The single most important thing "Intelligent Design" proponents get wrong

When we identify something as designed, we do not do so on the basis on whether it is “irreducibly complex”, or because of the amount of “information” it contains, or anything like that.

We consider something to be designed if it is artificial, rather than natural.

ID proposes the existence of things of which we do not have a single known example: Something that is natural, but designed,

What about the synthesis of natural products in chemistry?

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Designed to deliberately replicate a natural chemical.

That’s actually an excellent example, because the fact that it is designed would not be discernible from its chemical structure or any other property like “complexity” or “functional information.” It can only be determined by knowing its origin.

Not everything that is artificial is designed, however. A garbage dump would be an example.

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I would put it differently; ID lacks any definition or hypothesis of the Designer, and therefore cannot ask any useful questions.

With a hypothesis of evolution we can ask questions about what evolved, when it evolved, why it evolved, and how it evolved. Who questions do not apply.

With ID we can answer none of these questions, and the who question is strenuously avoided.

For those with faith in God the who question is already answered… :slight_smile:


I think ID is limited and some interesting questions are out of reach. Interesting question will come up independent of the identity of the designer. An example is how and why the designer mixes and matches genes between animal types. How is alternative splicing set up and determined and how does it drive transitions. Where are the large information infusions driving new animal types. etc

We can’t say what the future holds, but as of today there are very few examples* of ID hypothesis that attempt 4WH questions.

'* one I can think from Winston Ewert.

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All of those questions are easily answered if you accept there is no designer and that lifeforms arose thru evolution.

What’s the creative mechanism?

As if you don’t know. How many times have you been told already?

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And not everything that was designed was planned or done with much foresight. Much design involves an awful lot of more or less blind trial and error. Change something and then see if that works. If it does, keep it and try something else to improve it further.

Stick some wheels on it see how well it drives. Okay it fell apart too quick, try changing the size and see if it helps. Okay now it makes squeaky noises, gonna need some lubricants. The lubricant dissolves the plastic axle, try something else.

Some designs are so complicated that it can’t be rationally predicted how certain changes are going to affect them, so design is done literally by evolving them through genetic algorithms and computer simulations.

Mutation and recombination. Change something into something else by recombining it in a novel way, or simply by mutating it, gives novelties.

There is now something new that wasn’t there before (the order of arrangement is new, the sequence is new, the degree of function has changed and is hence a novel degree of function), hence the mechanism is creative.


How would test the claim?

Told what? This is an untested claim. This is why you need design to keep evolutionary claims under control.

The question makes no sense. You ask what the creative mechanism is, I then take what I understand creative to mean and explain how the mecanisms of mutation and recombination are creative mechanisms. They generate (aka create) functional novelties. Thus they are by definition creative mechanisms.

To question that is to question the reality that mutation and recombination occurs. Am I now to give you evidence that mutations and recombination have functional consequences as if you are not already aware that they do?


I have seen this sort of thing before. It’s a locked loop. It goes something like:

IDer: The thing is, evolution can’t be demonstrated to generate functional genes.
Other: But it does. Here are some examples.
IDer: Well, you know, sure. But evolution cannot generate COMPLEX arrangements of functional genes.
Other: Sure it can. Here are some examples.
IDer: Well, but those arrangements can’t be arrived at by random mutation and selection.
Other: Sure, they can. Here are some examples.
IDer: Not complex microscopic features like the flagellum!
Other: Yes, the flagellum. But most of the evolution you’re complaining about actually doesn’t involve complex cellular machinery.
IDer: But – alternative splicing!
Other: Yeah, that turns out to be something which random mutation and natural selection account for very easily.
IDer: The thing is, though, evolution can’t be demonstrated to generate functional genes.

Rinse, repeat. There’s a guy over at Amazon, whose presence you are lucky not to experience, who has managed to shorten this cycle down to three steps, which go:

No material process can generate information!
(Someone demonstrates that material processes generate information.)
Who said anything about material processes? ID is about INTELLIGENT processes! How silly of you to bring up material processes! No non-intelligent process can generate information!
(Someone demonstrates that non-intelligent processes generate information.)
Oh, sure, non-intelligent processes DO generate information! But they can’t generate ENOUGH information to account for evolutionary change! Yeah, that’s the ticket!
(Someone points out that there is no basis for that claim and that to argue it would require technical mastery which our IDer does not possess.)
It doesn’t matter, because no material process can generate information!


You say we don’t know this guy, but he sure sounds familiar.


I hope you don’t! At least, I haven’t seen him here…

But the pattern, alas, is all too common. A man who can only make one irrational demand repeatedly gets tired quickly. A man who can make several will alternate between them rapidly, trying to pretend that each of them has never been satisfactorily answered, and hoping that the others in the conversation will forget the thousand previous iterations.


Now that certainly sounds like someone we all know quite well :slightly_smiling_face: