ID falsifiable, not science, not positive, not directly testable

There was a time when people believed the moon craters were the product of intelligent design because they were so perfectly round “they must have been made by intelligent creatures living on the moon”. That idea was falsified. If hypothetically someone had said back then, “The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) made the moon craters”, the claim would have been falsifiable, but it really doesn’t make a positive case for the FSM, doesn’t make the FSM directly testable, doesn’t make the FSM science. Substitute the word “ID” instead for “FSM”, and one will see why I think even though ID is falsifiable, I don’t think ID has a positive case, and I don’t think ID is directly testable, and I don’t think ID is science at least for things like biology.

I accept stonehenge was intelligently designed because I’ve seen humans make similar artifacts. The case of design in life is a different matter because we have not seen a designer of such qualifications directly. If we saw God or some UFO sending flames down from the sky with a great voice and turning a rock into a living human, then I would consider ID a positive case at that point. For now there is no positive case, but a case based on some level of belief. One might redefine science to allow ID to be defined as science, but I prefer not to promote ID as science. I’m OK with calling ID science for man-made things, but not for God-made things, unless God shows up and gives us a visual demonstration.

NOTES:

Johannes Kepler

The invention of the telescope led scientists to ponder alien civilization. In the early 1600s, astronomer Johannes Kepler believed that because the moon’s craters were perfectly round, they must have been made by intelligent creatures.
Is Anybody Out There?

435 thoughts on “ID falsifiable, not science, not positive, not directly testable

  1. I think part of the issue is say we found all the ancestors leading up to a bacterial flagella in a way even IDists would accept. Would that falsify ID? No. They’d just switch targets to another biological phenomena. Or retreat into physics / chemistry.

  2. They’d just switch targets to another biological phenomena.

    Agreed.

    Example, I think some of the orphan genes Paul Nelson claims could have a non-miraculous origin. I think small orphans emerge as non-random mutation.

    The moon crater example is one of ID just finding other things to look at as designed.

    I still accept ID for OOL, it just doesn’t bug me quite as badly as it used to if I’m wrong…

  3. The first step to wisdom is accepting that the world does not revolve around any particular view of it being right.

  4. This is lame as Sal is asking for absolute proof in order to make a positive case and science doesn’t demand that.

    Sal has never seen humans of thousands of years ago build a structure like Stonehenge. He doesn’t know how nor why they did it. And the best he can say is “humans did it”.

    The positive case for ID has been made. Sal may not like it but Sal isn’t anyone to disagree.

  5. Reasonable ID has already been falsified, for instance, by vestigial organs.

    OoL is a different matter, with both Darwin and Crick considering a role for design in that, although for Crick it seems to have been design in getting life here, not in making it in the first place.

    The problem there is bringing in something unknown to explain one particularly long-ago event whose original effects no longer exist. A bit too convenient and special–and I’d say that for Crick and (the earlier) Darwin as well.

    Glen Davidson

  6. This is lame as Sal is asking for absolute proof in order to make a positive case and science doesn’t demand that.

    No, I wasn’t asking for absolute proof. I was pointing out the lack of repeatability disqualifies it from most definitions of science in use today.

    The heart of science is repeatability of claims.

    We can repeat the building and construction of stonhenge — nay, we can even do it better now!

  7. Alan Fox,

    You however did not feel the need to move Richards comments that I asked you to, which are against the rules right? So now you are in essence once again asking the non-atheists on this site to not respect this site, because you do not wish this site and its policies to be taken seriously.

    Ok, as you wish Alan.

  8. I’d like to reiterate, I have no problem, or less problem calling ID science for detecting design in man-made things like genetically engineered organisms.

    Hence, we can say such design detections of man-made designs are valid instances of design detection. They are scientific, imho. Hence Genetic-ID is a valid instance of the explanatory filter since we are talking man-made designs:

    http://www.genetic-id.com/

    But I think it is invalid to generalize the science of man-made design detection as automatically science for God-made or UFO-made or FSM-made designs until we see a live visual demonstration at least once.

  9. GlenDavidson:
    Reasonable ID has already been falsified, for instance, by vestigial organs.

    OoL is a different matter, with both Darwin and Crick considering a role for design in that, although for Crick it seems to have been design in getting life here, not in making it in the first place.

    The problem there is bringing in something unknown to explain one particularly long-ago event whose original effects no longer exist.A bit too convenient and special–and I’d say that for Crick and (the earlier) Darwin as well.

    Glen Davidson

    LoL! In what way do alleged vestigial organs falsify ID?

    Something unknown would be the blind and mindless processes that produced the diversity of life. And if the OoL was designed then it is a given that organisms were designed to evolve and evolved by design.

  10. phoodoo:
    Alan Fox,

    You however did not feel the need to move Richards comments that I asked you to, which are against the rules right?So now you are in essence once again asking the non-atheists on this site to not respect this site, because you do not wish this site and its policies to be taken seriously.

    Ok, as you wish Alan.

    Another unsupported assertion by Phoodoo. I’m not sure being taken seriously by you is an endorsement, Phoodoo.

  11. ID is at least as scientific as evolutionism is. Perhaps Sal should rail against evolutionism seeing that is what is being pushed as science in schools.

  12. Plan for mainstreaming ID:

    1. Get on library board
    2. Promote ID friendly books
    3. Win hearts and minds of the next generation
    4. Hope one of them can make ID into science.

    1 might be an issue…

  13. Sal thinks that if I can repeatedly make lightning with my tesla coil then all lightning is designed!

  14. Sal thinks that if I can repeatedly make lightning with my tesla coil then all lightning is designed!

    I don’t believe that, I didn’t say that, and that is really the claim of the OP. I think further such comments deserve to be ignored.

  15. Richardthughes:
    I think part of the issue is say we found all the ancestors leading up to a bacterial flagella in a way even IDists would accept. Would that falsify ID? No. They’d just switch targets to another biological phenomena. Or retreat into physics / chemistry.

    More likely, they’d adopt a position of guided evolution. Still ID!

  16. Frankie: And if the OoL was designed then it is a given that organisms were designed to evolve and evolved by design.

    No, it isn’t a given. Organisms don’t have to be designed to evolve. As long as there is reproduction and inheritance, there will be evolution. (You might think that an error mechanism would have to be designed into inheritance, but I don’t think it’s possible to design an error-free biological replication mechanism.)

  17. John Harshman:You might think that an error mechanism would have to be designed into inheritance, but I don’t think it’s possible to design an error-free biological replication mechanism.)

    Do you think that there is an optimal error-correction rate, such that evolution would be less workable if it were either better or worse? And if so, do you think that optimal error rate itself evolved?

  18. Flint: And if so, do you think that optimal error rate itself evolved?

    That’s an interesting idea: that the error correcting mechanisms of DNA replication actually evolved to be less than perfect (i.e. any perfectly replicating populations would have gone extinct because they couldn’t adapt to change). Does that make sense?

  19. Mung: There are ID friendly books? I guess I should have been looking in the Religion section.

    Well, when the books start talking about science, I am sure that they will be moved to the science section.

    I am sure that you realize that book stores are in business to make money. There is no conspiracy. If they thought they would sell more copies, they would shelf Darwin’s Doubt or No Free Lunch in the teen fiction section. Apparently, they sell more by filing them in the religion section. Why is that not a surprise to anyone but you?

  20. Flint: Do you think that there is an optimal error-correction rate, such that evolution would be less workable if it were either better or worse? And if so, do you think that optimal error rate itself evolved?

    If there is an optimal rate, I’m sure it varies according to circumstance. Whether any species are at all close to this hypothetical optimum is a difficult question to answer. I have no opinion.

  21. Norm Olsen: That’s an interesting idea: that the error correcting mechanisms of DNA replication actually evolved to be less than perfect (i.e. any perfectly replicating populations would have gone extinct because they couldn’t adapt to change).Does that make sense?

    That was my thinking. Too lax, and we’d get the degeneration creationists are always predicting. Too strict, and there’d be no ability to change. I wonder if, very early on, both of these ends of the curve were tried, and weeded out quickly for these (and perhaps other) reasons.

  22. Mung: There’s such a thing as unguided evolution?

    Unless guided evolution closely mimics what unguided evolution would do (a logical but untestable possibility), then yes.

  23. Too lax, and we’d get the degeneration creationists are always predicting.

    It is a bit more complex than that. The degeneration is dependent on the size of the functional genome. Large genome are especially vulnerable compared to bacterial genomes. That is assuming a large fraction of a large genome, say 20%-95%, is functional.

  24. The mutatation rate is pretty much the same for all parts of the genome, unless I’ve done a lot of misreading.

  25. The mutatation rate is pretty much the same for all parts of the genome, unless I’ve done a lot of misreading.

    Let’s assume that to be the case. The human genome is then 60 times larger than E. Coli. That means it has 60 times more bad mutations to weed out of the population with a small excess reproduction rate.

    Herman Muller estimated human populations can tolerate around 0.5 bad mutations per individual per generation. Larry Moran thinks 2 is the outer limit. With a mutation rate of 150 per generation per individual and the highly generous assumption of that only 10% are mildly harmful, that is easily 10 bad mutations per generation per individual. The direction of evolution is guaranteed then, if that is the case, to not allow such a large complex genome to be viable for very long, hence creationists assert this is evidence of recent special creation of humans.

    The important thing, in light of GWAS (Geneome Wide Association Studies), is that this is a testable claim, especially with the dominance of ENCODE, Roadmap, and E4 initiatives from the NIH.

    This is related to the OP, creationist claims are falsifiable like ID claims are falsifiable. It doesn’t imply there is a positive case, that the creator is directly testable, that creation is science — except for the parts of creationist theory that are testable like the theory of human genome deterioration.

  26. The best explanation I ever heard for craters on the moon involved God and the Devil lobbing asteroids at each other.

  27. If i follow correctly.
    I don’t agree at all.
    The bible makes the best iD claim.
    It says clearly all men know God exists because nature demonstrates him.
    The complexity of the universe and biology demands a thinking being created it.
    new ideas of creation coming from chance do not nullify the ID hypothesis of the bible.
    its still a great point. god wrote it too.
    Then men have always maje this point, like finding a watch in the forest, or junkyards creating planes and the modern ID thinkers with Irreducible complexity.

    The observation and thoughtfulness of man towards nature is the testing of whether nature comes from a creator or chance.
    most mankind came to the obvious conclusion its a creator.
    Those saying chance have a long way to go to justify themselves.
    Saying nature created itself must be more backed up then just saying it.
    I don’t see why any claim that iD is not science can be made.
    ID is more scientific then the chance group surely.

  28. Regardless of what Muller calculated, Lenski’s actual experiment demonstrates that improvement in a fixed environment continues indefinitely. Data trumps speculation.

    The size of a genome is irrelevant. The mutation rate is calculated per base pair.

    In humans, 90 percent of mutations have no effect at all. The most reasonable assumption is they are occurring in areas that have no function. Humans survive about 10 mutations per individual in areas known to be functional. The most reasonable assumption is that these mutations are nearly neutral.

  29. , Lenski’s actual experiment demonstrates that improvement in a fixed environment continues indefinitely. Data trumps speculation.

    Bacteria are not multicellular Eukaryotes, and many of those are not improving indefinitely, they are going extinct.

    The size of a genome is irrelevant.

    It is plenty relevant, the larger the genome, the more things can go wrong the more that has to be maintained by purifying selection. You totally glossed over the problem Muller highlighted.

    Any way, GWAS studies will settle the issue. Many scientists (starting with Muller) know there is a problem.

  30. stcordova: The important thing, in light of GWAS (Geneome Wide Association Studies), is that this is a testable claim, especially with the dominance of ENCODE, Roadmap, and E4 initiatives from the NIH.

    Go on then, test it.

    Is it money? I know where creationists can get money, if that’s the problem?

  31. stcordova: Any way, GWAS studies will settle the issue. Many scientists (starting with Muller) know there is a problem.

    Ah, I missed this cop out. Other scientists will do the work that proves you are “right”. Carry on.

  32. Mung,

    The theory of intelligent design has nothing to do with any statement in the Bible.

    “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”
    — William Dembski

  33. Patrick:
    Mung,

    “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”
    — William Dembski

    So Information theory is really theology?

  34. Funny how you love ‘inference to the best explanation’, until it’s used for your religious motivations. 😉

  35. stcordova,

    The direction of evolution is guaranteed then, if that is the case, to not allow such a large complex genome to be viable for very long, hence creationists assert this is evidence of recent special creation of humans.

    The evidence is pretty strong for genetic continuity with other apes and on down through the primates. The evidence for this is supported in part by the very same mutation rates you claim are squeezing the life out of us. There is nothing particularly discontinuous about the apparent mutation rate through the assumed continuum back into the depths of Mammalia, so it seems likely your ‘inverse exceptionalism’ assumptions are awry.

    You ignore the effects of heterozygosity for one thing. A genome can tolerate a significant level of detrimental recessives, as long as each is in a different place and you avoid close mating. Those that become common through drift are agents of their own destruction, not the population’s. If lethal in homozygotes, they cannot become common. If only mildly deleterious, they can become fixed and universally homozygous but there is a common assumption that this is the end of the matter. Effectively, by fixing any detrimental mutation – by taking a small step down the adaptive hill – the population has marginally increased the fraction of new mutations that are beneficial (as well as potentially exploring whole new regions inaccessible to a benefit-only scenario).

    The back mutation, for one, can clearly still occur, and can still spread by selection against the intruder. Any detrimental mutation has only a tenuous grasp on its locus. A beneficial one has a much easier time of it. So I don’t think static assumptions, and the picture of a population moving ever downhill, is a complete picture. There is constant reversal of fortune, and it always favours the relatively beneficial where differentials exist.

  36. Mung: The theory of intelligent design has nothing to do with any statement in the Bible.

    There is no scientific theory of Intelligent Design. There is an unsupported and untestable hypothesis of Intelligent Design put forward by those wishing to push the Christian creation story into secular science classrooms.

    Get the facts straight Mung.

  37. Frankie:
    Allan Miller,

    Genetic continuity is good evidence for a common design…

    Sure thing FrankenJoe. Your Magic Designer was so powerful It created the entire universe just for humans to live on the “privileged planet” but the moron couldn’t figure out how to make cetaceans and sireneans without the non-expressed genes for rear limbs.

  38. You ignore the effects of heterozygosity for one thing.

    I most certainly do not.

    A genome can tolerate a significant level of detrimental recessives, as long as each is in a different place and you avoid close mating. Those that become common through drift are agents of their own destruction, not the population’s. If lethal in homozygotes, they cannot become common. If only mildly deleterious, they can become fixed and universally homozygous but there is a common assumption that this is the end of the matter. Effectively, by fixing any detrimental mutation – by taking a small step down the adaptive hill – the population has marginally increased the fraction of new mutations that are beneficial (as well as potentially exploring whole new regions inaccessible to a benefit-only scenario).

    A bad mutation can and likely will drift out of the population, the problem however is that if for every bad mutation that drifts out, 150 new ones emerge, there will be an increasing number of bad mutations.

    Muller studied the effects of radiation on health. If we accelerate mutation rates via radiation, we see a fast forwarded “movie” of what is unfolding in slow motion if the mutation rate is such that the excess reproduction rate cannot purge out the bad fast enough. That’s why reductive evolution is the norm, not the exception.

  39. stcordova: Muller studied the effects of radiation on health.If we accelerate mutation rates via radiation, we see a fast forwarded “movie” of what is unfolding in slow motion if the mutation rate is such that the excess reproduction rate cannot purge out the bad fast enough.

    Yep. IF the mutation rate exceeds the ability to breed out the bad mutations, life cannot evolve.

    That’s why reductive evolution is the norm, not the exception.

    By “reductive evolution”, I take it you’re referring to the radiation of life into countless millions of forms, filling every niche permitted by the nature of chemical bonds of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen.

    To me, this proliferation of life is prima facie evidence that devolution is the exact opposite of what’s been happening these last 4 billion years or so.

  40. For the record, I think Salvador is full of **it. Drift could care less about “bad” or “good” mutations.

    If that’s the case Mung, then it still likely will drift out of the population rather than fixate, if it’s lethal it’s gone! That was such a poor attempt at a rebuttal future comments are deserving of being ignored indefinitely.

  41. To me, this proliferation of life is prima facie evidence that devolution is the exact opposite of what’s been happening these last 4 billion years or so.

    Or that the mechanism seen in operation today aren’t what caused the diversification of life. Additionally radiation assumes Universal Common Ancestry, and that is suspect, especially for the divide between Prokaryotic and Eukarytoic domains.

    How many times do you think the Eukarytoic domain emerged? Once? Meaning we don’t expect prokaryotes to naturally change so radically into something so complex as Eukaryotes. If such a large transformation happened only once, then on principle, evolutionary theory is counting on a single spectacular event or cascade of events as a matter of principle. When such single events or cascade of events are unique and spectacular enough, they are indistinguishable from miracles.

    Whether they are miracles made by God or just coincidence, is not practically nor formally decidable, but one can’t be arguing that it’s typical and therefore repeatable, hence it’s status as science is dubious even though one might claim evolution is a natural phenomenon. Saying it’s natural does not make it science any more than saying epicycles is natural makes epicycles science — unless one wants to admit false theories and theories that don’t agree with evidence “science”.

    What I’m showing is evolutionary theory, for it’s major claims is not science, or at the least it is on the bottom of science’s pecking order:

    “In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history’s inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike “harder” scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture.”

    https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/647715.Jerry_A_Coyne

    What? cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment? That means no repeatability, that means not experimental falsifiability of its most important claims, that means it is not science, not a positive case, not directly testable, it may not even be falsifiable!

    For all we know, the atheists Crick and Hoyle could just as well claim, as they did, that life was influenced naturalistically via extra-terrestrials!

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