Things That IDers Don’t Understand, Part 1 — Intelligent Design is not compatible with the evidence for common descent

Since the time of the Dover trial in 2005, I’ve made a hobby of debating Intelligent Design proponents on the Web, chiefly at the pro-ID website Uncommon Descent. During that time I’ve seen ID proponents make certain mistakes again and again. This is the first of a series of posts in which (as time permits) I’ll point out these common mistakes and the misconceptions that lie behind them.

I encourage IDers to read these posts and, if they disagree, to comment here at TSZ. Unfortunately, dissenters at Uncommon Descent are typically banned or have their comments censored, all for the ‘crime’ of criticizing ID or defending evolution effectively. Most commenters at TSZ, including our blog host Elizabeth Liddle and I, have been banned from UD. Far better to have the discussion here at TSZ where free and open debate is encouraged and comments are not censored.

The first misconception I’ll tackle is a big one: it’s the idea that the evidence for common descent is not a serious threat to ID. As it turns out, ID is not just threatened by the evidence for common descent — it’s literally trillions of times worse than unguided evolution at explaining the evidence. No exaggeration. If you’re skeptical, read on and I’ll explain.

Common Descent and ID

The ‘Big Tent’ of the ID movement shelters two groups. The ‘creationists’ believe that the ‘kinds’ of life were created separately, as the Biblical account suggests, and these folks therefore deny common descent. The ‘common descent IDers’ accept common descent but argue that natural processes, unassisted by intelligence, cannot account for the complexity and diversity of life we see on earth today. They therefore believe that evolution was guided by an Intelligence that either actively intervened at critical moments, or else influenced evolution via information that was ‘front-loaded’ into the genome at an earlier time.

Creationists see common descent as a direct threat. If modern lifeforms descended from a single common ancestor, as evolutionary biologists believe, then creationism is false. Creationists fight back in two ways. Some creationists argue that the evidence for common descent is poor, or that the methods used by evolutionary biologists to reconstruct the tree of life are unreliable. Other creationists concede that the evidence for common descent is solid, but they argue that it can be explained equally well by a hypothesis of common design — the idea that the Creator reused certain design motifs when creating different organisms. Any similarities between created ‘kinds’ are thus explained not by common descent, but by design reuse, or ‘common design’.

The ‘common descent IDers’ do not see common descent as a threat. They accept it, because they see it as being compatible with guided evolution. And while they agree with biologists that unguided evolution can account for small-scale changes in organisms, they deny that it is powerful enough to explain macroevolutionary change, as revealed by the large-scale structure of the tree of life. Thus guided evolution is necessary, in their view. Since common descent IDers accept the reality of common descent, you might be surprised that the evidence for common descent is a problem for them, but it is — and it’s a serious one. Read on for details.

The Problem(s) for ID

I’ve mentioned three groups of IDers so far: 1) creationists who dispute the evidence for common descent; 2) creationists who accept the evidence for common descent, but believe that it can be equally well explained by the hypothesis of common design; and 3) IDers who accept common descent but believe that unguided evolution can’t account for macroevolutionary change. Let’s look at these groups in turn, and at why the the evidence for common descent is a serious problem for each of them.

The creationists who dispute the evidence for common descent face a daunting task, simply because the evidence is so massive and so persuasive. I can do no better than to point readers to Douglas Theobald’s magnificent 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution for a summary of all the distinct lines of evidence that converge in support of the hypothesis of common descent. Because Theobald does such a thorough and convincing job, there’s no need for me to rehash the evidence here. If any IDers wish to challenge the evidence, or the methodologies used to interpret it, I encourage them to leave comments. The good news is that we have Joe Felsenstein as a commenter here at TSZ. Joe literally wrote the book on inferring phylogenies from the data, so if he is willing to respond to objections and questions from IDers, we’re in good shape.

I have yet to encounter a creationist who both understood the evidence and was able to cast serious doubt on common descent. Usually the objections are raised by those who do not fully understand the evidence and the arguments for common descent. For this reason, I emphasize the importance of reading Theobald’s essay. Think of it this way: if you’re a creationist who participates in Internet discussions, the points raised by Theobald are bound to come up in debate. You might as well know your enemy, the better to argue against him or her. And if you’re open-minded, who knows? You might actually find yourself persuaded by the evidence.

The evidence also presents a problem for our second group of creationists, but for a different reason. These are the folks who accept the evidence for common descent, but argue that it supports the hypothesis of common design equally well. In other words, they claim that separate creation by a Creator who reuses designs would produce the same pattern of evidence that we actually see in nature, and that common design is therefore on an equal footing with common descent. This is completely wrong. The options open to a Creator are enormous. Only a minuscule fraction of them give rise to an objective nested hierarchy of the kind that we see in nature. In the face of this fact, the only way for a creationist to argue for common design is to stipulate that the Creator must have chosen one of these scant few possibilities out of the (literally) trillions available. In other words, to make their case, they have to assume that the Creator either chose (or was somehow forced) to make it appear that common descent is true, even though there were trillions of ways to avoid this. Besides being theologically problematic for most creationists (since it implies either deception or impotence on the part of the Creator), this is a completely arbitrary assumption, introduced only to force common design to match the evidence. There’s no independent reason for the assumption. Common descent requires no such arbitrary assumptions. It matches the evidence without them, and is therefore a superior explanation. And because gradual common descent predicts a nested hierarchy of the kind we actually observe in nature, out of the trillions of alternatives available to a ‘common designer’, it is literally not just millions, or billions, but trillions of times better at explaining the evidence.

What about our third subset of IDers — those who accept the truth of common descent but believe that intelligent guidance is necessary to explain macroevolution? The evidence is a problem for them, too, despite the fact that they accept common descent. The following asymmetry explains why: the discovery of an objective nested hierarchy implies common descent, but the converse is not true; common descent does not imply that we will be able to discover an objective nested hierarchy. There are many choices available to a Designer who guides evolution. Only a tiny fraction of them lead to a inferable, objective nested hierarchy. The Designer would have to restrict himself to gradual changes and predominantly vertical inheritance of features in order to leave behind evidence of the kind we see.

In other words, our ‘common descent IDers’ face a dilemma like the one faced by the creationists. They can force guided evolution to match the evidence, but only by making a completely arbitrary assumption about the behavior of the Designer. They must stipulate, for no particular reason, that the Designer restricts himself to a tiny subset of the available options, and that this subset just happens to be the subset that creates a recoverable, objective, nested hierarchy of the kind that is predicted by unguided evolution. Unguided evolution doesn’t require any such arbitrary assumptions. It matches the evidence without them, and is therefore a superior explanation. And because unguided evolution predicts a nested hierarchy of the kind we actually observe in nature, out of the trillions of alternatives available to a Designer who guides evolution, it is literally trillions of times better than ID at explaining the evidence.

One final point. Most IDers concede that if the evidence supports unguided evolution, then there is no scientific reason to invoke a Creator or Designer. (It’s Occam’s Razor — why posit a superfluous Creator/Designer if the evidence can be explained without one?) It is therefore not enough for ID to succeed at explaining the evidence (which it fails to do, for the reasons given above); it’s also essential for unguided evolution to fail at explaining the evidence.

This is a big problem for IDers. They concede that unguided evolution can bring about microevolutionary changes, but they claim that it cannot be responsible for macroevolutionary changes. Yet they give no plausible reasons why microevolutionary changes, accumulating over a long period of time, should fail to produce macroevolutionary changes. All they can assert is that somehow there is a barrier that prevents microevolution from accumulating and turning into macroevolution.

Having invented a barrier, they must invent a Designer to surmount it. And having invented a Designer, they must arbitrarily constrain his behavior (as explained above) to match the data. Three wild, unsupported assumptions: 1) that a barrier exists; 2) that a Designer exists; and 3) that the Designer always acts in ways that mimic evolution. (We often hear that evolution is a designer mimic, so it’s amusing to ponder a Designer who is an evolution mimic.) Unguided evolution requires no such wild assumptions in order to explain the data. Since it doesn’t require these arbitrary assumptions, it is superior to ID as an explanation.

Here’s an analogy that may help. Imagine you live during the time of Newton. You hear that he’s got this crazy idea that gravity, the force that makes things fall on earth, is also responsible for the orbits of the moon around the earth and of the earth and the other planets around the sun. You scoff, because you’re convinced that there is an invisible, undetected barrier around the earth, outside of which gravity cannot operate. Because of this barrier, you are convinced of the need for angels to explain why the moon and the planets follow the paths they do. If they weren’t pushed by angels, they would go in straight lines. And because the moon and planets follow the paths they do, which are the same paths predicted by Newton on the basis of gravity, you assume that the angels always choose those paths, even though there are trillions of other paths available to them.

Instead of extrapolating from earthly gravity to cosmic gravity, you assume there is a mysterious barrier. Because of the barrier, you invent angels. And once you invent angels, you have to restrict their behavior so that planetary paths match what would have been produced by gravity. Your angels end up being gravity mimics. Laughable, isn’t it?

Yet the ‘logic’ of ID is exactly the same. Instead of extrapolating from microevolution to macroevolution, IDers assume that there is a mysterious barrier that prevents unguided macroevolution from happening. Then they invent a Designer to leap across the barrier. Then they restrict the Designer’s behavior to match the evidence, which just happens to be what we would expect to see if unguided macroevolution were operating. The Designer ends up being an unguided evolution mimic.

The problem is stark. ID is trillions of times worse than unguided evolution at explaining the evidence, and the only way to achieve parity is to tack wild and unsupported assumptions onto it.

If you are still an IDer after reading, understanding, and digesting all of this, then it is safe to say that you are an IDer despite the evidence, not because of it. Your position is a matter of faith and is therefore a religious stance, not a scientific one.

450 thoughts on “Things That IDers Don’t Understand, Part 1 — Intelligent Design is not compatible with the evidence for common descent

  1. petrushka: What I fail to see is a competing hypothesis.

    That’s always the problem with modern IDers. However, we can compare it to specific design conjectures. For instance, the existence of the nested hierarchy largely precludes separate creation. It does not preclude artificial selection or a cosmic intelligence guiding life along certain paths.

    These latter options can be largely precluded as scientific conjectures with other evidence, but not from the existence of the nested hierarchy alone.

  2. For instance, the existence of the nested hierarchy largely precludes separate creation.

    I don’t see that. Reverse engineering and copyright violation are rather common forms of design. I work for a company that had a patent invalidated because a competitor managed to find a tiny variation which allowed them to call a key part be a different name.

    Note that in this case the designs were not only separately created; they were by done by competing designers.

    I don’t see that any design hypothesis has any entailments. All the abilities and motives of the designer are ad hoc.

    I don’t doubt that TOE is a better theory. I just don’t see any competing theory or hypothesis that can be tested. I see no point in seeking a numeric comparison.

    My contention has been for a long time that the fundamental flaw with  ID is not that it is wrong, but that it generates no useful ideas for research. The research done by Douglas Axe seems equivalent to buying lottery tickets and using failure as proof you can’t earn a living.

  3. Petrushka,

    It’s not that I fail to see the weakness of ID. It’s that I fail to see any ID hypothesis that has the tree as an entailment.

    Keep in mind that you can derive a tree for any set of distinct items, whether or not they were actually produced by a process of descent with modification. This means that we can derive trees for all forms of ID, including separate creation.

    Theobald’s point is that for separately created items, like cars, the hierarchy we get is subjective — that is, it depends on the data set we’re looking at and the order in which we rank the distinguishing traits.

    On the other hand, a process (e.g. evolution) that involves descent with (gradual) modification and primarily vertical inheritance will produce an objective nested hierarchy. In other words, you will get identical (or highly congruent) trees when you look at different data sets (such as morphological and molecular data), regardless of the order in which you rank the distinguishing traits.

    Now that you’re aware that trees can be derived for all forms of ID, including separate creation, my claim should make more sense:

    Now compare evolutionary theory to ID:

    Given a particular morphological tree, evolutionary theory predicts that the molecular tree will come from a tiny sliver of the 1038 possibilities.

    Given a particular morphological tree, ID predicts only that the molecular tree will be one of the 1038 possibilities.

    Evolutionary theory narrows the possibilities down to a tiny sliver. ID doesn’t narrow the possibilities at all.

    Evolutionary theory is trillions of times more specific than ID in its prediction, and the prediction is confirmed.

  4. petrushka: Reverse engineering and copyright violation are rather common forms of design. I work for a company that had a patent invalidated because a competitor managed to find a tiny variation which allowed them to call a key part be a different name.

    Human design does not form a singular nested hierarchy. Even in cases of reverse engineering or outright stealing of ideas, the pattern rarely supports a singular nested hierarchy. When it does, it is limited only to a very small domain of artifacts.

    petrushka: I don’t see that any design hypothesis has any entailments.

    Separate creation would be incompatible with the nested hierarchy. Even if we suppose that each “kind” evolves, that would still entail multiple, disconnected trees.

    We’re drawing a distinction between what might be compatible given only the evidence of common descent and what is compatible given the totality of the evidence.

    petrushka: My contention has been for a long time that the fundamental flaw with  ID is not that it is wrong, but that it generates no useful ideas for research.

    That’s because ID, as a cultural movement, avoids making any empirical declarations that are at risk of refutation. That’s rather the whole point. It gives them the veneer of scientific respectability, without any of the actual work.

    We could just stop there, but that isn’t apparently where keiths wanted to take the discussion. We’re discussing ID more generally, as a category of conjectures, and whether they are compatible with the evidence for common descent.

     

  5. Petrushka,

    I see no point in seeking a numeric comparison.

    Here’s the point: A numeric comparison absolutely demolishes a couple of the most common defenses of ID: 1) the idea that ‘common design’ is just as good as evolutionary theory at explaining the objective nested hierarchy; and 2) the idea that IDers who accept common descent are off the hook with respect to the ONH.

    Neither is true. ID is not even in the same ballpark as modern evolutionary theory in explaining the ONH. It’s literally trillions of times worse, and anyone who chooses ID over evolutionary theory, or even argues that they are roughly comparable, is therefore making a stupendous mistake.

    ID cannot compete with modern evolutionary theory. This can be established quantitatively, to devastating effect.

  6. Zachriel:

    You have to be willing to accept our genuine disagreement, otherwise, you won’t understand the point we are raising. Frankly, you don’t seem to understand it well enough to restate it clearly.

    That’s a hypocritical accusation, considering the scant attention you’ve paid to the points I’ve raised in the OP and throughout the thread. As just one example, you wrote:

    Thought you were referring to Theobald 2010. Our mistake.

    Never mind that the OP refers, by name and link, to “Douglas Theobald’s magnificent 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution” and not to Theobald 2010.

    Never mind that throughout the thread, the passages I quote, the figures I link to, and the numbers I mention all come from “29+ Evidences” and not from Theobald 2010.

    Never mind that I had already pointed out your mistake in a comment you evidently didn’t even bother to read:

    You may be thinking of a different argument of Theobald’s in which he concludes:

    Therefore, UCA [monophyly] is at least 102,860 times more probable than the closest competing hypothesis.

    You assumed that you understood my argument, yet you didn’t bother to read my OP (or skimmed it at best), you didn’t follow the links, and you either didn’t read or at best skimmed my comments, including ones addressed directly to you. Yet you accuse me of not paying attention to your argument? Don’t be a hypocrite, Zachriel.

    Not only is your accusation hypocritical, it’s also false. I have previously addressed every point you raised in your most recent comment to me.

    I wrote:

    I think the entire restricted set is unreasonable, because the restriction itself is unreasonable.

    You responded:

    That’s your claim, and according to the original post, you can determined this from common descent alone.

    No. If you had read my OP with any care, you would have seen this statement (and others like it):

    And because unguided evolution predicts a nested hierarchy of the kind we actually observe in nature, out of the trillions of alternatives available to a Designer who guides evolution, it is literally trillions of times better than ID at explaining the evidence.

    To say that unguided evolution predicts or explains the objective nested hierarchy does not imply that the theory can be derived from the objective nested hierarchy. Obviously.

    keiths:

    There is no justification for the restriction other than a desire to force-fit the theory to the evidence.

    Zachriel:

    Every working theory is forced to fit the evidence. We discussed this above.

    And you ignored my response, which was:

    Zachriel:

    We do that with all scientific conjectures. We discard those that do not fit the evidence and retain those that do.

    Yes, but that’s not all we do. If it were, then the Rain Fairy hypothesis would still be viable. We discard the Rain Fairy hypothesis without hesitation, despite the fact that it can be made to fit the evidence perfectly. Why? Because the perfect fit requires a set of ad hoc assumptions for which there is no independent evidence.

    Any rational person will reject ID for the same reason.

    keiths:

    A sufficiently vague theory, such as ID or the Rain Fairy hypothesis, can always be restricted so that it fits the evidence — any evidence — perfectly.

    Zachriel:

    We’re not considering unreasonable fits.

    Yes we are, because the fit between ID and the objective nested hierarchy is clearly unreasonable. As I wrote in the OP:

    They [the ‘common descent IDers’] can force guided evolution to match the evidence, but only by making a completely arbitrary assumption about the behavior of the Designer. They must stipulate, for no particular reason, that the Designer restricts himself [or is restricted] to a tiny subset of the available options, and that this subset just happens to be the subset that creates a recoverable, objective, nested hierarchy of the kind that is predicted by unguided evolution.

    If that’s not an ‘unreasonable fit’, then what is?

    Zachriel:

    Inheritance just so happens to be a natural property of life. Maybe life and the universe were designed that way, but that’s not directly relevant. The design theorist looks at the very same evidence of common descent and finds the exact same justification that the natural theorist does. They agree on this. Life naturally forms the tree. The difference is that the design theorist posits (among several possible conjectures) that the shape of the tree is designed.

    I’ve already addressed that, as well:

    Zachriel:

    But Theobald’s results are perfectly consistent with design that works by pruning and tying branches on the tree; and would yield the exact same result.

    No, because intelligent selection by a designer can produce results that don’t fit an objective nested hierarchy (for example, a designer who employs my “repressor-shadow” technique to create identical genes in 25 separate lineages simultaneously).

    And:

    Under ID, the morphological hierarchy could be similar to the molecular hierarchy, or it could be completely different, even if we assume that ID proceeds by monophyletic common descent. The fact that the hierarchies are identical is a decisive point in favor of modern evolutionary theory.

    And:

    Zachriel:

    Only specific design hypotheses can be tested. For instance, directed panspermia is a valid hypothesis compatible with Common Descent. Or a Cosmic Gardner who plants the seed, and occasionally prunes undesirable branches (e.g. dinosaurs). Or a God who has set up the universe and intervenes once in a while for some Divine Purpose.

    Those all differ from ID in not denying the power of unguided evolution. For example, your Cosmic Gardener hypothesis actually requires unguided evolution to produce today’s diversity of life from the initial seed. Under the Cosmic Gardener hypothesis, unguided evolution is the explanation of the ONH, which reinforces my claim rather than undermining it.

    Zachriel, you’ve been sloppy, hypocritical and dishonest in this thread. It reflects quite poorly on you.

    Knock off the false and hypocritical accusations. Read and understand the OP plus the relevant sections of Theobald. Read the comments I addressed to you. Then think about the argument I’m making.

    After you’ve done the work and thought things through, then — and only then — state your objections. Otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time.

  7. Maybe we’re just slow, but we remain unconvinced of your original contention. 

    Assume all other posters are posting in good faith.

    It’s evident you have become distracted by something other than making your case. Thank you for taking the time to explain your position.  

  8. Zachriel,

    Maybe we’re just slow…

    That’s not the problem.

    …but we remain unconvinced of your original contention.

    I’ve carefully considered and responded to your objections. The customary next step is for you to consider and respond to my responses. If you believe that an objection still holds, then explain why, taking my responses into account. If not, then indicate that you are withdrawing the objection.

    I wouldn’t expect a discussion with Mung or Joe to conform to this ideal, but I know that you can do better.

    “Assume all other posters are posting in good faith.“

    I began our discussion with that assumption. At some point the fiction became impossible to sustain.

    It’s evident you have become distracted by something other than making your case.

    It’s evident that I am disappointed in your behavior. I continue to make my case, though, even within those comments in which I express my disappointment.

    Thank you for taking the time to explain your position.

    You’re welcome. Please take the time to read and understand it so that our discussion can progress.

    Later today I will post a comment that revisits your objections and my responses.

  9. Zachriel,

    The site came back up just as I’m about to head off to bed, so for now I’ll limit myself to revisiting your first two objections in our discussion. 

    Objection #1. You wrote:

    We’re going to disagree with your claim. Common Descent puts limits on how the designer implemented their plan, but doesn’t preclude a designer.

    I never claimed that it does. In my OP, I make it clear that the evidence for common descent doesn’t preclude ID — it’s just that ID fits the evidence poorly, and evolutionary theory fits it far, far better. For example, I wrote:

    As it turns out, ID is not just threatened by the evidence for common descent — it’s literally trillions of times worse than unguided evolution at explaining the evidence.  [bolding in original]

    Objection #2. You wrote:

    Common Descent would be compatible with a designer that worked through history, a vital force that provided an impetus to adapt, or the planting of a Cosmic Seed with the occasional weeding.

    Here you are confusing common descent itself with the evidence for common descent (particularly the objective nested hierarchy). As I wrote in the OP:

    What about our third subset of IDers — those who accept the truth of common descent but believe that intelligent guidance is necessary to explain macroevolution? The evidence is a problem for them, too, despite the fact that they accept common descent. The following asymmetry explains why: the discovery of an objective nested hierarchy implies common descent, but the converse is not true; common descent does not imply that we will be able to discover an objective nested hierarchy. There are many choices available to a Designer who guides evolution. Only a tiny fraction of them lead to a inferable, objective nested hierarchy. The Designer would have to restrict himself to gradual changes and predominantly vertical inheritance of features in order to leave behind evidence of the kind we see.

    In summary, your first two objections are answered by the OP itself, which you failed either to read, or to understand, or both.

    Do you withdraw those objections?

  10. Mung,

    I’m not going to spoon-feed you. All of those questions are answered in the OP and in the comments.

    Read them.

  11. Zachriel,

    Continuing with your next objection.

    Objection #3:

    Your original post limited the evidence to Common Descent. It’s a thought-experiment, and doesn’t quite match with your comparison to the full opus of meteorology. The entirety of the biological evidence (such as natural selection) would further constrain any design hypothesis.

    I limited the evidence being explained by the competing theories to the evidence for common descent, but by ‘unguided evolution’ I meant modern evolutionary theory, as this passage in the OP makes clear:

    This is a big problem for IDers. They concede that unguided evolution can bring about microevolutionary changes, but they claim that it cannot be responsible for macroevolutionary changes. Yet they give no plausible reasons why microevolutionary changes, accumulating over a long period of time, should fail to produce macroevolutionary changes. All they can assert is that somehow there is a barrier that prevents microevolution from accumulating and turning into macroevolution.

    Objection #4:

    The evidence of Common Descent restricts the set of designers significantly. So? That doesn’t make it incompatible with some notions of a designer. A Cosmic Gardner who plants the seed of life, then tends it occasionally would be compatible. So would a God who works through historical unfolding. All theories select from an infinitude of possibilities. Facts constrain compatible theories from among this infinitude. Just because you restrain it to a tiny sliver of conceivable theories doesn’t mean that tiny sliver isn’t compatible. The Theory of Gravity is a tiny sliver of conceivable theories of gravity.

    As mentioned already in my response to objection #1, I am not claiming that the evidence of common descent precludes ID, just that ID is trillions of times worse at explaining the evidence.

    Regarding your comments about the theory of gravity, this passage from the OP answers your objection:

    Here’s an analogy that may help. Imagine you live during the time of Newton. You hear that he’s got this crazy idea that gravity, the force that makes things fall on earth, is also responsible for the orbits of the moon around the earth and of the earth and the other planets around the sun. You scoff, because you’re convinced that there is an invisible, undetected barrier around the earth, outside of which gravity cannot operate. Because of this barrier, you are convinced of the need for angels to explain why the moon and the planets follow the paths they do. If they weren’t pushed by angels, they would go in straight lines. And because the moon and planets follow the paths they do, which are the same paths predicted by Newton on the basis of gravity, you assume that the angels always choose those paths, even though there are trillions of other paths available to them.

    Instead of extrapolating from earthly gravity to cosmic gravity, you assume there is a mysterious barrier. Because of the barrier, you invent angels. And once you invent angels, you have to restrict their behavior so that planetary paths match what would have been produced by gravity. Your angels end up being gravity mimics. Laughable, isn’t it?

    Yet the ‘logic’ of ID is exactly the same.

    Instead of extrapolating from microevolution to macroevolution, IDers assume that there is a mysterious barrier that prevents unguided macroevolution from happening. Then they invent a Designer to leap across the barrier. Then they restrict the Designer’s behavior to match the evidence, which just happens to be what we would expect to see if unguided macroevolution were operating. The Designer ends up being an unguided evolution mimic.

    And from a comment I addressed to you:

    Zachriel:

    We do that with all scientific conjectures. We discard those that do not fit the evidence and retain those that do.

    Yes, but that’s not all we do. If it were, then the Rain Fairy hypothesis would still be viable. We discard the Rain Fairy hypothesis without hesitation, despite the fact that it can be made to fit the evidence perfectly. Why? Because the perfect fit requires a set of ad hoc assumptions for which there is no independent evidence.

    Any rational person will reject ID for the same reason.

    Objections #3 and #4 are both answered by the OP. Do you now withdraw those objections?

  12. I really enjoyed reading your argument, keiths. After proper consideration, I have an answer for you.

    First, I’m not a scientist, so I’m not about to debate on whether or not the evidence for common descent is as you say; nor do I know if the “nested heirarchy” structure is as proven as you imply, or even means what you say it means, but for the sake of the argument, I will assume it is so, because my rebuttal works as well even if we assume all of that to be true.

    IF I assume that they phylogenetic tree is as you say, and as well-evidenced as you say, THEN if I was making my decision about ID based on what the phylogenetic tree looked like, I would conclude that life is best explained via unguided processes.

    But … what the phylogenetic tree looks like is not a consideration for me (even if I were to base my belief about ID on evidence), nor do I understand the “nature of the phylogenetic tree” to be of much importance to any major IDers in your final group, because the compelling evidence for ID lies elsewhere.

    IOW, it is the compelling nature of ID (in their minds, anyway) evidence in the cell, in the DNA, in the highly functional, complex, interdependent features of an organism that compels IDists (of the third sort – mostly, anyway) to conditionally conclude that a designer is necessary – not “what the phylogenetic tree looks like”.

    If the evidence at the cellular or feature level is compelling enough (and, IMO, it is), then what the phylogenetic tree “looks like” is irrelevant – because, as you say, the designer does have those choices available, even if such arbitrary choices are, as you say, convenient to an astonishing degree (as comparable to unguided evolution).

    That’s not to say they are right in their assessments about DNA, human eyesight, winged flight, etc.; it just means that your basis in evidence for saying they should disclaim ID – even if true – doesn’t rise to the level of what they consider to be the evidence for ID. They don’t hold the shape of the phylogenetic tree as being very important next to functioning, highly complex, specified, interdependent factories that run like god’s clockwork in each and every cell.

    It is, however, an interesting dilemma; a designer that – for whatever reason – chooses a one-in-trillions process of design that looks just like (arguendo) unguided evolution, or a one-in-trillions materialist miracle where a self-replicating machine is generated by molecules bumping around, and just happens to continue surviving long enough to populate enough of the earth to live through any particular environmental challenge, and just happens to continue functioning without being wiped out, or wiping itself out, for billions of years?

    At any rate, please remember: I did not agree with your premises about the evidence and what the tree (or bush or whatever) of life looks like, I just stipulated them for the sake of argument.

    A final note: none of your argument above affects me at all, because I don’t base my beliefs on evidence or argument. I believe whatever I wish.

  13. William J. Murray,

    It is, however, an interesting dilemma; a designer that – for whatever reason – chooses a one-in-trillions process of design that looks just like (arguendo) unguided evolution, or a one-in-trillions materialist miracle where a self-replicating machine is generated by molecules bumping around, and just happens to continue surviving long enough to populate enough of the earth to live through any particular environmental challenge, and just happens to continue functioning without being wiped out, or wiping itself out, for billions of years?

    So what you choose to believe is wrong. But we already know that; ID/creationist “beliefs” are based on misconceptions and mischaracterizations of science. We have known it for something like 50 years.

    A final note: none of your argument above affects me at all, because I don’t base my beliefs on evidence or argument. I believe whatever I wish.

    And there it is; airtight.

    So why do you even bother to argue on forums like this? Why should anyone care?

  14. So what you choose to believe is wrong. But we already know that; ID/creationist “beliefs” are based on misconceptions and mischaracterizations of science. We have known it for something like 50 years.

    My personal belief isn’t based on science at all, much less any misconception or mischaracterization about science. Don’t mistake arguments I make, which might employ scientific misconceptions or errors (I generally never engage in a scientific argument – just don’t know enough about it any particular scientific area), with the reason why I believe what I believe.

    That’s really why I stopped tying “what I believe” in with “what I can prove or successfully argue”; I realized that if the greatest intellects in history can believe as proven, valid, and true what are diametrically opposed things, then the idea that “my” beliefs are actually based on “sound arguments” or “scientific facts” could only be laughable, monumental ego on my part.

    People – even the brightest in history – can believe virtually any inane, crazy thing, and think they are founts of wisdom and sane reflection.

    So why do you even bother to argue on forums like this? Why should anyone care?

    It’s no bother because arguments such as these interest me and I enjoy engaging in them at times; if others care about my arguments or not is entirely their prerogative.

  15. Keith,

    In fact, there is clear empirical evidence for a barrier to macro-evolution: oscillating allele frequencies. It is a reflection of the cyclic nature of environmental change.

    To get macro-evolution, there would have to be a break in that cycle. In essense, organisms would have to experience catastrophic environmental change that would decimate populations at the level of genus or phyla, which would open up not micro-niches, but vast biological savannahs.

    Thus, there is no evidence evolutionary scientists can present that macro-evolution is taking place now. Lenski’ experiments do not support it; changing finch beaks doesn’t support it; even cecal valves in lizards doesn’t support it.

    What would support it is linear allele change (as opposed to oscillating), where there is no return to the mean as Mendel showed peas always do, no matter how they were bred. In fact, it is Mendel’s tinkering with peas that show the clearest evidence of that barrier.

    As for phylogenetic trees, it is a representation of the relationships based on morphological similarities. It begs the question “So what?”

    What would a representation based on singleton proteins look like? A bouquet of flowers?

  16. People – even the brightest in history – can believe virtually any inane, crazy thing, and think they are founts of wisdom and sane reflection.

    That’s right. And the difference between those people and you is that those people, in some way, contributed to the sum of human knowledge. Be that in science, art or what have you.

    You seem to be doing the cargo-cult version of that, but you probably don’t realize that you are putting the cart before the horse. What have you created via your “I can believe anything I want to” that marks you out as a member of the brightest in historys company?

    Many people believe whatever it is they want to believe, just like you. You are not unique. Yet only the exceptional few, those with something original and unique to contribute make their mark in history, become the people you are trying to emulate.

    I realized that if the greatest intellects in history can believe as proven, valid, and true what are diametrically opposed things, then the idea that “my” beliefs are actually based on “sound arguments” or “scientific facts” could only be laughable, monumental ego on my part.

    Yet you are happy to use a computer based in large part on the idea that we understand quantum mechanics sufficiently well to actually make a CPU.

    I too believe that it is laughable that your beliefs are based on sound arguments or scientific facts, but not for the same reasons you do.

  17. Steve,

    As for phylogenetic trees, it is a representation of the relationships based on morphological similarities. It begs the question “So what?”

    I answer that in the OP and in my comments throughout the thread. You’ll save us both some time if you’ll read through them before challenging me with a question I’ve already answered.

    It’s the stunning agreement between phylogenetic trees that is important. The congruence among trees based on different morphological characters is phenomenal, as is the congruence among trees based on different molecular characters, as is the congruence between both categories of trees.

    If a designer were involved, the odds of getting this level of congruence would be worse than one in trillions. Yet if evolution is unguided, you expect to see this kind of congruence.

    Unguided evolution fits the evidence trillions of times better than ID.

  18. From Adams’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency:

    The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.

    http://theelectricmonk.com/ElectricMonk.html

    We poor benighted fools, compelled to believe that belief must accord to some degree with the apparent ‘outer world’.

  19. William,

    IF I assume that they phylogenetic tree is as you say, and as well-evidenced as you say, THEN if I was making my decision about ID based on what the phylogenetic tree looked like, I would conclude that life is best explained via unguided processes.

    But … what the phylogenetic tree looks like is not a consideration for me (even if I were to base my belief about ID on evidence), nor do I understand the “nature of the phylogenetic tree” to be of much importance to any major IDers in your final group, because the compelling evidence for ID lies elsewhere.

    To a rational person who is seeking the truth, all of the evidence matters and should be considered.

    The nested hierarchy favors unguided evolution over ID by a factor of trillions. And it’s not just the nested hierarchy. Other evidence, such as biogeography, for example, also fits with unguided evolution far, far better than it does with ID.

    There is no comparable evidence that favors ID over unguided evolution by a factor of trillions.

    The contest isn’t even close. Unguided evolution wins, hands down.

  20. Steve,

    Any mutation is a ‘linear allele change’. It does not ‘return to the mean’, because – like energy – there are so many more places it can go than back where it started. Genetic change is also not constrained to be related to environmental change – see: genetic drift, which cannot be turned off in a finite world.

    You may also be mixing Mendel’s peas with Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium – this relates to segregation, in some pretty restrictive scenarios, not mutation.

    And phylogenies are based upon much, much more than ‘morphological similarity’.

  21. We poor benighted fools, compelled to believe that belief must accord to some degree with the apparent ‘outer world’.

    Well, I do keep my beliefs in line with what I personally, actually experience, whether or not that has anything to do with any “outer world”.

  22. Many people believe whatever it is they want to believe, just like you. You are not unique. Yet only the exceptional few, those with something original and unique to contribute make their mark in history, become the people you are trying to emulate.

    Yet you are happy to use a computer based in large part on the idea that we understand quantum mechanics sufficiently well to actually make a CPU.

    I too believe that it is laughable that your beliefs are based on sound arguments or scientific facts, but not for the same reasons you do.

    I have no idea what you’re going on about here – it seems I’ve offended you in some way. Are you sniping at me, or am I misreading you?

    I’m not trying to emulate anyone. I’m not trying to be unique; what I’m trying to be is happy and a good person at the same time. I’m not particularly trying to contribute to society in any significant way, but I do pay my taxes, provide various services for people with my businesses, and take care of my family, including my mother who has alzheimers. It’s up to you if that is sufficient “contributing” to society in your view.

    I don’t understand your comment about the computer … should I be unhappy about using a computer for some reason?

  23. keiths: To a rational person who is seeking the truth, all of the evidence matters and should be considered.

    I sought the truth for a long time, but then realized that finding out what was true wasn’t really what I was after.

  24. I’m sure. What some of us ‘actually experience’ includes information from that outer world in the form of scientific data – phylogenetic data, for example, mathematical and computational abstractions of evolutionary processes, investigation across the gamut of those things that can be probed by the tools of science. While these things don’t formally rule out ID, they are entirely consistent with a process of ‘unguided’ descent with modification, but inconsistent with almost all variants of ID other than ‘invisible guidance’, ‘repetitive creation with small modifications’, or ‘very occasional tinkering’ – explanations in search of a distinction.

    The committed ID-er frequently seems mightily frustrated at their inability to penetrate what they see as a shell of materialist stubbornness (but is simply filtering propositions in the light of ‘stuff we have learnt’). It’s much easier to criticise a body of knowledge from the outside, hence the many very bright academics that sign up to ‘dissent from Darwinism’-style petitions. Barely any from ‘within’ evolutionary theory.

  25. William J. Murray: I sought the truth for a long time, but then realized that finding out what was true wasn’t really what I was after.

    Did you find out what it was you really wanted to pursue? – and did you find it?

    Some time ago, you mentioned you hadn’t “an altruistic bone in your body” Do you regard your looking after your mother (and I have some understanding of this, having a similarly-stricken father-in-law) as an act of altruism, of duty, of love, as something that should just happen because one looks after one’s own regardless, or something else?

  26. keiths,

    The key takeaway is that you do not make comparisons of the differences thus stacking the deck in your favor. Make those comparisons and your positive evidence becomes muddied. Darwinian evolution cannot make sense of BOTH the similarities and the difference. Embedded programming (ID) makes the most sense and fits with the data better than ND.

    Second, you erroneously make the assumption that since a designer would have a wide selection of options, why would a designer set limits on the creative process? But why would a designer not want to set limits? Why try to micromanage a creation?

    So the question is simple to answer. If you create a program that runs itself, and parameters are preset, then it is easy to see how the results of that program would appear as it does to us now.

    No need to assume unguided processes (a blatant oxymoron btw; an irrational concept).

  27. Steve,

    Please make a testable prediction that would serve to distinguish between modern evolutionary theory and your “embedded programming”.

  28. Genetic drift is related to environmental change in that organisms pick up the genes they lack, which would enable them to stay fit. The very fact that organisms have to ability to ‘go to a genetic market’ and pick out nice red tomatoes is cleary evidence for ID, not ND.

    RE phylogenies, it doesn’t matter how many attributes are compared. The key is that you only compare similarities. Compare differences and the strength of your argument is muddied.

    ID explains both similarities and differences better that the irrational concept of unguided processes. Arguing around the obvious inevitably takes you to irrational, contradictory ground.

    It is not a question of whether design exists, but what are the mechanisms that drive design. 20th century biology was stuck in the emergent twilight zone. Now we know that was a mistake as all we did was tread water. The smart play is moving on and exploring new ground. Information as an independent entity interacting with matter is that new ground and holds promise.

    Allan Miller:
    Steve,

    Any mutation is a ‘linear allele change’. It does not ‘return to the mean’, because – like energy – there are so many more places it can go than back where it started. Genetic change is also not constrained to be related to environmental change – see: genetic drift, which cannot be turned off in a finite world.

    You may also be mixing Mendel’s peas with Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium – this relates to segregation, in some pretty restrictive scenarios, not mutation.

    And phylogenies are based upon much, much more than ‘morphological similarity’.

  29. Genetic drift is related to environmental change in that organisms pick up the genes they lack, which would enable them to stay fit. The very fact that organisms have to ability to ‘go to a genetic market’ and pick out nice red tomatoes is cleary evidence for ID, not ND.

    I don’t think genetic drift means what you think it means. It relates to sampling error. In a finite population, even advantageous genes can be lost, and deleterious ones gained. Where different traits in a population are neutral with respect to each other, one will extinguish the other, in a time probabilistically related to population size. Drift means that near-neutral mutations will fix (extinguish the ancestral allele) at a steady rate, which inexorably causes the population to change its genetic constitution, whatever the environment is doing.

    RE phylogenies, it doesn’t matter how many attributes are compared. The key is that you only compare similarities. Compare differences and the strength of your argument is muddied.

    You don’t think that differences come into phylogenetic analysis? You have been misinformed. It would be impossible without them.

    ID explains both similarities and differences better that the irrational concept of unguided processes. Arguing around the obvious inevitably takes you to irrational, contradictory ground.

    Stop it, then! These irrational’ processes are DNA replication and mutation. Similarities are explained by replication fidelity, differences by the lack of 100% fidelity. It’s not that irrational, really.

  30. What I was really looking for was some form of satisfaction/happiness, which – for whatever reason – I thought was “the same as” looking for “truth”. And yes, I found my satisfied happy place.

    Fulfilling family duties and obligations makes me happy by helping me feel like a good person and feel that I am fulfilling my purpose here, which increases my sense of satisfaction and joy.

  31. Steve:
    keiths,
    No need to assume unguided processes (a blatant oxymoron btw; an irrational concept).

    Nonsense. You don’t get to re-define “process” and then complain that we’re somehow irrational for using the word “process” in accord with its normal definition (ongoing/continuous action, operation or series of changes, ie the process of decay) which does NOT require or imply that it be a guided or intentional procedure.

    Unless you’re going to claim that “the process of decay” is an irrational oxymoron? Or maybe you mean to claim that the process of decay is a guided process, molecule by molecule each instructed by some intelligence exactly when to dissolve their bonds? You would be a fool to do so, but I wouldn’t put it past an IDist to do that anyways.

    There are guided processes in human society, true. What you lack is any scrap of physical evidence that there are any guided process whatsoever at the molecular-biology level where mutations occur. Evidence, please!

  32. William,

    It is, however, an interesting dilemma; a designer that – for whatever reason – chooses a one-in-trillions process of design that looks just like (arguendo) unguided evolution, or a one-in-trillions materialist miracle where a self-replicating machine is generated by molecules bumping around, and just happens to continue surviving long enough to populate enough of the earth to live through any particular environmental challenge, and just happens to continue functioning without being wiped out, or wiping itself out, for billions of years?

    The OP and comments explain why the “one in trillions” figure is justified, and why it actually overstates the probability that ID is true.

    You claim that the odds are similarly low that a self-replicator arose spontaneously and led to the lifeforms we see around us today. Can you justify your claim numerically, or is this something you have chosen to believe without evidence?

  33. Steve,

    The key takeaway is that you do not make comparisons of the differences thus stacking the deck in your favor. Make those comparisons and your positive evidence becomes muddied. Darwinian evolution cannot make sense of BOTH the similarities and the difference. Embedded programming (ID) makes the most sense and fits with the data better than ND.

    Phylogenetic trees are constructed on the basis of both similarities and differences.

    Second, you erroneously make the assumption that since a designer would have a wide selection of options, why would a designer set limits on the creative process? But why would a designer not want to set limits? Why try to micromanage a creation?

    It isn’t merely an issue of whether the designer sets limits. If life is designed, then the evidence shows that the designer is operating under precisely the same limits that unguided evolution is subject to. But why assume a designer at all if the evidence is explained perfectly well by unguided evolution?

    So the question is simple to answer. If you create a program that runs itself, and parameters are preset, then it is easy to see how the results of that program would appear as it does to us now.

    No. There are many possible programs that would not produce the kind of evidence we see.

    No need to assume unguided processes (a blatant oxymoron btw; an irrational concept).

    How is ‘unguided process’ an oxymoron? In terms of evolution it just means that no one is guiding the mutations and no one is deciding which organisms get to survive and reproduce.

  34. Can you justify your claim numerically, or is this something you have chosen to believe without evidence?

    No, and no. I don’t “believe” it one way or another, I was just stating what I thought was an interesting observation in terms of what you argued and what, in my experience and reading, is a fairly common perspective on the chances of life spontaneously coming into being via chemical interactions.

    If you disagree it is comparable, just ignore it. It doesn’t make me any difference either way.

  35. But it makes a huge difference to most ID supporters, because they actually care whether their claim is true.

    The conclusion of my OP applies to them:

    The problem is stark. ID is trillions of times worse than unguided evolution at explaining the evidence, and the only way to achieve parity is to tack wild and unsupported assumptions onto it.

    If you are still an IDer after reading, understanding, and digesting all of this, then it is safe to say that you are an IDer despite the evidence, not because of it. Your position is a matter of faith and is therefore a religious stance, not a scientific one.

  36. To be clear the designer would not be operating ‘under’ anything, but setting the parameters in advance. You are making the assumption that the designer is at a command and control center flipping switches. A smart designer designs a command and control center that flips its own switches.

    Your notion of unguided evolution being under constraints can only happen in a mature biosphere, which is the observable environment we now live in. You (pl) have imagined possible constraints for past activity (conceding that those constraints would have to be very different than what we now see) but have no way of verification.

    To date, there is no empirical evidence to confirm the origins of sub-systems like the immune system, the digestive system, sensory systems, motility, etc. etc.

    What we do have is all educated guesswork. And why is it all guesswork? Because you have to imagine physics and chemistry creating decision noded: when oxygen levels reaches n level, execute progam T. When CO2 levels reaches y level, execute program B, etc.

    In unguided evolution, there would be conflict at every turn fo the simple reason that the concept of coordination of activity could not exist in unguided evolution. Forgot command and control on several levels. just at a single level, there would be immediate conflict.

    But from what we know, life does appear as a superbly executed macro program. the more we compare life to programming the more we discover about life.

    That is why ID is waxing, ND waning. The trend is in ID thinking and it has been and is now paying dividends in R&D.

    It isn’t merely an issue of whether the designer sets limits. If life is designed, then the evidence shows that the designer is operating under precisely the same limits that unguided evolution is subject to. But why assume a designer at all if the evidence is explained perfectly well by unguided evolution?

    It doesn’t matter the possibility of how many programs, but the fact that a program exists in the first place with pre-set values. Shapiro’s work goes a long way to show that in fact genome do appear to be exhibiting features of an operating system that engineers mutations based on perturbations in the environment. Beautiful stuff. which rendors btw ‘unguided evolution’ impotent and uninteresting in moving research and development initiatives forward.

    So the question is simple to answer. If you create a program that runs itself, and parameters are preset, then it is easy to see how the results of that program would appear as it does to us now.

    No. There are many possible programs that would not produce the kind of evidence we see.

    A process has a start and a stop. A process has a a final end to achieve. A process needs to reach intermediate goals. There is absolutely nothing ‘unguided’ about that. It is your vivid imagination that is trying to do an end run around the obvious.

    To be sure, there is ‘no one’ deciding what mutations take place; just like there is no Homunculus hiding in Windows 7.

    How is ‘unguided process’ an oxymoron? In terms of evolution it just means that no one is guiding the mutations and no one is deciding which organisms get to survive and reproduce.

  37. Steve:

    Your notion of unguided evolution being under constraints can only happen in a mature biosphere, which is the observable environment we now live in.

    Arrant rubbish. Regardless of how (im)mature a biosphere may be, that biosphere must exist in an environment which has a characteristic set/range of temperatures, a characteristic set/range of available water, a characteristic set/range of available nutrients, etc etc. If you can’t see how each such aspect of an environment constitutes a constraint on the critters which can live in that environment…

  38. Steve:
    To be clear the designer would not be operating ‘under’ anything, but setting the parameters in advance.You are making the assumption that the designer is at a command and control center flipping switches.A smart designer designs a command and control center that flips its own switches.

    Ahh, so you’re one of those unscientific romantics who think the “designer” was capable of front-loading all the capabilities which would be necessary for 3.5 bllion years of evolution into one little protocell, pressed the start button, and *Poof* it all began working perfectly according to plan, the first time!
    Never mind that you have no idea how the “designer” could know in advance which animals were going to need to “switch on” exoskeletons and which could do without, which were going to need to “switch on” adaptations to the increasing O2 content of the early atmosphere and which could survive by adapting to life in anaerobic hideaways, which were going to be challenged by the 4 or 5 major meteor impacts that destroyed almost all organisms alive at the time and which were going to be driven extinct by those events (better not have any of the key genes needed for future evolution left in the care of those doomed lineages; better make sure all the genes needed for the future get passed into the lineages that are predestined to survive).
    You can’t explain away your failure by saying it’s the cells themselves that are intelligent enough to know what they’re going to need next. That’s just plain idiotic!

    Your notion of unguided evolution being under constraints can only happen in a mature biosphere, which is the observable environment we now live in.You (pl) have imagined possible constraints for past activity (conceding that those constraints would have to be very different than what we now see) but have no way of verification.

    Cubist already refuted this complete total garbage of yours.

    To date, there is no empirical evidence to confirm the origins of sub-systems like the immune system, the digestive system, sensory systems, motility, etc. etc.

    What do you mean, no empirical evidence? Oh, forget I asked. Your answer could only be as ass-backwards as all your other garbage has been.

    What we do have is all educated guesswork.And why is it all guesswork?Because you have to imagine physics and chemistry creating decision noded:when oxygen levels reaches n level, execute progam T.When CO2 levels reaches y level, execute program B, etc.

    Oh, hell, I can’t stop myself from asking: What under God’s blue heaven do you mean “creating decision nodes” and “execute program” ? Please don’t tell me you actually imagine there is a little computer inside the cell reading the O2 sensor and comparing the reading to preset parameters? Please don’t. You do know that these kind of cellular activities are just chemistry, stochastic predictable chemistry, don’t you? We DON’T HAVE TO IMAGINE THAT in the least. We KNOW THAT for a fact, that is, those of us who bothered to pay attention in high school science know.

    In unguided evolution,there would be conflict at every turn fo the simple reason that the concept of coordination of activity could not exist in unguided evolution.Forgot command and control on several levels.just at a single level, there would be immediate conflict.
    But from what we know, life does appear as a superbly executed macro program.the more we compare life to programming the more we discover about life.

    Oh, fer crying out loud. Just because you’re an inept computer programmer yourself doesn’t mean life is programmed. It “looks programmed” doesn’t mean a thing. Unless, of course, you could provide even one scrap of evidence that it actually is programmed. References to peer-reviewed scientific papers in relevant biological science journals are the only acceptable evidence in this case, I’m afraid, because we already know what kind of crackpot “evidence by assertion” your fellow travelers usually cook up.

    That is why ID is waxing, ND waning.The trend is in ID thinking and it has been and is now paying dividends in R&D

    Funny, that’s not what mainstream science says at all. Your friends in the ID movement haven’t done any useful research whatsoever. Your friends can’t think straight enough to even get their papers published in respectable journals, much less persuade anyone not already religiously-committed to ID to see that it provides any possibly-fruitful questions.
    Meanwhile, back in the real world, scientists and engineers are using genetic algorithims modeled on the theory of unguided evolution and our GA’s work to discover all kinds of useful things. Even to design new generations of those computer chips you need to do your hack programming.

    It doesn’t matter the possibility of how many programs, but the fact that a program exists in the first place with pre-set values.Shapiro’s work …

    Citation needed. What specific work of Shapiro have you looked at? What, specifically, does he say that you think supports your romantic imaginings? Quote actual paragraphs of his work!

    …goes a long way to show that in fact genome do appear to be exhibiting features of an operating system that engineers mutations based on perturbations in the environment.Beautiful stuff. which rendors btw ‘unguided evolution’ impotent and uninteresting in moving research and development initiatives forward.

    Yep, more of your worthless overly-romantic crap.

    A process has a start and a stop.A process has a a final end to achieve.A process needs to reach intermediate goals.There is absolutely nothing ‘unguided’ about that.

    Nope. You’re still wrong about that. You ignored being corrected about your mis-definition of progress before, and I expect you’ll continue to ignore it some more. But you’ll still be wrong. Too bad for you.

    It is your vivid imagination that is trying to do an end run around the obvious.

    To be sure, there is ‘no one’ deciding what mutations take place; just like there is no Homunculus hiding in Windows 7.

    Well, thank god you can admit one true thing! Yes, there is no one deciding what mutations take place. Mutations are truly random with respect to whether the organism “needs” one, or not, and truly random with respect to whether or not the organism can survive with the mutation, or not, and truly random with respect to whether the organism might be improved by the mutation, or not.

    Sorry that truth destroys your whole gauzy picture about the “designer” pre-engineering organisms to flip their own switches. So sad.

  39. Steve,

    Do you understand this comment I made earlier in the thread?

    For the 30 taxa that Theobald considers, there are 10^38 possible nested hierarchies. The actual morphological tree is one of those 10^38 possibilities, and so is the molecular tree. It turns out that they are identical.

    Evolutionary theory predicts that the two trees will be highly congruent, if not identical. In other words, evolution predicts that given a morphological tree, the molecular tree will come from the tiny sliver of possible trees that are highly congruent to the morphological tree.

    By contrast, ID is compatible with any combination of morphological and molecular trees. Given a particular morphological tree, any of the 10^38 possibilities are open for the molecular tree.

    Now compare evolutionary theory to ID:

    Given a particular morphological tree, evolutionary theory predicts that the molecular tree will come from a tiny sliver of the 10^38 possibilities.

    Given a particular morphological tree, ID predicts only that the molecular tree will be one of the 10^38 possibilities.

    Evolutionary theory narrows the possibilities down to a tiny sliver. ID doesn’t narrow the possibilities at all.

    Evolutionary theory is trillions of times more specific than ID in its prediction, and the prediction is confirmed.

    Your hypothesis — that evolution is the execution of a program with preset parameters — suffers from exactly the same problems as the forms of ID I was discussing in that comment.

  40. Steve: Embedded programming (ID) makes the most sense and fits with the data better than ND.

    Never heard of “embedded programming” as a theory or hypothesis in relation to the diversity of life on Earth. Google does not throw anything up that seems remotely connected to biology. Can Steve enlarge on “embedded programming”? Does it have any similarity to a pseudo-theory sometimes referred to as “front-loading”?

  41. Steve: To be clear the designer would not be operating ‘under’ anything, but setting the parameters in advance.

    Hmm.

    How does the designer do this: physically or magically?

  42. Guys, take a look at the site rules please.

    In particular:

    Address the post, not the poster.

      This means that accusing others of ignorance or stupidity is off topic
      As is implying that other posters are mentally ill or demented.
  43. : That is why ID is waxing, ND waning.The trend is in ID thinking and it has been and is now paying dividends in R&D

    This claim is made quite often, but I have yet to see any support for it. I’m sorry to say that I think it is a lie.

    Has anyone got any concrete example of “ID thinking” “paying dividends in R&D”?

    Can anyone say how it might?

  44. Just to say that I do realise that it wasn’t “hotshoe”, but “steve” who made the comment I criticised above. Sorry

    But I’m too thick to make the comment editor work.

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