Intelligent Design Detection

  1. Design is order imposed on parts of a system. The system is designed even if the order created is minimal (e.g. smearing paint on cave walls) and even if it contains random subsystems. ‘Design’ is inferred only for those parts of the system that reveal the order imposed by the designer. For cave art, we can analyze the paint, the shape of the paint smear, the shape of the wall, composition of the wall, etc. Each one of these separate analyses may result in separate ‘designed’ or ‘not designed’ conclusions. The ‘design’-detection algorithm shown in the attached diagram can be employed to analyze any system desired.
  2. How do we know something is not random? By rejecting the null hypothesis: “the order we see is just an artifact of randomness”. This method is well established and common in many fields of research (first decision block in diagram). If we search for extraterrestrial life, archeological artefacts, geologic events, organic traces, etc., we infer presence based on specific nonrandom patterns. Typical threshold (p-value) is 0.05 meaning “the outcome observed may be due to randomness with a 5% or less probability”. The actual threshold is not critical, as probabilities quickly get extreme. For instance, given a 10-bit outcome (10 coin toss set), the probability of that outcome being random yet matching a predetermined sequence is 0.1%, well below the 5% threshold. A quick glance at biological systems show extreme precision repeated over and over again and indicating essentially zero probability of system-level randomness. Kidneys and all other organs are not random, reproduction is not random, cell structure is not random, behavior is not random, etc.
  3. Is a nonrandom feature caused by design or by necessity? Once randomness has been excluded, the system analyzed must be either designed as in “created by an intelligent being”, or a product of necessity as in “dictated by the physical/scientific laws”. Currently (second decision block in diagram), a design inference is made when potential human/animal designers can be identified, and a ‘necessity’ inference is made in all other cases, even when there is no known necessity mechanism (no scientific laws responsible). This design detection method is circumstantial hence flawed, and may be improved only if a clearer distinction between design and necessity is possible. For instance, the DNA-to-Protein algorithm can be written into software that all would recognize as designed when presented under any other form than having been observed in a cell. But when revealed that this code has been discovered in a cell, dogmatic allegiances kick in and those so inclined start claiming that this code is not designed despite not being able to identify any alternative ‘necessity’ scenario.
  4. Design is just a set of ‘laws’, making the design-vs-necessity distinction impossible. Any design is defined by a set of rules (‘laws’) that the creator imposes on the creation. This is true for termite mounds, beaver dams, beehives, and human-anything from pencils to operating systems. Product specifications describe the rules the product must follow to be acceptable to customers, software is a set of behavior rules obeyed, and art is the sum of rules by which we can identify the artist, or at least the master’s style. When we reverse-engineer a product, we try to determine its rules – the same way we reverse-engineer nature to understand the scientific laws. And when new observations infirm the old product laws, we re-write them the same way we re-write the scientific laws when appropriate (e.g. Newton’s laws scope change). Design rules have the same exact properties as scientific laws with the arbitrary distinction that they are expected to be limited in space and time, whereas scientific laws are expected to be universal. For instance, to the laboratory animals, the human designed rules of the laboratory are no different than the scientific laws they experience. Being confined to their environment, they cannot verify the universality of the scientific laws, and neither can we since we are also confined in space and time for the foreseeable future.
  5. Necessity is Design to the best of our knowledge. We have seen how design creates necessity (a set of ‘laws’). We have never confirmed necessity without a designer. We have seen that the design-necessity distinction is currently arbitrarily based on the identification of a designer of a particular design and on the expectation of universality of the scientific laws (necessity). Finally, we can see that natural designs cannot be explained by the sum of the scientific laws these designs obey. This is true for cosmology (galaxies/stars/planets), to geology (sand dunes/mountains/continents), weather (clouds/climate/hydrology), biology (molecules/cells/tissues/organisms), and any other natural design out there.
  6. Scientific laws are unknowable. Only instances of these laws are known with any certainty. Mathematics is necessary but insufficient to determine the laws of physics and furthermore the laws of chemistry, biology, behavior, etc., meaning each of the narrower scientific laws has to be backwards compatible with the broader laws but does not derive from the more general laws. Aside from mathematics that do not depend on observations of nature, the ‘eternal’ and ‘universal’ attributes attached to the scientific laws are justified only as simplifying working assumptions, yet too often these are incorrectly taken as indisputable truths. Any confirming observation of a scientific law is nothing more than another instance that reinforces our mental model. But we will never know the actual laws, no matter how many observations we make. Conversely, a single contrary observation is enough to invalidate (or at least shake up) our model as happened historically with many of the scientific laws hypothesized.
  7. “One Designer” hypothesis is much more parsimonious compared to a sum of disparate and many unknown laws, particles, and “random” events. Since the only confirmed source of regularity (aka rules or laws) in nature is intelligence, it takes a much greater leap of faith to declare design a product of a zoo of laws, particles, and random events than of intelligence. Furthermore, since laws and particles are presumably ‘eternal’ and ‘universal’, randomness would be the only differentiator of designs. But “design by randomness” explanation is utterly inadequate especially in biology where randomness has not shown a capacity to generate design-like features in experiment after experiment. The non-random (how is it possible?) phantasm called “natural selection” fares no better as “natural selection” is not a necessity and in any case would not be a differentiator. Furthermore, complex machines such as the circulatory, digestive, etc. system in many organisms cannot be found in the nonliving with one exception: those designed by humans. So-called “convergent evolution”, the design similarity of supposedly unrelated organisms also confirms the ‘common design’ hypothesis.
  8. How does this proposed Intelligent Design Detection Method improve Dembski’s Explanatory Filter? The proposed filter is simpler, uncontroversial with the likely [important] exception of equating necessity with design, and is not dependent on vague concepts like “complexity”, “specification”, and “contingency”. Attempts to quantify “specified complexity” by estimating ”functional information” help clarify Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, but still fall short because design needs not implement a function (e.g. art) while ‘the function’ is arbitrary as are the ‘target space’, ‘search space’, and ‘threshold’. Furthermore, ID opponents can easily counter the functional information argument with the claim that the ‘functional islands’ are linked by yet unknown, uncreated, eternal and universal scientific laws so that “evolution” jumps from island to island effectively reducing the search space from a ‘vast ocean’ to a manageable size.

 Summary

  • Design is order imposed on parts of a system
  • A system is nonrandom if we reject the null hypothesis: “the order we see is just an artifact of randomness”
  • Current design detection method based on identifying the designer is circumstantial hence flawed
  • Design is just a set of ‘laws’, making the design-vs-necessity distinction impossible
  • Necessity is Design to the best of our knowledge
  • Scientific laws are unknowable. Only instances of these laws are known with any certainty
  • “One Designer” hypothesis is much more parsimonious compared to a sum of disparate and many unknown laws, particles, and “random” events
  • This Intelligent Design Detection Method improves on Dembski’s Explanatory Filter

Pro-Con Notes

Con: Everything is explained by the Big Bang singularity, therefore we don’t need Intelligent Design.

Pro: How can a point of disruption where all our knowledge completely breaks down explain anything? To the best of our knowledge, Intelligent Design is responsible for that singularity and more.

514 thoughts on “Intelligent Design Detection

  1. phoodoo:

    At least Allan is finally getting it, NS creates nothing- its dead easy.Now if Allan will finally realize he is admitting it, we might be getting somewhere.But don’t worry, I suspect he will be back obfuscating that soon enough.

    Well, as predicted, here I am to obfuscate. The role of mutation in the process is so secret that it can be found in any textbook, likewise that of NS.

    So somehow, we have a combination – mutation-plus-NS – that leads to adaptation. Mutation without NS does not, and nor does NS without variation. So if we agree both of those points, which were never in dispute, does mutation-plus-NS no longer lead to adaptation?

  2. phoodoo: I thought this one was of the more humorous analogies they have tortuously tried to make.

    You have separated small grains from big ones.You have used a device to do it.You have created nothing.You STILL have both smalls grains and big ones.There is nothing random about it whatsoever, and THIS is supposed to tell us something about evolution.

    Their brains are steaming.

    Fuck me, I shouldn’t have to join the dots for adults. After the sieving process, fling the contents of the sieve into the sea. Do you STILL have both small grains and big ones? ‘Yes, some are in the sea’, crows phoodoo.

  3. Rumraket:
    lol@Nonlin talking about logic. The irony.

    He’ll drop you a lecture on the scientific method too if you ask nicely.

  4. Nonlin.org: What took you so long? I know… a Pavlovian disagreement? 🙂

    This …

    But it’s not just a pattern. It’s one that is very improbable to be randomly generated.

    … took me so long. You appear to be saying that stochastic processes cannot be responsible for the patterns you are interested in. Yet it is not trivial to show this is true. A statistical test for equiprobable outcomes won’t cut it.

    And I think I can guess what patterns you are aiming for. Pavlovian indeed.

  5. Allan Miller: Fuck me, I shouldn’t have to join the dots for adults. After the sieving process, fling the contents of the sieve into the sea. Do you STILL have both small grains and big ones? ‘Yes, some are in the sea’, crows phoodoo.

    “They are still sand grains”

  6. Neil Rickert: Less emphasis on selection; more emphasis on the intelligent behavior of biological systems.

    you are back to being my favorite

    peace

  7. newton: Ever seen Delicate Arch?

    Explaining the Delicate Arch by simply appealing to erosion acting on random variation in the substrate would by vacuous to the point of parody. You’d never get away with it.

    If you wanted to explain the Delicate Arch you’d need to talk about things like why the wind at that location blew predominantly in this particular direction and why the substrate reacted in the way it did.

    Peace

  8. Allan Miller: So if we agree both of those points, which were never in dispute, does mutation-plus-NS no longer lead to adaptation?

    Who is asking what leads to adaptation? We don’t even know what adaptation means. We are discussing what leads to new forms. Only accidents do that in your theory.

  9. Allan Miller: Fuck me, I shouldn’t have to join the dots for adults. After the sieving process, fling the contents of the sieve into the sea. Do you STILL have both small grains and big ones? ‘Yes, some are in the sea’, crows phoodoo.

    When do we get to the new things part Allan, the NEW things?

    Is the next mutation going to make more small grains. Right back where we started.

  10. Tom English: I can’t think of any time when I’ve described ID as something other than a big-tent socio-political movement.

    Then why the constant appeals to folks like Dembski and Behe as being somehow authoritative as to what ID claims?

    Peace

  11. phoodoo: Oh yes.Highly sophisticated.Aside from actually being able to predict stock market trends 5 years in advance,

    As far as I can tell neither can Michelangelo’s David. Or any human design.

    Delicate Arch can convert the sun’s ray into magnetic pulses that

    The sun drives many of the processes of erosion ,so yes one might say it converts the sun’s energy. It created sedimentary basins which are a necessary components of the creation of petroleum.

    can divert predators and attract suitors to its location.

    Neither can the cave paintings of Lascaux.And erosion created the “canvas” on which the paintings reside.

    It also is very good at translating sign language.

    It creates a sign language if one knows how to translate it. It is known as geology. It causes humans to travel great distances to observe its creations such as Yosemite Valley. It is all part of the same creative force which created the Arch and the Great Lakes which supply water for 48 million people.

    Oh, wait, do you mean the rock with a hole in it?

    Hundreds of thousands of people climb a 3 mile trail, sometimes in the middle of the Utah summer , to see it. Some have negotiate the climb down in the dark, in order to see the rock with a hole in it, at sunset. It must be something.

    The claim was that erosion can’t create anything.

  12. fifthmonarchyman: Then why the constant appeals to folks like Dembski and Behe as being somehow authoritative as to what ID claims?

    Peace

    They gave the movement a patina of legitimate science which was necessary due to legal objections to teaching creationism in science classes.

  13. phoodoo: Is the next mutation going to make more small grains. Right back where we started.

    Analogy:

    a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
    “an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies”

    a correspondence or partial similarity.
    “the syndrome is called deep dysgraphia because of its analogy to deep dyslexia”
    a thing that is comparable to something else in significant respects.
    “works of art were seen as an analogy for works of nature”

  14. phoodoo: Who is asking what leads to adaptation?We don’t even know what adaptation means.

    When you say “we”, you of course mean “you”. When you think of an organism as “well designed”, what, if not its ecological niche, is it well-designed for? Is it well-adapted to its niche, or not?

    We are discussing what leads to new forms. Only accidents do that in your theory.

    If by ‘accident’ you mean strictly random, and if by ‘random’ you mean strictly equiprobable chances of persistence, then no. I don’t know why you have such trouble with this, I really don’t. What’s wrong with using the actual words, rather than a baby-talk cartoon?

  15. fifthmonarchyman: Explaining the Delicate Arch by simply appealing to erosion acting on random variation in the substrate would by vacuous to the point of parody. You’d never get away with it.

    I agree . Never claimed that erosion was random though it may be unpredictable due to the complexity of geology and the comparison is to natural selection not random mutations But that is neither here nor there ,the example of Delicate Arch addresses your assertion the erosion cannot create anything.

    If you wanted to explain the Delicate Arch you’d need to talk about things like why the wind at that location blew predominantly in this particular direction and why the substrate reacted in the way it did.

    Actually I would start with the ancient salt bed from an evaporated sea being covered the the debris the Uncompahgre Uplift in Southwest Colorado which in turn being covered with sandstone. Salt domes, anticlines ,more erosion.

    Once you have the verticals fins of sandstone, water opens the hole, wind does its thing, eventually you have arches in the fins which do not collapse. But it is the vibrant colors of the sandstone exposed by erosion which is the most spectacular.

    But since you avoided the defense of your assertion that erosion cannot create anything, you should try going out to Moab and not see anything.

  16. Allan Miller: What’s wrong with using the actual words, rather than a baby-talk cartoon?

    Phoodoo gets rid of all the actual words which do not support his argument and what is left is the cartoon.

  17. Not really following …

    What does it mean to be “creative” for a non-conscious force?

    What does “new” mean, if modification of existing structures or patterns cannot be said to be the creation of something new?

  18. phoodoo: Who is asking what leads to adaptation?

    Implicitly, you are. Eyes for example are adaptations.

    We don’t even know what adaptation means.

    Speak for yourself. We know that every well. Adaptation is something that aids in survival and reproduction. A super simple example is camouflage.

    We are discussing what leads to new forms.

    What do you mean by a “new form”? Define new. How much must something change before it becomes “new”?

    Here I’ll define new for you: If it’s different from what it was before, it’s new. Done.

    Only accidents do that in your theory.

    By which you mean mutations. But mutations combined with natural selection is what explains adaptations.

  19. Rumraket: We can all toss out assertions about how we see things yut they have zero power of persuasion.

    Add some probabilities though, and then it becomes believable.

  20. Allan Miller: Is it well-adapted to its niche, or not?

    You don’t know the difference between the word adapted and adaptation? This is why I should use baby talk I guess.

  21. Rumraket: It really isn’t difficult to describe evolution as a creative force.

    I’m waiting.

    Rumraket: Mutation is the mechanism that creates new alleles from old ones.
    Natural selection is the process that creates particular distributions of alleles in a population.

    Is it evolution that is supposed to be the creative force or is it natural selection? Or is it cumulative selection that is supposed to be the creative force?

    Did you know that random genetic drift can’t create anything? And neither can neutral evolution. The vast majority of evolution turns out to be non-creative. Only selection can create. And of course, selection is a metaphor.

  22. newton,

    So you feel that moving different grains around or throwing some in the ocean is similar to the concept evolution of a new body part then do you?

    I disagree, but then again, no one knows what the concept of evolution really is anyway, so…

  23. fifthmonarchyman: you are back to being my favorite

    He’ll soon contradict himself. And he probably can’t say whether his statement is true or not. And whether or not anyone else ought to believe it? Hah.

  24. You know, I just don’t think Rumraket really cares, even if it makes him look ridiculously stupid.

    His position is so pathetic that it requires hypocrisy, dishonesty, and cowardice in order to be defended.

  25. There was a mutation. It had no idea that one day it would become an eye. But, by fortuitous happenstance, it led to a very slight increase in the number of offspring left by the carrier of the mutation. From 1.0 to 1.02. Eventually every member of the population shared that mutation. Everyone was happy.

    Then there was another mutation. By the most joyous of coincidences that mutation happened to be joined in some miraculous way with the previous mutation to make something that was even more like an eye. And, even more incredibly, it too happened to lead to a very slight increase in the number of offspring left by the carrier of the mutation. From 1.0 to 1.01.

    Over a long period of time the fortuitous accidents stacked up. Each event just as improbable as the previous one. Each event an independent event. The probabilities against continued to multiply. But lo, an eye!

    Just another creation myth.

  26. Mung,

    Happens all the time. Just go to any hospital and you will see three to five babies born an hour with feet that can sense light. Or asses. In the right niche they would have a slight advantage. They are just waiting for the niche.

  27. phoodoo: Rumraket: What do you mean by a “new form”? Define new.

    phoodoo: An eye.

    Why is an eye a good example of a “new form” and a novel DNA sequence caused by a mutation not? What makes it “creative” to make the first but not the latter?

    Baby-talk not compulsory.

  28. Mung:
    There was a mutation. It had no idea that one day it would become an eye. But, by fortuitous happenstance, it led to a very slight increase in the number of offspring left by the carrier of the mutation. From 1.0 to 1.02. Eventually every member of the population shared that mutation. Everyone was happy.

    Then there was another mutation. By the most joyous of coincidences that mutation happened to be joined in some miraculous way with the previous mutation to make something that was even more like an eye. And, even more incredibly, it too happened to lead to a very slight increase in the number of offspring left by the carrier of the mutation. From 1.0 to 1.01.

    Over a long period of time the fortuitous accidents stacked up. Each event just as improbable as the previous one. Each event an independent event. The probabilities against continued to multiply. But lo, an eye!

    Just another creation myth.

    Unfortunately accompanying this most joyous of coincidences of the progression of the eyeball there was, coincidentally, the sad degeneration of the rest of the body. In the end all that was left was a large eyeball barely supported by a tiny body shuffling through the undergrowth. 🙂

  29. Mung: Did you know that random genetic drift can’t create anything? And neither can neutral evolution. The vast majority of evolution turns out to be non-creative. Only selection can create. And of course, selection is a metaphor.

    What does it mean that selection creates stuff? In what sense does it create whereas random genetic drift does not?

  30. By the way: I previously mentioned an example of evolution of a novel trait: and it’s an eye too, sorta …

    Is it “new”? Is it “creative”?

  31. Corneel (to Phoodoo): Why is an eye a good example of a “new form” and a novel DNA sequence caused by a mutation not? What makes it “creative” to make the first but not the latter?

    Baby-talk not compulsory.

    Novel DNA sequences mean nothing unless they are used in the appropriate way.

  32. Corneel: Why is an eye a good example of a “new form” and a novel DNA sequence caused by a mutation not? What makes it “creative” to make the first but not the latter?

    Baby-talk not compulsory.

    I have no idea what this means honestly.

    I was asked for an example of a new form. I am not sure why you would consider DNA a form, but if you do, then I suppose you count all DNA sequences separate species in that case? Is every bacteria a new form?

  33. CharlieM: Novel DNA sequences mean nothing unless they are used in the appropriate way.

    What is “the appropriate way”? (You saw that coming I guess)

  34. phoodoo: I was asked for an example of a new form. I am not sure why you would consider DNA a form, but if you do, then I suppose you count all DNA sequences separate species in that case? Is every bacteria a new form?

    Not quite, you were asked for a definition of “new” in the context of adaptations. We could discuss new species as well, but then “an eye” is not an appropriate example either, right?

    Let’s say that a mutation in the genome of a bacterium would result in antibiotic resistance. Is this a creative mutation resulting in a new trait?

  35. phoodoo: I believe he means, to make a new form!

    Like a change in morphology? Possibly. But am I correct in surmising that not every morphological change will be appreciated as creative?

  36. Corneel: Not quite, you were asked for a definition of “new” in the context of adaptations.

    Corneel, you are starting to pull an Allan. I said when do we get to new, and then I was asked what I meant by new.

    So there is no context of adaptation, if by new I was not talking about adaptation (whatever the hell that means) and instead what I mean was NEW! You know, like something that never existed before. Like before there were eyes and then we got eyes. Like before there were feathers and then we got feathers.

    New as in New.

  37. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Novel DNA sequences mean nothing unless they are used in the appropriate way.

    What is “the appropriate way”? (You saw that coming I guess)

    DNA sequences are never used in isolation. Changes in one area would have to be in tune with other interconnected processes. They need to be in coordination with the whole organism.

    And as Phoodoo implied, there will be a fair bit of coordination required to produce novel forms.

  38. phoodoo: So there is no context of adaptation, if by new I was not talking about adaptation (whatever the hell that means) and instead what I mean was NEW! You know, like something that never existed before. Like before there were eyes and then we got eyes. Like before there were feathers and then we got feathers.

    New as in New.

    A recurrent theme in this thread is what we mean by the words we use. I would gladly accept “something that never existed before” as a definition of new, and “capable of making a new thing” as a reasonable definition of creative.

    But that is a pretty low bar. Under those definitions erosion did create Delicate Arch, and natural selection (@Mung and genetic drift as well) continuously create new populations. I get the distinct impression that this is not satisfactory for you guys.

  39. CharlieM: DNA sequences are never used in isolation. Changes in one area would have to be in tune with other interconnected processes. They need to be in coordination with the whole organism.

    And as Phoodoo implied, there will be a fair bit of coordination required to produce novel forms.

    Not really, we need a fair bit of coordination to produce functional novel forms, but then we are discussing adaptations again.

  40. Corneel,

    If by evolution you mean a leaky faucet making water bubbles, I think no one really would have a quarrel with you.

    However, I am pretty sure that is not what most people mean, so perhaps we could stick with the evolution that more people than one mean.

  41. Mung: Each event just as improbable as the previous one.

    How improbable is that? How did you come to that conclusion?

  42. Mung: I’m waiting.

    Is it evolution that is supposed to be the creative force or is it natural selection?

    Speaking of creative forces, what artistic tradition would you place evolution into? Abstract? Conceptual? Naturalistic?

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