Saturday, April 22, 2006
What is the Intelligent Design Research Program?
- Research into informationally-directed changes in the genome. See Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution (also see my summary of the first paper in this volume), A Biochemical Mechanism for Nonrandom Mutations and Evolution, Adaptive evolution of highly mutable loci in pathogenic bacteria, and Environmental regulation of mutation rates at specific sites (last three summarized here).
- Possibly restructuring taxonomy around design patterns instead of incidental historical happenstances. See Sternberg's description of the ID on taxonomy.
- Exploring the limits of biological change. See Axe's paper on the sensitivity of proteins to gradualistic mutation and my own article on the subject.
- A holistic view of biological systems. For example, Wells sees centrioles as not just having a lot of interactions, but that the point of their interactions being to generate a polar ejection force. And, as pointed out before, irreducible complexity is just an empirical definition of holism, so see Darwin's Black Box.
- Genome decay as a real phenomena. See my previous review of this subject.
The Study of Purposeful Action
Most people incorrectly view Intelligent Design as being about biology. Biology is actually just a side-issue of Intelligent Design -- though it is a very, very active side-issue. The fundamental idea of Intelligent Design is the study of purposeful action. It rests on a theory of causation that purposeful action is distinct from material causes. Current science is oriented around material causation. However, if you are to study purposeful action, you will need a very different set of tools. ID is only scratching the surface of what is there. You have a whole host of issues as to how purposeful causation links to material causation. This sort of study will, by necessity, look different than investigations into material causes. It will also not be as predictive as material-based-science, because purposive causes are, pretty much by definition, not completely predictable. That does not mean there is no means of empirical analysis available, only that it will take on a distinctive character. Dembski's primary work in this area is The Design Inference, which examines the nature of intelligent/purposeful causation in order to make an inference whether or not a system has an intelligent cause as its origin.
Other People's Lists
- Dembski's List of Design-oriented Research Questions
- Dembski's Keynote address at RAPID discussing moving ID to a disciplined science.
- There was another list of research topics in ID, but I cannot locate it at the moment. It had several suggestions along the lines of the study of purpose and mind.
Of course, one of the best benefits of Intelligent Design in research isn't even the research program itself, but an end to the endless, needless invoking of evolutionary just-so stories and exaggerations in every biological paper. For two simple examples, see this article and this one. Or just see this site for a near-real-time listing of some of the more funny and eggregious. Here is d’Abrera’s summary of the situation:
No field worker who studies insects, may now freely gaze upon his discoveries of insect morphology, biology or behaviour, without the taint of speculative Darwinism compelling him to colour his conclusions. No more is such a worker allowed to make direct, uncomplicated observations about objective facts about butterflies or moths.... Instead he is now compelled through the pressure of insidious programming by the overlords of the scientific establishment, to subject everything he has objectively observed to the tyranny of subjectivist and useless speculation about butterflies and their hypothetical origins. He must do so for no other reason than being able to collect his grant and acquire his PhD or some other doubtful honour of mutual respectability amongst his peers. The really dangerous part of this global pseudo-scientific cultism is that our worker has unconsciously been made to pass from the intellectual liberty provided within the legitimate realms of distinterested hypothesis, into the cul-de-sac of totalitarian absolutism of unprovable dogma.... Evolutionists thus become roped into the bondage of their own theory. They postulate it as holy writ and then labour ceaselessly to find the ‘evidence’ to fit it. Such tendentious labours only bestow the opprobrium of ‘contrivance’ upon the evidence so gleaned.
You probably already know of his research, but I just became aware of Seelke through the Irvine colloquium and thought I'd alert you to his project as well.