More Darwinian Cognitive Dissonance

This time, I’m happy to point out that others are specifically pointing out the logical flaws of the Darwinists.

The primary reason opponents say that ID is not science is because it doesn’t make falsifiable claims. But if it doesn’t make falsifiable claims, then it can’t be said to have made claims that have been found false. Yet this is exactly what they charge.

Indeed.  IC is falsifiable and the Darwinists obviously agree, since they claim that they’ve falsified it.  Yet, ID science is not science because it’s not falsifiable?  Welcome to 1984.  Orwell would be proud of the doublethink exhibited here.

(Note:  That last statement was for rhetorical flourish only.  Lest my Darwinist detractors try to glom onto some irrelevant point to try and discredit me, I’m fully aware that Orwell’s novel was decrying this type of behavior, and he would not actually be proud.)

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66 responses to “More Darwinian Cognitive Dissonance

  1. Hi Professorsmith,

    It’s been awhile since I gave you something to talk about, but I think your thinking here needs to be clarified.

    ID is not science because it eschews the process of hypothesize, test using controlled and repeatable experiments, revise.

    ID nonetheless can be said to be false. Not because it may be falsified scientifically – since ID has cast aside HTR, then this is obviously not possible. ID is false because ID makes nothing but false claims and statements.

    The distinction between the concepts may seem subtle, but it is real.

  2. professorsmith,

    I believe you are conflating IC with ID. Irreducible Complexity is falsifiable in principle, and as has happened with the bacterial flagellum, plausible pathways have been identified that discredit it as “irreducible” with respect to development by natural processes.

    But even if IDers bail out on the flagellum, saying “never mind”, there’s any number of other examples of complexity in nature that they can point to saying “Ok, now prove there’s a pathway for that“. Falsification of *one* instance of IC is enough to discredit the algorithm that identified it as IC, but you’ll note that IC isn’t offered as something that gets algorithmically identified, but is more whatever ID luminaries say it is.

    That means Behe can just act appropriately embarrassed (or not, given his past behavior) and move on to try and find his next arrow to shoot at evolution. IC can remain viable in that way, as specific instances of IC get falsified, ID proponents simply say, “well that wasn’t really IC after all, but what about these other things…” Unless ID proponents are willing to propose discrete, quantitative criteria for what represents IC (I’ve not seen such), then IC is a kind of shell game, offering falsifiable instances, but keeping the principle itself from categorical falsification.

    And, even if we suppose that something like the flagellum was impossible to produce given modern evolutionary theory, this doesn’t implicate a designer, or intelligence, any more than falsifying Haeckel’s biogenetic law falsified evolution and proved a designer.

    That’s the conflation that’s so outrageous here, the idea that even if IC were to be a) fully specified and b) shown to be conclusively beyond the capabilities of evloutionary processes, that would definitely cause a re-think, but only a religious interference in the process would suggest that this is proof, or basis for inferring a designer.

    That’s the primary complaint against ID’s falsifiability. IC might be falsifiable as a whole if its proponents would work to make it robust enough to be generally liable to falsification. But this, at best, would create problems for modern evolutionary theory. The suggestion that a “Designer” somehow “wins by default” in that case, is wholly illicit.

    Maybe it’s best to just ask: assuming that the flagellum was irreducibly complex, is that evidence for a Designer, or evidence against modern evolutionary theory? Or do you suppose that evidence modern evolutionary theory automatically implies a Designer, as some kind of default?

    -Touchstone

  3. Yeah Art, tell it to the bio-informatics lab, which is busy doing ID research right now. Oh, and you can try and discredit Behe’s work, but you can’t deny that he’s done scientific work.

    Touchstone,
    Didn’t Art just get done telling me IC is not falsifiable? Perhaps you two should get your story straight. What is the Darwinist position on it? It is falsifiable and been falsified, or not? You two demonstrate quite well exactly what I was talking about. Thank you for the real world example, I couldn’t have hoped for a better couple of responses.

    Oh, and you can stop arguing against strawmen.

  4. professorsmith,

    IC as a concept, challenge to modern evolutionary theory, is not falsifiable. Instances offered are falsifiable (e.g. bacteria flagellum), but falsification of the instance does not falsify the class. ID keeps IC amorphous just for this purpose, else it would have fallen with the flagellum.

    I didn’t see IC mentioned by Art, but it’s entirely possible for ID to be scientifically unfalsifiable and yet be full of false claims and assertions. ID offers much that is just bogus philosophically and otherwise, while remain vacuous (unfalsifiable) scientifically. All while offering the occasional claim that can be evaluated.

    It’s not that hard to keep straight.

    -Touchstone

  5. No, it’s not hard to keep straight when you are allowed to change definitions on the fly, move the goal posts, etc.

    I’m sorry that you can’t see the cognitive dissonance of saying that IC is made up of falsifiable instances, but IC is not falsifiable, but that’s exactly what it is…cognitive dissonance. That would be like saying evolution isn’t falsifiable, but instances of it are. I mean, how can you falsify “change over time”? Yet, we can and have falsified some of the specific claims made. By your logic, evolution makes false claims and is not science.

  6. professorsmith,

    If we throw out the bacterial flagellum as falsified, is IC falsified? I’d be interested to know the answer to that.

    If you say ‘yes’, then I’d happily concede that I was wrong and agree that IC as a whole was falsifiable, as it went “down with the ship” of Behe’s ideas about the flagellum.

    If you say ‘no’, then you’re establishing that instances can be falsified, and it doesn’t negate IC as a whole.

    As for falsifying evolutionary theory, many ideas that got developed alongside what we have today have been falsified and discarded — Darwin’s ideas about pangenesis being an example of where he was clearly mistaken. That’s how science works. But the very core, the sine qua non of evolutionary theory — the idea of common descent, the nested hierarchy of biological development — is trivial to falsify. A vertebrate fossil from the pre-Cambrian, say a nicely preserved rabbit, would utterly wreck the whole theory.

    I don’t know why you ask about “change over time”? The dictionary meaning of the word ‘evolution’ is not the principles of evolutionary theory, and it’s pretty silly that you should think “change over time” somehow reflects the theory.

    There’s nothing unscientific about making false claims. YECs make ridiculous claims about the age of the earth being 6,000 years old, but to the extent those claims are testable, make predictions and are falsifiable, they are perfectly scientific. The results for young earth creationism have been disastrous, but at least ya gotta give ’em credit for being liable to falsification.

    -Touchstone

  7. If the bacterial flagellum is IC, is all of evolution falsified?

    Anyway, I do say, “No.” Instances can be negated without negating the larger concept. Do you intend to disagree with that, because your mish-mash of an argument was predicated on that? IC is unscientific because negating one part doesn’t negate the whole of it. Well, the same applies to parts of evolution, so your move. In fact, you contradict yourself by allowing that some evolutionary ideas have been falsified, but it obviously didn’t falsify all of evolution. So, I guess you’ve debunked your own argument with some help from me. Good for us!

  8. Good for us? Who is ‘us’? The goal is to build more and more accurate models of the physical world, models that provide better and better predictions, and provide increasingly more substantial explanations for phenomena that are coherent with the wider body of scientific knowledge.

    So, whenever we can falsify a part of evolutionary theory, it is good for ‘us’, if you mean science specifically, or mankind in general (somehow I think your ‘us’ refers to some other group, though).

    Evolutionary theory doesn’t depend on pangenesis, or blended inheritance, to name another mechanism suggested by Darwin that was mistaken. Those are hypothesized mechanism that putatively provide detail about how common descent actually happened. Darwin had no idea bout DNA in his day, and so Mendelian genetics just weren’t even on the radar until many decades later. But the falsification of blended inheritance as the mechanism for heritability of traits isn’t at all *necessary* to the idea of common descent. That’s why dropping it is no problem at all, especially when it gets dropped because we have found verifiable processes that do provide a mechanism whereby common descent could have happened (genetics).

    There are, as I said when I contemplated finding a rabbit skeleton fossilized in some pre-Cambrian stratum, ways to falsify the over-arching thesis of evolutionary theory. Common descent is inchoate if it has a rabbit running around from that early period. So, when you look at falsification, one just needs to understand what is being falsified, and what its ramifications are. The pre-Cambrian rabbit fossil shakes evolutionary theory to the core. The identification of DNA as the mechanism for heritable traits (among other things) is a means of falsifying other mechanisms that were previously hypothesized, but also a means of adding huge weight to the credibility of the theory in terms of its claims of common descent.

    With IC, we simply don’t know what it is, beyond an argument from ignorance (e.g. “What possible developmental pathway could have produced the flagellum?”). Even when plausible pathways are identified for examples Behe or others throw out there, IDists still suppose there must be other cases of irrefutable IC out there, somewhere. In that sense, at least at this point, then, IC has no general liability to falsification, no equivalent to the pre-Cambrian rabbit fossil. And in that same sense, it is scientifically deficient.

    Can you think of a scenario where IC would be generally falsified? Given that you’ve now agreed that a falsified instance doesn’t dismiss the hypothesis in the general sense, how would IC be falsified. Evolutionary theory, the whole of it, would be discredited by fossil evidence that contraverted the supposed nested hierarchy of developing organisms. It’s liable to falsification.

    How about IC?

    -Touchstone

  9. “Us” in this case is the two of us. I figured that even a true believer in the Darwinista could see that he had just backed himself into a corner and might learn something from it. I guess I was wrong, and your belief in your world-view is too strong to even see the contradiction staring you in the face.

    I don’t have delusions of grandeur of providing “better and better models of the physical world” through the comments on a blog site with a Darwinist such as yourself, and I doubt that you would have those as well, so I have to believe that this is your attempt and once again moving the goal posts.

    I stand by my claims and I don’t see you making any inroads into them. You’re admitting the same things over and over and claiming they mean the exact opposite of their logical conclusion. Is this the best you’ve got? Seriously. How does Darwinism survive if this is the best argumentation that comes from it?

  10. Is IC generally falsifiable like evolutionary theory’s ideas of common descent are? If so, how?

    -Touchstone

    (And, if science doesn’t aim for increasingly better models of the physical world, what do you suppose its aims are?)

  11. Science does indeed strive for better understanding of the world. Do you really think that’s going to happen on a blog? Seriously, do you? Further, it’s rather odd for you to start talking about that when we are discussing something else entirely.

    IC is falsifiable. If one can falsify the claims of the idea, then the idea can be falsified. I don’t know how to explain it to you any better.

  12. Hi professorsmith,

    You keep talking about IC and falsification, but it’s hard to see what your point is.

    The statement “such-and-such a system is IC” is falsifiable, but this question is utterly irrelevant to questions of design.

    The statement “such and such a system is IC and thus designed” is unfalsifiable. (Remember, we’re talking about a claim that may be tested using controlled and repeatable experiments.)

    Which sense if the appeal to IC are you using?

    Thanks for clearing this up.

  13. Art,

    I understand the basis of your comments, but I think we need to point out that a big part of evolutionary science is forensic, meaning that we cannot expect, even in principle to reproduce the development of, say, the bacterial flagellum in a laboratory environment. Biologists can’t hope to recreate the necessary conditions to replicate such a phenomena in a modern, controlled context.

    What science can do is identify processes and dynamics that are both a) at work and in place now, and b) evident as being available historically as well. Biology won’t demonstrating the specific pathway from a TTSS to a flagellum, even if/when it can demonstrate *a* discrete pathway, simply because we don’t have the means to validate that the laboratory environment matched the actual environment more than a billion years ago.

    You’re right on about the jump from IC to an inferred designer, however.

    -Touchstone

  14. professorsmith,

    I’m under no illusions that we are doing science in the combox of your blog. We are simply (sort of) discussing the topic. What we can do, however, even on a blog, is come to an understanding of what the goals of the scientific enterprise are, and what requirements are needed to realize those goals.

    One of those goals (I say) is liability to falsification. And if we agree on the epistemic value of falsification, we can then scrutinize evolutionary theory, and intelligent design in light of that, to see how each fulfills that requirement.

    Looked at that way, I think we can reasonably come to the conclusion that ID, including IC in the genearl sense, is not falsifiable and therefore problematic as science (I think Behe arrived at this same conclusion in his latest book).

    Given an understanding on that, I’d consider that progress! For one thing, it would provide a consensus basis for establishing intelligent design as out-of-place in science (qua science) classes, but something quite interesting to analyze in contexts where philosophy of science or religion is the subject at hand.

    -Touchstone

  15. Art,
    Can I take it from you comments that you think IC is a falsifiable concept then?

    As Behe says, “If a system is IC…this indicates it cannot be a result of “blind” evolution but more reasonably has to be attributed to ‘design.'”

    Touchstone,
    “I’m under no illusions that we are doing science in the combox of your blog.”

    Good, because otherwise I’d have to sick Oleg Tchernyshyov on you (I’m wondering where his comments chastizing you are on this topic…alas he would rather be snarky towards me. Oleg if you’re reading, cut out the snark if you wish to comment.)

    “Looked at that way, I think we can reasonably come to the conclusion that ID, including IC in the genearl sense, is not falsifiable and therefore problematic as science…”

    The onus is on you to back up your claims.

  16. professorsmith,

    I’ve read a lot of olegt’s comments on a number of blogs and forums. I’d very much be happy to see him weigh in here, as I’m confident his views on the epistemic requirements for science, and ID’s status in light of it, are quite similar to my own.

    As for backing up claims, I’m not sure which claims you seek more support for. You deleted the items I submitted enumerating conspicuously missing considerations in embryology from Wells’ Icons, so I guess I have to ask whether back up my claims here are counterproductive? Given that experience, it seems the better I do in substantiating the “uncriticality” or “non-scientificness” of ID, the more you’d be inclined to remove my arguments.

    Just to follow up on your reply about IC and falsification, you said:

    IC is falsifiable. If one can falsify the claims of the idea, then the idea can be falsified. I don’t know how to explain it to you any better.

    I don’t think that’s responsive to my question. I was asking what test we could perform to potentially arrive at the “falsehood” of IC, in the general sense. I gave you an example for evolutionary theory and common descent: find a rabbit fossil from the pre-Cambrian! What would be the equivalent falsifier for IC?

    -Touchstone

  17. Touchstone,
    “I’ve read a lot of olegt’s comments on a number of blogs and forums. I’d very much be happy to see him weigh in here, as I’m confident his views on the epistemic requirements for science, and ID’s status in light of it, are quite similar to my own.”

    You want him to comment because you think he’ll comment as you do? I could have a field day with this. Why do you need supportive comments? Shouldn’t your arguments stand on their own? How do you know that he will support you? Because you share the same worldview? That sounds rather dogmatic to me.

    “As for backing up claims, I’m not sure which claims you seek more support for. You deleted the items I submitted enumerating conspicuously missing considerations in embryology from Wells’ Icons, so I guess I have to ask whether back up my claims here are counterproductive?”

    Take this as a warning. You did not support your claims to defame someone else, therefore I did what I said I would do. Do not claim now that you did back them up and that I simply deleted it for whatever reason. If you persist, then you will be calling me a liar, and for that you will be moderated, since I am not a liar and I will not stand for you saying that.

    “I don’t think that’s responsive to my question. I was asking what test we could perform to potentially arrive at the “falsehood” of IC, in the general sense. I gave you an example for evolutionary theory and common descent: find a rabbit fossil from the pre-Cambrian! What would be the equivalent falsifier for IC?”

    Do you contend that all scientific ideas have a gotcha item that would immediately falsify it and all the supporting hypotheses that undergird it? I haven’t even agreed that Haldane’s pre-Cambrian rabbit would suffice to begin with. Anyway, I don’t think that we have to have a gotcha, single experiment to falsify a meta-idea in order to say that the meta-idea is falsifiable, because the meta-idea is made from numerous hypotheses that are all falsifiable. You are trying to tell me that a set that contains only falsifiable members is not itself falsifiable and therefore ID is not science, but this simply does not compute.

  18. Hi professorsmith,

    Behe’s assertion is not falsifiable. There is no way to test the claim, using controlled and repeatable experiments, that “If a system is IC…this indicates it cannot be a result of “blind” evolution but more reasonably has to be attributed to ‘design.”

    Sorry, but that’s just the way things are.

  19. professorsmith,

    I don’t contend there must be a single “gotcha”, or that falsification has to be trivial or immediate (although there’s nothing wrong with having falsifications out there that are trivial and immediate).

    There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and falsification takes many forms in science. Sometimes its an internal, logical contradiction, others it is a conflict with empirical observation. There’s no “silver bullet” rule, but there is an epistemic obligation to show how a hypothesis or theory is liable to be falsified.

    With IC, a specific instance of IC can be falsified as IC — like the flagellum and the blood clotting cascade have been — but as you admit here, that doesn’t falsify IC as a general proposition. That’s not surprising, as IC is unusual with respect to other scientific hypotheses in that it is a negative proposition — natural processes CANNOT possibly do this, or do that. That’s the key to the problem for IC, as its negative propositional status means that when it is shown that natural processes CAN plausibly account for this, or that, there’s an infinite number of other candidates that might be IC to consider.

    In that sense, we might see IC as part of evolutionary theory, rather than ID, and a newly offered attempts at falsification (either of parts of it or the whole, depending on the instance). It’s unclear how we could ever confidently say this is IC, and that there is no possible natural pathway to that instance, since such a claim supposes an exhaustive review of all possible pathways, which no one, including Behe, thinks is possible. Instead, it’s an argument from ignorance, with the inference being that if the pathway is unknown, and looks difficult, it’s just more reasonable to suppose a Designer made it that way.

    That’s problematic in its own right, but even if we say that the flagellum cannot be arrived at via evolutionary mechanisms, that would be falsification of evolutionary theory on some level, as opposed to support for the ID proposition, which, although many in the ID camp suppose are the same thing, are not at all the same.

    At any rate, falsification doesn’t have to be as simple or sweeping as a pre-Cambrian rabbit fossil, although that is a strong asset for a theory — that kind of liability (and modern evolutionary theory is liable in many other ways as well) underwrites our confidence in its quality as a model for what happened, and how biology works. If ID and IC want to be taken seriously as science, there needs to be a falsification regime in place — not a single find, necessary, but perhaps a consensus or even consilience of counter-predictive results .

    As for sets of falsifiable members, that’s getting way ahead of yourself, if you think that characterizes IC. We don’t have a clue what is even in the set of “IC instances”, let alone whether they are all or even mostly falsifiable.

    -Touchstone

  20. You are really reaching. Now, every statement I make or Behe makes has to be falsifiable? You’ve already concluded that instances of IC are falsifiable, what else do you need? End of story. IC is falsifiable. IC is a cornerstone of ID, hence ID is scientific.

    Thank you and Touchstone again for clearly demonstrating that Darwinists are prone to this special kind of cognitive dissonance – I hope you realize that I’m calling it that to be charitable.

  21. Touchstone,
    “I don’t contend there must be a single “gotcha”, or that falsification has to be trivial or immediate (although there’s nothing wrong with having falsifications out there that are trivial and immediate).”

    Then, you should withdraw your criticisms of IC not being falsifiable. To argue as you do just shows that you have picked out a position that IC is unfalsifiable and that you will continue to argue it no matter what the facts. Your own admission here is enough to make my case for me.

    “In that sense, we might see IC as part of evolutionary theory, rather than ID, and a newly offered attempts at falsification (either of parts of it or the whole, depending on the instance).”

    Make up your mind. IC is now part of evolution? First you’re complaining that IC is simply an argument against evolution and now you’re co-opting it into evolution? And, you have the gall to criticize my arguments?

    “As for sets of falsifiable members, that’s getting way ahead of yourself, if you think that characterizes IC. We don’t have a clue what is even in the set of “IC instances”, let alone whether they are all or even mostly falsifiable.”

    Oh please. No matter what system or subsystem is identified as IC, showing how it evolved would falsify the claim that it is IC. No matter what claim is made, it can be falsified. Face it, you’ve lost. Your claims have been shown to be deficient.

  22. Art, I have a question for you: is the following statement a pro-ID statement and/or a scientific statement?:

    The “modern evolutionary synthesis” cannot be verified to actually be a true account of the development of novel cell types, tissue types, organs and body plans in all known biological entities.

    “Behe’s assertion is not falsifiable. There is no way to test the claim, using controlled and repeatable experiments, that “If a system is IC…this indicates it cannot be a result of “blind” evolution but more reasonably has to be attributed to ‘design.””

    You could be right. But the same for the Modern Synthesis. There is no way to test it’s claims against the actual development of life on this planet. At best it’s a “plausible” data fitting exercise that could be no better than the Ptolomaic theory of the solar system. Useful? Perhaps a useful fiction if one insists on a materialist explanation. But certainly not “true.”

  23. Behe’s claim may never be provable, but to open minded people who have no stake in the status quo blindwatchmaker, anti-design mindset (and who often have backgrounds in engineering, information theory, process control, etc), the MET sure does seem to be on very flaky foundations.

    Behe’s IC claims are provable in theory but not in practice. Theoretically, if it could be demonstrate that the chemical pathways simply do not, and could not, exist for any given biological structure, then the door would be open for intelligent manipulation. I doubt seriously anybody will be able to demonstrate this, however.

    MET suffers from a similar weakness. It has no been demonstrated, merely assumed, that what exists could have come to exist via known chemical pathways. I, personally, have absolutely no reason to assume this. Moreover, MET makes claims about the history of life that are simply impossible to corroborate with a complete chain of hard evidence.

  24. Hi mike1962,

    You asked: “Art, I have a question for you: is the following statement a pro-ID statement and/or a scientific statement?:

    The “modern evolutionary synthesis” cannot be verified to actually be a true account of the development of novel cell types, tissue types, organs and body plans in all known biological entities.”

    Um, the answer to your question is “none of the above”.

    The fact is, specific aspects of the “modern evolutionary synthesis” can be confirmed to be responsible for specific evolutionary, even macroevolutionary, events. And the ever-growing body of confirming data places the modern evolutionary synthesis on very solid ground.

    Of course, there is an asymmetry here. The modern evolutionary synthesis is supported by a wealth of positive experimental data. As we see in this discussion, ID relies solely on negative results. In the case of ID, controls that make such negative results meaningful are either not possible or not proposed by ID proponents.

    This is one reason why ID is not science.

  25. professorsmith,

    If you read back, you’ll see I’ve consistently maintained that the flagellum (also mentioned the clotting cascade) *was* falsifiable by identification of a plausible developmental pathway. But I’ve also consistently maintained that such cases of falsification of a *candidate* did not constitute a falsification of the general proposition behind IC, which is that some biological structures are impossible to arrive at by evolutionary processes.

    So, no matter how many instances Behe, or you want to throw out that get knocked down by identification of plausible pathways, you remain safe from general falsification for IC because there are an inexhaustible supply other candidate structures to point and say “Never mind that last one, THIS one is really irreducibly complex”.

    The fulcrum here is the issue of identifying the instances? Could you tell me what are all the irreducibly complex biological structures that stand to be falsified? I don’t think you can, but am interested to know if you have a set to offer. Failing that, do you have a set of quantitative, deterministic criteria that will let independent observer determine if a thing qualifies as “irreducibly complex”?

    Without either of those, there’s no weight in the claim that “all IC instances are falsifiable”. How could you establish this if you don’t have a discrete filter for what is IC and what is not?

    Given some (unknown) structure that is at some point in the future identified as IC by Behe, or anyone else, it’s not a given by any means that plausible pathways, or the implausibility of same can be established, even in principle. That means that we cannot simply expect what you say, that every new candidate is somehow falsifiable, even in principle, let alone in practice.

    As for being part of evolution, I think that identification of a biological structure that defied identification of even remotely plausibly evolutionary pathways to its development would represent a serious challenge to evolutionary theory, or whatever parts of the theory can’t be resolved in light of that. Falsification is problematic here, as I said, because it’s tantamount to proving a negative — very difficult to prove something doesn’t exist (contrast that with the pre-Cambrian rabbit fossil — its existence as such represents a positive falsification of the timeline and nested hierarchy supposed by evolutionary theory). But in either case, IC is a kind of critique of evolutionary theory, rather than a positive hypothesis in its own right. I understand that the ID crowd supposes that any problems for evolutionary theory are necessary points in favor of the Intelligent Designer answer, but I think that’s a non-sequitur, a belief that “Designer” somehow wins by default.

    -Touchstone

  26. Art,
    Your doublespeak is truly amazing. You can claim that IC and MET both have the same attributes, yet one is science and falsifiable while the other isn’t.

    And, no, ID is not only about negative results. You need a primer on what ID is and what it isn’t so that you will stop with the strawmen.

    Touchstone,
    You need to think about what you are saying. Simply because we haven’t identified every IC component yet (so far as we know) doesn’t mean that future ones will not be falsifiable. Quite the opposite, in fact. All future ones will be falsifiable, by the same route as any known one is falsifiable, viz. showing a plausible pathway. You are simply wrong to assert any different.

    As for IC being part of evolution, well I guess that’s par for the course for a true-believer Darwinist like yourself, right? Yes, anything and everything is not only part of evolution but somehow supports it. But, what good are theories that explain everything and anything and can absorb any competing hypothesis to science? The answer is that they aren’t. You are proving to us all the evolution simply isn’t science the way you go about it. So, what else can it be? It’s your worldview that you are arguing for. That’s why all the logical fallacies fly right past you, it’s why all the sleight of hand, it’s why the cognitive dissonance doesn’t register. So, you see IC doesn’t support evolution, and it is tied to ID as a positive assertion as Behe has already pointed out numerous times.

  27. professorsmith,

    The subtitle for Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box is: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. Note the negative proposition there. It’s not “The case for a Designer”, but “why evolution is false”. ID proponents, again, are wont to see anything that works against evolutionary theory as something that works for them, but that is because they are working from the proposition that if evolution is falsified, their ideas about a Designer win by default.

    But IC itself doesn’t mention any Designer in its definition. Behe defines IC in the book as:

    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

    That’s a negation of evolutionary selection process, not a positive case for a designer. If that’s not clear, Einstein’s relativity offered a positive competitor to Newtonian physics, and rather than just saying “Newton can’t predict the precise future position of Mercury”, relativity offered a positive case, a model that did provide predictions for Mercury’s location that proved out where Newton’s failed.

    IC is not a positive hypothesis, then. It does not suggest an explanation for phenomena, as such, along with a regime for testing that hypothesis and subjecting it to falsification. It does NOT say “Here’s how this process works”, but instead “See that hypothesis/theory over there, it can’t prove itself”.

    That’s why Behe’s subtitle makes sense — a challenge to evolution. It doesn’t advance a scientific case for designer, but a scientific challenge to an existing theory. If I’m wrong it should be easy to demonstrate by pointing out where in the definition and determination of irreducible complexity a Designer is implicated. Instead, the Designer is a conclusion IDers jump to, assuming that in absence of an identified pathway, there must have been God or some other Designer at work to create the structure.

    As for falsifiability of IC instances, I think you are quite mistaken about the tractability of falsification. Even with the flagellum, which biologists now consider falsified as IC by the identification of plausible pathways related to the TTSS, IDers continue to object, complaining its not plausible to them, asking further for the identification of the *actual*, specific pathway (as Dembski did at the OU debacle) rather than just one or more plausible pathways.

    “Plausible” is not a clearly defined criterion here, and while a collegial consensus exists in the academy often, when ideologies get involved, the fuzziness of “plausibility” in identifying potential pathways to the arrival at a particular structure or subsystem is a huge problem. Mainstream science says X, Y and Z are plausible pathways, and the ID crowd says they are not. Now what? These are the practical ramifications of IC, and these limitations are discussed by Behe himself — falsification is to a large degree in the eye of the beholder with IC. And that’s a big problem, and will get bigger, if Behe’s and Dembski’s reaction to the TTSS idea is any indication.

    -Touchstone

  28. Touchstone,
    You are becoming annoying for your incessant lack of knowledge of ID and your bloviating about what ID says when you haven’t the foggiest. I suggest that you actually look up what ID says before you tell us all how ignorant you are on the topic.

    As for Behe’s subtitle, oh no, you’ve found the secret to all of ID. Subtitles tell us all exactly what all theories are about, don’t they? Of course they don’t. And, if you don’t think ID is a challenge to evolution, then you’ve got your head in the sand. Behe might not specifically mention a designer in the definition of IC, buy why should he? We infer a designer from IC. Again, your ignorance is showing here.

    Finally, with the flagellum, the proposed pathway is not accepted because most of the evidence points to the TTSS not being a precursor to the bacterial flagellum. It’s all well and good to point out that the structures look similar (which also is rather unconvincing) but if we know that A didn’t come from B, then it’s not plausible to say that A came from B. The falsifiability is NOT in the eye of the beholder (it sounds like you are backtracking again on your statement that IC instances are falsifiable, are you, or are you moving the goal posts again?) we just won’t accept what usually passes for “evidence” in the Darwinist camp, namely that anything and everything is evidence for evolution.

    Now, please read up on ID before you comment again and learn what ID actually says.

  29. professorsmith,

    What I’ve said above is based on Behe and Dembski’s books (haven’t read Design of Life yet, and don’t plan to). What would you recommend as being more authoritative than those for what ID “actually” says?

    The TTSS idea doesn’t require that the TTSS preceded the flagellum or is an ancestor. The explanation for the flagellum is that the similarities it has to the TTSS frame the flagellum as a secretory system. Viewed as a secretory structure, on that shares a common ancestor with the TTSS, the flagellum ceases to be IC, simply because you can remove the filament, and it still works (as a secretory structure). You can even remove the hook, and it still works, and the motor as well, albeit in a deprecated fashion. The TTSS idea (flagellum as secretory system that shares a common ancestor with TTSS) shows the “co-option” of a secretory structure as a starting point for adding motility.

    So the argument is not that the flagellum came from the TTSS, but that the TTSS has enough homologs to demonstrate a shared common ancestor, and the view that the flagellum found a “back way” up the slope as a developing secretory system that was co-opted for a motility function.

    Quoting from R. Liu and H. Ochman from a paper earlier this year on the subject:

    Within a genome, many of these core genes show sequence similarity only to other flagellar core genes, indicating that they were derived from one another, and the relationships among these genes suggest the probable order in which the structural components of the bacterial flagellum arose. These results show that core components of the bacterial flagellum originated through the successive duplication and modification of a few, or perhaps even a single, precursor gene.

    (my emphasis)
    full paper at: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/0700266104v1)

    R. Liu and H. Ochman Origins of Flagellar Gene Operons and Secondary Flagellar Systems J. Bacteriol., October 1, 2007; 189(19): 7098 – 7104.

    I have consistently maintained that IC instances can be falisifiable, and that the bacterial flagellum is one that can be falsified, at least in principle. The blood clotting cascade is another one I belief is falsifiable. But the falsifiability of both of these, while increasingly a settled matter in academic circles *as* a falsified instance, continues to be problematic for ID proponents. You’ve just told us that those in the “Darwinist camp” accept “anything and everything” as evidence for evolution, which is a huge problem. If that’s your view, then this position can be used to dismiss any proposed pathways that falsify an instance of IC.

    For me, then falsification is practically possible, and realized in the judgments of the researchers’ findings like Liu and Ochman’s above (and others). But for you, apparently, the evidence presented in such papers is illicit because it comes from the “Darwinist camp”. In which case, for you, we may be back to the problem of unfalsifiability for even the flagellum. My goalposts remain where they were — a plausible pathway, like those laid out for the flagellum, is all it takes. If IDers now suppose that “Darwinist camp” research and papers doesn’t qualify, or that the *actual*, precise pathway be demonstrated (a practically impossible demand), then that WOULD be moving the goalposts.

    -Touchstone

  30. Touchstone,
    If you have read Behe and Dembski, then you obviously didn’t understand them or didn’t absorb the information. Look at my latest post and follow the links where you can find some information about ID.

    “So the argument is not that the flagellum came from the TTSS, but that the TTSS has enough homologs to demonstrate a shared common ancestor, and the view that the flagellum found a “back way” up the slope as a developing secretory system that was co-opted for a motility function.”

    Similarities don’t prove a common ancestor, nor do they prove that a viable path exists for the bacterial flagellum. Simply positing that a similar structure exists, therefore evolution, simply doesn’t cut it. And no, just so stories don’t amount to actual evidence.

    “You’ve just told us that those in the “Darwinist camp” accept “anything and everything” as evidence for evolution, which is a huge problem. If that’s your view, then this position can be used to dismiss any proposed pathways that falsify an instance of IC.”

    This is just more of the same “blame the victim” type mentality. Darwinists will accept anything as evidence, but it’s the IDer’s fault somehow. Yes, it’s a problem, but not a problem for me. If I wish for you to provide actual evidence then you should provide it and not just whine that the other Darwinists believe you no matter what you say. See, Darwinists are at fault for accepting anything and everything as evidence. They jump to the conclusion of evolution no matter what the findings, and then claim that evolution is shown. This is not science, it is an attempt to prop up your badly failing worldview.

    “But for you, apparently, the evidence presented in such papers is illicit because it comes from the “Darwinist camp”.”

    No, it’s not enough for me not because of the source, but because of the lack of actual evidence provided. You are projecting your own failings onto me. You accept it because a Darwinist said, “Oh, that’s falsified and it supports evolution” and you’ve bought it hook, line, and sinker. Then, somehow it becomes my problem that you are overly credulous. Scientists are skeptical by nature, however, and as a scientist I don’t simply accept the pablum that is fed to me by a bunch of zealots. So, we can now add projection to the list of fallacies that you’ve been racking up. I wonder if I should go back and list all of them, would it do any good for you see all the logical problems that you exhibit, or would you simply shrug them off as you’ve tried to do with your denials of moving the goal posts (which you definitely have done).

  31. Do you suppose that Liu and Ochman are “zealots”, then? Or Gophna? What would you point to as an example of their “zealotry”. I think they would claim to be “scientists”, and agree with you that scientists are skeptical.

    What would a published paper have to show for evidence for you to concede that the flagellum was falsified as IC? If the goalposts aren’t moving on your end, can we see where they are located for you?

    -Touchstone

  32. I don’t know much about Liu and Ochman, but I know that you exhibit the trademarks of being a zealot, including a propensity to accept that which is fed to you from the high priests of evolution as well as all the other problems that I’ve already pointed out for you.

    All I ask for is for someone to provide a pathway that could possibly work. Not one based on how similar the parts look or a form that post-dates the system in question yet supposedly was a pre-sursor to the system since that is contradictory. And, some good data would be nice too.

    Touchstone,
    Have you read up on ID yet?

  33. professorsmith,

    When you say “All I ask for is for someone to provide a pathway that could possibly work”, how do define “possibly”, here. What determines if a proposed pathway is “possible” or not?

    Liu and Ochman, among others have published papers (like the one I referenced) that conclude that the flagellum is not just a possible outcome of evolutionary processes, but an unsurprising one, based on its co-option of the functions of the secretory structure (motility being added to an otherwise functional SS). So, the biologists that study these things conclude that the evolutionary development of the flagellum is plausible, but you maintain that it cannot “possibly work”.

    Have you read the paper? Liu and Ochman aren’t just identifying homologs, but offer a rationale for the secretory precursor based on gene duplication and diversification. From the paper (page 7118):

    From the matrix of relationships and protein sequence alignments of the flagellar core genes of E. coli, it is also possible to infer the order in which many of these genes and their corresponding structures originated. The low levels of protein identity among these paralogs, paralogous pairs are between 18% and 32% identical, required that we apply a method that combines the output of series of multiple alignment programs to derive a consensus alignment. The alignments on the terminal regions of the proteins, especially at the C terminus, offer the highest confidence. An unrooted neighbor-joining tree and a max imum-
    likelihood tree [supporting infor mation (SI) Fig. 5] show that the rod proteins originated with either FlgB or FlgC, which are both short proteins, and then generated FlgF and FlgG (and hook protein FlgE) through a series of duplication events. The evolutionary relationships of these flagellar genes parallel the
    locations of their encoded proteins in contemporary flagella. The proximal, then distal, rod proteins precede (both evolutionarily and physically) the hook proteins, which preceded the
    hook-filament junction and filament proteins.

    Now, aside from the obvious zealotry in their wording here, what strikes you as “impossible” in this inference. I have no idea at this point what your criteria for “possible” would be for such a pathway.

    -Touchstone

  34. Touchstone writes:
    When you say “All I ask for is for someone to provide a pathway that could possibly work”, how do define “possibly”, here. What determines if a proposed pathway is “possible” or not?

    That’s an easy one that the first commenter provided an answer for albeit applied to something he did not have in mind. Demonstrating the plausibility of any pathway means providing experimental evidence for it. This is more than simply nucleic acid sequence comparisons. The implications of those are ambiguous.

    I would advise ID friendly types to stop throwing the opposition softballs. Why not have them really exercise their imagimations and tell us how they imagine that proteins themselves were synthisized prior to a point in time when enzymes known as tRNA amino acyl synthetases existed. Proteins are needed to synthesize other proteins. Touchstone, there is more to ID than evolutionary pathways. Before evolutionary pathways are possible there are IC mechanisms needed. Where are the causal pathways to them and on what basis can we be assured they contain no evidence of a purposeful, intelligent source?

  35. I’ll let Mr. Bradford’s comment speak to much of what you said Touchstone. I will also give you a few free tips.

    1. Actually read what I say:
    “So, the biologists that study these things conclude that the evolutionary development of the flagellum is plausible, but you maintain that it cannot “possibly work”.”

    Nowhere did I say that. I said that the IC-ness of the flagellum has not yet been falsified. I explicitly stated that it could be falsified, so I am obviously open to the idea that there may be a possible pathway.

    2. Actually read what I have to say, and drop the snark.
    “Now, aside from the obvious zealotry in their wording here…”
    I said that I don’t know much about them, but you are obviously a zealot.

    This is your final warning. Do not make me moderate you. Keep on your best behavior and stop with the rudeness.

    BTW, have you brushed up on your ID reading yet, or will you continue to hold to strawman accounts? (Asked for the second time…)

  36. professorsmith,

    I think you are the one brandishing the label “zealot”, here, are you not? That’s not a term I find applicable here, across the board, and my comments about Liu and Ochman being “zealots” was a fectious pointer to the ludicrous nature of charges that they are “zealots”. And remember, it’s Liu and Ochman that are presenting the paper that argues for the plausibility of step-wise development of the flagellum, not me. *They* are the ones in the “Darwinist camp” who jump to the conclusion of evolution “no matter what the findings”. Liu and Ochman are the real agents of whatever conspiracy you see at work here.

    As for impossibility of pathways and falsification of the flagellum, if you do not admit that the flagellum has been falsified as an instance of IC, then you necessarily are maintain that papers offered by the likes of Liu and Ochman do NOT rise even to the level of “possible”. If these proposals and the evidence they are based on do not falsify the flagellum they necessarily must not be *possible* hypotheses.

    So you did say that, and you continue to say that so long as you maintain that the flagellum is still a legitimate instance of IC.

    Bradford,

    You said:
    That’s an easy one that the first commenter provided an answer for albeit applied to something he did not have in mind. Demonstrating the plausibility of any pathway means providing experimental evidence for it. This is more than simply nucleic acid sequence comparisons. The implications of those are ambiguous.

    Having been ’round and ’round on that proposal before, I think that just pushes back the problem on step. Can you describe an experimental regimen that would satisfy you? For example, wold we need to “wait” for the appropriate mutations to happen spontaneously, or would you accept a “step-wise edit” process along the lines of Matzke’s proposed progression? As I hear regularly, there is no experimental context which is satisfactory in that way because the question is inherently a forensic one, and no matter how sophisticated our experimental conditions, at best, we are liable to objections (good ones) that the experiment is at best a crude simulacrum for the historical event, and therefore not probative. Several researchers I’ve talked to are first and foremost unvonvinced that anything more need be done to falsify the flagellum as IC, but raise this point. If push came to shove, they themselves would complain such experiments aren’t satisfactory.

    As for rudimentary IC mechanisms and other IC “bootstrapping” structures, I freely grant that you have a wide field of ignorance to argue from. You have a rich supply of unanswered questions at this time to point at with incredulity. As a matter of observation of scientific progress over the last several decades, though, I think you will have to admit that the gaps have a habit of being split into more and more, but smaller and smaller gaps into which you must cram your Designer. That’s certainly NOT a guarantee that science won’t hit an insurmountable wall of some kind, which would provide you with a “gap” of some some longevity in which to house your Designer. But the trend lines don’t bode well.

    A century ago no one had even heard of DNA. The last couple centuries are a testament to the depth and quality of the imagination that science collectively brings to bear on the problem, combined with the rigor of subjecting it to the demands of the method (evidential support, explanatory power, predictive power, liability to falsifiability, etc.)

    Ignorance and incredulity have always had the upper hand, and will maintain it for a long time, no matter how much ground we gain in understanding the processes and mechanics you are incredulous about. You may well be right, but it is science that will provide the adjudication here. ID, from what we can see, will just remain incredulous, and watch to see what happens.

    -Touchstone

  37. professosmith,

    You said:
    BTW, have you brushed up on your ID reading yet, or will you continue to hold to strawman accounts? (Asked for the second time…)

    Sorry, I took that as a bit of rhetorical indulgence on your part. What is it you wonder if I’ve read, and what do you identify as a strawman that I’ve advanced?

    Thanks,

    -Touchstone

  38. Touchstone:
    Having been ’round and ’round on that proposal before, I think that just pushes back the problem on step. Can you describe an experimental regimen that would satisfy you?

    Yes, one that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the causal process itself evidences the outcome. If that means two dozen mutations of relevant genes would have to occur then having to observe all of them in one study would not be reasonable. However each related study would need to cite a circumstance where mutations along the road to the oberved outcome had undeniable selective value.

    For example, wold we need to “wait” for the appropriate mutations to happen spontaneously, or would you accept a “step-wise edit” process along the lines of Matzke’s proposed progression?

    The plausibility of the progression is linked to the degree and nature of the intelligent interference needed in the process. In theory I have no objection but need to see specific proposals prior to rendering an opinion.

    As I hear regularly, there is no experimental context which is satisfactory in that way because the question is inherently a forensic one, and no matter how sophisticated our experimental conditions, at best, we are liable to objections (good ones) that the experiment is at best a crude simulacrum for the historical event, and therefore not probative.

    The historic nature of the analysis does complicate things does it not? Let me note that ID critics do not hesitate to allege that ID is unscientific because of evidentiary difficulties. Let me return the favor in a way by pointing out that a legitimate position to take is that the answer to a specific question currently lies outside the boundaries of an empirical answer.

    Several researchers I’ve talked to are first and foremost unvonvinced that anything more need be done to falsify the flagellum as IC, but raise this point. If push came to shove, they themselves would complain such experiments aren’t satisfactory.

    Indeed. Unsatisfactory as they are incapable (so far) of rendering definitive answers.

    As for rudimentary IC mechanisms and other IC “bootstrapping” structures, I freely grant that you have a wide field of ignorance to argue from.

    This is a revealing comment Touchstone, although one you probably have not thought through thoroughly. My comments about IC (and those of other IDists) are firmly grounded in what we know. When I point out that translation mechanisms needed to enable protein synthesis are dependent on the function of enzymes x, y, z… I’m making an observation backed by the evidence of effects of rare diseases brought about by the disablement of a single one of these enzymes. No suppositions needed. You and others may argue that we will someday find pathways to mechanisms needed for translation and you can label criticism of that contention critiques based on ignorance however you need to note that the belief that such non-telic pathways exist is one firmly rooted in a form a faith.

    You have a rich supply of unanswered questions at this time to point at with incredulity.

    I have a rich supply of real data upon which to base my critiques.

    As a matter of observation of scientific progress over the last several decades, though, I think you will have to admit that the gaps have a habit of being split into more and more, but smaller and smaller gaps into which you must cram your Designer.

    That’s a cliche argument and a very weak one at that. Actually what has occured is the production of more data indicating that symbolic complexity exists on an unenvisioned scale. Design looks more likely with increases in knowledge.

    That’s certainly NOT a guarantee that science won’t hit an insurmountable wall of some kind, which would provide you with a “gap” of some some longevity in which to house your Designer. But the trend lines don’t bode well.

    Neither do worn out tread mill arguments aimed at straw men. Try dealing with what IDists are actually claiming.

    A century ago no one had even heard of DNA. The last couple centuries are a testament to the depth and quality of the imagination that science collectively brings to bear on the problem, combined with the rigor of subjecting it to the demands of the method (evidential support, explanatory power, predictive power, liability to falsifiability, etc.)

    I’m glad you mentioned DNA. DNA is an information rich molecule whose function is dependent on the sequential order of its nucleotides and an encoding convention by which sequences acquire biological significance. There is no atelic chemical process which generates systems like this.

    Ignorance and incredulity have always had the upper hand, and will maintain it for a long time, no matter how much ground we gain in understanding the processes and mechanics you are incredulous about. You may well be right, but it is science that will provide the adjudication here. ID, from what we can see, will just remain incredulous, and watch to see what happens.

    That may very well be your hope but it is a vain one that is contray to biological developments.

  39. Touchstone

    I think you are the one brandishing the label “zealot”, here, are you not?

    And it is aimed at you. Your feeble attempts to deflect that and act as if I’m talking about others when I clearly stated that I’m not is duly noted and not appreciated. In fact, it is downright dishonest of you.

    As for impossibility of pathways and falsification of the flagellum, if you do not admit that the flagellum has been falsified as an instance of IC, then you necessarily are maintain that papers offered by the likes of Liu and Ochman do NOT rise even to the level of “possible”…So you did say that, and you continue to say that so long as you maintain that the flagellum is still a legitimate instance of IC.

    Not only is this dishonest, but it is moving the goal posts and conflation. You are in violation of the moderation policy.

    Sorry, I took that as a bit of rhetorical indulgence on your part. What is it you wonder if I’ve read, and what do you identify as a strawman that I’ve advanced?

    No, you aren’t sorry. You are a self-righteous know-it-all zealot that thinks that you know the Truth, therefore all others must be wrong and all logical fallacy be darned so long as you appear to come out on top, at least in your own mind. Of course, I specifically noted that a good primer on ID was in my latest post about 9 or 10 comments back, which you’ve now demonstrated that you didn’t even read. No wonder you have no idea what my arguments are, you are clearly not reading my comments. It must be easy to knock down strawmen and give you such an ego boost to be right, since you have the Truth and all, but as the blog owner it doesn’t amuse me to see your mental masterbation.

    As to the other stuff, Mr. Bradford just handed you your backside, and you’d be well advised to take some of it to heart. I know it’s far fetched for a true-believing zealot like yourself, but one can hope that you might wake up and view the world through more objective lenses someday.

  40. Hi professorsmith,

    This thread has gotten kind of long, but I thought one item needed elaboration. You claimed in a response to one of my statements: “And, no, ID is not only about negative results. You need a primer on what ID is and what it isn’t so that you will stop with the strawmen.”.

    Frankly, it’s a safe bet that I’ve read more ID stuff than you are any other ID proponent participating in this blog. And I understand it better as well.

    Fact is, ID is about nothing but negative “results”. There is not a single credible example anywhere of any ID proponent providing a piece of positive experimental evidence for ID that was derived from controlled and repeatable experiments. CSI has turned out to be an unfalsifiable concept that does not apply to biology, the explanatory filter has never been used with success in biological systems, IC is not a measure of design, etc.,etc.,etc. None of these items are strawmen (unless you are of the opinion that CSI, the EF, and IC are not relevant to ID), but rather are arguments that rip the heart out of the pseudoscience that is ID.

    I see another ID proponent is plying his own twist on “the experiment hasn’t been done, thus ID”. Given your position as a researcher, maybe you could explain to Bradford the fallacy of his reasoning, and also the concept of positive experimental results obtained by controlled and repeatable experiments.

  41. I see another ID proponent is plying his own twist on “the experiment hasn’t been done, thus ID”. Given your position as a researcher, maybe you could explain to Bradford the fallacy of his reasoning, and also the concept of positive experimental results obtained by controlled and repeatable experiments.

    Is this all you have Art? You’re right experimental data is needed to sustain ID. That point in no way obviates the reasoning employed in this thread.

  42. Two points for William. The first – I can point to a respectable number of positive experimental results that support the proposition that IC systems can and do evolve by the usual processes of descent with modification. You, William, have precisely zero positive experimental support for the opposing view. Yet apparently you think your position is stronger. Zero may be some massively large quantity in the land of telic thinking, but out here in the real world, zero is nothing, nil, nada.

    Second, you state:

    “I’m glad you mentioned DNA. DNA is an information rich molecule whose function is dependent on the sequential order of its nucleotides and an encoding convention by which sequences acquire biological significance. There is no atelic chemical process which generates systems like this.”

    Again, do you have positive experimental data that supports the last sentence? Or is this just another case of “the experiment hasn’t been done” or “it looks that way to William Bradford”?

    Keep yer eyes on the prize – positive experimental data from controlled and repeatable experiments. If you haven’t any, then yer just whistling Dixie.

    (With belated apologies to professorsmith for addressing William Bradford – I’ll understand if you would prefer this discussion to move to another forum.)

  43. I’m glad you mentioned DNA. DNA is an information rich molecule whose function is dependent on the sequential order of its nucleotides and an encoding convention by which sequences acquire biological significance. There is no atelic chemical process which generates systems like this.

    Again, do you have positive experimental data that supports the last sentence? Or is this just another case of “the experiment hasn’t been done” or “it looks that way to William Bradford”?

    I do not have experimental evidence showing that vodoo cannot create functional genomes either. The real question is what is the scientific basis for presupposing that an unknown and unidentifed chemical reaction generated a symbolic coding system.

  44. Art,
    I have no problem with you addressing Mr. Bradford. There’s no reason why all comments have to be directly addressed to me. The one thing I will ask of you is to please tone it down and be courteous and respectful.

    “Frankly, it’s a safe bet that I’ve read more ID stuff than you are any other ID proponent participating in this blog. And I understand it better as well.”

    That’s a pretty bold statement to make. Yet, with all of your knowledge, why is it that you seem to lack fundamental knowledge about what ID says and what it doesn’t say?

    “Fact is, ID is about nothing but negative “results”.”

    That’s simply not true. There are many sources where you can find positive arguments for ID. I’ve linked some here on this very blog. I’ve also put forth some positive arguments.

  45. Repeating what I’ve said before:
    ————————–
    It’s interesting to see how reflexively ID antievolutionists retreat to the dark corner of the room, resorting to “we don’t know” to argue against things like evolution and abiogenesis.

    Let’s reflect for a moment or two about what we do know:

    1. Some time in the past, 4+ billion years ago, the earth was a lifeless place. A bit more recently, 3+ billion years ago, life existed in earth. These two statements are unremarkable and true. And they say something pretty simple – abiogenesis, life from non-life, happened.

    2. Before there was life on earth, there was chemistry. Every scientist who studies these things would agree with this. And many would agree with Shapiro, for whom this simple reality is the foundation for a scientific hypothesis. Readers are referred to his paper in The Quarterly Review of Biology (vol. 81, pp 105-125, 2006) for details. Suffice to say, the hypothesis that follows from what we know (about the early earth and about chemistry in general) is that, given chemistry, life is inevitable. Readers and discussants here who imply that Shapiro in some way argues against abiogenesis, or even the existence of the RNA World, are just not being accurate in their representations.

    3. Before there was a “DNA World”, there was an RNA World. Assertions that the RNA World has in some way been refuted are not just wrong, they are ignorant. We can trace the history of life backwards from the present, and all evidence – again, what we know (not what experiments haven’t been done, or what IDists cannot believe) – tells us that the RNA World existed. (Think about it – in a very real sense, we still live in an RNA World. All of life revolves around the ribosome, about ribosomal RNA. The argument against the RNA World is in essence an absurd argument against this simple reality.)

    4. There is still a gray area, a place where IDists send their logical instincts to die, a time between the epoch of chemistry and the RNA World. We don’t know (yet) how the RNA World came about, but we have several scientific hypotheses. I’ve alluded to one above; the POV Shapiro argues against is an alternative, as are hypotheses that incorporate these two extremes. But this much is certain – every process in a cell that has been studied has been found to be a matter of chemistry. Every one! No exceptions! The weight of evidence, that which we know, tells us that chemistry lies at the heart of life. Accordingly, the best and most reasonable hypotheses for pathways that span this gray area will be ones that focus on chemical mechanisms. Not “information” (something that, if one adheres to Dembski’s definitions, does not exist in living things or the universe), not teleology, not space aliens, not supernatural entities, not any of the (unspoken) means that ID necessarily implies.

    IDists choose to ignore that which we do know. That’s their perogative, to be sure. But it’s mine to point out that their arguments and “hypotheses” (that are not scientific, because they are beyond the purview of “hypothesize, test, revise”) have no experimentally-supported foundation, that they are invariably variations of the theme “we don’t know, therefore ID” or “I cannot fathom, therefore design”.
    ————————–

    One more thing, William – you show your true colors when you continue to deny the fact that positive experimental evidence exists that shows that the genetic code has a chemical basis. You’ve never been able to make any sort of argument to the contrary, and your continued denial on this point helps ID critics make the point that ID does not seek evidence, but shies away from it.

  46. Art,
    I would not object to number 1, except to simply say that “abiogenesis” in that sense is pretty well meaningless. Life was not here, then it was is the most accurate statement you can make at the present time. Life might not have been generated, it might have been seeded as just one example where you assumptions have let you down.

    As soon as you hit number 2 though, you’ve already got larger problems. Life in inevitable if there is chemistry? Prove it.

    I see no evidence for an RNA world, beyond conjecture. Darwinists use this a stock and trade, but to a scientist, it is not enough. Where is the evidence? Further, how does it prove anything?

    To point number 4 I would have to respond that the mechanistic events in the cell are chemical, no doubt. This is not anything that interesting though, nor does it do anything to combat the fact that there is information present as well. The information tells the cell how to form and function in order to carry out those mechanistic events. It’s like your computer. The interactions inside the transistors is all electrical and mechanistic, but without the information of the code, it doesn’t work.

    Finally, we don’t choose to ignore anything, we simply ask for actual evidence. Darwinists will accept anything as evidence that they think props up their worldview. The standards of real science, however, dictate that we act in accordance with how the ID theorist acts, not how the Darwinist acts.

  47. Oleg Tchernyshyov

    Finally, we don’t choose to ignore anything, we simply ask for actual evidence.

    It’s easy to be a spectator.

  48. What more should I be? The burden of proof is on the Darwinist if the Darwinist wishes to assert that some form of abiogenesis is true. Should I simply accept their explanation until I can disprove it? That’s absurd.

  49. Professor, do I correctly interpret your comment to be “if evolution is wrong, then ID”?

  50. No, you don’t. I’ve not said anything remotely close to that in this thread or any other.

  51. Many IDists seem to think !evolution == ID. You are right: I don’t recall you making that statement, and I appologize for insinuating otherwise.

  52. Thank you Mark.

    You seem to be one of the few Darwinists around here that actually has some class and dignity.

    I notice that you posted the same thing twice, so I will delete the extra comment.

  53. Actually, I’m not a Darwinist. That’s just a buzzword created by creationists as some sort of denigration (I think you’re smart enough to know this – I find it enlightening that you continue to use the term). Nor am I a biologist, as my training and education is in engineering. But I do accept that a half million scientists in the life sciences fields claim evolution to be THE foundational theory in biology, and that ID is creationism in a lab coat. Therefore I accept evolution as the only current scientific explanation of how life changes and adapts.

    But, whether or not you believe it, I’ll happily support ID if someone can explain how it explains everything the theory of evolution does, plus more. In fact, again whether or not you actually believe it, so will most scientists, after a time. So far, not only has no one has been able to provide this, every IDist seems to think ID explains something different.

    For example, Dr. Dembski rejects most of evolutionary theory and says ID is John’s Gospel in scientific form, while Dr. Behe accepts evolution as true, but that an entity that isn’t necessarily God has had a guiding hand via IC. Those two ideas seem dichotomous and irreconcilible to me. Perhaps in another 20 years a coherent theory will be formulated, but as I haven’t seen any real attempts by the leading IDists to create one in the past 20 years, my expectations of one the future isn’t high.

    I guess to conclude my thoughts, I hope to be pleasantly suprised by ID in the future, but I’m not really expecting it.

    Thanks for deleting the double-post. My browser timed out while submitting the first post, and a reload didn’t show my post. Maybe I just sux0rs at the interwebs?

  54. Mark,
    The reason I use “Darwinist” is to distinguish those for whom the science is not the driving factor who simply believe in evolution because it fits their worldview. You may not be one, but if you could see all the comments I get on this blog, you would believe that such people do exist.

    Many scientists do believe in evolution, and many of them have a stake in it being true. As I’ve talked about it previous posts, academia has been overrun by a certain mindset and people of that mindset have flocked to academia as sort of a vicious cycle. It’s true that ID has some work to do but stick around and you might be surprised. Already, I think there are things that ID explains better than evolution. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t discount evolution entirely. I simply discount the unscientific parts that most people insist upon and the parts that are problematic.

    As for the infamous quote by Dembski, he was merely professing his personal beliefs. If Dawkins is allowed to have his beliefs and Ken Miller is allowed to have his beliefs, isn’t it only fair that we not judge ID based on the beliefs of Dr. Dembski? I too hope that we can formulate a better theory of ID in the near future, even with all the pitfalls that the Darwinists are putting in our way, but you have to realize that it is difficult to gain acceptance in a culture that cares only for dogma and is intolerant of any dissent from that dogma. Look at what happened to Sternberg or Gonzalez.

  55. That things evolve is established fact. How that happens is the billion dollar question. Yes?

    I hear regular claims by ID supporters that ID explains certain things better than evolution. But this is always, without exception, a post hoc statement. I have yet to see ID make a prediction. That’s the second-largest problem I have with ID – it currently lacks predictive power. I’ll make a quick post in your vertebra article with an example, as I think it fits better there than here.

    Regarding Dr. Dembski’s comment, the quote is, “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” He wasn’t professing his personal beliefs, he was explaining to his audience that ID is John’s Gospel in scientific form. The equivalent statement from Dawkins, Miller, et al, is that “evolution is completely atheistic.” I’m honestly not familiar with Dawkins and Miller, but I’ve never seen a quote posted to a forum that was remotely close. Can you supply one for my edification? I’ve read quotes along the lines of science being divorced from religion, but that is a far cry from “evolution is atheistic.” In fact, I seem to recall that Miller has stated he believes evolution to be the method God uses in his Creation processes. And let’s face it: evolution is far more worthy of God’s magnificence than “poof!”

    Regarding Sternberg and Gonzalez, things appear to have been exaggerated a bit by the ID side. I recall that the DI was accusing Iowa of religious discrimination against Gonzalez – if ID isn’t about religion, then how is this even a valid accusation? If you’re on a tenure track, I can see how you’d think differently than I, and irreconcillably so, so let’s just agree to disagree regarding Sternberg and Gonzalez. I note you don’t mention what happened to Mirecki, who’s on “our” side. . . .

  56. Mark,
    Evolution does happen, ID doesn’t dispute that.

    As to predictions, ID has made predictions. I can think of a couple off the top of my head, those being junk DNA should have a function and that we would find a function for the appendix. Both of those are correct predictions.

    Dembski was speaking to a specific audience that understood that he was speaking about his own views. It’s not as scandalous as Darwinists make it out to be. Dawkins does say that evolution is atheistic and Miller routinely claims that evolution is god’s process. I don’t find much difference there between the personal feelings of Dr. Dembski and those of Dawkins and Miller. All are entitled to their personal beliefs.

    You’re right, I didn’t mention Mirecki, but we can talk about him if you’d like. He’s made unsubstantiated claims about being attacked by shadowy assailants that were good ol’ boys, but somehow knew about his secret emails. This is a rather fishy story, is it not? In contrast, an investigation into the Sternberg affair found that Sternberg had been mistreated, and we have the emails that show that Gonzalez was unfairly treated as well. I don’t recall the DI ever making accusations of religious discrimination, and I don’t see that as applicable here.

  57. You are effectively confirming my thoughts that ID means something different to different groups. It’s a religious concept to one group, but a scientific concept to another? It cannot be both – science is testable and repeatable while religion is neither.

    Again, I have never seen a quote by Dawkins, Miller, or any real scientist state that science in general, evolution in particular, is atheistic. It seems you have, and I’d like to read them. Can you point me in a good direction? Thank you.

    I didn’t follow the Sternberg case closely, so my memory is fuzzy. I recall, however, that he circumvented the system in place while he was editor to get a paper published that wasn’t really applicable to the periodical. That’s about where I stopped paying attention, so whatever happened afterward I can’t comment on. Is my recollection flawed?

    I followed Gonzalez’ case a little closer. In the past three years, how many grants did he recieve? How much money were the grants worth? How many grad students did he mentor? How many graduated? How much telescope time did he have? How many papers did he submit for review? How many were published? Aren’t these the measure of a tenure-track professor? If not, why not? And if so, how many should a tenure-track Astronomy professor reasonbly have to recieve tenure? The most damning email I read indicated that his subscription to ID was at most an anciliary consideration to the questions I just asked.

    Although I would like your perspective on the tenure-granting conditions I asked on Gonzalez, I don’t think you and I will agree on anything other than we disagree. I can respect that.

    Mirecki’s claims are “unsubstanciated?” There’s no doubt he was assaulted – there are pictures and hospital records. Therefore, you are effectively accusing him of conspiring to beat himself up, and of filing false police reports. Both of those are misdemeanors, as far I know. Do you have evidence to support your allegations that Mirecki committed no fewer than two misdemeanor crimes?

  58. Mark,
    Some do hold incorrect notions of what ID is and what it isn’t. Darwinists display this all the time (especially on this blog) but so do supporters of ID. In Dover, for instance, the school board incorrectly thought that ID was religious apologetics, because they were mislead by others that told them so. Simply because people misperceive something, however, doesn’t mean that those misperceptions are correct.

    Miller doesn’t say science is atheistic. He’s a catholic. Instead, he claims that evolution is controlled by god. Dawkins does say evolution is atheistic. It’s either in The God Delusion or Unweaving the Rainbow (or both).

    Your recollection of Sternberg is indeed flawed. He followed the proper procedures for publishing a paper and then was discriminated against because he supported an ID paper.

    If you’ve followed the Gonzalez case closely, then you are aware the Gonzalez’s peers made ID a central point in denying him tenure. Nowhere did they talk about how much money he brought in or how many students he had. They only talked about ID. For his part, he was producing papers, and though he didn’t bring in as much money as some of his peers, that’s a red herring. If the committee wants you, it doesn’t matter how much money you bring in, if they don’t, then they use it as an excuse to get rid of you.

    Yes, Mirecki’s claims were “unsubstantiated”. He had bruises, but how did he get them? We certainly don’t know and there’s no evidence to substantiate his claims. Also, “unsubstantiated” doesn’t mean that he necessarily faked it, just that we have no evidence that his claims are true. We also have no evidence that this had anything to do with the emails he wrote, beyond his say-so.

  59. ID is such a vague concept right now I can’t imagine why everyone thinks it’s something different. Given how much misinformation is being spread about ID, even by ID proponents, I rather expect, then, that forming a coherent, detailed theory of ID is top priority.

    Sternberg – like I said, my recollection is that the paper published was not applicable to the journal, and was published because he sidestepped the typical submission and review channels. Unless you can cite evidence, we are at an impasse of he-said/she-said.

    Gonzalez – I’ve seen no conclusive evidence to indicate that ID was a central point in the decision. In fact, what I read indicates that it was, at best, anciliary to the lack of productivity. However I grant that you are correct in that it doesn’t really matter what conditions are set and met/not met – if the board doesn’t want to grant tenure, they don’t. But please don’t think that Gonzalez is the only person in history to be denied tenure – I guess it happens to at least a third of the time.

    Mirecki – How does one normally get bruises? If you’d actually analyzed the pictures, one showed what appeared to be a bruise on his face from his glasses. I therefore deduce he was punched in the face while wearing glasses. Do you deny this? Who punched him in the face? Again, unless you can cite evidence to support your claim that his acceptance of ID was “a central point” in the denail, we are at an impasse.

    Mirecki says someone was tailing him in his car. When he pulled over (dumb idea – never pull over if you think you’re being followed), some “good ole boys,” as you so eloquently put it, made a comment that reflected a post he made in a PUBLIC forum, then hit him, and left. He went to the hospital and also filed a police report. The case was closed some months later due to lack of leads, but that doesn’t make his claims wrong.

    Now, if his story is not correct, then he conspired to have someone beat him up, then filed a false police report saying some “good ole boys” did it out of revenge for some stupid comment he made on a public forum. That’s at least two misdemeanor crimes he committed if his story isn’t true. Once again I ask you if you’re accusing Mirecki of committing at least two misdemeanors?

    Unless you can support your claims regarding the three aforementioned people with solid evidence, I don’t think there’s any more ground to cover here.

    I have The God Delusion in the middle of my reading list – I may get to it by next winter :p

  60. BAH! Somehow “Again, unless you can cite evidence to support your claim that his acceptance of ID was “a central point” in the denail, we are at an impasse” in the middle of my Mirecki section was supposed to be at the end of the Gonzalez section. I added it as an afterthought while I proofread my post, but I don’t know how I manated to get it in the wrong spot! I should start writing comments in Wordpad or something so I can see more than 200 characters. :p

  61. Mark,
    There is a theory of ID. Simply because there is confusion that doesn’t mean that one does not exist.

    Sternberg

    Gonzalez

    As for Mirecki, he might have been in a fight, or it might have been self-inflicted, or any number of things. We simply don’t have evidence.

    The case was closed some months later due to lack of leads, but that doesn’t make his claims wrong.

    No, but it similarly doesn’t make his claim right either. He’s making a claim that requires evidence, however, and he has not provided the necessary evidence. If he did make it up, then he is guilty of filing a false police report. I’m not accusing him of such though. I don’t have any evidence that he did make it up, so I’m letting bygones be bygones. But, since I can’t prove that he made it up, it doesn’t mean that I have to believe him.

  62. I genuinely would like to read about the Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design, but to date I have not been able to find one. All arguments I’ve encountered are of the false dichotomy “Not Evolution Therefore ID” variety; and far too many of those are little more than rehashed creationist material.

    I scanned the link in the “Primer on ID” thread, but I didn’t encounter a theory there. I scanned the introduction of the paper referenced by that site, and found nothing to conclude that a scientific theory of design would be found by slogging through the rest of the paper.

    I surmise that if there were a single, coherent Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design, then there wouldn’t be so much confusion. If you can present one, in abbreviated form, I know many people who would rejoice. Seriously. Thank you.

  63. Mark,
    The DI has done a lot to define the theory of ID. You should use their website as a quick reference guide. I’m not sure how specific you are trying to be though. It’s changing as new evidence comes in and new hypotheses are formed, so it’s a bit up in the air. Evolution is slightly more formed, but it’s also been around for a lot longer.

    I wonder, is there a single, coherent Scientific Theory of Evolution? No, not really, so you are asking for something that evolution can’t provide either. I mean, was panspermia involved, is it gradual, punctuated equilibrium, one common ancestor or many, etc.?

  64. Professor, you give me the impression that you think that the hypotheses and conjectures that make up the Modern Theory of Evolution aren’t allowed to change, occasionally quite drastically. I’m sure I must be wrong, again.

    My understanding is that MET can fundamentally be described as the process of random mution with natural selection over a period of millions of years; the rest is the nuts and bolts. One, single, coherent theory, not so much, but at least the aggregate theories and hypotheses are complementary and explanatory. As I’ve said before, IANAB, so a real biologist reading this may want to smack me. And I’d be okay with that if I learned something from the exchange 🙂

    Further, my understanding of ID, or the version you subscribe to, is that some elements of nature look designed. What are the nuts and bolts? That’s where things fall apart with ID – it seems everyone has a different opinion as to what constitues the nuts and bolts and how they all assemble.

    I say “version” because there has historically been a lot of creationist content to ID, and, right or wrong, that is the “version” most people, including me, usually relate to.

    I checked out the DI site at least a year ago, but I’ll check it out again when I can find time; I’m convinced a 30 hour day would be insufficient for everything I’d like to do most days.

  65. Mark,
    MET can change and should, since it is science. But, that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m saying is that MET holds contradictory stances depending on what the question is, because it is assumed to be true and therefore it must be true for all situations and times. It explains everything and of course this means it really explains nothing.

    If you define evolution is simply change over time, then no one disagrees with that, but that’s not what MET is. I could similarly define ID as an intervening intelligence contributing to the development of organisms on this planet and that would meet your guidelines for a single, coherent theory, yet I don’t think you will accept that.

    We are still figuring out the nuts and bolts. One of those would be DNA. As to the “creationist” content, that’s mostly due, once again, to people misconstruing what ID is about.

  66. Pingback: Even More Darwinist Hypocrisy « Professor Smith’s Weblog

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