Post by John Harshman Post by eNo
Much to my surprise, on one of my Web-surfing expeditions, I ran into
ideacenter.org. Among other things, they have a couple of links that outline
how ID allegedly follows the scientific method and is testable. Both links
below repeat much of the same information, relying heavilty on IC and CSI to
make the case.
Does intelligent design make predictions? Is it testable?
The Short Answer: Yes. Intelligent design theory predicts: 1) that we will
find specified complexity in biology. One special easily detectable form of
specified complexity is irreducible complexity. We can test design by trying
to reverse engineer biological structures to determine if there is an
"irreducible core." Intelligent design also makes other predictions, such as
2) rapid appearance of complexity in the fossil record, 3) re-usage of
similar parts in different organisms, and 4) function for biological
structures. Each of these predictions may be tested--and have been confirmed
The long answer goes on to list ways a designer works (much to my surprise),
ID predictions, and lines of evidence.
It's not enough to make predictions. They have to be predictions that
differentiate your theory from other theories. None of the four
predictions stated above distinguish ID from standard evolutionary
theories. In order for the first prediction to be useful, for example,
you have to assume that known processes (or an conceivable process other
than ID) are incapable of generating "specified complexity" (whatever
An assumption per se is not at issue. Rather, it is the claim of ID that
evolution cannot produce IC or CSI. This is a falsifiable claim (one which
may have already been falsified), not just a mere asumption.
Post by John Harshman
I would think that if you had a definition of CSI that made
any biological sense, it would turn out that natural selection is
capable of generating it. And so on.
Are any of the other predictions any better?
I don't know about "better", but what about prediction number 4?
"The genetic code will NOT contain much discarded genetic baggage code or
functionless 'junk DNA'."
This might in fact contradict evolutionary theory (and currently available
data) depending on how you define "much." How much is too much "discrarded
genetic baggage"? 5%, 25%, 50%?
Post by John Harshman Post by eNo
Does intelligent design theory implement the scientific method?
The Short Answer: Yes. The scientific method goes from observation -->
hypothesis --> experiment --> conclusion. Intelligent design begins with the
observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified
information (CSI). They hypothesize that if objects were designed, they will
contain CSI. They then seek to find CSI. One easily testable form of CSI is
irreducible complexity (IC). ID researchers can then experimentally
reverse-engineer biological structures to see if they are IC. If they find
them, they can conclude design.
The long answer goes on to list the observation, hypothesis, experiment and
conclusion, along with the ways a designer works (in less detail), ID
predictions and lines of evidence.
Once again, not a unique prediction *unless* known processes are shown
to be incapable of producing CSI.
Well, that's the rub, isn't it? That's precisely the claim ID makes: that
evolutionary processes alone can't produce CSI.
Post by John Harshman Post by eNo
Anyway, I don't post this because I necessarily buy into it, but because I
have read countless times (just today actually) how ID makes no predictions
or doesn't deal with the ways of the designer." These links show that at
least some members of the ID community have put forth the effort to show
conformance with the scientific method and to discuss how a designer might
proceed. Now, whether any of it holds water is a different matter, but I
think we should restrain from saying things like "ID makes no predictions"
or "ID doesn't tell us how the designer works."
If there's nothing better than the above, I wouldn't change anyuthing.
Those aren't predictions in the scientific sense. I could as well say
that if ID is correct, organisms must exist. But is the existence of
organisms a prediction of ID in any useful sense? I don't think so.
As for the questions about how the designer works, I don't see anything
about that above. What have you got?
From http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1156, "Table 1.
Ways Designers Act When Designing":
(1) Take many parts and arrange them in highly specified and complex
patterns which perform a specific function.
Experience teaches that information-rich systems
invariably result from
intelligent causes, not naturalistic ones.
Finding the best explanation,
however, requires invoking causes that have the power to produce the effect
in question. When it comes to information, we know of only one such cause.
For this reason, the biology of the information age now requires a new
science of design.
(Stephen C. Meyer, "The Explanatory Power of Design," in Mere Creation, pg.
140 (William A. Dembski ed., InterVarsity Press 1998))
Agents can arrange matter with distant goals in mind. In their use of
language, they routinely find highly isolated and improbable functional
sequences amid vast spaces of combinatorial possibilities.
(Stephen C. Meyer, The Cambrian Information Explosion, Debating Design,
pg. 388 (Dembski and Ruse eds., Cambridge University Press 2004).
"Indeed, in all cases where we know the causal origin of 'high information
content,' experience has shown that intelligent design played a causal
(Stephen C. Meyer, DNA and Other Designs)
(2) Rapidly infuse any amounts of genetic information into the biosphere,
including large amounts, such that at times rapid morphological or genetic
changes could occur in populations.
"Intelligent design provides a sufficient causal explanation for the origin
of large amounts of information, since we have considerable experience of
intelligent agents generating informational configurations of matter."
(Meyer S. C. et. al., "The Cambrian Explosion: Biology's Big Bang," in
Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, edited by J. A. Campbell and S. C.
Meyer (Michigan State University Press, 2003)
(3) 'Re-use parts' over-and-over in different types of organisms (design
upon a common blueprint).
An intelligent cause may reuse or redeploy the same module in different
systems, without there necessarily being any material or physical connection
between those systems. Even more simply, intelligent causes can generate
identical patterns independently: We do so, for instance, every time we sign
a bank check or credit card slip (Nelson and Wells, Homology in Biology, in
Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, pg. 316, 318 (John Angus Campbell,
ed. Michigan State University Press 2003).
(4) Be said to typically NOT create completely functionless objects or parts
(although we may sometimes think something is functionless, but not realize
its true function).
BTW, I would consider these "ways of a designer" to also be predictions that
we should be able to test to see whether something fits the ID model.
"Test everything; hold on to the good."