I was pointing out that when something is produced by intelligent design it merely proves it could be the result of intelligent design. That proof would be as close to an absolute fact as science could produce, the assertion, then made, that such an experiment demonstrates a lack of intelligent design is dishonest and an incomplete and incompetent analysis of what was done. I was challenging anyone to show me why that wasn't the case. I'd have to see the explanation of how an experiment could show a lack of intelligent design in producing an effect or what other proposed means of scientifically showing a lack of design was before I could accept it.
jdf1010August 21, 2015 at 8:09 PM
There's no perfect way to test if something is designed or not, but of course one can try to think up criteria for evidence of intelligent design, and then test to see if these criteria are met. Using human design as an inspiration (naturally), it's possible to come up with a list of aspects that seem to reflect intelligence and intention, such as economy, efficiency, symmetry, etc.
I can think of a number of reasonable objections to this, the first of those is that the attempt would be arbitrary, open to the introduction of intentional - though never admitted to - bias and the results being declared to have a finality and reliability which they, of course, could not have because of the arbitrary and arguably biased criteria chosen.
I think this kind of thing is done all the time in the social sciences and in the invasion of those into the valid scientific study of evolution, especially since the introduction of Sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, which show all of those defects and some others, including the invention of "evidence" on the basis of absolutely no evidence since no observation or measurement is done before what is invented to substitute for them is then "analyzed" reviewed by people who are engaged in the same faux scientific method, published in journals and declared to have the reliability of genuine science, to be incorporated and held as a scholastic body of knowledge. That such knowledge has, in the past, been shown to be unreliable will not be taken into account.
What would you consider to be some possible indicators of intelligence in design?
As science? For a start anything done by science is absolutely known to be the result of intelligent design, science is an intentional invention of human beings, in the beginning coming up with criteria that would be reasonably certain to keep such biases as discussed in my last paragraph out of a body of knowledge about simple physical phenomena so that the results could be reasonably expected to be universally applicable and reliable in their application to produce effects. Any application of those to produce effects is also absolutely known to be intelligent design, it is the basis of my observation that scientists and others can't, then, claim that the effects produced demonstrate the absence of intelligent design. I don't think science can be used to test the idea of intelligent design.
The idea of human design is imposed metaphorically on nature quite often, and promptly believed to be not a metaphor but an absolute representation of the working of nature. It would seem to be a powerfully seductive habit of thought as can, perhaps, best be seen in the universal adoption of natural selection as an explanatory idea. The idea comes, in part, perhaps originally, from the design of artificial selection in animal and plant breeding which Darwin depends on to provide "evidence" that his mechanism of the creation of species is explained by natural selection. The conventional and required assertion is that natural selection dispells notions of divine intention in the phenomeon of life, which is best shown to be a rather plainly false assertion by how the idea, itself came about and was, from the beginning, used.
Alfred Russell Wallace, Darwin's "co-discoverer" complained that his choice of terms, related to the selection involved in animal breeding, gave rise to the inevitable implication of intentional design*, Wallace was eager to cleanse Natural Selection of any hint of intentional design but I don't think that's possible because it is, in itself, a metaphor of human design. Yet it is constantly cited, conventionally as a "proof" of undesigned, random activity. That assertion, made by the people who made it, Spencer, Galton, Huxley, Haeckel, etc. was always an irrational and ideological dogma which was not supported by the intelligent understanding of the idea but which became a conventionally required statement of materialist faith (see the extract from Wallace below and his whole letter at the link).
I will note in passing that I think Marx was correct in pointing out that Natural Selection was an illogical misapplication of Malthusian economic dogma which was based on the unnatural effects of human culture causing populations to increase whereas the food supply didn't. He pointed out that Darwin, in inverting Malthusian analysis, imposed the British class system on nature**, another metaphor. Marilynne Robinson*** and, more than a century and a half earlier, William Cobbett, pointed out that what Darwin also relied on, Malthus, misrepresented an artificial economic system, as created by the British legal system, as a phenomenon of nature, the aristocracy and the monarchy having artificially created conditions that restricted the growing of food, notably in the theft of common land by the aristocracy for things like sheep farming, because feeding the new textile industry wool was more profitable to them than maintaining farmers which the law made their tenants through the intentions of previous generations of aristocrats instead of free people with access to their own property. The tangle of human design in the entire field of biology can't now be used to deny the possibility of design in nature except by refusing to acknowledge the history of the ideas used that way and the fact that they are entirely reliant on models designed intentionally by human beings.
I think the irrationality of this situation is shown best in evolutionary psychology which proposes the study of behaviors in the remote past where 1. no observation of such behaviors is possible, 2. no comparison of animals exhibiting such behaviors and those which don't is possible, 3. there is no possibility of comparing their life spans, their success in reproduction and a comparison of the numbers of offspring in future generations, etc. What is substituted for actual science (observation, analysis of data, etc.) is the creation of narratives OUT OF THE META-NARRATIVE OF NATURAL SELECTION, which is, in fact, no different from the creation of other creation myths, only, this one being without God, it is called "science" and conventionally required to be accepted as such. Even more absurdly, such stuff, created merely out of a tale created from natural selection is then used to support the validity of natural selection, as so applied. As I recently bragged, I looked at one of the most famous of those fables and found it didn't meet any of the criteria of science, it violated mathematical logic and, though constructed of conventional Darwinian assertion, it managed to turn a the classical Darwinian assertion of the way that eyesight and hearing evolved into a dysgenic feature instead of a positive adaptation. It violated every single thing asserted about natural selection! Yet it has been taught to university students and read by readers as science for more than thirty years. The fudging of the barrier between "real science" and "popular science" has been done as much by figures of science as it has by their scape goats, "science reporters" from what I can see.
I doubt that any attempt such as the one you propose could avoid becoming a similar matter of dogmatic adherence and it would be far better for science to be kept out of such arguments,entirely. That many atheists, materialists, "skeptics" have wanted to and successfully have used the name of science is unfortunate and, as can be seen in the Intelligent Design industry, their efforts are more than matched by those who want to use the name of science to support the opposite. Only the I.D. industry would appear to have more persuasive power than the atheists have, they should have been more careful in what they wished to do. Their design in using biology to promote atheism would have seemed to be a faulty design.
So far, the evidence from biology doesn't seem to support intelligent design, if "intelligent" is to have any meaning.
I just answered that.
The only thing that seems to be supported is horribly unintelligent design, or else no design.
I can point out to you that the entire field of biology as a science would be impossible if that were the case, anatomy, biological systems in organisms wouldn't sustain life, reproduction wouldn't succeed, life would be crushed out of existence by hostile physical forces and random, chance events which are met constantly which endanger and often destroy life. If the systems such an observation would have to rest on were so incompetently designed there would be no such thing as a trait that could be "selected for" no trait would work against such a barrage of constant threat, leading to no possible probability that one over another could be "selected" and no species evolve because the traits they possessed worked in nature. And so it has seemed to most people, so it is asserted even by scientists who are, at the same time, denying that's what they're doing. The position taken by you in that statement is generally hypocritically and conventionally stated by people whose every assertion proves that they don't really believe it, their entire scientific narrative would collapse if their ideological stand were rigorously imposed on it.
Perhaps physics is another story. There's certainly no hard evidence of tampering with the laws as we know them, but the laws are themselves quite elegant.
Please just listen to what you said, "no hard evidence of tampering with the laws as we know them" The question is using science to prove, or at least demonstrate a lack of intelligent design. Such design would be executed on objects through forces, the very thing described in those "laws as we know them". "As we know them," your're admitting it yourself, that the "laws" we talk about are a human attempt to understand the forces as applied to physical objects and entities. If the proposal is that God created the universe as it is, what is stated in the opening sentence of Genesis, then, of course, that includes those forces and objects and whatever relationships involved that we can possibly study with science. God wouldn't be "tampering" with anything, everything science finds, which is the typical operation of those forces on objects, would be part of that design. I didn't bring up the question of "miracles", things that are proposed to violate or happen outside of the normal operation of the universe, but those things are found in science, itself, they are generally thrown out of the data because they don't fit the general trend. But that's not involved in the problem I posed. Science can be used to investigate some, hardly all, claims of miracles but only when there is physical evidence that is relevant to the claim and which is sufficient to test it. Which is often not the way that debunking of claims is carried out. I did say I was a stickler about the valid methodology of science when science is claimed to be present.
That life is often not to our liking, is often horrible, cruel and short is no proof of a lack of design by someone else. Though that assertion is often angrily made. Our designs on animals are most often all of those to them but the design is there. The Bible, those awful chapters and books that document catastrophes that come to the people of Israel - discounting the ones in which they are making excuses for their conquests of other people, what nationalist literature always has done - generally note that the catastrophes experienced were either due to them not following the design of God or that they found themselves, unwillingly or unpleasantly, in the midst of a larger design. But that's a rather large topic outside of the question at hand, as well. I will point out, though, that the conventional assertions of Natural Selection are based in the deaths, generally through being killed and preyed on, killed in some kind of struggle over food, space, other resources, and in a myriad of other equally horrible ways and, as long as God is not part of it, that's seen by many as being good. The denial of progressive improvement through the deaths of the "unfit" being asserted in conventional biology is a bald-faced lie, it is asserted by the mainstream scientists beginning with Darwin and continuing up to those today. That is something I've looked into in great depth.
In this case, God would be less of a puppet master and more of a computer programmer, setting up the rules of the universe and then watching it unfold (and, significantly, allowing a certain degree of stochasticity in the program).
I have dealt with the frequent mistaking of the human metaphor for the behavior of human thinking that computers were invented to be for a model of the human mind. That mistake proves the incompetence of the person doing it, using a created metaphor, which is necessarily incomplete, arbitrarily defined and hardly comprehensive, as a model for the thing it merely imitates. And I will be harsh because the use of computers as models of human minds is one of the stupidest current superstitions within science, one which would be prevented by such people being taught the very recent history of their field and that models of people and animals aren't the same thing as living beings. The thinking in that kind of "science" is really no different from the thinking of a very young child that their teddy bear has a personality - one that is remarkably human. Once you realize that, it's frightening how influential such thinking is among adults with power.
You, then, impose the whole thing on God who is certainly not a human being and is certainly not bound by the limits of human imagination and conventional expression within the milieu of current culture. Human beings can discern what you, yourself, called "human design" often with absolute confidence, as I said. I think our powers to discern the intentional designs of God are probably entirely inadequate. It reminds me of the criticism that was made of the atheist attempt to come up with a substitute for morality, utilitarianisim. The idea that human beings could discern which choice would produce more happiness for the most people, and so choose a course of action against another, is ridiculous. Leaving aside the impossibility of measuring "happiness" or even defining it, the ultimate consequences of choices made by us are often unforseeable in our own lives, not to mention the lives of those in the future, even, at times, many generations after us. An action taken by someone today might seem to produce moderately good results but in the future might bring utter pain and devastation to enormous numbers. And the happiness of other species is generally left out of such considerations. The human capacity for determining the results of our designs is so limited that the idea that we could see the non-human design of even a limited though far more intelligent being is ridiculous. To think we could discern the subtlety of design which God could make is infinitely absurd, it would have to be made known to us through revelation, if even then, not through the human invention of science which can certainly not even deal with all of human experience. Though so many are thorougly convinced that it can do what it certainly can't do, many of them scientists, many of them even philosophers who should certainly know the absurdity of that idea, even such as Bertrand Russell, who as a mathematician certainly knew that we know things which are not scientifically demonstrable. Mathematics is known with a certainty that no science can be, though it, also, fails to produce total and absolute logical closure.
* I have been so repeatedly struck by the utter inability of numbers of intelligent persons to see clearly or at all, the self acting & necessary effects of Nat Selection, that I am led to conclude that the term itself & your mode of illustrating it, however clear & beautiful to many of us are yet not the best adapted to impress it on the general naturalist public. The two last cases of this misunderstanding are, 1st. The article on “Darwin & his teachings” in the last “Quarterly Journal of Science”, which, though very well written & on the whole appreciative, yet concludes with a charge of something like blindness, in your not seeing that “Natural Selection” requires the constant watching of an intelligent “chooser” like man’s selection to which you so often compare it;—and 2nd., in Janet’s recent work on the “Materialism of the present day”, reviewed in last Saturday’s “Reader”, by an extract from which I see that he considers your weak point to be, that you do not see that “thought & direction are essential to the action of `Nat. Selection’.” The same objection has been made a score of times by your chief opponents, & I have heard it as often stated myself in conversation.
Now I think this arises almost entirely from your choice of the term “Nat. Selection” & so constantly comparing it in its effects, to Man’s selection, and also to your so frequently personifying Nature as “selecting” as “preferring” as “seeking only the good of the species” &c. &c. To the few, this is as clear as daylight, & beautifully suggestive, but to many it is evidently a stumbling block. I wish therefore to suggest to you the possibility of entirely avoiding this source of misconception in your great work, (if not now too late) & also in any future editions of the “Origin”, and I think it may be done without difficulty & very effectually by adopting Spencer’s term (which he generally uses in preference to Nat. Selection) viz. “Survival of the fittest.”
A. R. Wallace: Letter to Charles Darwin, July 2nd, 1866
** I'm amused that Darwin, at whom I've been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only — with its geometric progression — to humans as against plants and animals. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers, among the beasts and plants, the society of England with its division of labour, competition, opening up of new markets, ‘inventions’ and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’. It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology, in which civil society figures as an ‘intellectual animal kingdom’, whereas, in Darwin, the animal kingdom figures as civil society.
Karl Marx: Letter to Engels, June 18th, 1862