Why are We Disagreeing with ID?

@lee_merrill , I observe a fact here:

There are several scientists, many of whom are computational biologists, and some are Christians too. None of them seem convinced by the statistical argument that you (i.e. Behe) are making.

That’s just a fact. Perhaps we are all wrong. But how exactly would that have happened? How do you make sense of this?


I think there is a commitment to some form of methodological naturalism, therefore any possibility is preferable to design. Does anyone here want to continue to defend Dawkin’s program? No one disputes that evolution can climb a completely selectable hill, and making it out that all of evolution is like this is unreasonable. I respectfully submit to you that Dawkins is wrong.

That’s not the right diagnosis, at least not for me.

I think God designed it all, and Its implausible I am predisposed against a conclusion I already hold. And I am not defending Dawkins. He really has little to do with this. Maybe Dawkins is wrong, and so is Behe.



Many of us would be happy to see actual evidence of design.

For that matter, many of us would cheer if the ID proponents would come up with a clear enough definition of “design” that we could use for detection.

What do you mean by “Dawkin’s program”?


I’d be happy to continue to defend Dawkins’s program.

I note that you haven’t said a single word about it, so there is nothing it needs defending from.

I submit to you that your opinion is irrelevant.


In what it was intended to convey, that cumulative selection for fitness-improving mutation makes a colossal difference to the rate at which high-fitness solutions evolve, yes I will continue to defend it.

Careful now. There are creationists who actually deny that natural selection even occurs at all. They don’t care about nor bother to consider concepts like fitness landscapes and their topology, they outright deny the very concept of fitness as being meaningful. That’s why you will find, for example, creationists deny that something like peppered moth colors have an effect on the rates of moth survival and reproductive success.

Here I believe I can confidently state that nobody actually thinks all evolutionary change occurs on perfectly smooth fitness landscapes. Rather, while it is true real fitness landscapes do have a more rugged feature to them, and that such features can reduce the rate at which adaptive evolution occurs to varying degrees, we know of no adaptation that sits in a prohibitively inhibitory position in the landscape, nor is there any indication that real fitness landscapes are so noisy and random that selection is rendered ineffective.
And we also know of evolutionary mechanisms that allow more efficient navigation on landscapes with more rugged features where epistatic effects of mutation affect the rate of adaptation.


Why would anyone need to defend it if nobody disputes it - as you say in your very next words:


That’s why I said “some form of methodological naturalism”, where God, if he exists, is “hands-off” of nature.

Well, I agree, only I think that God’s involvement is at times, direct.

“When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.” (Ps 104:29–30)

Yes, so Dawkins is wrong to portray evolution like this.

And that’s fine, I just want to be able to compute probabilities of outcomes.

Dawkins doesn’t anywhere say all of evolution is like that and I don’t think it is reasonable to accuse him of having implied such a thing with his model. All models are simplifications, yet we can understand that one can model a phenomenon without thinking the modelers are somehow saying the model is accurately reflecting reality in all aspects.


As best I can tell, there is no actual evidence of this.


Once again: wrong diagnosis.

Are you aware I wrote a book legitimizing the miraculous creation of Adam?

I also think that Gods involvement at times was direct.

These things are places of agreement between us and therefore are not plausible explanations why I reject the arguments you are making.

Perhaps it’s because the arguments are making some critical missteps?


It seems more to me that you were responding to people criticising a different program that was even worse as a simulation.

It certainly was not. Perhaps you would like to show how things that are not designed cannot have “unselected steps” ? Are you perhaps suggesting that unintelligent processes recognise and intentionally avoid unselected steps?

This is the usual error of using an a priori probability after the fact. The probability of following a particular path after it has happened is simply not relevant.


I want to clarify a point. If what was meant by “Dawkins’ program” was the WEASEL program, I do believe that the program by Dawkins can be legitimately used to make an appropriate and limited point about how evolution works. But it does not explain everything, and Dawkin’s never claimed it explained explained everything.


That’s not the way methodological naturalism (MN) works. First, design can be natural so design is not excluded from MN. In fact, design is a regular part of many scientific fields, such as scientists who study the design of bird nests. The things humans design are natural and are a part of MN and science.

More to the point, we keep begging ID proponents to use the scientific method, but they refuse to. Instead of empirical and objective measurements we instead get subjective opinions, such as “it looks designed”.

ID proponents dispute the observed fact that neutral mutations accumulate in genomes. We fail to understand why it is a problem for evolution if new mutations interact with neutral mutations to produce a beneficial phenotype.

If someone says that the Earth is a sphere they are wrong, but not as wrong as those who claim the Earth is flat.


That is a very poor understanding of methodological naturalism. It does not preclude the possibility of design. For instance, when archaeologists identify some stone artifact as having been designed by humans, they are still employing methodological naturalism.


Have you ever heard of the field of archeology? Design is perfectly compatible with methodological naturalism, ID is just bad science.


It seems to me that supporters of ID often confuse that natural-supernatural dichotomy with the natural-artificial.

Methodological Naturalism is about the former (as indeed is Philosophical Naturalism)


I think it’s simpler than that: They just have no intellectual integrity whatsoever and will just say whatever they think their audience will find convincing, regardless of whether they actually themselves think is it sound.

Not that I am accusing @lee_merrill of this. He is more likely a victim of this ruse than a perpetrator. He is possibly just repeating a ridiculous version of MN that he heard from Stephen Meyer.


There might be a bit of psychological projection involved. ID proponents reject evolution from the get go and will not consider it as a possibility, so they try to portray the scientific community rejecting design in the same way.