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Top Ten Intelligent Design and Evolution Science News Stories of 2010

Post Author: Bill Pratt

 Top Ten Intelligent Design and Evolution Science News Stories of 2010This post is a few months belated, but better late than never.  Every year, Access Research Network does a phenomenal job collecting science news that bears on the intelligent design and evolution debate.  For 2010, they have again assembled a great list.  If you are at all interested in this debate, please go read the article where they have compiled the stories.


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  • Todd Pratt

    Interesting articles if you are looking for the National Enquirer version of science. One has to wonder what great conspiracy the National Academy of Science (or any recognized scientific body) has against the ID movement.

    Could it be that their collective ego is so swollen from years of research in search of truths about our universe that the mere idea of ID is so offensive as to simply be dismissed? Or is it the more likely scenario that ID as a science has been found so devoid of fact that real scientists are almost as tired of debating this fringe element as they are flat-earthers, young earth creationists, or doomsday prophets…

    The Access Research Network was originally started as (SOR) Students for Origins Research, which was a creationist research organization. They had to change their stripes when creationism was so completely debunked that they could not pander their horse droppings of science even within Christianity. Access Research Network’s stated goal is “providing accessible information on science, technology and society issues from an intelligent design perspective.” Design perspective? What perspective does true science have if not the search for truth. If Darwin’s theory would have been debunked as fully as ID, it would not be called science today (at least not be scientists). In fact, many of Darwin’s early observations have been found to be mistaken; and those mistakes are made public, so that science can benefit from the research. Why, if ID has been debunked so thoroughly and often, do they not yield to better science? Of course… there is the “perspective” to consider. However, I think “agenda” is a better word.

  • http://plesiosaur.com/creationism Richard Forrest

    I’ve read some of the articles on ARN’s web site. I can see nothing there which offers any support whatsoever for any scientific theory of intelligent design – hardly surprising as ID is little more than “scientific” creationism repackaged to evade US laws against teaching religion in schools.

    They present disputes and new findings within science as casting into doubt “Darwinism” (a term beloved by creationists as it implies a quasi-religious cult of personality attached to Darwin) as supporting ID, and with the usual creationist misrepresentation of scientists such as Gould by quoting them selectively and out of context. This is not science.

    It is, quite simply, blatantly dishonest.

    But then the target audience for such articles is not scientists, but creationist followers who see the sciency-sounding language but don’t have the insight to recognise how profoundly anti-science the arguments are. The whole thrust of the ID relies on the assertion that if we can show that no naturalistic explanation for the origin of a system exists we should reject the assumption of naturalism which makes science possible in favour of the untestable proposition that “GodIMeanAnIntelligentDesigner” created it by unknown but possibly supernatural means. Such explanations were rejected in the development of modern science because they are unfruitful. To have any value as science, an explanation needs to set constraints on possible out comes, and “God did it” sets no such constraints.

  • Bill Pratt

    Todd,
    Do you see how desperate you look when you start telling us about the origins of ARN? This tactic backfires, especially when I am asking for people to deal with ID in an academic way. Figure out what it says and refute it. I have read books by ID opponents, I have listened to numerous podcasts where anti-ID people attack the theory, I have read websites hosted by anti-ID people, and what I have found, by and large, is a lot of people not dealing with the central arguments put forth by Behe, Dembski, and Meyer.

    You are just another person in a long chain of people who are too lazy to deal with the arguments.

  • Bill Pratt

    Richard,
    You and Todd must be reading from the same script. Why don’t you actually deal with ID arguments instead of calling names and hurling accusations? Maybe it’s because that would take some work, and it’s just easier to make fun of people.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, I posted this elsewhere already, but it’s relevant to your post here too. You ask for proper engagement with ID arguments.

    Andrew Ryan says:
    April 26, 2011 at 5:49 am
    “I would love to hear good arguments against ID theory”
    • Paul Draper wrote a well regarded critique of Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box called “Irreducible Complexity and Darwinian Gradualism: A Reply to Michael J. Behe”.
    • See also Kenneth Miller in his book, Finding Darwin’s God.

    Did you follow the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial? I read Michael Chapman’s book on it, and it seemed to show the case for ID collapsing under MANY good arguments against it.
    Wiki: “Some of the most crucial exchanges in the trial occurred during Michael Behe’s cross-examination, where his testimony would prove devastating to the defence. Behe was forced to concede that “there are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred” and that his definition of ‘theory’ as applied to intelligent design was so loose that astrology would also qualify.
    “Earlier during his direct testimony, Behe had argued that a computer simulation of evolution he performed with Snoke shows that evolution is not likely to produce certain complex biochemical systems. Under cross examination however, Behe was forced to agree that “the number of prokaryotes in 1 ton of soil are 7 orders of magnitude higher than the population [it would take] to produce the disulfide bond” and that “it’s entirely possible that something that couldn’t be produced in the lab in two years… could be produced over three and half billlion years.”

  • http://plesiosaur.com/creationism Richard Forrest

    Not dealing with ID arguments, eh?

    Okay:
    Here’s how the Di define ID “theory”:
    “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    Michael Behe asserts that some biological systems exhibit “irreducible complexity”, and that “irreducible complexity” could not have arisen by evolution in small incremental steps. Therefore, he argues, we should adopt as default the “explanation” that an “intelligent designer” (or “God” when he is addressing an audience of creationists) must be responsible, and that there is no need to investigate *how* the “intelligent designer” did it, but that supernatural methods may have been employed.

    How does Behe *know* that “irreducible complexity” could not have been created by naturalistic means? Herman Muller *predicted* the existence of “specified complexity” – which is defined in exactly the same way as “irreducible complexity” in 1918 on the basis of evolutionary theory (Muller, Herman, 1918, “Genetic Variablity, Twin Hybrids and Constant Hybrids, in a Case of Balanced Lethal Factors”, Genetics, Vol 3, No 5, Sept 1918, pp 422-499). So Behe is claiming as a hallmark of “design” something *predicted* by evolutionary theory.

    How can the proposition that an “intelligent designer”, possibly using supernatural methods, has interfered with naturalistic processes be tested? Scientific hypotheses set constraints on possible outcomes. If a dog gave birth to a cat, it would falsify the theory of genetic inheritance fundamental to evolutionary theory. ID could “explain” it, because if the possibility of non-naturalistic causes are invoked, anything is possible. A dog giving birth to a cat, or pink unicorns appearing in the air over Times Square dancing a quadrille could be “explained” by “GodIMeanAnIntelligentDesigner” did it. That makes ID useless as a scientific proposition.

    The default position in science in the absence of a robust explanation for the origin of a system is not to revert to supernatural explanations: it’s to carry on looking. We don’t use science to investigate the workings of the universe because of what we know, we do so because of what we *don’t* know! ID proponents say that they have no need to investigate the nature of the designer or the methods used. “Explanations” which lead nowhere, and which in fact explicitly *state* that they should lead nowhere are not part of science.

    Then we come to the inherent dishonesty of ID, as demonstrated during the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial. Setting aside for the moment that members of the school board who were trying to get ‘Pandas and People’ adopted as a textbool lied under oath, we have Behe’s crossexamination. He rejected as “unconvincing” the evidence and argument put forward in over 60 scientific papers exploring possible pathways for the evolution of the bacterial flagellum without even bothering to read them. How could he possibly know?

    William Dembski’s arguments are even less convincing. He asserts that “specified complexity” is the hallmark of “design” – a concept he defines in terms which presume the consequent, making it logically incoherent. Douglas Adams summed up his argument very entertainingly:
    “… imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ ”

    Dembski’s response to the ruling after the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial revealed more clearly than anything I could write the intellectual bankruptcy of the ID movement: he released an animation of Judge Jones to which he had added fart noises. So much for the supposed intellectual heavyweight of the ID movement.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Richard, I note that you don’t intellectually engage and deal with the arguments behind Dembski’s ‘farting judge’ animation, and instead just call it names, eh?

  • http://plesiosaur.com/creationism Richard Forrest

    “Richard, I note that you don’t intellectually engage and deal with the arguments behind Dembski’s ‘farting judge’ animation, and instead just call it names, eh”

    I’ve addressed the vacuousness of Dembski’s argument in my post. Are you seriously claiming that Dembski’s animation is a reasoned and intellectually valid response to the judge’s ruling? If so, it tells us more about the intellectual quality of ID arguments than any words of mine could.

  • http://plesiosaur.com/creationism Richard Forrest

    …and it’s worth adding Dembski’s justification for his scatology:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/the-motivation-behind-the-judge-jones-school-of-law/
    “The other side is making much about my having attained yet another “new low” in being the creative force behind the Judge Jones School of Law (go to http://www.overwhelmingevidence.com). Just to be clear, my aim in this flash animation was not to shake up the convictions of convinced Darwinists. Rather, my aim was to render Judge Jones and his decision ridiculous in the eyes of many young people, who from here on will never take Darwinian evolution or him seriously. If the cost of accomplishing this is yet another lowering of my estimation in the eyes of PT or Richard Dawkins, that’s a price I’m only too glad to pay — heck, I regard that as a benefit of the deal.”

    So, no evidence or argument, just an ad hominem attack on the judge in an attempt to discredit evolutionary theory.

    That’s pretty pathetic by any standards. Oh, and yes: he has paid the price of having his estimation in the eyes of every honest scientist lowered. But then he deserves it.

  • Andrew Ryan

    It was a joke! I put (satire) at the beginning and (/satire) at the end, in square brackets, but they didn’t appear on the post.

  • http://plesiosaur.com/creationism Richard Forrest

    “It was a joke!”

    My apologies! Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between arguments creationists take seriously and satire. Oh, and I’m probably a po-faced git with no sense of humour.

  • Todd Pratt

    I was out for a few days but happy to see others re-exhaust the ID fallacy. What I find missing is the response to the refutations? It seems the same arguement each time it comes up. The proposition is met with derision, which elicits the name calling response, followed by an actual response, followed by silence… Which is why it is initially met with derision the next time it comes up.

  • Bill Pratt

    Richard,
    Based on your comment, I don’t see that you really understand ID theory. You’ve picked up bits and pieces, enough to make fun of it and its proponents, but that seems to be it. To prove me wrong, please give me a definition of “irreducible complexity” from Behe’s writings and a definition of “specified complexity” from Dembski’s writings. I would like to see you make an attempt to move beyond mockery and derision and actually give us a fair treatment of ID theory instead.

  • Bill Pratt

    Richard,
    If anyone wants to see ad hominem in action, please just click through to a few atheist websites or blogs. I would recommend starting with Richard Dawkins’ site. His site is so full of vitriol and nastiness that it has helped to de-convert at least one atheist who was horrified by it. Dembski’s animation is pretty weak compared to what you’ll see there.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I’ve never talked to any ID proponent who’s been able to explain what specified complexity means either.

    As for IC, is that you cannot take a piece away without the system breaking down? Either way, he wasn’t able to make it stand up in court, and by that definition, there’s still no reason why an IC structure could come about through natural means. Archways are IC, but occur naturally. This happens because other parts of the structure that originally played a supportive role disappeared, leaving an apparently IC structure. The same can happen in biology.

  • Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    “I’ve never talked to any ID proponent who’s been able to explain what specified complexity means either.”

    That’s strange because several books have been written on the subject by Dembski. Or you could probably go to a dozen ID websites where they define the term. In fact, there are a multitude of places where you could find it defined. Here is an article where Dembski talks about criticisms of specified complexity as a way to detect design.

    Behe’s definition of IC is, “By irreducibly complex I mean a single system which is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”

    In 2000, in order to focus the definition better on biological evolution, he proposed the following: “An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.”

    His background explanation for this definition is the following: “If a system has to pass through one unselected step on the way to a particular improvement, then in a real evolutionary sense it is encountering irreducibility: two things have to happen (the mutation passing through the unselected step and the mutation that gives a selectable system) before natural selection can kick in again. If it has to pass through three or four unselected steps (like Robison’s scenario), then in an evolutionary sense it is even more irreducibly complex. The focus is off of the ‘parts’ (whose number may stay the same even while the nature of the parts is changing) and re-directed toward ‘steps.'” (see this article)

    So, all you have to do is give detailed accounts of any biological system that meets this criteria and you have falsified the assertion that irreducible complex biological systems cannot be developed by random mutation and natural selection. If these systems are created all the time by these processes, then falsifying IC should be simple.

  • http://alabamatheist.blogspot.com/ Tim D.

    “An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.”

    I don’t really accept the idea of “irreducible complexity” because ultimately, all we can do is say that something has the qualities of something that was designed or not designed; we can’t say that it therefore was or wasn’t designed. There are many systems (such as the human eye) which have several qualities of systems which we know to be designed (such as a camera), but it is also very possible that it was not designed — these qualities do not in any way “prove” that it was designed, or that it did not evolve naturally. That something has the qualities of something else does not necessarily mean it is connected — evolutionary theory, for example, classifies some animals that have similar characteristics in completely different animal groups, on the understanding that they evolved the same systems by different means. Just because bats and birds both have wings, doesn’t mean bats are birds (or birds are mammals). Likewise, just because an eye has some systems which are analogous to a camera doesn’t mean that an eye was designed (or that a camera was created through natural processes); that’s simply not enough information to make a clear judgment.

  • http://alabamatheist.blogspot.com/ Tim D.

    P.S.

    I could simplify my above post for easier skimming thusly: If two objects share similar qualities (such as the eye and the camera), then which way does ID/IC say that we should lean? Should we say they are both designed, or should we say that they are both natural? In other words, is it possible for natural systems to have the qualities of designed objects? If so, then this is a useless method for separating design from nature because there is no basis for comparison; it seems to me that the only reason we are able to differentiate between the qualities of designed objects and those of natural systems are because we know a priori which is which.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “That’s strange because several books have been written on the subject by Dembski”

    Indeed, and yet the statement you quoted from me is true – I’ve never heard a proponent manage to summarise Dembski’s argument for me.

    Your summary of Behe’s definition sounds pretty similar to my summary, and I stand by my objection to it.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bill, have you read any of the critiques of Dembski’s theory?

    http://www.talkreason.org/articles/eandsdembski.pdf

  • Bill Pratt

    Tim,
    There are several other sciences which detect design, a couple being archaeology and cryptography. I’m afraid you’re throwing the baby out with the water. How do archaeologists detect whether a stone fragment is designed by a human or is due to completely natural processes? How do cryptographers detect whether they are seeing a human-made code or just a random noise pattern?

  • Bill Pratt

    Andrew,
    The fact that some ID proponents you’ve spoken to don’t summarize specified complexity for you does not let you off the hook. If you are going to criticize something, then go figure out what it is you’re criticizing. Otherwise, you’re merely parroting what other anti-ID people are writing.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I’m not on the hook Bill. I understand what I criticise.

  • http://alabamatheist.blogspot.com/ Tim D.

    How do archaeologists detect whether a stone fragment is designed by a human or is due to completely natural processes?

    That depends on a lot of information that hasn’t been supplied (such as when and where the rock is/was found). This is exactly my point, though — we can say that the rock has qualities of design (or lack thereof), but we can’t actually decide whether that means it was designed or not unless we come across corroborating evidence (other than the rock itself) which supports the theory that it was created. In short, we can’t just say it was “designed,” we have to say, “designed by someone.” Designed by who?

    Do you not see the homunculus fallacy here, though? In order to know whether or not an object is designed, we have to defer to comparison against objects that we *know* to be designed. So then, how do we know whether the objects we “know to be designed” (the bases for our comparison) are themselves designed? By further comparison to other designed objects. This triggers an infinite regress, which is impossible.

    The only way to identify the nature of an object in any way that is consistent or meaningful, we must identify it based on foundational qualities — there must be some quality inherent to it, which serves to define it. We can’t even get to the point of “comparing the rock to an object which was designed in order to see if the rock was designed” until we settle on what qualities an object has that make it inherent that it was ‘designed’ — otherwise, there is no way we can “know something was designed” in the first place (and therefore, no way we can compare such a thing to the rock in question).

    Scenario exmaple: let’s say I do find a rock, and I want to check and see if it was designed. What do I do? I compare its qualities to those of an object which I know to be designed — say, a microwave oven. But then, it occurs to me to question how I know that the microwave oven was designed? I didn’t see it being manufactured; so how do I know? Because of the qualities it has — complex parts arranged in a meaningful way. But how do I know that these qualities mean that the microwave was designed? Because I have some further basis for comparison to demonstrate those qualities. All this until I can reach a basis for comparison which I actually did witness being designed. At that point, we realize that the “foundational quality” of an object which tips us off every single time to the fact that it has been designed, is the fact that it has been designed. This, of course, is completely circular, which demonstrates my point: There is an infinite regress of proofs, which makes it impossible to determine (based on qualities alone) whether or not something was designed. So ultimately, it’s as I said: we can only describe what qualities an object has.

    With only the qualities of an object to go on, we can describe an object, but we cannot definitively, logically prove whether or not it has been designed. We can only defer, and defer, and defer.

  • http://plesiosaur.com/creationism Richard Forrest

    Here’s Behe’s definition of “irreducible complexity”:
    “By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”
    He goes on to assert:
    “An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. ”
    This is an unfounded assertion. It assumes that biological systems evolve towards a teleological goal. So he is trying to build assumptions which are not supported by evidence into his definition. We know that biological system acquire new functions by the cooption of existing functions into new roles, which invalidates this aspect of his definition.

    Here’s what Herman Muller wrote in 1918:
    “Most present-day animals are the result of a long process of evolution, in which a t least thousands of mutations must have taken place. Each new mutant in turn must have derived its survival value from the effect which it produced upon the “reaction system” that had been brought into being by the many previously formed factors in cooperation; thus a complicated machine was gradually built up whose effective working was de- pendent upon the interlocking action of very numerous different elementary parts or factors, and many of the characters and factors which, when new, were originally merely an asset finally became necessary because other necessary characters and factors had subsequently become changed so as to be dependent on the former. It must result, in consequence, that a dropping out of , or even a slight change in any one of these parts is very likely to disturb fatally the whole machinery;”

    So what he does is *predict* on the basis of evolutionary theory systems which meet Behe’s definition of “irreducibly complex”. Behe’s “definition” specifically *excludes* the explanation for the existence of such systems by asserting that functions *can’t* be coopted in the way evolutionary theory predicts.

    As for Demski:
    I suggest that nowhere in Richard Dawkin’s web site (or on the web site of any other opponent of ID, whether atheist, Christian or adherent of any other religion) will you find such a puerile and facile ad homimen which evades the simple fact that when ID had to opportunity to prove its scientific validity in court, it lost comprehensively. There is no need to resort to ad hominem when dealing with ID proponents: they undermine themselves.

    His argument based on probability is spurious. In a natural world of untold billions of organisms the “probability” than only particular organism has that particular configuration is vanishingly low. However, it is at a fundamental level a misapplication of statistics. The “probability” for an event which has already occurred is 1, and living organisms don’t evolve by the completely random accumulation of elements towards a teleological goal. It’s nonsense, and Douglas Adams puddle analogy shows that it’s nonsense.

    I’m an evolutionary biologist, not a mathematician, so I turn to mathematicians when it comes to a critique of Dembski’s mathematical argument. Here’s what mathematicians have written about it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Design_Revolution

    Mathematician Jeffrey Shallit criticises the book for evasion and dissembling — for answering the easier questions disingenuously and avoiding the harder questions entirely. He states that Dembski’s assertion that “design theorists oppose Darwinian theory on strictly scientific grounds” is not even remotely plausible because “nearly every prominent intelligent design supporter a conservative Christian” and recounts how the biographies of Phillip E. Johnson, Jonathan Wells and Dembski himself cast doubt on the assertion. Shallit also accuses Dembski of misrepresenting philosopher Daniel Dennett and making obvious errors in the field of information theory. The list of questions that Shallit accuses Dembski of refusing to address include:
    [W]hat, exactly, is design? …
    When estimating the probability of events, why do you use two different and incompatible methods, depending on whether the event was human-caused or not? …
    Why have you never acknowledged that a crucial calculation on page 249 of No Free Lunch is off by about 65 orders of magnitude, even though you were informed of this in 2002? …
    Why have you not acknowledged that your mathematical “proof” on pages 152-154 of No Free Lunch that “natural causes cannot generate CSI” is flawed, since (among other errors) it claims it applies to all functions f, but actually it assumes that the function f is known to the intelligent agent in question? …
    Why have you never seriously addressed the work of artificial life researchers, who routinely find in their simulations the kinds of novelties you claim are impossible? …
    Why do you continue to conflate your term “specified complexity” with Davies’ use of the term, when Davies is clearly referring to events with high Kolmogorov complexity, whereas you are referring to events with low Kolmogorov complexity?

    Mathematician Mark Perakh criticises Dembski for failing to address critiques from his most prominent and qualified critics:
    Dembski’s faulty interpretation of the NFL theorems was strongly criticized by Richard Wein and by David Wolpert, the originator of these theorems. Dembski spared no effort in rebutting Wein’s critique, devoting to it two lengthy essays. However, he did not utter a single word in regard to Wolpert’s critique. It is not hard to see why. Wein, as Dembski points out, has only a bachelor’s degree in statistics — and Dembski uses this irrelevant factoid to deflect Wein’s well substantiated criticism. He does not, though, really answer the essence of Wein’s comments and resorts instead to ad hominem remarks and a contemptuous tone. He can’t do the same with Wolpert who enjoys a sterling reputation as a brilliant mathematician and who is obviously much superior to Dembski in the understanding of the NFL theorems of which he is a co-author. Dembski pretends that Wolpert’s critique does not exist.

    Dembski has behaved similarly in a number of other situations. For example, the extensive index in his latest book The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design completely omits the names of most of the prominent critics of Dembski’s ideas. We don’t see in that index the following names: Rich Baldwin, Eli Chiprout, Taner Edis, Ellery Eels, Branden Fitelson, Philip Kitcher, Peter Milne, Massimo Pigliucci, Del Ratzsch, Jeff Shallit, Niall Shanks, Jordan H. Sobel, Jason Rosenhouse, Christopher Stephenson, Richard Wein, and Matt Young. All these writers have analyzed in detail Dembski’s literary output and demonstrated multiple errors, fallacious concepts and inconsistencies which are a trademark of his prolific production.”

    It’s worth noting that his response to Wien’s criticism of his ideas – “He does not, though, really answer the essence of Wein’s comments and resorts instead to ad hominem remarks and a contemptuous tone” – seems to be typical of him, and is greatly in evidence in his blog.

  • http://plesiosaur.com/creationism Richard Forrest

    Bill Pratt writes:
    “There are several other sciences which detect design, a couple being archaeology and cryptography. I’m afraid you’re throwing the baby out with the water. How do archaeologists detect whether a stone fragment is designed by a human or is due to completely natural processes?”

    Archaeologists don’t claim to detect “design”. They look for evidence of manufacture, and they do so by experimenting with knapped flints to find out which characteristics are found in those which are man-made and which are absent or rare in flint flakes produced by natural processes such as abrasion and frost-shattering.

    For ID to have any validity as science, it’s proponents need to do more than make unfounded assertions about the nature of “designed” objects and systems. To claim that archaeologists detect “design” or use ID concepts in their research is little more than a lie. They don’t.

    To establish characteristics of “designed” as opposed to “non-designed” objects and systems, ID proponents need to do some research. They could draw up data sets of objects and systems known to be designed, and objects and systems known *not* to be designed, and analyse the characteristics of both sets. They haven’t, and they won’t because they can’t specify what they mean by “design”, and in any case believe that they live in a universe which was designed by their God. How does one determine is something is not designed in a designed universe?

  • http://plesiosaur.com/creationism Richard Forrest

    Bill Pratt wrote:
    “So, all you have to do is give detailed accounts of any biological system that meets this criteria and you have falsified the assertion that irreducible complex biological systems cannot be developed by random mutation and natural selection.”

    Flatly false. That wouldn’t falsify ID, because ID proponents will simply shift their attention to some other system they claim to be “irreducibly complex”. Or they will do what Dembski has done in respect of the evolution of the bacterial flagellum, and claim that scientific explanations are “inadequate” without actually bothering to read the papers.

    In any case, this is scientifically illiterate. If we have no scientific explanation for the origin of any particular biological system, we don’t reject scientific explanations in favour of the untestable assertion that GodIMeanAnIntelligentDesigner was responsible. To have any value to science, explanations need to set constraints on possible outcomes, and there is no potential observation or measurement which could *not* be “explained” by the intervention of a possibly supernatural “intelligent designer” using unspecified but possibly supernatural methods.

    What we do if we are engaged in the practice of science is to say that we don’t know how that particular system originated, formulate hypotheses which constrain possible outcomes by looking at the evidence and testing them by acquiring further evidence. We don’t use the tools of science to investigate the workings of the universe because of what we know, we use them to find out what we don’t know.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Ouch, Richard. The next time we’ll see your opponents’ arguments I suspect it’ll be on the side of a carton of milk.

  • Serenity

    But that is exactly what Richard Forrest does. If you go to http://www.religionethics.co.uk you will see him doing just this all day every day. He enforces his argument using ridicule, abuse, insults whilst airing a sense of moral duty.

    It pleases me no end to see that there are others who recognise that Richard fails to see the difference between ID being wrong and ID being a scientific theory.

  • Gharindhar

    its not understanding

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