Why are We Disagreeing with ID?

I think psychological projection is far more coherent and empathetic an explanation than widespread Frank dishonesty.


No, I wasn’t aware of that, sorry I mischaracterized your view.

Well, that’s why I like to discuss my views, I’m glad to be convinced of any missteps I am making.

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I refer you to Behe’s definition of irreducible complexity: “An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.”

No, they don’t, unselected mutations would almost by definition be neutral.

But where did I say things that are undesigned cannot have unselected steps? Behe even uses chloroquine resistance, with an unselected step, as an example.

So you cannot compute the probability of drawing a full house, once you have one in your hand? Of course you can.

For the victims, sure. Not for the perpetrators.


There are atheists who support design. I grant that, outside of Raeliens, they are rare.

Behe’s claim that these systems can not be produced by evolutionary mechanisms is the claim that lacks scientific merit.

Can a reducibly complex system be produced by evolutionary mechanisms? Yes or no?

If yes, can evolution remove parts from the system as long as those losses don’t reduce or damage the function? Yes or no?

If yes, why can’t this process continue until no more parts can be removed?

Do you agree or disagree that neutral mutations regularly become fixed in the genomes of most eukaryotes.


Would you be willing read it?

I would be interested to hear your response to it.

There is a considerable body of work in Computer Science literature to indicate that Genetic Algorithms are highly efficient at certain classes of difficult problems. In terms of computational complexity they can solve some problems in a number of operations “on the order of” \large{O[} n\cdot \log{n} \large{]}. In practical terms, the time needed to run a program that will find the solution increases only slightly more than linear time for complexity \large{O[} n \large{]} as n increases.

Now that’s computer science, not biology, but some in this field have noted they see no reason why it could not be applied to biology.
For anyone interested, search “hyperclimbing” on Google Scholar, and get ready for some difficult reading.

EDIT: or “Hyperheuristics”


Sure, I’ll give it a read. Thanks for the pointer…

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Well, I meant as here: “In philosophy, naturalism is the idea or belief that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate in the universe.”

In particular, that evolution is a process unmodified by designer(s).

When you claimed that:

was a “definition for design”. As you did:

That is certainly not anything I said. What I said is more on the lines that it would be pointless to calculate getting the exact cards you got in the exact order they were dealt. Even though it could be done. Surely you can see that having a full house is the outcome not the path travelled to get there.

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Stephen Meyer, who has a degree in Philosophy of Science from Cambridge, has said that methodological naturalism would prevent a scientist from concluding that the Rosetta Stone was carved by human beings, and that the only permissable conclusion would be that it was created by random natural forces like wind or rain erosion. (This is very similar to what @lee_merrill suggested above).

I choose to be charitable and presume that Meyer is not so utterly stupid and incompetent in his field that he would actually believe that.


Hasn’t Behe already admitted there are irreducibly complex systems that have evolved? And that he’s now saying it’s systems that have some kind of arbitrarily higher complexity level that are now impossible to evolve? IIRC he said this in an interview with @dsterncardinale.


Sure, for evolution. But not all biology, necessarily. When I look at GFP-expressing kittens I still infer design, and I think I have good reasons to do so. Not least of which is the fact that we have the design documents to hand. The simple claim that ‘elements of biology were designed’ has no inherent supernatural element, so is compatible with methodological naturalism. If you are saying that ID necessarily requires supernatural assumptions, then you are the one excluding it from science.


I think design is a natural process, and there’s no evidence that the process of learning about, designing, and manufacturing anything involves something that is necessarily fundamentally untestable and/or separate from observational physical reality.

In particular I think this thing with “mind” or “intelligence” as responsible for “design”, being somehow superior to biological evolution as an explanation for anything, is completely mistaken and misguided.

All minds we know of take the form of physical brains with physical bodies, and they all without exception have to learn to do any designing. And they all either evolved or were designed and produced by things that evolved. Positing merely that some sort of mind or intelligence exists doesn’t magically solve questions about origin or function.

There isn’t anything you can do that isn’t either the product of learning, tutoring, and practice, or some sort of evolved instinctive behavior. Mind or intelligence doesn’t produce things as if by magic by wishing things fully formed into thin air with some sort of a priori knowledge and magically total comprehension. Design of all forms we know of is, curiously highly analogous to biological evolution, the product of some extremely long process of learning and development involving lots of trial and error.

When it comes to “minds” or “intelligence” being able to solve things like “search problems” or overcome other such “probabilistic barriers”, it’s still only through trial and error. An evolution-like process of learning. A mind can’t just “know” where to find a workable solution in a large space of nonfunctional structures, otherwise “minds” could be used to solve things like directly guessing correctly long complex passwords. But no amount of intelligence is going to make you able to just know out of nowhere what a password to something is. You have to either have “inherited” information about what is likely to be among good candidate passwords before(obtained knowledge from prior research and studies of often used passwords), or do blind, brute-force sampling among trillions and trillions of password before you happen to guess the correct one by chance.

This whole “design” stuff is a fantasy that has no connection to reality, or our knowledge of how “minds” actually work or how designing and manufacting things actually occur in reality. Minds aren’t supernatural, they’re just another material and physical process contingent on history and embedded in their local physical circumstances. And they all have to learn slowly and painfully how to do simple things first and more complex things later can be built on top. Notice how all the things you can do you had to learn first (the copying of information gained from previous generations of trial and error), and we have entire institutions called schools with people employed to copy and paste information into your brain. You have to learn either by memorization (inheritance, reproduction of information passed on from previous generations of learners), or by trial and error.


To be more precise, he refers to a deleterious step. Is he right about that?

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A beaver designs a dam. An ant colony designs an ant hill. Both of those change the environment, and can thus modify future evolution.

My main objections to the ID movement, are these:

  • They claim it is scientific, but there isn’t any real science being done;

  • They do not give clear definitions of “intelligent” or of “design”.

  • They tend to have a very narrow view of “intelligent”. For myself, I see some intelligence in all biological systems.


That’s not his point. He is saying that consistent usage of MN, if used to exclude design a priori, would entail reject design inference with the Rosetta Stone.

The claim is that MN is being unfairly and arbitrarily applied to exclude the ID program.

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The worst part of all this is that the way ID-proponents use the term, “intelligent design” isn’t a hypothesis with any predictive or explanatory power. It’s just this nebulous idea that there is some sort of magical power that can somehow just spontaneously make something come into existence, or has some other form of control over physical reality that can’t be tested in any experiment.