Intelligent Design

Posted: August 12, 2007 by Daniel in Christianity, evolution, get equipped, religions and beliefs

On Tuesday night I went to see Tom Woodward present a lecture at the Door of Hope in Launceston. It was part of his speaking tour of Australia.

It was very scientific and deliberately left the bible out of the picture. I think this is a deliberate choice by scientists in this field. Creation Science is closely connected with Intelligent Design but differs in that it focuses on the Bible. Incidentally I had the opportunity to hear Philip Bell the other week and blogged about it here.

I thought that Tom presented a persuasive scientific argument for ID from the field of biology. Here are some of the ideas from his lecture that most impressed me:

Irreducible Complexity – When Darwin posited his theory (150 years ago I think) they had very little knowledge of the workings of the Cell. Now we know so much about amino acids and proteins and the DNA/RNA that provides the instructions for the formation of protein structures. Within the cell there is such complexity that evolution becomes highly improbable.

The problem of the first cell in Darwin’s tree of life – How could proteins and amino acids form without instructions? DNA would have had to be present in the first cell. DNA is insanely complex and this complexity cannot be reduced into evolutionary steps. As well as a problem of complexity there is a problem of information – this is a non-material entity, how could information appear?

Mutations don’t make things – they only break things. This may provide a temporary advantage.

Tom discussed the irreducible complexity of the flagellum motor on a bacterium.

Darwinism is and must remain an unintelligent process. It’s adherents must make a deliberate philosophical choice to exclude mind.

Books he referenced:

  • Michael Denton (1986), Evolution: A theory in crisis
  • Phillip Johnson, Darwin on Trial
  • Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box
  • John Wells, Icons of Evolution.

He also reference significant counter works and discussed the intensity of rebuttal against  ID. Arguments include:

“If ID wins we will enter into another dark age of fundamentalists.” This is a fearful religious argument. ID does not posit which is the most robust explanation of creation -but that the scientific evidence can only be explained by design.

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Comments
  1. smilingchaos says:

    Um. Sorry but I dotn quite understand completly. Evolution is the most reliable theory we have. I dont exactly understand your point of the post. This will take me a while. Got any way to simplify it a little more for me.

  2. Matt says:

    No case of irreducible complexity has been found to date. Not one. Yes, not even the infamous flagellum motor. Behe’s crazy attempt at explaining that as being an example was quickly shot down years ago.

    All the other points you listed have also already been disproved. I suggest you go put the relevant search terms in the search engine at talkorigins.org which actually does reference all statements and use only credible scientific texts and sources.

  3. Hi Smiling and Matt

    Sorry for my slow response. You guys posted overnight for me and I have had a very busy day at work. I am not a scientist, but I am interested in origins. Many people in western society believe that we have arrived at our complexity and intelligence through a process of gradual natural quality selections. I am an Evangelist and I see this is often one of the first hurdles to be encountered when talking to people about what God has revealed of himself in the bible.

    Smiling:

    I think one of the goals of Intelligent Design is to knock evolution off it’s high horse. In our popular media and social opinion evolution is accepted as a fact. No – it is a theory of origins. It is a ‘creation story’. It has become philosophical and belief driven.

    Matt:

    No case of evolution has been found to date. Not one. (well that’s not true – natural selection does occur within species: the fittest do survive and pass on their strengths, but it is only a theory that they can change into an new species of even fitter things.)

    Also Matt, ID scientists are credible – its the conclusions and their the implications that are not likable. Thanks so much for urging me to think further on this. I will do some more research this week. I have a friend who is a scientist and who also attended the lecture. I am trying to get him to reply here to give a more scientific response.

  4. Found a short article by Tom Woodward that might be pertinent to this discussion

    DOUBTS ABOUT DARWIN
    In the face of mounting evidence, more scientists are abandoning evolution.
    by Thomas E. Woodward (Moody Monthly, 1991)

    http://www.apologetics.org/doubts.html

  5. Matt says:

    “No – it is a theory of origins.”

    The origin of life would actually be covered by the Theory of Abiogenesis, not Evolution.

    Talkorigins.org (a credible and respected scientifically referenced site) lists several examples of speciation that have been observed. Hence, evolution at work.
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/speciation.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html

    As for ID scientists – no, they’re not credible. Perhaps the leading ID Scientist (Behe) was utterly discredited in the Dover trial wherein he was forced to admit that ID was not science, that he failed to research matters properly and that irreducible complexity was not yet observed in nature anywhere.

  6. Matt says:

    As for what you linked to… it contains no links to back up its claims. It also contains pretty much only arguments that have been disproved before, such as the ridiculous 747/Junkyard statement.

  7. And I thought that I had best do some research from the other side of the debate. I skimmed through an article on Irreducible Complexity by Pete Dunkelberg. Here is a quote regarding the flagellum motor.

    This brings us to the dark side of design. Flagella participate in the cause of quite a few bacterial diseases, including diarrhea (38), ulcers and urinary tract infections (39). If the Designer is directly responsible for flagella then he is implicated as a cause of human diseases. Diarrhea is no joke; it is a leading cause of infant death in some parts of the world. To make matters worse, one can hardly give the Designer credit for flagella without also crediting him with TTSS’s in general (40). This puts the Designer solidly behind Bubonic plague (41, 42) and many other diseases (43). Happily, science makes such beliefs unnecessary.

    I respect Pete’s scientific knowledge but I don’t think that he actually gives enough detail to refute irreducible complexity. He more or less dismisses it without explaining the possible steps. Yes there are a great variety of bacteria and variations in so many things. Does this lead one to conclude that it is because they are subtly evolving or that they have a clever creator?

    Just in reference to the above quote – Pete is making a theological argument about the Designer in that they must have failed because of disease and sickness associated with bacteria. The Bible does offer a credible reason – it is broken. I don’t want to really go into theology at this stage with you, but please be patient with me if it comes up; this is after all a Christian blog. Just in closing – if you want to hear a coherent presentation/explanation of the offer of salvation (with explanation of the problem) please check out the frequent sinner card.

  8. Isn’t irreducible complexity most clear at the cellular level? What do you think of my reference to what Woodward said?

    The problem of the first cell in Darwin’s tree of life – How could proteins and amino acids form without instructions? DNA would have had to be present in the first cell. DNA is insanely complex and this complexity cannot be reduced into evolutionary steps. As well as a problem of complexity there is a problem of information – this is a non-material entity, how could information appear?

  9. Matt says:

    Again, no examples of irreducible complexity have ever been found. The flagellum motor was brought forth as one by Behe and it was disproved in a very short amount of time.
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_1.html
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe.html

    Behe’s full testimony at the Dover trial, wherein he was revealed to be a very poor researcher and really not a very good scientist at all: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/kansas/kangaroo10.html

    As for proteins and amino acids forming. That’s covered by Abiogenesis. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/
    Got to love that properly referenced and credible research.

  10. ReginaldSkeptic says:

    I commend for your consideration the cross-examination of Dr. Behe that took place during the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial. Eric Rothschild, in what can only be described as a masterpiece of cross-examination, thoroughly debunked Dr. Behe’s testimony regarding irreducible complexity at the biochemical level.

  11. Hi Reginald,

    I didn’t think it was a criminal offence to question evolution ;->

    OK, I just googled the trial and found some info about it:
    http://www.aclu.org/religion/intelligentdesign/index.html

    I also found a transcript of day 9 of the trial that pertained to IC in pandas.
    http://www.sciohost.org/ncse/kvd/Padian/Padian_transcript.html#IC

    This was a pretty in depth debate and difficult for me to read. I think the concept of intelligent design is quite exciting for a Christian (and other faiths) because it is a scientific response. The ideas being tossed around in ID are only new arguments. From what Tom said there is currently a lot of money going in to research in this field and there is a strong push to do it as credibly as possible. Unfortunately, Tom mentioned that it is difficult to get peer review and even consideration as being a peer biologist if you don’t conclude with evolution.

    My question is, how credible will they have to get? Also can someone show me a theory of the steps in creating the fist cell. Was it a primordial soup that was struck by lightning? If so, has anyone created a cell by replicating the elements and electrical charge?

    Also, please forgive me if I am muddled in my questions.

  12. Matt,

    Just read your last comment.

    Doesn’t a cell have irreducible complexity? I will try to check out your links on Abiogenesis later today

    Also can you please summarise how Behe was debunked?
    Perhaps two or three points and how what he said does not stand against evolution.

  13. Just started to read how life on Earth began:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/originoflife.html

    I have not finished it – my fist thought: Wow, how cool it it that Darwin’s theory is proved by science. He must be a very happy man. A prediction that he made is supported by science. Could Ken Ham’s goggle theory hold true – we see what we want to see? We build the knowledge that we want to build? “Which bias is the best bias to have?”

    I will have to finish here and read some more later today.

  14. Matt says:

    A simple guide to how Behe was debunked can be found on his Wiki entry, specifically the section pertaining to the Dover trial.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Behe#Dover_testimony

  15. Wow, thanks so much for that link.

    It was fascinating to see the Judges ruling. It seems to be less of a scientific debunking and more a philosophical reaction.

    “Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God.”

    But isn’t evolution only plausible to the extent which one believes there is no God? Just as God is invisible, so is any evidence for changes into new species. Please correct me if I am wrong – isn’t evolution still a theory, just like Christianity (in one sense) is a theory?

  16. Ken Perrott says:

    I have discussed the scientific credibility of Intelligent design here: Creationism II: Is it scientific? (Fixed link, Daniel.)
    “it is difficult to get peer review and even consideration as being a peer biologist if you don’t conclude with evolution.” This is a cop out. Peer review does nothing of the sort – it purely evaluates a manuscript to see if the reasoning is good, the evidence is presented, the experiments are rep[eatable and credible. It doesn’t reject on the basis of the conclusions if these have been arrived at properly.
    The problem is that Intelligent design has never been able to come up with a proper testable hypothesis. If it did this would be progress.

  17. Matt says:

    “But isn’t evolution only plausible to the extent which one believes there is no God? Just as God is invisible, so is any evidence for changes into new species.”

    Not at all. Changes in species can easily be measured and recorded. Through DNA and fossil records to begin with. These changes are not invisible and the gradual change in many species have been recorded quite well.

    “Please correct me if I am wrong – isn’t evolution still a theory, just like Christianity (in one sense) is a theory?”

    Evolution is a Scientific Theory which differs from a more common definition of theory. Creationism and Intelligent Design, in contrast, is a Hypothesis since there is no evidence for either and both fail in other areas which they need to be a proper theory.
    Scientific Theories are ones which have been examined, peer reviewed, have evidence to support them, make predictions about the future and so forth.

  18. Are we engaged in stigmatic wordplay? What is in a label?

    Evolution is a Scientific Theory which differs from a more common definition of theory. Creationism and Intelligent Design, in contrast, is a Hypothesis since there is no evidence for either and both fail in other areas which they need to be a proper theory.

    Lets compare two meanings of theory and hypothesis as they relate to the field of science.

    Hypothesis:

    1. a proposition, or set of propositions, set forth as an explanation for the occurrence of some specified group of phenomena, either asserted merely as a provisional conjecture to guide investigation (working hypothesis) or accepted as highly probable in the light of established facts… 4. a mere assumption or guess.

    Theory:

    1. a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity… 7. guess or conjecture.

  19. Tom Woodward said an example of a testable hypothesis has been given – the 97% junk DNA. Intelligent Design said that there would be a purpose to that DNA. An aunties ex husband of a friend of mine bought the junk DNA patent. I just rang up my friend and the guy is Malcolm Simons. I have had a good look at the guy’s website and found no reference to ID, but Tom Woodward said that it was a testable hypothesis of ID theory. I cannot verify if this is true.

  20. Josh says:

    just to throw a spanner in the works… I’m no scientist but the sheer leaps of logic involved in evolutionary argument don’t seem to need detailed scientific reports and theories to refute- for instance when organisms reproduce by their own willing decision to stay fit and fast and out of the mouth of their nearest predator they can’t increase genetic information in any way to become a new species (with additional “new” genetic information) … they can only replicate genetic information, reduce information or pass over certain bits of information to develop specific breeds that are bigger, smaller, faster, slower etc. and such breeds can never ever be bred up to get back to the full range of genetic information that existed in the base species. There is no evidence of any animals or organisms evolving between species. None. There is no missing link. Talk to a farmer or dog breeder about this. the fossil record does not show this and it is not possible to breed poodles back into dingoes or great danes. The idea that breeding can increase genetic information to the point where an amoeba (with little genetic information) eventually mutates and turns itself into a human (let alone an ant)is just ludicrous. There have to be different species to start off with and these only ever degenerate, become extinct or adapt to the increasingly hostile world they find themselves in.
    Isn’t it interesting how the robust life form that pulled itself out of the mud, evolved itself into a myriad different species over eons is suddenly and irrevocably extinguished forever by the simplest of variable changes – temperature, rainfall, fire, hunting, pollution and introduced pests all playing their part to make many species extinct. Shouldn’t the eons old life force spread amongst the species of the world be able to pull its socks up and evolve into something better, stronger and tougher than all these puny changes can throw at it. Or is belief in evolution a mighty act of faith in a powerless, speechless, hopeless god?

  21. Ron says:

    It is a simple fact that the same religion that silenced Galileo on pain of death is now pushing the pseudoscience of Intelligent Design. That religion is Christianity.

  22. Angela says:

    I find it interesting that Christianity is the only religion it is currently acceptable to “bash” as in Ron’s comment. I’m not sure how ready anyone would be to hold up past actions of supposed followers of Hinduism, Bhuddism, Judaism or Islam as evidence that followers of that religion are in some way flawed in their thinking. Now, it could be that I am reading too much into Ron’s comment here, but I don’t see how the religion of the scientist necessarily makes them automatically wrong. Any more than their country of birth or gender, both of which could conceivably have a significant influence on their presuppositions.
    Anyway, that’s a bit off the topic, so i’ll let you all get back to it.

  23. I have been going on for quite a while just referencing Tom’s comments for defence of ID. I thought that I might goodle “Intelligent Design” and see what I find.

    Here are some of the links that I found to explain the the aims and purposes of ID.

    ID Network; Seeking objectivity in origins science – http://www.intelligentdesignnetwork.org/
    Access Research Network; http://www.arn.org/

    There were a lot of spoofs and anti-ID sites. It seems to be percieved as a threat to established origins science that is not welcome.

  24. Ron says:

    Angela–

    All I did was point out a historical fact. If that fact is something you feel compelled to try to explain away, there may be good reasons for that. Science and Christianity have a troubled history, a history which extends from Galileo right up to today’s headlines.

    I singled out Christianity because your site is one such site, and I think that as a group, evangelical Christians are harming society by trying to cast doubt on basic tenets of science such as evolution just because it offends their–your–religious beliefs. Just think about some of the issues facing us as a society–terrorism, global warming, Iraq, disease, geopolitical unrest, Darfur, and so on. And what are we talking about instead? Evolution. The scientific validity of evolution was established over a hundred years ago.

    We’re related to chimpanzees. Sorry–the evidence is overwhelming. Established science should not be re-written or dismissed just to coddle the fundies.

  25. billphillips says:

    Ron,

    The greatest scientists ever were Christians, and studied science as a way of learning more about the Creator. Just to name a few: Newton, Boyle, James Clark Maxwell, Faraday, and Kepler. You can thank the Bible and Christianity for science as we know it today.

    There is no conflict between science and Christianity. The conflict lies between scientists and the Creator.

    Thanks,
    Bill

  26. Ron says:

    Hi Bill–

    Thanks for your comment.

    There is no conflict between science and Christianity. The conflict lies between scientists and the Creator.

    Scientists like Galileo and Darwin, for example.

    No conflict? Thanks to Christian fundamentalists, it was illegal to teach evolution in the public schools of some of the southern states of the U.S. until 1968!

  27. Matt says:

    … and remember, the church ex-communicated and generally made life unpleasant for people for daring to refute the Geocentric world view. And they had someone who tried to translate the Bible into English executed, then later the Pope had his remains dug up, burned and thrown in a river.

    Not cool.

  28. Angela says:

    Once again guys, you are generalising from the past behaviours of those who have called themselves Christian. I agree, lots of dodgy things have been done in the name of Christianity, that doesn’t make the religion all about that stuff and it certainly doens’t prove it to be untrue. There are two other possibilities here, 1. That well meaning but mistaken people made terrible mistakes (we all have the potential to do that, right?). 2. They were mistaken in their beliefs and not representitive of true Christianity ie not actually Christians at all. Or both.
    I’m not, in this discussion anyway, trying to convert you, just pointing out that if you want Christians to respect your views and engage in intelligent thinking, maybe you shouldn’t resort to overgeneralisations and other faulty debate techniques.
    🙂 Angela

  29. Ron says:

    Angela–

    Thanks for taking the time.

    I’m not trying to disprove Christianity; I don’t think that can really be done. But showing that Christianity as an idea has serious problems is easily done, by using different arguments that are off this topic (the problem of evil, etc).

    My comments weren’t meant as some kind of history lesson. That was meant as a backdrop to highlight what you as a group (evangelicals) are doing today. These aren’t ‘overgeneralizations’–evangelicals are doing the same kinds of things right now, just not backed up with physical force. You guys are dismissing 140 years of supporting evidence from every branch of the life sciences–and other branches as well–that supports evolution in order to shill for the pseudoscience of creationism by posting articles like this one, and you’re probably doing it to save souls.
    It shows you’re more interested in pushing evangelical Christianity than you are in finding out about biological origins for real. All the stuff this guy references, irreducible complexity and all, was lovingly shredded by Eric Rothschild and the ACLU in the Dover Pandas trial.

    In fact, except for Behe, who at least had the chops to take the stand, the guys credited as the brains of this marketing campaign known as Intelligent Design weren’t even in the trial.
    William Dembski bailed before the trial started. Phillip Johnson, the father of the movement, didn’t participate either–strange when you consider that this father of the “scientific revolution” of ID is actually a retired law professor.

    You guys are followers of the only “scientific revolution” ever started by a lawyer.

  30. The scientific validity of evolution was established over a hundred years ago.
    We’re related to chimpanzees. Sorry–the evidence is overwhelming. Ron, 24

    Oops – sorry. The evidence is just rhetoric upon rhetoric. My big discovery in engaging in this debate here is that SO MUCH OF SCIENCE IS WORDS. All we have here are words from both sides. Hopefully we are digging into reserves of facts that we both already possess, but all we are doing in the end is battling words with words(see comment 18). Please admit that much of evolutionary biology is rhetoric built on a few ideas built on some more ideas built on something evidenced. The ideas get tested and the theory might hold up (if its loose enough) and then we think the theory is right.

    What does this all mean? It means that we have a conflict of belief systems on our hands. Ron, you have displayed your belief in evolution as the creation story (yes, it’s word play but it has substance – creation means to make: you claim it was unintelligent making, we claim it was intelligent making)

    What do we have on our hands here? You see new fossils and say, “Yes this proves evolution – this is the missing link – see we transitioned from a fish.” Your belief system informs what you are seeing. We might see the same new fossil and say, “Wow, that is cool, whoever designed this must have been very clever.” (well actually being a Christian I say, “wow isn’t God amazing.”)

    I have great respect for science and for scientific theory. So many disciplines in science are so wonderful and great. I think that evolutionary biology and cosmology (not discussed here) is a bold human effort to understand something that is beyond us.

  31. Ron says:

    Oops – sorry. The evidence is just rhetoric upon rhetoric. My big discovery in engaging in this debate here is that SO MUCH OF SCIENCE IS WORDS. All we have here are words from both sides.

    Now mind you, I’ve been accused of making snide comments at times. But when I do, I’ve been set up to do it, as in this case. I’ll display some maturity (just to see what it’s like) & restrain myself.

    Please admit that much of evolutionary biology is rhetoric built on a few ideas built on some more ideas built on something evidenced. The ideas get tested and the theory might hold up (if its loose enough) and then we think the theory is right.

    So, it’s just all a bunch of ‘rhetoric’ and atheistic bias when you’re looking at all the evidence gathered by biologists over the last 140 years that supports evolution, but when Tom Woodward gets up and speaks about how evolution is all just a big lie, you’re all “Wow, he’s so scientific!” Daniel, please. If this guy is right, then the National Academies of Science of over 60 nations doesn’t know what they’re talking about as far as evolution and ID go. They issued a joint statement in complete support of the teaching of evolution in the public schools, and denounced ID; see:

    http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/news/2006/XX/538_national_academies_of_science__6_21_2006.asp

    Let me ask you a question. Do you accept that paternity can be established using DNA testing in court? Because similar techniques have been used to establish common ancestry between humans and chimpanzees. Here’s a particularly compelling type of evidence, “endogenous retroviruses”:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/section4.html#retroviruses

    Please scroll down to “Prediction 4.5”, read it, and explain how that is (a) mere “rhetoric”, as you frame it, and (b) wrong.

  32. snide = Expressive of contempt.
    contempt = Lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike

    I do hold evolutionary science in contempt. Sorry if that gets to some personal emotion for you. Perhaps because it does evoke an emotional response reveals that you truly are operating in a belief system.

    Also: witness the balance to my contempt:

    All we have here are words from both sides. Hopefully we are digging into reserves of facts that we both already possess, but all we are doing in the end is battling words with words(see comment 18). Dan, 30.

    I realise that all I am offering are words and links. I will check out your links when I have time later today.

  33. ps. I am trying to say this with a nice tone and a smile.

  34. Ron says:

    Daniel–

    I do hold evolutionary science in contempt. Sorry if that gets to some personal emotion for you.

    Actually, I’ve got no real beef with anyone that rejects evolution, old earth, or anything else, as long as they’re honest about it. If you’d say something like ‘I reject evolution because it offends my religious beliefs’, I could only say ‘Well, OK then.’ But you don’t. You insist that ID is scientific, when your own comments make it clear you’d rather have someone else try to explain the ‘science’ behind it. It won’t do.

    Still, you guys mean well, I’m sure. Don’t try and really answer that link I gave you. You’ll hurt yourself; it’s unanswerable–common ancestry has been proven.
    You’ve heard of Michael Behe? He accepts common ancestry.
    You guys are demonstrably wrong, and in a way I’m glad ’cause I’m an atheist. I understand the workings of the natural world a little better than you do.

    FWIW, in fairness, you should give theistic evolution a hard look–if nothing else, you wouldn’t be arguing with me right now. Again, as an atheist, I’m secure in offering you that bit of great advice. I know you won’t take it.

  35. I actually did check the link this afternoon and wrote a fancy response but my comment failed and did not load onto the post. I will try and re-write my comment for you later.

  36. Ron says:

    Daniel–

    Dude, seriously. You’re looking at evolution from a scriptural basis. You can look at the evidence if you’re curious–it’s actually pretty interesting–but your problem with evolution probably isn’t the science behind it, it’s that you think evolution is evil.

    That’s why I say: If you just can’t wrap your head around evolution, just say it’s unscriptural or something. But don’t try and pretend you’ve actually analyzed evolution in any serious way. It’s misleading.

  37. Hi Ron (and any evolutionary dude who has the time to read this protracted post)

    I did actually read the link to retroviruses and I want to make the effort to re-write my response that I lost.On reading this article it just reinforced my view of how evolution is driven by presumption and rhetoric.

    Again, this process is rare and fairly random, so finding retrogenes in identical chromosomal positions of two different species indicates common ancestry.

    …or just that both species were alive at the same time when the virus was active. The fact that other animals don’t have the retrovirus might be due to the fact that they were immune to that virus. It is an assumption that this data storage should differ in chromosomal position in different animals. Kudos to anyone who can decipher Figure 4.4.1.: Multiple arrows with various numbers in non incremental stages? Animals in couplets as if they share something in common – I am sure there are other creatures with closer DNA proximity to us than a chimp. Does having arms and legs like a chimp make us related or does it just mean that there was a common designer??

    Have you ever been to an art exhibition of a particular artist – their life’s work has recurring motif’s all through it. If you know an artist you see a piece by itself and can immediately identify that artist (even if he doesn’t have an obvious signature). I (and intelligent design) am arguing that we see the work of a certain designer whenever we look at the natural world. The designer’s style, intelligence intricate complexity is unmistakable (unless you have convex goggles on.)

  38. Ron says:

    Hi Daniel–

    It is an assumption that this data storage should differ in chromosomal position in different animals.

    Oh? What do you base that claim on? Please cite your source. If you don’t have a source, and you just pulled that claim out of thin air, then making a remark like that is no different than sticking your fingers in your ears and repeating “I can’t hear you” over and over.

    Below I’ve included a link on endogenous retroviruses:

    http://www.evcforum.net/cgi-bin/dm.cgi?action=msg&f=9&t=79&m=1

    which states that “…As you can see, the retroviral insertions are spread over all of the chromosomes in a random pattern. Not one nucleotide is used twice. There has never been a retrovirus that has been shown to insert at the same letter in the host genome even 0.001% of the time.”

    That means that it is HIGHLY significant that humans and chimps share not less than 7 different retroviral insertions at precisely same places in the two genomes. Not only do the two species show the same infection by the same retrovirus (there are many different retroviruses) but they were inserted at precisely the same places in the two species’ genomes.

    Boiled down to its essence, all of the above means that you now have to explain why the Great Designer deliberately inserted these viruses in exactly the same places of these two different species. I can explain it, without resorting to miracles or invisible designers: the explanation is common ancestry.

    You know, Daniel, if your religious beliefs compel you to deny the validity of the basic tenets of science, then either (a) the sciences are wrong, or (b) your religious beliefs are wrong.
    It isn’t difficult to figure out which of those is more likely to be true.

    I am sure there are other creatures with closer DNA proximity to us than a chimp.

    What creatures would those be? Again, cite your sources, please.

    I (and intelligent design) am arguing that we see the work of a certain designer whenever we look at the natural world. The designer’s style, intelligence intricate complexity is unmistakable (unless you have convex goggles on.)

    Okay, what can we discern about a designer that created a flying hypodermic syringe known as the mosquito? It’s mouthparts show irreducible complexity–take one of the mouthparts away and the syringe will not assemble. And the mosquito has been responsible for more human deaths than any other animal. Millions and millions of small children worldwide have died due to infections spread by this wonder of ‘design’. To me, any designer that would come up with something like a mosquito is a real creep.

    Another example of “intelligent” design is the male prostate. The male urethra runs right through the prostate, and as men age, the prostate swells, cutting off urine flow. Now you insist the designer’s “style, intelligence, intricate complexity” is readily apparent. So, my question to you is–Show me all this “style, intelligence, intricate complexity” that went into the design of the human prostate.

  39. I checked the link, it was pretty similar to the last one.
    Can you help me out – How do I find out just how unlikely it is to store data in the same spot in a chromosome? Also this issue might easily be disproved if we can look @ another animal evolutionarily unrelated that may have the retrovirus stored in the same place (there are a lot of animals)? Perhaps this is common I don’t know. Can you see that it is a massive leap to ‘common ancestry’ from this. It requires you to trust that the survey team who found this data (whoever they are) looked further than a few animals that fit the profile of the theory.

    You have responded to my statement about the wonder of the designer; please follow this link to understand a biblical response to ‘bad things’ in design. Mosquito’s get a mention I don’t think it explains the design of the prostate. I didn’t know that the prostate swells with age and is the cause of all male death in men that live long enough?

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/Home/Area/faq/bad_things.asp

    I want to share a scripture that highlights a biblical explanation for a creation that seems to have some malfunction:

    Romans 8 v 20-24
    For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

    In God’s wisdom, He has chosen to link the destiny of creation to that of man. Our first parents represented us in the garden when they sinned. Every day we confirm and affirm the fact that we are sinners when we break God’s law. Our consciences bear witness to this, even though we may harden and sear them through our constant rebellion to the Law of God.

    I apologise if that seems too rhetorical. You seemed to want an answer to the problem of evil/sin/bad stuff happening and I want to give you the biblical answer. I am encouraged by the Answers in Genesis because they don’t just give up when there is a hard question that seems to stump a creation position. If you look a little deeper into the arguments against it does stand up.

  40. Ron says:

    Hi Daniel–

    Can you help me out – How do I find out just how unlikely it is to store data in the same spot in a chromosome?

    Okay, I guess. But first, I have to ask you something.

    Let’s say the info I give you shows it is exceedingly unlikely for the same kind of HERV to attach to the same points of the host’s genome. In fact, let’s say the info I give you shows that the same kind of HERV has in fact already binded to random spots on the host genomes, not just to the same exact spot on the host genome each time. Will you then admit there is genetic evidence for common ancestry? I mean, if you still deny CA even if I establish my point further with additional articles/links, then why are we even discussing the point?

    Can you see that it is a massive leap to ‘common ancestry’ from this. It requires you to trust that the survey team who found this data (whoever they are) looked further than a few animals that fit the profile of the theory.

    A “massive leap”? If life did actually show common ancestry, we should expect to see patterns of HERV insertion similar to what we have detected–true or false? Please explain your answer.

    I think it can be shown that the research papers these conclusions are drawn from were rigorously peer-reviewed, and meet all pertinent research standards. That’s one of the good things about how science is currently practiced. You do not have to just

    …trust that the survey team who found this data (whoever they are) looked further than a few animals that fit the profile of the theory

    as you claimed. The researchers have to prove their point to other experts, before they can get published. That’s why the peer-review process is there in the first place–so you don’t have to “just trust” the researchers. Sorry, Daniel, you’re simply wrong about that.

    You have responded to my statement about the wonder of the designer; please follow this link to understand a biblical response to ‘bad things’ in design.

    Let me try and understand this: Great design shows a wise and benevolent creator, bad design shows a wise and benevolent creator, and evil design shows a wise and benevolent creator; is that it? That’s your argument?

    You’re describing nature as a wonderland of kind, caring benevolent and masterful design, and the examples I gave are but two that show without question that your description just isn’t accurate. There are plenty of examples of apparently evil design too, and lousy design as well.

    Another way of saying that is that the only way to detect a kind, wise, loving designer by looking at nature is to look at the good examples of apparent design only, such as DNA’s storage capacity, and ignoring counter-examples of malicious or poor design. That’s cherry-picking, and if your religious beliefs require you to cherry-pick thru the evidence that much just to build a supporting case, then something is wrong with your religious beliefs.

    I am encouraged by the Answers in Genesis because they don’t just give up when there is a hard question that seems to stump a creation position. If you look a little deeper into the arguments against it does stand up.

    I’m having a hard time with this. Look at websites like PubMed and you can see thousands of peer-reviewed research papers documenting common ancestry, and further documenting evolution in action. What peer-reviewed scientific literature can you provide that points to the earth being 6,000 years old, like Answers in Genesis says? What research can you cite that supports the idea that lions at one time ate strawberries or grass, like AiG says? What research can you point to that proves the Biblical flood was an actual, historical event, as AiG insists?

    You know, it really is possible to be a Christian without throwing out the last 300 years of science in the process.

  41. Ron, thanks for your explanation. Here is an intelligent design response to endogenous (no longer active) retroviruses. pnm://broadcast.reasons.org/rtbradio/cu20031223.rm?start=00:30:57.5 . Please have a listen to an ID response from 2003. The track goes for over an hour but the response to ER is only the first 10min. Requires real player. Article from reasons.org. Here are a few quotes:

    5:22 “this is considered by many to be the most compelling evidence for evolution”

    6:20 “the fact that we now finding function (ie, no longer endogenous) fits the ID model and propositions.”

    9:30 “Defence mechanism to protect itself from viral attack”

    “long terminal repeats have a role in controlling gene expression – this indicate function, anti viral defence system”

    Therefore, the Scientist argues that it could just as easily signify that it was put there by a designer and part of the gnome.

    Are endogenous retroviruses proof for human evolution? Increased understanding of this form of “junk” DNA reveals that they do indeed have function and are consistent with Intelligent Design, rather than being evidence for descent from a common primate ancestor.

    Discussed on Creation Update, airdate 10-14-2003.

  42. Let me try and understand this: Great design shows a wise and benevolent creator, bad design shows a wise and benevolent creator, and evil design shows a wise and benevolent creator; is that it? That’s your argument?#40

    The verse was referring to how all things in creation are currently subject to decay due to man’s sin. So therefore we can conclude (as God did when he made it) that all things were GOOD when he made it in the beginning before man’s sin.

    I realise that this is referring to a religious manuscript – but it does explain the problem of bad stuff in the world. The design is not flawed, in many cases it is just operating differently that it was intended.

  43. Ron says:

    Daniel–

    6:20 “the fact that we now finding function (ie, no longer endogenous) fits the ID model and propositions.”

    Actually, the “E” of HERV–Endogenous, doesn’t refer to whether or not it’s functional at all. It refers to the fact that what started out as a viral infection has now successfully inserted its DNA into our genome permanently–it’s DNA is now ‘inside’–endo.

    Let’s face it, Daniel: You don’t even know what HERVs are–you got one of the letters wrong–but you’re certain they don’t prove evolution.

    Wouldn’t you say that’s true?

  44. Ron,

    If you are able, please listen to the real player track(#41). What they have discovered is that the RV is functional and may have been there as a design feature. Please have a listen and critique it.

    The evolutionary model assumes that it is junk remnants. The ID model assumes that it has a function – and it does.

    Also – for the record, I do agree with natural selection – changes do occur within a species. But we are entering the realm of ‘best guess’ when we are talking origins. I admire the quest of origin science, but I believe that its findings are being constantly restricted to a model at is just 150-140 years old. The ID model (in one sense) is thousands of years old. Darwinian evolution is a theory – lets keep it as that. Society is constantly trying to prove it and we get excited about possible vindication (HERV) for our beliefs and hopes.

    PS. I didn’t write the acronym HERV prior to this post. I admit that my explanation you quoted was incorrect. I made a mistake in saying that. I was referring to something that the scientist said in the real player track and I explained it poorly. Thanks for the correction.

  45. Ron says:

    Daniel–

    I’ve tried to download RealPlayer and my security settings are giving me a hard time about it. I’ve heard bad things about RealPlayer and adware. I’m afraid I can’t access much of anything on that site re: shows from 2003. I did subscribe to their podcast, tho.

    One point the show made (according to you) is that HERVs are actually functional after all. We know that’s false; most HERVs are merely fossilized remnants of a functioning gene–the further back they were inserted, the more fossilized they become thru ‘knockout mutations.’ A few may retain some functionality, esp. if they code for something useful to the host, but otherwise they get badly damaged. In a few cases, the gene gets deleted completely.

    But really, it doesn’t matter anyway. As I pointed out to you before, even if all HERVs are functional–since you believe they do something for the host the Great Designer wanted, why didn’t this Designer just code this new genetic info into the creature to start with instead of having to wait for a passing virus to insert it? The fundies keep telling the rest of us that design provides a better explanation, so I ask you: explain that. Prediction: you won’t even try–or you didn’t the last time I posed it.

    But really, even that doesn’t matter. You’ve essentially admitted you don’t really understand what HERVs are or why they pertain to the issue, but continue to insist that they don’t prove evolution. You can’t have both, Daniel. You can’t in any honesty make pronouncements on a subject you don’t understand very well. It’s not honest to try to use HERVs to prove a case for design when you really don’t know what “HERV” means.

    Daniel, I’m not trying to taunt you, but make you think.
    Is ‘design’ really such a good explanation? I’ve done similarly with the Discovery Institute–slightly diff. question, same idea. They could just sputter, basically.

    As an explanation, invoking ‘design’ or saying ‘God did it’ is a dead end. It doesn’t explain a thing, and that’s why scientists sneer at ID. Evolution explains things, like why these viruses have attached to the same points on the genomes of humans and chimps at least seven diff. times–common ancestry.

    Will you Christians throw DNA-based paternity tests out the window if you get a chance? Same science, basically.

    Evangelical Christianity is at its heart anti-intellectual. It considers revealed truth from the mountaintop superior to all other ways of knowing. Like I said before, if your religious beliefs force you to reject the fundamental tenets of science, there’s something wrong with your religious beliefs.

  46. No. I think we all have a theory, whether ID or BE and we hold this dear to our hearts when we approach evidence.

    Why would we throw out paternity tests? Why would we throw out science? Science is and effective way to approach the natural world because it offerers a valid approach to developing knowledge.

    My argument is that the particular field of Evolutionary Biology is flawed because it is holding dead Darwin’s old theory as truth. This is a similar action to what you see in Christianity:

    Evangelical Christianity is at its heart anti-intellectual. It considers revealed truth from the mountaintop superior to all other ways of knowing. Like I said before, if your religious beliefs force you to reject the fundamental tenets of science, there’s something wrong with your religious beliefs.

    I believe that science is making assumptions that evolution is true, because it is in part. natural selection does explain changes within a species. But it is trying to still be a science when it looks to origin explanations and gradual small changes from amoebas to ostriches. This is science fiction – there is no scientific evidence. HERV just fits the model very well at the moment but that is only because we are framing the findings into EB and getting excited, just like ID dudes got excited about the flagellum motor and the machines in a cell. We love our discoveries and celebrate them too soon.

    But really, it doesn’t matter anyway. As I pointed out to you before, even if all HERVs are functional–since you believe they do something for the host the Great Designer wanted, why didn’t this Designer just code this new genetic info into the creature to start with instead of having to wait for a passing virus to insert it?

    Again, that is a theological question about God’s wisdom. It is assumption as to when/if the RV was inserted.

  47. Ron says:

    Daniel–

    You’re insisting the Australian Academy of Science doesn’t know what they’re talking about as far as the science behind biological origins go, but you and your group do. You even have the chutzpah to insist that society should listen to you rather than all those experts even after you’ve shown you don’t know what some of the evidence even means.

    I admire that. That takes some real brass.

  48. Ron says:

    D–

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but

    http://www.science.org.au/reports/intelligent%20design.htm

    And yet you insist all these professionals are wrong, and you and your band of street preachers is right about the biological sciences. If you’re prepared to claim something that outlandish about the sciences–just based on what you saw on some DVDs you bought–why should I take any other claims you make seriously?

    Again–I’m trying to get you to think about things, not taunt you. I know you and your group are decent people who really do mean well. You just seem to be a bit confused.

  49. Randy says:

    Hi Daniel,
    I have just finished reading a book called the Limitations of Scientific Truth by Nigel Brush (ISBN:0825422531). This is the best book that I have read so far on why science can’t answer life’s ultimate questions. Nigel Brush is an assistant professor of geology at Ashland University in Ohio. He is a committed Christian and scientist, he has conducted archaeological, geological, and environmental fieldwork in England, Canada, New York, Ohio, and California. I believe that you will be greatly blessed is you read this book.
    Randy

  50. Thanks for the reference Randy. I will look for it @ Koorong (Aussie Bookstore).

    This conversation has been hard work. I don’t come back to stir the congealed pot of stew lightly. I actually have a holiday now so I have some time to get my head around it again.

    The goal of the Christian evangelist is to share God’s gift of the gospel to sinners. It is not rocket science. The debate about Biological/Chemical Evolution as the source of living complexity and diversity is a real head banger for everyone involved. It is useful for me to engage in this debate because it is often the first step in talking about God for many people.

    I have said a lot of things in this conversation and many of my questions have gone unanswered. That is OK, I may have not answered many of the pro Bio/Ev side’s questions or arguments and just skipped to say my own thing too.

    If you have the patience of a sloth, I would appreciate your summary of this debate: what side refused to respond to the most questions? How could I have been more compelling? Which side had their blinkers on and was unable to see a clear and compelling argument in front of them? Was my tone right (can you get tone from text – I think you can if you read enough of an author) Or just your impressions/reflections about this discussion.

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