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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Intelligent design explanations and speculations have all been refuted, discredited, or shown to be unnecessary

Intelligent Design Creationism is a movement based on bad science. Every single one of their positive, science-like, claims about ID have been refuted, or discredited, or shown to be completely unnecessary in the face of robust evolutionary explanations. Some of them have the distinction of being unnecessary AND refuted AND discredited (e.g irreducible complexity).

In addition to a small number of claims in support of ID, the proponents of Intelligent Design Creationism also advance dozens and dozens of arguments against evolution. In fact, this is by far the main activity of most adherents to the movement. Some of their arguments focus on legitimate scientific controversies. They are legitimate criticisms of some aspects of evolution but, even then, ID proponents often misrepresent and/or misunderstand the science behind the controversy (e.g. junk DNA).

However, the vast majority of their attacks on evolution are just as bad as their attempts to build a positive case for intelligent design. A disturbingly large number of such attacks exhibit a profound ignorance of science and how it works. In particular—surprisingly—they are ignorant of evolution. The movement is full of kooks. It will never become a credible source of information unless it purges itself by getting rid of the kooks.

Speaking of kooks,1 Casey Luskin has been publishing a series of articles on the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial that was decided ten years ago. Some of the articles make valid points but the latest one is a joke: Ten Myths About Dover: #4, "The Dover Ruling Refuted Intelligent Design".

You should read the article. It's a remarkable example of apologetics and why lawyers shouldn't try and explain science. While it's true that Judge Jones said lots of things we could quibble about, the big-picture take-home lesson from the trial is correct. No ID explanation stood up to the scrutiny of science. They were all shown to be either irrelevant or wrong.

That's why none of them should be presented in science class except as examples of bad science and faulty scientific reasoning.2

1. Luskin won't even admit that Young Earth Creationism is absurd.

2. In my opinion, they SHOULD be discussed in class since it's important to teach critical thinking and that requires that you directly confront common misconceptions.


Arlin said...

This article has no content. You're just trolling, right?

Jmac said...

But you do admit that you don't know how life itself began, so I can you be saying that creationism has been refuted if you haven't provided one piece of evidence against their claim that life itself was created?

Marcoli said...

One thing that is especially telling about the ID/C crowd is the selectivity of their dispute. Most area of biology, chemistry, geology, etc. passes by them w/o comment. Science based medicine? OK! You say that oil beds are predictably found percolating down from certain layers of fossiliferous sedimentary rock? Cool! Stars pass through a series of stages over billions of years? Well, I guess that's no problem! Communities in ecosystems are determined by environmental constraints and food webs? Fascinating! Boy, scientists are sure good at figuring things out and understanding how nature works! But then...
You say that genetic differences lead to differences in survival and reproduction so that over time, lineages that are more fit for an environment gradually outcompete other lineages? Hmmm, I will get back to you on that. Whats' that? Some genetic differences cause barriers in mating & result in speciation? Well, that seems wrong somehow. Have you seen new species come about? You have??? Erm... you will have to find a lot more examples before I can take that seriously. Fossils of erect walking primates that are older than any human fossils? Silly biologists! I cannot believe that!

Petrushka said...

How could you prove that life wasn't created? What sort of argument would suffice?

Why is the question even interesting?

Faizal Ali said...

The article does not say that creationism, as a whole, has been refuted. Rather, it says that the specific claims made in support of Intelligent Design Creationism have been refuted, discredited, or shown to be irrelevant. The bigger point is that ID proponents are not even able to make a coherent argument. Luskin's article devotes a lot of space to claiming that the beta-globin pseudogene is "functional". To support this, he cites a paper that demonstrates that parts of the molecule are conserved by natural selection when compared to homologous molecules in species that, according to evolutionary theory, are related by common descent. You don't see the problem with that?

Jmac said...

By showing evidence that lifeless matter has at least a tendency toward becoming alive. Or that random processes can creatively direct energy.

Faizal Ali said...

By showing evidence that lifeless matter has at least a tendency toward becoming alive. Or that random processes can creatively direct energy.

Be more specific. Give actual examples that you would expect to show these things happen. And then explain how that would refute the claim that life was created.

If you were to witness a bunch of substances suddenly coming together and forming live giraffe, would you think this proved that life came about thru natural processes? Or would you think you had just witnessed a miracle caused by God or some other "supernatural" being?

Petrushka said...

What exactly does coming alive mean? We can demonstrate that unguided chemistry has a tendency to produce complex organic molecules. This seems to be a god of the gaps argument.

How has gog worked out in the past? What's the trend?

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

"By showing evidence that lifeless matter has at least a tendency toward becoming alive. Or that random processes can creatively direct energy."

That's what the sun is doing right now. Lifeless atmospheric CO2 and Nitrogen, together with metal and transition metal ions dissolved in the oceans, are by the sun through photosynthesis, combined into the creations of new cells every time cyanobacteria undergo binary fission. All the processes involved are mindless random physical and chemical reactions directed by the energy availability of the sun and local extra and intra cellular conditions. There is no "vital" immaterial property to being alive, it is just a collection of physical processes that individually all have analogous outside of the cell in "dead" environments. None of the chemical reactions that take place as part of the biochemistry of a cell cannot also be reproduced outside of a cell. It is not a magical entity, being alive is not supernatural.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

Yeah there's a double standard at work there too. Where's the demonstration that lifeless matter has a tendency to be supernatually created, and forced into the shapes and structures of living entities?

Faizal Ali said...

Or, for that matter, that intelligent agents are able to create life. It's very amusing how often creationists like Eric will cite the fact that humans have yet to create life as evidence in favour of ID. That just shows that they don't even understand their own arguments.

William Spearshake said...

On a related subject, it is interesting to note that the most popular OP at UD in the last 30 days is Gordon (KairosFocus) Mulling's OP on promoting the arming of citizens with assault weapons to prevent terrorist attacks. One of his recent comments links to an article about the best types of luggage and backpacks to conceal your modified assault weapons. I'm glad he doesn't live anywhere near me.

I am still trying to figure out the ID link.

Jmac said...

Can Darwinian intelligence replicate what they have understood what natural processes had done? It is just bullshit that the very determined people want to promote. They have NOT EVEN ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THEIR CLAIMS, so, what kind of person does it take to make such a claim? More importantly; why?

Brian said...

Just out of curiosity, what is it that you think distinguishes life from non-life?

Faizal Ali said...

Also out of curiosity, Eric: Is there a reason you so consistently avoid answering direct questions put to you? Are you too stupid to understand them? Too dishonest to provide answers that you realize will undermine your argument? Or is there another possibility I have failed to consider?

Ted said...

Did they ever make a "positive, science-like" claim? I thought the whole problem with ID was they had no theory and so could never make a non-trivial, testable prediction. I don't count "life's too complicated for evolution" as a prediction since it doesn't follow from any ID principle.

nmanning said...

Eric - let us pretend that 1. abiogenesis is in fact part of evolution and 2. that we have no idea how it may have happened. You got us.
Now please put us all in our place by demonstrating that the deity described in the Old Testament actually created the universe from nothing on a whim and created a fully-formed adult human male from dust of the ground. Otherwise, we can just dismiss it.

Steve said...

I would be curious to know just what ID concepts have been refuted.

The bacterial flagellum? Matzke's tantalizing hints are NOT a refutation.

Behe's IC? Ken Miller's tie clip is NOT a refutation?

Dembski's active information? Tom English / Joe Felsenstein's rebuttal of the rebuttal of the rebuttal of AI is not a refutation.

Btw, I heard there is a rubuttal of the rebuttal of the rebuttal of the rebuttal on the way.

Sorry but the popcorn was all used up on the last round waiting for that just-so mutation to tranform the rebuttal into a refutation.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

All of those ARE refutations. Just because you're so badly misinformed and have so thoroughly drank the coolaid you can't see this, doesn't alter the fact that they are bona fide refutations.

Dazz said...

Steve. Should a bacteria flagellum missing it's flagella be able to mutate it back according to IC? Would it be refuted if one could someday show it happen in a lab?

Larry Moran said...

Behe's IC? Ken Miller's tie clip is NOT a refutation?

The basic idea behind irreducible complexity is that it can't arise by natural processes (e.g. evolution). Thus, if you observe a structure that is irreducibly complex then it must have been designed by something intelligent.

We know for certain that there are structures that are irreducibly complex by any reasonable definition of the term. However, we also know for certain that such structures can be produced by naturalistic evolution. (The citric acid cycle is my favorite example but hemoglobin is easier to understand.)

Even Michael Behe admits that these structures evolved. He tries to salvage his argument by re-defining irreducible complexity so that it only includes IC structures for which there is currently no well-supported evolutionary explanation.

But the bottom line is that the argument, as stated by most creationists, has been refuted. What's left is an argument that's basically a god-of-the-gaps argument and we all know that such arguments are illogical.

Vincent Torley said...

Professor Moran,

You refer to Casey Luskin as a "kook," because he "won't even admit that Young Earth Creationism is absurd." You might like to read this post at , where he writes:

"Plate tectonics / continental drift / standard model of physics / HIV causes AIDS / age of the earth / big bang cosmology -- in all of those areas I find the 'consensus' view persuasive due to the evidence."

He adds: "I've been quite public about my views on this for a long time." He's an enthusiastic Big Bang supporter, as well.

I really think you are doing Casey Luskin an injustice.

Anonymous said...

Joe G,

Sorry, but what you're doing is just adding a designer for no reason but your beliefs. Claiming that however nature works it was designed to do so might protect you from admitting that natural processes work on their own, and might keep you believing that some god killed himself to save you from your sins, but it doesn't make Larry a liar.

Faizal Ali said...

Casey also says in that article:

Though I have nothing personal against young earth creationists, it's not my viewpoint. On both scientific and theological grounds, I do not believe everything was created in six 24-hour days just a few thousand years ago.

You'll notice, Vincent Torley, that Larry made no comment about what Casey personally claims to believe. Rather, Larry drew attention to the fact that Casey refuses to outright condemn and criticize the YEC position as absurd, which any rational person should realize it is. This is demonstrated by the vague and mealy-mouthed statements he makes in the article you cite.

The point is that Casey, and most other IDiots, are very careful to avoid saying outright that YEC is simply wrong. Instead, they paint it as a minor point of disagreement, a simple matter of opinion, which is of little importance compared to the shared conviction that evolution is wrong because it leaves no room for God.

The reason you guys do this, it seem obvious to me, is that Evangelical Christians, many of whom hold to YEC, form a large part of your base of financial contributors, and you cannot afford to offend them.

Compare this to the manner in which Larry clearly and unambiguously criticizes people who argue for the existence of gods or the non-existence of junk DNA, even when these people otherwise share his views of evolution. The term for that is "intellectual honesty", something that is sorely missing in the land of the IDiots that you inhabit.

Unknown said...

Joe G, IC's original statements were that these processes *couldn't* have evolved, thus they were designed and created.

This argument, that they *couldn't* evolve, was used to claim a defeat of evolution. Now that it has been shown that they *could* indeed "evolve" (evolve here means "form from a natural process" as well as the canonical definition of evolution), the IC arguments have shifted to "they evolve because they were designed to!"

This means that the argument that IC defeats evolution has failed, and also shows why the notion of a "creator" isn't falsifiable. No matter what natural process is responsible, creationists will always claim the creator designed it that way.

Anonymous said...

Joe G, "you still cannot say how to test the claim that natural selection, drift and/ or neutral changes can produce ATP synthase" is a pretty slender thread to hang your religious beliefs on.

Scientists can't do everything at once, and there are more interesting questions than there are labs. ID claimed that the blood clotting cascade couldn't evolve and that the flagellum couldn't evolve, and those things turn out to be evolvable by natural processes. Considering this trend, I expect that the evolution of ATP synthase will turn out to be understandable someday. I don't expect you to grasp that.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

"No one can test the claim that natural selection, drift and/ or neutral construction can produce ATP synthase."

Tide goes in, tide goes out. You can't explain that. Besides, important parts of the evolution of ATP synthase has been put to the test using ancestral sequence reconstruction. You know, that thing that shouldn't work if evolution did not take place. It would seem really strange and odd that we can reconstruct functional and simpler ancestral stages of the machine, using nothing but statistics and an understanding of the evolutionary process, if it did not actually evolve.

Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen said...

"Do you really think that differing accumulations of genetic accidents, errors and mistakes can produce complex protein machinery? The concept can't even be tested."

It has been tested and shown to be correct. Rather, what can't be tested is the claim that a conscious mind, hiding outside and time of space, in the absense of a physical brain and body, can decide at arbitrary times to *wish* entire universes and fully functioning living organisms into existence ex nihilo.

Behind the vacuous rethorical devices used by ID proponents lies the motherload of all hypocricy and double-standards.

Diogenes said...

IDiot says: we have never observed life being created by any intelligent being. Therefore, life must have been created by an intelligent being.

We've seen this argument 1,000 times. They don't even understand it contradicts itself. Not one of them understands that.

Diogenes said...

"Dembski's active information? Tom English / Joe Felsenstein's rebuttal of the rebuttal of the rebuttal of AI is not a refutation."

I read it. I understand the math. It was several fatal arguments combined. Dembski has never responded to the most severe criticisms of his work and has "retired" from defending ID. The refutation is unchallenged.

Diogenes said...

Bull***- Joe, we've observed evolution of protein "machinery." To start with, the PCP degradation pathway is an IC system, as is citrate uptake in Lenski's E. coil, along with many novel protein binding sites.

judmarc said...

Or that random processes can creatively direct energy

Ever hear of gravity? It's creating stars and solar systems right now, and these have been observed. It's creating novae and supernovae which generate most of the elements from which life evolves, and these have been observed.

If you think God personally directs gravitation, drop a child.

On second thought, don't.

Dazz said...

Good to know that next time a baby is born with a deadly mutation or horrid malformation we can blame gawd for that Joey

Anonymous said...

Dazz, there actually are people who figure that God did it, and that he must have done it to punish the parents. It's a horrible burden for parents who buy into it.

Dazz said...

Yeah, it's so sad. And those theologians making pathetic excuses or relativizing stuff like that to perpetuate the delusion is too

Chris B said...

Joe G,

"disease and deformities are due to genetic entropy- ie random mutations"

What about random beneficial mutations?

"With Lenski the only gene that could help was duplicated and put under the control of a different promoter- one that was activated in the presence of O2."

Was this the act of an intelligent designer? How do you know this was also not random?

Jmac said...


I was hoping you'd provide some evidence related to the spontaneous emergence of life from lifeless matter. Can the Sun power up ALL the problems related to the simplest forms of life? How did the Sun resolve the mathematical impossibility of simple" life arriving? It's nonsense that many people chose to believe in because they just simply hate the alternative. Does your belief make them true?

Gary Gaulin said...

Eric do you have evidence related to the non-spontaneous emergence of life from lifeless matter?

wallace.b.s.88 said...

Oh, good, speciation.. But how and when do new functions and genetic code show up???All we see is reduction of complexity, loss of genes, metabolic erosion, extinction, fitness overall decrease, genome shrinkage, etc.. Nothing even close to what (macro)evolution implies

wallace.b.s.88 said...

A ID-based mindset is crucial for scientific progress.. Minds influenced by evolution committed so many mistakes:

-Junk DNA misconception;
-The incorrect Molecular Dogma of Biology (misled by modern synthesis);
-"Vestigial" organs (based on ignorance of the organs' functions, led to many unneccessary surgeries and misconceptions);
-Hoaxes such as Haeckel's drawings, Piltdown man and Archaeoraptor;
-Pseudogenes (claimed to be useless, just to have science progressively show that they are crucial for many functions);
-Eugenics and Social Darwinism (scientific attempts to apply evolution concepts in the human society)...

Life has all the signs and characteristics to be considered designed, it has information, multiple components that work together in hierarchical networks, giving rise to emergent properties, irreducible parts, motors, sensors, excellent designs that are inspiring man-made technology, etc...

ID is science

judmarc said...

All we see is reduction

I'm sure that's all you see. Since it isn't nearly all that's there, the obvious explanation is that your bias filters what gets through to you.

Anonymous said...


You're reaching a conclusion based on mere analogies that give too much importance to what a single species, lost in an enormous universe, do when they design stuff. It's like an ant concluding that because mountains look so much like their ant-nest, then mountains must have been built by enormous, perhaps supernatural, ants. That ants it's what ants know more closely doesn't mean that the whole of nature is due to ants. Nor does it mean that the whole of nature was created by supernatural ants.

Faizal Ali said...

But, of course, we witness virgin births, resurrections and universes being created by immaterial deities all the time. Right, wallace.b.s.88?

Dazz said...

You can always count on a creatard to pack that many falsehoods and fallacies in just a few lines.

Brian said...


As I asked earlier, this thread would be helped greatly if you would define what you mean by "life". At what point does "non-life" transition to "life" on your spectrum of physiochemical things?

Piotr Gąsiorowski said...


What misconceptions about junk DNA have you got in mind? That junk DNA doesn't exist? What is the "molecular dogma of biology" and why is it incorrect? Which particular pseudogenes in the human genome have crucial functions and what are those functions? Did palaeontologists forge the "Archaeoraptor" fossil, or did they expose the forgery?

Minds infected by creationism make so many mistakes...

SRM said...

Minds infected by creationism make so many mistakes...

Religion is such a fine barrier to learning.

The "molecular dogma of biology": he doesn't know its name, doesn't understand why it is not incorrect, and most certainly would be unable to fathom why it wouldn't matter one bit if it was demonstrated to be incorrect tomorrow. sigh

Gary Gaulin said...

I need to add that the ID theory I have makes it possible to operationally define "life" as being a self-learning (intelligent) biological entity. Without this intelligence the entity would not be able to intentionally go where it wants and go, and just travel with the direction of wind, water or other directional flow like all the other unintelligent debris does.

Can you agree with that Eric? If you are then you're all set, with the operational definition for "life" that logically goes with the ID theory (I defend). Brian and others would already have a really good ID answer, from you.

Diogenes said...

"All we see is reduction of complexity"

Then creationism must be wrong, because creationists say biology is characterized by *irreducible * complexity. Then they say it's always reducing.

Diogenes said...

Eric says "How did the Sun resolve the mathematical impossibility of simple life arriving?"

No need, because there is no evidence that simple self-replicating entities are mathematically impossible. Creationist math is s long string of absurd assumptions and mathematical blunders.

Jmac said...

Or maybe abiogenesis was more intelligent than it appears and was able to resolve mathematical impossibilities somehow?

Evolution seems be more intelligent than Darwinists thought, so why not abiogenesis itself?

Evolution may be more intelligent than we thought, according to a University of Southampton professor

"Professor Richard Watson says new research shows that evolution is able to learn from previous experience, which could provide a better explanation of how evolution by natural selection produces such apparently intelligent designs."

Better explanation must be in reach.

Faizal Ali said...

So besides confirming that there are engineers who think they understand biology, but who don't, exactly what do you think that link demonstrates, Eric?

Anonymous said...

TEE has published lots of good papers, but I don't think that Watson's opinion piece (and that's all it is) is one of them.

Note that the author, an engineer, explicitly writes that he is making an ANALOGY between how evolution happens and learning because he hopes to transfer insights from learning theory to evolution theory (not an engineering topic).

So if you were going to take this seriously -- and you shouldn't -- you wouldn't take it as a statement that evolution (a process) actually learns or is intelligent.

Jmac said...


I couldn't care less what you choose to believe. Your belief system neither will spoil my coffee in the morning, nor the the beautiful lunch with the breathtaking view of the coast and mountains.
I don't care for people who try to defend the issue such as the toilet paper being too rough.

steve oberski said...

Hey Eric,

Pick an atom of say, carbon, from "lifeless" matter and one from matter that exhibits "life" and show the difference between them.

Then put them in a box and shake them around and tell them apart.

Faizal Ali said...

I have no interest in spoiling your coffee, Eric. Why would I? I simply asked what the point of that post was. As usually, it seems you had no point.

judmarc said...

Or maybe abiogenesis was more intelligent than it appears and was able to resolve mathematical impossibilities somehow?

That's right, as soon as the angels are done delivering Christmas toys to all the good girls and boys, they'll be back to sticking amino acids inside of meteorites.

Gary Gaulin said...

Eric says: Or maybe abiogenesis was more intelligent than it appears and was able to resolve mathematical impossibilities somehow?

Yes, at all biological levels (molecular, cellular and multicellular) self-learning (intelligent) entities have behavior that makes them able to do things that are otherwise impossible. This makes both "intelligence" and "life" the sort of thing that we know when we see it but defining in words is nearly impossible.

Luckily it was possible to define the systematics of the process using computer code, instead of words. The "theory" is then a "theory of operation" as opposed to talking about a theoretical model that in reality may not really work as expected. That's one of the problems with Darwinian theory, which was not obvious until the "natural selection" generalization had to be precisely coded into computer models where generalizations are simply not good enough and have to be removed.

Gary Gaulin said...

I have to add that "abiogenesis" is another generalization for a process that has intelligent living things in it that can "select" what they want (not what some "natural selection" entity commands) where adding yet another generalization like "intelligent" only generalizes even more. It's a close enough of an approximation for me to understand what you are saying. But it's terminology we have to get past, by in the future being more precise.

The computer model provides the logical foundation for a much more precise vocabulary. There is more than one level of intelligence, which in turn sometimes makes it mandatory to specify which level it is with its two word phrase like "molecular/genetic intelligence", "cell/cellular intelligence" or "multicellular intelligence". Without the added precision it can be assumed that all levels of intelligence are being discussed. It takes some time to get used to but being forced to be way more precise was a big help sorting out the logic structure of the system, as it relates to (all in) biology.

Wallace BS said...

Piotr Gąsiorowski

"That junk DNA doesn't exist?"

Yes, it doesn't, even though Darwin's bulldogs such as Dan Graur and Doolittle are trying hard to sweep ENCODE Project's overwhelming resulting under the carpet, for paradigm's sake..

"What is the "molecular dogma of biology" and why is it incorrect?"

Google its definition, I'm not here to give you free lessons. The question is, Crick, influenced by modern synthesis, depicted a oversimplified and limited view of the DNA-RNA-protein scheme.. Denis Noble is one of those who points the damage that evolutionary mindsets caused to the comprehension of that "dogma" (Noble. J Physiol 589.5 (2011) pp 1007–1015) as well as James Shapiro (Shapiro JA (2009). Revisiting the central dogma in the 21st
century. Ann NY Acad Sci 1178, 6–28.)

"Which particular pseudogenes in the human genome have crucial functions and what are those functions? "

"Did palaeontologists forge the "Archaeoraptor" fossil, or did they expose the forgery? "

All those hoaxes aimed to "confirm" evolution and had been promptly accepted by scholars (archaeoraptor has quickly been features in the front page of National Geographic magazine), until the science denounced the frauds..

Larry Moran said...

Walace spouting BS says,

Denis Noble is one of those who points the damage that evolutionary mindsets caused to the comprehension of that "dogma" (Noble. J Physiol 589.5 (2011) pp 1007–1015) as well as James Shapiro (Shapiro JA (2009). Revisiting the central dogma in the 21st century. Ann NY Acad Sci 1178, 6–28.)

Neither Denis Noble nor Jim Shapiro understand the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology.

A physiologist thinks about evolution

Physiologists fall for the Third Way

Revisiting the Central Dogma in the 21st Century

Basic Concepts: The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology