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What's the mechanism by which intelligence designs?

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posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 06:05 PM
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Assuming, arguendo, that there is an intelligence responsible for at least part of what we observe about living organisms (other than the intelligence of those organisms themselves, that is), by what means does this intelligence manifest its designs? It seems to me this is an important thing for ID folks to determine, if they want their ideas to be taken seriously as scientific theory.

Here's what I mean. In current evolution theory, we explain the evolution of new forms of life over generations through the mechanisms of mutation, natural selection, genetic transferrence, and punctuated equilibrium. All of these are known and observable mechanisms, that is, we know that they happen. Current theory is that they account for speciation. Current theory may, of course, be incomplete, and ID advocates assert that it is.

But if so, one must ask for the substitute and/or additional mechanism by which, in their view, the alleged intelligent designer implements its design. Is it one or more of the above mechanisms operating differently than current theory would suppose? If so, which one(s), and how does it operate differently?

Or is there some new, unrecognized natural mechanism whereby intelligent design is implemented? If so, what is it and how does it operate?

I await the answers with much anticipation.




posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 07:00 PM
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I will address your particular questions here in this thread, but I would ask that further inquiries be directed to one of the numerous ID threads that already exist.

Your question in particular would likely fit in best here or perhaps here. In both the cases the author of the thread, Rren has done a good job making and referencing his assertions. Many of your initial questions may be answered in these threads.


Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
Assuming, arguendo, that there is an intelligence responsible for at least part of what we observe about living organisms (other than the intelligence of those organisms themselves, that is), by what means does this intelligence manifest its designs? It seems to me this is an important thing for ID folks to determine, if they want their ideas to be taken seriously as scientific theory.

Hmmm... not sure if I understand your question correctly, but I'll take a crack at it. The 'intelligence' manifests itself via detectable design. The only thing being tested for via the theory is the suggestion of design.


Here's what I mean. In current evolution theory, we explain the evolution of new forms of life over generations through the mechanisms of mutation, natural selection, genetic transferrence, and punctuated equilibrium. All of these are known and observable mechanisms, that is, we know that they happen. Current theory is that they account for speciation. Current theory may, of course, be incomplete, and ID advocates assert that it is.

Who are we? Are you an evolutionary scientist?

First of all: Punctuated Eq. hasn't been observed, it's been inferred from evidence that seems to contradict that gradual evolutionary mechanisms postulated via traditional Darwinian and Neo-Darwinian Theories (NDT).

ID makes no assumption about the ability of natural selection to create species. Many IDists, have no problem with many of the hypotheses that can be found under the description "common descent." For example, Mike Behe, pretty much believes that apes and humans share a common ancestor. He further believes that the hemoglobin-myoglobin and other notable systems most likely evolved in a manner similar to that described by mainstream science. Of the items you mentioned, the ID does not disagree with or oppose the following:

  1. mutation
  2. natural selection
  3. genetic "transferrance"

So, ID doesn't stand in opposition to any of the actual observable things you've mentioned.


But if so, one must ask for the substitute and/or additional mechanism by which, in their view, the alleged intelligent designer implements its design. Is it one or more of the above mechanisms operating differently than current theory would suppose? If so, which one(s), and how does it operate differently?


IMPO, ID doesn't compete with evolutionary theory necessarily. If you're somelike Phil Johnson, it does, but if you're someone like Mike Behe it doesn't.

IDT is very specifically an origins theory. ID doesn't attempt to explain a 'mechanism' by which something came to be. It seeks to infer design from certain components of biological systems that thus far, appear to have no reasonable mechanism via which they could have arisen using existing bases of hypothesis. So... IDT more correctly competes with theories of abiogenesis as opposed to evolutionary theories... except of course in Kansas, and Pennsylvania, and a several other states.

This statement is somewhat misleading however, since technically, Creation Science does fall under the broad banner of ID. Thus people that accept a literal interpretation of Genesis can and DO consider themselves to be IDTists. However those people still utilize IDT as an origins theory based on their disbelief in the idea of common descent. My point is that most people that are both 'credible' scientists so to speak, and IDTists likely accept much of mainstreams science's conclusions regarding common descent, the age of the earth, etc.



I await the answers with much anticipation.

Hopefully these responses will get you started. Please feel free to rebut any of my assertions that you wish, but it would make things more convenient if you could do this in one of the threads I linked above. Furthermore, a lot of anti ID people have been on those threads and likely subscribe to them. You might be more likely to get a different response there than that which I've provided you with here.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 07:13 PM
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Originally posted by mattison0922
I will address your particular questions here in this thread, but I would ask that further inquiries be directed to one of the numerous ID threads that already exist.


Neither of the threads you linked dealt with the question I am asking here. They dealt, rather, with ways to make ID falsifiable, or the application of it to protein structures. As best I can tell, the question hasn't been asked yet.



Hmmm... not sure if I understand your question correctly, but I'll take a crack at it. The 'intelligence' manifests itself via detectable design.


No good. What I'm asking for is this. Forget for the moment trying to demonstrate that nature requires a designer. Assume that there's a designer, that this has already (somehow) been demonstrated.

Now, please explain to me how the designer implements the design.

Let me put it another way. This post is evidence of intelligent design. That's perfectly true; I'm intelligent and I designed it. I implemented my design by means of a computer. I logged onto the internet, navigated to this board's URL and this thread, typed words that expressed what I meant to say, and clicked the "Post Reply" button.

Some people also claim that cellular structures, or species complexity, or whatever, is evidence of intelligent design. All right, let's assume they're right. What is the mechanism, analogous to my use of a computer to log this post, whereby the designer implements its design? Is this a natural process or a supernatural one? If it's supernatural, then we've left the realm of science behind. If it's natural, what natural process are we talking about?



IMPO, ID doesn't compete with evolutionary theory necessarily.


Yes, it does, because it requires the addition of elements which evolutionary theory does not recognize. In other words, at the very least ID claims that evolution is incomplete.



IDT is very specifically an origins theory. ID doesn't attempt to explain a 'mechanism' by which something came to be.


It needs to, though.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 07:31 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
Neither of the threads you linked dealt with the question I am asking here. They dealt, rather, with ways to make ID falsifiable, or the application of it to protein structures. As best I can tell, the question hasn't been asked yet.

Fair enough. We can talk about your issue in your thread.



No good. What I'm asking for is this. Forget for the moment trying to demonstrate that nature requires a designer. Assume that there's a designer, that this has already (somehow) been demonstrated.
I can't assume that a designer's been proven... scientifically that is. I can infer that the designer exists by detecting design. That's the only thing that ID attempts to do... infer design.



Some people also claim that cellular structures, or species complexity, or whatever, is evidence of intelligent design. All right, let's assume they're right. What is the mechanism, analogous to my use of a computer to log this post, whereby the designer implements its design? Is this a natural process or a supernatural one? If it's supernatural, then we've left the realm of science behind. If it's natural, what natural process are we talking about?
While it might be an interesting question, it is specifically outside of the realm of science to determine this mechanism. The point is that there doesn't appear to be a mechanism. Thus ID proponents detect design, not the designer, not the mechanism of design.

Irrespective of what you think ID should do, the theory is based around the idea of detecting design... period. Asking it to do something else is not reasonable and diliberately obscures the issue.

BTW, as long as IDT operates within the realm of methodological naturalism, its metaphysical presuppositions are irrelevant. IDT is perfectly capable of operating within the realm of methodological naturalism... a point that is repeatedly addressed in the threads I referred you to.



IMPO, ID doesn't compete with evolutionary theory necessarily.


Yes, it does, because it requires the addition of elements which evolutionary theory does not recognize. In other words, at the very least ID claims that evolution is incomplete.

Ummm... no it says that mechanisms proposed by evolutionary theory are inadequate for the description of some complex biological systems.

Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but it's true. There is no reasonable explanation for the gradual development of a system such as photosynthesis, or electron transport, or even one of the proton pumps involved with either pathway. Unless of course you've been keeping secrets from the rest of us in science.



IDT is very specifically an origins theory. ID doesn't attempt to explain a 'mechanism' by which something came to be.


It needs to, though.

Ummmm... it is required to do only what it is required to do by definition. Not what Two Steps Forward says it's required to do. Perhaps you can email Dembski and petition him though. Perhaps he'll change the definition of the theory in the newest editions of his books to satisfy your particular set of wants and desires.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 07:55 PM
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Originally posted by mattison0922
I can't assume that a designer's been proven... scientifically that is.


Sure you can. That kind of thing is done all the time in science. Of course, you still have to show evidence for your theory. But if you don't make some wild-guess assumptions early on, you never get to even have a theory to test. And that's really what I'm saying about ID: It's not a theory.



While it might be an interesting question, it is specifically outside of the realm of science to determine this mechanism. The point is that there doesn't appear to be a mechanism.


Then you don't appear to have a theory.

See, if you want to call something "Intelligent Design Theory," then it needs to actually explain something. It isn't sufficient to criticize or poke holes in existing evolutionary theory.

Not that there's anything wrong with doing that per se! It's quite important, actually. And it would be very surprising indeed if current theory was complete and perfect. Certainly Darwin's original theory wasn't. Science has added a lot of elements to it since his day. And if you want to suggest that current theory still needs some stuff added to it, or may be wrong in some particulars, you're probably on solid ground.

But just as the "theory of evolution" is not just the idea that evolution happens, but a lot of specifics about HOW it happens, in the same way, if you want to call something "intelligent design theory," it needs to be something more than the idea that intelligent design happens. It needs to go into a lot of specifics about HOW it happens. Otherwise, it's not a theory.

I'll give you an analogous situation from the history of physics. This web site describes some empirical tests of Einstein's theory of gravitation where it diverges from Newton's. One of these phenomena, the advance of perihelion in Mercury's orbit, had already been observed, and was a known flaw in Newton's theory.

Yet, even though everone knew about that flaw, nobody in science was willing to just toss Newton on the ashcan without a decent replacement. His physics worked in too many ways to do that. For a while, scientists speculated about the existence of some undiscovered planet inside the orbit of Mercury that was pulling its orbit off-kilter, which was bogus of course, but better than giving up on a body of theory that was incredibly useful.

What allowed physicists to finally bid Newton a fond and honored fairwell was that Einstein came up with a body of theory that was just as useful, but lacked the flaws.

If ID advocates want to replace (or even modify) the theory of evolution as it currently exists, they need to do more than point out that it has flaws. They need to offer a replacement, something just as good at explaining things, but lacking the flaws.

In other words, they need an "intelligent design theory" that actually deserves the name.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 09:38 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
Sure you can. That kind of thing is done all the time in science.

Really? Hmmm... Geez that's news to me. What journals do you follow where a designer of biological systems has been proven scientifically? That one wasn't in Nature or Science.


Of course, you still have to show evidence for your theory. But if you don't make some wild-guess assumptions early on, you never get to even have a theory to test. And that's really what I'm saying about ID: It's not a theory.

Oh okay, I see... another one of these semantics threads.


What scientific theories are based on 'wild guess assumptions?' Certainly none that I am aware of. Here's some news for you: scientific theories are based on hypothesis, observation, and testing, not wild guess assumptions. Which currently extant scientific theories are based on wild guess assumptions? That's totally ludicrous. If you ever tried to get a grant based on a 'wild guess assumption,' you'd be out of business.




Then you don't appear to have a theory.

Untrue.

In certain cases design is the most parsimonius assumption. Richard Dawkins, noted proponent of evolutionary theories states that it's reasonable to infer design, there are NO reasonable explanations for the origins of certain biological systems via natural selection. Yet NS is assumed to have created it... seems like a pretty serious violation of parsimony and Occam's Razor to me.


See, if you want to call something "Intelligent Design Theory," then it needs to actually explain something.
It does. It attempts to explain the origins of complex biological systems.


It isn't sufficient to criticize or poke holes in existing evolutionary theory.
It doesn't... now seems to be a perfect time to ask a question that I ask of people who claim to understand so much about ID.

Which ID materials have you read? Which books, articles, or websites that explain ID theory have you read? Your posting seems to indicate little to none.


It's quite important, actually. And it would be very surprising indeed if current theory was complete and perfect. Certainly Darwin's original theory wasn't. Science has added a lot of elements to it since his day. And if you want to suggest that current theory still needs some stuff added to it, or may be wrong in some particulars, you're probably on solid ground.


Okay... so then what's your beef with approaching the problem from a different basis of hypothesis, provided the constraints of methodological naturalism are not violated?


But just as the "theory of evolution" is not just the idea that evolution happens, but a lot of specifics about HOW it happens, in the same way, if you want to call something "intelligent design theory," it needs to be something more than the idea that intelligent design happens. It needs to go into a lot of specifics about HOW it happens. Otherwise, it's not a theory.

That's ridiculous. The theory of gravity doesn't explain how gravity happens. Big Bang theory doesn't explain how the singularity came to exist. So I guess we can forget about the theory of gravity and the theory of the big bang. However, if it makes you happy, how about we refer to it as the intelligent design hypothesis. Does that make you happy?


If ID advocates want to replace (or even modify) the theory of evolution as it currently exists, they need to do more than point out that it has flaws. They need to offer a replacement, something just as good at explaining things, but lacking the flaws.

In other words, they need an "intelligent design theory" that actually deserves the name.


IDT isn't seeking to replace the theory of evolution. If you were familiar with the theory, you'd realize that many aspects of ET coincide quite nicely with IDT. IDT is about more than pointing out flaws; of course you'd know this if you'd read any IDT.

Behe has proposed testable hypotheses. Dembski has proposed a 'rubric' for inferring design from complex systems.

But I agree. If ID want's any respect from mainstream science, it has to produce some hard data. ID has very produced very little in terms of actual peer reviewed stuff, and the papers that are out there are more philosophy than science. But I don't believe that is due so much to the scientific status of the theory as much as it is due to the political environment surrounding ID.

I wouldn't publically come out in support of ID, even with a letter to the editor. Biology jobs are too tough to come by to let something as ridiculous as your opinion on origins science get you fired. I will NEVER speak publically about this stuff until I am tenured, and maybe not even then... you've still got to get grants. In any case, that the ID movement hasn't produced much in terms of hard data, says nothing about the scientific status of the theory... oh sorry... hypothesis.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 11:00 PM
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Two Steps Forward

Perhaps you are the designer. Or, at the very least a co-author of it. Quantum phycisists with various specialities seem to be leaning towards a concept that matter is not matter at all. Matter is energy, condensed light, behaving in a fashion that is chaotic, until observed. If intelligent design exists, you may in fact be a contributor to the design, and the designer of observation as well.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 11:08 PM
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Originally posted by mattison0922
Really? Hmmm... Geez that's news to me. What journals do you follow where a designer of biological systems has been proven scientifically? That one wasn't in Nature or Science.


You're missing the point. I'm not saying that a designer HAS BEEN proven. I'm saying that if you want to devise a real intelligent design theory, you should start by assuming that there IS a designer, but see that as the beginning, not the end.

Evidence is found in support of a theory after it's developed. The evidence doesn't dictate the theory in every particular, step by step. The human mind just doesn't work that way. Someone gets an insight based on clues. The insight is formulated logically, and in many sciences mathematically (although that's kind of difficult in macrobiology). The theory predicts many things that have NOT been proven, as well as explaining things that have. In fact, it's supposed to. This has two virtues. One, it allows the theory to be verified by further observation and/or experimentation. And two, it makes the theory more useful, by explaining things beyond its original intent.

All right. You have an insight, that the observed nature of life requires an element of intelligent design. Now. How does that intelligence manifest? Does it dictate every particular of the nature of life, or simply influence the processes already described by evolution theory?

I really shouldn't answer for you, but let's assume for the moment that the second idea is true -- that ID is only part of the process, not the whole. Now, in what way is the process of evolution bent to produce the observed results? Is it through one of the known forces of nature? Or is there a hitherto-unknown force involved? Or something other than a force altogether, and if so how does this whatever-it-is operate? What are the rules governing its operation? What might we expect from this creative intelligence in the future? In what other areas might it manifest besides the evolution of life? How would we verify its impact on those areas?

This is what an intelligent design theory (a real one) needs to provide. And it doesn't have to all be proven ahead of time, either. All it has to do is logically explain the results you've observed that, in your belief, make current evolution theory flawed -- and reach out beyond those results to make predictions about other things you haven't observed yet. In verifying the operation of intelligent design, as specified by the theory, we will implicitly verify the designer. But first, we need some specific ideas about how the designing works.

It should be possible to produce a genuine intelligent design theory. Why don't you give it a try?


Oh okay, I see... another one of these semantics threads.



Semantics, i.e. what words mean, is important. If you're speaking in the context of science, and you use the word "theory," you are using a word with a specific meaning.



What scientific theories are based on 'wild guess assumptions?'


All of them, in their formulation. Every last one. Those assumptions have in many cases been verified since then. But at the time the theories were created, there was no proof of them.

Newton started with the wild guess assumption that the motion of objects in the heavens was governed by the same rules as the motion of objects on earth, even though prevailing wisdom held otherwise. He had no particular reason to believe this -- he just found that he could make mathematical sense out of the whole business better if he made that assumption.

Einstein started with the wild guess assumption that there was no fixed and absolute frame of reference.

Darwin started with the wild guess assumption that life forms changed in nature the same way they do through selective breeding.

And so on. Without exception, although there was some kind of evidence more or less pointing the way, every breakthrough in scientific theory began as somebody's wild guess assumption.



That's ridiculous. The theory of gravity doesn't explain how gravity happens.


Yes, it does. Not WHY it happens, no, but certainly how. It's described in very precise mathematics, actually.



Big Bang theory doesn't explain how the singularity came to exist.


No, but that's not what Big Bang theory is about. It does explain how the early expansion occurred.



However, if it makes you happy, how about we refer to it as the intelligent design hypothesis. Does that make you happy?


Well, not really, because a hypothesis is basically just a smaller version of a theory.



But I agree. If ID want's any respect from mainstream science, it has to produce some hard data.


I didn't say that, and I don't actually think it does. Although hard data will have to be forthcoming sooner or later, what it needs immediately is a theory with predictive power. That will tell us what hard data we ought to be looking for.



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 11:19 PM
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Originally posted by Esoteric Teacher
Two Steps Forward

Perhaps you are the designer. Or, at the very least a co-author of it. Quantum phycisists with various specialities seem to be leaning towards a concept that matter is not matter at all. Matter is energy, condensed light, behaving in a fashion that is chaotic, until observed. If intelligent design exists, you may in fact be a contributor to the design, and the designer of observation as well.


And there you have the possible beginnings of an intelligent design theory. It works through the impact of the observer on the collapse of a quantum wave function, i.e., through shifts in normal probability. We wouldn't even have to postulate a god-like designer. The first life forms that constituted motivated observers would begin shifting evolution events away from ordinary chance.

Then again -- if a wave function hasn't collapsed until a measurement is taken, it should be possible to affect such events retroactively, and maybe WE influenced the entire timeline of evolution, midwifing our own birth.

Or maybe some future species is doing the same thing now.

Is that sufficiently weird? Does your head hurt yet?



posted on Jan, 5 2006 @ 11:33 PM
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Originally posted by Two Steps Forward


Concerning your entire previous post: nicely put




Is that sufficiently weird?


When I thought I was nearing the bottom of the rabbit hole at one time I found myself looking down at the stars, still with no absolution.



Does your head hurt yet?


The pain gets duller after the first 5 years of pondering such things.

Nice reply, by the way.



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 12:55 AM
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I'm going to throw to the wind any caution. Speculation is a powerful tool when pondering such complex and diverse ideas, and speculation is a tool that leads to asking the right questions, instead of wrapping ourselves up too tightly in pre-accepted truths based upon the opinions of peoples' minds that are at the micro core based on cellular dna that dictates: "Self Preserve" aka "Self before i serve (anything or anyone).

I have yet to observe anything throughout all my experiences that tells me one can engulf anything. I have yet to witness anything that ceases to exist once enough pressure has been applied to it.

So: What happens to consciousness when it enters a black hole?

Does that consciousness cease to exist? I've seen nothing to support such a concept.



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 08:58 AM
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Two Steps: Great Post!



Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
You're missing the point. I'm not saying that a designer HAS BEEN proven. I'm saying that if you want to devise a real intelligent design theory, you should start by assuming that there IS a designer, but see that as the beginning, not the end.

Two Steps: I don't think I've missed the point, and I do in fact think you're point is very interesting and I think I see where you're going with it.


Evidence is found in support of a theory after it's developed.

Agreed. The point is though, the theories and hypotheses are not based on wild guess assumptions. They are based on observation and logic. There's a big difference between a wild guess assumption and observation combined with some amount of critical thinking, etc. Don't you agree?


The evidence doesn't dictate the theory in every particular, step by step. The human mind just doesn't work that way. Someone gets an insight based on clues. The insight is formulated logically, and in many sciences mathematically (although that's kind of difficult in macrobiology).

No... evidence doesn't and it needn't dictate every single particular of a theory. The point is evidence either supports a hypothesis or it doesn't; it needn't fill ALL the gaps though. Doesn't your statement "insight is formulated logically" sort of argue against your earlier statements about wild guess assumptions?


The theory predicts many things that have NOT been proven, as well as explaining things that have. In fact, it's supposed to. This has two virtues. One, it allows the theory to be verified by further observation and/or experimentation. And two, it makes the theory more useful, by explaining things beyond its original intent.

I think again, that this is a valid point, and is something that I've pondered for some time since being first brought up to me. Thanks for bringing it up again here. For sometime I had thought that IDT or IDH
lacked any predictive power, but my subsequent readings have made me realize that this isn't true. Take for example 'junk DNA.' Now... for the longest time 'junk-DNA' was assumed to have no purpose, hence the unfortunate description that is still prevelant in undergraduate level genetics texts. Darwinian based theories assumed that this 'junk DNA' was the by-product of evolution, a mistake, something unnecessary to the cell, but maintained because evolution hasn't done away with it yet. The argument from design makes the opposite assumption. The argument from design would conclude that junk DNA has a purpose. In fact, this is being confirmed all the time, junk DNA is not 'junk' by any definition of the word. So IDT does in fact have some degree of predictive power. And in the particular case I've cited is a better explanation than Darwinian based theories.

However, I do think that Darwinian theory lacks any real predictive power, a theory based on the idea of random change is going to lack predictive power.


All right. You have an insight, that the observed nature of life requires an element of intelligent design. Now. How does that intelligence manifest?

The question is simply not answerable. If a theory... excuse me hypothesis, makes no assumptions about a designer, then the way designer manifests itself is irrelevant. If the hypothesis is interested solely in inferring design via a number of mechanisms then that's its sole responsibility.


Does it dictate every particular of the nature of life,

Actually, Design Theory attempts to, or would attempt to answer just such a question. Design theorists are interested in testing systems that show the hallmarks of design, in an effort to answer precisely this type of question.


I really shouldn't answer for you,

Then definitely don't.


but let's assume for the moment that the second idea is true -- that ID is only part of the process, not the whole. Now, in what way is the process of evolution bent to produce the observed results?

Hmmm... for many IDTists this is true, IDT is only part of the process and not the whole. There is no 'bending' of the evolutionary process. A system either exhibits the hallmarks of design or not. For example, a design theorist is not likely to test the hemoglobin system for design. The system exhibits significant homology to the myoglobin system, and has a reasonable explanation of relationships, etc. Thus making this a poor candidate for testing. However, a system like electron transport, or photosynthesis, that lacks a reasonable explanation via natural selection and that further exhibits hallmarks of Irreducible complexity, is a great candidate for testing for design. Design is the only thing being tested for. If the 'manifestation' of design wants to be explored, we need a new theory/hypothesis.


Is it through one of the known forces of nature? Or is there a hitherto-unknown force involved? Or something other than a force altogether, and if so how does this whatever-it-is operate? What are the rules governing its operation? What might we expect from this creative intelligence in the future? In what other areas might it manifest besides the evolution of life? How would we verify its impact on those areas?

These are not questions for design theory. As much as some might like those questions answered, they are simply not answerable. They are further outside of the realm of ID by definition.

In much the same way as you can't 'predict' what new organisms will exist on this planet 50 million years from now via NDT.


This is what an intelligent design theory (a real one) needs to provide. And it doesn't have to all be proven ahead of time, either. All it has to do is logically explain the results you've observed that, in your belief, make current evolution theory flawed -- and reach out beyond those results to make predictions about other things you haven't observed yet.

IDT needs to do what IDT was conceptualized to do... not what you'd like it to do. IDT doesn't need the designer to be proven, obviously, the theory does in fact assume 'a' designer(s) but nothing more. IDT may be capable of explaining observed systems when the discipline begins to generate some data. The validity of the theory should rest on its ability to make a meaningful contribution to science, nothing more. And we've already discussed reaching out via predictions.


In verifying the operation of intelligent design, as specified by the theory, we will implicitly verify the designer. But first, we need some specific ideas about how the designing works.
Untrue. You identify the design, period. You don't need to know anything about what materials some ancestor of ours used to make a vase to realize it's a vase. Similarly SETI doesn't need to know the origin of a radio frequency with the hallmarks of ID to know that it was designed.


It should be possible to produce a genuine intelligent design theory. Why don't you give it a try?

Mostly because I have a job to keep, and the environment in academia currently, precludes me from speaking such heresy.

Though if you have a way to scientifically test for the manifestation of an IDer, my ears (eyes) are open.



All of them, in their formulation. Every last one. Those assumptions have in many cases been verified since then. But at the time the theories were created, there was no proof of them.

I think we're coming from the same place here, but I would never describe scientific theory as a wild guess assumption. I'm not sure where you went to school, but colloquially, a hypothesis is often referred to as 'an educated guess' there is a reason for this. Note the contrast here: educated guess vs. wild guess. Big difference, IMO.

Of course theories have no proof when postulated, that's why you need a theory. Subsequent experiments support the theory or not, but yes, you're correct a theory isn't 'supported' via lots of evidence when conceptualized, though it based on observation, not wild guesses.


Newton started with the wild guess assumption that the motion of objects in the heavens was governed by the same rules as the motion of objects on earth, even though prevailing wisdom held otherwise. He had no particular reason to believe this -- he just found that he could make mathematical sense out of the whole business better if he made that assumption.

Newton started with the observation that objects fall towards the earth, and further extrapolated to heavenly bodies -and this didn't happen overnight, the theory was developed overtime.


Einstein started with the wild guess assumption that there was no fixed and absolute frame of reference.
I won't comment on this, as I am not enough of a student of physics to know this. I do know that Einstein wasn't 'just a patent clerk' when he formulated his theories, but that he was enrolled in grad school. It's unlikely his theory was based on a 'wild guess,' more likely than not is that it was observation combined with extreme insight and speculation, maybe I'm just being nitpicky about semantics now, but I think those concepts are distinct.


Darwin started with the wild guess assumption that life forms changed in nature the same way they do through selective breeding.

Darwin combined years of observation of selective breeding, animals in the wild, and things such as the currently existing fossil record to generate his theory. It wasn't a wild guess assumption, which is why it took him years to formulate the idea.


And so on. Without exception, although there was some kind of evidence more or less pointing the way, every breakthrough in scientific theory began as somebody's wild guess assumption.

Every theory began as an 'educated guess,' a hypothesis based on some observation. The ideas obviously took years to formulate, and were based on observation, a lot of hard thought, and some speculation, not a 'wild guess.'



That's ridiculous. The theory of gravity doesn't explain how gravity happens.


Yes, it does. Not WHY it happens, no, but certainly how. It's described in very precise mathematics, actually.

Mathematics describe the behavior of gravity; mathematics describe the relationship between mass and gravity. Mathematics do not describe how gravity happens. They don't describe the manifestation of gravity, is the graviton for real? Is gravity a wave? What about the 'closed loop' string theory of gravity. The manifestation of gravity is currently an unknown. Yes, we have mathematics to describe the phenomena, but we don't know how the phenomena manifests itself.



Big Bang theory doesn't explain how the singularity came to exist.


No, but that's not what Big Bang theory is about. It does explain how the early expansion occurred.

Oh okay, I see, so BBT is somehow immune this necessity to describe its own manifestation. Oh I see... the theory isn't about that. Well, geez, TwoSteps, isn't that exactly what I've been saying about IDT and the manifestation of the designer?

And I disagree with you. From my reading of Greene, etc. from what I gather, the time before Plank time, ie: the singularity is currently the biggest intractable problem for BBT.

Gosh, I guess since we can't describe the way the BB 'manifested' itself that makes it not a theory. From now on, I'll refer to it as the BB Hypothesis as well.

Oh wait, I forgot about the current explanation: quantum fluctuation, that's probably the manifestation of ID too... quantum fluctation




Although hard data will have to be forthcoming sooner or later, what it needs immediately is a theory with predictive power. That will tell us what hard data we ought to be looking for.

Oh, well, we already have that.



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 10:27 AM
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Mattison:

All right, I think I see where the term "wild guess" might be misunderstood. It could be interpreted to mean either a completely off-the-wall guess with no logic or evidence behind it whatsoever, or something off-the-cuff with no serious thought or hard work behind it. All I meant, though, was that scientific breakthroughs require daring, original thinking that go places not already mapped out. And they're always controversial, too.

I'm unfamiliar with the academic climate in biology, and maybe you're right that your job would be in danger if you write papers on ID. Whether that would happen or not, certainly no paper on the subject is going to see daylight if you present an anomaly with no solution. If you argue that photosynthesis exhibits irreducible complexity, but don't provide any alternative explanation besides current evolution theory as to how it came to be (and do I really need to explain to a professional, working scientist that "God did it" isn't acceptable as an explanation?), then you'll be in the position of a pre-Einstein physicist pointing out the anomaly in the orbit of Mercury. Only worse, because there wasn't a body of literature outside scientific circles arguing that this anomaly indicated the hand of God at work.

The problem with ID as currently configured is that it amounts to throwing up our hands in defeat. It's a way of saying, "we don't know how this happens and we never will." Granted, there are a few -- a very few -- things in nature we will never be able to study scientifically. One of these is the original singularity of the Big Bang. Why? Because it's the whole universe. All observation requires the interaction of two entities, an observer and an observed. You cannot observe the whole universe, you can only observe, at most, the universe minus yourself. Once the Big Bang has occurred, the singularity ceases to be a singularity and its parts can be studied piecemeal, but that's not possible with the singularity itself. Another is consciousness, in the sense of subjective awareness, because this is something that cannot be observed or tested for.

But a manifestation of intelligent purpose in evolution is not in the same category. If it's there, it should be possible to study it. I think maybe the problem is that ID advocates have in the back of their mind the idea of divine intervention. This is such an awesome prospect that it daunts. But as the discussion between myself and Esoteric Teacher illustrates, this is not the only possible form that intelligent design might take.

You are more or less in the same position as a parapsychologist. Parapsychologists seem to believe that until they can prove the existence of the phenomena they study to the satisfaction of the scientific community, they can't afford to push for more ambitious studies of it, like coming up with a genuine theory. But the problem is, unless and until they can come up with a theory turning their subject matter into a natural rather than a supernatural phenomenon, their claims will be regarded as "extraordinary claims" and no amount of proof will will be accepted as sufficiently "extraordinary." They are studying something that requires boldness, not timidity, but they are very timid scientists on the whole.

If you are serious about ID, you, as well, need to be bold. What you need to do is turn ID from an extraordinary into an ordinary claim. And the only way to do that, is to come up with an explanation of how it works. Any such explanation is bound to be controversial. But there's a difference between controversy and up-front dismissal. Controversy is what you want. Dismissal is what you want to avoid.



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 11:41 AM
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Two Steps, thanks for your reply



Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
All right, I think I see where the term "wild guess" might be misunderstood. It could be interpreted to mean either a completely off-the-wall guess with no logic or evidence behind it whatsoever, or something off-the-cuff with no serious thought or hard work behind it. All I meant, though, was that scientific breakthroughs require daring, original thinking that go places not already mapped out. And they're always controversial, too.

Okay then... on this particular facet of this conversation, we are incomplete agreement.


I'm unfamiliar with the academic climate in biology, and maybe you're right that your job would be in danger if you write papers on ID.

Trust me when I tell you this: The academic environment in biological sciences with respect to ID is analogous to witch hunting. It's dangerous. Thank goodness for anonymous on line forums.


Whether that would happen or not, certainly no paper on the subject is going to see daylight if you present an anomaly with no solution.

I don't think I've ever proposed presenting papers that discuss anomalies with no solutions. However, scientific papers needn't be all encompassing. I've published plenty of stuff that simply elucidates and describes the effect of a single point mutation. There is no solution presented there, it's just information added to 'collective' science knowledge. So scientific papers needn't propose a solution to a problem. You build up your arguments and theory piece-by-piece; sometimes this requires publishing dozens of papers about a system. But lots, tons, in fact most, papers don't offer real solutions to real life problems. If you don't believe me, browse the contents of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, or Biochemistry for yourself.


If you argue that photosynthesis exhibits irreducible complexity, but don't provide any alternative explanation besides current evolution theory as to how it came to be (and do I really need to explain to a professional, working scientist that "God did it" isn't acceptable as an explanation?), then you'll be in the position of a pre-Einstein physicist pointing out the anomaly in the orbit of Mercury. Only worse, because there wasn't a body of literature outside scientific circles arguing that this anomaly indicated the hand of God at work.

Well the alternative explanation is that PS is a product of design. That's the assumption. You needn't prove it in a single publication. You offer evidence that supports or denies your claim, but the question isn't closed with a single publication.

And of course you needn't explain to me that "God did it" isn't an acceptable explanation. The thing is that no one in the ID community is throwing up their hands and saying "God Did It." Furthermore, it's not like Behe is saying, "Well, there's no need to study the flagellum, it's irreducibly complex." Further study is not only encouraged, it's an integral part of the design hypothesis, proposing and testing hypotheses. The point is that IDT(H) and IC serve as bases of hypothesis formation, not as ends.

And the position is not 'bad' or 'undesirable' it's approaching a problem that is thus far unsolved via a different presupposition. It doesn't have anything to do with saying "God did it;" it has to do with saying something more like: "There is no good explanantion for the origins of system x based on currently accepted theories. I hypothesize that this system is a product of design. I propose experiments X, Y, and Z, to test my hypothesis."

If the ID community were saying something akin to "God Did it," I'd be more likely to agree with you.


The problem with ID as currently configured is that it amounts to throwing up our hands in defeat. It's a way of saying, "we don't know how this happens and we never will."

No it doesn't, please see above. Simply because you're unable to speculate about how something came to be doesn't mean you can't infer things about it, and in fact learn things from it. The IDTist's aren't necessarily searching for HOW something happened, as much as they are looking for evidence of design. These are two disparate goals; they are not mutually exclusive necessarily, but they certainly are not mutually inclusive.


Granted, there are a few -- a very few -- things in nature we will never be able to study scientifically.

Origins biology may be one of these... we can study it scientifically, but there will never be conclusive proof that something happened a certain way.


One of these is the original singularity of the Big Bang. Why? Because it's the whole universe.

No... the original singularity of the big bang isn't limited "(b)ecause it's the whole universe," it's because our understanding of physical laws with respect to the big bang breaks down at the Planck time, ie: We don't have an adequate naturalistic explanation to describe this. At anytime after Planck time you are still studying the 'whole universe,' it just doesn't go against known physical laws.

People are still studying the singularity though, despite your assertion that we'll never understand it. We may never understand the origins of the ATP synthase either, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't study it. And I think that in the cases I've mentioned, the inference from design is at least as reasonable as the inference from natural selection. In many cases, it's the more parsimonious assumption.


Another is consciousness, in the sense of subjective awareness, because this is something that cannot be observed or tested for.

Hmmm... not my particular area of expertise, but Dr. Stuart Hameroff an anesthesiologist at the University of AZ Med School, is likely to disagree with you. Hameroff, last I knew, was trying to correlate conciousness with the quantum state of microtubules.


But as the discussion between myself and Esoteric Teacher illustrates, this is not the only possible form that intelligent design might take.

I read your conversation with ET. It's not exactly up my alley, but I DID consider it, and I fail to see how something like the 'collapse of quantum wave functions' is to be tested for. Your main complaint seems to be being able to test for the manifestation of ID, How does one test whether the collapse of quantum wave functions can yield complex biological machines?


If you are serious about ID, you, as well, need to be bold. What you need to do is turn ID from an extraordinary into an ordinary claim. And the only way to do that, is to come up with an explanation of how it works. Any such explanation is bound to be controversial. But there's a difference between controversy and up-front dismissal. Controversy is what you want. Dismissal is what you want to avoid.

Again, I disagree with you. ID can progress to 'ordinary' via generation of meaningful data supportive of its postulates. This is the way that Darwinian theories became 'mainstream.' IDT needn't evolve a explanation of its mechanism because, despite what you believe about the theory, this is not what it was conceived to do.

Somehow I get the feeling you're waiting for something, or you have an idea of your own. You don't seem to be of the typical "ID is just creationism in disquise" variety we see alot of in this forum. What is your particular angle? I get the impression that you're opposed to the idea of ID, but rather than say it outright, you're trying to get me to admit it... ie: you want me to dig my own hole. If you do have an idea of how this manifestation of ID can be tested for, please spit it out. Otherwise, I am not sure where this discussion is going.



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 04:37 PM
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Originally posted by mattison0922
Well the alternative explanation is that PS is a product of design. That's the assumption. You needn't prove it in a single publication. You offer evidence that supports or denies your claim, but the question isn't closed with a single publication.


I really think there's another problem with design besides a lack of evidence, and that's a lack of clarity. It's all well and good to say "this looks like the product of deliberate design," but that immediately raises the questions: Who or what is the designer? By what means was the design implemented? If you leave these questions unanswered, even by speculation, people are naturally going to draw the conclusion that you are hinting at "God did it." Because that's what they will immediately think themselves when you say "it was designed." Alas, scientists are not altogether rational. No one is.

Absent an answer to the above questions, biologists will prefer to believe just about anything over a design hypothesis. Their first instinct will probably be to fault your methodology or reasoning. Failing that, they will posit some bogus equivalent to the phantom intra-Mercurial planet to account for the anomaly, or just shrug their shoulders and acknowledge that evolution theory isn't complete as yet. (Which it's not.) Then they'll go about their business and ignore you.



The IDTist's aren't necessarily searching for HOW something happened, as much as they are looking for evidence of design.


Do you see any problem with looking for evidence of a desired conclusion, especially one which effectively closes the door to further investigation of how things happened? This is why I started this thread. Looking for evidence of a desired conclusion is the guilty little secret everyone shares; we all do it whether we admit to it or not. But, to repeat myself, IDTists do need to concern themselves with how it happened, assuming of course that it did. Not only would this make it a better theory, it would also effectively refute the charge that IDT is religion-driven. God cannot be questioned. Nature almost always can.



No... the original singularity of the big bang isn't limited "(b)ecause it's the whole universe," it's because our understanding of physical laws with respect to the big bang breaks down at the Planck time


That amounts to the same thing. The Planck time being the shortest interval of time identifiable, it is in effect zero time since the Big Bang, i.e. it might as well be before the Big Bang. Before that, we have a singularity that includes everything, including any potential observers.

What I'm saying here is that this is WHY our understanding of physical laws with respect to the big bang breaks down at Planck time.



At anytime after Planck time you are still studying the 'whole universe,' it just doesn't go against known physical laws.


No, because after that you have some differentiation in the universe and it's possible to study pieces of it at a time -- individual processes.



People are still studying the singularity though, despite your assertion that we'll never understand it.


Physicists are stubborn, and/or they got grant money to spend. What can I say?



Hmmm... not my particular area of expertise, but Dr. Stuart Hameroff an anesthesiologist at the University of AZ Med School, is likely to disagree with you. Hameroff, last I knew, was trying to correlate conciousness with the quantum state of microtubules.


I may take a look at that site, but the problem with correlating consciousness with anything in the observable world is that consciousness is itself not observable. We have no test whereby we can ascertain whether or not a particular thing is subjectively aware. Even if it exhibits intelligent and purposeful behavior, even if it SAYS it is conscious, we cannot objectively verify that. Since we cannot do that, we also cannot make a positive claim about any correlation between consciousness and something else.



I read your conversation with ET. It's not exactly up my alley, but I DID consider it, and I fail to see how something like the 'collapse of quantum wave functions' is to be tested for.


Evolution is a chaotic process, meaning an ordered result arising from indeterminate events. "Collapse of quantum wave functions" is a fancy-pants way to say "observed/measured outcome of indeterminate events."

If I understand the argument correctly, IDT is based on the assertion that the emergence of some biological functions from a sequence of indeterminate events shaped by natural selection is so improbable that, as a practical matter, it becomes impossible. But what if probability is not a constant? What if there exists a natural principle (not a true force, as it would involve no energy) that can shift the probability of an occurrence away from normal expectations? What if this principle were keyed to the phenomenon of purpose or motivation in living organisms? In fact, what if that were the mechanism whereby purpose or motivation manifests in ordinary behavior -- a shift of the probability of indeterminate synaptic activity away from normal and towards a particular goal?

If all that were true (and I admit it involves a number of "what ifs"), would this perhaps account for observed ID-like results? Could the "design" be implemented via an alteration of probability applied to the known mechanisms of evolution?

As to how it would be possible to test this, well, the idea would have considerable predictive power. You would look for other biotic events, not necessarily connected with evolution, that defy normal probabilities without crossing the line into the physically impossible. Consistent improbabilities in connection with life.

A problem might be the determination of "normal" probability in stochastic processes as complex as life. I don't know if that's solvable or not; you would know more than I. But if it is, and if a divergence from that expected norm can be identified, then we have the mechanism behind intelligent design. And we have, perhaps, also identified the designing intelligence: life itself.



Again, I disagree with you. ID can progress to 'ordinary' via generation of meaningful data supportive of its postulates. This is the way that Darwinian theories became 'mainstream.' IDT needn't evolve a explanation of its mechanism because, despite what you believe about the theory, this is not what it was conceived to do.


Darwin's theory was able to do that because the only controversy surrounding it was that it was new and radical. It was not an "extraordinary" claim, nor does the reason a claim is considered "extraordinary" have anything to do with the evidence in favor of it, or lack thereof. It has to do with how much established thought would have to change in order for it to be accepted.

Darwin's theory was pretty radical, but not nearly as radical as ID, if the designer and the means of implementation are both left blank, so that it becomes natural for any reader to fill in the blanks with "God did it by His omnipotent sacred power." If biologists have to believe this in order to accept ID, I doubt that any amount of evidence, however overwhelming, will ever be sufficient to convince them. Ever. For ID to be accepted, it must be conceived as a natural process amenable to scientific study. Not just further study of the nature and behavior of the organisms or processes identified as designed, but study of the designing process itself. Otherwise, it will never be taken seriously.



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 04:46 PM
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I'm still paying attention to you guys. I don't want to disrupt the flow of thought you guys are having. Your both in "The Zone"

This is making for some intriguing reading material indeed.

Keep up the great dialogue guys!



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 06:40 PM
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Two Steps, thanks again for another thought provoking post.



Originally posted by Two Steps Forward
I really think there's another problem with design besides a lack of evidence, and that's a lack of clarity. It's all well and good to say "this looks like the product of deliberate design," but that immediately raises the questions: Who or what is the designer? By what means was the design implemented? If you leave these questions unanswered, even by speculation, people are naturally going to draw the conclusion that you are hinting at "God did it." Because that's what they will immediately think themselves when you say "it was designed." Alas, scientists are not altogether rational. No one is.

You make an interesting point. To be completely honest with you, I am always so caught up with defending the basics of the theory's philosophy, ie: things like falsifiability, predictive power, methodological naturalism, etc. I suppose I never stop to consider the practical implications of the idea. I don't agree with you entirely; before our discussion, I thought there was both scientific merit in the detection of design, and that it was worthwhile to carry out experiments from the IDT basis of hypothesis. I still believe this. However, I suppose in the grand scheme of things the theory isn't immune to practical considerations.


Absent an answer to the above questions, biologists will prefer to believe just about anything over a design hypothesis.

Hey, man... you definitely don't have to tell me that



Their first instinct will probably be to fault your methodology or reasoning. Failing that, they will posit some bogus equivalent to the phantom intra-Mercurial planet to account for the anomaly, or just shrug their shoulders and acknowledge that evolution theory isn't complete as yet. (Which it's not.) Then they'll go about their business and ignore you.

I can't say I disagree with you here either. Early on, I thought that IDT would be able to stand on its own based on its scientific merit. However, as time goes on, I am less and less inclined to believe this. It seems that the insanity of trying to force certain schools to alter their cirriculum to include ideas that are not accepted by the mainstream science community may have damaged the reputation of the ID movement permanently.



Do you see any problem with looking for evidence of a desired conclusion, especially one which effectively closes the door to further investigation of how things happened?

I certainly see a problem with what you're proposing, but I don't believe that ID will necessarily close the door on future investigation. The inference from design doesn't mean that future research ceases. In some cases, ID could in fact spark new studies. For example take the concept of pseudogenes, many pseudogenes appear to be processed mRNA messages that are re-inserted into the genome via the activity of reverse transcriptase, ie: these pseudogenes are a mistake, are not a functional part of the genome and servie no useful purpose. Some IDTists might not view the problem from the same position. I am not saying I believe this, but some IDTists might think these items are designed for a purpose and prove that they do in fact have a function, or are otherwise necessary. I understand the tendency to believe it, but I personally do not believe that inferring design necessarily limits further investigation.


This is why I started this thread. Looking for evidence of a desired conclusion is the guilty little secret everyone shares; we all do it whether we admit to it or not.

I'm the first to admit that I do it. As much as I try to be objective about things, it's just not possible. The very nature of experimentation itself is biased; you can't find what you're not looking for, but you often may find what you're looking for.


But, to repeat myself, IDTists do need to concern themselves with how it happened, assuming of course that it did. Not only would this make it a better theory, it would also effectively refute the charge that IDT is religion-driven. God cannot be questioned. Nature almost always can.

Again, I've not pondered this particular aspect of the theory too deeply. I've always considered it outside the realm of both the theory, and in fact scientific inquiry. Based on those things alone... I pretty much don't consider it. I understand the practical implications of the theory a little better now, but I don't believe this changes the nature of what can and can't be done.

What I mean is that the inference from design doesn't include a presupposition of metaphysical naturalism. While the theory, as it's outlined, is required to operate within the realm of methodological naturalism, no similar metaphysical presuppostion is implied. In fact, since ID DOES leave the question of metaphysical presupposition wide open. Many in the ID movement DO believe God is the IDer. This being the case, the question of the designer is specifically outside of the realm of scientific inquiry.



Physicists are stubborn, and/or they got grant money to spend. What can I say?

'nough said... about that anyway.



I may take a look at that site, but the problem with correlating consciousness with anything in the observable world is that consciousness is itself not observable. We have no test whereby we can ascertain whether or not a particular thing is subjectively aware. Even if it exhibits intelligent and purposeful behavior, even if it SAYS it is conscious, we cannot objectively verify that. Since we cannot do that, we also cannot make a positive claim about any correlation between consciousness and something else.

Actually, and I could be a little off base here, but I was under the impression that some field of medical science had in fact correlated particular brain activities with something defined as unconcious and concious states of mind. Isn't this the whole basis of the field of anesthesiology? Based on these brain wave patterns, and what is currently understood about conciousness, Hameroff has generated some interesting data re: the quantum state of microtubules... sorry if I already mentioned the specifics. But apparently some branch of medical science has defined criteria for concious brain activity and unconcious brain activity.



Evolution is a chaotic process, meaning an ordered result arising from indeterminate events. "Collapse of quantum wave functions" is a fancy-pants way to say "observed/measured outcome of indeterminate events."

Okay... but I am still not sure how that relates to the testing for the manifestation of an IDer.


If I understand the argument correctly, IDT is based on the assertion that the emergence of some biological functions from a sequence of indeterminate events shaped by natural selection is so improbable that, as a practical matter, it becomes impossible.

More or less.


But what if probability is not a constant? What if there exists a natural principle (not a true force, as it would involve no energy) that can shift the probability of an occurrence away from normal expectations? What if this principle were keyed to the phenomenon of purpose or motivation in living organisms? In fact, what if that were the mechanism whereby purpose or motivation manifests in ordinary behavior -- a shift of the probability of indeterminate synaptic activity away from normal and towards a particular goal?

Now... I am not saying that what you've written above is incorrect, or wrong, or off base, or whatever... BUT, I will say that these questions are outside of the realm of science.


  1. Science is assumes probability IS a constant. There is no reason to assume otherwise.
  2. Something that doesn't involve energy, if I understand you correctly, cannot have mass either, and is therefore not measurable.
  3. Science relies on probabilities NOT being shifted from normal expectations: gravity always acts in a certain manner, optically active organic molecules form in about equal proportions, the rates of radioactive decay have always been the same. Science relies on these constants.
  4. Not sure what you mean by "[w]hhat if this principle were keyed to the phenomenon of purpose or motivation in living organisms," but it doesn't sound like it can be measured via any mechanism we currently have.
  5. "what if that were the mechanism whereby purpose or motivation manifests in ordinary behavior -- a shift of the probability of indeterminate synaptic activity away from normal and towards a particular goal?" Okay, what if it were? How would one test for it?



If all that were true (and I admit it involves a number of "what ifs"), would this perhaps account for observed ID-like results? Could the "design" be implemented via an alteration of probability applied to the known mechanisms of evolution?

I suppose that it could, but I don't believe it could do so via the realm of scientifically measurable phenomena, but perhaps I am just being short-sighted. But again if you've ideas... I'm all ears (eyes).


As to how it would be possible to test this, well, the idea would have considerable predictive power. You would look for other biotic events, not necessarily connected with evolution, that defy normal probabilities without crossing the line into the physically impossible. Consistent improbabilities in connection with life.

Could you please clarify this paragraph for me please. Thanks.



A problem might be the determination of "normal" probability in stochastic processes as complex as life. I don't know if that's solvable or not; you would know more than I. But if it is, and if a divergence from that expected norm can be identified, then we have the mechanism behind intelligent design. And we have, perhaps, also identified the designing intelligence: life itself.

Lots of these probabilities are known, or can be determined via basic organic chemistry and analysis of the thermodynamics of particular chemical reactions.... this type of stuff is what led me to look into ID, etc. in the first place. If you've some specific instances you're interested in discussing, I'd be more than happy to hash it out with you here in your thread.



Darwin's theory was able to do that because the only controversy surrounding it was that it was new and radical. It was not an "extraordinary" claim, nor does the reason a claim is considered "extraordinary" have anything to do with the evidence in favor of it, or lack thereof. It has to do with how much established thought would have to change in order for it to be accepted.
Hmmm... I don't know if I agree with you here. While Darwins theory did satisfy the constraints of metaphysical naturalism, I don't think it makes the theory unextraordinary. If the theory weren't that extraordinary, the Scopes trial would have never happened, etc. And I think that established thought had to change considerably to accept Darwins ideas. People then, were certainly no more inclined to believe that "we came from a monkey," then people today are. Please note: I am not claiming that Darwin stated we came from a monkey, but that often is the response the theory of common descent recieves. I think Darwin's idea was revolutionary. As Dawkins has stated, it made it possible for one to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist. The theory has generated more controversy for longer than any other scientific theory. IMO, that makes the claim nothing less than extraordinary. In essence the effect is the same: Darwin opened up the option for atheism in a predominantly theistic society, while IDT opens the door for the concept of potential divine design to a secular society. I am not sure that we can describe one idea as more extraordinary than another.



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 08:07 PM
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Originally posted by mattison0922
What I mean is that the inference from design doesn't include a presupposition of metaphysical naturalism. While the theory, as it's outlined, is required to operate within the realm of methodological naturalism, no similar metaphysical presuppostion is implied. In fact, since ID DOES leave the question of metaphysical presupposition wide open. Many in the ID movement DO believe God is the IDer. This being the case, the question of the designer is specifically outside of the realm of scientific inquiry.


If the designer truly is God, then you'd be entirely right there. But should that be assumed a priori?


Actually, and I could be a little off base here, but I was under the impression that some field of medical science had in fact correlated particular brain activities with something defined as unconcious and concious states of mind.


They might, but if they do, then the conscious state of mind in this context is something different from what I'm talking about as "consciousness." Objectively, it's those particular brain activities correlated with nothing whatsoever, except of course some behavior patterns, e.g. speech.

Let me put it this way. We can objectively verify whether someone moves purposefully while under the effects of anaesthesia, and afterwards whether the person reports any memories from the time. If they report feeling no pain, then we have a pretty good idea that the drug is doing what we want it to, and for medical purposes that (plus any knowledge of side effects) is all we need to know. But these data could mean either that the brain is actually giving rise to consciousness, and fails to do so when it is shut down, or that it is feeding information to consciousness -- and fails to do so when it is shut down. We have no way to objectively verify which is occurring. What's more, if the brain is giving rise to consciousness, we have absolutely no clue whatsoever how it does so. The experience of reality from within is totally foreign to any property we observe from without. We know it happens, but we cannot begin to say why or how.



Science assumes probability IS a constant. There is no reason to assume otherwise.


Does it? I'm not sure I see why. Certainly it isn't one of the necessary philosophical assumptions that must be made if we're going to do science at all.

Why must we assume that probability is a constant? I suppose if it were a completely random and meaningless variable, it would mean that there were no laws of nature at all (since at root all laws of nature are statistical), but if it varied in a controlled fashion in predictable and limited circumstances, that would not be the case.



Something that doesn't involve energy, if I understand you correctly, cannot have mass either, and is therefore not measurable.


Well, that's true. I should have been clearer. Of course any observed process is going to involve energy. But if we postulate a principle, a quasi-force let's say, that can shift probabilities, that principle itself would not operate through energy, although the processes impacted still would. We could measure how the energy of those processes behaved, and draw conclusions from this about the probabilities associated with them through statistical analysis.



Science relies on probabilities NOT being shifted from normal expectations: gravity always acts in a certain manner, optically active organic molecules form in about equal proportions, the rates of radioactive decay have always been the same. Science relies on these constants.


Again, we should not expect (because we do not observe) a random and meaningless variation in any of these constants. And some indeterminate events might be more robust than others -- see below.



Not sure what you mean by "[w]hhat if this principle were keyed to the phenomenon of purpose or motivation in living organisms," but it doesn't sound like it can be measured via any mechanism we currently have.


Bear with me a moment.




As to how it would be possible to test this, well, the idea would have considerable predictive power. You would look for other biotic events, not necessarily connected with evolution, that defy normal probabilities without crossing the line into the physically impossible. Consistent improbabilities in connection with life.

Could you please clarify this paragraph for me please. Thanks.



I'll try.

Let me start by pointing out that there are tiers or layers of probabilities. At the quantum level of reality, all events are indeterminate. Some macroscopic processes effectively suppress this indeterminacy, or rather, maintain it at no greater variation than is found on the quantum level, making it trivial (and impossible to measure in practice) on the macroscopic scale. These are what we call deterministic processes, and technically they aren't, but they might as well be. Other processes amplify the indeterminacy of their initial conditions resulting in macroscopic indeterminacy.

Consider the swing of a pendulum. That's a "deterministic" process. In order to impact it measurably via alteration of probability, you'd have to change the odds of motion vectors for a large proportion of its molecules. In other words, huge numbers of independent events would have to be affected. What's more, each of these events is beyond sensory perception, and of all the life forms on this planet, only humans have been able even to deduce their occurrence. Note that similar reasoning would protect the integrity of basic physical and chemical constants.

But now consider the weather. That's one of those macroscopic indeterminate processes. It is so sensitive to its determining conditions, that for practical purposes we can regard the weather itself as indeterminate. The amount of precipitation on a particular day, for instance, is in effect only a single indeterminate event, and one who's outcome is readily visible and tangible.

If an organism's motivations can impact the probabilities of indeterminate events it observes, then we should observe weather variations in response to life beyond what is accomplished through purely ordinary means, such as windbreaks and watersheds. That is one example of many possible ones.



Lots of these probabilities are known, or can be determined via basic organic chemistry and analysis of the thermodynamics of particular chemical reactions.... this type of stuff is what led me to look into ID, etc. in the first place. If you've some specific instances you're interested in discussing, I'd be more than happy to hash it out with you here in your thread.


Your knowledge of biology obviously runs deeper than mine. What were some of the processes you examined that led you towards ID?



Hmmm... I don't know if I agree with you here. While Darwins theory did satisfy the constraints of metaphysical naturalism, I don't think it makes the theory unextraordinary. If the theory weren't that extraordinary, the Scopes trial would have never happened, etc.


Well, extraordinariness is in the eye of the beholder, is it not? I'm sure to the fundamentalist Christians who tried to shut it down (and in some cases still are), it seems not only extraordinary but downright Satanic. Try arguing the merits of evolution theory to a diehard creationist some time. You'll find them just as intransigent as your scientific colleagues are w/r/t ID.

But I was talking about its controversy in scientific circles. It had some, no question about that, but scientists who disagreed with it still felt they had to take it seriously and argue against it, not simply brush it off.



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 10:05 PM
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Two Steps:

Will reply at length probably tomorrow.

But for now

You have voted Two Steps Forward for the Way Above Top Secret award. You have two more votes this month



posted on Jan, 6 2006 @ 10:30 PM
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One quick answer, ID advocates do not disagree with many of the mechanisms described in the evolutionary theory, such as microevolution and natural selection. I just like to stress that ID and evolution are not as different as many people think.







 
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