Friday, June 19, 2015

The science behind Intelligent Design Creationism

I do not agree with those who dismiss Intelligent Design Creationism because it is not science. I prefer to think of it as an approach that superficially resembles the scientific approach but fails in various ways. In this sense, it's not much different from lots of other bad examples of science.

Let's look at the way Intelligent Design Creationists describe their attempt to be scientific. This is from a recent post by that well-known scientist,1 Casy Luskin, on Eovlution News & Views (sic) [Does Intelligent Design Deserve Academic Freedom?]. In that post, Luskin lists four criteria proving that ID is a genuine scientific theory.
It's the first point on the list that I want to discuss. The link takes you to a brief description of how Intelligent Design Creationism uses the scientific method to prove that gods played a role in the history of life. Here's how it works ...
Basic Intelligent Design:
i. Observation:
The ways that intelligent agents act can be observed in the natural world and described. When intelligent agents act, it is observed that they produce high levels of "complex-specified information" (CSI). CSI is basically a scenario which is unlikely to happen (making it complex), and conforms to a pattern (making it specified). Language and machines are good examples of things with much CSI. From our understanding of the world, high levels of CSI are always the product of intelligent design.

ii. Hypothesis:
If an object in the natural world was designed, then we should be able to examine that object and find the same high levels of CSI in the natural world as we find in human-designed objects.

iii. Experiment:
We can examine biological structures to test if high CSI exists. When we look at natural objects in biology, we find many machine-like structures which are specified, because they have a particular arrangement of parts which is necessary for them to function, and complex because they have an unlikely arrangement of many interacting parts. These biological machines are "irreducibly complex," for any change in the nature or arrangement of these parts would destroy their function. Irreducibly complex structures cannot be built up through an alternative theory, such as Darwinian evolution, because Darwinian evolution requires that a biological structure be functional along every small-step of its evolution. "Reverse engineering" of these structures shows that they cease to function if changed even slightly.

iv. Conclusion:
Because they exhibit high levels of CSI, a quality known to be produced only by intelligent design, and because there is no other known mechanism to explain the origin of these "irreducibly complex" biological structures, we conclude that they were intelligently designed.
The hypothesis is reasonable; if gods really designed biological structures then we should be able to find evidence of that intervention.

The logic fails in the "Experiment" step. When setting up a dichotomy, it is essential to eliminate one possibility before assuming that the other must be correct. In this case, the entire scheme relies on proving that irreducibly complex structures could not possibly have arisen by natural means (i.e. evolution). The conclusion is that "... because there is no other known mechanism to explain the origin of these "irreducibly complex" biological structures, we conclude that they were intelligently designed."

But that's not true. There are many different ways for irreducibly complex structures to arise by natural means. Michael Behe understood this when he wrote Darwin's Black Box in 1996. He says,
Even if a system is irreducibly complex (and thus cannot have been produced directly), however, one cannot definitively rule out the possibility of an indirect, circuitous route. (p. 40)
In other words, irreducibly complex CAN arise by naturalistic processes if the pathway to their evolution is indirect. What this means is that you cannot conclude that an irreducibly complex structure leads directly to the conclusion that gods intelligent designers exist. That would be an example of bad science.

In 2002, Michael Behe changed the definition of irreducible complexity [see Irreducible Complexity: The Challenge to the Darwinian Evolutionary Explanations of many Biochemical Structures]. He now describes it as ...
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. (A Response to Critics of Darwin’s Black Box, by Michael Behe, PCID, Volume 1.1, January February March, 2002; iscid.org/)
This is very interesting. The new definition specifies that the pathway to an irreducibly complex system must contain a step that is necessary but cannot have arisen by natural selection. The onus is now on Intelligent Design Creationists to prove that the creation of an irreducibly complex system requires a step that cannot possibly be due to natural selection (or random genetic drift?). It is not sufficient to just recognize a potential irreducibly complex system, you also have to describe all possible pathways to its formation and show that in all cases at least one step is evolutionarily impossible.

I don't know of a single example of such an irreducibly complex system. I can think of several examples where we aren't sure of the evolutionary pathway but in all cases we can at least speculate on how the system could have arisen by natural means. Perhaps the creationists reading this blog post can point me to a case where creationists have proved that no such pathways are possible?

I conclude that Intelligent Design Creationism is science but it's bad science because their conclusion does not follow from the evidence, nor the logic.


1. Not.

73 comments :

  1. I prefer Feynmann's "cargo cult" science. Its practitioners ape the methods of science, but refuse to change their minds in the face of contrary evidence. People like Behe are smart enough to grasp the flaws in irreducible complexity, etc. but they won't change their tunes because of ideology, not lack of understanding or embarrassment.

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    1. And, as Feynman put it, "The planes don't land."

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  2. I've said this before, and I'll say it again.

    When Casey Luskin says: When intelligent agents act, it is observed that they produce high levels of "complex-specified information" (CSI). CSI is basically a scenario which is unlikely to happen (making it complex), and conforms to a pattern (making it specified). Language and machines are good examples of things with much CSI. From our understanding of the world, high levels of CSI are always the product of intelligent design.

    This is a lie. The Decepticons have never presented a single definition of “information” or "CSI" or “irreducible complexity” which simultaneously had two necessary properties:

    1. ONLY produced by “intelligent agents” (= humans, spooks or gods) and never by natural processes.

    2. Present in biological organisms

    Unless there is ONE definition satisfying both 1 and 2, there’s no reason to believe supernatural spooks made the malaria parasite like Behe says.

    The Decepticons point to how big the human genome is– 3 billion nucleotides!– and say, “That’s a lotta information!” But this definition of information fails criterion 1: it can be created by known natural processes, for one example, gene duplication creates new DNA sequences with duplicates of old genes, then we’ve observed the new duplicated genes mutating to evolve new functions. So we observe natural processes creating that kind of “information.”

    This is true especially for Dembski's "Complex Specified Information" or "CSI". Every time Dembski has been dumb enough to write down an equation-- which he last did in a paper in 2005, a full decade ago-- it's trivial to prove that natural processes increase CSI. Even ID proponents, including Winston Ewert and VJ Torley, have admitted that natural processes, specifically gene duplication, increase Dembski's CSI, if the probability is computed in the only way the IDiots have ever computed probability. So CSI fails criterion 1.

    When we point this out, the Decepticons equivocate and switch to a totally different defintion of “information”; now it becomes “meaning” or human intent, and the Decepticons stop talking about genes and DNA and start burbling stupidly about Shakespearean sonnets and Mt. Rushmore. So they’ve switched to a different definition of “meaning” that satisfies criterion 1 but fails 2 since it’s not present in biological organisms. Yeah, Shakespearean sonnets do have meaning (basically “lay with me”) and natural processes don’t create sonnets and poems, so criterion 1 is satisfied for so-called “meaning”, but there are no Shakespearean sonnets in any genome of any species anywhere, no "meaning" in biology, no "digital information" as Luskin would say, so criterion 2 fails.

    All that’s left for the ID proponents is lying and equivocation, switching stroboscopically between different definitions of words.

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  3. You are too kind. Someone (you?) once observed that one could invert the logic: the vast majority of things that we see around us, that complain CSI, are biological in origin. My computer contains large amounts of CSI, Therefore my computer is biological in origin.

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    1. That's not quite my argument (though I like your version). My argument went: the vast majority of information in the universe is known to be produced by natural, unintelligent processes. Biological organisms have lots of information in their DNA; therefore, we should assume a priori that biology was created by natural unintelligent processes, unless extraordinary evidence indicates otherwise.

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  4. For me the question of whether ID could be a scientific hypothesis can be well elucidated by making a thought experiment. Under what conditions would mainstream scientists tentatively accept ID, either for this planet or for another one discovered somewhere in space?

    Certain philosophers claim that the answer should be "never" because ID is not science, it is indeed a science-stopper, and it is not an explanation. Creationists of course claim that the answer is also "never" because mainstream scientists are ideologically blinded by their hatred of God, and consequently reject ID in the face of evidence.

    I will not deign the latter with an answer (except perhaps to wave vaguely in the direction of the concept of projection), but the former doesn't make sense either. As I have argued here before, one can easily imagine a planet where life looks created and where every reasonable scientist would accept ID until somebody can come up with a better idea. It is not our planet, of course, because here life looks evolved.

    So yes, it is bad science, perhaps cargo cult science, but it is not necessarily not-science by the nature of the hypothesis. But it is really bad science! Just consider the other three bullet points; the answer is in all cases "ahahahaha ... no".

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    1. The content of the hypothesis doesn't make it pseudoscience. What makes it pseudoscience is the falsity of the "facts" it uses for deductions (see my point about CSI above), and equally, that its alleged predictions do not logically follow from the hypothesis.

      Consider this hypothesis and the alleged prediction:

      H: Biology was created by intelligent agents of unknown identity for unknown purposes by an unknowable mechanism at an unknown time in an unknown place.

      P: No species has any junk DNA, not even the Norway spruce and the African lungfish and the Niuse River waterdog with their mega giant genomes > 50x human. All DNA everywhere is 100% functional.

      Uh huh. I say: P does not follow from H so the Discovery Institute are bullshit pseudoscientists.

      Here is where Larry and I disagree.

      Larry says: P is falsified, therefore the ID hypothesis H is real science but it is bad (falsified) science.

      I say: P never logically followed from H in the first place, so ID is pseudoscience, not bad science.

      Their claim that CSI is only created by "intelligent agents" is bullshit too, as discussed above, but you can't call it bad science. Bad science is a real hypothesis that was falsified. But "CSI is only created by intelligent agents" is presented by the Decepticons as an observation (see Lyin' Luskin above, the #AttackGerbil calls that an "observation"), not a hypothesis, so Larry can't say "CSI is only created by intelligent agents" was a real hypothesis that was falsified. The Decepticons call it an observation that can't be refuted or questioned. So Larry can't say this is bad science, i.e. a real, but falsified hypothesis, if it was never sold as a hypothesis.

      What is it then? Pseudoscience; also bullshit and calculated deception for political purposes.

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    2. Behe's claim that drug resistance in malaria must have navigated around a strongly detrimental intermediate stage is a real claim that can reasonably be tested.

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    3. Petrushka,

      Behe claimed that chloroquine resistance in malaria navigated around an impossible, or nearly impossible intermediate stage. It was his example of the 'edge of evolution' after all. Several papers have shown this to be wrong. The hypothesis was tested and rejected. This was covered extensively in previous threads here on Sandwalk.

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    4. Sure. But Behe never sold it as a hypothesis. He never said, "We hypothesize that no IC system could be produced by a natural process. Here's how we test that..." No Decepticon says that.

      He presented it as an observation: no IC system can evolve. You can't test that and they don't let anyone question it.

      "Drug resistance in malaria is an IC system": Behe sold that as an observation that cannot be tested or questioned. DI Decepticons bury their falsehoods in their premises, and then sell their premises as observations that no one is allowed to test or question or refute.

      Behe's claim that CQ resistance in bacteria must go through a strongly deleterious step was a deduction from what he presented as observations. That deduction was proven wrong by observations, but Behe still sells his premise, that IC systems can't evolve, ss an observation, not a hypothesis. So you cannot falsify that. Bad science (unlike pseudoscience) must be falsifiable and falsified.

      Look at how fond Behe was of his number 10^20, the alleged number of malaria parasites needed to evolve CQ resistance. He never, ever treated 10^20 as a hypothesis that could be tested. He treated it as an observation that was already made, so it could not be refuted. As if somebody observed 10^20 parasites and counted how many had VQ resistance... Behe repeatedly refused to concede that 10^20 was wrong, repeatedly insisting it was an observation that cannot be challenged. Bad science is those hypotheses that are falsifiable and have been falsified. This is pseudoscience.

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    5. Yes, but he's the best they've got.

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    6. Diogenes,

      Yeah, but nothing I wrote is at odds with what you wrote. What I am saying is that if all the facts were different, then "life on this planet looks as if it was recently created by some intelligent outsider" could be a reasonable conclusion.

      Just read On the Origin of Species: Darwin constantly wrote something on the lines of, are these observations this more plausible under the hypothesis of common descent or under the hypothesis of special creation? An implication of this is that if different facts had been observed then a different conclusion would have to be accepted.

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  5. ID is using the scientific method and evolution does not use biological scientific evidence for its claims to be a theory of science. As i see it.

    Why is IC not evidence for a creator?
    If no natural way could possibly created the complexity then only a thinking being could BECAUSE its so complex. its beyond chance. thats good evidence by experiment Thats good forensics.
    if you guys are saying one can never be sure there isn't another option for a natural way to have created the complex structure then its means there is a option there is no other option.
    your arguing that complexity can never be seen as from a thinking being even if you have no idea how something so complex could create itself.
    The onus is on your side to show complexity can come by bumps in the night.
    its already unlikely half complex things could eVER be created by natural means.
    You have a lot to show.
    ID makes a persuasive casse to educated people on the old simple idea that creation is really complicated and surely indicates brilliance of thought.
    Seeingh chance create complexity is asking for the impossible..

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    1. What color is the sky in your world, Robert?

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    2. "ID makes a persuasive casse to UNeducated people"

      Fixed that for you

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  6. Following the first link in Luskin's four criteria claiming that ID is real science ("Uses the scientific method to make its claims") we find these four hypotheses emanating from the the theory of ID/creationism:

    (1) High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will be found.

    "High information content" is unquantified. "irreducibly complex" structures have not been demonstrated to be impossible without intelligent intervention.

    (2) Forms will be found in the fossil record that appear suddenly and without any precursors.

    The fossil record speaks for itself. This hypothesis has been crushed under a mountain of evidence.

    (3) Genes and functional parts will be re-used in different unrelated organisms.

    Three words: horizontal gene transfer.

    (4) The genetic code will NOT contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA".

    How does this logically follow from ID/creationism?

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    1. It doesn't follow.

      Look at this: (4) The genetic code will NOT contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA".

      IDiot Luskin doesn't know what "genetic code" means. Here he means genetic sequence or whole genomes, but he says "genetic code".

      How does this assertion follow from the hypothesis "Biology was created by intelligent agents of unknown identity for unknown purposes at an unknown time in an unknown place"?

      (2) Forms will be found in the fossil record that appear suddenly and without any precursors

      How does that follow from the hypothesis "Biology was created by intelligent agents of unknown identity for unknown purposes, etc."? Why would there be gaps at all if biology were created by gods of infinite power and unknown purposes?

      "Gaps" in the fossil record follow logically from the observations 1. Fossilization is very rare and 2. Erosion is always happening and destroying most fossils. No gods required.

      But intelligently created artifacts don't have "gaps" because they can't be arranged in a unique nested hierarchy like organisms can. "Gaps" can't even be defined or conceived for intelligently created artifacts. Look at Picasso's vast oeuvre: what would "gap" mean there? How would you even define a "gap"?

      Gaps can only be conceived or defined for entities that can be ordered in a unique nested hierarchy: that is, biology or human languages. Why would unspecified intelligent agents with supernatural omnipotence anf unknown purposes be required to create a biology for which "gaps" can even be conceived of, that is, in the a unique needed hierarchy?

      Note that lyin' Luskin defines this ID "prediction" so that if there's *just ONE gap* in the fossil record, it proves God did it. But if paleontologists fill in hundreds of gaps (which they have done), the existence of two new gaps opening around each old gap that paleontologists just filled still proves God did it.

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    2. Luskin again: "(3) Genes and functional parts will be re-used in different unrelated organisms."

      Why does this follow from the hypothesis "Biology was created by intelligent agents of unknown identity for unknown purposes, etc."? Why are intelligent agents of infinite power but unknown purposes required to engage in self-plagiarism?

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    3. Luskin's fraudictions: (1) High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will be found

      Let us leave aside the observations that natural processes have been observed to create complex information and irreducibly complex structures.

      Why does the fraudiction above follow from the hypothesis "Biology was created by intelligent agents of unknown identity for unknown purposes, etc."?

      Surely beings of infinite power are not required to create irreducibly complex structures, which are, as Behe admits, fragile Rube Goldberg monstrosities that break easily and kill the organism if even one little part is altered. Why would beings of infinite power be required to create Rube Goldberg machines that are, like the original Rube Goldberg cartoons, just jokes? Why is God required to create jokes that break easily?

      Surely a God of infinite power could create self-replicating brings without irreducible complexity, and thus, robust. Why is Casey's god required to do the opposite?

      What's your real hypothesis, Casey-- we're created as easily-broken jokes of your God? How do you know that? If that's your real hypothesis, say so, and stop lying about the fake hypotheses which do not logically lead to your fraudictions.

      If Casey's fraudictions do not logically follow from his stated hypothesis "Biology was made by intelligent agents of unknown identity for unknown purposes", then Intelligent Design is pseudoscience.

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  8. I see a potential problem with step i. How exactly is CSI quantified?

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    1. Dembski described it two ways, in 2003 and 2005. The 2005 paper, "Specification: The Pattern That Signifies Intelligence" is often treated as definitive.

      You need two numbers that you multiply together, a probability (representing "complexity") and a fudge factor (representing "specification" or how easy it is to match an "independently given pattern.")

      What's the probability? The only method Dembski and the other IDiots have ever used in problems is what I call "tornado probability", the probability of getting a predetermined sequence by randomly scrambling all parts.

      If your alphabet size is A (= 4 for DNA, = 20 for proteins) and your sequence length is L, then the tornado prob is 1/A^L.

      If you double the sequence length (e.g. gene duplication), it almost doubles the log(tornado prob), so natural processes create CSI. ID proponent VJ Torley conceded this once.

      Therefore Winston Ewert, recognizing the problem, started screaming that Dembski never said that, he never said use tornado probability, no, what Dembski really meant was to use a real probability of evolution from population genetics-- while Ewert concedes none of them have ever computed that kind of probability, and none of them know how to. But they should, because Ewert, like VJ Torley, concedes that if you use tornado prob, then natural princesses increase CSI.

      (In fact, in Dembski's 2005 paper, he contradicts himself about what probability you should compute. The examples he works out are all simple toy examples and he always uses tornado probability when he's trying to prove something is intelligently designed. So Ewert is doing a midrashic reinterpretation on Dembski.)

      The other IDiots at Uncommon Descent all told Ewert to $%&* off. They can't do any population genetics, the only prob they know how to compute is tornado prob, so that's what they're going to use. Salvador Cordova admitted that he can't compute real probabilities, none of the ID proponents can, so they're going to use tornado prob. VJ Torley insists that Dembski should make tornado prob part of the official definition of CSI.

      In the last step you take a logarithm, so

      -Log ( 1/A^L * fudge factor)

      = -L* log(A) - log(fudge factor)

      If this is above 120, your sequence was created by an intelligent agent. Gene duplication increases L, so natural processes create CSI.

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    2. Errata: I shouldn't have the leading minus - in the last line.

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    3. So, in other words, not even Dembski knows how to calculate CSI or compare the CSIs of two systems.

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    4. Correct, JH. Dembski doesn't know how to calculate CSI in the same way JK Rowling doesn't know how to construct a working wand.

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    5. I think most of you will be familiar with this but, a few years ago, a software developer named Patrick May managed to get a guest post published on Uncommon Descent in which (under the pseudonym "MathGrrl") he gave a number of scenarios and asked if anyone could calculate the CSI for them. His experience was quite revealing, as he describes here:

      http://www.softwarematters.org/mathgrrl.html

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    6. Doc Bill sez: Dembski doesn't know how to calculate CSI in the same way JK Rowling doesn't know how to construct a working wand.

      JSYKIST (Just So You Know, I'm Stealing That.)

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  9. Intelligent Design has more in common with YEC than either has with science, and although 'science' doesn't have a precise definition I wouldn't define ID as science.
    To me the key difference is motivation. Despite all the prejudices and biases the motivation of science is to find out how the natural world works in an as objective way as possible. The motivation of ID is to prove God exists. They may deny this but its apparent in numerous ways from their rhetoric.

    ID is to science what theology is to philosophy

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    1. Lantog, the problem with your "motivation" criterion is that creationists think they're the world's greatest judges of other people's motives. They say that our motive for believing in evolution is that evolutionists are sexually promiscuous and licentious and see don't want to be held accountable to a sex-hating god for our sensuous, lascivious lifestyles. It's trolling, but Ray Comfort built his career on that accusation.

      Their conservative audience is very vulnerable to the Appeal to Motive fallacy. They're overwhelmed by all the facts and complexity of our era, they've got Future Shock, so they make sense of our complicated world by ignoring facts and complications, and judging controversies by making up motivations and attributing them to the side that's not in their tribe. Then ideas from outside the tribe can ne dismissed. It simifies their lives.

      Of course this is ridiculous, but we'll never beat them with Appeal to Motive. My policy is: the minute someone starts talking about motives, squash that fallacy fight away.

      Now if you'all excuse me, I have an orgy to attend at NASA.

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    2. Diogenes,
      Yeah, they say that but its not true so theres no need to pay attention to them. In terms of the definition of science, I've heard at least one person include 'curiosity' (as the motivation for even doing science) as part of the definition.

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  10. Since their argument centres around the "fact" that all known examples of items with a high CSI are of intelligent (ie, human) cause, then all biological structures with high CSI must also be of intelligent cause. There are two major problems with their argument.

    1) The proper inference is not that structures with high CSI must be of intelligent origin. Since we don't know how other intelligences would operate, the best inference would be that structures with high CSI have a human cause. So they should be looking for evidence of time travelling humans.

    2) They infer that because all artifacts with high CSI are known to be of intelligent design, that all biological structures with high CSI must also be of intelligent design. But using their own logic, and the fact that the number of biological structures with high CSI is exponentially greater than those of known human design, their original assumption is wrong. At best, they can only conclude that a tiny fraction of structures with high CSI are known to be of intelligent design.

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    1. Exactly!

      Their argument is as if an ant noticed that there's lots of structures in nature that look like ant nests. Mountains after mountains for example. Then the ant concludes that, because she knows that every ant nest was built by ants, anything that looks like an ant nest was build but an ant-elligent designer.

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  11. All this is to miss the elephant in the room which is that ID is a political movement with the intent of infusing Christian principles into all aspects of American culture. Nothing more. The infamous Wedge Document lays out the plan of the Disco Tute in glorious detail and they have been doing their best to follow that plan: lobby legislatures, wrote op-ed pieces, promote ID but for Heaven's sake don't say the "G*D" word. Check , check and double-check.

    Only in the fringe of the Wedge Document is there any mention of a "robust research program" to get ID published in the mainstream journals. Why they put that in the strategy document can only be for marketing purposes as the Wedge Document was designed to be a fundraising tool as well.

    So, really, arguing about "specified information" whether it's complex (tm) or functional (tm) is as much value as arguing about the relative potency of wizarding wands. It's all just made up sciency sounding bullshit. Good for a beer or ten but nothing else.

    Also bear in mind that the Attack Gerbil Luskin is paid to lie. That's his job. He doesn't lose Disco Tute points for being wrong or even inconsistent. The lie of the day is all that counts in the Tute world.

    So, how do we deal with the Disco Tute? By doing what the National Center for Science Education does. Educate the educators, legislators, state school boards - over and over and over again. That's the most effective thing to do. The rest is theater.

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  12. @Larry,
    ”I prefer to think of it (ID) as an approach that superficially resembles the scientific approach but fails in various ways. In this sense, it's not much different from lots of other bad examples of science.”
    Really? You are one of the most amusing, ignorant and arrogant Darwinists I have ever come across. Do you really believe that problems such as:

    1. The origins of the universe can be ignored? I’m not going to mention the fine tuning of the universe because I very know you don’t have “scientific approach” for the first one.
    2. The origins of life. I know you don’t even have one argument so I’m not going to sweat a bac one. Scientific or experiment evidence is none but the followers of the none evidence are not surprisingly many ….
    3. The biochemical evolution has no evidence or logic whatsoever. How did you get convinced this has happened?

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    1. If you have a scientific explanation for the origin if life that accounts for all the known facts then please share it with me. Right now, I don't have a good explanation, just informed speculation. I'm anxious to learn what scientific theory you guys are proposing.

      Note: "The intelligent designer did it" is not a scientifuc explanation.

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    2. Sceptical Mind, you've proven Larry's point for him. Larry says that ID proponents don't use the scientific method. You just proved him right since three times you applied the "God of the Gaps" method and never once attempted to defend Casey Luskin's claim that IDers use the scientific method.

      Is God of the Gaps part of the scientific method now? Yes or no.

      If no, then you're conceding our point: ID proponents don't use the scientific method.

      If yes, then when you go to the doctor someday and ask "Why does it hurt when I pee?", you'll consider it scientific when your doctor answers, "Beats me, therefore your urinary pain was intelligently designed by supernatural beings." Is that the scientific method?

      And when you write things like " The biochemical evolution has no evidence or logic whatsoever", we can dismiss you as an ignoramus dishonestly pretending to know biochemistry. We've already observed the evolution of new protein biochemical functions, de novo proteins, and de novo genes. If you don't know that, then it's dishonest for you to pompously and arrogantly pretend to a scientific education.

      As for your fine tuning argument, you attempt to change the subject by jumping back in time 9 billion years before the first living thing. I understand you have to change the subject when you're losing, but going back 9 billion years is a bit pathetic, don't you think?

      You retreat to the Big Bang so you just conceded all biological complexity, all species, the whole biosphere, to evolutionists. We accept your surrender.

      And worst of all, your argument is self-contradictory. In your point 1 you claim the universe is fine-tuned to be friendly to life. In your point 2 you assume the universal laws of physics always make it impossible for life to appear via natural laws. Therefore the universe is HOSTILE to life, you IDiot. You just totally contradicted yourself. Could you be any stupider? Yes... but only if you were Casey Luskin.

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    3. Septical mind,

      Really? You are one of the most amusing, ignorant and arrogant Darwinists I have ever come across.

      Interesting assessment. "Amusing," well, whatever. "Ignorant" baffles me. You must have read the whole blog and noticed that Larry has read the IDiot literature, etc. Yet, you decided that the reading and engaging in that bullshit still makes Larry an "ignorant." I wonder what we would have to do in order to be considered, ahem, not as ignorant. Oh, you did not take a look first? Maybe only if we believed that god-did-it is a proper answer to open questions? Arrogant? You mean like some IDiot who comes here to insult the host, but offering nothing but a numbered list aiming for a god-of-the-gaps fallacy?

      1. The origins of the universe can be ignored? I’m not going to mention the fine tuning of the universe because I very know you don’t have “scientific approach” for the first one.

      Curious. If there's no scientific approach for the origin of the universe, how did those guys come up with such hypotheses as the Big Bang? Must be by imagination. You know, like assuming that a volcano is a god when people did not understand volcanoes. Like imagining a god because you don't know how the universe originated. No answers? Easy! Imagine a god!

      Then again. Since there's no scientific approach for the origin of the universe, then there should not be a scientific approach to prove that it is fine tuned either (fine tuned for what?). After all, you would need universes to compare against. Right?

      2. The origins of life. I know you don’t even have one argument so I’m not going to sweat a bac one. Scientific or experiment evidence is none but the followers of the none evidence are not surprisingly many ….

      Must be much more comfortable to be a follower of the imaginary gods instead. Unfortunately for you, there's evidence for several aspects that suggest how life could have originated. not super detailed, but loads of evidence, and nothing that we know about physics and chemistry would prevent life from originating. But have it your way. Since the evidence won't convince you it must be some god. Claiming that there's no evidence while calling someone else "the most ignorant Darwinist," while immersed in your own ignorance must feel quite good too.

      3. The biochemical evolution has no evidence or logic whatsoever. How did you get convinced this has happened?

      I would think that actually understanding how biochemistry works would give someone an edge on this. Biochemists learn a lot about thermodynamics and how reactions happen. They get to understand catalysis and other features that just show that biochemical evolution has some pretty good logic, even before we had any experiments showing the evolution of new biochemical activities.

      Sure. Call us what you want. Only remember to first check your own understanding of things (Matthew 7:3-5). Otherwise you risk breaking some irony-meters and ridiculing yourself.

      Bye-bye hypocrite.

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  13. Photosynthesis said:
    ...loads of evidence, and nothing that we know about physics and chemistry would prevent life from originating.

    That's been my opinion for a very long time, even from before "we" really had begun to realize the complexity of life as manifested on this planet.

    Although it cannot be proven and probablly never willl be, there really isn't anything, i.e. nothing in nature that says it never could happen.

    After all, complexity is the order of the day in the universe, simplicity is an aberration.

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    1. Yup. Just some basic, but correct, understanding of thermodynamics would suggest that nothing prevents complex self-replicating forms to emerge. Hell, if there was something that prevented such things, then we would not be here. I don't mean as in "we exist, therefore abiogenesis happened" (which is valid), but rather "we exist, therefore life is compatible with chemistry and physics" (which is not only valid, but undeniably true). Since life is compatible with chemistry and physics, chemistry and physics don't prevent abiogenesis.

      Another way to look at this is to notice that "non-life" becomes life all the time around us. Sun light plus CO2 and water becomes carbohydrates, fuels the reactions that form tissues from minerals, gases, compounds around, etc. Those are catalyzed reactions. Catalysis accelerates reactions, they don't magically make a reaction happen. So the first life form is not outside of physics and chemistry, we just don't know which reactions were the first to be catalyzed until life proper emerged. If it was many different routes, etc. Maybe we will never know exactly, but I bet that we will have lots of different possibilities in the table with creationists demanding a quantum mechanics explanation unable to deny any more that abiogenesis is possible.

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  14. Larry,

    Dan Graur linked to this note from Crick on the Central Dogma:
    http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/SC/B/B/F/T/_/scbbft.pdf

    I thought you might like it. A simple note. I think this was presented to the RNA tie club, right?

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  15. Larry states in article: The onus is now on Intelligent Design Creationists to prove that the creation of an irreducibly complex system requires a step that cannot possibly be due to natural selection (or random genetic drift?).

    More precisely the onus is to provide a "theory of intelligent design" where "certain features" like these are "best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection".



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    1. Yes, and when we say "best explained" we don't mean the non-explanatory statement "a designer/god made it", which has zero explanatory power. What we need is the how, the why and then when. That's what explanatory power entails, that something is actually explained.

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    2. The "best explained by an intelligent cause" is right here:

      http://theoryofid.blogspot.com/

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    3. Darn it, I thought I posted this, but I don't see it. Anyway, I think Behe's 2002 definition of IC is talking about the limits of genetic drift--he would probably argue that a few unselected steps in a system could be explained by drift, but if there were more than X unselected steps, where the population geneticists would have to calculate the limiting value X, that means that some unknown force was responsible because it would be too improbable for more than X steps to have occurred accidentally. If you could calculate the value of X and if you could find a example of some system that had more than X necessary but unselected steps, you could claim that the known mechanisms couldn't produce the hypothetical system. You'd still have a big step to take before you could claim an intelligence had done it, but at least the ID people would have made a genuine contribution if they could do this much.

      In other words, it is the usual creationist probability argument.

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    4. Wow Donald, that was good. You have the right idea.

      The only thing ID needs to win is for genetic systems to turn out to be a cognitive (intelligent) system. There is then an "intelligent cause" that makes the otherwise impossible happen, like the ID movement has right along been claiming is necessary.

      Although I do not use them it's possible for me to agree with the science related point of the probability related concepts that others like to work on. Scientifically explaining the "intelligent cause" waiting to be discovered sets a whole lot of things right in a way that the ID movement wins, with faith-friendly cognitive theory that makes sense of what can otherwise make no sense at all.

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    5. A bit late with my reply. Anyway, Gary, I am not an ID supporter, but am just trying to think how one would go about showing intelligent intervention if it happened. It wouldn't be easy unless the intelligent agent wanted to make his intervention obvious in some fashion.

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  16. Just to add. Everybody says everybody else doesn't do science. One might always say this to the one that one thinks is wrong. Error in "science" , I don't think, is evidence one wasn't doing proper science.
    Scientific ,methodology is still a tool for a thinking person, tailless primates for some, and so requires the ability of that person to direct it. Otherwise they wouldn't give awards to achievers in science but only to the method.
    ID/YEC know they do science fine and in proper form. Its unreasonable to question such serious attempts to make a case based on science.
    Just say they are wrong about difficult things to nail down anyways.
    I am confident there is no biological scientific evidence for evolution but this is different then saying evolutionists don't do science as a sincere attempt.
    They lose grip on methodology in certain issues however.
    Yet I'm myself saying a wrong idea in biology can't have bio sci evidence behind it.
    There iis a fine line here.

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  17. Regarding the 'Is supported by credible peer-reviewed scientific publications' - that is a total scam. There is not a single legitimate paper detailing any aspect of ID in biotic reality. He is clearly referring to analogies and wishful thinking.

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    1. Ah, but they have their own "innovative approach to pre-publication peer-review", which basically means that in their flagship journal, BIO-Complexity, where nearly all articles are submitted by members of the editorial board and/or their close associates, they peer-review their own (or, at best, each other's) stuff. For example, the only "research article" published in BIO-Complexity in 2014 was co-authored by Reeves, Gauger and Axe, and the 2013 one, by Ewert, Dembski and Marks. Marks is the Editor-in-Chief, Axe, the Managing Editor, and all the others, with the sole exception of Ewert, members of the editorial team. So if you pervert the semantics of "peer review" in this cargo-cultic way, their publications become scientific and peer-reviewed.

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    2. Even if they weren't the editors, it's still not peer review because there are no ID proponents who could serve as reviewers and who are experts in the relevant field. For example, Dembski is not an information theorist-- I've read his Ph.D. thesis, it's awful-- and thus, the only articles he and Marks can get published on what he calls "information theory" are published in fairly obscure non-information theory journals with low standards, i.e. IEEE, which is for electrical engineers-- and what's sneakier is that Dembski and Marks set the tags/search words for their articles so that no expert in the relevant field will be chosen as a reviewer. For example, when Dembski and Marks write bullshit about evolutionary algorithms/GAs, which an expert in the field would catch, they choose their words carefully so that editors at electrical engineering journals will not send the paper to any experts in evolutionary algorithms/GAs. That's sneaky as hell, the lengths they go to to avoid real peer review by experts in the field.

      And the YECs do the same thing, make their own "peer-reviewed journal" where it's guaranteed that everything praising creationism will be published but all contrary evidence is censored-- which we've just seen happen to Glenn Williamson/Roohif who tried submitting to a creationist "peer-reviewed journal" his critique of Tomkins' fraudulent 70% human-chimp genetic similarity, only to have the editors punt it. And the YECs have the chutzpah to publish articles on technical subjects like whale transitional fossils when none of the YEC authors on the paper have done any hands-on research on whale fossils and NO YEC is qualified to review articles on any paleontological subject (possible exception: Kurt Wise, still not an expert on whale intermediates.)

      There are no YECs or IDers who are really accomplished paleontologists (again, possible exception: Kurt Wise) though many creationist wackos put on Indiana Jones fedoras and safari vests and pose for photos at fossil digs. Creationists think wearing a fedora makes you an expert in paleontology. 99% of creationists who portray themselves as paleontologists or archaeologists are con men.

      And there are no IDers or YECs who are real information theorists (the closest they've got is Marks who has a miserable history of violating ethical principles, not just the above-mentioned search tag trick, but also his authorship of Winston Ewert's plagiarized Ph.D. thesis.) Dembski, Stephen Meyer etc. don't know shit about information theory. Dembski's whole trick is: compute the probability of a tornado creating a DNA sequence by randomly scrambling all its parts and then take the logarithm of that, and call it information.

      I could go on, but you get my point: they can't have real peer review (even if there was a real possibility of a pro-IDcreationism article being rejected by them) because there are no reviewers with the skill to fix ridiculous errors. Again, look at the fiasco with Tomkins' claim that human and chimp DNA are 70% similar, a total incompetent blunder due to a bug in his program that was so hugely obvious it practically shook Tomkins awake in the morning and poured him coffee. As Glenn pointed out, the figures that Tomkins himself published were mathematically impossible, no matter how the human or chimp DNA were configured! And no creationist reviewer caught that. And when an evolutionist points it out, they don't care. They don't give a shit about mathematically impossible results.

      Creationists are not smart enough nor honest enough to do science.

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  18. "The motivation of ID is to prove God exists. They may deny this but its apparent in numerous ways from their rhetoric."

    "The motivation of TE is to prove God doesn't exist.. They may deny this but its apparent in numerous ways from their rhetoric."

    So, is motivation a problem for darwinists? Can we uncover darwinist motivation by their own concerns? Are their motivation the "good/correct/proper" one? How do they know that? Are darwinists the judges of motivations in society? Are we really able to cacth one's motivation, to analize it and judge it properly? Why is there any motivation at all?
    I think motivation and the moral issues related to it are another argument that points to God. Every motivation shall be properly judged soon (with perfect justice). That makes the message of the gospel (justification by faith in Christ and salvation) so relevant. Man can not stand before God with his own in/justice.

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    1. "Here come da judge! Here come da judge!"

      Order in the courtroom 'cause here come da judge!

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    2. Here come da judge in March 1968: Laugh-In.

      Maybe you had to be there to appreciate the humor. See if you recognize anyone.

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    3. Somehow I suspect that your credibility, Darcy, plummeted when you started talking about Christ.

      You're a pathetic joke of yourself. Isn't that interesting?

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    4. Somehow I suspect that your credibility, Darcy, plummeted when you started talking about Christ.

      But Intelligent Design has nothing to do with religion. Isn't that what they keep saying? Maybe Darcy didn't get the memo.

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    5. Darcy's comment was an entertaining shoot to their own foot. I could not have made a better joke out of ID-creationism.

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    6. Darcy, you need to know that every time you retards try to downgrade science to the level of religion you only manage to display your pathetic inferiority complex.

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    7. Darcy sez: Every motivation shall be properly judged soon (with perfect justice).

      Judged with perfect justice? By whom... by your genocidal, slavery-endorsing, rape-sanctioning, baby-murdering, queer-hating war god? Really?

      Was your judge perfectly moral when the sanctioned the rape of war captives? Or when he endorsed slavery? Or when he commanded the Israelites to commit genocide against the Canaanites, Moabite, Midianites, and AlltheOther-ites? Or when he murdered the first-born sons of the Egyptians? Or when he drowned a billion+ humans of all ages (according to YEC calculations) in Noah's Flood?

      Where is your evidence that your queer-hating, baby-murdering war god is morally perfect? Where is your evidence? If you had such evidence, you could prove the moral perfection of raping war captives and genocide and infanticide of Canaanites Moabites and AlltheOther-Ites. And further, you could prove the moral wickedness of NOT committing infanticide and genocide when commanded to do so.

      So prove it. Right Now. GO.

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    8. "Judged with perfect justice? By whom... by your genocidal, slavery-endorsing, rape-sanctioning, baby-murdering, queer-hating war god? Really? "

      Glorious.

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  19. I'm sure we've all noticed that ID "science" consists almost completely of skepticism about evolution. The fundamentals of "basic intelligent design" as set out by Casey Luskin above reinforce this: "complex" means "unlikely to occur," i.e., unlikely to occur via evolution; "specified" means spec'd by intelligence, so again not evolution. And Dr. Behe's "irreducible complexity" is explicitly defined as that which can't occur in stepwise (i.e., evolutionary) fashion.

    Where I think of ID as unscientific is that it then goes on to draw the conclusion "if not evolution, therefore the Designer." It's like saying "If not Newtonian mechanics, therefore the Universe was designed." (And indeed we see remnants of just this sort of thinking in the comments here.) But we know that at least currently, our best scientific conclusions are "If not Newtonian mechanics, therefore relativity and quantum electrodynamics."

    Thus it's not in criticizing evolution that ID is unscientific. (Bad, really awful science, yes.) Rather, ID is unscientific in that it does not scientifically search for an improved *alternative* to current evolutionary theory. Of course, like relativity and Newtonian mechanics, the future improved version of a theory of origin of species is overwhelmingly likely to include within it much of current evolutionary theory.

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  20. I was there, Larry, and I did appreciate the humor. Nothing like it on TV at the time and the times were a-changin'. And fast they changed. Within a few years of this show my father, a Goldwater voting conservative architect, was sporting long hair, sideburns and a mustache!

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  21. Diogenes, from whom I learn much, has totally nailed the agent of CSI, as above on June 20: "...Ewert, like VJ Torley, concedes that if you use tornado prob, then natural princesses increase CSI." Princesses Totally Rule!!
    J Meyers

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  22. I would argue that ID is not science. It reminds me of a cartoon from my childhood of a man shooting an arrow first, and then painting a bulls-eye around it. ID tortures evidence to fit a religious belief. Therefore, not-science.

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    1. Check the about bit:
      This educational website was created by Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture

      'nuff said

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    2. Ed, what matters is whether it's true or not. And if true (which the book does indeed indicate) what he was trying to say is scientifically missing from their theory:

      https://archive.org/details/worldoflifemanif00walliala

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    3. Gary,

      oh yes, Wallace did write about the possibility of an external entity interfering at 3 moments in time. But, that was after both Darwin and Wallace agreed on evolution. While Wallace (and Darwin) did provide evidence for evolution, tonnes of samples, you cannot ignore the fact (but I expect in your case you will), he never did provide evidence in favor of his new idea, the supernatural entity.

      But, this would mean you'd also have to admit that both Darwin and he have collected tonnes of evidence in favor of evolution, both have collected tonnes of samples and both spent years of research to come up with the same conclusions, initially.
      Because, when Wallace wrote Darwin the famous letter proposing Wallace's theory on the origin of species, Wallace wrote to him as equal. If there had been any inkling of doubt on Darwin's research, Wallace would never have sent the letter, but he would've written his own 'Origins' instead, at that time without the supernatural being added in. If there had been any inkling of doubt on Darwin's thorough research, Origins would never had been accepted as Darwins own research. Instead not only Wallace but the whole establishment would have prosecuted Darwin for plagiarism at that time.
      But this didn't happen, because Darwin's theory was indeed his own idea. Wallace was close with his theory, but Darwin already had the pinch of salt to perfect the recipe. The pinch of salt Wallace didn't have.

      Basically this undermines ID's main argument: there's no evidence. Wallace saw Darwin as his equal. Ie, both had evidence after years of research and collecting fossils at the time of Origins to support their claims.

      Secondly, Wallace undermines YEC and the ark. Check out the Wallace line, the distinct separation of Australasian and Asian species of animals. Why do we only find marsupials in Australia? Except for one species in the US? Why haven't we found any fossils of marsupials on the migration from the middle east, the arks final resting place, to Australia? This would be strong evidence in favor of the ark.
      And the Wallace line also begs the question, why don't we find (fossils of) Asian species below this line? Could it actually be true that plate tectonics did separate Asia from Australasia millions of years ago?

      Accepting Wallace as authority on ID, invalidates the 'no evidence in favor of evolution' argument of ID, and furthermore also wipes the floor with YEC and the biblical ark.

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    4. Why do we only find marsupials in Australia? Except for one species in the US?

      Uhm... It's a vast oversimplification. The Virginia 'possum may be the only modern marsupial north of Mexico, but there's actually a whole largish order (two families with ca. 100 species!) inhabiting the New World, plus one South American species in a family of its own, the monito del monte, which is more closely related to the Australian branch of Marsupialia than to its American cousins.

      Not that this complication in any way helps the YECs.

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    5. Ah yes thanks for the clarification.

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    6. If the discussion is only allowed to be about "supernatural" intelligence then there is nothing scientific I can say.

      Have fun with your (anti)religious crusade.

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