Possible experiment to test for a "Divine" intelligent designer

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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Sure, I can show you. I have recently restructured my explanation on how to test the Universal common designer hypothesis upon critiques. 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.

I guess its possible but I don’t support such a view because I found the Universal common design hypothesis to be a much better explanation.

Just to let you know, I have recently restructured my explanation on how to test the Universal common designer hypothesis based on critiques. 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.

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Please read the entire thing of what I just said before you respond because it is clear here that you did not read the whole thing.

Well, you said “all” possible worlds. You still have no conceivable method of testing in those terms. What you can do is test some set of hypotheticals. And your results will be applicable to the set of hypotheticals you test, but not to other possible scenarios and certainly not to all possible worlds.

I know what you’re talking about. It’s just that it’s not relevant to your experiment. It adds nothing to say that the experimenters ought to be conscious. This isn’t even the sort of thing you’d include in the specification for an experiment unless you were managing a bunch of drunken grad students who were regularly found napping instead of doing their work. What it does do, however, is suggest – as does your link – that you’ve gotten other irrelevant philosophical/cosmological considerations muddled up in your biology, where they do not belong.

That’s the same non sequitur as before.

I think that before you start charting your criteria you probably need a testable hypothesis. You really don’t have one.

So, let’s say I’ve got a notion that there is a Universal Common Rubber-Band Stretcher, which exists by necessity in all possible worlds: a non-classical (or quantum) mind that encompasses rubber-band stretching and consciousness or agent causality according to Orch-OR’s theory of consciousness.

A Conscientious Objector (I like to employ them) first throws a bunch of materials from the nearest hardware store in a bowl with a bunch of rubber bands, and sees whether those materials stretch the rubber band. Then, after we have the result of that experiment, the Conscientious Objector guides the materials in the bowl to see if he can produce a specified degree of rubber-band stretching.

The combined outcomes of these experiments would of course provide evidence for an alien rubber-band stretcher. However, if we do these experiments using many different hardware stores, and shop in multiple departments thereof, it would show how a personal but necessary transcended rubber-band stretcher exists in nature.

Now, yes, that’s ridiculous. But there is nothing wrong with it which is not also wrong with your scenario.

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Sure. I was just pointing out that your claimed theory of intelligent design isn’t.

I don’t think that follows.

That doesn’t follow either. No experiment has attempted to create life, just certain postulated precursors. There’s no reason to suppose that life originated over the amount of time and space amenable to laboratory experiments.

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Surely there’s a possible world in which nothing exists? That would mean there can be no “Universal” entities.

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Yes, exactly. Your analogy here shows the fundamental error in reasoning of @Meerkat_SK5’s proposed hypothesis “test”. It it simply a non-sequitur. The conclusion that there is a “divine intelligent designer” does not follow, and is not even weakly indicated by the structure of the proposed tests.

The test appears to follow a logic like this:
Premise 1: Mixing chemicals under these naturally occurring conditions X fails to produce life.
Premise 2: Mixing chemicals under these naturally occurring conditions X and then synthetically manipulating the conditions in the experiment does succeed at producing life.
Conclusion: Therefore there is a non-classical quantum-mind that encompasses digital information and consciousness and/or agent causality existing in all possible worlds that create and sustain all possible manifestations of life.

I mean… I hope it is obvious to anyone that the conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. It is not even weakly evidence in support of it in any way that I can even conceive of.

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It is to be hoped, surely.

I think what we have here is a very weak philosophical argument, parts of which have not been stated, to which “science” is to be added as a kind of afterthought because it is felt that having science on your side is somehow validating. But where Churchill warned us against “perverted science,” this is a bit more like Dada science, where nothing quite seems real and the proposition under test is about as ill-defined as possible, with the results expected to confirm a conclusion which is likewise ill-defined.

All non sequiturs operate by the same logic, which is to say, they do not operate at all. If I can stack twenty sheep carcasses on top of Hound Tor in a high wind, God exists.

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