ID Supporter Takes ID Out of Science

I have committed the unpardonable sin of promoting ID as theology and arguing ID is not science. ID is the lineal descendant of Paley’s natural theology (as in contrast to “revealed theology”). I’ve publicly disputed the use of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as a general argument in favor of ID/Creation, and I’ve been mildly critical of the concept of specified complexity and its successors.

@stcordova what has your experience been with the DI in light of your heterodox (for them) position?


I used to think ID was science. Atleast on its own. But it’s proponents made it pseudo by their actions and lack thereof. But now I think it’s just Paley

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Members of DI weren’t the ones who were unkind. It was others, like Barry Arrington and some lesser known names.

I’ve openly criticized the views of my friend Casey Luskin who worked for the DI. He’s never taken my criticisms personally:

And my disagreement with Casey never became an ugly public fight like the one I had with Granville Sewell over the 2nd Law of thermodynamics. I think the 2nd law is not an appropriate basis for arguing against abiogenesis or universal common descent.

I’ve been mildly critical of Bill Dembski’s CSI but that never got into an ugly fight.

The question of “ID is science” will become an issue because I’ve working with science faculty in Christian Universities to develop an curricula that will teach ID and Creation theories in the religion and philosophy departments of Christian colleges and maybe seminaries. I want to compartmentalize theologically neutral viewpoints of accepted science form theologically and metaphysically loaded notions like ID and special creation.

FWIW, my views are a little bit closer to Stephen Meyers on the matter of what counts as science:

Perhaps, however, one just really does not want to call intelligent design a scientific theory. Perhaps one prefers the designation “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.” Fine. Call it what you will, provided the same appellation is applied to other forms of inquiry that have the same methodological and logical character and limitations. In particular, make sure both design and descent are called “quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones.”

This may seem all very pointless, but that in a way is just the point. As Laudan has argued, the question whether a theory is scientific is really a red herring. What we want to know is not whether a theory is scientific but whether a theory is true or false, well confirmed or not, worthy of our belief or not. One can not decide the truth of a theory or the warrant for believing a theory to be true by applying a set of abstract criteria that purport to tell in advance how all good scientific theories are constructed or what they will in general look like. – Stephen Meyer


Where can one find this?

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Hi T.j_Runyon. Here are some:

This is indirectly related to ID and CSI as I describe how CSI or designed objects don’t proximally need a conscious intelligence:

Hello Salvador,

I appreciate how you are careful to classify ID as a metaphysical/philosophical school of thought, rather than scientific.

I agree with half of the Meyer passage that you cited. Here’s the half I agree with:

And here’s the half I respectfully disagree with:

Science can without question be used to infer past events that might not have been directly observed.

  • Astronomers use the growth rate of the Crab Nebula to infer an 11th-century supernova.
  • Growth rings at the time of a tree’s demise indicate the year it started growing and the climactic trends (wet vs. dry years, hot vs. cold years, etc.) over its lifetime.
  • DNA testing reveals who committed a sexual assault.

Would you agree with me, Salvador, that these examples are not "quasi-scientific historical speculation with strong metaphysical overtones?

The vast majority of scientists would argue the that theory of evolution uses fundamentally the same methodology as the examples I cited. Biologists just use different evidence than those examples. Rather than gas expansion rates and growth rings, biologists use…

  • fossils
  • geological dating
  • the distribution of protein structures across species
  • the distribution of DNA sequences across species
  • the mapping of mutation pathways to observed de novo genes

…and so forth.

Godspeed in your endeavors,
Chris Falter


I have no dog in that fight. I might agree, provisionally.

Without Question? Science should be deeply skeptical. GeoCentrism seemed undeniable in as much as it looked like the sun “rose” and “set” everyday. Then we learned otherwise.

They may argue that. I don’t view evolutionary theory however as real science compared to disciplines like classical electrodynamics and geomtric optics. I think it does a lot of pretending to be science.

Here is a simple example. I’ve asked around whether all major protein families share a common ancestor. The general answer I get is “NO”, hence there is no Protein Universal Common Ancestor (PUCA). By way of extension phylogenetic methods don’t explain origin of major architectural innovations of proteins, only variations within an architecture. Examples of major protein architectures I’ve studied are Zinc Finger proteins and Collagens for starters, of late Helicases and TopoIsomerases.

The failure of phylogenetic mehtods to account for major protein innovations without a common ancestor bring evolutionary theory in the uneneviable position of needing miracles to make universal common descent possible, and the first miracle universal common descent needs is abiogenesis to get common descent working. Evolutionary theory only pretends it is not invoking miracles.

For example, you can see somewhat visually the problem of invoking universal common descent from an ancetral protein in these two protein architectures:


We could of course ask a professional evolutionary biologists to suggest an ancestral sequence for these two architectures. It’s doubtful a plausible ancestor will be found.

And scientists have agreed for many centuries that the earth revolves around the sun.

I’m wondering how serious you are when you make this statement.

Do you think that someday the consensus about the gravitational relationship between the earth and the sun will be overturned?

Do you think that there is a more-than-infinitesimal probability that the Crab Nebula will one day be attributed to something other than a supernova in the 11th century?

Do you think that the practice of using DNA evidence to identify a rapist will be refuted?

Do you think that tree rings will someday be found not to indicate the age of a tree, or climactic conditions during its lifetime?

I do not know enough about protein families to discuss this matter intelligently with you. I would hope that some of the biologists on the forum might be able to address your point. I would ask, though: is there some reason why the theory of evolution demands that every protein be traced back to a single ancestral protein? Can you cite where in the peer-reviewed literature you have obtained this idea?

Chris Falter


Thank you for your comment.

We can revisit the protein architectures at some point, but I was merely stating an example of why I don’t think evolutionary theory is science because it makes assertions that should be rigorously settled first before representing it as science. We can rigorously demonstrate cause and effect in geometric optics. If evolutionary theory claims to provide explanation for the origin of major protein architectures via physics, chemistry, probability, it should be able to make a plausible description of the steps involved based in physics, chemistry, probability. Lacking that, it falls into the category of low quality science, if science at all. It is then a statement of belief not based on deductions from physics and chemistry.

@stcordova, right now common descent + neutral theory makes a large range of quantitative predictions about the patterns of similarity and dissimilarity between genomes. These patterns are exactly what we find. Until there is an alternate theory that mathematically explains these theories, scientists are left with common descent.

Do you know about these quantitative predictions?

Do you know of another theory that mathematically makes the same predictions without relying on common descent?


I think admitting something can’t be explained by normative mechanisms is a more accurate answer than saying a theory actually explains the emergence of certain features of life (such as the two architectures described above) when it actually doesn’t.

Personally, it would bother my conscience to say evolutionary theory explains the emergence of zinc finger proteins like CTCF when I full well know it doesn’t in terms of physics, and chemistry and mechanical feasibility. Like abiogenesis, I don’t mind saying that is a mainstream BELIEF, but I can’t in good conscience say it agrees coherently with considerations from other scientific disciplines.

That’s not to say ID and Creationist theory don’t suffer serious difficulty as well.

As I said in the article you linked to regarding abiogenesis and fine-tuning, and which can be applied to some evolutionary questions like the evolution of eukaryotes:

when someone asserts that it is extremely improbable that a cell should arise from inanimate matter, this statement can be regarded as normative from the perspective of human experience and experimental observations, even though it is not necessarily normative in the ultimate sense of the word. Putting it more informally, one might say that abiogenesis and fine-tuning are miraculous from the human point of view, but whether they are miraculous in the theological or ultimate sense is a question that may well be practically (if not formally) undecidable.

Thus for some evolutionary transitions, it’s fair game to say it would require statistical miracles. This is most pronounced is the Eukartote/Prokaryote divide. It think acceptance of common ancestry in that case is more a matter of belief than reasoned application of chemistry and physics and other mechanical considerations.

“Do you know of another theory that mathematically makes the same predictions without relying on common descent?” I don’t think evolutionary theory makes mathematical predictions that count much for anything.

One could say, “biology has a structure that facilitates biological discovery” and come up with a better mathematical description for the patterns of similarity and diversity. That was part of the motivation for this paper by Kirk:

I think it would be pretty hard to do biological research if the designer didn’t create a series of model organisms like bacteria, yeast, mice, chimps to help us understand human biology. Without that similarity, we’d have to be doing dissections on each other to understand our own biology…

Of course, that is getting into theological territory to say that the patterns of similarity and diversity are designed to facilitate biological discovery. Like geocentrism of old, evolutionary theory misinterprets data - in misinterprets the patterns of similarity of diversity as common descent, when in fact a different explanation, that of scientific discoverability is a better explanation for the nested-hierarchical patterns in life.

It doesn’t appear you are familiar with this yet:

You have not articulated any of these predictions.

Those aren’t predictions, those are more like curve fits of data after the fact. Predictions are such things that enable orbital mechanics to be able to put a space probe in the desired location.

But let’s take two specific proteins. Cytochrome C and Histone 3.

Histone 3 is almost 95%+ identical between humans and a plant Arabidopsis Thaliana. Whereas there is substantial difference in plant cytochrome C vs. human cytochrome C. That’s not much of a prediction. That’s a curve fit. And it’s rather ad hoc between proteins in terms of molecular clocking. The assumption is selection accounts for the high conservation in Histone 3, but yet that is another ad hoc assumption falsified the Histone deletion experiments reported by Behe over 20 years ago. But even assuming selection, then that isn’t neutral theory. So neutral theory works for describing divergence between genes except when doesn’t.

The proper form of a prediction is given such and such conditions, the outcome is such and such. After-the-fact curve fitting isn’t much of a prediction

But anyway, the subject of the post was about my essay, which is taking “ID is science” out of the ID/Creation argument. I don’t think anyone found that objectionable here.

Of interest is my other claim in that essay:

The objective of this article is to circumvent, or at least minimize, the metaphysical baggage of phrases like “natural”, “material”, “supernatural”, “intelligent,” when formulating probabilistic descriptions of phenomena such as the fine-tuning of the universe and the origin of life. One can maintain that these remarkable phenomena are not explicable in terms of any accepted normative mechanisms which are known to us from everyday experience and scientific observation, and remain well within the realm of empirical science. However, whether fine-tuning and the origin of life are normative in the ultimate sense, and whether they are best explained by God or the multiverse, are entirely separate issues, which fall outside the domain of empirical science.

Now back to your objections:

You have not articulated any of these predictions.

I think it is more important to highlight where they would fail as a matter of principle. The genomes of Eukarytoes and Prokaryotes are poignant example where a random walk (as in free-of-selection) would fail. The coordination required to evolve trans membrane proteins for the membrane bound organelles of eukaryotes – that level of coordiantion is incompatible with neutral random walks since the intermediates would be dead on arrival. One is certainly welcome to claim evolutionary is science, but I can’t in good conscience say evolutionary theory is science for the case of eukaryote prokaryote issue because it would require statistical miracles.

In any case, this isn’t a topic I was intending to pursue in this thread. However I want to cover the issue in the course I’m developing, and I’d be happy to mention the pro-Evolution viewpoint. So I look forward to you and others articulating the case in favor of evolution, and I’d be happy to give that viewpoint the freedom to be articulated as best as possible.

Although I’d ask to defer evolutionary discussion till much later since, I’m more interested in reviewing the origin of life, which a significant part of the essay which you linked to.

Btw, I’m not familiar with your views about abiogenesis. Whether it requires miracles or not.

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Not even close. Not a good analogy at all. You really have never heard about this?

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Hello Salvador,
Though I often disagree with your conclusions, I do appreciate your honesty. It makes a big difference! :slight_smile:

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Sounds like worthy discussion. I have studied neutral theory on my own and in a grad school class on bioinformatics and phylogeny. Maybe sometime we can talk about it since I want to write an module for those interested for my class on neutral theory. Most IDist believe the genome in general is not under much selection. But that doesn’t equate to neutral theory being a mechanism for evolving functional systems.

Can we take your objections to what I said to another thread some day?

I want to have your objections or any other substantive objections a fair hearing in my class. My class will be computer based, not traditional lecture base because the background of the students will vary widely. They can choose learning modules appropriate to their knowledge base.

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Greetings Dan.

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