ID Lacks a Punch Line

There have been many occasions where I have read articles by ID supporters and have been left asking, “and then what?”. So often there is just half an idea, like a joke with a set up and no punch line.

This article from Evolution News and Views is a perfect example:

There is a LOT that can be nit picked in that article, but I would rather take a more global view. Let’s take these claims at more or less face value, and then ask what it really means for Intelligent Design.

Let’s say that there are a 2,000 more genes in the human genome than previously thought. This would increase the number of genes by 10%, and these genes would probably cover less than 1% of the human genome. Now what? What does this mean for ID?

Let’s say that introns in the yeast genome play a role in starvation, but it isn’t a sequence based function. Nearly any sequence in those introns can serve the same function. Not only that, but it may have no application to the human genome. Now what? What does this mean for ID?

Let’s say that in some species in some situations the DNA methylation pattern of ancestors can be passed on to descendants and affect the phenotype in those offspring. Now what? What does this mean for ID? Do differing DNA methylation patterns explain why humans are different from mice? Is a designer required in order for a CpG to be methylated, or for DNA to be wrapped around a histone?

In all of these cases we have processes that have no observed designer involved. These processes all happen spontaneously and naturally. How does this further the argument for Intelligent Design? Are they so focused on trying to tear down their own strawman version of evolution that they have lost sight of the goal?


Their target audience doesn’t think that far ahead.

What amazes me about these weird riffs on newly-published papers is that they can’t seem to conceive of a single followup experiment, and even more importantly, they won’t do one, despite many of them having access to labs.

Can someone explain to me how it is that they can only (allegedly) look back to see how a study supports ID, but they can’t see ahead to advance a single ID hypothesis that makes a single empirical prediction?


You could have stopped right there. :slightly_smiling_face:


@Mercer, who do you have in mind?

Whom I have in mind would be you, Axe, Behe, Minnich, et al.

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I no longer work in a lab (inherited essential tremor—gotta love those touch screens). Doug—I don’t know what his immediate plans are. Scott has research not related to ID directly. Behe has been isolated by his department and has no access to the things necessary for research.
You were saying there were so many of us who could take up a project at the drop of a hat with our excess research budget of $100K, enough to get started, and an eager grad student and seasoned postdoc ready to go? Oh and I forgot the many collaborators who would share expertise and speed the research along. We should have something publishable by next year. Right.


Here’s a hypothetical for you Ms. Gauger or any other ID proponent:

Suppose an unknown benefactor gives you an unlimited budget for ID research. You can have as big a lab as you like filled with whatever equipment you desire. You can hire all the research assistants you want.

What testable hypotheses based on ID would you investigate and how would you do it? How would you go about answering some of the critical details ID sorely lacks? Things like the mechanism the Designer used to physically manufacture the end designs, a timeline for when the designs were done, physical location(s) the work was done, etc.

This is not a trivial request. If ID is as intellectually and scientifically sterile as it has been to date what earthly good is it as a science?


@Timothy_Horton I wouldn’t formulate it as you have done because I don’t think of it as you do. I would look for traces in the history of life of the entry of new information. I would hire a top notch coder, biostatisticians, philogeneticists, genomics and systematics experts and protein chemists and biochemists and molecular biologists. I have a plan what we would look for but I won’t say it here in a public venue. It’s probably glarely obvious anyway.

It’s Dr Gauger, not Ms Gauger.


Science already knows new information enters life with every new generation of every species. We know mechanisms which produce new information too. How would you go about determining the source of any additional “design” information and the mechanism by which any external “design” information was inserted?

My apologies Dr. Gauger

I see you miss the key point. You see with Darwinian glasses on.

I see you don’t have any answers as to what testable hypotheses ID can offer or to what fruitful research it will provide. I see with science glasses on and right now I see a scientifically sterile philosophical idea. I’m open to being shown wrong. Please explain the “key point” for us, thanks.

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@Timothy_Horton I already said I can’t reveal the details. But I can show you how you might think differently. You already know what pattern or distribution of mutation you can expect from an evolutionary process. What pattern would you expect from an intelligently designed one? How could you be tell the difference?

Correct me if I’m wrong but hasn’t the DI been telling us for the last 20 years “design” in life has already been determined? Have they just been shining us on? Why are you still looking for “design” if “design” has already been shown? Shouldn’t someone be working on a way for ID to answer the how, when, where, and of course who (or whom) questions?

We know what to expect from known evolutionary processes. How about from currently unknown evolutionary processes?

How could you possibly predict that without knowing the Designer’s intentions and capabilities?

What patterns if found would falsify the idea of an intelligent design?

Sorry for the late edits. Sleep deprivation is taking its toll.

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Now you are the one evading. I am asking you what pattern or distribution of mutation you might expect from a design process. The pattern will reveal the when where and how. The Who everyone decides for themselves. Biology doesn’t come with a designer’s mark, at least not that we know of. Now I am going to bed.

I told you neither I nor anyone else can predict without knowing the Designer’s intentions and capabilities. Do you have that information available?

Only if the pattern says “Made by Zorg on Planet QFG334, Galactic star date 56834.22” Otherwise HOW could the pattern tell you when, where, and how?

What patterns if found would falsify the idea of an intelligent design?

@Timothy_Horton I am not trying to falsify design. You are. I am trying to demonstrate design. Don’t worry about predicting what the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or some other irrational mythic God made up by Richard Dawkins might do. If you were going to create life as you see it now, gradually, by mutations, what would you do? And where and when?

If your Design idea can’t be falsified it isn’t science.

OK, so Design hasn’t been demonstrated yet despite what the DI has been claiming all these years.

I’d do exactly what research into evolution has already done in determining the how, where, and when. Science already has good, well substantiated answers to those questions. ID doesn’t even have a way to begin researching their claimed alternate answers and claimed additional mechanisms.

Scientifically sterile.

Thank you for your time Dr., I’m off to bed too.

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Oh, I should have said if we see a pattern consonant with evolution that counts against design.

How do you tell what you find isn’t consonant with some currently unknown evolutionary processes? Isn’t that just another “Designer of the Gaps” scenario?

Don’t you have that backwards? Aren’t you invoking evolution of the gaps?

If l have made a design specification (pattern) prediction that is distinguishable from an evolutionary pattern, and that is what we find, that’s not God of the gaps.