• ID Swings and Misses… Again.

    Klinghoffer has written a post introducing the new ID video. This video is supposed to explain ID in a “an easily accessible twenty-minute crystallization of ID’s major argument”.

    Sorry Dude, we all know what the ID argument is. Things are complicated, therefore design. It’s the exact same argument that William Paley promoted in 1802. In more than 200 years, Christian apologists still haven’t realized that this is flawed argument.

    The first 2 minutes of the video are just some shiny music, some text questions.  Then the big question “Where does information come from?” Then, the mistakes start. The video states that before the Cambrian Explosion, the “oceans were almost completely void of animal life”. That’s simply not true. As I have discussed at length, Meyer (and Klinghoffer since he says he wrote the script) are lying about the existence of species before the Cambrian Explosion. Further, they ignore the research that shows the genetic basis for the new body plans were present millions of years prior to the Cambrian.

    The video goes on about how ten million years later, the water were “suddenly alive”. Again, totally not true. The mystery of the Cambrian has only deepened to people who haven’t kept up with current research on the topic. I’ve debunked most of what Meyer has said about the Cambrian.

    There’s a nice false equivalence in the video too. Yes, when you change letters in a language or code in a computer it’s almost always bad. But that is not true for biology, which is significantly more fault tolerant than anything constructed by an intelligence that we know about. In fact, the vast majority of mutations are neutral… that is, they have no effect on anything. Meyer continues talking about this idea as if it hasn’t already been tested. It’s a big question… no, it’s not. You’re several decades behind current research… still.

    Oh good, the “historical” scientific method and how it’s different from the “observable” scientific method. Another attempt to discredit science. That’s all it is. Nothing is done in historical science that isn’t done in modern science. I’ve talked about this before as well. And here too.

    Having watched the entire (yes, I took the shot for you), there is no definition of “information” in this video. Which is a huge problem… or an advantage. If it’s not defined, then the definition can change depending on who you talk to and what they say. I’ve seen this before and I think anyone with experience dealing with ID advocates can say the same. First there was Complex Specified Information. Then there was Function Complex Specified Information. Then they created the Law of Conservation of Information.

    But again, without defining information in a meaningful, mathematically rigorous way, it’s all meaningless.

    But that’s all old stuff. I really want to talk about what Klinghoffer says in his blog post. It’s really interesting. He says this right after the video…

    ID stands out from other scientific ideas in a couple of ways. First, unlike other theories, it asks an ultimate question: Does life bear witness to being the product of intelligence, wisdom, purpose? Is your life, my life, therefore potentially also the object of care, even love on the part of a designer standing outside nature?

    First, it is arguable that ID is science. If it is, then it has failed miserably and should be regarded with the aether theory of light and astrology as mistaken and severely flawed attempts to understand reality.

    Second, science (and this still seems to confuse creationists) doesn’t deal with things “outside of nature”. If it’s not a part of the material (including energy) universe, then science doesn’t deal with it. Yes, science is a purely naturalist system, because that’s all that has ever been shown to exist. If something is ever able to interact with the natural universe, then it becomes part of that natural universe.

    Third, I read that paragraph and I’m struck by how non-sciency it sounds. “Wisdom”, “purpose”, “love”, “life is the object of care” (and isn’t that an unnecessarily complex phrase?) You know where I remember hearing things like that? I’ve never heard those things in any biology class (except animal behavior), but I heard a lot of that in church. Klinghoffer (and the rest of the ID team) are heavily promoting the Christian faith. That’s the purpose of ID. There is no difference between ID and scientific creationism, which sought to explain Noah’s Flood and other such Bible stories.

    Just as an example, of the 10 speaking events listed on Meyer’s homepage, 7 are in churches or sponsored by Christian organizations. There is not a single speaking event at a scientific society conference or event listed.

    Klinghoffer continues…

    Or on the other hand, do blind, unguided, natural forces fully explain the fact that I, a biological creature, am writing this while you, another biological creature, decode and understand the alphabetic characters I have arranged?

    This is a very good and subtle, false equivalency error. We know that languagea are created systems (that have evolved) because humans created them. This is a critical point for ID proponents that they refuse to acknowledge. They don’t know if their designer even exists. Indeed, almost by definition, they cannot know. First, they absolutely refuse to look for the designer. They will not discuss the designer. They will not consider the designer’s abilities, tools, knowledge, wisdom, lifespan, etc.  Second, the designer (as they keep saying) is a supernatural entity. They mean God, but they don’t know and can’t know whether it was Allah, Jesus, Cthulhu, Odin, Quetzalcoatl, or any other of a million deities.

    Another thing that they refuse to acknowledge is that the systems that they say require a designer, consistently are found to have plausible paths in the know processes of evolution. I say plausible, because that’s what they are. We may never know exactly how these things happened. And before my ID readers pounce on that sentence, I will remind you that you have yet to even show that your designer is plausible.

    Second, while other theories are far more difficult to grasp — general relativity, for example — no one sets out to invert Einstein’s meaning, turning his account of curved spacetime into a sinister parody to scare away independent-minded scientists and thoughtful laypeople. ID uniquely faces squads of activists committed to a rival idea, Darwinism, who specialize in confusing the public, casting ID as “creationism” or “science denial.”

    Apparently Klinghoffer has never read a history of general relativity. Einstein published the information on general relativity in 1915 and in 1925, there were still people who tried to discredit the idea.

    There are some huge differences between general relativity (and Einstein) and intelligent design. First, Einstein presented his ideas to the science community… not, for example, in popular books and youtube videos. Second, he accepted criticism of his ideas and worked to make them better (making some mistakes and correcting them is an inherit strength of the process of science. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a creationist ever admit to a mistake (especially when they are pointed out with detailed explanations), much less actually discuss the ideas of intelligent design with an eye for correcting it’s flaws. Third, Einstein’s theory (eventually) made multiple predictions, all of which have been confirmed to very high statistical accuracy. Intelligent design has never made a prediction… prior to a discovery being announced.

    ID faces squads of activists because ID proponents have attempted, on multiple occasions to try to get intelligent design creationism taught in secondary schools prior to an actual theory of ID being formed… That’s theory in the scientific sense meaning an idea that has lots and lots of supporting evidence. Combine that with the obvious religious status of the pro-ID movement and you should be able to see why ID has activists against it. In this way, it is not science. It is a socio-religious movement whose goal is to get Biblical creationism into schools. The court records verify this.

    Yet the evolutionary defense force is sometimes aided — let’s be honest — by the density of the scientific case for ID. Darwinian theory is actually a far easier idea to hold in the mind. I believe that The Information Enigma comes as close to simplifying ID down to the essentials, while remaining true to the science, as anyone has done before.

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever read. The “density” of the case for ID. I’m more concerned with the “thickheadedness” of the ID proponents.

    To have a case for ID, one must have evidence, not flawed analogies.

    We’ve already talked about information. Klinghoffer will mention something else later on which I will crush as well.

    Until now, when journalists and other Darwin advocates rolled out the silly definition of ID as the notion that “life is too complicated” to be the product of Darwinian evolution, we have responded by suggesting they study up on the work of Stephen Meyer, Douglas Axe, Ann Gauger, Michael Behe, and other ID scientists.

    So now journalists are Darwin advocates. That’s funny too. I would like to remind Klinghoffer and other ID creationists that Darwin is not the patron saint of evolution. Darwin, would marvel at the strides we’ve made in changing and improving his ideas. He would be stunned by the level of detail we know about the evolution of life on this planet. But his ideas, while very good, were also very general and highly improved upon over the last 150 years. To continue to talk about Darwin, just shows how confused ID proponents are.

    As far as the scientists that he mentions here, I should point out that Meyer has never published an article in a peer-reviewed journal (well, he did once, but it was revoked).  Then Meyer lied about Sternberg. That link also points to a strong critique of one of Axe’s papers.

    To be honest, there is more work supporting evolution, published every month than all the ID scientists combined have published in their lifetimes. While quantity does not reflect quality (or accuracy), it does not help support the ID case. Yes, Galileo went against the majority and ended up being right. But he had evidence.  The papers that ID people do publish are either so flawed as to be meaningless or do not do what they say they do.

    Now the information argument for ID is on YouTube, instantly available to anyone in the media, in education, in science, or anybody at all with an open mind and a few minutes to spare.

    I love this so much. I’ve said it again and again. If there was evidence for ID, it would not first appear on youtube. I also note how he mentions “an open mind”. It’s good to have an open mind. But when ID has been crushed again and again for two decades, it’s time to hang it up. But the promoters can’t. Many of them make their living off of lying. And, of course, they have a socioreligious agenda to promote over reality.

    In the past 3.5 billion years, only 10 to the 40th power (1040) organisms have ever lived. Each such individual organism represents a potential trial of the creativity of unguided evolution. If we grant the exceedingly generous (and highly unrealistic!) assumption that random mutations gifted every single organism in Earth’s history with an entirely new peptide sequence 150 amino acids long, then that figure, 1040, is still just a tiny fraction — one ten trillion, trillion, trillionth — of the earlier figure, 1077, which quantifies the space to be searched to produce a lone functional protein. Sufficient time is just not available for Darwinian evolution to do the job. Not even close.

    And here it is. Klinghoffers argument. One that is so fundamentally flawed that I’d be embarrassed to use it.

    First of all, this is the argument from big scary numbers. IF (and that’s a huge “if”) what Klinghoffer (and others who use this argument) said was all true, it would be a problem. But it’s not quite true.

    What he’s assuming here is that every new protein sequence just appears in the organism fully formed and working perfectly. Which is faulty on a couple of accounts. First, there are multiple proteins, for example, that can accomplish the same task. In a recent blog post, I talked about an experiment in which a random library of one trillion proteins were assembled. Of those one trillion, 4 of them could bind with ATP. Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but there are trllions of trillions of random sequences, if even a fraction of a percent can do a particular job then the “odds” are significantly reduced. Plus, there are many proteins that can bind with multiple substrates.

    Further, no one, not one single actual biologist thinks that any protein was magically formed, from scratch. Biologists think, and have significant evidence to support, the idea that all proteins come from something called DNA (in a relatively simple process). That DNA is capable of changing. These changes are called mutations. And the mutations are fairly common. Plus (and this will destroy the idea that biological processes can’t create information), sometimes the DNA is copied. So that there are multiple copies of DNA producing the same protein. Of course, one of those DNA sequences can change, producing a new protein.  One that is new, with potentially new binding abilities, but very closely related to the previous one. We have many examples of this.

    And that’s why Klinghoffer’s big scary number is a red herring. Because it does not reflect how biological systems work. These system reproduce themselves and sometimes the copies are different from the original. Thus, A) increasing the information content of the population and B) generating diverse new DNA and/or proteins.

    In our video, Meyer points out the great scientific revelation of the second half of the 20th century is the discovery that life, like the article you are presently decoding, is composed of something like an alphabetic string, one that conveys meaning in just the same way that alphabetic code does. Intelligent design’s simplest and most powerful insight is to show that coded information, whether in a book, a blog post, or a DNA molecule, invariably derives from a purposeful arrangement of characters.

    The first phrase is true enough. The rest is wrong.

    It is possible, for a young child, or someone with no knowledge of biology to need an analogy to understand the complexity of DNA. But the analogy is not an argument for or against. It is a teaching tool and must always include the caveat that it is just an analogy and will fail at some point.

    DNA is not like a code of letters. We frequently use letters to represent the chemical bases that are a small part of DNA. But there is so much else going on. Some parts of DNA modify other parts of DNA that may be hundreds or thousands of letters away. An analogy for that is if the author intended for a particular paragraph near the front of the book to change a paragraph near the end of the book. Not interpret it differently, but make it not visible to you. It’s a dynamic book. If you read paragraph 12, then paragraph 200 will disappear entirely.

    There are also dozens of different chemicals that change how DNA is interpreted. These chemicals can come from the environment or be generated by the body. This can be imagined as if someone spilled a coke on your book, half of the “a”s in the book suddenly turned to “e”s. Radiation can damage the code. But enzymes can fix the code… most of the time. Sometimes damage to one section of DNA can radically alter how the rest of the DNA in the cell works. For example, accidentally tearing the corner of a page of your book can cause more and more books to appear on your shelf.

    Sometimes other factors can also interfere with DNA. Viruses can insert DNA into a cell. If that DNA is subsequently damaged, then the remnant will stick around. These are called ERVs. It’s like if someone wrote some notes in your book, then every version of the book after that will have those notes in them.

    I could go on and on about this. These are not simple processes. And it is trivial to show that many of them are random or nearly random. Those random changes might result in bad changes or good changes.

    And that last bit is the ultimate argument against design. We can actually see these changes. We can watch them happen, take the organisms, extract their DNA, and show what mutation happened and when it happened. In all the times that this type of experiment has been done, no one has ever seen a hint of a designer’s activity. Everything has been possible through known natural processes. Every. Single. Time.

    The video is just a regeneration of Darwin’s Doubt. Which is so wrong, it’s not worth reading.

    Their entire argument is based on a flawed analogy. Still…

    If this is Intelligent Design in a Nutshell, then intelligent design is flawed, full of bad arguments, poor analogies, shockingly bad research and offers no explanation for anything that actually happens in the real world.


    Category: CreationismEvolutionfeaturedScienceSkepticism


    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat