my comment read more
  • Ted Herrlich: Lee, are you really saying that when you were in read more
  • herr doktor bimler: If spirit entities exist, a subset of that population might read more
  • Alison Campbell: But of course, Lee - after I've explained the 'argument read more
  • Lee Bowman: Your idea that I’ve moved the goalposts to garner more read more
  • RickK: Lee, you seem to equate being religious with believing an read more