Possible experiment to test for a "Divine" intelligent designer

I really need to know from expert scientists whether this experiment could potentially test for a Universal common designer existing in biology. So I am going to get right to it by defining what the designer is…

Universal common designer hypothesis

What I mean by “Universal” is existing by necessity in all possible worlds; what I mean by “common designer” is a non-classical (or quantum) mind that encompasses digital information and consciousness or agent causality according to Orch-OR’s theory of consciousness. Both combined make a Universal mind.

A. If this hypothesis is true, the designer would have to exist in all possible conditions or worlds to create and sustain all possible manifestations of life.

There are two sets of experiments that need to be performed to truly verify this prediction. When the conscious observer chooses a reaction environment to experiment on, the observer has to first test and determine whether or not life can be produced within that condition solely by allowing the natural conditions or processes to potentially produce specified complexity. The Miller-Urey and Lenski experiments would be great examples of how we have tested this, as far as I am concerned.

Then, another experiment must be performed that simulates almost the exact same natural condition, but the experimenter would guide these natural mechanisms or processes to produce specified complexity. For example, whenever unguided chemical processes under atmospheric conditions were left to themselves without any interference, they did not produce the desired results. Rather, the living state would always subside and turn into “useless networks of RNA sequences” as demonstrated by Szostak and Bartel (1993).They were able to solve this problem by tying the molecules onto a substrate to make sure the pool of RNA molecules do not diffuse and form intermolecular reactions, and, thus, safely incubated. This, however, is an unlikely occurrence within the primordial soup.

As a result, the combined outcomes of these experiments would produce evidence for the existence of an alien designer that created and developed our form of life. However, if we apply the same procedure to many different astrological and deep-sea conditions found on earth and other planets, it would show how a personal but necessary transcended agent exists in nature.

This is because even though the experimenter who produces life within each natural condition is finite and contingent, there could not be any conscious life before simple life emerged, which would thus require an ultimate conscious observer before the creation of finite observers to perform the act.

It is important to note that the conditions do not have to be the actual conditions that created our form of life but only a possible condition, Moreover, there is no established consensus on the definition of life and life could have arisen outside our biosphere under conditions as-yet unknown to us.

However, if, at some point, someone produces digital information within a possible condition in nature that does not require a conscious agent, then this would falsify the theory. This is because it would show how a possible condition could have created or developed life before the existence of finite conscious observers.

BTW, all of this information and ideas were derived and inspired by the work of Fuz Rana because I am not an expert myself. But, I did add a little bit of own ingenuity to it in order to make sure I made the case. I am really looking forward to this discussion. So let the games begin!:smiley:

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This is not a complete response to you; the whole proposal as you state it is completely problematic for various reasons. But a question: given that life probably arose after a few hundred million years of cooking a planet-sized broth, how large a volume and how long a period of time are you planning on letting the experimenters work with? A quart and a year? And why would you assume that this establishes anything, especially when it’s going to be awfully hard, in that quart, to simulate every set of conditions on the early earth, from the deepest ocean vents to the sun-scorched shores?

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Again, the conditions do not have to be the actual conditions that created our form of life but only a possible condition regardless of the source because this is mainly about the origin of digital information and testing for the existence of a Universal common designer in biology or an undiscovered law rather than showing the origin of our life or how advanced life emerged.

More importantly, this is about potentially proving beyond all “reasonable” doubt that God exists in biology NOT beyond all “possible” doubt or absolute proof. This means you don’t have to experiment on every possible conditions out there but just the two other known ones, such as Hypothermal vents and astronomical conditions, to produce evidence for the God hypothesis. Then, experimenters would continue to experiment on different variations of atmospheric, oceanic, and astronomic conditions until the hypothesis is falsified. But then again, I might be all wrong in my assessment of this so others like you will have to correct me if I am mistaken, which is the whole point of why I posted this argument.

Welcome! Are you aware that there are metabolism-first hypotheses?

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Well, much might be said here. But the core difficulty is that empirical findings don’t delimit possibility. You can attempt to create conditions that will generate “information” (a really terrible way to look at the problem, by the way) but the fact that you fail doesn’t establish impossibility. And the impossibility of things you have thought of, in turn, doesn’t establish the impossibility of things you haven’t thought of.

What you’re proposing looks like a blend of not-well-thought-out philosophy with ID Creationist propaganda, coupled to a limited understanding of how science is done.

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Yes, but again, the conditions do not have to be the actual conditions that created our form of life but only a possible condition regardless of the source because this is about the origin of digital information and testing for the existence of a Universal common designer in biology or an undiscovered law rather than showing the origin of our life or how advanced life emerged.

After that initial post of yours, I would be cautious about saying such things.

Your definition of a “universal common designer” is a mish-mash of philosophical, rather than real, categories (e.g., “existing by necessity in all possible worlds”). It cannot really be given an operational definition.

Your references to “all possible worlds” and this thing “hav[ing] to exist” in them, is beyond the reach of empirical scrutiny unless you have a way of doing work in all possible worlds.

Your proposal that a “conscious observer” (this adds nothing to your statements at all, and again suggests a muddle between philosophy and other considerations) should go and determine whether life can be produced through natural conditions or processes assumes that we know precisely what type of experiment to do to stretch the bounds of possibility, and that a null result will establish impossibility. Empirical inquiry cannot do this, as I have already explained to you. You cannot delimit possibility this way; all you can say is “well, throwing all of the bits of my Erector set into a heap and waiting for them to self-organize didn’t work, ergo, life from natural processes is impossible.” It doesn’t work.

“Specified complexity” is a lousy term to use here. It means nothing without some source of a specification. It suggests you have drunk deeply of Intelligent Design propaganda and not scrutinized it carefully.

Your conclusion that the contrast between one failed experiment to produce life and another (successful?) one would “produce evidence for an alien designer” is a pure non sequitur. Your suggestion that repeating this procedure with multiple conditions would “show how a personal but necessary transcended agent exists in nature” is like some nouveau cuisine-style concentrated non sequitur.

And, you know, these comments are not constructive because I cannot think of any way to improve upon what you are suggesting. It literally makes absolutely no sense, right from the get-go. If that annoys you, by all means march down to a chemistry department at your nearest university with this proposal and see what they think.

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Welcome to Peaceful Science, @Meerkat_SK5. We’re glad to have you join us.

As soon as I saw the words “existing by necessity in all possible worlds” as well as “Universal common designer”, I thought it likely that both sides of this discussion would soon be expressing frustrations over categories, terminology, and perspective. Indeed, even just the term “specified complexity” is going to prompt strong reactions from most scientists. You might even find it useful to search the Peaceful Science forum archives to get familiar with past discussions of William Dembski’s “specified complexity” and Michael Behe’s “irreducible complexity”.

For someone like me who came from a YEC background in the writings of Henry Morris and John Whitcomb Jr. in the 1960’s and years later the OEC perspectives of Hugh Ross and Fuz Rana, Intelligent Design hypotheses have always fascinated me—especially when so many of my evangelical friends within the science academy found them unconvincing. (After extensive studies on my own after my retirement, I concluded that even though I believe God designed the world and did so intelligently, I am not convinced that one can use some version of the scientific method(s) to establish a comprehensive theory of ID. To me, everything proposed to date by the Discovery Institute et al is basically philosophy about scientific phenomena and not science per se. And that helps explain why ID has fared so poorly in peer-review.)

I’m trying to think of helpful suggestions for possibly dividing your original post into separable questions which might facilitate the most productive discussions of the science involved while at least postponing for a time some of the philosophical issues which may be getting in the way. Perhaps others can make suggestions toward better addressing some of the science subtopics which are of greatest interest to you.

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When I said “possible worlds” , I was just talking about other environmental conditions that are not considered to have contribute to the process of creating OUR form of life but potentially a different form of life. That’s it.

For example, Stanley Miller continued to repeat his experiment under different conditions in response to what the established concepts that atmospheric and geochemical science provided regarding the composition of the early earth’s atmosphere (Miller et al. 1995, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008).

Moreover, several other types of simulations have been performed, which shows how the molecules of life can form under a wide variety of environments with different starting chemicals and different sources of energy. For example, Bada (2011) added cyanamide and hydrogen sulfide to the experimental conditions used by Miller in 1958, which would simulate interstellar space and volcanic gases because cyanamide (NCNH2) has been detected in interstellar space and is presumed to have been transported to Earth in meteorites, and hydrogen sulfide has been detected in volcanic gases (Bada, 2011)

In other words, “possible world” just means “pre-biotic conditions”, which could be interstallar, oceanic, volanic, atmospheric, etc.

I hope this clears up any confusion I brought upon you.

Read this article if you want a more technical definition of conscious observer:

Hameroff, Stuart; Penrose, Roger (2014). “Consciousness in the universe”. Physics of Life Reviews. 11 (1): 39–78.

Not according to prominent researchers. For instance, random mixtures of polymers or granite are examples of complex structures generated, but they are not specified. Crystals are typically understood as the prototypes of simple well-specified structures because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules held together in a uniform way. However, neither crystals nor polymer mixtures qualify as living organisms because they do not possess both information forms simultaneously found in DNA, leading to “specified complexity” (Orgel 1973).

Crick (1958), who was one of the first to elucidate the information properties of the DNA molecule, explained this meaning of information in biological terms in 1958 as “the specification of the amino acid sequence in protein. … the precise determination of sequence, either of bases in the nucleic acid or of amino acid residues in the protein.” Shortly thereafter, leading molecular biologists defined biological information to incorporate this notion of specificity of function and complexity (Sakar 1996).

Upon reflection, I actually agree with this and would like to omit this part of what I said and describe it differently or better.

When the conscious observer chooses a particular set of pre-biotic conditions to experiment on, the observer has to first test and determine whether or not life can be produced within that condition solely without unreasonable interference from using Miller-Urey/Lenski type of experiments .

Then, the observer must perform the same experiment but instead with unrealistic interference the second time around. The combined outcomes of these experiments would produce evidence for the existence of a Universal common designer in biology. If we apply the same procedure to a different pre-biotic condition, it would produce additional evidence for this hypothesis.

This is because even though the experimenter who produces life within each prebiotic condition is finite and contingent, there could not be any conscious life before simple life emerged even if its an alien designer that created our form of life. Therefore, this would require the postulation of a Universal common designer to explain the experimental results.

If you want me to show you a chart of what is considered realistic versus unrealistic interference, just ask.

I was trying to appeal to a broad audience and not sound too technical. I made a bunch of clarifications when I responded back to Puck Mendelssohn that addresses this issue.

This is ironic to me because I used to feel the same way before I did my extensive studies on my own but after I was done with my studies I have come to the conclusion that you can provide a comprehensive theory of ID, as long as the designer is God, of course.

I was never able to find anything in the literature which constituted a truly comprehensive theory of intelligent design. (That was some years ago, by the way, but I’m not aware of anything published since then. And most of what I found which some claimed to be a true “theory of ID” was riddled with botched understanding of the science and interlaced with amateurish philosophical tirades) Can you provide a citation for what you consider to be the best comprehensive theory of intelligent design?

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Here you go:

Urk. Where is the comprehensive theory of ID in that? I can’t find it. Further, the biology and philosophy of science in that article are execrable. If that’s your answer, your answer is worthless. We could discuss specifics if you like, but you should probably start a new thread.

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I too could not find a Comprehensive Theory of ID in the article. I thought I was getting warmer when I got to the section entitled, “A Scientific Creation Model for Common Design”, but that wasn’t it either. However, Dr. Ross referred to another article: Can Science Detect the Creator’s Fingerprints in Nature?

That was a little bit warmer—but disappointing, even though I as a Christian do have philosophical/theological reasons for seeing God’s hand in nature. (But that is not the same thing as using scientific methods to identify intelligent design at work in nature and to specifically identify that designer as God.)

@Meerkat_SK5, let’s approach the question in another way: How would you use Dr. Ross’ comprehensive scientific theory of intelligent design in this situation: You find novel object X as you walk through the woods. I won’t describe Object X but I will make clear that it is NOT a watch. (So Mr. Paley won’t help us here.) A truly comprehensive theory of intelligent design should provide a path for a scientist to examine and investigate Object X in order to answer the question: “Was Object X intelligently designed?” So help me understand how Ross’ theory will help me to determine if Object X was intelligently designed.

Let’s look at a few excerpts from that article:

If Scripture is true, then scientific investigation should uncover evidence for design throughout the natural realm. Science should find God’s fingerprints. And, indeed, it has.

As a Christian I would agree that lots of scientific phenomena fuel my recognition of God’s hand in nature—but that is my philosophical position. I doubt if any peer-reviewed article in a scientific journal has stated, “A deity-detector was applied to Object X and it flagged it as designed by God.” Indeed, the next sentences of the article explains that all of this is simply the author’s opinion:

As a biochemist, I am deeply impressed with the elegance, sophistication, and ingenuity of the cell’s molecular systems. In my view, these features reflect the work of a mind—a Divine Mind.

So it is not a scientific conclusion at all. He’s simply saying that because a cell is complex, elegant, and sophisticated, that surely means that the only logical explanation is “a Divine Mind.” Why would complexity etc. necessitate a “Divine Mind”? How was that scientifically determined? Also, science depends upon measurements and quantification. How does one measure complexity, elegance, and sophistication? Is a uranium atom complex, elegant, and sophisticated? How about a hair follicle? Or a colloidal dispersion? Indeed, from a scientific point of view, is there ANYTHING which scientists study which does not involve complexity, elegance, and sophistication? I would argue that a snowflake—that is, frozen water—is all of those things. Does that therefore “prove” that a snowflake requires an intelligent agent?

If the answer is yes, is there anything in the universe which is NOT intelligently designed? After all, my Biblical theology tells me that everything in the world was created by God in an ultimate sense. Therefore, everything is intelligently designed. And if everything is intelligently designed, is the term even useful?

In my book The Cell’s Design , I show how the remarkable similarities serve to revitalize William Paley’s Watchmaker Argument for God’s existence.

Oh. Citing Paley is not particularly helpful. After all, Paley’s argument depends on his prior knowledge of watches. We recognize a watch found in the woods as being the product of an intelligent mind because we know that people make watches and we’ve seen lots of them. We do NOT know if biological organisms can and are made by intelligent minds. We’ve never observed one being made from inorganic ingredients such that we could look for an intelligent agent in the vicinity. It sure looks like Ross is simply jumping to conclusions based upon his personal philosophy.

If I’m wrong, then I will hope you can explain how Dr. Ross’ theory helps me examine Object X and answer the question, “Is X intelligently designed?”

Meanwhile, both Dr. Ross’ and Dr. Rana’s writings on ID strike me as philosophical discussions of scientific topics—not comprehensive scientific theories per se—much like the writings of Discovery Institute authors like Stephen Meyer.

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Keep in mind, there are many articles he produced that show how he has developed a comprehensive theory of ID. This article from Fuz should address your last response:

You’ve got me reading a LOT of articles—but each one fails to develop a comprehensive theory of ID!

But it doesn’t. Indeed, it seems to just be a long illustration of the Argument from Incredulity fallacy. Yes, some scientific questions take many years and many types of investigations to produce the best answers. But that doesn’t mean that in the meantime someone can somehow declare by default, “Therefore, an intelligent designer must have made it.”

Again, Rana’s opinion that I could paraphrase as: Science isn’t making enough headway on this question is both a logic fallacy and a personal philosophy pretending to be science. It doesn’t lead us anywhere fruitful in a scientific sense.

Meanwhile, I hope you will address my questions about Object X. How can I determine if it is intelligently designed?

And here’s another idea I would like to discuss with you: What if God created a universe where the laws of physics and chemistry inevitably bring about (via various natural processes) the merging of inorganic ingredients which produced the first biological organisms—that is, abiogenesis? Why should the role of natural processes in producing the first living things be so controversial? Isn’t God wise enough and powerful enough to create a universe which naturally produces living things? Perhaps Dr. Ross and Dr. Rana should consider that scientists will eventually discover what natural processes made possible the first life forms. Would that be discovering “the fingerprints of God”?

My philosophical position as a Molinist is that the answer is yes.

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We can definitely do that later if necessary but for now I need you to address the topic at hand.

I have recently restructured my explanation on how to test the Universal common designer hypothesis. If the hypothesis is true, this designer would have to exist to create and sustain all possible manifestations of life.

For instance, when the conscious observer chooses a particular set of pre-biotic conditions to experiment on, the observer has to first test and determine whether or not life can be produced within that condition solely without unreasonable interference from using Miller-Urey/Lenski type of experiments .

Then, the observer must perform the same experiment but instead with unrealistic interference the second time around. The combined outcomes of these experiments would produce evidence for the existence of a Universal common designer in biology. If we apply the same procedure to a different pre-biotic condition, it would produce additional evidence for this hypothesis.

This is because even though the experimenter who produces life within each prebiotic condition is finite and contingent, there could not be any conscious life before simple life emerged even if its an alien designer that created our form of life. Therefore, this would require the postulation of a Universal common designer to explain the experimental results.

If you want me to show you a chart of what is considered realistic versus unrealistic interference, just ask.

This might test one type of design, maybe, but not in a meaningful way. This is a very ad hoc model and likely to be a negative test. But the negative result won’t mean much because there is not any reason to to think that this is how God created things.

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Scientists thus far have been unable to create a stable “solar system” of star and orbiting planets under controlled conditions in a laboratory. Does that failure mean that I should reject the idea that natural processes brought about the solar system astronomers observe? Do star-planet systems require an intelligent designer interfering in the natural processes?

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