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My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Intelligent design forces scientists to confront weaknesses of Darwinism

One of the classic arguments against intelligent design is that it is a "science stopper" -- that pro-ID scientists, when confronted with something that they cannot readily explain, just throw up their hands in despair and say "goddidit." However, far from being a "science stopper," intelligent design (as well as other criticisms of Darwinism) advances science by forcing scientists to confront weaknesses of evolution theory. While the two-faced Darwinists scoff at ID as pseudoscience, they make long, highly technical arguments against it, as in this Panda's Thumb post about a research paper by Douglas Axe. If it were not for ID, this research paper and the accompanying debate might not even exist. In the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, 85 scientists filed an amicus brief urging Judge Jones to not rule on the scientific merits of ID. As we know, Jones ignored them and went on to make a complete fool of himself by giving an ID-as-science ruling that he virtually copied from the plaintiffs' opening post-trial brief while ignoring the defendants' opening post-trial brief and the plaintiffs' and defendants' answering post-trial briefs (Jones has been criticized just for his extensive copying, but IMO the one-sidedness of his ID-as-science ruling is much worse than his extensive copying, which I can excuse because of the great volume of material in the case).

Also, it is not clear how Dr. Axe himself views the question of whether or not his paper supports ID. The author of the Panda's Thumb post, Arthur Hunt, says near the bottom,

Acknowledgements:
Thanks to the efforts of the PT crew, and particularly Ian Musgrave, who helped me keep this on topic. Also, many thanks are due to Douglas Axe, who graciously helped me with early drafts of this essay. Please note that all of these ideas are mine, and I make no claim that any of these thoughts represent Axe’s views.
(emphasis added)

Though Hunt makes no claim that his post represents Axe's views, the fact that Axe helped him write the post suggests that Axe at least partially agrees with Hunt's view that Axe's paper does not support ID. However, according to a post by Casey Luskin in Evolution News & Views, Axe gave the following unpublished response to a reporter from New Scientist magazine:

I have in fact confirmed that these papers add to the evidence for ID. I concluded in the 2000 JMB paper that enzymatic catalysis entails "severe sequence constraints". The more severe these constraints are, the less likely it is that they can be met by chance. So, yes, that finding is very relevant to the question of the adequacy of chance, which is very relevant to the case for design. In the 2004 paper I reported experimental data used to put a number on the rarity of sequences expected to form working enzymes. The reported figure is less than one in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. Again, yes, this finding does seem to call into question the adequacy of chance, and that certainly adds to the case for intelligent design.

Also, I am wondering how Luskin found out about the above response if it was not published.

Also, Luskin's article claims that the pro-ID Discovery Institute funded Axe's research, raising a question as to the impartiality of Axe's research paper. The Discovery Institute has been criticized for funding PR and not research, but this question of impartiality is a good reason why DI should not fund research.

Anyway, I don't think that Hunt's post is going to affect most people's views about ID. The post is too esoteric for most people -- even including many biologists -- to thoroughly understand, and even if one understands it, the author's word would have to be taken for a good part of it.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous captain howdy said...

"However, far from being a "science stopper," intelligent design (as well as other criticisms of Darwinism) advances science by forcing scientists to confront weaknesses of evolution theory."

Here's a thought--Rather than merely throwing rocks at Darwinism, how about apologists for Dembskiism advance science by proposing an actual mechanism by which the Intelligent Designer poofed the enzyme in question into existence?

That should be easy enough, I think. After all, Beheism touts itself as a revolutionary advance in the sciences, so how about it? Propose an actual mechanism that uses principles exclusive to design.

Besides, to judge from that Panda's Thumb article you cite the Godless Darwinists don't seem too terribly worried by Axe's paper--they provided a detailed rebuttal.

In the final analysis, tho, arcane arguments like these will become moot as soon as the Dembskiists cure their first disease using principles exclusive to supernatural/Raelian design "theory".

And finally, while we're discussing design can somebody explain something to me? In the fossil record, the first multi-celled organisms didn't appear until something like 3 billion years after the appearance of the first single-celled organisms. What kind of designer needs a 3 billion year time lag to unveil Life 2.0?

Monday, January 15, 2007 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

The intelligent design theories of Behe, Dembski (and Fred Hoyle, of whom the captain may not have yet heard) don't require that anything be "poofed" into existence. Intelligences can arrange pre-existing entities.

What kind of a designer operates with a time lag of billions of years? I don't know, any more than I can penetrate the innumerable other mysteries of existence. Such questions are theological or metaphysical, or otherwise speculative, and have nothing to do with rigorous scientific inferences, such as ID theory aims to draw.

Ambrose Bierce's definition of "erudition" led him to this poem: if I recall correctly:

So wide his Erudition's mighty span
He knew Creation's origin and plan:
And only came by accident to grief;
He thought, poor man, 'twas right to be a thief.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 2:01:00 PM  
Anonymous captain howdy said...

Hi Jim--

Thanks for your comments.

"The intelligent design theories of Behe, Dembski...don't require that anything be "poofed" into existence. Intelligences can arrange pre-existing entities."

Wait a minute. ID is supposed to be a legitimate alternate scientific theory, not shackeled to atheistic naturalism, that explains certain features of nature--like this enzyme, for instance--better than evolution does. Larry tells us that ID advances science, so let's see them do it here. If ID really is the valid alternate scientific theory it claims to be, then what is their alternate, stepwise, non-naturalism dependent, intelligent design based mechanism that explains how this enzyme came to be? I can't wait.
One reason so many of us say ID is a science stopper is because nearly all of it is directed toward bashing the universally accepted scientific explanation of evolution without so much as proposing an alternate step-by-step mechanism of their own.
Let's face it. ID is nothing more than a well-financed marketing ploy to replace modern science with Christian science. Have a look at their Wedge document if you doubt that.

~~El Capitain

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 8:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Peanut Gallery said...

< Intelligent design forces scientists to confront weaknesses of Darwinism >

Is that aspect part of the alleged intelligence involved?

And speaking of which, what effect(s) does Stupid Design or Venal Design have?

Saturday, January 20, 2007 3:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Jim Sherwood said...

The captain want's a "mechanism." But valid scientific inferences do not depend upon any reference to a "mechanism."

For instance, what is the "mechanism" whereby some events are correlated with others at vast distances, with no intervening signal? Quantum theory seems to require that.

"Mechanisms" may be fine to find, but they are not required for a scientific inference. It was scientifically established that cyanide was poisonous, long before it's mode of action was known.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 4:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Arthur Hunt said...

Hi Larry,

I just stumbled across this post and thought I would clear up a bit of confusion. You say that "..(t)hough Hunt makes no claim that his post represents Axe's views, the fact that Axe helped him write the post suggests that Axe at least partially agrees with Hunt's view that Axe's paper does not support ID. "

I would not put those words in Axe's mouth - that is why my disclaimer was so explicit. Axe was kind enough to proof-read the first section ("What Axe did" ) and help me present his study accurately, and in as plain a language as I could muster. He also had opportunity to read an early version of the third section, and needless to say he and I don't see eye-to-eye. I finished the second section without his help. (Not that I was "hiding" it from him - I lost track of Axe sometime after he left the UK and never had the opportunity to run Section 2 by him.)

Whether he agrees with the depiction in Section 2 (which IMO is spot-on, and spells out the crucial flaw in the IDists use of Axe 2004) is something I cannot comment on. But others should not leap to any conclusions.

Sunday, January 28, 2007 2:52:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Arthur Hunt said...

>>>>>> I finished the second section without his help. (Not that I was "hiding" it from him - I lost track of Axe sometime after he left the UK and never had the opportunity to run Section 2 by him.)

Whether he agrees with the depiction in Section 2 (which IMO is spot-on, and spells out the crucial flaw in the IDists use of Axe 2004) is something I cannot comment on. <<<<<<

Axe apparently believes that his paper supports ID. According to Casey Luskin's article, Axe gave the following unpublished response to New Scientist magazine:

I have in fact confirmed that these papers add to the evidence for ID . . . . . . Again, yes, this finding does seem to call into question the adequacy of chance, and that certainly adds to the case for intelligent design.

Maybe if he saw your Section 2 he would change his mind -- who knows. Anyway, I think that his opinion on this matter is important because he wrote the original paper. He was recently interviewed by Celeste Biever of New Scientist magazine and it appears that he is now at the Biologic Institute in Washington state.

Sunday, January 28, 2007 10:22:00 PM  

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