The Big Picture on ID and this Forum


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #1

Continuing the discussion from Bill Cole's Case For Design:

An important point came up that deserves its own thread with all those here who have been posting ID arguments or trying to argue against common descent (@colewd, @Revealed_Cosmology, @Nonlin.org, @Ashwin_s). This is particularly relevant to those posting mathematical arguments, or are engaging questions already answered with mathematical arguments.

Let’s step back and see the big picture.

Biology is non intuitive. Probability is non intuitive. Mathematical biology is doubly non-intuitive.

The ID movement has leaders that are putting forward a host of mathematical biology arguments, all of which (except 1 in population genetics) have been rejected by almost every mathematician, biologist and computational biologist on earth, including Christians like myself.

You guys are not adding anything to these arguments at all, except revealing a lot of confusion we wouldn’t expect from one of the principals. Even if you were to convince @T_aquaticus and myself (or any of the other scientists here), even if you are right, this will do nothing to change the gridlock ID faces in science.

So what is a rational goal in this situation?

  1. If you want to understand why we reject these arguments we are happy to explain. You don’t have to agree but at least make understanding the basics a goal instead of trying to convince us. I’m fine if you disagree, but I’m not interested in arguing about it endlessly.

  2. Invite the principles like Dembski, Durston, Axe, Behe, and Marks to join us here to make their case. If you work hard at #1 you might even be able to follow the conversation. They might have a better chance of convincing us of something than you; this much should be certain.

  3. Find ways to work around the predicament ID is painted into so you are not limited by the strength of their arguments. Find a better way forward. We are hoping to do that with you.

  4. Figure out why ID has not retracted any of their falsified arguments. They are much more likely to listen to you guys on this than us.

In the end you don’t have to agree with us, but let’s at least choose to use our time productively. I’ve delayed in a promised exchange with @EricMH that will be far more enlightening, and he was a PhD student of Marks, and is much better qualified than you guys to make progress. Don’t you want to see that exchange?

Any how, I’d like to set reasonable goals with people here. Remember, you do not have to agree with me on ID or common descent. I’m not really interested in arguing with you for the purpose of changing your mind. I’d rather find a way to coexist with you, in the midst of disagreement. How can we make this all more functional?


Is Evolution Speculation?
(Bill Cole) #2

First. Thank you for the thoughtful explanation and I want to help the sites conversations first and foremost.

I have sent an email to Mike Behe regarding @Art’s claim and he responded and said he will study it and get back to me. I am not sure he will want to participate directly.

I honestly don’t know what arguments have been falsified. Can you give me a list and the supported falsification?

This is a very astute comment and I will think about it.


Bill Cole's Case For Design
#3

Since this is a big picture thread, I am not going to respond to specific critiques of the points I am raising. If there is something specific that seems worth pursuing then a separate thread would be much more appropriate.

There are a lot of ID arguments that aren’t scientific, at least not yet. Here are a few examples:

  1. Behe’s multiple mutations claims: Behe has yet to find a combination of mutations in any lineage that evolution could not produce.

  2. Information: ID proponents claim that evolution can’t increase information, but no one making this claim can quantify the information content of any DNA sequence which is needed in order to demonstrate an increase or decrease in information. Once this task is done, then they need to show why this information is needed in order to produce the biodiversity we see today, and they then need to show that evolution can’t produce it.

  3. Irreducible Complexity: This is nothing more than an argument from ignorance. Behe can’t think of how a system could evolve, therefore it can’t. It is also claimed that the parts of an IC system did not have function outside of that system or as part of a different function, but these claims are never backed up.

  4. “It looks designed”: To a scientist, these types of subjective opinions don’t constitute evidence. You need something empirical and objective.

Then comes the larger issue. ID fails to explain the most basic observations in biology.

  1. Genetic equidistance: Similarities and differences correlate with evolutionary distance.

  2. Divergence of sequence: Ka/Ks ratios and divergence of exons and introns.

  3. The nested hierarchy that was first described by Linnaeus in the 1700’s and its statistically significant correlation with phylogenies based on sequence (i.e. a phylogenetic signal that stands way above the noise caused by known mechanisms).

  4. Fossil species following the same nested hierarchy as living species and showing the expected progression through time as if they have evolved.

So the problem for ID, at least in my eyes, is that it can’t support the claims it makes and can’t explain the evidence that evolution already beautifully explains in a testable and scientific manner.


(Bill Cole) #4

Big picture. From my perspective you don’t understand the range of design arguments based on almost every point you have made.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #5

14 posts were split to a new topic: Behe and Hunt: Irreducible Complexity and Numerology


#6

I concur. There are plenty of other forums to perpetually hash out the same issues. I don’t see the need for another.


(Ashwin S) #8

Totally agree with this. I also am not interested in arguing design perpetually in this forum.
Though I do have a concern with philosophical implications of how some of these explanations are made. The language of scientific explanations seems to act as a vehicle for a particular philosophical view of reality. This leads to a particularly restricted view of God’s action in nature.
End of the day, philosophy has something to do with how the data in science is interpreted and I am not convinced anyone can directly import “scientific facts” into real life beliefs without seriously considering the validity of this.
@jongarvey has been articulating this far better than me.
Unless these are sorted out, this site will also eventually end up as a Biologos clone.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #9

Highly unlikely. You cannot possibly mean that.

I would agree entirely which is why I’m a big booster for @jongarvey’s work, even though he makes me nervous sometimes :smile:.


(Ashwin S) #10

I seriously do… I hope it doesn’t happen. And I appreciate your sincerity. It’s either that, or be logically inconsistent. While you may view science as mathematical, the fact is that science as a body of knowledge is deeply embedded in philosophy and metaphysics. Biologos is not completely successful in picking this and repudiating this philosophy. So they have mainly stuck to the metaphysics of science and tacked God on at the end. I don’t know how successful you will be. In dealing with this problem.
This is one of the reasons I am basically opposed to doing theology starting from science. The order for me is Scripture (with all tools of theology), philosophy,/world view and finally check if it’s not too contradictory to scientific understanding. If it can be brought to agreement , well and good… if not, I usually prefer to wait… after all science is not a static field.

Yes you have been boosting his work. Have you seen the NT wright video he has been pointing you to? It can be helpful.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #11

That is my view too, though I’m okay affirming science as the best account we have right now of the evidence, even if I can’t figure out how it fits with theology. As you can see also, sometimes we can make progress too in our understanding by asking the right questions.

Don’t overreact for a potential failure before we are there. We are on a good path now. Let’s get there. No reason to repeat the mistakes of the past. Honestly, we are really doing well so far.


(Jon Garvey) #14

I make myself nervous sometimes.


(George) #15

@colewd,

That is an amusing accusation about @T_aquaticus !


#17

I have been accused of worse. :wink:

The worldview that pervades these discussions is of interest here. I suspect that in many cases people are accused of not understanding ID arguments simply because they don’t accept them as true. When people start with the conclusion and have strong emotions tied to that conclusion being true it can cloud their judgement as to the quality of the arguments supporting that conclusion. This is probably best seen in the groups that support ID.

With evolution there is acceptance across cultures, religions, worldviews, and nations. With ID, the people who support this movement are almost entirely christian, and they often are battling culture wars as part of that movement. Forums like these are about the only place you can find ID discussed because ID isn’t being brought to the scientific community. Evolution is.

Scientists usually have a pretty good bovine excrement detector, and the ID movement pegs that detector.


(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #18

This is very insightful and has been my feeling for years now.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #19

What are you thinking about this @colewd?


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #20

I am not sure this is accurate. There are a large number of muslim ID advocates.


#21

Correction noted. The larger point is that ID is strongly tied to religious apologetics.


(Nonlin.org) #22

Look,

  1. I do not report to the “principles” - don’t you mean ‘principals’?
  2. I am an independent thinker plenty educated and with working experience in many of the fields discussed.
  3. My views are at times different than those of ID proponents (as in “microevolution”, “irreducible complexity”, “specified complexity”).
  4. I am not so much arguing in favor of ID as I am arguing against the pseudoscience of Darwinist “evolution” (including its ‘neo’ and ‘neo’s neo’) and only with logic, observational, and in general scientific arguments.
  5. Sorry to say this, but if you’re incapable of winning a scientific argument, you will have to ban me in an admission of defeat as did Biologos.
  6. And stop grouping people together in “you people” - it only reflects badly on you.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #23

That is right, thanks :smile:.

None of this is verifiable or visible. For this to mean anything you have to unmask yourself. Until then, it means nothing.

Couldn’t tell at all from what you write. Why not go argue with them about what you disagree with?

Darwinism has already been falsified. You missed the party by about 60 years. You will enjoy reading up on Haldane and Kimura’s work.

I’m not trying to win a scientific argument with you.

No one in science cares who “wins” on forums in the internet with anonymous polemicists. I’m not engaging your arguments.


(Nonlin.org) #24
  1. Can’t do.
  2. I do.
  3. You already said that. And you are the only one claiming it.
  4. Then don’t.