creationism · evolution · science

is intelligent design religion or science?

That’s the question that Casey Luskin tackled on the “Evolution News and Views” blog earlier today. The daughter of a friend of his was preparing to do a presentation to show how Intelligent Design (ID) is science and she needed some resources to help prove her point. Here’s part of his reply:

“…We know ID is science because it uses the scientific method to make its claims.

The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion. ID begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be tested and discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures through genetic knockout experiments. The purpose is to determine if they require all of their parts to function. When experimental researchers uncover irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed…”

Mr. Luskin then proceeds to list some resources he has come across to shore up such arguments and discusses a legal ruling that errs in its conclusion that ID is religion and should not be considered science. I believe he makes good points to show that ID can reliably be considered science.

Source: Casey Luskin. Why Intelligent Design Is Science: A Reading List. Evolutionnews.org. November 27, 2012.

Stephen C. Meyer: Is intelligent design science – Signature in the cell

 

Harry A. Gaylord

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “is intelligent design religion or science?

  1. The main problem with intelligent design isn’t that it fails to create hypotheses but that the hypotheses it does produce are ultimately untestable. We know that nature can produce “complex information” so merely identifying it does not validate ID. Instead they must show that the complexity they have identified could not have developed via natural means, something which they have failed to do.

    The closest they have come, to my knowledge, is irreducible complexity but that is based on a flawed premise: the IC system must always have had the same, vital function. In reality evolution frequently co-opts other, non-essential parts. Over time they may well become essential, turning into an irreducibly complex system, a process which has been observed in nature.

    Until they’re able to come up with a way to actually test their idea rather than simply identifying “information” ID reamains an untested hypothesis and should be treated as such.

    Like

    1. [In reality evolution frequently co-opts other, non-essential parts. Over time they may well become essential, turning into an irreducibly complex system, a process which has been observed in nature.]

      Adam, your statement has proven to be flawed itself. When Darwinian scientists have looked at various parts of organisms and failed to discover their function, they have often written them off as non-essential parts. Then years later as they make advances, they find out what they wrote off as non-essential really turned out to have a real purpose. The human appendix is one example. So-called “junk dna” is one of the most recent examples as discussed in this TIME magazine article.

      Intelligent design recognizes that if something exists within the organism, it must have a purpose even though that purpose has not yet been discovered. It is evolutionists that often dismiss something as useless only to reverse their opinion later because of their false assumptions. Evolutionists often also hate to be questioned and demonize those who do question them. They often forget that the road to discovery means mistakes will be made that will eventually need correcting. Their assumptions that they are always right is the pride that often precedes the destruction or fall of their mistaken findings.

      Like

      1. I should clarify, when I say “non-essential” I did not mean non-functional. My point was that something which is not required for survival (but may still have a function) can mutate as it would detract from the organism’s fitness. The resulting variant might have a different function and, over time, the organism may come to rely upon it for survival rendering it “irreducibly complex.” Hopefully that makes my point clearer.

        As for the ENCODE project, it provides a nice case study into the nature of science. Whilst the work itself was scientific the creationist reaction to it has, for the most part, been thoroughly unscientific. The 80% “functional” figure thrown around simply refers to the amount of the genome which is transcribed. It does not mean that it actually has a function in the body. Despite this most creationist outfits have claimed that it does actually show such function, rather than simply “biochemically active.” Whilst it does mean that 80% of the genome could be functional it has yet to demonstrate that it is, so like ID it remains an untested hypothesis.

        Speaking of the nature of science, your discussion of the behaviour of evolutionary biologists mischaracterises it nicely. In reality biologists are well aware of the self-correcting nature of science, making tentative conclusions which are open to change as the evidence itself changes. They actively solicit criticism to ensure that bad ideas are abandoned. Indeed, there is one journal – I can’t remember which one unfortunately – which refuses to publish research unless someone else writes a critique of it to ensure it is thoroughly cross-examined to confirm accuracy.

        This doesn’t mean ID isn’t scientific, simply that the work done on it so far has failed to adequately test it. Until the hypothesis can be confirmed we should remain cautious of accepting it as true, just as we should remain weary of those who equate “biochemically active” with “functional” when no evidence for that has been presented.

        Like

      2. [They actively solicit criticism to ensure that bad ideas are abandoned.]

        Adam, they only solicit criticism from those who agree with their evolutionary theories. Creationist scientists and intelligent design scientists aren’t welcome to their table.

        [Until the hypothesis can be confirmed we should remain cautious of accepting it as true]

        But hypotheses from the ID scientists have been shown to have merit. What stands in the way of their acceptance is the philosophy/interpretation of the facts that evolutionists cling to. Evolutionists continue to argue that our universe came together haphazardly out of a chaotic situation but the proof says otherwise. There are over 100 constants that have to be in play simultaneously for the Earth to sustain life and each life form has to have several things in play for them to even have life. It all points to an intelligent source outside of the various systems in existence that put them all into existence. This becomes especially clear when we consider that time, matter, and space all had a beginning.

        Although some scientists in this video aren’t necessarily the intelligent design crowd, the facts they talk about scream intelligent design.

        Like

  2. There is not some grandiose conspiracy to keep creationism out of science. Science has accepted many new ideas throughout the years, including ideas which overturn the dominant school of thought. Also, some research by creationists has been acknowledged and incorperated into our body of knowledge. It’s when ideas are presented without sufficient evidence for them – not the fact that ideas are revolutionary or put forward by creationists – which leads them to be rejected and at every opportunity creationism and intelligent design has failed to offer evidence.

    Take the fine tuning argument for example. The observation that the universe is fine-tuned for life could also arise if life were fine-tuned for the universe. Until we can determine that the latter is not true the former can’t be used as evidence for design. Unfortunately we have managed to identify a natural process which selects organisms best adapted to the environment, resulting in life “fine-tuned” for that environment.

    Like

    1. […some research by creationists has been acknowledged and incorperated into our body of knowledge… at every opportunity creationism and intelligent design has failed to offer evidence.]

      Adam, can you see your glaring contradiction here? If you are of the opinion that creationists and ID scientists have failed to offer evidence at every opportunity, then their work has not been acknowledged or incorporated into your body of knowledge. Evolution scientists are in competition for funds with ID scientists or creationists, so they systematically lie about their research to keep competition out. ‘Misbehavior by scientists is more prevalent than you might think. A survey conducted by University of Minnesota researchers found that 33% of scientists admitted to engaging in some kind of research misbehavior, including more than 20% of mid-career scientists who admitted to “changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source.” Think of how many more have done this but refuse to admit it! (The researchers said as much in their findings.)’ Some of these scientists’ questionable tactics were noted in this blog entry at the CrossExamined blog.

      […we have managed to identify a natural process which selects organisms best adapted to the environment…]

      And what is the name of that process? Dr. Stephen Meyer wrote a book (Signature in the Cell) in 2009 that gave concrete evidence of how weak the argument for strictly natural processes and materialistic theories really are when applied to life at the cellular level. It causes those weak theories to fall like dominoes when applied to the whole organism.

      So you see the evidence debunking evolution is everywhere. Scientists choose to ignore it because it goes against their presuppositions and their basic desires of wanting more money and wanting to rid the world of God so they can enjoy their sin without anyone making them feel guilty about their sin.

      Like

  3. Please note I was making a distinction between research by creationists and research regarding creationism. Many creationists do not spend their entire academic lives and do engage in decent research which is accepted by the scientific community, indicating there is not an innate bias against them. The issue arises when they do poor research, which research regarding creationism generally is.

    Of course, other scientists sometimes do bad research too; even manipulating results on occasion. However I don’t think the problem is as prevalent as the study you cite suggests. The research was conducted on people who had worked with the National Institute of Health – medical researchers, in other words. The pharmaceutical industry is notorious for pulling as many tricks as possible to try and vindicate the drugs it produces, so it comes as no surprise that medical researchers may have been influenced by these tricks. However, evolutionary biologists and other scientists working in fields where the pharmaceutical industry is not a major force would not be subject to such manipulation, so you can’t extrapolate these results to science in general. Thus concluding that evolutionary scientists are changing results to get funding is simply unfounded.

    Similarly the notion that these scientists want to remove god from life is also lacking in evidence. Indeed, the evidence we do have flat out contradicts this conclusion: ~60% of biologists are religions so can hardly be accused of wanting to remove god from things. Further, scientists are under-represented in prison populations so can’t really be accused of giving in to sin.

    As for the natural process which selects for the best adapted organisms, it is also known as “natural selection.” An organism which is well suited for its environment will reproduce more, spreading its genome throughout the population until all members of the species possess it. Alternatively poorly adapted organisms will be removed from the gene pool, again raising the overall adaptedness of the population. I haven’t read Dr Meyer’s book, but if you can relay his criticism of natural selection I’ll be more than happy to examine it.

    Like

    1. Adam,

      Natural selection is not macroevolution. Natural selection is simply a change in a species using genetic information that already exists in its dna. The evolution you believe in is the idea that one species can acquire genetic information not inherent in its own dna to morph into a totally different species. Macroevolution has never been proven. Natural selection has. This short video explains the concepts: http://www.answersingenesis.org/media/video/ondemand/new-answers-dvds/natural-selection-evolution

      [The research was conducted on people who had worked with the National Institute of Health – medical researchers, in other words. The pharmaceutical industry is notorious for pulling as many tricks as possible…]

      Before you jump too quickly at throwing these biologists under the bus, I’d like to point out that evolutionists love to boast about advances in medicine and public health that they claim are attributed to evolution. Just do a quick search in your favorite search engine to see what I’m talking about.

      [However, evolutionary biologists and other scientists working in fields where the pharmaceutical industry is not a major force would not be subject to such manipulation, so you can’t extrapolate these results to science in general.]

      Recent history shows that this isn’t true. Do you recall the case of Ardipithicus ramidus three years ago? The scientists who discovered it hailed it as the oldest link in the human evolution chain and became media darlings in magazines and on television for their research. Then the bomb dropped when creationists and ID scientists started questioning their research. And evolutionary scientists had to admit they jumped the gun when “Ardi” turned out not to be what they thought. Those UC Berkeley scientists were under financial pressure to prove their worth and were left with embarassment instead.

      […the notion that these scientists want to remove god from life is also lacking in evidence]

      Really? Then I guess you haven’t read statements from Stephen Hawking in recent years about the idea of God not being necessary for creation. Herbert A. Hauptman, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist, has also made similar statements. Also a survey done by Dr. Edward J. Larson not long ago revealed that less than 10% of leading scientists said they believed in a personal God. More on this topic is discussed in a NY Times article from several years ago.

      [I haven’t read Dr Meyer’s book, but if you can relay his criticism of natural selection I’ll be more than happy to examine it.]

      Actually, all you have to do is go to YouTube and do a search of “Stephen Meyer signature in the cell” and you’ll find several clips of him explaining his research.

      Like

  4. To get life fine-tuned for the universe, which thus appears to have been designed, you need two forces. The first is variation, which introduces slight changes into a population. The second is natural selection, which ensures that those changes best suited for their environment survive and have more offspring, spreading these traits throughout the population. Overtime the entire group will become more adapted or “fine-tuned” for the universe. Both of these forces have been observed in the wild and replicated in a lab. To confirm this you need look no further than your own body. It is, after all, not identical to your parents (i.e. variation) and depending on that body you may be more or less likely to reproduce. They are facts, as is the resulting conclusion: life can appear designed through purely natural means.

    And yes, this process results in new genetic information. Numerous types of variation have been documented, such as the shuffling of genetic information during sex or the addition or deletion of base pairs from a gene (changing what it codes for); or duplication of a gene. The duplicate can then freely accrue mutations since if any are detrimental the original copy can compensate for them. Should the mutations change the function then suddenly you have two genes doing two different things where before you had one. This process of duplication then alteration occurred in a lab where they were studying bacterial evolution. They possessed a gene which allowed them to process citrus when there was no oxygen present, but could not do it when oxygen was in the environment. This gene was duplicated, altered and refined by mutations and eventually the bacteria had a new gene that allowed them to process citrus in an oxygenated environment.

    Can this result in new species? “Species” is typically defined as a group of organisms which can interbreed, but this is an artificial construct that doesn’t always match onto reality. Examine <a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-DGzpol6bnlQ/TxGcv4LK8RI/AAAAAAAAAsA/-A-SOX3n6NU/s1600/500px-Greenish_warbler_ring.svg.png"the case of the green warbler. It started in the yellow zone and spread east and west, gradually changing into new species (as represented by the change in colour). But these new species could still interbreed with each other, thus were simply subspecies rather than brand new species. However when the two prongs met in the north they had changed sufficiently to no longer reproduce. So are different species. But if you trace it around the ring, each adjacent species can reproduce, so surely they aren’t different species. You see the difficulty here? In clearer situations you do get new species emerging, such as the mosquito which migrated into the London Underground where, isolated, it developed into a new species which could no longer reproduce with the above-ground mosquitos.

    Although various evolutionary ideas are often utilised by medicine, that’s typically not what I hear when medical research is brought up in the evolution v. creationism debate. Rather, people point to medicine as evidence that science works and is an effective method for understanding the world. And yes, good medical research is an excellent example of good science; the issue is that not all medical research is of high quality due to tampering by pharmaceutical companies. This does not impact the reliability of the decent research, which has so far helped save billions of lives. Science works.

    After doing some searching it seems to me that Meyer’s argument is essentially that DNA contains “complex specified information” which cannot arise by chance. Rather, some intelligent force must have created it. Have I got his argument correct? I would hate to attack a straw man.

    Finally, you point to the prevalence of disbelief in a god amongst top scientists. But I suspect that you’d find top scientists even more under-represented in prison populations (since people with higher education are less likely to wind up in hail), making the whole link between atheism, science and sin dubious.

    Like

    1. […I suspect that you’d find top scientists even more under-represented in prison populations… making the whole link between atheism, science and sin dubious.]

      Adam, your statement shows that you don’t have a firm understanding of what sin is. Sin is the violation of God’s laws. Lying, for instance, is a sin. There are only a few kind of lies that will land you in jail. A sin is not necessarily a crime, as you mistakenly imply in your statement. Adultery is another sin that won’t land you in jail. Using God’s name in vain, for instance as part of a curse word, is another sin that isn’t a crime.

      If you’ve done any of these sins, then you violated God’s laws, the highest laws in the universe. So atheists are indeed guilty of sin like everyone else who walks this earth. And if you don’t believe in Jesus, who took the punishment for your sins so you won’t have to be punished for them, then you will one day be eternally separated from God in hell.

      [Meyer’s argument is essentially that DNA contains “complex specified information” which cannot arise by chance. Rather, some intelligent force must have created it.]

      That’s correct. Evolution, the belief that one family of organism can morph into a completely different family of organism, is based on the belief that life forms came about by complete randomness and mutated randomly. That’s impossible given the intricate complexity of all life forms at the genetic & cellular levels and given the complexity of the systems working in or on their bodies.

      [Science works.]

      I’m well aware science works. Your error is assuming that science is only Darwinian and creationism or ID isn’t science. What sets the Darwinists apart from the creationists is not the facts of science, but the interpretation or philosophy of what those facts of science mean.

      [natural selection … ensures that those changes best suited for their environment survive and have more offspring, spreading these traits throughout the population.]

      This doesn’t mean natural selection is macroevolution. I explained the changes you’re talking about in a previous post entitled “Superbugs tell difference between evolution & natural selection” or watch this video:

      […life can appear designed through purely natural means.]

      Given the fact that the universe and everything in it did not exist at one time and came into being from nothing, all time, space, and matter had a beginning and the fine tuning of everything on earth and in the universe proves that an intelligence not bound by time, space, or matter had to create it.

      The fact that there is design in nature is all but admitted to by scientists who come up with inventions based on biomimicry. They look at how things in nature are intricately put together and then copy the “design” to make a new technology. That’s how we got sharkskin swimsuits, the gloves used in “Mission Impossible: the Ghost Protocol” (they’re called gecko gloves because they’re designed after gecko’s feet), velcro (created based on the design of hooks on burrs that stick to animal fur), radar and sonar (based on bats’ and dolphins’ signals), and a whole host of other technologies. There had to have been an intelligence behind it all for men to then intelligently copy them to create intelligent tecnologies.

      But you people are so hellbent on getting rid of God, you’re blind to the obvious. You love to break God’s commandments because lying, committing adultery, having sex outside of marriage, cursing, hating people is fun and you don’t want anyone making you feel guilty, so you have to find a way to get rid of God and make it sound cool and intelligent and scientific. That’s what Darwinism is really about.

      [Examine… the case of the green warbler. …In clearer situations you do get new species emerging, such as the mosquito which migrated into the London Underground…]

      This isn’t macroevolution. This is natural selection leading to microevolution. In other words, the warbler was still a warbler when the changes were done. The mosquitoes were still mosquitoes. They just mutated based on information already present in their dna. Macroevolution, the foundation of Darwinism, states that life forms can absorb genetic information outside of its “kind” or “family” on its own to become a totally different life form. That has never happened. Even the fossil record bears this out. There are NO transitional fossils. Dolphins were never sharks. Dogs can’t become cats. Lizards can’t become snakes. The only changes ever made in all life forms were changes from dna already present in their genes. This is how all life forms are “designed.”

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s