Barry finally gets it?

Barry Arrington was astonished to find that Larry Moran agreed with him that it would be possible for some future biologist to detect design in a Venter-designed genome.

He was further astonished to find that REC, a commenter at UD, agreed with Larry Moran.

Barry expresses his epiphany in a UD post REC Becomes a Design Proponent.

Has Barry finally realised that those of us who oppose the ideas of Intelligent Design proponents do not dispute that it is possible, in principle, to make a reasonable inference of design?  That rather our opposition is based on the evidence and argument advanced, not on some principled (or unprincipled!) objection to the entire project?

Sadly, it seems not.  Because Barry then gives some examples of his continued lack of appreciation of this point.  Here they are:

For example, consider this typical objection:  “All scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism, and you violate the principle of methodological naturalism when you make a design inference in biology.”

If that objection is valid (it is not, but set that aside for now), it is just as valid against REC’s and Dr. Moran’s design inferences as it is against any other design inference.

Yes, indeed, Barry.  It is not a valid objection, and if it were, it would be as valid against REC’s and Dr. Moran’s as against ID.  There is nothing wrong with making a design inference in principle. We do it all the time, as IDists like to point out.  And there’s nothing wrong with making it in biology, at least in principle.  There is certainly nothing that violates the “principle of methodological naturalism when you make a design inference in biology”.  I wonder where Barry found that quotation?

The point sailed right over REC’s head.  He responded that the objections were not valid as to his design inference, because his design inference (opposed to ID’s design inferences) was “valid and well evidenced.”

I doubt it sailed over REC’s head.  I expect it was the very point he was making – that there  is no reason in principle why one cannot make a valid design inference in biology, but whether the inference is valid or not would depend on the specifics of the evidence and argument.

But that is exactly what ID proponents have been saying for decades REC!  We have been saying all along that the various “typical objections” are invalid if the evidence leads to a design inference.

REC, the only difference between you and us is that you are persuaded by the evidence in a particular case and not in our case.  But you are missing the point.  If what is important is the EVIDENCE, then th “typical objections” lose all force all the time.

Barry, consider the possibility that you have been misreading the “typical objections” the entire time.  That the yards of text that are spilled daily at UD railing against Lewontin and us benighted “materialists” are entirely irrelevant.   The objection to ID by people like me (and Moran, and REC, and any other ID opponent I’ve come across, including Richard Dawkins in fact) is not that it is impossible that terrestrial life was designed by an intelligent agent, nor that it would be necessarily impossible to discover that it was, nor even, I suggest, impossible to infer a designer even if we had no clue as to who the designer might be (although that might make it trickier).  The objection is that the arguments advanced by ID proponents are fallacious.  They don’t work.  Some are circular, some are based on bad math, and some are based on a misunderstanding of biochemistry and biology.  They are not bad because they are design inferences, they are bad because they are bad design inferences.

In other words, the objection “all scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism” is invalid in principle, not in application, if it is even possible to make a valid design inference based on the EVIDENCE.

And here is where Barry steps on the rake again. Of course all scientific claims must employ methodological naturalism. It’s the only methodology we have in science – it is another way of saying that scientific claims must be falsifiable.  That doesn’t mean we can’t infer design. Design is a perfectly natural phenomenon.  If Barry means that we can only infer natural, not supernatural, design, he is absolutely correct, but that is simply because a supernatural design hypothesis is unfalsifiable. The reason Lewontin was correct is not that science is terrified of letting the supernatural in the door of science lest we have to face our worst nightmares, but that if you accept the supernatural as a valid hypothesis, you throw falsifiability out of the window.

You agree with us that it is the EVIDENCE that is important, and objections thrown up for the purpose of ruling that evidence out of court before it is even considered are invalid.

Yes, it is the EVIDENCE that is important,  But on the other side of the EVIDENCE coin are the predictions we derive from the theory that we are testing against that EVIDENCE. If there are no predictions – and a theory that can predict anything predicts nothing – then we have no way of evaluating whether our EVIDENCE supports our theory.  In fact, the word EVIDENCE only makes sense in relation to a theory. I’m no lawyer (heh) but doesn’t there have to be a charge before there is a trial?

Of course, by the same token, nobody can claim that ID is false – it may well be true that life was designed by a supernatural designer, whether at the origin-of-life stage as some claim, or at key stages, such as the Cambrian “Explosion” (scare quotes deliberate), as others claim; or for certain features too hard to leave to evolution such as the E.coli flagellae that enhance their ability to maim and kill our children. Or even to design a universe so fine-tuned that it contains the laws and materials necessary for life to emerge without further interference.   Science cannot falsify any of that – nor, for that matter the theory that it was all created ex nihilo Last Thursday.

That’s why nothing in evolutionary biology is a threat to belief in God or gods, and why the paranoia surrounding “methodological naturalism” is so completely misplaced.

What is a threat to us all, though, I suggest, is bad science masquerading as science, and that is my objection to ID.  Not the “broader” project itself as stated in the UD FAQ:

In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.

but its fallacious (in my view) conclusion that:

…that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.

Fallacious not because I assume that the “intelligent cause” is supernatural, but because the math and biochemistry simply do not support that inference.  Even if it’s true.

1,072 Replies to “Barry finally gets it?”

  1. phoodoo
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    says:

    OMagain,

    I think they will continue to be bacteria for a billion years. That is why bacteria experiments do nothing to show evolution. Doesn’t matter how many generations you make, they never stop being the same.

    In fact Zach already admits that there always were resistant strains in the population, that just don’t prosper well until you kill everything else. So nothing changes, nothing improves, nothing accumulates. Not very good for your side I am afraid.

  2. Elizabeth Elizabeth
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    says:

    phoodoo: Doesn’t matter how many generations you make, they never stop being the same.

    Yes they do. They change a lot. Do you not know of Lenski’s e coli experiment?

  3. OMagain
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    says:

    So I guess in your world phoodoo, cents don’t add up to dollars.

  4. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    Elizabeth: Do you not know of Lenski’s e coli experiment?

    Professor Lenski has set up a great site for information on his ongoing experiment. I recall emailng him quite a while ago to ask whether he thought that his experiment tested artificial or natural selection. He replied that although the environment was artificial, the differential survival of bacteria in those environments depended only on their comparative survival in that environment, the selection was thus natural.

  5. phoodoo
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    says:

    OMagain,

    In my world cents don’t add up to a nuclear powered submarine.

  6. OMagain
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    says:

    phoodoo: In my world cents don’t add up to a nuclear powered submarine.

    Yet nuclear reactors can form naturally, despite your incredulity.

  7. OMagain
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    says:

    phoodoo,
    So if nothing can evolve out of it’s current form, where did everything come from? What’s your alternative?

  8. phoodoo
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    says:

    Elizabeth,

    Lizzie, I hate to break it to you, but did you know the bacteria ALREADY have the ability to metabolize citrate, it is just that they normally can only do so under anaerobic conditions.

    And guess what happens when you take away the citrate? They return to normal bacteria! Whoopee!

    So your “lot” turns out to be a lot of nothing I am afraid.

    When do you reckon they will become conscious?

  9. phoodoo
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    says:

    Alan Fox: He replied that although the environment was artificial, the differential survival of bacteria in those environments depended only on their comparative survival in that environment, the selection was thus natural.

    I am aware that this is a real sentence, I am still trying to figure out how it has real meaning.

    Then what would be artificial? Geez.

  10. OMagain
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    says:

    phoodoo: Lizzie, I hate to break it to you, but did you know the bacteria ALREADY have the ability to metabolize citrate, it is just that they normally can only do so under anaerobic conditions.

    Sounds like a fairly significant change to me. If you started being able to breathe underwater, would you not consider that a big deal?

  11. OMagain
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    says:

    phoodoo: When do you reckon they will become conscious?

    I asked you, if nothing can evolve significantly, where does all the biology we see about us come from?

  12. OMagain
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    says:

    phoodoo: Then what would be artificial? Geez.

    Presumably whatever your designer was doing, as after all that’s where you think biology comes from?

  13. phoodoo
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    says:

    OMagain,

    Yes, I am sure you would. Your side is just so desperate to have something, ANYTHING that they can grasp on to to someone show something that has evolved.

    So when you have nothing, I guess a bacteria consuming an acid that it already could consume is the best you can hope for.

    What’s next do you think, they will learn how to use a fork?

  14. Adapa
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    says:

    phoodoo:
    OMagain,

    Yes, I am sure you would.Your side is just so desperate to have something, ANYTHING that they can grasp on to to someone show something that has evolved.

    So when you have nothing, I guess a bacteria consuming an acid that it already could consume is the best you can hope for.

    What’s next do you think, they will learn how to use a fork?

    Your grasp of evolutionary biology is just…amazing.

    Observed evolution

    More observed evolution

    But I suppose to a Creationist it’s not evolution unless a fish turns into a rutabaga.

  15. OMagain
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    says:

    phoodoo: So when you have nothing, I guess a bacteria consuming an acid that it already could consume is the best you can hope for.

    If it already could consume it, why didn’t it?

    It’s telling what you choose to respond to and what you don’t. It’s almost as if you have no answer for most points put to you, but that can’t be the case as you seem so confident that you are right and everyone else is wrong….

  16. OMagain
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    says:

    And even if a bacteria gaining the ability to consume citrate in certain environments was the sum total of all observed evolution that’s still 1 more observation then Intelligent Design has to offer.

    For the mathematically challenged IDers, I’m saying you have zero observed instances of design, as 1 – 1 = 0

  17. Adapa
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    says:

    phoodoo: I am aware that this is a real sentence, I am still trying to figure out how it has real meaning.

    Then what would be artificial?Geez.

    In artificial selection the environment is manipulated and humans do the selecting to achieve a specific goal, say a faster race horse or a woolier sheep. No humans did any selecting in the LTEE and there was no goal, it’s just one strain of E coli out-competing the others due to that’s strain’s evolutionary changes.

  18. Adapa
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    says:

    phoodoo:
    Adapa,

    Your grasp of your nutsack is amazing-especially considering its all the way down your esophagus.

    (Note Alan, I did ask you to remove his guano but you didn’t)

    LOL! Poor phoodoo. Can’t stand to have his scientific ignorance corrected so he throws a cursing hissy fit. You’re a perfect UD Creationist. Barry would be proud! 🙂

  19. phoodoo
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    says:

    Adapa,

    What environment is manipulated to make a sheep dog?

  20. Adapa
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    says:

    phoodoo:
    Adapa,

    What environment is manipulated to make a sheep dog?

    The dogs were put in an environment where sheep lived. Their job was to herd sheep. The ones who did the job better were selected by humans and allowed to breed.

    Lots of dog breeds were specifically bred this way – retrievers for returning game birds, dachshunds for hunting burrowing animals.

    Do you really not grasp even that simple a concept?

  21. phoodoo
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    says:

    Adapa,

    What do you mean dogs, I thought they were wolves?

  22. Adapa
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    says:

    phoodoo:
    Adapa,

    What do you mean dogs, I thought they were wolves?

    You thought wrong. Domesticated dogs were around long before they were artificially bred to be sheepdogs.

    History Of The Old English Sheepdog

  23. phoodoo
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    says:

    Adapa,

    How is hanging around a bunch of sheep going to make their hair look like that?

  24. Adapa
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    says:

    phoodoo:
    Adapa,

    How is hanging around a bunch of sheep going to make their hair look like that?

    It didn’t. Naturally occurring genetic variations made their hair look like that. Dogs with longer hair were better able to tolerate the cold damp conditions where the sheep lived so they did the herding job better. It was a trait that came along with the artificial selection of those better performing dogs by humans.

  25. petrushka
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    says:

    Phoodoo should read the first few chapters of Origin of Species.

    There is no difference, biologically, between natural and artificial selection.

    None, zero, nada.

  26. phoodoo
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    says:

    petrushka,

    See above. I have already falsified natural selection.

  27. petrushka
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    says:

    phoodoo:
    petrushka,
    See above.I have already falsified natural selection.

    You couldn’t falsify a Kleenex boobie..

  28. Richardthughes Richardthughes
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    says:

    phoodoo:
    petrushka,

    See above.I have already falsified natural selection.

    Great – go write it up and submit it to a journal.

  29. Frankie Frankie
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    says:

    petrushka:
    Phoodoo should read the first few chapters of Origin of Species.

    There is no difference, biologically, between natural and artificial selection.

    None, zero, nada.

    Seeing that natural selection could not produce the different breeds of dogs and artificial selection did, there is obviously a difference between the two. NS can undo what AS has done. NS cannot do what AS can do.

  30. Richardthughes Richardthughes
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    says:

    Phoodoo, don’t go full Gallien.

  31. Frankie Frankie
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    says:

    Elizabeth: Yes they do.They change a lot. Do you not know of Lenski’s e coli experiment?

    E coli remained E coli, even after 50,000+ generations.

  32. Zachriel Zachriel
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    says:

    phoodoo: No you can’t observe the same process in nature, that is the point.

    Why do you say that?

    phoodoo: No difference in reproduction rates. Thus falsified.

    You showed there are no selectable differences between bacteria at 1000°C. However, there may be selectable differences at 40°C.

    phoodoo: As you have already admitted, the bacteria revert back to an original form, after the antibiotic is removed

    There’s a cost to the mechanism for antibiotic resistance. Reversion is also natural selection.

    phoodoo: already admits that there always were resistant strains in the population

    As pointed out, we can start with a single strain of non-resistant bacteria. But that isn’t necessary to show natural selection, which works on existing variations. Remember the definition: differential reproductive success due to differences in traits. The problem is your inability to apply the definition to the observations.

  33. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    petrushka,
    Were you choking on Adapa’s nutsack when you wrote that?

    I miss Joe G. He could sling foodoo with the best of his tribe.

  34. Adapa
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    petrushka,

    See above.I have already falsified natural selection.

    Natural selection isn’t a hypothesis. It’s the name we give to an observed physical phenomenon. You might as well claim to have falsified gravity.

  35. Frankie Frankie
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    says:

    Adapa: Natural selection isn’t a hypothesis.It’s the name we give to an observed physical phenomenon.You might as well claim to have falsified gravity.

    Except we don’t know if we have observed NS or not.

  36. Adapa
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    says:

    Frankie: E coli remained E coli, even after 50,000+ generations.

    Yet all 12 strains started from the single cloned individual evolved different genetic changes. One lineage evolved a change so significant it drastically increased its evolutionary fitness compared to the others.

    That’s evolution Joe whether you and phoodoo cry about it or not.

  37. Adapa
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    says:

    Frankie: Except we don’t know if we have observed NS or not.

    Scientists know. Clueless IDiots may still have questions.

  38. Adapa
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    says:

    Frankie: Seeing that natural selection could not produce the different breeds of dogs and artificial selection did, there is obviously a difference between the two. NS can undo what AS has done. NS cannot do what AS can do.

    Read the words that were written Joe. There is no difference biologically speaking between NS and AS, and there isn’t. AS is merely the case of NS where humans are doing the selecting to achieve certain desired traits.

  39. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    says:

    Frankie: Except we don’t know if we have observed NS or not.

    Nonsense! Double nonsense!!

    The beauty of the Lenski experiment is that E. coli reproduces rapidly enough for us to see variation arising in real time. And the genomes are small enough to be sequenced and compared so that sequence changes can be demonstrated.

  40. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    says:

    Adapa: There is no difference biologically speaking between NS and AS, and there isn’t. AS is merely the case of NS where humans are doing the selecting to achieve certain desired traits.

    Indeed. And ants. Leafcutter ants cultivate fungus that exists (cannot exist except) only in their nests.

  41. Adapa
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    says:

    Alan Fox: Nonsense! Double nonsense!!

    The beauty of the Lenski experiment is that E. coli reproduces rapidly enough for us to see variation arising in real time. And the genomes are small enough to be sequenced and compared so that sequence changes can be demonstrated.

    Joe was using the royal “we” when he said we don’t observe NS. There’s a lot about science that Joe doesn’t see.

  42. Frankie Frankie
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    says:

    Alan Fox: Nonsense! Double nonsense!!

    The beauty of the Lenski experiment is that E. coli reproduces rapidly enough for us to see variation arising in real time. And the genomes are small enough to be sequenced and compared so that sequence changes can be demonstrated.

    In order to be natural selection the genetic changes have to be accidental and we don’t have any way to make that determination.

  43. Frankie Frankie
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    says:

    Adapa: Read the words that were written Joe.There is no difference biologically speaking between NS and AS, and there isn’t.AS is merely the case of NS where humans are doing the selecting to achieve certain desired traits.

    Dogs are biological and NS cannot produce dogs.

  44. Frankie Frankie
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    says:

    Adapa: Scientists know.Clueless IDiots may still have questions.

    That is incorrect as NS requires the genetic changes to be accidental and we don’t know how to make that determination

  45. Adapa
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    says:

    Frankie: In order to be natural selection the genetic changes have to be accidental and we don’t have any way to make that determination.

    The selection part doesn’t depend on how the genetic changes originated Joe. Even if the Magic Citrus Fairy POOFED the one E coli lineage its resulting success over the other lineages was still NS.

  46. Adapa
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    says:

    Frankie: Dogs are biological and NS cannot produce dogs.

    Dholes are dogs. NS produced dholes. Joe fails again.

  47. phoodoo
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    says:

    Zachriel,

    Why would you get to choose the method of death I use to falsify your theory?

  48. phoodoo
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    says:

    Alan Fox,

    But I have already falsified it, just like your requirement said.

  49. Adapa
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    says:

    phoodoo:
    Alan Fox,

    But I have already falsified it, just like your requirement said.

    Well no, you haven’t. But keep telling yourself that if it keeps you in your happy fantasy land.

  50. Frankie Frankie
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    says:

    Adapa: Dholes are dogs.NS produced dholes.Joe fails again.

    Please provide the evidence that shows NS produced dholes. Or admit that you are just bluffing.

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