Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ID - Untestable? Unfalsifiable?


The opponents of ID cannot have it both ways...or as the saying goes they cannot have their cake and eat it.

If ID is not testable or falsifiable then it can never be argued that examples of so called "bad design" show that ID is wrong. If ID is not testable or falsifiable then the critics who claim this should attack Ken Miller for presenting the Type3 Secretory system as evidence that ID is wrong.

An untestable and unfalsifiable hypothesis is "not even wrong." As far as hypotheses go that was the ultimate insult....but a hypothesis that is "not even wrong" cannot be shown to be wrong.

If ID made no specific hypotheses that could in principle be shown to be untrue then why are anti-ID people so keen on the Type 3 Secretory system....

By presenting the Type 3 secretory system they are proclaiming that ID is a testable and falsifiable hypothesis and that we have tested it and found it is wrong.

You cannot say the ID is untestable and unfalsifiable.....and then say.... we have proved that it is wrong.

Which way it is to be....you can't have it both ways.

31 Comments:

Anonymous Ian H Spedding said...

If the human eye is cited as evidence of design because it is an organ in which the arrangement of parts is perfectly suited to its assumed purpose, it is a valid criticism to point out where, from the perspective of a human designer, the "design" is less than ideal. If a human designer could do better then so must any more advanced alien or divine designer. That it was not done better undermines the claim the the eye is evidence of advanced intelligent design

The bacterial flagellum is proposed as an example of an irreducibly complex biological system - in other words, one for which there is not even a conceivable evolutionary precursor - but biologists are able to describe a possible evolutionary pathway leading to the flagellum via the Type 3 secretory system. That undermines the claim of irreducible complexity which is proposed as evidence of intelligent design.

A designer so powerful that it can be invoked to explain literally any observation explains nothing. For such a being there is no way to distinguish what is designed from what is not designed since it can design anything we see. The concept is also a discouragement to further scientific investigation since any question of origins can be answered simply by citing the designer.

12:49 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Ian said: "That it was not done better undermines the claim the the eye is evidence of advanced intelligent design."
Ian this is a horribly and obviously weak argument against design, because you are making a statement about the way things 'ought' to be. You are placing your bias on the argument. There may be other reasons unknown to science for why the eye is wired the way that it is. In order to make such statments you would need to get into the mind of an intelligent designer, and that you obviously cannot do.

1:11 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

So Ian.... you are saying that ID is making testable and falsifiable hypotheses and that these hypotheses have been tested and ID has been shown to be wrong.

You cannot then hop onto the other foot and say ID is not science...provides no testable hypotheses... and cannot be falsified....Do you agree you have to go one way or the other?

1:35 pm  
Blogger Alexander said...

As Ian has said the concept of a 'designer' is not falsifiable in and of itself.

The claims made by ID proponents may well be falsifiable (and have repeatedly shown to be the case) but this still says nothing about the designer. Neither does this mean that individual claims form a coherent theory (Andrew - you've stated that there is apparently a testable hypothesis out there, if you would care to define it that would be useful).

Simply saying that 'process X cannot work because of Y' does not provide an explicable and definable foundation with which to build a theory. You need to define why Y stops X from working and the implications of what that means for the theory itself, while proposing a new working model for the data that would provide the basis for moving science forward. ID does not do this. It provides a contention that we may be 'designed' but has not yet produced any evidence and simply reverts to the 'X cannot work' argument. As a concept it's a valid theological consideration, but nothing scientific there at all.

So you can actually have it both ways as long as you're clear on what you're stating as both 'falsifiable' and 'unfalsifiable'. Most claims about IC in recent memory have been shown to be wrong or deeply flawed. Yet the ID proponent can just push the boundaries back another notch by saying 'ah ... we don't have any explanation for this new degree of complexity' and so on to infinite regress. Where is the boundary exactly for ID? How many claimed 'IC' systems are there before ID'ers admit that they still don't have a scientific leg to stand on?

Young Earth Creationists used similar arguments in relation to the fossil record. We have discovered fossils A --- D but the YEC shouts that there are no intermediates. We later discover A--B--C--D but the YEC then claims we have even more gaps to cover between A and B, B to C and C to D.

This kind of reflexive argument benefits no-one and ignores the data from multiple fields corroborating and reinforcing the information about evolution. Even Behe was forced to admit that natural selection and common descent over billions of years accounts for the diversity of species. He has just decided to reduce the YEC fossil argument to the bio-chemical level.

4:33 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Unfalsifiable: yes.
Demonstrably unsupported by logic: also yes.

The former is enough to make ID unscientific; the latter indicates that the most valid approach is to consider it false until proven otherwise.

5:11 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Alexander,

I am confused by your comment...

Are you saying that some bits of ID are falsifiable and some bits are not?

Do you disagree with those who say that ID is not science because it cannot be tested ...FULLSTOP

I heard Ken Miller say that the type 3 secretory system was evidence that ID was wrong... you cant say that ID is wrong and unfalsifiable.

5:14 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Lifewish,

You said ID has not produced any falsiable hypotheses...

What do you think of Ken Millers idea then that the Type 3 Secretory system falsifies the ireducible complexity argument?

6:09 pm  
Anonymous Ted Nannariello said...

Andy,

I've asked you this several times. You've never responded.

What is the falsifiable hypothesis for ID? How exactly can we test it?

6:28 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Ted,

I asked you (or at least I think it was you)to provide evidence for your claim to be able to prove that someone was lying...

"By the way, we're not *saying* people are liars... we can prove it. Big difference."

and you have not responded yet. Did you mean Steve (following Ed Darrell's comment) or some other unspecified person?

7:04 pm  
Anonymous Ted Nannariello said...

Andy, that was the judge's ruling the the Dover case... and NOT the subject.

What is the falsifiable hypothesis for ID? How exactly can we test it?

You can't answer this question, can you?

7:07 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

You said ID has not produced any falsiable hypotheses...

What do you think of Ken Millers idea then that the Type 3 Secretory system falsifies the ireducible complexity argument?


That falsifies the idea that a Designer is necessary to produce a bacterial flagellum. It in no way falsifies (and in fact cannot falsify) the idea that a Designer was involved at some point, which is all that mainstream ID states.

Allow me to correct myself slightly: mainstream ID, like Young Earth Creationism before it, is unfalsifiable to pretty much exactly the extent that it hasn't already been falsified. Behe did indeed propose what could be broadly considered to be a testable hypothesis: that no-one would come up with a path by which the bacterial flagellum could evolve. This is falsified by the existence of possible paths such as the one I presented.

Sadly, Behe's response to being proven wrong was to try to claim that these explanations weren't very convincing. Large numbers of less biased biologists (and one judge) have independently examined the evidence, come to the conclusion that he is in denial, and adjusted their assessment of his credibility appropriately. In particular, I draw your attention to the moment in the Dover trial when the attorney for the plaintiff dumped an extremely high stack of papers and textbooks discussing immune system evolution in front of Behe, only to receive the rather unconvincing response that it still wasn't detailed enough for him.

7:33 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Ted,

Thank you for that clarification.. much appreciated :-)

Can I answer by asking you a question?

Do you think that the use by Ken Miller of the Type 3 secretory system is a legitimate falsification of the the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum?

10:11 pm  
Anonymous Ian H Spedding said...

Nathan wrote:

Ian said: "That it was not done better undermines the claim the the eye is evidence of advanced intelligent design."
Ian this is a horribly and obviously weak argument against design, because you are making a statement about the way things 'ought' to be. You are placing your bias on the argument. There may be other reasons unknown to science for why the eye is wired the way that it is. In order to make such statments you would need to get into the mind of an intelligent designer, and that you obviously cannot do.


Actually, we can. We can get inside the mind of the only intelligent designer we know - ourselves.

We can say that we would not design an eye with an inverted retina unless there were no alternative. We could point to the design of digital cameras as evidence of that claim. The wiring in such devices is not routed across the face of the light-sensitive CCD chip.

Of course, this does not disprove the existence of an Intelligent Designer but it does cast doubt on the alleged evidence on which the claim for such a being stands.

5:54 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Ian said: "Actually, we can. We can get inside the mind of the only intelligent designer we know - ourselves."

Actually Ian, your argument is still very weak because you are assuming that a designer would design just as you yourself would, you have no idea about the motives of a designer, or anything about the designer, so you still cannot say "this is how it would have designed life."
Do you see the problem here?
You are making assumptions you cannot back up.

6:09 pm  
Anonymous Ian H Spedding said...

Andrew Rowell wrote:

So Ian.... you are saying that ID is making testable and falsifiable hypotheses and that these hypotheses have been tested and ID has been shown to be wrong.

You cannot then hop onto the other foot and say ID is not science...provides no testable hypotheses... and cannot be falsified....Do you agree you have to go one way or the other?


If you postulate the existence of an non-human Intelligent Designer whose nature is undefined, all you are offering is a conjecture. Without having some idea of what to look for there is no way to test for the existence of such a being.

On the other hand, if, like Michael Behe, you argue that such a designer would leave evidence of its work in the form of biological systems for which there are no evolutionary precursors then you are offering a hypothesis. You have suggested something look for which would tend to support or undermine your claim and that is science.

ID is not science where it feels constrained by a court decision, for example, from saying anything about the nature of the designer. That suggests that the proposed designer is indistinguishable from the very God which the US Supreme court ruled could not be taught in science classes without being in breach of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

If you can define an Intellgent Designer such that it is not equivalent to the Christian God but has natural properties which may be observed then you have the basis for scientific hypotheses.

6:31 pm  
Anonymous Ian H Spedding said...

Nathan wrote

Actually Ian, your argument is still very weak because you are assuming that a designer would design just as you yourself would, you have no idea about the motives of a designer, or anything about the designer, so you still cannot say "this is how it would have designed life."
Do you see the problem here?
You are making assumptions you cannot back up.


No, I am countering that part of the original claim which holds that the eye is too well-arranged to be the outcome of a natural process like evolution. I am pointing out that, on optical grounds, the inverted retina is inferior to the verted arrangement. I am arguing that, for that reason, a human designer would not adopt such an approach unless there were no alternative. I am further arguing that any designer, whether human or non-human - unless a being of extraordinary powers like a god - would be subject to the same limitations.

Call my argument weak if you like - that is rhetoric rather than argument - but, to sustain the claim that the eye is evidence of intelligent design, ID proponents need to explain why the designer employed an optically inferior layout for the retina. We can certainly speculate about "other reasons unknown to science" but, without evidence of some hitherto unrecognised effect at work, that is all it is - speculation.

9:14 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Ian said: "I am further arguing that any designer, whether human or non-human - unless a being of extraordinary powers like a god - would be subject to the same limitations."

Well Ian, clearly we are not talking about a human designer when we look at the complexities of the eye. Would not
a designer have to be of extraordinary powers in order to design the eye, of course! This is not something within the realm of human capabilities.

Again, YOU ARE ASSUMING THAT THE DESIGNER WOULD ACT AS YOU WOULD. This is not a valid assumption.

Also, the arrangement of vertebrate eye may be for some very good reasons. One reason may be for protection against very intense light. The retina may be inverted to protect against photic damage. Invertebrates such as cephalopods may have the 'verted' retina which is in direct contact with incident light because they inhabit darker environments.

Here is a good article on this that may answer your questions.

http://www.trueorigin.org/retina.asp

The vertebrate eye is an amazingly effective structure, and I find it funny that some people like to criticize its construction.

10:12 pm  
Blogger Lifewish said...

Invertebrates such as cephalopods may have the 'verted' retina which is in direct contact with incident light because they inhabit darker environments.

Unfortunately for this explanation, fish also have inverted eyes. And many fish live in exactly the same habitats as many squid. This argument doesn't rule out a designer, but it's coming perilously close to ruling out a designer who always uses the best design available.

1:34 am  
Anonymous Ian H Spedding said...

Nathan wrote:

Well Ian, clearly we are not talking about a human designer when we look at the complexities of the eye. Would not
a designer have to be of extraordinary powers in order to design the eye, of course! This is not something within the realm of human capabilities.


Not yet, I agree, but we have already learnt a great deal about how the eye is constructed and how it works. It may only be a matter of time before we can produce something similar ourselves.

Again, YOU ARE ASSUMING THAT THE DESIGNER WOULD ACT AS YOU WOULD. This is not a valid assumption.


We can safely assume that any designer capable of producing an organ like the human eye is more advanced than any human designer.

We can also assume that, since it apparently has to work through the process of design, this Intelligent Designer is less than an omnipotent deity like the Christian God. Any being which could create an entire Universe out of nothing would have no need to bother with design.

We design things because we have no other way of achieving our ends. We are constrained by the limitations of our knowledge and our command of the energy and materials available to us. As our knowledge increases and we find better materials and sources of power, so our designs improve. We build modern ships from steel, aluminium, carbon-fibre and plastics and use diesel, electric and gas turbine engines to propel them. We would not revert to wood and iron construction or reciprocating steam propulsion unless we had some special purpose in mind, such as the creation of a replica.

We can assume, therefore, that an Intelligent Designer, like a human designer, would strive for the best performance possible within the limits of knowledge and materials. In the case of the eye, that would mean a verted retina. Even if the penalty, in terms of image degradation, were only minor, it would not be accepted unless there were no alternative.

Also, the arrangement of vertebrate eye may be for some very good reasons. One reason may be for protection against very intense light. The retina may be inverted to protect against photic damage. Invertebrates such as cephalopods may have the 'verted' retina which is in direct contact with incident light because they inhabit darker environments.

Here is a good article on this that may answer your questions.

http://www.trueorigin.org/retina.asp


I have read that article and I agree that it gives a detailed and highly informative account of the structure and workings of the human eye. There is one passage that is of particular interest:

Moreover, the foveolar cones differ from those elsewhere in being taller, more slender, perfectly straight and accurately oriented to be axial with respect to incident light, for maximal VA and sensitivity. In this area, blood vessels are absent and the retina is much thinner, being reduced to only photoreceptors (cones) with minimal supporting tissue. The inner neural elements of the neurosensory retina are displaced from the foveola radially to allow unimpeded access of light and elimination of what little scattering of light occurs elsewhere.


This raises two obvious questions. First, if the image degradation
caused by the neurons lying between the photoreceptors and incoming
light is negligible, why would a designer bother to shift them to one
side in the central part of the retina? Second, if the designer
could do it in the central part of the retina in order to achieve maximum visual acuity, why not do it for the
whole retina?

The vertebrate eye is an amazingly effective structure, and I find it funny that some people like to criticize its construction.


There is no question that the human eye works very well. But it does
so in spite of an arrangement of parts which would appear less than
ideal to an intelligent human designer, let alone a more advanced alien
designer.

In fact, it is the sort of imperfect "design" which would be expected to emerge
from a process of evolution.

9:25 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Ian said: "We can also assume that, since it apparently has to work through the process of design, this Intelligent Designer is less than an omnipotent deity like the Christian God. Any being which could create an entire Universe out of nothing would have no need to bother with design."

Wow, where did you come up with that! You say that Any being which could create an entire Universe out of nothing would have no need to bother with design?
Well it appears that I cannot explain to you that you are making unfounded assumptions about a designer. Maybe the designer is creative and choses to design things in a creative way, you simply cannot say for sure.

Your statements on the retina raise good points, but as I have said before, you are making statements about how things ought to be.

11:54 pm  
Anonymous Nathan said...

Here is an excellent article by Paul Nelson outlining the problems with this theological argument, I highly recommend a quick read over, its not very long. He conveys it much better than I can.

http://www.arn.org/docs/nelson/pn_jettison.htm

12:13 am  
Anonymous Alexander said...

Hi Andrew, you said:

Alexander,

I am confused by your comment...

Are you saying that some bits of ID are falsifiable and some bits are not?

"Do you disagree with those who say that ID is not science because it cannot be tested ...FULLSTOP

I heard Ken Miller say that the type 3 secretory system was evidence that ID was wrong... you cant say that ID is wrong and unfalsifiable."


I am not personally aware of anyone who has stated that ID cannot be tested FULLSTOP. I'm also not really able to make my argument any more clear than it is already.

Two issues:

ID as it stands proposes that a 'designer' created us. This element is completely unfalsifiable. You cannot 'prove' or provide evidence for an unknown or unknowable entity (or collection thereof). Therefore ID is reduced to a philisophical consideration that has no more bearing on science than any other metaphysical construct.

However, ID proponents make specific material claims about evidence for a designer. The claims (IC, SC etc)are based on gaps in our current knowledge rather than proposing an actual alternative theory. These individual claims can be demonstrated to be false. However because individual claims can be shown to be incorrect doesn't mean that ID somehow becomes a testable theory with predictive abilities.

By way of example when Einstein developed the theory of relativity measurements on the speed of light taken from 2 different points on the earths surface simultaneously demonstrated that light wasn't travelling through the 'ether' and that light travelled at a speed and manner consistent with Einstein's theory.

ID has no comparable theoretical framework, it just makes claims that can be assessed certainly, but this doesn't make it a falsifiable theory as the ultimate element behind it, the designer, cannot be falsified.

If you could come up with some method of falsifying the 'designer' you'd be onto something. I don't think the worlds religions would be too happy with that one though.

As I requested previously - if you can actually provide a working 'theory' of ID that allows empirical standards to be established this would help.

4:42 pm  
Anonymous Alexander said...

Nathan:

You've used the 'imperfect design' argument which is quite reasonable.

However ... Behe is on the record as saying that he believes the RC God is a 'good candidate' for the designer. Johnson is a devout Christian. Meyer works for a college that insists on it's employees having a Christ-oriented theological stance and Dembski works in a Baptist seminary.

The ever so small problem with arguing for an 'imperfect' deity is that it seems all the leading lights within ID are deeply committed Christians.

Do you really want to put it to all these individuals that the God they believe in is imperfect?

I think this flies in the face of all orthodox Christian theology. They are not going to be too happy if it turns out God goes around putting us together in a slap hazard fashion.

4:48 pm  
Anonymous Ian H Spedding said...

Nathan wrote:

You say that Any being which could create an entire Universe out of nothing would have no need to bother with design?
Well it appears that I cannot explain to you that you are making unfounded assumptions about a designer. Maybe the designer is creative and choses to design things in a creative way, you simply cannot say for sure.


I would argue that my assumptions about designers or deities are no more unfounded than those already made about the God of Christianity or an Intelligent Designer.

As you say, I wrote that any being capable of creating the Universe would have "no need" to design anything, not that it could not do so if it chose.

The problem with the omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God of Christianity is that it is a necessary rather than contingent deity. It is its own explanation, in other words, it does not depend on any cause outside itself. This implies that it must be perfect in the sense of being unchanging and bound absolutely by its own nature.

Such a being could design a Universe which is 13.7 billion years old or one which is 6000 years old but it could not design one which is 6000 years old but rigged to appear much older. An all-loving God would not deceive those which it loves. Or are you prepared to argue that God is a liar, bearing in mind that, if you do, you undermine all claims of Scriptural inerrancy?

For an undefined Intelligent Designer, of course, anything is possible. But that makes it as useless as a scientific hypothesis as the Christian God. We might as well say Mxqptlk is responsible for everything we see. It might even be true but without any knowledge of what Mxqptlk is our search for a greater understanding of how the world works is not advanced.

On the other hand, as I wrote before, the very concept of design implies limitation, as John Stuart Mill wrote in Theism:

...what is meant by design? Contrivance: the adaptation of means to and end. But the necessity for contrivance--the need of employing means--is a consequence of the limitation of power. Who would have recourse to means if to attain his end his mere word was sufficient? The very idea of means implies that means have an efficacy which the direct
action of the being who employs them has not. Otherwise they are not
means but an encumbrance. ...if the employment of contrivance is in itself a sign of limited power, how much more so is the careful and skillful choice of contrivances: Can any wisdom be shown in the selection of means when the means have no efficacy but what is given
them by the will of him who employs them, and when his will could have bestowed the same efficacy on any other means? Wisdom and contrivance
are shown in overcoming difficulties, and there is no room for them in a being whom no difficulties exist.


A limited Intelligent Designer might employ a less-than-optimal solution to a problem but, unless ID is postulating a capricious designer, he would need a reason for doing so. A human designercould design a Heath Robinson contraption that would fly and carry passengers - after a fashion - but would people want to use it and would any aircraft manufacturer want to risk building a commercial airliner on those principles?

The basic problem is that, wonderful as they are, there are so many clear examples of poor "design" in the living creatures, quite apart from the eye, that either the competence of any designer is less than perfect or it has a very strange sense of humour.

And, in the end, both Occam's razor and the scientific method in general direct us to the theory of evolution. It provides an explanation which accounts for what we observe, which is supported by a substantial amount of evidence and which does not require us to postulate an entity for which we have no evidence.

6:21 pm  
Anonymous Ian H Spedding said...

Nathan wrote

Here is an excellent article by Paul Nelson outlining the problems with this theological argument, I highly recommend a quick read over, its not very long. He conveys it much better than I can.

http://www.arn.org/docs/nelson/pn_jettison.htm


The simple answer to Nelson's paper is that while Darwin's theory has theological implications it in no way depends on either a belief in - or a denial of - the existence of a God.

Darwin himself, as we know, became agnostic, so his references to a Creator need not mean the Christian God and might well have been no more than a concession to the religious sensibilities of the time. He was also careful to point out that his theory had nothing to say about the origins of life.

As Nelson has shown in his paper, many other scientists have also referred to God or a Creator or various religious beliefs. But, if you read what they have written, they are not appealing to religion for some sort of metaphysical underpinning to the theory of evolution. Rather, what they are doing is either to argue that there need not be any direct confrontation between science and religion or to point out where religion makes specific claims about the world that are contradicted by scientific research.

Nelson writes:

It is generally held that evolutionary theory, like other natural sciences, employs necessarily a methodology according to which one cannot in scientific reasoning refer to "God," "the Creator," "creation" (understood as the act of a divine intelligence), or other theological concepts. Evolutionary biologists cite a variety of arguments in support of this view, or argue that in all events methodological naturalism (as the view has come to be known) stands very much at the foundation of the modern scientific outlook.


Methodological naturalism assumes nothing more than that everything we can observe has a distinctive nature which, when studied methodically, can reveal how the Universe works in part and, eventually we hope, in whole. It does not deny the existence of a God - or a designer - but neither does it require us to assume one without good reason. The answer to Nelson's charge of a ban on theological concepts in science is that the reason for their exclusion is that, so far, there is no reason for their inclusion.

Intelligent Design, as others have pointed out, is the child of the lesser god-of-the-gaps. It exists only because there are gaps in the theory - and in the evidence supporting the theory - of evolution. As those gaps narrow or are closed so does ID become increasingly superfluous. And without a testable hypothesis and a productive research programme that is what must ultimately happen to it.

7:09 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Ian,

You seem to be very confident that all the gaps are narrowing and closing!

I wonder what Darwin would have said about the size of the gap between life and non-life.

9:37 pm  
Anonymous Ian H Spedding said...

Andrew Rowell wrote:

You seem to be very confident that all the gaps are narrowing and closing!


'So far, so good' seems to sum it up. We might still find fossil evidence of early humans co-existing with the dinosaurs but it hasn't happened yet so science carries on until it does or a better theory comes along.

I wonder what Darwin would have said about the size of the gap between life and non-life.


I thought Paul Davies covered it quite well here:

Quantum leap of life


Darwin famously didn't tell us how life began, but modern computers can help to provide clues

Paul Davies
Tuesday December 20, 2005
The Guardian

When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, he gave a convincing account of how life has evolved over billions of years from simple microbes to the complexity of the Earth's biosphere today. But he pointedly left out how life got started. One might as well speculate about the origin of matter, he quipped. Today scientists have a good idea of how matter originated in the big bang, but the origin of life remains shrouded in mystery.

Although Darwin refused to be drawn on how life began, he conjectured in a letter to a friend about "a warm little pond" in which various substances would accumulate. Driven by the energy of sunlight, these chemicals might become increasingly complex, until a living cell formed spontaneously. Darwin's idle speculation became the basis of the "primordial soup" theory of biogenesis, and was adopted by researchers eager to recreate the crucial steps in the laboratory...


http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,3605,1671164,00.html

10:37 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

The statement reads

"By presenting the Type 3 secretory system they are proclaiming that ID is a testable and falsifiable hypothesis and that we have tested it and found it is wrong.

You cannot say the ID is untestable and unfalsifiable.....and then say.... we have proved that it is wrong"

No such claim was made.

By showing that the falgellum could have a function with 80% of its parts removed, Ken Miller falsified Professor Behe's notion of Irreducible Complexity.

He did not claim to falsify ID in total. But IC is a major component of ID, so the falsification of IC significantly weakens ID.

4:23 pm  
Blogger beervolcano said...

We have produced something very similar to the eye. It's called a camera. And most cameras have an inverted image on their "retina" whether this "retina" is a stip of film or a CCD detector. The inversion is from simple physics of lensing, of course. Actually, I would think that the inverted image is a better design than the verted one. Focussing is easier since the retina, film, or detector doesn't have to be so close to the lens. There is a wider range of motion, hence the ability for finer focus.

Hypothesizing that the bacterial flagellum is the result of artificial design is falsifiable. It's a yes/no question. If the answer is no, the hypothesis is falsified. If the answer is yes, then you're left with even bigger questions. The problem in the act of falsification is the methodology. I don't think the ID people have gotten that good at actually detecting design, which is what they say they are all about. Dembski has his "Explanatory Filter" but from what I understand about it, it's very arbitrary and the unerlying assumptions are based on fairly loose definitions of "information" and "complexity."

But is this ID? Is ID the act of going around pointing to things and saying "That thing is artificially designed." If so, where is the method for determining whether it is designed or not?

Uncommondescent brought up a paper about directed enzyme evolution and a poster asked "500 years from now, without seeing the paper, how would scientists be able to determine whether or not the bacterial genome had been artificially tinkered with."

IMO, this is the crux of what ID people claim they are doing. Where is the method? How can Dembski or Behe apply some algorithm to a genomic sequence and determine that this sequence is or is not the result of mutation/natural selection? If they have such a method, then they should be able to tell you that Bacterium A has absolutely no artificial genes and Bacterium B does. I don't think they are at that point.

Some ID claims are indeed falsifiable. Are these claims valid scientific hypotheses? Depends on whom you ask.

12:29 am  
Blogger beervolcano said...

Instead of "wider range of motion" I should have put "a wider range for the distortion of the image" since focussing in the eye is done by bending the lens one way or the other.

12:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are conflating the falsifiability of ID as a whole, and the falsifiability of a single ID claim.

Please consider a course in elementary logic before posting any more poor reasoning.

10:16 am  

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