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.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I've also heard he controls the weather and wrote the screenplay to Glitter :)
Friday, April 07, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Posts from Friends
Of course the most rapid speciation seen today is probably when biologists get together to discuss taxonomy. ;)
On a more serious note, George Cooper had the following to say on the philosophical aspects of using Creationary assumptions when doing science:
Should creationists, who believe the Bible, be faulted for behaving in an unscientific way? Thomas Kuhn argues that all of scientific endeavor is guided by beliefs.
"There is no such thing as research in the absence of any paradigm." (Kuhn, p. 79)
"No experiment can be conceived without some sort of theory." (Kuhn, p. 87)
"Each group uses its own paradigm to argue in that paradigm's defense....The status of the circular argument is only that of persuasion. It cannot be made logically or probabilistically compelling for those who refuse to step into the circle." (Kuhn, p. 94)
"Without commitment to a paradigm there could be no normal science." (Kuhn, p. 100)
"The proponents of competing paradigms are always at least slightly at cross-purposes. Neither side will grant all the non-empirical assumptions that the other needs in order to make his case." (Kuhn, p. 148)
If Kuhn is right, then even evolutionists have "non-empirical assumptions."
Lindberg and Numbers, in the introduction to their book, wrote: "When human beings are involved, so are human agendas and interests." (Lindberg and Numbers, 2003, p. 5)
The creationist Ken Hamm had a humorous way of saying it: "We are all biased. The only question is which bias is the better bias to be biased with?
The creationist E. Andrews is in agreement with Kuhn when he writes, "Many of the so-called facts of evolution arise from carefully selected evidence and depend upon preconceived interpretations of the observations." (Andrews, p. 2)
The biased filmstrip "Science Under Attack: Evolution vs Creation," states, "In the end, the choice between creationism and evolution is based on the individual's personal philosophy and on what seems more reasonable." So far, so good. But then the filmstrip veers into false propaganda. "Is it more reasonable to start with the assumption that creation is a fact? Or to start from the assumption that we know nothing, and then see what we can find out?" (AVNA) As we have seen from Thomas Kuhn, no scientist ever starts his research from nothing.
Eisely stated that Darwin made his round-the-world trip on the Beagle looking for evidence to support his theory of evolution. Darwin was not open-minded. Darwin himself wrote that, "All observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service!" He also wrote, "Let theory guide your observations, but till your reputation is well established be sparing in publishing theory. It makes persons doubt your observations." He also admitted, "The force of impressions generally depends on preconceived ideas." (last quote from p. 141, Eiseley, 1961)
Eugene Dubois was a convinced Darwinist, and he devoted his life to the search for fossil evidence to support his belief. Pat Shipman wrote a book about this with the title: The Man Who Found the Missing Link: Eugene Dubois and His Lifelong Quest to Prove Darwin Right. (Simon & Schuster, NY, 2001) Ironically by the end of his life, Dubois concluded that Darwin was wrong regarding gradual evolution and survival of the fittest.
If scientists * like Dubois - can believe in evolution and then go out in search of evidence to support evolution, then why can't creationists unabashedly declare their faith in creation and then look for evidence to support creation?
In their introduction to one of Darwin's books, John Tyler Bonner and Robert M. May wrote that Darwin's book The Descent of Man left "no role for the Deity to play." (Darwin, p. xi) They also reported a "disparity between what Darwin actually did, and what he said he did." (Darwin, p. xii) More specifically, "It was an essential part of this 'method' that he worked at all times within the framework of a point of view which gave meaning and coherence to seemingly unrelated facts." (Darwin, DM, p. xiii)
Even Albert Einstein acknowledged, "It is the theory which decides what we can observe."
William James wrote, "Science would be far less advanced than she is if the passionate desires of individuals to get their own faiths confirmed had been kept out of the game."
Regarding the late Stephen Jay Gould, defender of Darwinism, John Caiazza wrote, "Gould assesses the legitimacy of social biology according to an ideological standard." (Caiazza, pp. 575-588) Gould was both an atheist and a Marxist.
(note that he forgot to mention which books he was quoting out of, but one can probably guess)
I think some of the more recent work in the philosophy of science validates Cooper's ideas even further, but you get the gist.