What is a “major form”?

A long time commenter at UncommonDescent gives his opinion on ID’s position with regard to common descent:

The design inference is compatible with common descent and with universal common descent; a certain Michael Behe is a case in point on this. Common descent all the way up to universal common descent, is compatible with intelligently directed configuration of first life and of major forms thereafter including our own.

Yet in all my time learning about ID it’s never been clear to me, if that’s the case why are there not specific predictions from ID about what we will find in the fossil record?

For example if we look at this depiction of the evolution of the horse at Wikipedia are any of those a “major form” requiring intelligent design intervention? If so, then that’s a gap we’d not expect to see filled with another type of horse, right?

Horseevolution

 

If such a specific prediction were to be made then what of ID if an intermediary is then found in the gap that ID supporters say were bridged only by intelligent design, because that gap could only be bridged by ID?

Is ID disconfirmed when a specific claim that a transition between two “major forms” can only be done via ID is shown to be false by finding such an intermediary?  Is this why no ID supporter seems to want to go on the record with such a specific prediction? Or even to say what a “major form” actually is? I can’t say I’ve seen it defined.

There is much talk from the ID camp as to why predicting where Tiktaalik could be found demonstrates nothing. Yet it seems to me that ID should be good at predicting the lack of certain fossils, once “major forms” are defined with specificity. A design problem is unlikely to always be solved, in every single case, with a minor tweak to existing functionality. If there are, as I believe the claim is, jumps that can only be made by ID then that should be sufficient for such predictions to be made surely?

We can go and dig, and if we find nothing then ID is confirmed. Or, at least, not disconfirmed. Do that enough and eventually the odds will start to stack in ID’s favour. Or we find A and C with no sign of B despite it being obvious from an unguided, incremental evolutionary point of view it should be present.

Or does Intelligent Design predict both a finely graduated chain of fossils and discontinuous jumps? It’s a criticism they often make of the other side, that both X and the lack of X are predicted by evolution, are they actually any better? I honestly don’t know. And searching for “major form” and “Intelligent design” shows no such clear definitions. Searching for “major form” at UD produces only challenges to evolutionists to demonstrate evolution from one major form to another. Perhaps if a definition can be provided and applied to what we know of the evolution of the horse….

 

20 Replies to “What is a “major form”?”

  1. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    With the big-tent of ID, about all that can be said is that something is impossible without intelligence intervening. Probably the bacterial flagellum at minimum for just about all of them, but, if some transitional form were found (fortunately for them, taphonomy means it’s unlikely), you know they’d just decide it was something else that is impossible.

    There is no difference in principle between the genetic evidence that shows, say, Darwin’s finches to be derived from a common ancestor and the genetic evidence that shows the phyla coming out of the Cambrian explosion to be derived from a common ancestor. So how does anyone even propose a point at which design” is supposed to be supplementing inheritance plus modification? The evidence for design simply the same as the evidence for unintelligent evolution, so there’s nothing to demarcate where normal evolution wouldn’t occur. Then if you go for poof-evolution, even transitionals fail to distinguish design from non-design.

    The best they can do is come up with ad hoc examples like the bacterial flagellum that supposedly can’t evolve, because they simply lack any real concept of what a Designer would do at all, except to be responsible for what evolution supposedly can’t do.

    Glen Davidson

  2. Acartia Acartia
    Ignored
    says:

    Many IDists will claim that the fact that much of human design borrows from biology is proof that biology is designed. Obviously circular but try to explain this at UD.

  3. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    A major form is one that is too complex to have evolved. I don’t see why that is so hard to understand.

  4. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka: Edit
    A major form is one that is too complex to have evolved. I don’t see why that is so hard to understand.

    Ah, of course! And things that are too complex to have evolved are of course major forms!

    On the active information thread Barry had brought up “literature bluffs” as a “response” to specific pieces of research, rather than rebut directly (as of course, he cannot). What sort of bluff are we dealing with here do you suppose?

  5. Adapa
    Ignored
    says:

    Nah, a major form is the Biblical “kind”. From there it’s just microevolution and remember, according to JoeG evolution supports baraminology. So there!

  6. Patrick Patrick
    Ignored
    says:

    Yet it seems to me that ID should be good at predicting the lack of certain fossils, once “major forms” are defined with specificity.

    I think I see the problem….

  7. Robert Byers
    Ignored
    says:

    Those iD who accept common descent are just a species in the ID camp. Never mind the bigger tent of creationists.
    Many iD thinkers directly attack evolutionism.
    It would be about the essence of complexity that a iD thinker would address even if accepting cd.
    So horse shapes would not matter. its the glory of the eyes that matters for example.
    By the way predictions of fossils in geological depositions has nothing to do with biological scientific evidence. Even if they accurately represented a descent of evolution for something.
    Watch your methodology here!

  8. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    Robert Byers: By the way predictions of fossils in geological depositions has nothing to do with biological scientific evidence.

    Testable predictions from ID/Creationism: Zero.

  9. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    A “major form” is something that is too complex to have evolved through undirected processes. We know that it is too complex to have evolved through undirected processes because undirected processes are limited to “random” events governed by laws of physics.

    When Dembski defines “design” as “the set-theoretic complement of chance and necessity”, he is explicitly committing himself to an Epicurean picture of what “undirected” processes can (and cannot do). The entire design theory is premised on this. The moment one rejects the Epicurean picture of nature, the conceptual ground of design theory is removed. This is why Thomists are reluctant to make common cause with ID — because Thomism is grounded in an Aristotelian metaphysics of nature, not an Epicurean metaphysics of nature.

    (On my view — not a minority one, either — our best contemporary science does not support either an Aristotelian metaphysics of nature or an Epicurean metaphysics of nature. But that’s a different issue, and one I’ve dealt with at length elsewhere at TSZ and at UD.)

  10. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: A “major form” is something that is too complex to have evolved through undirected processes.

    Can they be named, these somethings? Whose job is it to show that something is too complex to have evolved through undirected processes?

    Kantian Naturalist: We know that it is too complex to have evolved through undirected processes because undirected processes are limited to “random” events governed by laws of physics.

    But won’t we first need an exhaustive knowledge of all physical laws to come to such a conclusion? We don’t have anything like that at the moment. Who can say what the limit of “random” is when you don’t actually know what the rules of the game are in the first place?

    If evidence for design exists, would it not be more productive to demonstrate that directly rather than say that the reason something exists is that it’s not possible for it to exist without design, because only design could have caused it to exist? And that’s the evidence for design?

  11. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    If evidence for design exists, would it not be more productive to demonstrate that directly rather than say that the reason something exists is that it’s not possible for it to exist without design, because only design could have caused it to exist?

    If.

    ID exists to work around the inconvenience of the absence of evidence for design.

    Glen Davidson

  12. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: Can they be named, these somethings? Whose job is it to show that something is too complex to have evolved through undirected processes?

    I take it that the role of the “universal probability bound” is to determine the threshold.

    But won’t we first need an exhaustive knowledge of all physical laws to come to such a conclusion? We don’t have anything like that at the moment. Who can say what the limit of “random” is when you don’t actually know what the rules of the game are in the first place?

    Indeed. The whole point of design theory is to say that you can’t get to biology from physics alone, and that requires that you already know what physics alone can get you.

    For my money, I think that Prigogine’s and Kaufman’s work on open, far-from-equilibrium thermodynamic systems, together with Varela and Maturana’s work on organisms as autopoietic systems, shows that the boundary between physics and biology isn’t as hard-and-fast as design theorists need it to be.

    If evidence for design exists, would it not be more productive to demonstrate that directly rather than say that the reason something exists is that it’s not possible for it to exist without design, because only design could have caused it to exist? And that’s the evidence for design?

    The problem with the UD crowd is that they think that SETI and archeology show that they’ve already done that, so they don’t need to do anything else. Just because design detection is a highly confirmed method in archeology, they think that it counts as a highly confirmed method in biology.

    They have a frustrating inability to notice the distinction between (1) a suggestive hypothesis (“maybe cells are designed!”); (2) a hypothesis conceptually refined enough to be subjected to empirical confirmation (“let’s try and find out if cells are designed!”); (3) a hypothesis that has been confirmed by repeated empirical confirmation (“we have good reason to think that cells are designed!”). They think that they can go from (1) to (3). And that’s why design theory isn’t a good scientific theory.

  13. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist was banned from UD. True?

  14. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson was banned from UD. True?

  15. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung,
    If you think that ID has something interesting to to say about fossils, do tell. It’s time to put up or shut up. I don’t have to post here at TSZ, and don’t have to suffer idiots in threads that I author.

  16. Piotr Gasiorowski Piotr Gasiorowski
    Ignored
    says:

    Have you seen this latest example of the diversity of evolutionary experiments in the area of dinosaur flight? Quite uncanny, I have to say:

    Yi qi
    (the only equally short “Latin” name is that of the great evening bat, Ia io).

  17. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Amazing. Or not.

    Kantian Naturalist was banned from UD. True?

    I’m going to weigh in on the NOT TRUE side.

  18. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson was banned from UD. True?

    Not true? Really?

  19. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain, it’s your thread. ban me.

  20. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: OMagain, it’s your thread. ban me.

    I just noticed this.

    Here

    If you think that ID has something interesting to to say about fossils, do tell. It’s time to put up or shut up. I don’t have to post here at TSZ, and don’t have to suffer idiots in threads that I author.

    I was quoting you from another thread. I just changed one or two words. Seems like irony is also lost on you.

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