A New Deal for Intelligent Design?

Science

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #21

On whose end? Do you really think both sides are totally immovable? I think, for example, this is a step in the right direction:


#22

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(Curtis Henderson) #23

It has admittedly been a long time since I worked in a research lab, but this seems to be a potential area of real research. Instead of simply claiming that the ENCODE project suggests that pseudogenes and other “junk” DNA sequences must have a true function, conduct some actual research on what those functions might be. It is only hypothesis until some type of experimentation is done.

There are likely other areas of potential legitimate research that I have not considered. Instead of research that focuses (unsuccessfully) on the implausibility of evolutionary mechanisms, actually test some actual novel hypotheses!


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #24

@TedDavis TE is not better than ID and not better than YEC and OEC. Any theology in science makes science not science. Evolutionary science needs no help nor assistance from Theology.


(Ted Davis) #25

Patrick,

I want to respond in two quite different, perhaps at first glance contradictory, ways to your statement here.

First, Polkinghorne, me, and those who agree with us do not at all see TE/EC as an example of “theology in science,” whereas OEC and YEC are certainly examples of that. ID is not (IMO), b/c it explicitly disavows any effort to do theology or to identify any specific creator–but, for my part I’ll pass on further comments about ID to stick with TE/EC in this context.

The simplest classical statement of TE/EC is that “God creates living things through evolution.” This places evolution within a larger metaphysical/theological framework, but I don’t see how it puts theology into science in any meaningful scientific way. The science looks the same, on its own level, to the believer or the unbeliever.

My second point emphasizes what I just said about a larger framework that is explicitly not scientific. It goes “beyond science,” to borrow the title of a Polkinghorne book, in order to make sense of the scientific enterprise itself, including the process of evolution–it helps (IMO) to explain why the world can be understood through a process of “rational empiricism” (a term coined by historian Reijer Hooykaas) rather than in some other way; it helps to explain why the existence of nature appears to be contingent, not logically necessary (though Max Tegmark would probably disagree); and, it helps to explain why the nature of nature is also contingent and not logically necessary. This point is made entirely independently of evolution, or of a TE/EC viewpoint.

To understand this idea more fully, perhaps you will want to read these two columns: Searching for Motivated Belief: Understanding John Polkinghorne, Part 1

Please pay special attention to this statement of mine, in the context of the rest, in order to see where I’m going: " both nature and our ability to have a science of nature (i.e., our ability to understand nature at all) make more sense within a theistic worldview than without it."

Also see this column, in which I introduced and then presented a selection from Polkinghorne: Belief in God in an Age of Science: John Polkinghorne, Part 1
Here, please note this passage from P (again, in full context): “There is no a priori reason why beautiful equations should prove to be the clue to understanding nature; why fundamental physics should be possible; why our minds should have such ready access to the deep structure of the universe. It is a contingent fact that this is true of us and of our world, but it does not seem sufficient simply to regard it as a happy accident. Surely it is a significant insight into the nature of reality.”

I hardly expect you to agree with me on these points, Patrick, but I hope you might understand more fully where I’m coming from. My best to you.


(Ted Davis) #26

You’re right, of course, Joshua. That part of my mind (where ID and stuff resides) was mapped out between 25 and 15 years ago. At that time, I had the impression that neo-Darwinism was still the reigning paradigm. (Was I wrong then also?) As some of its supremacy fell away, some ID folks were saying, we told you so. Did they (in your view) make a fair point?


Darwinism Falsified in Science Long Ago?
(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #27

I don’t agree with you. Evolutionary science is neutral on the question of if and whether a God participates in evolution or not. So you, Polkinghorne, or anyone else musing on any god doing anything with regard to the evolution history of life on Earth is purely theology and has nothing to do with scientific inquiry.


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #28

If Evolution is the same as Theistic Evolution, then drop the Theistic and just talk about Evolution. Evolution doesn’t need a Theistic in front of it to be descriptive of how life on Earth operates.
Physics doesn’t need Theistic Gravity to describe Gravity.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #29

@TedDavis, @patrick’s preference would be for us to say we are “Christians that affirm evolutionary science.” I am in this camp too. We don’t talk about theistic gravity, so I’m not sure why we would talk about theistic evolution.

As I understand, Darwinism (as defined in ID) was definitively falsified in 1968 with Kimura’s work, who solved a puzzle first uncovered by Haldane. As you may know, creationists commonly quote Haldane’s puzzle as if it remains unsolved, and they leave out that Kimura solved it by (1) agreeing Darwinian mechanisms were insufficient, and (2) proposing/validating the first and most important example of a non-Darwinian mechanism. An excellent article on this history of this story can be found here:

So did ID have a point? Well, no. A “Dissent from Darwinism” is about as cogent as a “Dissent from Newtonian Mechanics.” Newtonian Mechanics is still taught to students, even though it has been shown inaccurate compared to Relativity. In the same way, positive selection dominated change (darwinism as ID defines it) as been known for decades (since at least 1968) to be inadequate to explain evolution.

It is an anachronistic representation (which is to say it is a misrepresentation) of evolutionary science. If all they had done was explain how Darwinism was falsified by population genetics back in 1968, and we have continued to learn more and more, no one would have objected. Instead, they seemed also to think (or claim) that Darwinism (as they define it) is an accurate description of evolutionary science (it is not).

So, @TedDavis, what would you make of an organization that publishes a list of scientists that “Dissent from Newtonian Mechanics”?


Darwinism Falsified in Science Long Ago?
Darwinism Falsified in Science Long Ago?
Darwinism Falsified in Science Long Ago?
(Timothy Horton) #30

What is science’s motivation to negotiate with the DI? (and let’s be honest, they are the only organization on the planet pushing ID). They’re a religious organization trying to undercut science by pushing a religion-based idea. If they want to do science the door is wide open for them to “join the party” by doing science the same way everyone else does. Do the research, have the results peer-reviewed and published in the primary scientific literature, have other scientists debate the merits of the results. Stop the disingenuous end-run around proper scientific process and the direct appeals to the lay public.

The DI also represents only a relatively small handful of people attacking evolutionary science vs. the rest of the scientific community. You’re asking should Major League Baseball negotiate with the Fred’s Bar and Grill wiffleball team to produce one combined sport.


(Ann Gauger) #31

@swamidass
You have no power to negotiate for mainstream science. This is not the way to approach negotiation in any case. If you were serious you would be talking to us behind the scenes. So there’s no way I can take this seriously. It’s grandstanding for the sake of your crew. No sense in my participating. @TedDavis i’m sorry I have to bail but this is not a good faith operation. I would’ve enjoyed listening to your description of the underpinnings of science in philosophy. Especially why our ability to even perceive the rationality of the universe points toward the source of that intelligibility. So long and thanks for all the fish guys.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #32

Never said I was in such a position. I am not. I was rather discussing what a “negotiation” is.

That is a bit silly @Agauger. I AM talking to you behind the scenes. We just talked behind the scenes this week!

What is clear from this is that neither ID nor most mainstream scientists are ready to come to negotiating table. Not surprising. I am, after all, talking about a utopian way forward in this thread.


(Timothy Horton) #33

Why should science even consider negotiating with the DI? If the DI wants to be part of science they know how to easily do it. If they want to stay a religiously driven political organization then they’ll keep on doing exactly what they are doing, which isn’t anywhere close to science.


(Ann Gauger) #34

Well it’s certainly true that the people who post at peaceful science aren’t interested. I waited to see what would happen. But really Josh this isn’t the way to proceed— it never had any chance of success. If it was meant to test the waters it was doomed to failure before you started. Have fun tomorrow. Hopefully I will be on an airplane.


(George) #36

@swamidass

The quote above was not from you… but raises the same question i have.

What is the technical term for the current evolutionary if it os not Neo-Darwinism?

And what is so different about the new paradigm that it doesnt fit under the already “big umbrella” Neo-Darwinism?


(George) #37

@swamidass,

Dr. Behe said, during a video interview, that nobody would find a novel structure in the natural word showing showing intelligent design. What, then, was he proposing?

To avoid having to type everything he said, i will paraphrase my understanding of what he meant: …setting aside the especially miraculous, neither Christian nor scientist would or could see a difference in origins (assuming there was a way to see the origins) for the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. His hypothetical model applies nothing but natural outcomes from natural laws.

Dr Behe, then is not dealing in episodes of design… but in one long, interlocking sequence, an extended plan of natural events if you will, consciously fit together by Supreme Being of the universe, and set in motion at the moment of creation.

So then, what is different in Behe’s view that sets ICD apart from everything else?

It comes down to the issue of probabilities, and pretty much ONLY probabilities!

He would say, i believe, that the anatomies of certain kinds of eyeballs are impossible to appear in the absence of God… but he might say the probabilities - - for the same conditions and time trame - - vary greatly depending on the design: varying from extremely likely to virtually impossible.

Extending these parameters to the notorious case of the flagellum… Dr. Behe would not argue that the emergence of a flagellum in a godless universe is not impossible; he would argue that it is virtually impossible!

For a more obscure example, he might argue that the appearance of the factor that allows cellular life to exist in high-oxygen marine environments (hypothesized for the start of the Cambrian Explosion) is a naturally possible event that might have been delayed, in a godless universe, by another billion years (or two!).

However, in a God-guided universe, it was able to happen when God NEEDED it to happen.

This distinction, then, is at the heart of how Dr Behe differentiates between ICD vs. the rest!

If God exists and God accesses all things and places… how do I.D. proponents think they can compare the probabilities of “Event A” happening WITH GOD … vs. “Event A”! In a cosmos WITHOUT god?

How do we set up a field or lab study where we can know we have a dataset obtained WITH GOD vs. a dataset obtained WITHOUT GOD?!?!

This is a metaphysical conundrum of the highest order… not a scientific one.


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Darwinism Falsified in Science Long Ago?
#67

It is just “the modern theory of evolution”, or “the theory of evolution”. No theory in science is static, nor is one view of the theory accepted by 100% of scientists. Also, science has mostly moved away from the Victorian tradition of naming theories after people. The Ship of Theseus is probably a good analogy for what the theory of evolution is:

If we go back to the first use of the term “neo-Darwinian” and compared the theory at that time with the modern theory they would be different. So why call it “neo-Darwinian”?