Over at Uncommon Descent, Dr. Dembski has asked for some suggestions about predictions from ID that have been shown to be correct. I was thinking about this today, and have a couple of ideas.
If biological systems have been influenced by an intelligent designer, then we should see discontinuities in at the genetic and biochemical level. I mean this in two ways. First, we will see complex biochemical mechanisms that cannot have evolved in a stepwise manner. This is, of course, irreducible complexity, and is no doubt one of the predictions Dr. Dembski has in mind.
Second, we will see discontinuities is in the phyogeny of genes. Under the usual Darwinist assumptions of common descent, the phylogenetic tree should be the same for every gene. But Intelligent Design allows for some genes to have different trees, because the designer could have acted to change a gene. The effect would be to change the shape of the tree for that gene.
And, would you believe it, we find exactly this! For example, Clarke et al. (2002) state:
Darwin’s paradigm holds that the diversity of present-day organisms has arisen via a process of genetic descent with modification, as on a bifurcating tree. Evidence is accumulating that genes are sometimes transferred not along lineages but rather across lineages. To the extent that this is so, Darwin’s paradigm can apply only imperfectly to genomes, potentially complicating or perhaps undermining attempts to reconstruct historical relationships among genomes (i.e., a genome tree).
Of course, being Darwinists, they interpret the evidence as being due to other mechanisms (i.e. horizontal or lateral gene transfer). But this could also be explained by ID at least as well. (For instance, I will predict significant evidence for design in Vitis species, and in Humulus lupulus). And, this is not an isolated paper – google the words phylogenetic tree discordance if you don’t believe me. Now, one could argue that this is only really a problem in prokaryotes, but to do that one would have to claim that fruit flies don’t have nuclei.
In reality, this will just be the tip of the iceberg. When you talk to people who work on phylogenies, you quickly discover that it is full of fiddles and tricks to get your data to give you a “good” answer. There are several methods for making a tree (parsimony, maximum likelihood, Bayesian), and a whole host of things to tweak within each one (e.g. the mutation model, the parameters of the model). So, if you find a bad result – a gene totally in the wrong place in one species, or a whole clade mis-behaving, then you just change the parameters a bit to remove the problem. This sort of thing is done all the time.
So, my ID prediction – if we look at the data honestly, we will see that gene trees are different from species trees. And, this will be better interpreted as evidence for design, not some mysterious ability of eukaryotes to pick up odd strands of DNA. This is not really ID, but I would also predict that Darwinists will blather on about how this is really due to something else – they haven’t got quite the right model, or there is another mechanism (that they haven’t observed) that would give the same result.