Monday, December 05, 2005

Evidence for ID

Some of the commenters have been challenging ID because it has not produced a "knock out experimental result" If ID had produced a knock out experimental result proving ID then it would be published through the peer review system and we could all stop arguing and re-arrange our thinking appropriately.

If there are no knock out experimental results then ID cannot be science.

This is an unwarranted narrowing of the meaning of the word "science" and would have excluded Darwin's book the origin of Species from science. He had no knock down experiments. What he was proposing was a whole new way of thinking about the evidence that was already there.

His theory made sense of a lot of evidence which did not fit with a simple static - it was designed exactly as we see it - model for origins in biology.

Proposing new ways of thinking about the evidence in front of us is real science. The new way of thinking about the evidence may be right or wrong or in-between but we decide by carefully comparing one explanation with another.

Chance, necessity and a combination of both provide poor resources for the generation of complex integrated information. Intelligent design provides a much more resonable explanation for this kind of phenomenon.

Our ordinary and natural response to complex integrated information is to infer design. This is acknowledged even by Richard Dawkins and others who are convinced that it is a mistaken view. However since our natural and normal response is to infer design the default position has to be that the design is real until it can be shown that this inference is mistaken.

The evidence of molecular biology has provided a real challenge to the molecules to man by chance idea. There are conjunctions of objects in molecular biology which are difficult to account for in terms of chance and necessity or a combination of both. Until a clear explanation of how this can happen it is therefore reasonable and right to believe and teach that the design is real.

4 Comments:

Blogger Paul (probably - maybe Liz) said...

I've commented elsewhere - I thought it was on my blog, but I can't find it - that ID is fundamentally a worldview, rather than something that is scientifically defended in its own right - as for that matter, is philosophical naturalism. So research can be interpreted in the light of ID - or philosophical naturalism - but because it is a metanarrative, in a sense it lies outside the realm of "provability".

So, to somebody who has an ID worldview, evidence of the irreducibly complex nature of biochemical systems supports their opinions. For people who have a PN perspective, they KNOW that there must be a naturalistic explanation, so evidence that doesn't support their worldview must be flawed. What happens is that, as more evidence comes in, people have to decide whether the worldview that they have continues to provide an adequate explanation of the evidence. Eventually, if they don't believe their worldview is tenable, they may change it. However, people have a great deal invested in their worldviews - it is not easy psychologically to change - and (for example in the case of phlogiston, the aristotelean cosmology, Newtonian vs Relativistic physics) may take something pretty convincing.

I could get a pile of papers, and interpret the research and write conclusions on the basis of an ID worldview, or a naturalistic worldview, or a YEC worldview. Not many papers have been written with conclusions that have an ID perspective. People who don't believe in PN tend to shy away from research in areas where their beliefs will bring them into conflict with the rest of the department - particularly biology. A higher proportion of physicists aren't PN than biologists, and I think this is because biology as a discipline is so strongly committed to PN (a corollary of which is that biologists tend to be weaker at maths, specifically statistics!). There is no reason why a scientist should explicitly state that he doesn't subscribe to PN if there's nothing in his research that is built on it - and except in evolutionary biology and cosmology, this is probably normally the case. I don't suppose the hundreds of scientists who dissent from darwinism have no papers to their names - but ID opponents would doubtless say that their research "doesn't support ID".

(This is the scientific equivalent of presuppositional apologetics!)

12:24 pm  
Anonymous Andy Groves said...

I take exception to Paul's (or Liz's, but probably Paul's) notion that biology is committed to philosophical naturalism. No scientific discipline is committed to philosophical naturalism. All of science is committed to methodological naturalism, which is just a fancy way of saying "the scientific method".

For that reason, I think your discussion of ID versus PN worldviews is misplaced. If ID proponents think that their designer is operating in a supernatural way, they have to accept that their ideas lie outside the realm in which science can work. That doesn't mean they are false - it just means they can't be investigated scientifically.

There is no a priori reason why the ID designer has to be supernatural. It just so happens that many of ID's leading lights rail against naturalism/materialism, which leads one to think that they believe a supernatural designer is an option.

ID cannot have its cake (in the form of a supernatural designer) and eat it (in the form of scientific enquiry).

With reference to another of your points, there is a danger of viewing "evidence/support for ID" in black and white terms. You are absolutely right that ID proponents think there is evidence for design, and that most scientists think there is not. This is shorthand for saying that ID proponents think they have good evidence for design, but most scientists think there is no good evidence for design.

The reason I think there is no good evidence for design is that most of the evidence presented is in the form of a negative argument, and difficult to falsify.

10:23 pm  
Anonymous Andy Groves said...

Chance, necessity and a combination of both provide poor resources for the generation of complex integrated information. Intelligent design provides a much more resonable explanation for this kind of phenomenon.

The problem with this statement is that it is simply opinion masquerading as fact. How do you know chance and necessity provide poor resources for the generation of complex integrated information?

This is why I don't think you need to understand Dembski's maths to realize his argument is flawed. His filter tries to take you through a series of questions, the second of which is "could this event have occurred by chance?" (or if we're going modify it "by a combination of chance and necessity?")

My question is this: How does Dembski calculate the probability of the event, and on what are his calculations based?

since our natural and normal response is to infer design the default position has to be that the design is real until it can be shown that this inference is mistaken.

How could you show the inference is mistaken? Put more simply, how could you falsify design? If ID makes no claims about the identity, motives, powers and limitations of a designer, then ANY object, event or pattern could be designed. A suitably ingenious and whimsical designer could have created all life on Earth (and the fossil record) to give the impression that life evolved over several billion years. Right?

Do you see the problem?

10:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The problem with this statement is that it is simply opinion masquerading as fact. How do you know chance and necessity provide poor resources for the generation of complex integrated information?"

For one thing, because of the complete inability of an entire worldwide community of brilliant, dedicated scientists to either (a) demonstrate experimentally cases of complex integrated information arising through chance and necessity or (b) give detailed, step-by-step testable explanations of how particular cases of complex integrated information in biology could have arisen through nothing more than chance or necessity.

I think another question is also worth asking in this context: how do we know that chance and necessity are *adequate* resources for the production of complex specified information?

I agree with the blogger that unless we are shown that they *are* adequate, it is legitimate for us to assume design.

8:39 pm  

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