Intelligent Design


I assume that you mean the rhino? A heavy horse-like creature with a horn on its head?

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Hi Eddie -

Our friend @Socratic.Fanatic spoke of the use of genetic algorithms in projects sponsored by the US Department of Defense. He probably needed a security clearance to do his work, and thus is under obligation not to discuss anything whatsoever about the projects he worked on. Even to say that genetic algorithms were used for missile guidance systems, for example, would be a violation of security protocols. I know about these restrictions because I am under them myself.

That said, he would do well to affirm this situation if he cannot answer your question directly.

@Socratic.Fanatic stated this:[quote=“Socratic.Fanatic, post:96, topic:5336”]
I’ve been amazed at the use of evolutionary algorithms to “virtually evolve” things like the genomic archetectures which can give perennial plants (eventually in nursery grade bushes and trees) maximum light-emitting properties for providing security and safety lighting for six to eight hours after sundown. The optimum “genomic designs” drive “gene guns”, basically prototyping light-emitting plants which gain luminosity in steps of about 0.5% to 0.8% per development month.

So I’m not sure why you would state this:

I’m following this discussion because I’m passionately interested in software engineering, the field in which I have been working for decades.

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I gave you one, and you deliberately ignored it.

What nonsense. ECs regularly invoke Isaiah 45 as well as the “cost of creation” argument. You’re the one going around trying to tell us what God can and can’t do because of some weird idea you have about His “sovereignty”.

Scocratic has already demonstrated why this is a false analogy.

Of course you are, that’s patently obvious. That’s precisely why I gave you an example of what you claim doesn’t exist. Your statement shows just how little you know about the subject. You’re entirely unaware of a field of design which has been used since at least the 1990s.

I gave an example and you simply ignored it. Of course since you’ve already explained that you reject the scholarly consensus evolution because you’ve already decided it’s wrong and you don’t care if ID papers such as Bob Marks’ don’t make any impact on the scholarly consensus, because you’ve already decided the scholarly consensus is wrong. This is classic fundamentalist thinking. In this case your argument scores at least seven Hams out of ten on the Woodmorappe Fideism scale.

And now we find out why you were so reluctant to give the names of the “possessors of doctorates and master’s degrees in computer programming, engineering, information science, etc. – some of them distinguished professors at good universities – who disagree with your assessment of what “evolutionary algorithms” have proved” with whom you are allegedly in contact. They’re IDers who haven’t made any impact on the scholarly consensus. Bob Marks writes for the Disco Institute!

Bob Marks writes papers which amount to complicated arguments from incredulity; “Just look at the statistical improbability of evolution, it could never have happened!”. Like you, he carefully avoids addressing all the evidence that it has happened.

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Yes. Do science-denialists genuinely believe that nobody notices when they claim “Nobody posted any documented examples from scientific journals!” It is not all that much different when somebody like Ken Ham claims with a straight face “Scientists have provided zero evidence for evolution!” and “Scientists remain silent when we ask for examples of transitional fossils, because there aren’t any!”

Such tactics work well with the home team who will simply accept whatever the propaganda organizations tell them. But the people who notice the rampant dishonesty from the science-denialism industry never forget the blatant shenanigans. The dishonesty tends to get pegged onto evangelical Christianity in general.

The NASA space probe antennas designed by evolutionary algorithms was such a great example and the documentation was so clear and compelling that the only tactic they have left is to pretend the article doesn’t exist. It’s not even behind a pay wall!

I have no time for that kind of dishonest game playing. Whenever I see it, I think of how Dr. Todd Wood, the anti-evolution Young Earth Creationist, has so honorably blogged, published, and pleaded with his brethren to cease harming the reputation of all of the evangelical disciples of Jesus Christ by resorting to cheap rhetorical last resorts of that type. Truth matters.

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Thanks for the explanation, @Eddie. You are referring to Meyer’s Signature in the Cell, correct? I’ve read Darwin’s Doubt and have the follow-up on my shelf. I have not read Signature, so I wonder if you could help me understand his historical approach.

To keep things clear, allow me to introduce some notation based on your post. Meyer examines three possible explanations for the appearance of life: chance ©, natural law (NL), and intelligent design (ID). Let P(x) represent the probability that x is the correct explanation. Then by mathematical convention, we have:

P(ID) + P© + P(NL) = 1

Meyer could take one of two differing approaches:

  1. An ID of the gaps argument would claim that P© and P(NL) are infitesimal, and rely on the mathematical corollary P(ID) = 1 - (P© + P(NL) to conclude that P(ID) is almost 1.

  2. An affirmative argument would elaborate some reason why P(ID) is almost 1, independent of the value of P© and P(NL). P(NL) and P© would be explored, and their low/infinitesimal value would serve to confirm the evaluation of P(ID).

Which of these two approaches does Meyer take? If he takes the second, what form does his affirmative argument take?



That’s the issue I raised about the lack of self-reflection and internal criticism pervading ID today. That creates at least two problems:

  1. No filtering or critical reflection means that the ideas aren’t evaluated and don’t benefit from continuous cycles of development to progress the best notions and discard the bad.
  2. Let’s assume that ID is severely resource limited. It makes little sense to spread the research even thinner rather than concentrate efforts in areas that are likely to have the most impact. Where is the internal review and competition between notions? Many of the proposals are incompatible with each other. With no evaluation, no relative comparisons and no consideration of past problems, the field is more likely to chase its tail than progress.

In the best version of design theory:

  • How old is the Earth and the universe?
  • Are humans and apes related by common descent?
  • Are Baramins real?
  • How is design implemented?
    • Front loading - How, when?
    • Quantum spookiness - How?
  • Manipulation of genomes in eggs or sperm?
  • Special creation of species?
  • Is junk DNA real? What percentage of DNA in most mammals is ‘junk’?
  • Do physical laws account for the formation of our solar system?

What can we say is the best explanation of design if ID doesn’t want to evaluate, critique and select the best design explanations?


Finally, a criticism of a design theory from the ID movement! And that didn’t even take consideration of actual evidence, like DNA sequences.

But others have investigated this possibility ‘with an open mind’:
Walter ReMine wrote a book in which he made the claim life was specifically designed: 1) To indicate that there was only one designer, and 2) That species were created and released in such a manner as to thwart all other explanations, including design. He didn’t dismiss, a priori, the possibility that the message would also be found in the DNA sequences as well. The message would be reproduced at all levels. I haven’t seen his book subjected to much public of critical review by the ID movement though I’ve seen many who’ve quoted from it.

There are others who have applied various algorithms searching for encoded messages. There are even speculations about where to look.

I happily grant that if no code is found, that indicates nothing about the presence or absence of design. However, it appears you are introducing a particular, subjective bias in your evaluation of design hypotheses*. You expect your vision of a designer to work in a particular way. And yet you’ve also suggested you wouldn’t want to eliminate any ID stuff yet.

*Added thought in edit:
I need to say that hypothesizing something about the mode or pattern of a designer is precisely what is need to formulate a positive expectation or theory. In that regard, the axiom that a designer would make the existence of design ‘obvious’ and not need to resort to leaving encoded messages in a genome is a start. Refine what, where and how this ‘obvious design’ should appear and you may get the beginnings of a positive theory.

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That’s ID “Big Tent” thinking!

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And just imagine what the ID movement could do if only they had millions of dollars to fund their research! For one, they could hire a fact-checker to clean up Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt for the mind-numbing science bloopers. (Besides Don Prothero’s compilations, Aaron Baldwin’s review of the book on Amazon includes a chapter-by-chapter list of the factual errors as well as Meyer’s many footnotes which betray his reading comprehension problems when dealing with scientific sources which Meyer actually thinks support his interpretations—but do not.)

Of course, seeing how the IDists keep telling us that it only takes one citation pointing to one really-smart-guy (who just happens to agree with them on something) in order to debunk those oh-so-pesky conclusions of the science academy, here’s my own trump-card link. (See below.) Besides Donald Prothero’s review of Meyer’s book, there are dozens of other merciless reviews which also entertain via comic reflections—without bothering to aim for the commendable patience and diplomatic courtesy we see in Darrell Falk’s tactful review of Meyer’s lamentable embarrassment:

Of course, considering the millions of dollars that the Discovery Institute burns on propaganda, not scientific research, each and every year, we already know that money will not solve the underlying problem. I’m very interested in Intelligent Design, but I’m among the many who have the advantage of recognizing the difference between science and poorly done philosophy masquerading as science----and so does most of the scientific academy who have dismissed Meyer’s book as the failed propaganda that it is.

By the way, if a “forum classics” webpage is ever compiled so as to feature the the very best point-by-point refutations to be found in these threads, Jonathan_Burke’s latest post (see above) definitely deserves a spot. What a great historical overview and an abundance of relevant citations. (He also consistently exhibits a patience which I lack. Well done.) Thank you, Jon.

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I suppose I’ve seen enough of where this conversation is going to bow out

Eddie, thank you for the dialog describing your thoughts. I appreciate this.

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Actually, I might, if a coroner concluded death by foul play simply by ruling out typical natural causes and accidents. To say the death was highly unusual and didn’t match any symptoms of known diseases would not be very satisfactory evidence for foul play. I think most jurists would want a coroner to make an affirmative finding of foul play-e.g., the decedent’s blood sample shows traces of polonium, and the isotopic analysis indicates a probably origin from a particular reactor in Russia. That would be strong evidence of foul play.

This is where the similarity/dissimilarity analysis is relevant. If many patterns in the specified information do not conform to the best practices of human engineering, how are we to conclude that the designer is intelligent? It is an act of faith to simply assume that the designer is more intelligent than we.

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