Friday, November 03, 2006

Why is the bacterial flagellum so important for ID?

The bacterial flagellum is a rotary motor. It needs fuel to drive its rotation. It needs a system for producing movement and a carefully crafted circular mechanism allowing smooth rotation. It also needs some kind of propeller outside the cell.

In all our observation of the material world a rotating engine visible to the human eye would be taken as proof of intelligent activity even if we knew nothing else about the object in question hence Paley’s reflections on a watch mechanism.

Also a rotary engine is an invention of genius. A great deal of our modern civilisation would be impossible without rotary engines of different kinds. Michael Faraday was a genius. To find a rotary engine produced by a mind that is not human would indicate that the mind that produced the rotary engine was in some respects similar to the human mind and consciousness. A mind that can design a rotary engine seems to be a mind that it would be interesting to know better.

The discovery of a clumsy inefficient electric motor in a physics lesson indicates that some GCSE pupils are trying to follow the thoughts of Michael Faraday.

The discovery of an electrical motor with 90% efficiency indicates civilisation at a comparable level to 20th century civilisation.


The discovery of a motor which is greater than 99% efficient and more than 10 times smaller than anything human beings have ever produced points to…

75 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who says it's 99% efficient? The literature seems to say that flagellum efficiency is 1-2%. (Google: flagellum efficiency).

You're not just mindlessly repeating creationist talking points again, are you?

10:44 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Anonymous,

I got this from Matske's "talk origins" article here:
"The efficiency of energy conversion from ion gradient to rotation may approach 100% (DeRosier, 1998)."

The DeRosier reference is
"The turn of the screw: the bacterial flagellar motor." Cell. 93 (1), 17-20.

8:40 am  
Blogger creeper said...

Andrew,

Your post ends with a paragraph intended to lead to a certain inevitable conclusion, but since you're obviously at least aware of the talk origins article on the subject, what do you make of the scientific explanations in that article?

9:35 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

"Why is the bacterial flagellum so important to ID"

I guess it's because they staked their whole claim on it proving their case for divine intervention. Unfortunately the real scientific community pulled their ideas to pieces. The normal way to proceed in light of overwhelming evidence against an idea is to concede that point and move on. That's what scientists do but as we've seen, repeatedly, there is no science in ID so they are in the unique position of not having to move on - something they have a wealth of experience with. If you support ID your in a win-win situation.

11:36 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

"Why is the bacterial flagellum so important for ID?"

Because when real scientists do the real scientific work and show how the baterial flagellum could have evolved, another gap will close and god will have to find somewhere else to hide.

And the IDers will have damaged the cause they set out to support.

9:29 am  
Anonymous Brian said...

I used to think ID was pretty pointless as an argument for anything but I'm beginning to see it's benefits now. Unlike the one-hit-wonder that is ID (god-did-it, sorry, the designer)science chips away at problems and through accumulation of knowledge it formulates rational explanations to explain things. These are never set in stone but open to modification in light of new knowledge. ID refuses to accept anything and re-invokes the 'designer'.

If you step back from this cycle of science-versus-ID all you see is science making advances and ID stagnating. I hope this continues as the logical conclusion will be that the 'designer' is pretty innefective (at best) as his intervention is only illusory. Science will catch up eventually (unfortunately it does take time to do real science). Eventually you will have to ask yourself - if the designer didn't do this, or this, or this.....is there a 'designer' out there?

Of course, you have to be free to ask such questions. Regardless of ones motivation for initially accepting ID if you look at where the science is going it is far more interesting.

10:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The discovery of a motor which is greater than 99% efficient and more than 10 times smaller than anything human beings have ever produced points to…

Oh let me give this a go...hmm, so this motor is far superior to any humans have made, and far smaller, an intricate example genious, oh what the heck I will just take a wild guess and say it must have been random mutation and natural selection! Thats the ticket!

Oh and I will use the fantastic story of Co-option to hop skip to a fully functional flagellum.

Whats that you say?

How did the parts assemble themeselves together? What was the assembly mechanism? How did the assembly mechanism read the instructions? Where did these assembly instructions arise in the first place?

Didnt you hear me? I said they were Co-opted, obviously!

Repeat after me: Nature gives the illusion of design! It is only a p p a r e n t!

6:18 am  
Anonymous Matt Inlay said...

Andrew, your basic argument here is that the bacterial flagellum is designed because it looks like something humans designed. This isn't a scientific argument. If you want to make the observation that the flagellum resembles a human design, fine. I disagree but we're each entitled to our opinions. And if you want to make the hypothesis that the flagellum was designed by an intelligent agent based on that observation, I'm fine with that, too. I feel that that's a perfectly legitimate hypothesis to form. Now the issue here is, you've made the observation, and you've made the hypothesis to explain the observation, then what? What do you or any other IDists do to find evidence to support this hypothesis? That is the issue here. IDists like to make a conclusion about the origin of the flagellum, but this is not how science proceeds. Science is a process of hypothesis-making and hypothesis-testing.

Describe an experiment to test whether or not the flagellum was designed by an intelligent agent. This is obviously too complex an issue to be tested by a single experiment, so break it down into simpler components. For examnple, no one would demand an individual experiment to test whether or not the flagellum evolved. However, scientists can form a detailed model for how they think the flagellum evolved, then test the individual details of that model. This is how ID needs to proceed if it wants to be considered science. That no one is actually doing this speaks volumes about the vacuity of ID.

2:49 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

matt inlay said:

For examnple, no one would demand an individual experiment to test whether or not the flagellum evolved. However, scientists can form a detailed model for how they think the flagellum evolved, then test the individual details of that model.

That scientists can show in a lab, say, that the flagellum has a function even when it is no longer attached to the bacterium does not say anything, one way or the other, about how the bacterium came to acquire its flagellum. Unless I'm mistaken, a lab experiment of this sort -- often cited by evolutionists like Ken Miller -- doesn't really touch the issue of main concern to ID, which is about the actual evolutionary history. If ID is mistaken here, it is in thinking that something happening in a lab today could decide the matter.

6:23 am  
Anonymous Brian said...

"a lab experiment of this sort -- -- doesn't really touch the issue of main concern to ID, which is about the actual evolutionary history."

I don't see the connection between ID and evolutionary history - they both suggest different pathways. Evolution suggests a gradual accumulation process whereas ID suggests sudden emergence - 'poof' and it appears fully intact and functioning. What is confusing is at what point in the evolution of bacteria did this sudden emergence take place and why not in all bacteria. You don't get something from nothing. That is more implausible than the presently suggested possible evolutionary pathway which will no doubt be refined as new knowledge is acquired. What new thinking has ID brought to it's defence?

9:07 am  
Blogger allygally said...

Tempis Fugit said: "Unless I'm mistaken, a lab experiment of this sort -- often cited by evolutionists like Ken Miller -- doesn't really touch the issue of main concern to ID."

Tempis, my dear fellow, like all of the IDers, you are holding the wrong end of the golf stick. It is not the job of science to disprove ID, it is the job of the those (mainly religious fundementalists) who cling to ID, to prove that their hypothesis is;

a. Science.

b. Correct.

To do that they have to do experiments, provide evidence, submit to peer review...... etc. and etc. and etc. They have never done any of this although, as I understand it, the ID hypothesis has been around for hundreds of years, and in its current disuise, for at least a decade.

Here's my advice:

Get hold of the right end of the golf stick. Feet apart, firmly planted. Full backswing, staying balanced. Swing down and through the ball with left arm straight and a generous follow-through. Follow the flight of the ball. Did it go straight? The right trajectory and distance? Too much hook or slice? Did it land on the target? Near the hole? Or far too far away? Measure the results. Record the results. Analyse the results. Record on score sheet. Get results peer reviewed by your partner. Any problems try again. And keep trying until you get it right (or if you are like me, give up, because it's just not the game for you).

It will take time, effort, energy, intelligence, perseverence, open mindedness, dedication and a lot of other attributes, but if you have the basics right, you might eventually be in the game.

Actually my real advice is quit now. For years I tried to fool myself that I was a golfer. Eventually, in the face of the evidence, I had to admit that I was deluded.

You should quit now, because ID is not science, no matter how hard you try to pretend it is.

9:07 am  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew.Have you read this?

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/11/casey_luskins_s.html#more


I'm no biologist, but it seems to me that the "irreducibility" of the flagellum is not really what IDers claim it is. And they have made so many mistakes and concessions that their "theory" is in tatters.

They appear so bruised and battered that the only thing holding them up is each other, like drunks on a night train...

11:57 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

allgally said:

Tempis [sic!], my dear fellow, like all of the IDers, you are holding the wrong end of the golf stick. It is not the job of science to disprove ID, it is the job of the those (mainly religious fundementalists) who cling to ID, to prove that their hypothesis is;

a. Science.

b. Correct.

To do that they have to do experiments, provide evidence, submit to peer review...... etc. and etc.


This is the second time I've raised something on this blog and the response given has been to shift the burden of proof, as if this were simply a matter showing whether ID or evolution is correct. It seems that at most that your condescending remarks show that ID may be wrong, but you haven't shown that evolutionists are right. In fact, my increasing suspicion as I watch evolutionists interact that ID defenders is that ID people have erred only in overestimating how much the evolutionists have nailed down -- and thus have overstated their own challenge. As your own remarks indicate, all evolutionists have provided is a demonstration of how the flagellum might have evolved independently of the bacterium. In that case, it would have been enough for Behe to argue that evolutionists can't prove the flagellum actually did evolve this way. Unfortunately, he made the much stronger claim that it could not, which opened him to the ridicule displayed to ID defenders on this blog.

6:42 pm  
Anonymous Matt Inlay said...

Tempest, you wrote:
"It seems that at most that your condescending remarks show that ID may be wrong, but you haven't shown that evolutionists are right. "

Mainstream scientists aren't trying to show that evolution is "right", what they are trying to show is that evolution is a fruitful area of research. Do scientists have a model for the evolution of the flagellum? Yes. Does the model make explicit hypotheses that can be experimentally tested? Yes. Have those tests been conducted? Yes. Do the results support their model? Yes. This is really all anyone can expect from a scientific model. IDists don't even have a model for the design of the flagellum, let alone the subsequent criteria.

"If ID is mistaken here, it is in thinking that something happening in a lab today could decide the matter."

If ID is mistaken in this regard, and no lab experiment could satisfy their demands, then this only further demonstrates how out of touch with the scientific method IDists are.

7:07 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

Tempus Fugit wrote:

"..all evolutionists have provided is a demonstration of how the flagellum might have evolved independently of the bacterium."

What they have done is adressed a scientific question and suggested a plausible explanation. It's not set-in-stone - it's the best explanation based on present knowledge.

However, the best (only) ID explanation is IC/ID. In over ten years since the flagellum issue was raised by Behe no ID proponent has ever suggested another explanation for it. Neither have they expanded on any of the crackpot 'theory' of ID (what else is there other than the god-did-it argument).


You can whine all you like about burden of proof but it is your side that has decided that evolution is wrong - just show us how? I agree with you that this issue is not about who is right and who is wrong but science demands explanations that are plausible AND testable. Your worldview may posit the former to be true but on scientific scrutiny ID will always fail on the latter point - how can you test a supernatural explanation?

8:53 pm  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

matt inlay said:

Mainstream scientists aren't trying to show that evolution is "right", what they are trying to show is that evolution is a fruitful area of research.

I don’t recall anyone in the ID community arguing that evolution is not a fruitful research programme. The question is whether science is best served by evolution being the only research programme allowed.


brian said:

I agree with you that this issue is not about who is right and who is wrong but science demands explanations that are plausible AND testable.

And what exactly do you think is being tested when you show that the flagellum can function without the bacterium to which it is normally attached? I hope you don’t think you’ve shown anything about actual evolutionary history. After all, it is well-known that things can survive in states other than how they were designed. This is why no one in their right mind would claim that an experimental demonstration constitutes an historical proof. Yet, this seems to be what you’re claiming. Let me remind you that ID’s grievance with evolution is about actual origins, not possible states of survival. Evolutionists repeatedly confuse actuality and possibility.

11:54 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

Tempus fugit

I have no idea where you are going with this - you seem to arguing in circles - typical ID credentials.

I know the nature of the objection from ID but do you really consider sudden emergence of complex systems (between spurts of evolution) to be more plausible than gradual accumulation and development of existing systems. Maybe it's the requirement of (perhaps) millions of years that is troubling you?

1:19 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Casey Luskin’s self-flagellation

"Now, anyone can make mistakes, even people reasonably well-educated in the relevant area. But this wasn’t just any mistake. I think this litany of simple, purely amateurish errors gives us a real window into the heart of the ID movement and its promoters. Basically, Luskin – undoubtedly one of the most committed ID promoters anywhere – doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to the “icon of ID”, the bacterial flagellum. And yet, he talks about it anyway, in a quite unhesistating way. He has blogged about the flagellum, he has talked to the press about the flagellum at great length, he has written essays making use of the flagellum. But basically, he just unblinkingly repeats what his “trusted authorities” have said – the small group of academics on his side. He hasn’t checked to see if they actually know what they are talking about. He just assumes they do, despite the fact that pretty much the whole scientific community disagrees with them, which would induce some skepticism in most people. And so, when the errors of this small group are demonstrated, as in the NRM paper, he just assumes they are right, and scrambles around to try and patch up the holes, because, after all, they must know what they are talking about. This may be a PR strategy or a good way to deal with cognitive dissonance, but it’s not science.

But there is still a chance to do the right thing. Luskin could still take the brave step of admitting that Behe was wrong about 40+ required parts, and that Minnich & company were wrong about 30 unique proteins. The facts that indicate that this is the truth are simple. I know it is embarrassing to admit an error; but as I said before, in science, there is no other way forward. In the end, the shame is much greater if errors are stubbornly defended."

4:03 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Why ID is so unimportant for the bacterial flagellum

"So, as soon as ID theorists stop spending all their time writing press releases and participating in debates, and start spending time in the field and in the lab doing actual scientific research, there might be a place in science for what they discover. As long as ID theory remains essentially parasitic on biology and the other sciences, it will never be recognized as science. Interpreting other people’s discoveries in the light of different theoretical models doesn’t cut it. That’s why Nobel prizes are awarded to the people making the discoveries, not to the people who figure out what they mean."
Allen MacNeill

4:33 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

brian said:

I have no idea where you are going with this - you seem to arguing in circles - typical ID credentials.

I know the nature of the objection from ID but do you really consider sudden emergence of complex systems (between spurts of evolution) to be more plausible than gradual accumulation and development of existing systems. Maybe it's the requirement of (perhaps) millions of years that is troubling you?


I think you know where this argument is going. The difference between evolution and ID has nothing to do with what actually goes on in the lab, but how one generalises to what lies outside the lab -- and ultimately lies in the very distant past. Your call for ID people to do serious scientific work is thus disingenuous. Like it or not, this dispute is all about reinterpreting the same data. The ID people look like scientific slackers in this respect only because guys like you give the impression rhetorically that everyone who has come up with a finding relevant to evolution has been an evolutionist and that every such finding could not be equally used by ID to support its case. Both of these impressions are false. Too bad ID people don't make more of this point.

As for the business about whether evolution is gradual or punctuated, this strikes me as pretty much unresolvable in the same way as nailing down the exact process by which human historical change has occurred. I was struck by the admission by one of your evolutionist colleagues in a previous blog that evolutionists don't consider it relevant to calculate the probabilities of particular organs or organisms arising over a given period of time. In that case, all this talk about the age of earth is just a lot of hot air. Evolutionists are not especially committed to a particular moment when life began, just that it had happened sufficiently -- i.e. impressionistically -- 'long' ago, especially if it's longer than what creationists find acceptable!

This is not the stuff of testable science, no matter how many numbers you throw at it. It is simply a certain kind of rigorous metaphysics. And here I'm with the positivists: Flip a coin to decide whether we be gradualists or punctualists -- it really makes no difference as far as anything that will ever be decided by hard evidence.

ID's big mistake has been to be too literal-minded about the 'scientific' nature of evolution's quest for origins.

10:12 am  
Blogger creeper said...

tempus fugit,

"And what exactly do you think is being tested when you show that the flagellum can function without the bacterium to which it is normally attached? I hope you don’t think you’ve shown anything about actual evolutionary history."

Seems to me that what is clearly shown by this is that something that is thought to be irreducible is actually reducible, and irreducible complexity is what the claim of the flagellum being evidence of a designer rests on.

"Like it or not, this dispute is all about reinterpreting the same data. The ID people look like scientific slackers in this respect only because guys like you give the impression rhetorically that everyone who has come up with a finding relevant to evolution has been an evolutionist and that every such finding could not be equally used by ID to support its case."

Simply reinterpreting the same data will only yield a designer who completely mimics naturalistic evolution as it has been defined to this day - and is thus utterly relevant. No scientific research has yet uncovered any evidence of a designer who used a method other than via naturalistic evolution.

12:55 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

"The difference between evolution and ID has nothing to do with what actually goes on in the lab, but how one generalises to what lies outside the lab"

Yet again you mischaracterise the situation. How can you generalise about science when ID refuses to undertake any? I deliberately avoided using the term punctuated for fear of confusion but you seem to want to conflate the term with literal sudden emergence - poof! - it's there? Evolution is a gradual cumulative process that requires (deep) time and generally goes from simple-to-complex. Only ID suggest nothing-to-complex (in the blink of an eye) so I guess the requirement for scientific elucidation of such a process is moot if not futile?

Evolution can only make inferences about origins; contrary to your beliefs I don't think you will find a real scientist who claims to have answered that question conclusively.
There is plenty of plasible speculation but none of it has anything to do with ID. Science has been plugging away at this question for centuries yet ID claims to have solved everything without doing a single piece of research? How stupid are scientists - the answer was there all along?


Existing data and knowledge can be used by anybody in support of any position. The problem is that evolutionary data will never support any claims made by ID as they are diametrically opposed. In order to get the illusion of concensus (ID=science?) ID has to deliberately misinterpret the data to make it's objections seem plausible. That isn't confusion, its dishonesty.

1:26 pm  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

In response to my

"And what exactly do you think is being tested when you show that the flagellum can function without the bacterium to which it is normally attached? I hope you don’t think you’ve shown anything about actual evolutionary history."

creeper said:

Seems to me that what is clearly shown by this is that something that is thought to be irreducible is actually reducible, and irreducible complexity is what the claim of the flagellum being evidence of a designer rests on.


Oh really? The fact that the flagellum works well without the bacterium in the lab says nothing about how it got to be attached to the bacterium in the first place. Irreducible complexity is primarily a thesis about the origins, not the maintenance, of design. In fact, it is precisely on this point that ID is continuous with creationism. Not even a creationist denies that we have had considerable success with biotechnology even though much of it involves doing things in labs that the Creator had not done in nature. (Of course, many creationists might object to biotechnology on moral grounds but that's different.)

brian said:

Simply reinterpreting the same data will only yield a designer who completely mimics naturalistic evolution as it has been defined to this day - and is thus utterly relevant. No scientific research has yet uncovered any evidence of a designer who used a method other than via naturalistic evolution.

OK, let me call your bluff. What do you imagine would lie outside a 'naturalistic explanation' that was at the same time testable? Do I hear a thundering silence? Could it perhaps be because evolutionists basically presuppose that anything with an empirical basis is grist for the naturalistic mill? If so, then you're right: You've won hands down!

1:28 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

Check your facts TF - you're quoting me with something 'creeper' said.

The whole history of modern science has been to restrict it's enquiry to naturalistic explanations simply because you cannot test the supernatural - hence the adherence to methodoligical naturalism by ALL scientists. ID requires a supernatural agent in order to work - true or false?

1:49 pm  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

Brian said:

Yet again you mischaracterise the situation. How can you generalise about science when ID refuses to undertake any?

Actually several ID defenders are scientists. You just don’t agree with the conclusions they and others in related fields do. But in any case, whether ID’s own claims are right is independent of whether they’ve spotted significant problems in at least the more overblown versions of evolution.

You’re right that evolutionists have critcised their own theory in various ways, often quite radically. But they have underplayed that fact out of fear of some vague ‘religious’ threat. However, it’s pretty clear to the observant reader that, say, Dawkins and Gould disagreed on just about everything except a claim to Darwin as common intellectual ancestor.


In order to get the illusion of concensus (ID=science?) ID has to deliberately misinterpret the data to make it's objections seem plausible. That isn't confusion, its dishonesty.

It seems to me you’re condemning the message simply because you know something about what motivates the messenger. This whole debate would be better off if people stopped questioning each other's motives. I don’t think a lot of Darwinists would stand up to much scrutiny if their motives were questioned as intently as those of ID proponents.

2:00 pm  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

brian said (quite rightly)

Check your facts TF - you're quoting me with something 'creeper' said.
The whole history of modern science has been to restrict it's enquiry to naturalistic explanations simply because you cannot test the supernatural - hence the adherence to methodoligical naturalism by ALL scientists. ID requires a supernatural agent in order to work - true or false?


My apologies for misidentifying you. But where did you get this idea that testability implies, to use the catchphrase of the moment, 'methodological naturalism'? How do you explain the postulation of entities -- such as gravity in Newton or the gene in Mendel -- that could be tested only in terms of their effects, but not in themselves? The history of science actually argues against any straightforward endorsement of naturalism, though you're right that eventually all scientific entities do seem to get naturalised.

2:12 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

"It seems to me you’re condemning the message simply because you know something about what motivates the messenger"

I have to give you credit for not hiding behind your motives but the reality is that it is motives that drive ID rather than any ID science which is yet to manifest.

As for Newton and Mendel - they formulated testable hypotheses that gave credibility to their ideas - hypotheses that others could test and verify (falsify). The fact that you're reading this is testament to the presence of electrons - have you ever SEEN an electron. We know they exist because we can influence them in predictable ways (eg CRT) based on theory. How can you influence a supernatural entity (cause and effect)? It's outside of the realm of science.

2:38 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"The difference between evolution and ID has nothing to do with what actually goes on in the lab..."

Yes it does. Evolutionary Biologists do work in the lab, ID-proponents DON'T!. What lab-work has Michael Behe done on the evolution of the immune system, flagella, the clotting system or anything else relevant to ID? Zero! Likewise Dembski, Wells & Minnich.

All IDers do is attempt to reinterpret Evolutionary Biologists' results to give a new and distorted interpretation. This is why they're so big on review articles and press releases - they don't require any actual lab-work.

"The ID people look like scientific slackers in this respect only because guys like you give the impression rhetorically that everyone who has come up with a finding relevant to evolution has been an evolutionist and that every such finding could not be equally used by ID to support its case."

Baloney! Name some IDers who are doing genuine research into Evolutionary Biology. There aren't any!

"I was struck by the admission by one of your evolutionist colleagues in a previous blog that evolutionists don't consider it relevant to calculate the probabilities of particular organs or organisms arising over a given period of time."

No, it is not that it isn't "relevant" - it's that it is COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE to do it in any meaningful way. The attempts at such calculations are nothing more than simplistic pseudo-scientific shams.

"In that case, all this talk about the age of earth is just a lot of hot air."

No tempus fugit, it is not "hot air," it is Geology, Atomic Physics and Astrophysics - all of which provide strong evidence that the Earth is many hundreds of millions of years old.

2:58 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"Actually several ID defenders are scientists."

But none are working in fields relevant to their ID claims.

"You just don’t agree with the conclusions they and others in related fields do."

Nor do any of the scientists actually working in the fields about which the IDers are making claims about agree with their conclusions.

Who should we believe, the scientists who are doing the lab work and publishing the research papers, or a small fringe of dilettantes with an axe to grind?

3:05 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"It seems to me you’re condemning the message simply because you know something about what motivates the messenger. This whole debate would be better off if people stopped questioning each other's motives."

How about we question their competence instead then? Behe has been proven to be incompetent at Immunology, Dembski at Information Theory, Casey Luskin at pretty much everything he writes about.

Can you name a single IDer with sufficient expertise to give their claims any credibility?

3:12 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,

Would you accept that Ken Miller has credibility in this area? How about Richard Dawkins? Steve Jones? Eugene Scott? Does Paul Myers? Also did Nick Matzke have credibility when he wrote his web paper on the origin of the flagellum. Does he have credibility now? Who are the anti-ID scientists who have joined the fray publically who have credibility as scientists?

9:18 pm  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

Brian said

How can you influence a supernatural entity (cause and effect)? It's outside of the realm of science.

Well, I’m not sure we ‘influence’ gravity, unless you mean we can work around it to get what we want. In any case, the point is that there was considerable scepticism about entities like gravity, genes and atoms until they could be operationalised in experiments. Perhaps you would have been one of the sceptics back then. Fair enough. But my point is that you can do science without being committed to naturalism if you’re trying to come up with ways of detecting entities not normally seen as part of nature. Paranormal researchers do this kind of thing today. I’m not saying they have succeeded, but the project is scientific. Whether or not ID defenders are currently doing something similar, my only point is that there is precedent in the history of science. It’s not as crazy as you make it out to be.

10:12 pm  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

Hrafn said:

"The difference between evolution and ID has nothing to do with what actually goes on in the lab..."

Yes it does. Evolutionary Biologists do work in the lab, ID-proponents DON'T!. What lab-work has Michael Behe done on the evolution of the immune system, flagella, the clotting system or anything else relevant to ID? Zero!


Actually many of the most vocal evolutionists don’t do work in the lab either: I’m sure Behe has seen the inside of a lab much more recently than, say, Richard Dawkins – except perhaps when filming a television show. And what about all the philosophers like Ruse and Dennett: These guys don’t do lab work. They’re much more explicitly like PR people for evolution. And what about Stephen Jay Gould? I’m sure Behe knows more about biochemistry and even genetics than the late SJ. So, if you want to play the competence game, beware!

And again hrfan says:

How about we question their competence instead then? Behe has been proven to be incompetent at Immunology, Dembski at Information Theory, Casey Luskin at pretty much everything he writes about.

Maybe their incompetence has been proven to your satisfaction, but not to everyone’s. Yes, their views are controversial and contestable – but that shouldn’t be confused with incompetent. Again, consider the likes of E.O. Wilson, a man about ants, writing books about unifying all knowledge, or Steven Pinker waxing lyrical about evolutionary psychology even though he’s merely a developmental linguist. Social scientists claim that these two guys are pretty incompetent too. And what about Richard Dawkins making ex cathedra pronouncements about religion based on some bad experiences with evangelists? The list is endless of incompetent evolutionists, if you want to play that game. I don’t think it’s a very productive game because even ignorant evolutionists occasionally, if unwittingly, say some interesting things worth considering. You should extend the same courtesy to ID people.

10:14 pm  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

hrafn said (interestingly):

"I was struck by the admission by one of your evolutionist colleagues in a previous blog that evolutionists don't consider it relevant to calculate the probabilities of particular organs or organisms arising over a given period of time."

No, it is not that it isn't "relevant" - it's that it is COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE to do it in any meaningful way. The attempts at such calculations are nothing more than simplistic pseudo-scientific shams.


I am intrigued by your complete disavowal of probability calculations for evolution. It seems to support what I said earlier that evolutionists don't really care about the exact age of the earth as long as it's 'very old' in some vague sense that is ultimately unfalsifiable. Pardon my naivete, but I find it amazing that a theory that makes such a big deal about the role of something resembling (though not exactly) 'random' mutation and other contingent factors refuses to engage explicitly in statistical reasoning. Perhaps you can explain this in more detail.

10:22 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

TF - you're right, paranormal activity is often investigated with scientific methodology but when has it plausibly and repeatedly led to any positive conclusion for the paranormal? I'm not aware of any. I agree you don't have to be commited to naturalism to conduct real science but that doesn't mean it is legitimate to mis-interpret the evidence to rationalise your belief in the supernatural. It makes a mockery of the scientific principle and does little to establish ones credentials for doing science. The bottom line is if you want to use (natural) science to detect/influence/interact with the supernatural how do you do that? You can't - science can't and it rightly doesn't try to. The people who re-vamped the notion of 'design in nature' into ID know that, which is why they spend so much time, effort and money obfuscating the scientific issues they claim to denounce rather than dealing with them. Why? What have they got to hide?

The DI recently claimed to have spent $4m on research. Where is it? Think of how much real research could have been done with that money! $4m on PR?

Six months ago Dembski was making bullish claims about his new website (still in the pipeline then) - 'Overwhelmingevidence.com' - it sounded impressive but what is the reality? - surprisingly nothing new! After all the hype we now have another youth-social-site. Catch 'em while they're young eh! That's real strong evidence for ID? Is this the behaviour of people who claim to have a serious scientific 'theory' to advance. Sounds more like a ministry to me.

12:16 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

Andrew:

The majority of the names you mention are genuine research scientists, with long resumes of published research to back up their claims and their credibility.

Can you name a single IDer with the research publication record of either Dawkins or Myers?

2:59 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"...I’m sure Behe has seen the inside of a lab much more recently than, say, Richard Dawkins..."

Behe has never done any research into Evolutionary Biology, Immunology, the Clotting System, or anything else relevant to his claims.

"And what about Stephen Jay Gould?"

Stephan Jay Gould was a Paleontologist, you complete pillock! Why would you expect him to be in a Biology Lab?

"I’m sure Behe knows more about biochemistry and even genetics than the late SJ."

Then Behe should have stuck to Biochemistry. He clearly knows next to nothing about Evolutionary Biology, or the inner workings of his claimed examples of Irreducible Complexity.

"So, if you want to play the competence game, beware!"

Bring it on!

Behe is incompetent on Evolutionary Biology.

Behe is incompetent on Immunology.

Behe is incompetent on the bacterial flagella.

I have seen no evidence that he is competent on the clotting system or any other relevant area.

"Maybe their incompetence has been proven to your satisfaction, but not to everyone’s."

"Everyone's" satisfaction isn't required - merely that of the overwhelming consensus of scientists working in these fields. I believe we have that already.

"...s long as it's 'very old' in some vague sense that is ultimately unfalsifiable."

No tempus fugit, the age of the Earth is falsifiable, and has been confirmed repeatedly via Geology, Atomic Physics and Astrophysics. Why do you keep trying to pretend otherwise?

"Pardon my naivete, but I find it amazing that a theory that makes such a big deal about the role of something resembling (though not exactly) 'random' mutation and other contingent factors refuses to engage explicitly in statistical reasoning."

Population Genetics does "engage explicitly in statistical reasoning" - but is restricted to specific species and/or environments. Trying to do statistical calculations outside this tightly circumscribed environment quickly increases both the complexity of the calculation and the number of unknowns to impossible levels.

Pseudo-scientific calculations typically get around this by assuming that endogenous variables (those that will change as the modeled environment(s) unfold) are some sort of universal constant, pluck a scientific calculation (usually performed under a specific set of circumstances) and assume that it will apply, unchanged, under all circumstances.

They then typically make all sorts of unrealistic simplifying assumptions (e.g. independence, uniform distribution, etc).

The results that they come up with therefore lack any scientific meaning (garbage in, garbage out).

3:35 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

From the horse's mouth: a scientist speaks out about misrepresentation of her research

"Contrary to Ms. Haverkos’ assertions, my work does NOT in any way challenge Darwin’s theory of evolution; in fact, my work on worm burrowing illustrates an outstanding example of convergent evolution. I have found that burrowers across many animal phyla exert forces in similar ways and have evolved to have a wedge shape and/or anatomies allowing exertion of large forces to propagate a crack. Without an understanding of the theory of evolution, I would not be able to explain this similarity across unrelated animals."
...
"I hope the Ohio School Board will consider my research for what it is: a significant advance in a field started 125 years ago by Charles Darwin that has no greater relationship to his theory of evolution than does any other branch of biology. Darwin’s theory of evolution is an important component in my research, as it is in most aspects of biology. Natural selection has favored burrowers who are able to move with the least energy used; by understanding the mechanism of burrowing, we are beginning to see the extent of evolutionary convergence toward burrowing efficiency."

This Worm Has Turned

It is the scientists themselves who consider their research to be "evolutionary," and those attempting to put an anti-evolutionary gloss on their results to have "misunderstood" it.

4:39 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

hrafn said:

Population Genetics does "engage explicitly in statistical reasoning" - but is restricted to specific species and/or environments. Trying to do statistical calculations outside this tightly circumscribed environment quickly increases both the complexity of the calculation and the number of unknowns to impossible levels.

Pseudo-scientific calculations typically get around this by assuming that endogenous variables (those that will change as the modeled environment(s) unfold) are some sort of universal constant, pluck a scientific calculation (usually performed under a specific set of circumstances) and assume that it will apply, unchanged, under all circumstances.

They then typically make all sorts of unrealistic simplifying assumptions (e.g. independence, uniform distribution, etc).

The results that they come up with therefore lack any scientific meaning (garbage in, garbage out).


I understand this. But it looks like an argument for saying that population genetics can't really contribute to an understanding of actual evolutionary history, but only to stuff that can approximate the p.g.'s standard models in a laboratory or perhaps a computer simulation.

4:49 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

hrfan said:

No tempus fugit, the age of the Earth is falsifiable, and has been confirmed repeatedly via Geology, Atomic Physics and Astrophysics. Why do you keep trying to pretend otherwise?

You're missing my point. The age of the earth may be itself falsifiable. But evolutionary theory isn't committed to any particular age of the earth, as long as it's vaguely 'very old'. If scientists agreed on different dating techniques tomorrow, so that the earth gains or loses a couple of billion years, nothing much happens to evolutionary theory -- correct? Since you've already admitted that evolutionists don't statistically calculate how long life would have to have been around to acquire the features it has through natural selection, then the earth's age becomes mostly intellectual window dressing to scare creationists.

4:55 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

hrafn said:

"...I’m sure Behe has seen the inside of a lab much more recently than, say, Richard Dawkins..."

Behe has never done any research into Evolutionary Biology, Immunology, the Clotting System, or anything else relevant to his claims.

"And what about Stephen Jay Gould?"

Stephan Jay Gould was a Paleontologist, you complete pillock! Why would you expect him to be in a Biology Lab?

"I’m sure Behe knows more about biochemistry and even genetics than the late SJ."

Then Behe should have stuck to Biochemistry. He clearly knows next to nothing about Evolutionary Biology, or the inner workings of his claimed examples of Irreducible Complexity.


I'm sorry competence is such a red button issue for you, but I'm happy to drop it, if you're willing to apply your own standard consistently and censure evolutionists who stray beyond their exact field of expertise. Indeed, you should put a ban on all philosophers who have contributed one way or another to the ID-evolution debate. If you don't agree to this, then, to use your language, your own position lacks 'credibility'.

5:02 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"But it looks like an argument for saying that population genetics can't really contribute to an understanding of actual evolutionary history, but only to stuff that can approximate the p.g.'s standard models in a laboratory or perhaps a computer simulation."

Population genetics contributes to the understanding of how evolutionary mechanisms (e.g. natural selection, genetic drift, mutation, and gene flow) influence evolutionary outcomes (e.g. speciation and adaptation).

It does not purport to be some grand calculation of the probability of life - that is impossible. Statistics only have meaning within tightly constrained rules - outside these constraints they are just so much meaningless voodoo.

5:58 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"But evolutionary theory isn't committed to any particular age of the earth, as long as it's vaguely 'very old'."

Why should it be? Evolutionary Theory is a theory of change not of origins. It makes no sense for such a theory to state that "life came into existence on April 3, 344,567,221 BC."

1) This is outside Evolutionary Theory's area of expertise.

2) The fossil evidence is (due to the fact that the early life-forms were extremely small and lacked skeletons) very thin, so it becomes difficult to accurately map out life's history that far back.

Similarly, although we know a voluminous amount about the latter history of the Roman Republic and Empire, we have considerably thinner information on the origins of Rome.

6:07 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"I'm sorry competence is such a red button issue for you, but I'm happy to drop it, if you're willing to apply your own standard consistently and censure evolutionists who stray beyond their exact field of expertise."

I will happily condemn them, if you are first able to prove their incompetence in the field they are straying into. Behe's incompetence in Immunology has been established on this forum. Dembski's incompetence in Information Theory has been established by such luminaries as Wolpert, as well as many lesser figures (e.g. Shallit).

"Indeed, you should put a ban on all philosophers who have contributed one way or another to the ID-evolution debate."

No we should not! The definition of what is, and what is not, science is legitimately within the field of Philosophy of Science. One of Behe's most incompetent pieces of expert testimony at Dover was when he attempted to stray into this area.

6:18 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"...then the earth's age becomes mostly intellectual window dressing to scare creationists."

No. The Earth's Age explicitly disproves the contentions of YECs. The fact that the scientific evidence proves that humans evolved from earlier apes, earlier, primates, earlier mammals, earlier reptiles, earlier amphibians, earlier fish, earlier vertebrates and earlier invertebrates hundreds of millions of years before the fossil record peters out explicitly disproves OECs.

A specific date when it all began is unnecessary.

6:30 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

hrafn said:

Population genetics contributes to the understanding of how evolutionary mechanisms (e.g. natural selection, genetic drift, mutation, and gene flow) influence evolutionary outcomes (e.g. speciation and adaptation).

It does not purport to be some grand calculation of the probability of life - that is impossible. Statistics only have meaning within tightly constrained rules - outside these constraints they are just so much meaningless voodoo.


Agreed. So, if population genetics is as self-contained from the project of evolutionary theory as you suggest, it could be equally used to 'contribute to an understanding' of some competing theory?

6:45 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

tempus fugit:

What I am asking for is that we rely on people who have expertise, either by training (e.g. a PhD in the area) or by experience (having performed research and/or taught university-level classes in the area), above those who don't.

Michael Behe is a Biochemist, with neither qualifications nor experience in Evolutionary Biology, Immunology, Microbiology or Philosophy of Science (his undergraduate degree & tenure were in Chemistry, his PhD in Biochemistry).

William Dembski is a Mathematician/Apologist/Theologian with neither qualifications nor experience in Information Theory or Evolutionary Biology.

6:49 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"So, if population genetics is as self-contained from the project of evolutionary theory as you suggest, it could be equally used to 'contribute to an understanding' of some competing theory?"

If such a "competing theory" would propose mechanisms and outcomes on which population genetics could act. ID has steadfastly refused to proffer such mechanisms, so p.g. has nothing to work with.

6:56 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

hrafn said:

I will happily condemn them, if you are first able to prove their incompetence in the field they are straying into. Behe's incompetence in Immunology has been established on this forum. Dembski's incompetence in Information Theory has been established by such luminaries as Wolpert, as well as many lesser figures (e.g. Shallit).

I won't bore you with details, and you can choose to disbelieve me, but it is very easy to show that evolutionists don't know much about human-based phenomena. At least they write as if social science had never existed.

I'm curious your reference to Wolpert as refuting Dembski. Do you mean Lewis Wolpert the embryologist, or some other Wolpert?

hrafn then said:

No we should not! The definition of what is, and what is not, science is legitimately within the field of Philosophy of Science. One of Behe's most incompetent pieces of expert testimony at Dover was when he attempted to stray into this area.

Actually there is considerable disagreement within philosophy of science about the nature of science, so that whenever a philosopher has testified on these matters (on either side: think Ruse and Fuller) he has been roundly criticised. And as for guys like Dennett, who is really a philosopher of mind who happens to be infatuated with Darwinism, he's not really talking about the nature of science. He's simply promoting Darwinism as a universal metaphysics. Surely, you'd condemn such behaviour as straying beyond his expertise.

6:56 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

hrafn said:

No. The Earth's Age explicitly disproves the contentions of YECs. The fact that the scientific evidence proves that humans evolved from earlier apes, earlier, primates, earlier mammals, earlier reptiles, earlier amphibians, earlier fish, earlier vertebrates and earlier invertebrates hundreds of millions of years before the fossil record peters out explicitly disproves OECs.

A specific date when it all began is unnecessary.


Agreed: The exact age of the earth makes a difference only to young earth creationists but not to evolutionists.

In that case, I'm struggling to identify a point at which someone like yourself would admit that evolution has been falsified. Or, perhaps, you might answer under what circumstances would you give up on natural selection, since your previous messages have implied that you see evolution as involving several processes besides natural selection. Are any of these scientific beliefs of yours falsifiable?

7:11 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"I won't bore you with details, and you can choose to disbelieve me, but it is very easy to show that evolutionists don't know much about human-based phenomena."

And I could probably match you with examples of Creationists who are similarly ignorant. There are no doubt Evolutionists out there who say some very silly things. When I come across them, I will probably condemn them (as I have in the past). Until I do, this whole thing is purely hypothetical.

"I'm curious your reference to Wolpert as refuting Dembski. Do you mean Lewis Wolpert the embryologist, or some other Wolpert?"

No, I mean David Wolpert, co-creator of the No Free Lunch Theorems, on which Dembski based his book of the same name. Wolpert described this book as "written in jello" for its lack of anything resembling mathematical rigor. He also explicitly stated that these theorems could not rule out evolutionary mechanisms.

"Actually there is considerable disagreement within philosophy of science about the nature of science..."

Yes, but none of the competing definitions that have received any credibility have admitted ID as science. The definition that Behe incompetently proposed was discredited when it was pointed out that it would also admit Astrology.

Oh and Fuller isn't a Philosopher, he's a Sociologist.

7:13 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"In that case, I'm struggling to identify a point at which someone like yourself would admit that evolution has been falsified. Or, perhaps, you might answer under what circumstances would you give up on natural selection, since your previous messages have implied that you see evolution as involving several processes besides natural selection. Are any of these scientific beliefs of yours falsifiable?"

The original strict Gradualism of Darwin's original Theory of Evolution has been falsified by Punctuated Equilibria (which has itself been further buttressed by advances in Population Genetics). The list of mechanisms beyond Natural Selection goes back at least to the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis (which was developed round about the 1940s). Some elements of the MES have apparently been since falsified and/or superceded by more recent developments (e.g. Evo-Devo), but I am not up to speed on that, and am basing this on comments made by Allen MacNeill (on both his own blog & on Uncommon Descent).

7:24 am  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

hrafn said:


"Actually there is considerable disagreement within philosophy of science about the nature of science..."

Yes, but none of the competing definitions that have received any credibility have admitted ID as science. The definition that Behe incompetently proposed was discredited when it was pointed out that it would also admit Astrology.

Oh and Fuller isn't a Philosopher, he's a Sociologist.



Thanks for the clarification about Wolpert.

With regard to Behe, you're saying that he was asked by the opposing lawyer to venture an opinion related to the philosophy of science. I would have thought you would be the first to object to the lawyer even raising the question, given Behe's lack of credentialsin the area. Behe's answer may not have been brilliant but it wasn't his idea to talk about the philosophy of science under oath.

As for Fuller's credentials, his Ph.D. is in History and Philosophy of Science, not Sociology. Most of his writing is in this area too. Where people hold chairs is often different from how they were trained, especially if their work tends to be interdisciplinary. Since you insist on playing this competence game, you should get the facts straight.

7:26 am  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"With regard to Behe, you're saying that he was asked by the opposing lawyer to venture an opinion related to the philosophy of science."

No. The opinion was contained in Behe's pre-prepared 'expert report.' The opposing lawyer merely cross-examined him on its contents.

"Behe's answer may not have been brilliant but it wasn't his idea to talk about the philosophy of science under oath."

Yes it was his idea.

Fuller is self-described as being a "Social Epistemologist," and his testimony at the Dover trial was far more from the viewpoint of a Sociologist of Science than that of a Philosopher of Science. But really, this is getting down to the level of nit-picking.

7:49 am  
Blogger creeper said...

"The fact that the flagellum works well without the bacterium in the lab says nothing about how it got to be attached to the bacterium in the first place."

Exactly. It merely provides a possibility which can then be explored further - a possibility that IDers say doesn't exist, hence necessitating the designer. If you look at it that way, actually it does say something about this, namely that since the organism is not irreducibly complex, it doesn't necessitate a designer.

"Irreducible complexity is primarily a thesis about the origins, not the maintenance, of design."

Isn't that the other way around? Design is primarily a thesis about the origins of irreducibly complex organisms?

"In fact, it is precisely on this point that ID is continuous with creationism."

ID is more continuous with creationism than its adherents generally like to admit in public. Leaving aside the lunacy of YEC, where would you draw the line between ID and creationism?

"What do you imagine would lie outside a 'naturalistic explanation' that was at the same time testable? Do I hear a thundering silence?"

Absolutely, because there is no such thing. But you're skipping over the fundamental ID sleight of hand: ID purports to demonstrate the necessity for a designer, NOT that that designer is a supernatural one.

As long as IDers are scientifically trying to demonstrate the necessity for a designer and are being coy about whether that designer is supernatural or not, they don't get a free pass from having to apply scientific methods to gain acceptance of their alleged scientific hypothesis.

And once they posit that the designer is a supernatural one, they are well outside the realm of science anyway.

8:28 am  
Blogger allygally said...

I said:

"It is not the job of science to disprove ID, it is the job of the those who cling to ID, to prove that their hypothesis is;

a. Science.

b. Correct.

To do that they have to do experiments, provide evidence, submit to peer review...... etc. and etc."

Tempus said:

"This is the second time I've raised something on this blog and the response given has been to shift the burden of proof,...."

It is not shifting the burden of proof. EVolution is the prominent theory, supported by virtually all practicing scientists in relevant disciplines. In the last decade some people have claimed that the design inference (a religious proposition)is (in the guise of ID) science. But, as science, ID is a very weak hypothesis. In particular, there have been no experiments and no scientifically peer reviewed papers on ID or its main components, SC and IC. A "scientific" hypothesis which is not supported by experiment and peer review is very quickly discredited.. ID is discreditied among scientists. It has no serious supporters outside its religious apologists...

"It seems that at most that your condescending remarks show that ID may be wrong, but you haven't shown that evolutionists are right"

It is not condescending to point out that a hypothesis needs to prove itself. Thats's the hard fact of science. If you do not understand that then I cannot help you.

Pointing out that you are mistaken is not being condescending either. In fact is being helpful to you in pointing out your misapprehension.

"In fact, my increasing suspicion as I watch evolutionists interact that ID defenders is that ID people have erred only in overestimating how much the evolutionists have nailed down -- and thus have overstated their own challenge. As your own remarks indicate, all evolutionists have provided is a demonstration of how the flagellum might have evolved independently of the bacterium. In that case, it would have been enough for Behe to argue that evolutionists can't prove the flagellum actually did evolve this way"

Read my lips. Scientists do not have to disprove ID. ID has to prove ID. It has not done so. There are no experiments, in 10 years no new facts - in fact no progress at all, no peer reviewed papers. Nothing. Nada. Zero and zilch. This is not condescension it is fact.

"Unfortunately, he made the much stronger claim that it could not, which opened him to the ridicule displayed to ID defenders on this blog."

Behe said that, in order to include ID, the definition of science would have to be stretched to include other ideas such as astrology. If this si not an admission the ID is religion, it's as close as can be.

9:48 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Of course, all of the foregoing only goes to show that the real argument is not about evolution, it is about the scientific method.

Evolution gets attacked by fundementalists because it undermines their faith. But the real disagreement is with the method of reaching scientific "truth". If we can find the "truth" of the natural world, using the scientific method, without help from the priests, and if that truth shows religious myths to be just that, it must be frightening to those who believe those myths to be the only form of truth.

As for ID, if it is to be accepted as science, it must conform to the scientific method..see here;

http://teacher.pas.rochester.edu/phy_labs/AppendixE/AppendixE.html

In fact, ID avoids the scientific method like the plague..... it has observation (if I see a watch upon the ground), it has a hypothesis of sorts (godddidit), but, ten years after it was first proposed, it has no experiment, no results to check, no prediction to test, no peer review..therefore is is not a viable scientific hypothesis.

ID is not science...not because of some anti-ID prejudice among the scientific community, but because proponents of ID do not submit their "hypothesis" to the scientific method.

Which makes it all the more ironic when supporters of ID as a scientific idea come up with statements like this from Tempus Fugit;

"I don’t recall anyone in the ID community arguing that evolution is not a fruitful research programme. The question is whether science is best served by evolution being the only research programme allowed."

THERE IS NO RESEARCH PROGRAMME SUPPORTING ID. THERE IS NO RESEARCH AT ALL SUPPORTING ID. THERE ARE NO PEER REVIEWED PAPERS IN RESPECTABLE SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS SUPPORTING, OR EVEN ARGUING THE CASE FOR, ID.

ID is a political programme aimed at undermining science teaching...

And it is becoming more discredited by the day. See here:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/11/casey_luskins_s.html#more

I posted this page earlier. It shows the desparate vacuuity of current ID thinking, but no IDer seems to have made any comment on it. Andrew? Tempus? What do you think?

9:58 am  
Blogger allygally said...

Sorry for all the shouting on the previous post. It just seems to me some people are difficult to get through to...

10:11 am  
Blogger creeper said...

Just a little assist:

"In fact, ID avoids the scientific method like the plague..... it has observation (if I see a watch upon the ground), it has a hypothesis of sorts (godddidit), but, ten years after it was first proposed, it has no experiment, no results to check, no prediction to test, no peer review..therefore is is not a viable scientific hypothesis."

It's a lot worse than that, allygally. The design argument including the watchmaker analogy predates Darwin's theory of evolution. It was first published around 1800 and may have been around even earlier.

And still: "no experiment, no results to check, no prediction to test, no peer review"...

3:38 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

creper said:

"The design argument including the watchmaker analogy predates Darwin's theory of evolution. It was first published around 1800 and may have been around even earlier."

You're right of course. I hinted at that in my answer (if I see a watch upon the ground..). The PRETENCE that the design inference is science, i.e the so-called "theory" of intelligent design is about ten years old.

BTW, before Darwin became widely accepted as the dominant scientific theory there might have been some excuse for an intelligent person to give some credence to the design inference... but not after...

5:27 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

The whole weight of evidence against evolution (ID) lies in a postulate that an intruigingly complex natural mechanism (flagellum) is evidence for divine intervention in the natural world because it is allegedly un-evolvable.

Insofar as present evolutionary knowledge is able to offer a plausible (not definitive) explanatory mechanism for the evolution of the flagellum it would seem reasonable to assume that the argument for ID is, at best, wanting. Evolution cannot give a day-by-day account of the process sufficient to satisfy the nay-sayers but neither does it require (yet) a detailed counter-argument from ID to be taken seriously. It just has to be based in science and reality.

The problem is that since it's initial claims to scientific enlightenmemt the ID theorists have been deafeningly silent in elaborating on their 'science'. Is an explanation for their claims really too much to ask for?

Perhaps nobody is listening to them any more?

10:36 pm  
Anonymous tempus fugit said...

I have found these last few comments not as interesting as you might have hoped.

It's certainly true that ID does itself no favours as a scientific movement by defending Behe's book chapter and verse, even though guys like Luskin seem to be aware of the empirical difficulties. After all, everything in Origin of Species isn't correct either, yet evolution continued. ID shouldn't stake its entire future on one or two books published only in the last ten years.

But my main observation is that it's also pretty clear that evolutionists -- at least the main bloggers -- are really more interested in obliterating ID than criticising its tenets. I can't for the life of me imagine what evolutionists gain from the high-handed moralism and endless accusations of deception, etc. hurled at ID proponents. This is simply preaching to the converted, and is unlikely to make ID people more forthcoming and open in discussion with you.

I also wonder whether it will have much positive effect on the fence-sitters. You can make all the intellectual criticisms you want without resorting to these endless attempts at personality assassination. They get quite boring after awhile, and they are bound to lose sympathy for your side, regardless of the merits of your arguments

2:49 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"...are really more interested in obliterating ID than criticising its tenets."

This is hardly surprising. ID's "tenets," such as they are, were thoroughly debunked years ago. Given that the ID movement simply ignores this fact, what option is there left other than a no-holds-bared demolition of ID?

"I can't for the life of me imagine what evolutionists gain from the high-handed moralism and endless accusations of deception, etc. hurled at ID proponents."

What we hope to gain is drawing attention to the pervasive dishonesty of this movement.

3:55 pm  
Anonymous Brian said...

"ID shouldn't stake its entire future on one or two books published only in the last ten years."

I'm glad someone in the ID camp has finally woken up to this fact.

As for criticising the tenets of ID; that is all ID is - a doctrine. No principles, no methodology, no research, no science.

Every notional idea that has been proposed by ID has been adequately explained by genuine natural science. No voodoo necessary. Yet ID continues to claim the righteous high ground on the basis that working scientists refuse to give their nonsense any valid consideration. Should the flat-earth believers be given credibility as well?

Science is no longer the preserve of the wealthy elite. It's a serious and competetive endeavour for which funding is difficult to come by. If ID wishes to engage with scientists they can easily do so by undertaking some. Not even the lure of funding from the Templeton Foundation (with no strings) could persuade them to take this leap in to the unknown. You have to ask yourself why?

Yet again you mischaracterise the situation; ID is criticised by intellectuals (scientists) in defence of the barrage of criticism that comes from ID'ers who perpetuate the same old de-bunked ideas.

As you rightly pointed out TF, scientific arguments for evolution do have merit. That is based on the fact that they are always under review and modified by new knowledge. Scientists actually relish making new discoveries and overturning established ideas but it takes more than a notional idea to do so - it takes real work - not politics.

If ID had ever made good on its claims there would have been a queue of real scientists applying to Templeton. I guess they're still waiting!

5:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, just what is everyone talking about with the stuff about an experiment where the flagellum is functional without the bacterium?

There is no such experiment, Matt Inlay never said there was, and even if there were, it wouldn't say anything about evolution, because the flagellum had to evolve in the genome of a bacterium, not floating alone in total isolation.

4:34 am  
Anonymous Brian said...

I may be speculating here but I think it may be possible to seperate the flagellum from the bacteria in the lab and make it function. This probably explains why some people think it 'appeared' (hence designed) and was utilised by bacteria rather than being a mechanism that evolved as part of the bacteria.

10:33 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

I agree with the previous Anonymous commenter here. Seperating the flagellum from the bacteria is irrelevant to the evolution of the flagellum or otherwise.

11:10 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Creeper,

Sorry you have had to wait so long for a reply!

I think Nick Matzke has done the best job that can be done at this stage but I think it will collapse when the selective advantages of the intermediates that he proposes are actually examined.

3:04 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally,

You said:
"Because when real scientists do the real scientific work and show how the baterial flagellum could have evolved, another gap will close and god will have to find somewhere else to hide."

How do you come to the certainty that there are no real gaps that need intelligence to cross?

3:07 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Matt,

Thank you for your question.
The issues as I see them are as follows:

1. How many of the parts of the flagellum are necessary for a selectively advantageous motor function?

2. Of these essential parts how tightly is their structure contstrained so that the selective advantage remains.

3. How far is the genetic distance between the selective constraints of the parts which are essential and their known homologues.

4. Is it possible to calculate an acceptable distance based on the time available to allow this transition to occur?

5. Is it possible to reconstruct the step of gaining rotary selective advantage?

3:26 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Matt,

You said:
"Do scientists have a model for the evolution of the flagellum? Yes. Does the model make explicit hypotheses that can be experimentally tested? Yes. Have those tests been conducted? Yes. Do the results support their model? Yes."

Are you referring to Matske's model?
Are you referring to the TTSS?

3:33 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,
I agree with Allen MacNeill to some degree. I think there are a number of philosophical point that are also tied up in the origin debate that no amount of experimentation will settle however.

5:04 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Hrafn,
You said:
"The majority of the names you mention are genuine research scientists, with long resumes of published research to back up their claims and their credibility."

But they are speaking well outside their area of speciality when they talk about the evolution of the bacterial flagellum. That was my point.

5:38 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"But they are speaking well outside their area of speciality when they talk about the evolution of the bacterial flagellum."

Andrew:

I was originally speaking in terms of evolution generally. You only originally discussed the flagellum in context of Nick Matzke only.

I'm not intimately aware of everybody on your list's qualifications, what they may have said (on the flagellum and/or evolution in general).

So, unless you are prepared to make SPECIFIC accusations, about what somebody specific said and why they aren't qualified to say it, then I'M NOT INTERESTED!

At first glance, I would suspect that the majority of the names on your list are better qualified than Behe (and probably any other IDer) to speak on any Evolutionary subject you could think of.

6:31 am  
Blogger Matt said...

Andrew, sorry for not responding sooner, you wrote:
"Are you [Matt] referring to Matske's model?
Are you referring to the TTSS?"


Yes, but I wouldn't go so far to attribute the model that Nick Matzke describes entirely to him. From my impression, most of that is a summary of what others have claimed, and Nick takes it a little further.

Please go through my list of questions and see which ones ID has answered.

In regards to the 5 issues you mention, while I appreciate the fact that you're asking questions, how many of them are directly related to the notion that life on Earth was designed by an intelligent agent? They all seem to be focused on the perceived constraints of evolution. Do you have a model for the origin of the flagellum by intelligent design? How do the questions you ask flow logically from that model?

12:14 am  

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