Does Paul Nelson really teach both ‘design theory’ & ‘Intelligent Design’ theory?

He sure made it sound that way. I’m guessing he actually doesn’t. It may be just a bluff or a semantic game. And then, given Paul Nelson seems to be a man who enjoys good jokes, we’ll laugh together and return to the ‘other’ conversation that respectfully doesn’t accept double-talking between these terms.

Gladly and thankfully, I’m open and ready for Paul to prove me wrong and to show us (people on the internet) his great balancing act. I really don’t think he teaches what I’m talking about when he professes ‘Intelligent Design’ theory. I would willingly admit and concede to being wrong, if he were to outline more clearly his views showing how he teaches ‘design theory’, ‘design thinking’, ‘design thinkers’ & ‘design studies,’ and not actually just IDism (which he calls IDT), which is what I suspect.

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The Demise of Intelligent Design

At last?

Back in 2007, I predicted that the idea of “Intelligent Design” would soon fade into obscurity. I wrote:

My initial assessment of ID in my earliest encounter with an ID proponent* was that ID would be forgotten within five years, and that now looks to me an over-generous estimate.

*August, 2005

I was wrong. Whilst the interest in “Intelligent Design” (ID) as a fruitful line of scientific enquiry has declined from the heady days of 2005 (or perhaps was never really there) there remain diehard enthusiasts who maintain the claim that ID has merit and is simply being held back by the dark forces of scientism. William Dembski; the “high priest” of ID has largely withdrawn from the fray but his ideas have been promoted and developed by Robert Marks and Winston Ewert. In 2017 (with Dembski as a co-author) they published Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, which was heralded as a new development in the ID blogosphere. However, the claim that this represents progress has been met with scepticism.

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Is cancer a genetic or metabolic disease?

The prevailing paradigm is that cancer is a genetic disease caused by somatic mutations occurring in the course of cell division. However, it has been know for many years, ever since Otto Warburg’s effect has been discovered, that cancer cells favor a less efficient metabolism via glycolysis rather than the much more efficient oxidative phosphorylation pathway even in the presence of sufficient oxygen.

The alternative theory to somatic mutations as the culprit of cancer is that most cancers are metabolic diseases caused by dysfunctional mitochondria and mutations occurring in nucleus are the effect of metabolic instability of the cell. It follows that cell machineries in charge of normal cell growth suffer mutations leading to proliferation rather than the other way around.

The following experimental evidence points to conclusions that the many genetic mutations associated with cancers (over 11.000 mutations have been associated with colon cancer alone) have almost no effect on cancer as long as fully functional mitochondria (s) are present in the cell…

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S. Joshua Swamidass and Social Darwinism – a match made on Earth, not in Heaven

Over at Peaceful Science, Joshua Swamidass has made another strange and unsubstantiated claim. He has attempted to speak again on behalf of (all) ‘scientists,’ as is his linguistic tendency, yet in this case about ‘social Darwinism’:

Social Darwinism was a thing that is legitimately connected to the holocaust [sic]. However, scientists today reject Social Darwinism. Even atheists should thank God for this.”

It’s a bit saucy, perhaps all well & good to suggest that atheists should thank God for something, anything. Yet one of the most active living and agitating ideological evolutionists and one of his co-authors are actually trying to get people to accept ‘Social Darwinism’. How does Joshua deal with this apparent blindspot in his approach?

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Evolution does not select for veridical perception

The title is from a blog post by Brian Leiter. Leiter links to an article in the LA Review of books: Imitation and Extinction: The Case Against Reality. The article is written by Donald Hoffman.

We have discussed the general topic before, in several threads. So maybe this is a good time to revisit the topic.

Hoffman asks: “I see a green pear. Does the shape and color that I experience match the true shape and color of the real pear?”

My take is that there is no such thing as the “true shape and color of the pear.”

It is a common presumption, that there is an external standard of truth. Here, I mean “external to humans”. Truth is presumed to come from somewhere else. And our perceptual systems evolved to present us with what is true.

As I see it, this is backwards. Yes, our perceptions are mostly true. But this is not because perception is based on truth. Rather, it is because our human ideas of truth are based on what we perceive.

Open for discussion.


Swamidass vs. Nelson – trying to find a “Common Narrative with ID on MN”?

I’ll intervene on this conversation started by S. Joshua Swamidass as my guess is he’s going to mangle terms & then claim mastery over them, as he has done in the past on the topic of ‘methodological naturalism’ (MN). Paul Nelson (of micro-/macro- distinction) has posted here in the past & has done a fine job of staying more neutral, scholarly and welcoming to discussion than most IDists at the DI. It would be welcome for Nelson to clarify, re-iterate or to add any points here that Swamidass might not wish to address at PS, or in case the naive scientism cum MN lobby grows too loud there.

This is one of those topics where in my view Swamidass scores quite low in credibility and coherency (much like I score in biology! = P). This makes sense because he has little training and doesn’t seem to have done much personal reading in philosophy, social sciences or humanities. Paul Nelson, on the other hand, did a PhD in the philosophy of biology. So if Swamidass starts to try to out-philosophize Nelson, things could get hilarious quickly, as they have in the past, e.g. with Jonathan Burke, who discovered predecessors to GA -> GAE that Swamidass missed & had to add at the last minute.

Let’s see if Swamidass is ready to learn if the term ‘methodological naturalism’ is really a sword he wants to fall on or not. So far, it has been. Nelson, as do I, rejects MNism, & not just as a misnomer.

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Behe vs Swamidass: Why?

According to Joshua Swamidass Michael Behe and him have a lot in common… Swamidass has even publicly defended Behe on his blog by demanding a fair hearing.

Not only that, Swamidass agrees with Behe on many evolutionary/ID issues, such as guided evolution…

So, why would Behe and Swamidass square off at Texas A & M University in 2020?
What are they going to discuss? Not the polar bear evolution/devolution fiasco, right?

What do you think?


From reductionism to wholeness.

The methods of modern research involves dissecting and focusing in on finer and finer details. We would be forever blind to these finer details if it weren’t for instruments such as the microscope and the telescope. These tools allow specialists to focus in on the parts and gain a tremendous amount of knowledge in narrow fields.

But if researchers don’t look beyond these isolated islands of existence they will settle for a fragmented view of reality. And this causes problems for building theories about development and evolution of life. Researchers begin by looking at the parts to try to understand how they “build” bodies. Viewing things from this perspective it was expected that humans would have many more genes than turned out to be the case.. This is the type of error produced by this way of thinking Initially they did not understand the way in which the organism used its genes because they approached it from the wrong direction. Genes are in reality never isolated from the context of networks, cells and organisms.

Jaap van der Wal argues that we have become accustomed to thinking the human organism is made by a process of cells multiplication. But there is another more realistic way of thinking about it. From conception to adulthood a human being has always been a complete organism with a form and function suited to its environment. A machine is assembled from parts and it can only function as intended when all the parts are in place. Organisms are not like this. Where the organism is concerned the cell or cells of which it is composed serve the whole organism throughout its existence. It is not gradually built from parts. Machines are always built from the parts to the whole but organisms are never anything but complete wholes.

It is time to start paying more attention to how the whole determines the parts within it and luckily this view is becoming more prevalent.


Taking “ID is science” out of the ID/Creation argument

I have committed the unpardonable sin of promoting ID as theology and arguing ID is not science. ID is the lineal descendant of Paley’s natural theology (as in contrast to “revealed theology”). I’ve publicly disputed the use of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as a general argument in favor of ID/Creation, and I’ve been mildly critical of the concept of specified complexity and its successors. I’ve suggested ID is most appropriately taught in college/seminary theology and philosophy departments. When I published a 2005 exchange between myself and Eugenie Scott of the NCSE regarding the appropriateness of ID being taught in college religion and philosophy departments, Eugenie was much kinder to me than some in the ID community who insist “ID is science.” See: Correspondence between Salvador Cordova and Dr. Eugenie Scott

To that end, in conjunction with university professors, deans of Christian and secular colleges (who are favorable to both Intelligent Design and belief in Special Creation), I’m helping build out the electronic component of courses that teach ID and concepts of Creationism for such venues.

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Algorithmic Specified Complexity in the Game of Life, revisited

In 2015, Winston Ewert, William Dembski and Robert Marks published a paper entitled Algorithmic Specified Complexity in the Game of Life.

The paper was a wreck. We examined it here at TSZ and found well over 20 substantive errors in it.

ID supporter Eric Holloway describes it as a “neat paper”. I describe it as an “abysmal mess”.

Eric has been touting the virtues of ASC here at TSZ, so now is a good time to reopen the discussion of this paper.


No cloning theorem: the double edge sword

Essentially, there are 2 types of cloning…

Biological cloning leading to clones such as identical twins who share exactly the same DNA.

Or artificial, genetically engineered cloning leading to such clones as plants whose DNA is also identical.

But there exists a more precise kind of cloning in physics that reaches all the way to the subatomic level of particles. Everything in the universe is made up of elementary quantum particles and the forces by which they interact, including DNA and us. This kind of cloning is more detailed because it involves the superposition of subatomic particles; their relative positions (particles can be in more than 1 position or state at the time), momenta and energy levels of every particle and all of their bonds and interactions are exactly the same in the copy (clone) as the original.

This kind of perfect cloning is impossible. It has been proven mathematically and formulated into the no cloning theorem, which states:

“In physics, the no-cloning theorem states that it is impossible to create an identical copy of an arbitrary unknown quantum state.”

How those two types of cloning apply to life systems, such as us, our DNA and so forth?

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A list of things for which CSI has been determined

Intelligent Design advocates are still talking about CSI and determining the value of it.

CSI measures whether an event X is best explained by a chance hypothesis C, or some specification S.

So I’d like this thread to be a list of biological entities and the value of CSI that has been determined for each.

If no entries are made then I believe that would demonstrate that CSI might measure X Y or Z but it never actually has done so.

Out of interest, what is the CSI of a bacterial flagellum?


Examples of “Pathological Idiocy” in Universities, Especially in Social Sciences and Related Disciplines

It is an embarrassment to be associated with the academy when pathological idiocy of this sort is published and cited in the same manner as genuine intellectual/scientific endeavor… What the hell is wrong with us? — Jordan Peterson, Tweet with link to paper

One can follow the hyperlink to see what Peterson was specifically talking about (I didn’t quote from the paper Peterson was criticizing since it was too vulgar). But more generally, in a recording (which might already be deleted from the net), Peterson praised the RealPeerReview twitter website that highlighted some of the publications of the academics which Peterson was likely also referring to when he used the phrase “pathological idiocy.”

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Genetic code is a programming language

Specifically, it looks like the genetic code is a LISP dialect.

Operon structure of genetic code:

LISP function structure:

Nested genes:

Nested LISP cons cells:


Science Uprising: Who wins the battle over mind?

The scientific evidence for immaterial mind defeats materialism – claims Dr. Egnor, a neurosurgeon affiliated with the Discovery Institute… Not so quickly – says Dr. Faizal Ali, a psychiatrist affiliated with CAMH and University of Toronto, who describes himself as an anti-creationist and a militant atheist. He believes that neural networks can be responsible for the emergence of the human mind, naturally…

Let’s look at their evidence…

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Echo Chambers & Epistemic Bubbles

This article might help some people make better sense of what goes on around here.

Unarguably, young earth creationism (YECism) was & still is an echo chamber. It’s a shock to YECists when then get out of their common circles to hear statistically higher educated Christians than they are speaking about how compatible accepting limited biological evolutionary theories with their religious faith actually is. So when they get out of their echo chamber and realize that learning and research hasn’t stopped but rather continues, even among their fellow religious, that they didn’t know existed, it can have a chilling or liberating effect.

The Intelligent Design movement with its Intelligent Design theory/ideology (IDism) was & still is an echo chamber, based, governed & funded in Seattle, USA. I’d welcome an open conversation with Stephen C. Meyer & John G. West about this. Indoctrination going one way is all they’ve focused on, while indoctrination going the other way is an elephant in the room that IDists will eventually need to come around to address.

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Origins Debates

Given the ideological opposition by the site’s founder to having ‘debates’ as a way of making progress or solving disagreements over at Peaceful Science (, “In my view, science is not up for public debate.”) on topics related to human and life origins, I wonder what the attitudes of people towards ‘origins debates’ are here at TSZ. Do you call it ‘the Creation Wars’ as S. Joshua Swamidass does?

Below are a few questions for those who do not wish to play by Swamidass’ rules and who indeed, don’t mind putting their ideas, knowledge and ability to answer challenges to their theories, dogmas and biases, to the test in debate. It’s not like Joshua can actually defend ‘methodological naturalism’ other than with multiple falsehoods and having to sell his ‘Me-Scientist’ piety badge at a discount. So, let us imagine a hypothetical and suppose a ‘friendly debate’ were possible to construct and see if anyone here can play along. These are survey questions about a ‘debate’ that many people seem willing to admit they are themselves already engaged in here and elsewhere.


1. When considered as not only a discussion, but rather as a ‘debate,’ what is/are the key debate topic(s) over human & life origins really about?

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Discrete versus Gradualism

  1. Gradualism is the cornerstone of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution because without it, he could not justify the idea that one organism changes into another. ‘Gradualism’ equals ‘Continuity’ but also presupposes a significant change, not just variations around a static mean (regression to the mean).
  2. In math, a function is gradual if continuous. A continuous function has a Grade’ (Slope) at every point. If a function is not gradual (continuous), then it is Discrete and has no ‘Grade’ (Slope). A Discontinuous function is a special case of ‘Continuous over limited ranges’. Some argue that large collections of discrete points appear continuous, thus justifying gradualism. This view were acceptable if and only if the contribution of the discrete points were strictly cumulative (such as when many water molecules form water waves). 
  3. Is Nature Gradual? No, Nature is Discrete from the most elementary particles, to molecules, cells, and organisms. New organisms are created by discrete processes and result in newborns that are measurably different from each parent while all DNA mutations are discrete events. Gregor Mendel observed the discrete nature of biology as early as 1865 in the inheritance of dominant and recessive alleles. Darwin might have learned that from Mendel’s papers sent to him, had he read and correctly interpreted the results. To be fair, Darwin’s gradualism was in line with the incorrect view of his times that considered matter a continuum. Only in the late 1800s the true discrete nature of matter started to become common knowledge. However, today everyone knows, yet the gradualism hypothesis remains central to evolution despite lacking any basis.
  4. The list of discrete elements in biology includes but is not limited to: atoms, molecules, biochemical reactions, DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes, genes, chromosomes, organelles, cell types (pro/eukaryote), cell division (mitosis/meiosis), sex type (male/female), body organs, organ systems, and organism classification. Changes at the discrete micro level including mutations and exposure to free radicals, radiation, and misfolded proteins are not cumulative and can potentially impact the entire organism. Continuous measure such as temperature, volume and weight are not true biologic properties as these change over the life of organisms and are primarily statistical measures at population level in particular populations, environments and time.    
  5. We classify organisms into distinct groups with little if any overlap and with significant homogeneity within the group. If Gradualism were the norm, all living animals would fill a continuous spectrum which would make their classification in various taxa completely arbitrary. Were gradualism true in time – call this vertical gradualism, then gradualism over the current living – horizontal gradualism – should also be the norm. Instead, we observe that even unicellular organisms with huge populations and short-lived generations do not occupy a biological continuum. Plant diversity over the altitude & latitude continuum is a good example of Discontinuity in Nature: as conditions change, we see a changing mix of distinct species, rather than hybrid species as would be expected if Gradualism were true. Animal territoriality is also an example of discrete successful designs dominating certain ranges and mixing with each other at range boundaries without significantly changing their characteristics. 
  6. What about Speciation and Hybridization? And what about the Fossil Record?  A certain flexibility appears built into each biological design – more in some than in others. What we call Speciation and Hybridization may in fact be no more than adaptations within these flexibility ranges. Without confirming experiments on living organisms, it is impossible to determine whether the Fossil Record shows Gradualism or instead predisposition to Gradualism prompts an incorrect interpretation of the Fossil Record.
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