Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The best case for Intelligent Design Creationism

Vincent Torley was reading Darwin's Doubt when he came across a passage "that struck me as the best case I’ve ever seen for Intelligent Design, in 200 words or less" [A succinct case for Intelligent Design].

This is pretty interesting since there's always been a bit of confusion over what Intelligent Design Creationism actually means. It seems to me that the movement concentrates on criticizing evolution (and materialism) and doesn't really present much of a case for believing that the history of life was directed by gods.

Here's the passage that Torley admires. See for yourself ...
"This book has presented four separate scientific critiques demonstrating the inadequacy of the neo-Darwinian mechanism, the mechanism that Dawkins assumes can produce the appearance of design without intelligent guidance. It has shown that the neo-Darwinian mechanism fails to account for the origin of genetic information because: (1) it has no means of efficiently searching combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins and, consequently, (2) it requires unrealistically long waiting times to generate even a single new gene or protein. It has also shown that the mechanism cannot produce new body plans because: (3) early acting mutations, the only kind capable of generating large-scale changes, are also invariably deleterious, and (4) genetic mutations cannot, in any case, generate the epigenetic information necessary to build a body plan." (pp. 410-411)
This passage merely affirms what we all know to be true; namely that there is no case for Intelligent Design Creationism. It's just a bunch of whining about the inadequacies of the IDiot version of evolution. That version assumes that all of evolution is due to natural selection acting on random mutations and this gives rise to the appearance of design.

I don't believe in that version of evolution and I don't think that most species look as though they were designed. Does that mean that I'm an Intelligent Design Creationist? Of course not. Meyers (and Torley) have fallen for the trap of the false dichotomy.

Even if all four of Stephen Meyer's critiques were correct1, he still isn't offering an alternative explanation and he still isn't showing us evidence for an intelligent designer—or any other kind of designer.

If this is the best case for Intelligent Design Creationism then it cannot survive. But we all know that this is all a bunch of lies. The "best" case for Intelligent Design Creationism is taught in the churches, not the classrooms.


1. They aren't.

93 comments :

  1. I think that many features of most species look kind of like they were designed, in that they look like solutions to engineering problems. Of course many of them are rather odd solutions. "Let's see, I need a middle ear; I know, I'll use some pieces of the jaw for it."

    Doesn't Meyer get extra points for using the word "epigenetic"? If you read that chapter, you find that he has some bizarre ideas about not just evolution, but development too.

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    1. Yeah I remember dissecting earthworms, frogs and fetal pigs. They never looked designed to me.

      The language of "purpose" is hard to resist ("The purpose of this enzyme is to degrade RNA..."), but design... I don't see it. Biology is just squish to me.

      If it were designed, that's one freaky designer: Salvador Dali and Picasso crossed with Eraserhead and Un Chien Andalou. A weirdo.

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    2. I don't understand your point. Squishy things aren't designed? What about these animals didn't look designed?

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    3. "Yeah I remember dissecting earthworms, frogs and fetal pigs. They never looked designed to me."

      You mean that the red and blue latex in my fetal Sus domesticus were the result of unguided processes? Nonsense I say.

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    4. I could design some sticky green goop and splash it on a rock in a Jackson Pollack like mess. A lot of design and thought could go in to the entire enterprise form goop design to layout of splashes, yet it wouldn't look designed. Design is really just a synonym for complex.

      Designers (humans) and nature alike both make things that can appear designed or undesigned, rendering the concept of design rather pointless. All we do is pick out the complicated stuff and label it as designed while ignoring all the messy stuff that doesn't fit.

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    5. Even when squishy stuff is designed, it does not look designed. On the set of a zombie movie, there may be squishy bits that were designed by a special effects guy, but they were designed to not look designed.

      If God really did design the genitals of the earthworm or the liver of the fetal pig, He is an inscrutable avant garde weirdo stranger than David Cronenberg, John Carpenter, John Waters, Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali combined.

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    6. Your viewpoint is foreign to me. You seem to be saying that nothing organic can look designed, simply because it's organic. I'd say that some features of various organisms, were they not grown rather than manufactured, would look to me like elegant design solutions. Others would look like kludgy design solutions, and still others would be batshit crazy design solutions. Natural selection can solve engineering problems, clearly, and that sort of thing resembles the products of human engineers, including the kludgy and batshit crazy ones. Anyway, god being an inscrutable avant grade weirdo is just the conclusion you can get from reading the bible for comprehension.

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  2. genetic mutations cannot, in any case, generate the epigenetic information necessary to build a body plan.

    What evidence is there that any epigenetic changes preceded (or occurred at the same time as) and were necessary for changes of body plan at the time they occured? Epigenetic changes don't persist over many generations, so whatever "epigenetic information" we have today would have originated hundreds of millions of years after the origin of body plans.

    And any epigenetic information that is sequence-based (membrane proteins, or DNA modifications caused by targeted enzymes) certainly could be produced by mutation, as the DNA ultimately codes for that stuff.

    This raises the question: if it's "information", how could it persist over many generations? It can't, unless it's ultimately based on or influenced by DNA sequence, OR it doesn't persist, OR it's not information.

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    1. 1."What evidence is there that any epigenetic changes preceded (or occurred at the same time as) and were necessary for changes of body plan at the time they occured?
      2.Epigenetic changes don't persist over many generations, so whatever "epigenetic information" we have today would have originated hundreds of millions of years after the origin of body plans."


      Please provide evidence for both claims because the ways I see it you don't have any but you are married to Darwinism, so it has to be so. Right!

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    2. Inquirer, you demand evidence for claims, but seems more in need of a basic understanding of epigenetics – and debate.

      re: 2. So many labs have examined epigenetic changes in so many organisms that some facts about them are undergrad level topics and not controversial. Although epigenetic changes may be inherited for many generations of cells within an organism, they’re usually “reset” in sexual reproduction. Those that last though a few generations of organisms eventually are lost. Go read a relevant text book if you want to know about the evidence for this.

      As a result of the instability of epigenetic changes, any epigenetic changes you may have inherited from your parents cannot be epigenetic changes that happened millions of years ago.

      If your problem is with the present being “hundreds of millions of years after the origin of body plans,” that’s a different issue for which evidence could be presented, but it’s an issue that has nothing directly to do with epigenetics.

      re: 1. "What evidence is there that any epigenetic changes preceded (or occurred at the same time as) and were necessary for changes of body plan at the time they occured?” is a question, not a claim. Diogenes isn’t required to give evidence “for” a question. I personally think we don’t know the role epigenetic changes played or didn’t play in the evolution of various body plans. And what ever role they played would be information about how body plans evolved, not whether they evolved.

      Perhaps you wished to oppose (or defend) some statement other than the ones you actually brought up.

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    3. No. The burden of proof is on Stephen Meyer, particularly for point 1, obviously, as I phrased it as a question, yet you called it a claim. Burden of proof is on Meyer for Meyer's own claims.

      the way I see it you don't have any but you are married to Darwinism, so it has to be so.

      Stuff yourself for invoking appeal to motive fallacy. What is it with you right wingers and your infinite invocations of appeal to motive?

      You creationists don't know any science at all, but you instead employ your overweening self-confidence in your alleged understanding of human psychology as a substitute for scientific curiosity and investigation.

      I got zero tolerance for appeal to motive. You invoke appeal to motive once, just one time, one strike and you're out.

      If you creationists are such expert judges of human psychology, why are you always putting behind the pulpit child molesters, sex harrassers, adulterers, grifters, con men, pyramid schemers, leg-lengthening fraudsters, faith healing anti-vaccine quacks, exorcist witch doctors, and rapists? Why are you always electing to office serial adulterers, drunk drivers, paid pollutionist whores and totalitarian fascists?

      This piece of shit will probably vote in the next election for that Canadian totalitarian psychopath Ted Cruz, or for Jeb Bush, who assumed dictatorial anticonstitutional powers just to imprison Michael Schiavo.

      Some judges of psychology you people are. Isn't there some child-molesting pastor you could help shuffle to another parish, Mr. I'm A Brilliant Genius At Judging Other People's Psychology?

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    4. LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL! LOL!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOR38552MJA

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    5. "Please provide evidence for both claims because the ways I see it you don't have any"

      All current scientific data supports Diogenes. He is not making claims, but stating current scientific understanding. If you want to refute it, it is you who have to provide the evidence. Hint: You won't find it at creationist websites.

      "but you are married to Darwinism,"

      Epigenetics poses no problem whatsoever for "Darwinism" (if by that you mean the evolution of species by natural selection) or evolutionary theory. If epigenetics turns out to be heritable long term such that it has an actual evolutionary impact, it would be another mechanism by which evolution occurs. It would not invalidate of replace current evolutionary theory, it would become part of it. So your lame appeal to motive is not even valid on its face.

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  3. Larry

    Why do you continue to post on this bullshit?

    I come to here to read about biochemistry.

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    1. So when you visit a pizzeria, do you yell at them for having anchovies *on the menu*?

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  4. What is the anatomy of a lie? Is not intent its very substance? ID and YEC are not kies but ernest conclusions. Historical ones in fact.
    Anyways.
    The obvious factb is that the complexity and diversity of biology is so gloriouys that a thinking being must of created it. The bible says this is the great proof of a creator. God said that is the proof or poking hunch.
    ID makes the case SIMPLY that the obvious complexity we see IS the scientific evidence for a creator. Thats the point.
    So debunking criticism of this is all one really needs to do.
    Get rid of the easy waving away of complexity of evolutionists etc and one remains in possession of the battlefield.
    ID has become famous in science and culture today with this operation.
    They are out boxing the old guard.

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    1. Can anybody translate this?

      I can usually tell what inanity and gobbledygook Bryers is trying to say, but not this time.

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    2. He's saying "wow, looks complicated" is a valid and complete scientific argument.

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    3. He seems to say lies are recognized by intentions, and ID and YES are historical conclusions, whatever that might be. Then the usual silliness- complexity=work of a mind, evolution will die.

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    4. Uncivilized Elk, I think Robert Byers is offended at Diogenes response to one of Byers' recent comments in a different thread because Diogenes said that Byers was lying. I think Byers actually wasn't lying. He was honestly expressing his very obviously erroneous idea. It's understandable Diogenes thought Byers must be lying; its hard to believe anyone could believe some of the things Byers writes. However, let us not underestimate the power of nuttiness. Byers seems honest. Which should not be confused with right.

      As to the rest of his comment, Byers is just saying that the universe is complex and amazing and glorious (all wonderfully true!) and that therefore God must have made it (which doesn't follow).

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    5. Bwilson says: I think Robert Byers is offended at Diogenes response to one of Byers' recent comments in a different thread because Diogenes said that Byers was lying.

      Byers' comment above was May 13, preceding by several hours the comment of mine to which you refer, of May 14. Hence my preceding comment was not causative... unless you're a creationist and think Darwininsts can go back in time to create racism and such.

      I really don't want to hurt Byers' feelings by insulting him. But I'm just not certain he understands any English at all.

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    6. Diogenes, I apologize. I was wrong. I should have checked the dates!!

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    7. Indeed nothing to do with diogenes. i'm never offended by false/incompetent accusations.
      I thought my post was pretty good.
      the case for ID/YEC is in natures complexity before our eyes. there it is! How did it get there? Its so complicated that it couldn't get there by itself.
      Thats the essence of ID/YEC. then we simply, easily, debunk mechanisms invoked to say it got there itself.

      It all comes down to scientific evidence if science is invoked as explaing creation without a creator.

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  5. Re: If this is the best case for Intelligent Design Creationism then it cannot survive.

    That, sadly, is probably not correct. Considering it adequate is more than enough for many, many people, and disseminating that meme is what the internet was made for. And it's in a book, already.

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  6. Dr. Moran, You wrote, "Even if all four of Stephen Meyer's critiques were correct, he still isn't offering an alternative explanation and he still isn't showing us evidence for an intelligent designer—or any other kind of designer." I wonder, what are the alternatives?

    There is abundant evidence about how old the universe is, how it has changes, how the sun and solar system began, how life as evolved. There's even evidence for some of the steps in the origin of life (though not a complete story there).

    But what if there weren't? What if we really did find that evolution theory was wrong? What if the evidence about the universe's past were hopelessly contradictory? (This is a contrafactual "what if"!)

    What kind of alternative theory could explain what we see? Wouldn't it need to be some version of "somebody design this like a giant terrarium and put us and other living things here"? In other words, if the creationists really could tear down evolution theory and our current cosmology, etc., wouldn't that be sufficient evidence that the explanation would have to be design in some form? Hmm. Maybe some kind of magic in another form?

    Please understand that I'm not trying to argue for creationism at all! I'm just saying that maybe if Meyers and his ilk could really do what they think they can with evolution theory, maybe they could say they accomplished their goal of providing evidence for a designer (by elimination), even though they don't have any evidence of what design would be like.

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  7. What's the best case for evolutionism? Seeing that it is all contingent serendipity, is there a case to be made for it at all?

    What version of evolution does Moran believe in? Why hasn't anyone posited a scientific theory of evolution?

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  8. Joe: "What version of evolution does Moran believe in? Why hasn't anyone posited a scientific theory of evolution?"

    The only reason that nobody answers your oft repeated question is that nobody thinks that anyone can be so blindingly stupid to ask such a moronic question. But thank you for never disappointing.

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    1. Typical cowardly response from a typical coward. Thank YOU for not disappointing.

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  9. The best case for Intelligent Design is living organisms and all the evidence presented in "The Privileged Planet".

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    1. and all the evidence presented in "The Privileged Planet"

      You didn't know that was a satire?

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    2. Yes, it was used to ridicule and criticize the stupidity of materialism. Is that what you mean? ;)

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    3. The best case for Intelligent Design is living organisms
      The Intelligent Designer is a living organism.
      The Intelligent Designer is a best case for Intelligent Design.

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    4. How did it do that, Security Clearance (I had a Secret clearance when I was actually in the military)?
      Did Gonzalez the creationist prove that all natural phenomena are actually the result of the supernatural? If so, how did he do it? If not, how did he 'ridicule and criticize' materialism?

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    5. I had a security clearance when I worked at Los Almos one summer. I wore a blue badge but almost everyone else had a red badge. When I inquired about this I was told that only American citizens have red badges and in an emergency the people with red badges are supposed to shoot all the people with blue badges.

      I think they were pulling my leg.

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    6. That should be Los Alamos. I'm typing this on my iPad in the airport in Charlotte, South Carolina, USA.

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    7. And that should be Charlotte, NORTH CAROLINA, USA.

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  10. Either Meyer is a fool or he hopes his readers are:

    "(1) it has no means of efficiently searching combinatorial sequence space for functional genes and proteins and, consequently, "

    Why do these people think that evolution HAS to "search" for anything? As is always the case, the IDC is employing an analogy (to human contrived search algorithms) to support his assertion. When Dembski made his arrow and target analogy (how about that!), he did the same basic thing. He and Meyer - neither having the least bit of background in biology (and it shows) - seem to believe that evolution has specific 'targets' - specific genes or structures of enzymes - that is is trying to hit. No wonder these charlatans fancy themselves as the topplers of real science - they rely on logical fallacies and silly contrived analogies.

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  11. Curiously enough, recently I read Andreas Wagner's Arrival Of The Fittest that details precisely how the evolutionary account satisfies what Meyer says is impossible in (1) and (2).

    It seems really odd that still the claim about Darwinian evolution not being able to go through the search space keeps being made despite the ways it does being not only understood conceptually, but seen in action.

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  12. Larry says: "This is pretty interesting since there's always been a bit of confusion over what Intelligent Design Creationism actually means."

    A good response to this red-herring is its counter red-herring that does the exact same thing back to you:
    It seems to me that the Evolutionary Creationism movement concentrates on criticizing ID and doesn't really present much of a case for believing that the history of life was directed by gods.

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  13. Or in more detail:

    Larry says:
    "This is pretty interesting since there's always been a bit of confusion over what Intelligent Design Creationism actually means. It seems to me that the movement concentrates on criticizing evolution (and materialism) and doesn't really present much of a case for believing that the history of life was directed by gods."

    And I say:
    "This is pretty interesting since there's always been a bit of confusion over what Evolutionary Creationism (i.e. BioLogos) actually means. It seems to me that the movement concentrates on criticizing ID and cognitive science and doesn't really present much of a case for believing that the history of life was directed by gods."

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    1. Except what Larry says is true and what you say is false.

      There is no such thing as 'evolutionary creationism'. Furthermore, evolutionary theory does not concentrate on criticizing ID but rather uses 'cognitive science' to investigate and provide evidence for evolution, as it has for many decades. Science is uninterested in "present(ing) much of a case for believing that the history of life was directed by gods

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    2. See: http://biologos.org

      New to BioLogos?
      We encourage you to start with these resources:

      What is Evolutionary Creation?
      The view that all life on earth came about by the God-ordained process of evolution with common descent. Evolution is a means by which God providentially achieves his purposes in creation.

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    3. Chris B also says:
      "Furthermore, evolutionary theory does not concentrate on criticizing ID but rather uses 'cognitive science' to investigate and provide evidence for evolution, as it has for many decades."

      Then please explain the "origin of intelligence" and the features of the very first intelligent living things, what made them "intelligent" as opposed to what was there immediately before that was unintelligent.

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    4. Chris B also says:
      "Furthermore, evolutionary theory does not concentrate on criticizing ID but rather uses 'cognitive science' to investigate and provide evidence for evolution, as it has for many decades."

      Then please explain the "origin of intelligence" and the features of the very first intelligent living things, what made them "intelligent" as opposed to what was there immediately before that was unintelligent.

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    5. "Then please explain the "origin of intelligence" and the features of the very first intelligent living things, what made them "intelligent" as opposed to what was there immediately before that was unintelligent."

      What do you mean by "origin of intelligence", and how do you define 'intelligence'?

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    6. @Gary
      "Then please explain the "origin of intelligence" and the features of the very first intelligent living things, what made them "intelligent" as opposed to what was there immediately before that was unintelligent."
      At which stage of the development of life do you want an explanation for? The simple wiring of reactionary movements to stimuli, the development of complex behaviours, the rudiments of learning, or something like the ability to think abstractly? Because throughout the animal kingdom, you should be able to see examples of the differences in abilities of various creatures. Which do you see as the origin story you would like accounted for?

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    7. The "origin of intelligence" is expected to explain how any intelligence (that can ever possibly exist) works at its most basic level and predict what the very first intelligent things were. At which stage of the development of life intelligence had its origin is up to the origin of intelligence theory to explain.

      I define intelligence (with example from machine intelligence) as:

      A behavior from any system qualifies as intelligent behavior by meeting all four circuit requirements for this ability, which are: [1] something to control (body or modeling platform) with motor muscles (proteins, electric speaker, electronic write to a screen), [2] Random Access Memory (RAM) addressed by sensory sensors where each motor action and its associated confidence value are separate data elements, [3] confidence (central hedonic, homeostasis) system that increments (stored in memory) confidence value of a successful motor action else decrements the confidence value, [4] guess mechanism for a new memory action when associated confidence level sufficiently decreases. For flagella powered cells a random guess response (to a new heading) is designed into the motor system by the action of reversing motor direction causing it to “tumble”.

      At all biological intelligence levels whatever sensory the system has to work with addresses a memory that works like a random access memory chip used in a computer. It is possible to put the contents of a RAM into a Read Only Memory (ROM) but using a ROM instead of RAM takes away the system's ability to self-learn, it cannot form new memories that are needed to adapt to new environments. The result is more of a zombie that may at first appear to be a fully functional intelligence but they are missing something necessary, a RAM in the circuit, not a ROM. Behavior of matter does not need to be intelligent, a fully trained (all knowing) ROM could be used to produce atomic/molecular behavior. But a ROM would not work where intelligent behavior is needed. Unless the ROM contains all-knowing knowledge of the future and all the humans it will ever meet in its lifetime it can never recall memories of meeting them, or their name and what they look like.

      For machine intelligence the IBM Watson system that won at Jeopardy qualifies as intelligent. Word combinations for hypotheses were guessed then tested against memory for confidence in each being a hypothesis that is true and whether confident enough in its best answer to push a button/buzzer. The Watson platform had a speaker (for vocal muscles) and muscles guiding a pen was simulated by an electric powered writing device.


      Circuit Diagram

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    8. But can you, Gary, give examples of animals that are not "intelligent" according to your definition and give animals that are "intelligent" such that we can see what variation in nature you think needs an explanation?

      It doesn't do much good to ask whether nature can account of an abstract quality when all that's required of any natural theory is to explain what we see in nature.

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    9. Kel, the model I study goes from physics on up. It predicts that all living animals (including single celled animals) have some level of intelligence. This scientific methodology is very useful for computer modeling the origin of intelligence, life.

      (1) Molecular Level Intelligence: Behavior of matter causes self-assembly of molecular systems that in time become molecular level intelligence, where biological RNA and DNA memory systems learn over time by replication of their accumulated genetic knowledge through a lineage of successive offspring. This intelligence level controls basic growth and division of our cells, is a primary source of our instinctual behaviors, and causes molecular level social differentiation (i.e. speciation).

      (2) Cellular Level Intelligence: Molecular level intelligence is the intelligent cause of cellular level intelligence. This intelligence level controls moment to moment cellular responses such as locomotion/migration and cellular level social differentiation (i.e. neural plasticity). At our conception we were only at the cellular intelligence level. Two molecular intelligence systems (egg and sperm) which are on their own unable to self-replicate combined into a single self-replicating cell, called a zygote. The zygote then divided to become a colony of cells called an embryo. Later during fetal development we became a functional multicellular intelligence with self-learning brain to control motor muscle movements1 (also sweat gland motor muscles).

      (3) Multicellular Level Intelligence: Cellular level intelligence is the intelligent cause of multicellular level intelligence. In this case a multicellular body is controlled by an intelligent neural brain expressing all three intelligence levels at once, resulting in our complex and powerful paternal (fatherly), maternal (motherly) and other behaviors. This intelligence level controls our moment to moment multicellular responses, locomotion/migration and multicellular level social differentiation (i.e. occupation). Successful designs remain in the biosphere’s interconnected collective (RNA/DNA) memory to help keep going the billions year old cycle of life where in our case not all individuals must reproduce for the human lineage to benefit from all in society.

      Reciprocal cause/causation goes in both the forward and reverse direction. These behavioral pathways cause all of our complex intelligence related behaviors to connect back to the behavior of matter, which does not necessarily need to be intelligent to be the fundamental source of consciousness.

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    10. Well, interesting to know. I suppose we all do get to define words our own way, so if you really want to you can use "intelligence" as a trait molecules can have. Most people studying animal behavior, education, psychology, etc., would mean something different by "intelligence." It's good of you to make your meaning of "intelligence" clear, or at least sufficiently clear that I can be pretty sure that useful communication is not going to happen between the two of us.

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    11. bwilson295, I earlier provided a schematic diagram of a circuit that can involve trillions of molecules. Brushing that off like I said it's a trait of any molecule is a good indication that you already ended the communication. But FYI:

      http://www.planetsourcecode.com/vb/scripts/BrowseCategoryOrSearchResults.asp?txtCriteria=gary+gaulin&lngWId=1

      http://intelligencegenerator.blogspot.com/

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    12. But a circuit diagram is nothing like what we see in nature. That's the thing about analogies to human design - at best they are quite stretched to make them fit with what we see in nature. Physical theories don't tend to reflect "intelligence" at all, yet they are remarkably successful in predicting physical processes.

      In terms of single-celled organisms, there's a theory that explains how they develop into "intelligent" systems - evolution by natural selection. Isn't the existence of evolutionary theory an answer to how we can get such order through natural processes?

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    13. Circuit diagrams are commonly used to show interconnected neurons. And I know for a fact that interconnected neurons are found in nature.

      Please spare me another round of the Darwinian answer that's given to explain the origin of intelligence too.

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    14. "And I know for a fact that interconnected neurons are found in nature."
      But right there you aren't talking physics, but biology. And once you are talking biology, you are talking evolution.

      The question is, if you want to account for specific order in biological life, why wouldn't we talk natural selection? Evolutionary algorithms are used in engineering and computer science to solve problems that are too hard for people to solve. They work! So why would we ignore the "Darwinian answer" as you put it when it's not only overwhelmingly supported in biology, but has been used by engineering disciplines to do the very kind of thing you say is the mark of intelligence?

      It seems the answer is right in front of you...

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    15. The question is, if you want to account for specific order in biological life, why wouldn't we talk natural selection?

      You simply cannot model the molecular dynamic behavior by talking about natural selection and other generalizations.

      Evolutionary algorithms are used in engineering and computer science to solve problems that are too hard for people to solve. They work! So why would we ignore the "Darwinian answer" as you put it when it's not only overwhelmingly supported in biology, but has been used by engineering disciplines to do the very kind of thing you say is the mark of intelligence?

      Real chemistry and biology does not have random generators randomly scrambling everything's molecular coding while what amounts to a "natural selection" god decides who will mate with who and how many offspring they will have and how long they will live and what traits are allowed and on and on with the fudging. In reality living things have to be able to recognize their own species. There are often very complex courtship rituals and they must have the brains to be able to raise their offspring. The critters themselves do most of the selecting. And it only takes common sense to know that where the climate is suddenly changed some will not do as well as others.

      It seems the answer is right in front of you...

      It's a great answer for those who only need to talk on and on about "natural selection" and the other generalizations. But that does not work for those who must actually program biologically accurate models of intelligent living things.

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    16. "Real chemistry and biology does not have random generators "
      What amount the various forms of mutation? What about sex? What about genetic drift? There are plenty of sources of randomness in current evolutionary theory.

      "while what amounts to a "natural selection" god decides who will mate with who"
      Are you serious? :/

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    17. It seems quite disingenuous to assert that you want a naturalistic way of accounting for a phenomenon, only to dismiss the naturalistic account on irrelevant grounds. If the exercise was really to understand nature better, why wouldn't you try to understand how the evolutionary explanation works? Otherwise, the whole exercise is just mental masturbation on your part. That you aren't actually interested in understanding the best science as we have it, but trying to make a rhetorical point that does nothing but waste everyone else's time.

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  14. As we would expect with an evolved trait, intelligence shows tremendous variation. Many organisms live at a stimulus/response level and others show amazingly complex, flexible, intelligent behavior. Many animals are somewhere in between, with some degree of memory and of "software" inserted in the behavior. Some degree of abstract reasoning seems to have evolved repeatedly in social predators, including wolves, dolphins, crows, as well as in some parrots and, of course, in primates. We humans have evolved a degree of intelligence unprecedented on this planet, but once again the fossil record plus discovery of early stone tools suggest this was a gradual process.

    Therefore, challenges like, "please explain the "origin of intelligence" and the features of the very first intelligent living things, what made them "intelligent" as opposed to what was there immediately before that was unintelligent," and "predict what the very first intelligent things were" aren't very good uses of one's intelligence.

    Intelligence evolved gradually. There was no sudden leap from mindless stimulus/response to abstract reasoning. There was no first intelligent creature. There was no single first abstractly reasoning creature.

    These challenges are unanswerable because they're foolish.

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    1. You cannot answer my questions because you have little or no modeling experience in the required cognitive sciences.

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    2. Gary,
      No, bwilson295 gave a very cogent and pointed answer to your questions. To accuse bwilson of deficiency in certain areas is not a valid response.

      The comments sections of a blog has limitations in what it can convey in terms of scientific debate. I think you have a good exchange of ideas going, but you might want to engage in a different format to advance your ideas.

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    3. I did not intend to be adversarial. I just wanted to be clear that explaining the origin of intelligence first requires a good understanding of the cognitive science basics. Darwinian theory is not for that. Even where you do a good job coming up with answers you have not explained how to model the origin of intelligence.

      There are hundreds of pages of links and ideas to help cover the limitations of a blog like this one. At the Panda's Thumb linked forum ID proponents are expected to report to for grilling the discussion has been over the Darwinian based question that needs a scientific answer to explain what kind of (un)intelligent designer could ever in their right mind put nipples on human males:
      http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=14;t=7420;st=13980#entry244450

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    4. I just wanted to be clear that explaining the origin of intelligence first requires a good understanding of the cognitive science basics. Darwinian theory is not for that.

      It's like saying that the explanation of avian flight requires a good understanding of aerodynamics, and "Darwinian theory" (whatever you understand by that) isn't about aerodynamics.

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  15. Yes Piotr. Someone who wants to model bird flight needs to understand aerodynamics, otherwise their bird model will never on its own make it off the ground and into the air. And they would easily be annoyed by the Darwinian mutation and natural selection speeches that they get every time they ask how birds can fly.

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    1. Modelling bird flight and understanding the evolution of birds are two separate problems. Evolution takes place in the physical world, and, in a way, evolutionary solutions are "designed" by the selective impact of the environment. That doesn't mean that you have to know everything about the world to understand evolution. We don't have to be able to painstakingly account for every friggin' detail, the effect of every single mutation on the aerodynamic properties of the phenotype and how they affected its reproductive success, etc. We can't reconstruct the whole story anyway -- too much information has been lost irreversibly. How do you imagine "modelling" the evolution of birds?

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    2. Modeling the development of bird flight would start by modeling the origin of intelligence, using the behavior based modeling approach explained in the theory of operation for the Intelligence Design Labs. For someone with knowledge of molecular biology the best place to start is an ID Lab model of a self-replicating RNA system. Others can download and experiment with it by changing the environmental conditions including chemistry.

      I would expect that by the time the model closely matches experimental data all sorts of even more interesting molecular critters will be developing. You'll then probably need to add GPU's to your PC, or find a supercomputer it can be installed to, or make a hardware accelerator for what might best be done using analog signals instead of digital logic, or sum the behavior of the larger common molecules (also organelles and cell types) to model as a single entity instead of almost atom by atom detail.

      The variables from Darwinian theory do not work in this modeling method. EA's and GA's are also useless. The important thing is to stop wasting time with what is not made for modeling systems that are often intelligent. You're otherwise not even modeling the part that literally has a mind of its own, and does all the biological intelligent designing.

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    3. Gary, you are mixing up proximate and ultimate causes. Proximate and ultimate causes are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

      Of course one would need to understand aerodynamics to explain how birds fly. Aerodynamics was (is) a selective constraint on the evolution of flight.

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    4. @ Chris B

      I suggest you read some Gould

      Hutton's purposeful view. Natural History 91 (5): 6-12 as reprinted in Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes; by Stephen Jay Gould

      IN HIS TRIBUTE to Lucretius, Virgil wrote: “Happy is he who could learn the causes of things” (Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas). A noble and uncomplicated sentiment to be sure, but an even more illustrious predecessor had shown that causality is no simple matter. Aristotle, in the Posterior Analytics of the Organon, stated: “We only think that we have knowledge of a thing when we know its cause.” He then proceeded to give a complex analysis of the concept of causality itself.

      Each event, Aristotle argued, has four distinct kinds of causes. Consider the so-called parable of the house, the standard example, probably in continual use for more than two thousand years, for illustrating Aristotle’s schema. What is the cause of my house? What are the sine quibus non, the various factors whose absence would lead to no house at all or to a house of markedly different design?


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    5. con't

      First, Aristotle argues, we must have the straw, sticks, or bricks—the material cause. It obviously matters, as the three little pigs discovered, what material you choose. Next, someone must do the actual work, thatch the roof or lay the bricks—the effector, or efficient cause. The blueprint that the mason follows doesn’t do anything actively, and it is not building material. But it is a cause of sorts, since different blueprints yield different houses and no plan at all leaves you with a pile of bricks. These preconceived marching orders are formal causes in Aristotle’s lexicon. Finally, if the house served no purpose as an abode for its inhabitants, no one would bother to build it. Purposes are final causes.

      We do not follow Aristotle’s analysis in our linguistic habits today; our entire notion of “cause” is now pretty much restricted to Aristotle’s efficient causes. We do not deny the material and formal aspects, but we no longer call them causes. When I identify the motion of my pool cue as the cause of a ball’s errant trajectory (though only an efficient cause to Aristotle), I do not regard the composition of the ball or the blueprint of the table as irrelevant, but I no longer call them causes.

      The elimination of purpose, or final cause, tells a more important story and represents a major change in style for Western science. Aristotle saw nothing absurd in granting each event both an efficient cause (a mechanism, in our terminology) and a final cause (a purpose). He writes, for example,

      Light shines through a lantern. Being composed of particles smaller than the pores of the lantern, it cannot help passing through them (assuming that this is how the light is propagated); but it also shines for a purpose, so that we may not stumble [Posterior Analytics, 94b, 1. 28]

      We can follow Aristotle for devices constructed by humans for definite purposes. We did put holes in lanterns to let the light through. Final cause also remains a legitimate concept for the adaptations of organisms, even though these features arise by natural processes and not by any conscious activity of the animals involved. It remains good vernacular English to say that bats and birds have wings “for” flight, and the wolf legitimately invoked final cause in replying to Red Riding Hood’s inquiry about the sharpness of his teeth, “All the better to eat you with, my dear.”

      But we balk at ascribing final causes to the physical workings of inanimate objects, although Aristotle did not. Aristotle was comfortable with the idea that “it thunders both because there must be a hissing and roaring as the fire is extinguished, and also (as the Pythagoreans hold) to threaten the souls in Tartarus and make them fear” [Ibid., 94b, 1. 34]. We chuckle at Aristotle here, and that chuckling represents perhaps the greatest change that science has undergone in modern times. We no longer view the universe as explicitly designed in all its minor and multifarious parts to serve some human purpose. We have replaced this cosmic hubris with a more mechanical view of nature.

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    6. I earlier ended with the statement "modeling the part that literally has a mind of its own, and does all the biological intelligent designing" that can be taken religiously but that's also what you scientifically get when computer modeling the "self-learning" also called "self-programming" of a biological system like self-replicating RNA and RNA/DNA systems. You have to think sensors connected to address of RAM storing action responses and confidence level that increases every time the action worked, decreases when it does not. Our genome has the same circuit features.

      In other Sandwalk comments I explained where DNA codings that code for the same amino acid have an associated guess/mutation rate that is different enough to be where the confidence levels are stored and rate is controlled. The very basics of how genetic systems work already have us face to face with the basic systematics of a very powerful cognitive system like in our brain just much smaller and long lived. Each genetic replication cycle is one cognitive time step/cycle of its very long lifetime.

      Thinking in terms of mutation and selection causes not knowing what to look for. A statement that makes sense in cognitive science ends up sounding scientifically impossible, a religious fantasy. Yet that is where objectively following the scientific evidence wherever it leads ended up going. You just have to get used to some basic cognitive science that like brings ID to life, in your PC.

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    7. Guys,

      Obviously Gary is yet-another-kook looking for admirers on his incredible insight. Everything is intelligent [Gary's TM]!!

      Not your usual IDiot. Rather a kook trying to ride on the ID-soundbites wave.

      I'm already starting to admire you Gary! I'm so downloading your software! All worship Gary!

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  16. The word string Intelligent Design Creationism is a classic case of begging the question. Michael Behe is not a creationist in the sense of believing that some animals were created ex nihilo or even from the dust of the earth by a supernatural being. He believes in common descent. However, it is clear from his writings that he believes in the intervention of God in evolution in the form of periodic adjustments such as that speculated on by Loren Eiseley in The Immense Journey:

    ``Perhaps there also, among rotting fish heads and blue,
    night-burning bog lights, moved the eternal mystery,
    the careful finger of God. The increase was not much.
    It was two bubbles, two thin-walled little balloons at the
    end of the Snout's small brain. The cerebral hemispheres
    had appeared.''

    Behe has also drawn a clear distinction between his personal beliefs and the methodology of Intelligent Design. He has spelled out the fact that the designer of this or that feature need not be superintelligent, and may have been careless about this or that detail; the degree of intelligence of the designer may only be commensurate with the thing designed.

    Meyer is somewhat different. He may not believe in common descent, and makes no bones about his personal belief in the last chapter of Darwin's Doubt. However, he has never repudiated common descent nor the "design by sporadic divine nudges" in his public utterances qua ID theorist.

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    1. It's irrelevant because:

      1. ID cannot make testable predictions unless the bare ID hypothesis "God did it" is combined with beliefs about the purposes of God, e.g. "The human genome can have NO junk because God created DNA to serve us, God made the whole universe to serve us!" as opposed to considering the reverse, "Unknown intelligent designers with unknown purposes might have created humans as vectors to carry around His precious Junk DNA." Many other examples can be adduced. Beliefs that one knows, with certainty, the *purposes and desires* of the Great Omnipotent Designer are religious beliefs: if you know his desires with certainty, you must avoid His wrath and seek His favor, and that's religion. No religion, no testable predictions.

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    2. Continuing on the inherent religious nature of Intelligent Design:

      2. ID as a deduction (Meyer would say, stupidly, "abduction", duh) is always dependent on God of the Gaps. As a deduction, IDers begin with the ubiquitous negative arguments like "No natural process can create Irreducible Complexity or Specified Complexity!" They are then presented with hundreds of counter-examples of natural processes created Irreducible Complexity and Specified Complexity, counter-examples they reject by equivocating and switching to a different, more narrow definition of IC or SC so as to reject observed falsifications. The IDer then invokes God of the Gaps, "We don't know how IC or SC were made, therefore we do know, God did it."

      But Meyer goes the extra yard in trying to disguise a negative argument as a positive one, by saying to paraphrase, "In our uniform past experience, we know of only one source that can create SC or IC, and that's intelligent agents", by which he means, humans or spooks/spirits. But this invocation of alleged inductive principles based on past experience is a way of introducing his religious bias. In fact, if we were to grant the IDers' dishonest rejection of observed counter-examples of natural processes that create SC or IC (we should not grant this), we would be left only with a set of observations of humans, material objects interacting with matter by material means, creating SC or IC.

      But Meyer does not say "SC or IC is only made by humans", he changes it to "SC or IC is only made by intelligent agents" and here is where the religion is snuck in. Meyer is generalizing from what we actually observe, humans do it (if we grant the IDer's dishonest rejection of natural processes doing it), and changing it to a disjunction, an OR statement of the form "Humans OR spooks do it" and then using "Intelligent agents" as code-speak for "humans or spooks." This is where his religious belief comes in; why is he sliding in "Humans" --> "Humans OR spooks"? All disjunctions are equally valid possibilities, for example, "Humans" --> "Humans OR the green kangaroo" is just as valid a disjunction as "Humans" --> "Humans OR spooks". Meyer picked the latter out of an infinite number of possible disjunctions because his religion demands it. Whatever disjunction Meyer prefers, that one is guaranteed to be the "winner". Compare:

      1. Only humans can make IC or SC.
      2. Therefore, only humans OR SPOOKS can make IC or SC.
      3. Biology has IC and SC.
      4. Humans didn't make the IC or SC in biology.
      5. Therefore, supernatural spooks made biology.

      See how that works?

      Now disjunctions are always true, but often dangerous, because when combined with contradictions, disjunctions lead to logical explosion, meaning you can prove all conceivable statements. The contradiction occurs because 1 contradicts 4: Meyer starts out observing that only humans make SC or IC, then later says the SC or IC in biology could not have been made by humans; that's the contradiction step. Compare Meyer's disjunction to the below:

      1. Only humans can make IC or SC.
      2. Therefore, only humans OR MATERIAL OBJECTS can make IC or SC.
      3. Biology has IC and SC.
      4. Humans didn't make the IC or SC in biology.
      5. Therefore, material objects made biology.

      This method could work to "prove" an infinite number of hypotheses, but Meyer slipped in his religion by privileging supernatural spooks over all other possibilities.

      It doesn't matter in the end because we have observed nature creating SC and IC, so the point is moot. But besides that problem, a disjunction plus contradiction can prove anything. In this way, Meyer conceals his God of the Gaps as a "postive argument for design."

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    3. Diogenes, please see:
      http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2015/05/this-is-what-intelligent-design.html?showComment=1432077096500#c7865263329807330495

      Scientific discussions are only mucked up with volumes of he said she said distractions where even when true they do not scientifically matter.

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    4. Gary, I pointed out that Intelligent Design is inherently religious and you did not address my point. Instead, you link to a previous comment of yours, which seems to link to some other thing you wrote, abdvis written in the tortured syntax and grammar of Gaulinese. Unlike Piotr, I'm not a linguist and I can't translate your arglebargle; but I note you did not refute nor address my point: Intelligent Design is inherently religious.

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    5. Diogenes, a scientist is supposed to stay busy with what makes a theory inherently scientific, while theologists stay busy with what makes a theory inherently religious.

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    6. Gary, since "theologists [sic] stay busy with what makes a theory inherently religious", you must admit that the Intelligent Design movement, the Discovery Institute etc. are theologians, not scientists, because every one of them says evolutionary theory is a religion and ID creationism is science. That makes them theologians, not scientists, according to you. Cornelius Hunter, for example, insists that evolutionary theory is a religion and ID creationism is science. So he's a theologian, according to you, right?

      But perhaps different rules apply to ID creationists, was your actual point.

      It is absurd to say that scientists should never refer to religious beliefs; if a religious belief is testable, it could be falsified by science; if it is not testable, it should be distinguished from scientific theories.

      Again, you have not addressed my point: Intelligent Design theory is inherently religious. My point stands. You may of course argue that a religious belief can be scientific sometimes, e.g. if it can be falsified. That's your only remaining option.

      Thank you for telling me what a scientist ought to "stay busy" doing; conveniently for you, your rule means that scientists can never, must never, challenge absurd false assertions from religious think tanks like the DI. The DI can say Intelligent Design is all science and not a bit of religion in it, and evolutionary theory is all religion and supported by no evidence, but we're not allowed to criticize that, or else we're not scientists? $%&* that.

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    7. Considering how Darwinian evolutionary theory has BioLogos and other religious entities promoting Evolutionary Creation you Diogenes are expecting different rules apply to Evolutionary Creationists, yourself included (regardless of whether you go to one of its churches or not).

      Scientific theories are not to be discarded just because some take them religiously. The same goes for the scientific theory I represent.

      You have the Clergy Letter Project and such working for you while I have Uncommon Descent happy to leave the cognitive science up to me while they are religious as they want to be, but so what?

      The "Theory of Intelligent Design" is now a scientific model and theory for explaining the origin of intelligence, while Darwinian theory is useless for that purpose. The only honest thing you can do is get used to it being that way.

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    8. Diogenes, you think ID does not make testable hypotheses because your idea of ID is disjoint from my hypothesis about intelligent design. My hypothesis is based on two major hypotheses, without which it is basically untenable

      1. Abiogenesis that results in the evolution of an intelligent species is a once-in-a-galaxy or rarer (perhaps superastronomically rarer) event.

      2. There was such an extremely rare event in our galaxy, but it was NOT on earth, but in another planetary system billions of years before the solar system began. The beginning of life ON EARTH was the result of interstellar probes sent by the original intelligent species, carrying prokaryotes and possibly very hardy simple eukaryotes.

      3. Given 1 and 2, it is reasonable to look for "artifacts" left by the "seeders"; and the most enduring sort is a highly useful biological structure which seems very difficult to evolve. The bacterial flagellum is a prime example.

      NOTE on 1. Despite many years of challenges from me, no one has ever given evidence that the galaxy could be expected to harbor many thousands of intelligent species each of which is the result of abiogenesis on the planet where they evolved.

      NOTE on 2. This is essentially the directed panspermia hypothesis of Crick and Orgel. Now that neither is alive, I may be the most knowledgeable champion of this hypothesis [I'd dearly love it if this turned out to be NOT the case!] but I do not insist that it is correct. Instead, I am of the opinion that, GIVEN 1., it is more likely than the alternatives.

      NOTE on 3. If we are, instead, the result of evolution from abiogenesis that took place on earth, the evidence that the bacterial flagellum or any other biological feature is designed is too weak for me to go on supporting it.

      GENERAL NOTES:

      A. My intelligent design hypothesis is purely naturalistic and has nothing whatever to do with the claim "God did it".. My sober assessment is that the likelihood that there is a supernatural entity of super-human intelligence that designed our universe is less than 1%.

      B. I have argued at great length for 1. and especially 2., especially on the Usenet newsgroup talk.origins where I have been working on a FAQ. Extensive drafts for large parts of this FAQ have been posted to talk.origins and I am quite willing to provide links if people here show interest.

      C. In particular, the FAQ gives several ways in which various forms of hypothesis 2. could be tested and falsified AND also strongly supported.

      D. Hypothesis 2 has been mentioned at times by Behe, the DI, and various other people and entities but never seriously proposed by "the ID crowd." For one thing, they know which side their bread is buttered on.

      E. "See how that works?" I saw almost two decades ago, and I'm not sure you have, what works here and what does not.

      Peter Nyikos
      Professor, Dept. of Mathematics -- standard disclaimer--
      University of South Carolina
      http://people.math.sc.edu/nyikos/
      nyikos "at" math.sc.edu

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    9. The bacterial flagellum is a prime example.

      Is it not in fact your only example?

      I am of the opinion that, GIVEN 1., it is more likely than the alternatives.

      It's been shown that this depends on the choice of parameters in your modified Drake equation. And your preferred parameters are arbitrary.

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    10. Hi Peter. Yes hypotheses like yours are sometimes used as an example of what is within bounds of science. The problem with them though is the official premise of the theory requires explaining the “intelligent cause” of living things, anywhere in the universe.

      ”The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

      If the first living things on this planet were seeded from somewhere else then in addition to everything else the theory needs to explain (like basic cognitive science) you have to explain the intelligent cause (origin of life) of the seeders from another planet. What I have seen for solar and hydrothermal chemistry makes it more likely that the origin of life on Earth was inevitable on this planet. You would at least have to in detail explain why all the chemistry evidence indicates the opposite, which in my opinion would be a much harder scientific task.

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    11. Peter,

      could you please show evidence for your second point?
      "There was such an extremely rare event in our galaxy, but it was NOT on earth, but in another planetary system billions of years before the solar system began. "

      Do tell, where's the evidence it was NOT on Earth? Do you have proof of archeological digs from planet X to show they sent us these seeders?

      Could you please enlighten us by answering these questions, where did the people come from who send these seeders? Were they the result of other seeders? Or did they evolve all by themselves? Or were these seeders the result of some supernatural being? This supernatural being sent two of it's firstborns out of their paradise because the female ate a forbidden fruit? It's like 'turtles all the way down'.

      Instead of solving the evolution issue, you've introduced an extra layer of questions you need to answer and it boils down to the same issues ID has, where did the intelligence/ seeder come from and which intelligence/ seeder are we talking about?

      Point 1 seems relevant, because we haven't found any signs of intelligent life outside our planet yet. The statistics seem to agree with you, there's a low probability of life starting up in the universe, leading to (semi) intelligent beings.

      Point 2... is pure speculation. Based on the bacterial flagellum only? Do tell, if you wrote on talk origins, why did you overlook this article?.
      The bacterial flagellum has been debunked as IC. Please explain why the bacterial flagellum holds true for your hypothesis? Including evidence of course.

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    12. Peter I noticed that you are into vector math. I'm experimenting with a computer model of a network that very much brings a virtual critter to life, I came up with by reading neuroscience papers on what is known about how our navigation system works. I'm wondering whether the following (from code comments) is something you recognize:

      'Navigation attract/avoid network "internal world model" logic system for spatial reasoning.
      '
      'Waves propagated from a signaling attractor flow around obstacles.
      'Vectors correspond to directional flow of neuron action potentials.
      'Each vector at each place has magnitude (from 0 to 1) and direction angle.
      'These vectors point the way along shortest path around obstacles, to attractor.
      '
      ' Other related models at Planet Source Code:
      ' http://intelligencegenerator.blogspot.com/
      ' GridCellNetwork.zip with compiled .exe for Windows:
      ' https://sites.google.com/site/intelligencedesignlab/
      '
      'Train behavior of a population of place cells at each place in network into one 256 byte Random Access Memory array.
      'Network Behavior RAM (HalfCycle, Address6) stores a 6 bit action Data response to address input from 6 hexagonally located neighbors.
      'Half Cycle is 0 or 1. Unless place is also an Avoid (then second half only) the Attractor is active in both halves of handshake cycle.
      '
      '64=01000000 binary, Attract bit + six zeros for inactive neighbors.
      '192=11000000 binary, Attract bit + Avoid bit both set.

      For N = 1 To 63
      NetBehaviorRAM(0, N) = 63 - N
      NetBehaviorRAM(1, N) = 63 - N
      Next N
      NetBehaviorRAM(0, 64) = 63
      NetBehaviorRAM(1, 64) = 63
      NetBehaviorRAM(1, 192) = 63

      If you want to be of service to the future of ID then your calling might be in spatial reasoning networks that for all we know might be a part of how genetic systems and cells work. That would certainly be profound insight into how our intelligent designer designs flagella and all else. There is no way to be sure about that part, either way, but it is another possibility worth mentioning that needs following up on.

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    13. Ed: I had best quote a few items from my drafts for a FAQ on directed panspermia.

      B. Some Pointed Questions about Directed Panspermia

      B1. Doesn't directed panspermia simply "kick the can down the road"
      where the origin of life is concerned?

      This question is based on a misconception of what the directed
      panspermia hypothesis is all about. It has nothing to say about the
      ultimate origins of life in our universe; it is about the origin of
      life ON EARTH.

      E. Expanding and extending the Drake equation

      E1. How does one estimate the probability that earth life is the
      result of directed panspermia?

      REPLY: This is something everyone has to decide on for themselves.
      Most are simply satisfied with the general belief that the probability
      is extremely low. But to get an informed opinion about the matter, it is necessary to use reasoning and analysis.

      The issue can be analyzed into factors similar to those in the Drake
      equation. For each factor, one has to use what very little (and often
      very indirect) evidence is available to us. This is also true of most
      of the factors in the Drake equation.

      For further details on this, and the simple calculation of the probability of directed panspermia as a product of factors, see:
      https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/talk.origins/VJE_cAxliM4/r_fyIyzGy6UJ

      I'd post it here, but I'm limited to at most 2^12 = 4096 characters here.

      By the way, the reason why I am replying to you instead of Harshman is that he has seen all this before and believes in the magic of the word "arbitrary" as a substitute for thinking actively about the various factors involved, and coming up with his own ideas as to what the factors may be. And so he remains blissfully secure in the belief that "Mother Earth did it [abiogenesis]."

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    14. Gary: Sorry, I'm not a computer geek, even though I got my Ph.D. in Carnegie-Mellon University. At the time (1971) personal computers were just a vision, and the only experience I got with computers was when I played chess against a program developed by chess master Hans Berliner. I beat the program easily, so that it seemed to me that a program able to beat the world champion would be thousands of years in the future.

      How wrong I was! "Deep Thought", developed IIRC by Carnegie-Mellon programmers, vanquished the then-world champion, Kasparov, over a decade ago.

      Harshman: No, the bacterial flagellum is just my favorite, because the technology for designing it is already within our reach, and it therefore dampens suspicions by para-xenophobic individuals like yourself that I am a closet "God did it" type.

      Two other items in Behe's book also look promising: the protein transport mechanism and the eukaryotic cilium. But the latter seems to call for less hardy creatures than prokaryotes sent as bacterial spores, while the former calls for more know-how than we can expect for another century [but see note about "Deep Thought" above].

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    15. Ed: I've been secure in "the evolution issue" since the age of 12, with huge amounts of book learning in paleontology making it a no-brainer that vertebrates are all descended from a common ancestor. By extension, I also assumed that all life on earth is due to common descent.

      I was also secure in the conventional wisdom that "Mother Earth did it [abiogenesis] easily" in my high school years, even thinking that a good science project would be to get the end results of the Urey-Miller experiment and to take them a step further towards polypeptides, still assuming early earth conditions.

      But two books I read in 1996 completely changed my mind about this. One was Francis Crick's Life Itself, about which I've already written. Paradoxically, the other was Vital Dust by another Nobel Laureate biochemist, Christian DeDuve, who is a true believer in "Mother Earth did it easily and so can any other planet like the primitive earth."

      What aroused my skepticism was the way DeDuve spent huge amounts of time getting to something similar to amino-acyl-tRNA and then punted to the whole protein translation mechanism, with its ribosomes, mRNA, tRNA, Ef-Tu, and aa-tRNA synthetases. It was like giving a person detailed instructions on how to build a crossbow, then describing a Saturn V rocket, with the message that the same general principles that enable one to build the former also can be further developed to produce the latter.

      This sweeping of the difficulties under the rug made me highly receptive to Francis Crick's common-sense observation that we have no idea how good or how low the probability of abiogenesis is on even a planet as favorably disposed to it as the early earth. For reasons suggested already in my first post to this blog, I think it is a less than once in a galaxy chance; and so the advent of intelligent life on a planet is, in my humble opinion, an event that takes place only once in many universes like our "island universe," ca. 13 billion years old and having a mere trillion or so galaxies in it.

      But I also believe that the probability of a multiverse of a "practically infinite" number of hugely varying "island universes" is higher than that of a supernatural designer of our "island universe," and so intelligent life is a near certainty in innumerably many of these "island universes". Ours happens to be one of the very lucky ones, and our galaxy one of the very, very lucky ones--but for reasons outlined in my first reply to you, I tend to believe it took place not on earth, but on another planet in our galaxy, billions (milliards to Europeans) of years earlier than the birth of our solar system, and that we are the beneficiaries of microbes sent this way by either the original intelligent species or the beneficiary of an even earlier directed panspermia project.

      Further than that I do not want to kick the can, because of the time constraint inherent in the fact that the Big Bang took place less than a mere 14 billion [milliard] years ago.

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    16. But the latter seems to call for less hardy creatures than prokaryotes sent as bacterial spores, while the former calls for more know-how than we can expect for another century

      I think it reveals the vacuous nature of your claims that you will abandon examples out of convenience, not from their own properties. Of course if eukaryote flagella are designed, that would call for a seeding program lasting billions of years, with multiple rounds. If that looks like a good case to you aside from that particular problem, it's a sign that your criteria are faulty. Which I suggest is the lesson here.

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  17. sez gary gaulin: A behavior from any system qualifies as intelligent behavior by meeting all four circuit requirements for this ability, which are: [1] something to control (body or modeling platform) with motor muscles (proteins, electric speaker, electronic write to a screen), [2] Random Access Memory (RAM) addressed by sensory sensors where each motor action and its associated confidence value are separate data elements, [3] confidence (central hedonic, homeostasis) system that increments (stored in memory) confidence value of a successful motor action else decrements the confidence value, [4] guess mechanism for a new memory action when associated confidence level sufficiently decreases. For flagella powered cells a random guess response (to a new heading) is designed into the motor system by the action of reversing motor direction causing it to “tumble”.
    It's worth noting that a Roomba vacuum cleaner possesses all four of Gaulin's 'circuit requirements'. Therefore, a Roomba exhibits "intelligent behavior", according to Gaulin's definition. This has been pointed out to Gaulin before; the fact that he's repeating his old schtick, word for word, speaks volumes.

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    1. It would be easy enough to engineer all that into its electronics. So maybe it is intelligent. And if the little sucker does in fact meet all circuit requirements for intelligence then there is even a good chance it has more common sense than you do.

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