Skip to comments.What is wrong with intelligent design?
Posted on 02/22/2007 6:22:34 PM PST by Boxen
In a thought-provoking paper from the March issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology , Elliott Sober (University of Wisconsin) clearly discusses the problems with two standard criticisms of intelligent design: that it is unfalsifiable and that the many imperfect adaptations found in nature refute the hypothesis of intelligent design.
Biologists from Charles Darwin to Stephen Jay Gould have advanced this second type of argument. Stephen Jay Gould's well-known example of a trait of this type is the panda's thumb. If a truly intelligent designer were responsible for the panda, Gould argues, it would have provided a more useful tool than the stubby proto-thumb that pandas use to laboriously strip bamboo in order to eat it.
ID proponents have a ready reply to this objection. We do not know whether an intelligent designer intended for pandas to be able to efficiently strip bamboo. The "no designer worth his salt" argument assumes the designer would want pandas to have better eating implements, but the objection has no justification for this assumption. In addition, Sober points out, this criticism of ID also concedes that creationism is testable.
A second common criticism of ID is that it is untestable. To develop this point, scientists often turn to the philosopher Karl Popper's idea of falsifiability. According to Popper, a scientific statement must allow the possibility of an observation that would disprove it. For example, the statement "all swans are white" is falsifiable, since observing even one swan that isn't white would disprove it. Sober points out that this criterion entails that many ID statements are falsifiable; for example, the statement that an intelligent designer created the vertebrate eye entails that vertebrates have eyes, which is an observation.
This leads Sober to jettison the concept of falsifiability and to provide a different account of testability. "If ID is to be tested," he says, "it must be tested against one or more competing hypotheses." If the ID claim about the vertebrate eye is to be tested against the hypothesis that the vertebrate eye evolved by Darwinian processes, the question is whether there is an observation that can discriminate between the two. The observation that vertebrates have eyes cannot do this.
Sober also points out that criticism of a competing theory, such as evolution, is not in-and-of-itself a test of ID. Proponents of ID must construct a theory that makes its own predictions in order for the theory to be testable. To contend that evolutionary processes cannot produce "irreducibly complex" adaptations merely changes the subject, Sober argues.
"When scientific theories compete with each other, the usual pattern is that independently attested auxiliary propositions allow the theories to make predictions that disagree with each other," Sober writes. "No such auxiliary propositions allow … ID to do this." In developing this idea, Sober makes use of ideas that the French philosopher Pierre Duhem developed in connection with physical theories – theories usually do not, all by themselves, make testable predictions. Rather, they do so only when supplemented with auxiliary information. For example, the laws of optics do not, by themselves, predict when eclipses will occur; they do so when independently justified claims about the positions of the earth, moon, and sun are taken into account.
Similarly, ID claims make predictions when they are supplemented by auxiliary claims. The problem is that these auxiliary assumptions about the putative designer's goals and abilities are not independently justified. Surprisingly, this is a point that several ID proponents concede.
Sober, Elliott. "What is Wrong with Intelligent Design," The Quarterly Review of Biology: March 2007.
Since 1926, The Quarterly Review of Biology has been dedicated to providing insightful historical, philosophical, and technical treatments of important biological topics.
Calling your bluff is "dishonestly scrutinizing"?
Adding facts to your fictions is "distorting"?
Oh, what orwellian path you walk on...
st: Calling your bluff is "dishonestly scrutinizing"? Adding facts to your fictions is "distorting"?
Oh, what orwellian path you walk on...
Wakeup Sleeper is upset because I followed his/her/its advice. Perhaps that's because it was dishonestly given.
"On the other hand, both mutation and NS have been examined closely enough to give us a fair bit of independent evidence from which to propose predictions."
Really. Here's a hint that we don't define the capabilities of M&NS: What in biology can M&NS *not* do? We already found evidence that all kind of body types came into quick existence at the Cambrian explosion, many of which do not exist today. We know that the human brain came into existence from thousands of fast and focused changes across the human genome in a way that "categorically different" from M&NS at large. We know ecologies are balanced carefully across the planet and introducing foreign species wreak havoc on the local environment. We know of creatures that live in symbiotic mutualism. We know of creatures that haven't changed in millions of years. Yet M&NS can apparently perform miracles.
Despite some postings about ways to disprove M&NS, without specifically defining a boundary in biology between what it can and cannot do, these statements fall flat. It is in the same boat as "mini-ID" is in the paper.
Quick is not instantaneous. The Cambrian Explosion did not occur as quickly as some surmise, it took tens of millions of years and most body types were in existence before the fossil record could easily capture the evidence, including Chordates.
"We know that the human brain came into existence from thousands of fast and focused changes across the human genome in a way that "categorically different" from M&NS at large.
This is quite the assertion. Care to back it up?
"We know ecologies are balanced carefully across the planet and introducing foreign species wreak havoc on the local environment.
We also know that the majority of organisms that lived on Earth are extinct.
"We know of creatures that live in symbiotic mutualism. We know of creatures that haven't changed in millions of years.
Care to list a few?
"Yet M&NS can apparently perform miracles."
How are any of the things you listed miracles?
Are you seriously suggesting that mutations and NS can not be falsified or that they cannot be compared to other theories?
"Despite some postings about ways to disprove M&NS, without specifically defining a boundary in biology between what it can and cannot do, these statements fall flat. It is in the same boat as "mini-ID" is in the paper."
Both mutations and NS have recognized limits contingent on their preexisting conditions and state. The state of a mutation is determined by the environment it is found in, it may be immediately beneficial, immediately deleterious or it may be neutral. Any one of those three states can change to another if the environment is modified. That environment includes the other genes/regulators within the same genome. Some mutations are extreme enough that their effect is magnified and so deleterious that the organism does not survive. Those mutations are weeded out. That weeding out is natural selection (or some other form of selection).
The limits of what mutations can and cannot do are determined by the existing genome and the environment that genome is found in. Through work in the lab we have determined there are limits to the size, type, location and frequency of mutations. Within the space of all possible phenotypes derivable from all possible genotypes, there are many phenotypes unavailable to a specific genotype. The aphorism "You can't get there from here" is quite apt in the case of specific mutations.
As far as NS is concerned, it cannot produce anything and everything. It can only work on existing morphologies.
You seem to be upset that so far everything we have found in nature has been explainable by a number of evolutionary aspects, (not just limited to M&NS). Is this really surprising or unexpected given that everything we see is a result of changes to existing plans (descent with modification)? Evolution is nothing more than trial and error limited to using previous working organisms as the basis for new organisms.
Even if we ignore Sober's points about falsification and strictly deal with the falsification of evolution we see it fits Popper's criteria. A theory does not need to remain falsifiable throughout it's life time, it only needs to be falsifiable in principle. The theories of evolution, like many other well tested theories, are no longer falsifiable in practical terms not because evolution is no longer science but because thousands of tests have been constructed, based on falsifying criteria of the time, and the theories have passed all of those tests. These tests range from lab work with insects and microorganisms to domestication of livestock to computer simulations.
If we take Sober's point then both ID and evolution have to be tested against another hypothesis, even if that is the null hypothesis. They can also be tested against each other, which is what IDists are trying to do but without asking questions of ID.
If two hypotheses explain the same data equally well then the only option to determine which is the best explanation is to ask questions where the two hypotheses will give different answers. These questions must be independent of the processes being tested and based on previously verified answers. In ID those questions must be based on some prediction where ID will be verified and the deterministic process of mutation and NS shown wrong. Since ID's claim is that an intelligence is necessary to produce complexity it not only has to show that evolution could not produce that complexity but that ID has the capability of doing so and is the only possible answer. Because a designer could just as easily produce a product that looked undesigned as easily as one that looked designed it becomes necessary to understand the intent of the Designer. If we desire to identify design within the artifacts of that design, in this case a string of DNA, then we need to know the indicators of fabrication - in other words - the designers capabilities and manufacturing limits.
We do know the limits M&NS. We know that we will never see a horse give birth to a cat. We know that most trials do little and many result in dead ends. Evolution can not be used to explain every single possible variation, as you seem to suggest, but it has explained every variation we have so far examined.
Evolution has to continue with what already exists. A designer, depending on its capabilities, has no such restriction (Oops. Looks like we need to know its capabilities). Is this perhaps why the question of transitionals keeps rearing its ugly head? IDists know they have to find something that ID explains but evolution does not. Your statement was not equivalent to Sober's.
Dr. Steven A Austin (AKA Stuart Nevins) ICR flunky.
A Visit to the Institute for Creation Research
"This is quite the assertion. Care to back it up?"
"Care to list a few?"
"A theory does not need to remain falsifiable throughout it's life time, it only needs to be falsifiable in principle."
It's a little more nuanced than that. See:
You seem to like vagaries for the rest.
"The limits of what mutations can and cannot do are determined by the existing genome and the environment that genome is found in."
"Through work in the lab we have determined there are limits to the size, type, location and frequency of mutations."
And Haldane's dilemma resulted, and was promptly obscured by later researchers.
"We do know the limits M&NS. We know that we will never see a horse give birth to a cat. We know that most trials do little and many result in dead ends."
But you might given enough time. Evolution doesn't tell you a direction.
"Evolution can not be used to explain every single possible variation, as you seem to suggest, but it has explained every variation we have so far examined."
Do you see how little difference there is between these two statements? Evolution has almost 0 predictability and the same amount of explanatory power. Do you know, given a specific population in a specific environment what will happen to the population? Does evolution predict how the population's DNA will change? No. Evolution only predicts that at some point, the DNA will change and whatever changes will be selected from based on an undetermined fitness ratio.
In addition to a firm commitment to creationism and to full Biblical inerrancy and authority, the ICR Graduate School is committed to traditional education and to high standards of academic excellence. Each student's graduate program will consist predominantly of classroom lecture courses, with interaction between instructors and students, plus a research investigation and M.S. thesis. ICR's highly qualified and experienced faculty is in itself assurance of a rigorous and creative educational experience for its graduates, equipping them both for productive careers in their chosen fields and for making a significant contribution to the ongoing worldwide revival of theistic creationism.
IOW, it's not about science at all, it's about creationism. They've decided in advance where the evidence will lead.
Very Red Queen. Very Lewis Carroll.
That's creation "science" for you. Here are some statements of belief from three of these organizations for you:
That's creation "science" for you. Here are some statements of belief from three of these organizations for you:
Sorry for the double post; its slooooooow out there!
I am not sure your post was intended for me as I feel as if I am reading something from the middle of an ongoing discussion.
What you said does not appear to address any comments I made earlier, so this is the only conclusion I can draw.
Do you really believe that the feeding of five thousand families was done with scientific technology by aliens? I hope you are being sarcastic.
Nor did a PETA Group accomplish the incarnation. The virgin birth and the miracles of Christ, along with His teaching, were carried out by the power of the Holy Spirit. That you would lightly remark about such a serious subject matter reflects badly upon your spiritual condition.
I AM ALARMED for you. Beware that you do not harden yourself to the message of the gospel to the point you make blasphemous comments about the Holy Spirit. For this sin there is no remedy.
I do not need to learn from the shroud of Turin. I have a more sure word of prophecy on which to rely.
The first commandment is for God to be first. It is expressed in several ways which can be summed up as "love God". The second commandment is to love our neighbor as ourself. All of God's commandments are expressions of these two commandments, as the Lord instructed.
I take it then that you are too proud and wise to look at the "fabber", a 3D coping machine recently developed at Cornell University. They see but do not PERCEIVE saith Jesus. God gave you a brain to think with but sadly you lack the understanding that is possible with that brain.
Love God, Love your neighbor. Both phrases use the word LOVE. Do you not know that what you call "love" is rooted in the bose inclusion statistics of quantum mechanics? And that "hate" is rooted in the pauli exclusion principle?
I guess "unlearner" fits you best, you refuse to learn anything new. And yet...know it all's...never really do...know it all...do they?
Hi, Medved. Back again?
yes even the muslims and buhdist all hunabists for that matter and I dont care what the Pope knows, and when I say Christ has come I mean the first time. And when I sat every knee will bow it will be when Christ returns or when you die which ever comes first. Take off the blinders!
A cat scan you say? by an MRI machine that was invented by a creation scientist! Dr. Raymond Damadian. In which He was jipped out of the nobel peace prize and money and they gave it to his assistants who were evolutionists. More dishinesty from the evolutisms.
Doesnt make a bit of difference your point is petty I listed dozens and could list hundreds more scientists who are creationists, besides even in francis Bacons time there were atheistic view points, but that doesnt make a hill of beens difference, like isaid its a petty point. Peace!
The people from the lists Ive posted noe of them fit the claims?, you need to try again and look a little closer!
If all you ever new was the dessert lived in the desseert since you were born SON and I came to you and said some day you will see a place with these things that come out of the ground and theres a substance that flows and there are growths of color of all varieties. well you might say thats mythology! but the growths that come out of the ground are trees, and the substance that flows is water, and the growths of color of all varieties are flowers, isnt so mythological anymore is it! If you deem something mythological because it seems bizarre to you, then the very world we live in should be mythological to you but yet here it is before your very eyes, but you are use to it because God has made you comfortable in it and it has become routine for you, but it is every bit as marvelous.
Why is it any more unrealistic that you get to talk as it would be for a donkey, who said you can talk but not a donkey? who made it this way? If you have the knowledge let me know! Tell me why all animals are unlearned compared to us? speak and dont hold back, so we can all be enlightened, let us know what you know and not us!
Is it just because you havent seen it so, or because you cant comprehend it? Who gave you not only the ability to speak but the mind to converse, both remarkable traits and at the same time and with the very same creature how does this happen by chance? Please in all your wisdom dont hold back! Tell me and I will apologise for my ignorance! Dont hold back the secrets of your wisdom, tell us as Steven J gould has about how the pandas thumb isnt sufficient enough, he must be all knowing as you, to be able to point out just what isnt good enough, thats as dumb as saying it would be better if we had an arm in our back so we could do more tasks, so therefore the body has some flaws! So do tell us in your infinite wisdom you and Steven J Gould tell us how it should be!