Monday, March 07, 2005

El Arch ID on ID

It is encouraging how ID proponents are trying to grasp with the comments of ID critics although in many cases they seem to still be missing the point.

Let's take a walk through the arguments. For instance eliminative approach combined with false positives. While Dembski initially argued that false positives would render the explanatory filter useless, he seems to have shifted his argument to 'science is also fallible'. But he and others who wish to use his argument miss the point. Science is NOT in the position of arguing from a position of ignorance and reaching conclusion beyond 'we don't know'.
ID proponents seem to believe that showing problems with evolutionary theory, is somehow relevant to the concept of ID. In other words, the gaps in our knowledge do not lead them to infer the more correct conclusion of 'we don't know' but in fact they jump to a conclusion based on an appeal to ignorance namely "intelligently designed".

Are ID critics arguing that evidence against evolution are evidence for ID? I am not sure but just because ID critics make errors in logic, does not mean that ID thus can hide behind errors in the logic of critics to argue "well they say so". Either ID addresses the criticisms or their objections have little relevance.
Some ID critics are known to make the strawman argument that we have to catch the designer in action with a videotape and yet criminology and archaeology do not have such requirements. Of course the real problem is that the designer which many ID proponents have in mind, may not be conducive to positive evidence.
ID critics are also known to object that 'what if ID is true'. Somehow, they seem to believe that this would make a difference to science. If the intelligent designers have taken steps which make their detection unfeasible or impossible then despite the truth, we may never be able to resolve this issue. Some Truths are just not necessarily open to scientific investigations and one should not blame ID critics for ID's failure to present workable or scientifically relevant methods or for that matter ID proponents should not blame ID critics when ID's designers remain undetectable.

Some may consider it to be folly to demand that ID proponents provide the necessary evidence which would make ID scientifically relevant, but if ID proponents cannot formulate a non begging the question approach to detecting design which does not suffer from being 'useless' due to its eliminative nature AND false positives then the ID critics' observation that ID is scientifically vacuous and a 'gap theory' remain valid.

Recapping, let me once again stress the common confusion found among ID proponents when arguing that science is 'fallible' and science also has 'false positives'. Such false positives however are well understood in science but ID has claimed that its design inference is without false positives. If ID proponents are willing to take the position that this is a fallacious claim then we can take the next step and discuss the effects of false positives on an eliminative argument. Although Gedanken has already done a great job at showing how this renders the EF unreliable, that the EF cannot even compete with 'we don't know', that the EF does not present any explanations or positive scientific contributions and finally, that to use Dembski's own words, false positives would render the EF useless.

Now I understand that a minority of ID proponents may argue that the concept of teleology may help generate useful hypotheses. In fact, science has shown already not to shy away from teleological language, especially in biology, so ID once again seems to be missing the (scientific) boat here.

An easy response by ID proponents seems to hold ID critics responsible for ID's failure or hide behind the logical errors of ID critics. Neither approach is going to hide the obvious fact that ID so far has remained scientifically vacuous.

Some may even suggest that they understand my motives when arguing "That PvM continues to employ the same old talking points to discourage people from raising gaps suggests he is not comfortable with the idea that some of his fellow critics may open their minds to ID, or even worse, perceive evidence for ID (i.e., Flew). " seems particularly ironic.

As far as Flew is concerned, ID proponents may try to familiarize themselves with what Flew has said.

For instance, he initially argued

My one and only piece of relevant evidence [for an Aristotelian God] is the apparent impossibility of providing a naturalistic theory of the origin from DNA of the first reproducing species ... [In fact] the only reason which I have for beginning to think of believing in a First Cause god is the impossibility of providing a naturalistic account of the origin of the first reproducing organisms.

more recently he realized that

Antony Flew has retracted one of his recent assertions. In a letter to me dated 29 December 2004, Flew concedes:

I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction.

He blames his error on being "misled" by Richard Dawkins because Dawkins "has never been reported as referring to any promising work on the production of a theory of the development of living matter," even though this is false (e.g., Richard Dawkins and L. D. Hurst, "Evolutionary Chemistry: Life in a Test Tube," Nature 357: pp. 198-199, 21 May 1992) and hardly relevant: it was Flew's responsibility to check the state of the field (there are several books by actual protobiologists published in just the last five years), rather than wait for the chance possibility that one particular evolutionist would write on the subject. Now that he has done what he was supposed to do in the first place, he has retracted his false statement about the current state of protobiological science.

Flew also makes another admission: "I have been mistaught by Gerald Schroeder." He says "it was precisely because he appeared to be so well qualified as a physicist (which I am not) that I was never inclined to question what he said about physics."

Seems that ignorance once again cause someone to accept ID :-) and perhaps quickly reject it as foolishness.

So much for ID proponents appealing to Flew... So much for ID proponents speculating about motivations...
if they only spent a fraction of their time and effort on ID, perhaps, eventually, ID may become of some relevance to science. At least, I believe, one should not destroy the dreams they seem to have.

ps could ID proponents at least attempt to quantify 'large' when referring to "a large number of ID critics agree that evidence against evolution (‘gaps’) is evidence for ID."

Read more!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Salt Lake City Weekly - The E Word

Salt Lake City Weekly - The E Word

Just imagine that, for every question you presented to someone in power, they answered with the words, “We don’t really know. It’s a mystery.” Now imagine if you or your child asked a question about the origin of the human species in a science class, only to have a learned instructor tell you, “We don’t really know. It’s a mystery.” Would anyone dare call that education?

Those among the “Intelligent Design” movement, such as Pennsylvania’s Dover School Board, which succeeded recently in requiring that creationism be taught alongside Darwin, don’t care about the gaping problems of their explanations, which are far more complex and harder to swallow than evolution. “Intelligent designers,” as they’re called, can't explain how their “designer” creates new species. “We don’t know,” a director of the Intelligent Design-oriented Discovery Institute’s Center for Science recently told Newsweek. “It’s a mystery.” And some people call talk like that “education.”

Read more!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Vacuity of ID: Avida

RBH corrects some of the flawed reasoning in Eric Anderson's "Bits, Bytes and Biology: What Evolutionary Algorithms (Don’t) Teach Us About Biology"
Read more!

ARN Board: Einstein's Theory May Be Relatively Wrong

ARN Board: Einstein's Theory May Be Relatively Wrong: "

The poster accepted a somewhat blown out proportions article in the media and failed to actually look at the paper in question.

Even Answers in Genesis reports

A word of caution

But, intriguingly, it now turns out that the fine-structure constant is in fact slightly different in light from distant stars compared to nearby ones. In fact, this is the very reason that physicists of the stature of Davies are now prepared to challenge the assumption that light speed has always been constant. And in addition to being different from the prediction of the Setterfield theory, this research by itself does not support c-decay theory of the magnitude that Setterfield proposed. The change is billions of times too small. In fact, the newspaper hype surrounding Davies’ theory, and the quotes attributed to him, hardly seem to be justified by the Nature article itself, which is rather speculative.

Read more!

ARN Board: What is the positive evidence for evolution #6?

ARN Board: What is the positive evidence for evolution #6?

What is the positive evidence that all we observe, life, the Earth, Moon, Sun, solar system, galaxy, universe and the laws that govern the universe were the result of unintelligent, blind/ undirected processes?

Since this is not a prediction of evolution, nor even something science can address, ID Bulldog's question seems to be nothing more than a strawman.

Can anyone present the positive evidence for #6 below, which in order to exclude ID must be extended all the way back to the universe and the laws of nature.

Ivar provides a well reasoned response

The words "unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material" need to be deleted. Also, the words "unintelligent, blind/ undirected." One cannot show, for example, that "natural selection acting on random variations or mutations," is undirected. All one can say is that there is no need to hypothesize that this process is or ever was directed.

Showing once again that ID is all about nothing...
Read more!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Intelligent Design: IDing ID (Doubt and About)

Chris Mooney

Intelligent Design: IDing ID (Doubt and About)

So substantively, we have to admit that ID differs significantly from "creation science." Since young earth creationists themselves frequently made arguments about the presence of design in living things, we might even say that ID represents "creation science" stripped of everything but design arguments (as well as various critiques of evolutionary theory). In fact, it has often been noted that ID verges on intellectual vacuity: At least young earth creationists had their own detailed account of how life on earth came into being.

Read more!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Dembsk's 'pathetic' comment

On ISCID a poster named Rafe asked Dembski the following question:

in regards to paul nelson's request for a description of an IC system's evolution, i believe i have provided a simple one for the complement system. i'll repost it in case you didn't notice it:

the original complement protein contained a thioester group that is cleaved by serine proteases. when an infectious agent's serine proteases cleaves this protein, it exposes the thioester group, which then binds covalently to the pathogen's serine protease, inactivating it. later, the system evolved it's own serine protease (perhaps co-opted from the blood-clotting cascade), and could activate the complement protein by itself. now the system could protect itself from pathogens by attaching large amounts of complement to them, neutralizing them (agglutination). later, receptors appeared that facilitated the elimination of these complement-bound pathogens by phagocytosis (opsonization). later, the complement proteins evolved the ability to induce local inflammation (anaphylatoxins). finally, the complement system evolved a cytolytic ability (lysis). all of this proceeded through the mechanisms that yersinia initially described.

admittedly, i left out a lot of details, but if you want more, you'll first have to propose a model for the origin of an IC system through intelligent design in at least as much detail as i presented. that shouldn't be too hard, it's only 8 sentences.

Dembski was quick to retreat into the gaps of our ignorance (a common hiding place for Intelligent Design)

As for your example, I'm not going to take the bait. You're asking me to play a game: "Provide as much detail in terms of possible causal mechanisms for your ID position as I do for my Darwinian position." ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it's not ID's task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories. If ID is correct and an intelligence is responsible and indispensable for certain structures, then it makes no sense to try to ape your method of connecting the dots. True, there may be dots to be connected. But there may also be fundamental discontinuities, and with IC systems that is what ID is discovering.

William Dembski on ISCID

It's a great thread where Deanne M. Taylor gives Dembski a run for his money and an education in the mathematics of scale free networks.
I intend to explore scale free networks later...
Read more!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The vacuity of Intelligent Design: Dembski

Others have already shown how Intelligent Design is a vacuous concept but it is always nice to hear ID proponents themselves show supporting evidence. Here we hear how Dembski describes how Intelligent Design fails as a science.

It is not only we critics who point out that ID fails to qualify as science in this regard. In his Biola speech, Dembski mentioned one sympathetic geneticist who was intrigued with ID, but who felt pessimistic about its prospects, writing: "If I knew how to scientifically approach the question you pose, I would quit all that I am doing right now, and devote the rest of my career in pursuit of its answer. The fact that I have no idea how to begin gathering scientific data that would engage the scientific community is the very reason that I don't share your optimism that this approach will work" (Dembski 2002). Dembski told his audience that he himself remained optimistic that ID had research potential, but, tellingly, he admitted that he had no specific research proposals to offer, just some possible "research themes."

Source: DNA by Design? Stephen Meyer and the Return of the God Hypothesis by Pennock

Plenty of scientists are intrigued with intelligent design but for now don't see how they can usefully contribute to it. I recently had an exchange with one such scientist (a geneticist). I asked him, "What sort of real work needs to go forward before you felt comfortable with ID?" His response was revealing:

If I knew how to scientifically approach the question you pose, I would quit all that I am doing right now, and devote the rest of my career in pursuit of its answer. The fact that I have no idea how to begin gathering scientific data that would engage the scientific community is the very reason that I don't share your optimism that this approach will work.

Becoming a Disciplined Science: Prospects, Pitfalls, and Reality Check for ID by William Dembski

Read more!

Michael Murray: Natural Providence (or design trouble)

Michael J. Murray

But why think that IDT advocates are stuck with this problem, a problem we might call the empirical vacuity problem? The answer, once again, can be found in the poker case above. If

  • a) one acknowledges that designed outcomes might in principle be explained either via deck-stacking or intervention and,
  • b) we have no access to the actual sequence of events that led to the obtaining of the apparently designed outcome,11 then,
  • c) there are no empirical grounds for favoring explanations via law over explanation via design.

The point becomes clear when we consider cases in which friends of IDT think design is empirically detectable. The two most commonly discussed cases are those concerning so-called cosmological fine-tuning and concerning irreducible biological complexity.

Michael Murray Home Page

Read more!