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Author Topic:   Biological Evidence Against Intelligent Design
Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 9 of 264 (543982)
01-22-2010 3:32 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by deerbreh
01-22-2010 11:45 AM

evidence against ID requires limits set on the designer
I don't want to sound either trite OR smug, but to be able to field evidence against design you have to have limits set on the ingenuity and guile of the designer.
Truly, there is no realistic way for us to tell if we were designed or not if the designer (assuming there is one) was clever enough to design everything so it looks entirely natural - if a designer were clever enough and determined enough to create lifeforms that looks just like us (maybe to prove some archaic point about believing before being worthy even in the face of apparent faked evidence) then to take a naturalistic viewpoint is the wrong answer because the crime scene was a setup.
So, what we're looking for is to say that the designer
* wasn't trying to pull a fast one (and make it look natural)
* must be capable of avoiding stupid decisions that end up with a rube goldberg machine
so that we can say that
* if we have evidence that whatever processes went on to make mankind and (say) ape, that they were shared processes, implying a common ancestor
* that the similarities service no current requirements (current in terms of 6000 years or so)
* any grevious mistakes and rube goldbergisms are signs of non-design (if any competent engineer could design a better knee, then the designer must be less smart than it's creation)
is that fair? I don't want to side-track the whole thread into nitpicking, but at least the first point has to stand to take this anywhere - if a perfectly powerful and ingenious and sneaky creator could make it look all natural and DID, we'd never be able to say anything about him, except that it's obviously not the god of the bible.

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Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 10 of 264 (543983)
01-22-2010 3:42 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Percy
01-22-2010 3:19 PM

The examples offered so far are all against a perfect designer, not an intelligent designer
Is it fair to say that the "design" (whether we agree it was designed or not), if it appears natural and sub-optimal, speaks against being a blueprints-and-clay-model production of a deity?
Or are you specifically saying that this human body is the best that god could come up with for some reason - maybe he was slacking or something?
I mean, why not give us the blood of an alligator? why put the funpark where the waste disposal is? nipples for men? rly? the fact we can get cancer, but a shark won't - that speaks volumes, unless you call the copout of "the fall". People choke on food - chimpanzees have a better design for chewing, drinking and breathing than we do, iirc, why did humans deserve second best?
This is the thing - there's a myriad of things that could be improved, and if you assume a powerful, intelligent creator that's massively smarter than us he shouldn't have missed this sort of thing.
for the purposes of this thread, I'm going to have assume he either outsourced mankind to india (no offence) or - all these defects really are evidence against ID.

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 Message 15 by RAZD, posted 01-22-2010 4:12 PM greyseal has replied

Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 20 of 264 (544064)
01-23-2010 4:41 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by RAZD
01-22-2010 4:12 PM

well that's just the issue...
RAZD writes:
We, as a model of intelligent designers, are increasingly using an evolutionary paradigm to find optimum designs for things, designs that would not be developed by normal "blueprints-and-clay-model" procedures.
These new designs outperform the "blueprints-and-clay-model" design process AND their design products.
Thus it makes sense to assume that this process could be used by an intelligent designer in order to reach an optimum design, and without having to put as much time into "blueprints-and-clay-models" or spend as much time refining and revising the output.
Oh, I agree it's possible that a god or gods could use evolution to design life-forms, but that's not what the bible thumpers who came up with ID believe.
That's the question I put to you all - do we draw the line under ID to mean "yahweh designed humans from a top-down approach and literally poofed us into existence a'la genesis", because in my opinion, the alternative is:
Of course this results in a process that is indistinguishable from non-design using the same process
something indistinguishable from non-design. Whilst your personal thoughts on the matter may be unknown at this point, I think it pointless to posit a designer that can design things as they are now such as to make design non-evident, as you then make ID untestable, unfalsifiable and altogether self-servingly circular and pointless.
Why assume that humans are the intended result?
ID proponents do. they believe that everything is made as it is, "evolution" is impossible, thus everything is static in an essentially unchanging world (microevolution notwithstanding). As humans are the smartest thing in the world, we must be the apex of creation and they know for a fact that everything was made for us. We are the best there is, because the designer was a perfect, supremely powerful being who doesn't make mistakes.

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 Message 24 by RAZD, posted 01-23-2010 11:07 AM greyseal has replied

Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 29 of 264 (544151)
01-24-2010 4:20 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by RAZD
01-23-2010 11:07 AM

Re: perhaps missing the point?
The designer would use this method because it is effective, not to deceive.
Of course you end up with something that is indistinguishable from non-design as we know it
Then how can we tell the difference?
If there is no difference between "evolution" and "evolution+1", why not save a step until you come up with a reason to doubt it?
And ignoring the issue is special pleading and begging the question, in order to arrive at the conclusion you want to reach.
RAZD, I usually agree with most of what you say, but this time I do not, because what you are positing is a process that gives us identical results to non-design.
It's not that I want to ignore the issue, it's just that your version of ID is impossible to test. You say that it's results are identical to what we would see should evolution (as we know it) occur naturally.
What's to test, in that case? the process itself is rendered invisible.
I don't disagree with it's possibility, but once more we've gone from material to immaterial evidence, that makes it pointless.
It's not that I want to build up ID to be some strawman argument, it's that your version of ID is Last Thursdayism - if it's not, please come up with a way that we could actually measure, test and investigate your version of ID, otherwise this entire thread is pointless.
It's not ignoring the issue, special pleading or begging the question, I'm just mystified as to the point of basically supposing that there is a deity behind everything when there is no apparent need to (as the results, as you say, are identical). It's not that there can't be, it's that Occam's Razor comes into play until such time as your "evolution+1" idea can be tested.
Is it faith alone that tells you you're right? It may as well be...
I think we both agree that ID is creationism, deeply flawed and relatively easy to refute (by it's presuppositions alone, given the facts of the history of this planet) - I think your idea of ID is interesting and deserves a thread of it's own, but unless you can find a way to refute it, it's use as a theory, a teaching aid or an avenue of investigation is pointless.

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 Message 30 by RAZD, posted 01-24-2010 11:46 AM greyseal has replied
 Message 31 by Blue Jay, posted 01-24-2010 12:02 PM greyseal has replied

Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 32 of 264 (544237)
01-25-2010 1:51 AM
Reply to: Message 30 by RAZD
01-24-2010 11:46 AM

Re: perhaps still missing the point?
Hi greyseal, sorry to be a wet blanket (devil's advocate) here
Being Devil's Advocate is fine, really.
Message 1: I propose a discussion on the question,
"What biological evidence is there against Intelligent Design?"
To answer this question properly one would need to know:
  • What biology looks like without design, and
  • What biology looks like with design.
Otherwise we are just making stuff up and pretending that our straw men are reality.
I somewhat agree with you, unfortunately it means that we not only have to be able to cross universes, but that we specifically have to find one that DOES have a deity as well as one that specifically DOES NOT have a deity.
Since that's quite a tall order, I think we're justified in using rational and logical processes to get the best answers possible in the situation we have, which is admittedly a sample set of 1.
Or do you not agree?
Isn't that nihilism, that we can't truly know anything for sure? Or something? I'm not a philosopher, but I digress, it's somewhat off topic.
To me the fact that an intelligent designer could use evolution, that the evolutionary paradigms are proving extremely useful to human design that the assumption that they would not be used by a designer is an impractical assumption, is reason enough to be skeptical, to doubt, to ask questions.
Why rule out a possibility a priori if you are approaching a topic with an open mind?
In other words make an unfounded assumption and then base our straw man argument on that?
No it doesn't belong in the quote, I put that there - you're making an assumption a priori and apparently saying that because your idea can't be disproven (when you've stated that it is disprovable) that it must be true.
If that's not what you're saying, please correct me.
It's not that I don't agree it could be true, but you have said yourself that your idea posits a designer that has used evolution as it appears to work, and has set up the world as it appears to be, in such a way that it is impossible to tell if there was a designer (there's certainly no "made in paradise" labels or ©god stamps).
I don't think it's justifiable to say "because you can't disprove it, it must exist" - simple parsimony defeats such circular reasoning.
If you think I don't agree that you could be right, then allow me to say that yes, you could be correct, but I also think it's entirely fruitless to persue an avenue of thought where every single fact and observation that has not only been made but can ever be made fits with your viewpoint?
It's not scientific, it's philosophical. The only thing that could disprove your theory is to discover that we DO have a god (a designer) that didn't intend to use evolution the way it has apparently "been used".
RAZD, I usually agree with most of what you say, but this time I do not, because what you are positing is a process that gives us identical results to non-design.
Ah, so you disagree because you don't like the results? Cognitive dissonance is like that (sorry, I had to throw that in for the monthly installment).
No, I disagree because it gives us no results whatsoever. I thought that was obvious.
When you consider all the possibilities of an issue and find that there is no immediate conclusion to be derived from the available evidence, do you just throw out possibilities until you can reach a conclusion, or do you conclude that the available evidence is insufficient to reach a proper conclusion?
so your argument goes like this:
designer --> universe --> earth --> abiogenesis --> evolution --> us
and the FACTS say
universe --> earth --> abiogenesis --> evolution --> us
why are YOU inserting something you have no proof FOR?
I could imagine all number of things that fulfill your premise - must I fill up my head with phantasms that in no way aid investigation into the facts, to produce a "proper" answer?
See, I'm not throwing out anything, but you're making shit up.
EDIT: I've thought about this a bit, and I think this example may help clarify things a bit:
Take the face on Mars:-
*) at this point in time, since we cannot actually go there in person and make sure, we have seen either an example of pareidolia OR an actual face, correct?
*) It is not absolutely clear whether or not the "face" was Designed or not, correct?
*) It is obviously possible that very intelligent aliens could have made the face - AND made it so fundamentally indistinct that it only appears to be a face from certain angles, such that we may NEVER be sure, even after physically going there and ascertaining whether there is evidence of tool-use and other irregularities that we *currently* catalogue as being designed (a'la ancient flint tools)
Now, given these facts - and I think you'll have to agree with me on them - would you see a point in demanding that people believe that aliens made a face that is, to all intents and purposes (including within the "aliens did it!" theory), mere pareidolia?
Would you demand that these aliens be investigated?
What would you investigate, and what would your findings show?
Would continued non-proof of the design of the rock structure such that, under certain lighting conditions it looks somewhat like a face, prove aliens DID exist or DID NOT exist, or that you CAN'T TELL? And would this answer be useful to anyone, anywhere, ever?
Edited by greyseal, : rock face on mars question - yes, seriously

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 Message 30 by RAZD, posted 01-24-2010 11:46 AM RAZD has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 45 by RAZD, posted 01-25-2010 9:50 PM greyseal has replied

Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 33 of 264 (544239)
01-25-2010 2:00 AM
Reply to: Message 31 by Blue Jay
01-24-2010 12:02 PM

Re: perhaps missing the point?
I think the whole point of RAZD's argument is that Occam's Razor, by itself, is not evidence of anything: it's just our means of drawing conclusions when we have no evidence.
My objection is that he's making shit up rather than looking at how things are and how they appear to work, he is saying "oh, that's perfectly capable of being done by a supreme deity" - which leads us precisely nowhere
The thread is about finding evidence that refutes ID, and RAZD is saying that this can't be done. If ID is untestable, then it is untestable, and the conclusion of this thread should rightly be that there is no biological evidence against Intelligent Design.
And my question is "what ID are we looking at" ? Because quite rightly, since the ID he posits is unfalsifiable, such a thing leads to the conclusion that we cannot disprove it - but it's circular and pointless and I don't think it has any validity. It uses no facts, proves nothing and disproves nothing. there is no evidence against it because there is no evidence FOR it.
If, on the other hand, the ID we're looking at is the ID we see fundies trying to push into schools, that's something which can actually be discussed meaningfully.
My question therefore is "do you really want to put ID up on a pedastal and claim victory over something which is useless" ?
Don't get me wrong, RAZD's version of ID is useless. It has no predictive power, it teaches nothing, it needs nothing, it is a perfect tautology. It has no evidence either for or against.
The fact that we can't prove the Earth was here for us even can't be used against it, nor that dinosaurs came first and were wiped out - "oh" says our resident zen deist, "that was obviously the way it must have been done because that's the way it happened", and that's what he can say about EVERYTHING that ever was, is OR WILL BE.

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Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by Blue Jay, posted 01-25-2010 9:46 AM greyseal has replied

Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 34 of 264 (544240)
01-25-2010 2:09 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by Iblis
01-23-2010 8:53 AM

Re: Let's Argue Against a Real Theory of Intelligent Design
These guys are gone though. Who is working now who talks like this, instead of the way people like Dembski scurry around between the lines in Genesis?
I don't think the guys you're quoting (not all of them at least) would call what they're talking about "ID" - although I haven't read enough to know for sure.
One question though - is panspermia "Intelligent Design"?
I thought that "design" implies intent - as in the OUTCOME is important (i.e. the designer would be aiming specifically for homo sapiens rather than just spreading life). Panspermia as it appears to be described requires no intelligence, and does not include any design.

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 Message 35 by Iblis, posted 01-25-2010 3:10 AM greyseal has replied

Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 36 of 264 (544255)
01-25-2010 5:25 AM
Reply to: Message 35 by Iblis
01-25-2010 3:10 AM

Re: Let's Argue Against a Real Theory of Intelligent Design
One question though - is panspermia "Intelligent Design"?
Right, don't misunderstand the argument. Genuine panspermia theory, pre-biotic molecules or even simple lifeforms arriving on chunks of meterorite or comet-tail and kicking things off, is definitely not intelligent design. But directed panspermia, the idea of life being sent here to seed the planet for some reason, in much the way that we might someday wish to seed other planets like Mars, would be intelligent design.
I wouldn't call directed panspermia "intelligent design" either - this time the intelligent bit is right, but I wouldn't call "chucking this stuff at that planet" as "design" unless, after the seeding there were various episodes of interference to produce a specific outcome (for instance, one could theorize that the earth was protected enough to let life develop, but that the dinosaurs were seen as not the right stuff and as such were wiped out - but the resultant mammal population once more protected.
Presumably evidence of breeding intelligence (black monoliths for example) were removed once they'd done their job - or at least are so well hidden that we haven't found any.
RAZD's argument starts becoming important from this view. If they are using evolutionary design methods to accomplish something, what is that thing? And what does it tell us about them? If it's walking, standing upright, well, to start with, they are incompetent. If it is intelligence, though, and standing and walking are just adjuncts to that, well, still, the intelligence is severely clouded by other things. More likely its just an adjunct too.
It's a valid and interesting theory, but it still remains essentially unprovable in and of itself unless "mistakes" or evidence one way or the other can be found.
As you say, if they wanted "walking and standing upright" then their design is suboptimal for that task - I'd call it evidence against design rather than evidence against intelligence, as I wouldn't label "disinterested but directed panspermia using natural evolution" as "design" and certainly wouldn't call it "Intelligent Design" because "ID" is decidedly judeo-christian in origin and posits a yahweh designer who doesn't work that way at all.
In many ways I wish the fundies WOULD see ID as the way you and RAZD put it - whilst offering nothing in itself, it poses various questions that CAN be used to discover facts and infer truths about ourselves - for instance it would seem possible that what we call the chemistry of life may not be entirely "native" to this planet, and I would assume that this theory can be tested - do we find precurors to life out there in comets and interstellar debris? Can we rule out this occuring naturally?

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Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by Iblis, posted 01-25-2010 7:24 AM greyseal has replied

Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 38 of 264 (544272)
01-25-2010 7:58 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by Iblis
01-25-2010 7:24 AM

Re: Let's Argue Against a Real Theory of Intelligent Design
If it's science, that's the science that it is. The people who come in here week in and week out claiming that they are going to prove ID is more scientific than evolution and then just point at things they don't understand about evolution instead, this is the science they are supposed to be doing, but they don't know how. They don't know how because the Discovery Institute pawns don't actually do any such science. They can't, their parishioners would kill them.
oh I'm very much with you - I just see RAZD's definition as being such a tautology as to be a dead idea.
I wish the fundies who think ID so wonderful would do their work as if it were the science they ape - it would a perfect example I would drag into every single school everywhere of how you DON'T do science.
I'd have a nice list - all the mistakes, tautologies, errors, omissions and tainted data that these ID clowns come up with - and I'd teach the next generation of real scientists to not only avoid these same mistakes but to recognize them for what they are.

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Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 40 of 264 (544293)
01-25-2010 10:07 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by Blue Jay
01-25-2010 9:46 AM

Re: perhaps missing the point?
I understand perfectly. And, I agree with you. And that's why I agree with him that this thread's central concept is invalid on its face.
Can I ask a question of you and/or RAZD?
Is RAZD's hypothetical ID (which I have no other label for despite it's differences with "mainstream" ID) just a hypothetical creation, or is he actually suggesting it as a valid hypothesis?
You can't force IDists to have a falsifiable theory, and, if they don't have one, then we just can't use an empirical, scientific approach to disprove it. Yeah, it's frustrating; but those are the breaks.
Well there's the rub - the ID that creationists have come up with IS falsifiable. It starts off with "there's a designer, and he's intelligent" and...does apparently nothing but deal out arguments from ignorance and incredulity and totally miss out the fact that the fact we've had the dinosaurs and they got wiped out, men have nipples, alligator blood is better than human and so on, would seem to indicate that the designer either doesn't actually DESIGN so much as "let run amok". In which case the designer hasn't actually designed in the manner they suggest - they say "what if you came upon this {insert man-made object here} on a beach" and then conclude that because they can't understand how {insert incredulity about biological feature} is "complex" (which they never define) that "it must be design" (which sounds like the blueprints-and-scaled-model idea.
They specifically speak out AGAINST evolution, when we can see shared genes, ERV's, morphological similarities and much more that proves beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt that evolution really has occured.
If they speak FOR blueprints-and-scaled-models and AGAINST evolution, then the facts of life falsify everything they stand for at this time.
A proper theory of ID - similar to what RAZD is suggesting, would look a hell of a lot like evolution with special pleading that {certain unnamed special occurences} have to have been "designed" (or made to happen with intent) - which I agree, the parishers would absolutely murder them for it, and sounds a lot like E.T phoned it in...

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Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 65 of 264 (544549)
01-27-2010 12:37 AM
Reply to: Message 45 by RAZD
01-25-2010 9:50 PM

Re: perhaps still missing the point?
No, the point is that because you can't disprove it, you can't assume it is false.
No, the point is that because you can't prove it, you should not assume it is true.
Simple logic dictates that non-invalidated possibilities need to be considered in any complete evaluation.
true, but (and here's the rub) I can spend my time conjuring phantasms and contemplating the colour of the invisible unicorns (pink is the current trend), the noodlyness of invisible appendages, the precise orbit for optimum invisibility of orbiting teapots - OR I can consider these ideas and give them the brief airing they require (no proof FOR or AGAINST? okay - possible but has zero impact) and then go back to studying the facts.
You really ARE saying that "because it can't be disproved, it must be true"? REALLY?

This message is a reply to:
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 Message 80 by RAZD, posted 01-27-2010 10:31 PM greyseal has replied

Member (Idle past 3973 days)
Posts: 464
Joined: 08-11-2009

Message 83 of 264 (544768)
01-28-2010 9:19 AM
Reply to: Message 80 by RAZD
01-27-2010 10:31 PM

No, I think I get it
No, the point is that because you can't prove it, you should not assume it is true.
And I'm not saying you have to, as there is a large grey area called I-don't-know. Places where people with interest in the question can pursue it, and others can let it slide until more evidence comes along.
It's not that I don't think people should wonder about our origins, and it's not that I don't think you have a valid hypothesis - you do - it's just that IMHO your hypothesis as it appears to be is a tautology and can never be falsified and never proven.
I agree (really, I get it, and I agree) that in a sample set of 1, it's entirely possible that everything we see is a product of a god or gods (I'm going to discount panspermia because that's natural, and "directed panspermia" because it's not "design", and nothing less than a being or beings powerful enough to be called gods could interfere in the magnitude you suggest and yet still remain invisible) BUT I think spending five minutes on it as an idea is more than enough to conclude that, whilst valid, it can never tell us anything.
I think you don't understand MY replies, at this point - yes you're a ZEN deist, I get that to, but your ID is as scientific as the question "what's the sound of one hand clapping".
My objection is that it's not what "ID" proponents think of as ID - their version of ID is as crazy and baseless as their idea of Noah's Ark and just as easy to falsify. I'm sorry that the ID as envisaged by ID proponents is a straw man, don't blame me, seriously!
The point remains that you just cannot claim that there is biological evidence against a hypothetical ID, based on what you see from evolution, and then say that certain ID concepts cannot be considered as a counter argument.
Even when the counter argument is the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and chanting "lalalalaaa I can't hear you"?
There's no argument against the position that every fact that ever was, is or will be discovered could be manipulated by a supremely powerful deity to hide the fact of it's existence in a perfect manner, or are you denying that your argument is non-falsifiable?
Is it customary to debate something which is non-debatable? I may as well demand a yes/no answer to "are you still beating your wife?".
The thing is, I get it. I get your point. Sample set of 1. No proof there is no designer (no matter how disinterested). Fine. Great. Can I get back to something that makes a difference now?
Personally, I would be very, very glad if those IDiots over at CSI would believe in a designer like you posit, so that they could spend an eternity contemplating such a powerful entity and stop bugging scientists with their hair-brained ideas about special creation and a 6000 year old flat earth.
If you want to argue against neutered straw men, then have fun playing with dolls.
I'd rather play with dolls than have an imaginary friend.

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