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Author Topic:   Can't ID be tested AT ALL?
Tusko
Member (Idle past 178 days)
Posts: 615
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 1 of 304 (242889)
09-13-2005 10:07 AM


It is a truth universally ancknowledged (by evolution-philes anyway) that ID isn't testable, so its pretty unhelpful at explaining anything very much.
Okay. But what could be done to make it testable? How could it be bent, broken, chopped or augmented to make it testable?
Perhaps the changes would have to be novel - perhaps even as mad as a mongoose - but I imagine there might be something that could be done to make it testable.
Perhaps though, I'm wrong, and there is something inherent to ID that makes testing it logically impossible, unless it is distorted out of all recognition.
Any thoughts?

Replies to this message:
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AdminBen
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Message 2 of 304 (242890)
09-13-2005 10:08 AM


Post copied here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

Parasomnium
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Posts: 2224
Joined: 07-15-2003


Message 3 of 304 (242904)
09-13-2005 10:34 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tusko
09-13-2005 10:07 AM


Testability of ID is not logically impossible.
Testability of ID is not a logical impossibility, if only because ID itself is not logically impossible. We ourselves are living proof of that: we have made lots of intelligently designed objects. (An alien could have an ID hypothesis about one of the probes we sent out into space. It could test this hypothesis by following the path of the probe in the opposite direction and find us.)
Now, if something is not logically impossible, then it can be true. And if something can be true, then, if it is true, it is logically impossible to prove it untrue.
Science works on the basis of hypotheses that are constantly under scrutiny, to see if some way can be found to disprove them. But scientific hypotheses are only scientific because these ways to disprove them can be formulated at all.
For ID, no one has ever formulated a way to disprove it. So, although ID is a logically possible hypothesis, it is not a scientific one until some test has been proposed that could prove it false. And such a test would have to be concerned with the defining tenet of ID, namely that life is too complex to have arisen without the help of an intelligent designer.
The question is thus whether such a test can ever be formulated.
{edited to change "would prove it false" into "could prove it false"}
This message has been edited by Parasomnium, 13-Sep-2005 10:20 PM

We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further. - Richard Dawkins

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Modulous
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Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 4 of 304 (242907)
09-13-2005 10:35 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tusko
09-13-2005 10:07 AM


To test ID
One way would be to understand the designer. Once we've done that we can then say what we would expect that designer to do, and test to see if that is what we find. So, perhaps something like "I am the alpha" appearing at the start of all DNA sequences.
This is exactly what ToE does and is subject to testing. It defines the designer - mutations coupled with selection (to simplify), and then uses that to make tests of what we would expect to find.
However, the ID movement refuses to actually define their designer, rendering testing for its involvement impossible. The only part of their designer they seem willing to define is 'intelligence'. We don't know what kind of intelligence we should find or what the goal of this intelligence was. As such we cannot detect if that kind of intelligence was involved.
ID does things backwards. It says, if something cannot be explicitly explained with natural explanations, it must have been guided by an intelligent agent. Just like Lightening was Thor. This leaves ID with the position of 'since we don't know exactly how x occurred, it must have been our explanation.'
Until we actually have a description of our intelligent designer I don't think it can be tested, anymore than evolution could be tested before a description of the natural designer was formulated.

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Sylas
Member (Idle past 5337 days)
Posts: 766
From: Newcastle, Australia
Joined: 11-17-2002


Message 5 of 304 (242914)
09-13-2005 10:45 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tusko
09-13-2005 10:07 AM


"Intelligent Design" covers a whole range of notions.
At one end of the spectrum, we have the orthodox Christian view, that everything is created by God. In this model, all things work together according to God's purpose, and hence no natural thing can be held up as a case where design does not have a role. This is a reasonable metaphysical perspective; but it is not a testable scientific model, precisely because there is no separation into things designed and things not designed.
At the other end of the spectrum, there is a view I consider to be basically animistic, although strangely there are many Christians who seem to like it these days. This is the view that God works a bit like a space alien, intervening to make some things, in contrast to other things formed naturally. Michael Behe, for example, advocates this stunted form of ID, and made the bizarre claim that God's activity was basically of the same kind as what you would get from an intelligent alien. According to Behe, it requires faith to identify the interventions as being from God rather than a space alien. See this extract:
Q. In your view, does embracing intelligent design require one to believe in God?
A. Although intelligent design fits comfortably with a belief in God, it doesn't require it, because the scientific theory doesn't tell you who the designer is. While most people -- including me -- will think the designer is God, some people might think that the designer was a space alien or something odd like that.
The conclusion that parts of life were intentionally designed can be supported with scientific evidence. The further deduction that the designer is God requires philosophical and theological arguments.
”Extracted from Behe Interview in Pittsburgh,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 8, 2001, Thursday, Pg. C-1
Such an interventionist designer-of-the-gaps might be testable; but so far the only tests proposed have been merely silly. Behe, for example, proposes "irreducible complexity"; which shows nothing since IC can result from natural processes just fine. But the more serious problem is that if these clowns ever come up with an actual test, they risk showing that most of the natural world does not arise by design.
Cheers -- Sylas

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nwr
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Posts: 6418
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 6 of 304 (242995)
09-13-2005 2:48 PM


Being scientific
I hope this is in the spirit of the OP. I want to look at what ID theorists should be doing to make ID scientific.
They currently have a concept of specified complexity. They should start with that, and develop a measuring procedure whereby they could measure the degree of an object, whether that object be a rock, a snowflake, a geode or a mouse.
Since they want to deal with design, they should also be investigating empirical procedures for locating/identifying the designer.
With those two parts in place, they could then attempt an empirical investigation on what the degree of specified complexity implies about design.
Comment 1: I suspect that a measuring procedure for specified complexity will turn out to present an unsolvable problem. I am inclined to suspect that the concept itself is ill conceived. But perhaps if they attempted to find a measuring procedure they could develop an alternative to specified complexity.
Comment 2: Finding the designer will probably be an easier problem. I suggest "follow the money" as a methodology. That is, look for the beneficiary of the design. Moreover, I expect that this investigation will reveal that there are very clear distinctions between designed things and evolved things.

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CK
Member (Idle past 4205 days)
Posts: 3221
Joined: 07-04-2004


Message 7 of 304 (242997)
09-13-2005 2:56 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Sylas
09-13-2005 10:45 AM


Behe interview (Guardian 12/09/05)
And this was yesterday:
quote:
JS: It's no secret that you are a Catholic. But, as I understand it, your scientific theory does not predicate God in any form whatsoever. You've suggested that the designer could even be some kind of evil alien. Is that right?
MB: That's exactly correct. All that the evidence from biochemistry points to is some very intelligent agent. Although I find it congenial to think that it's God, others might prefer to think it's an alien - or who knows? An angel, or some satanic force, some new age power. Something we don't know anything about yet.
JS: But you're not reinserting God into the mix?
A design for life | Science | The Guardian

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Brad McFall
Member (Idle past 5110 days)
Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 8 of 304 (243073)
09-13-2005 6:03 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tusko
09-13-2005 10:07 AM


RNA?
I would guess that someone with encyclopedic knowledge of RNA might be able to set up a series of statements about population crashes (formerly within Drsophila studies)that do not involve losses of adaptibility but only changes in the way RNA effects relations BETWEEN proteins and DNA (such as seeing Introns as linked lists etc )in such a way that non-god designers might make predictions from where some form of biblical creation also motivates the researcher(s) after hours rather than a good pub beer.
Currently there is only stress in biology about hybrids phenotypically this would have to be involved in the design genomically. How to do that without dividing the field (the relation of ID to other forms of creationism is ALREADY Divided) is still a mystery to me. It is possible that what I suggest can be accomodated by stict evo thought but it is much easier to think about when one is not think'n bout it to assume GOD DID IT. Then at least some rest ensues. It would have to address Newton's notinon of absolute space in the space of the species as a class but the individual population would HAVE to be defined. Mayr asserted in 88 this was impossible.
I think that pursuing Macrothermodynamics would be an eaiser course to think through as it will be more easily understood by current scienctists than some form of ID that is currently out the pale and not even thinking outside the box

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Brad McFall
Member (Idle past 5110 days)
Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 9 of 304 (243075)
09-13-2005 6:11 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by CK
09-13-2005 2:56 PM


Re: Behe interview (Guardian 12/09/05)
quote:
Is there a bottom line in microscopic terms - a ground level below which you can't get any further into the structure of matter?
MB: Yes. We're at the molecular level of biology and from physics we know that's where it ends.
JS: And the baseline is irreducible complexity?
MB: Exactly.
from your link
Now I can think beyond this assuming all of current evo and ID is true but this is way speculative. While it is true that quarks and the weak force can be excluded from equilibrium nature of biology there is no reason that large galatic correlations to bizzare physical linkages can not be associated with what Newton called "conspiring motions" . Certainly not in a heritage from the Greeks as currently sholarized. NOW, if we submit to post 911 mentality , all these bets are currently off, and something that Behe said does make more sense than the less , I just said.
There could be wholes of subtractions from n! permutations that do not spatially get smaller but widen temporally and hierarchically. This would only work if there was symmetry across ther relativitistic light cone and this is so far out it probably sound like science fiction.
It seems to my view that some of irreducibile complexity will be found reducible to some given n! subtractions while any whole that teleolgically manifest are defined in the contemporainty to evolution theory progress to a stable heirarhical teaching. But that is just me again. Take it or take it again.

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Tusko
Member (Idle past 178 days)
Posts: 615
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 10 of 304 (243228)
09-14-2005 4:24 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Parasomnium
09-13-2005 10:34 AM


Re: Testability of ID is not logically impossible.
Okay, thanks for that. I suspected that it wasn't logically impossible to disprove ID. I was interested in the shape that a test might take. It might not be possible to come up with one that is satisfactory, for many reasons. I just wondered if some ground could be tentatively explored, and speculations as to the nature of the test be put forward.

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Tusko
Member (Idle past 178 days)
Posts: 615
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 11 of 304 (243230)
09-14-2005 4:33 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Modulous
09-13-2005 10:35 AM


Re: To test ID
That's funny - I've always thought it would be really cool if common DNA was found in all animals that was encoded in morse saying "Odin Was 'Ere!" or something. That would be great.
You've just got me thinking, and I may be going off at a tangent, but the assumptions underlying ID are quite interesting. ID seems to assume that God would not build a creation that could appear to have arisen by chance. For instance, if he was to make genuinely irreducably complex structures (assuming that's possible), then that's a blatant neon sign saying God was here. Let me put it another way - if God does exist, and in his infinite wisdom he had decided to engineer everything in a way that made it look as though it could have arisen by chance, then ID would be useless.

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Tusko
Member (Idle past 178 days)
Posts: 615
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 12 of 304 (243231)
09-14-2005 4:41 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by nwr
09-13-2005 2:48 PM


Re: Being scientific
I was intrigued by your idea of "looking for the beneficiary of design". Could you elaborate a little on this, because I don't think I quite understand.
Thanks!

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Tusko
Member (Idle past 178 days)
Posts: 615
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 13 of 304 (243234)
09-14-2005 4:58 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by CK
09-13-2005 2:56 PM


Re: Behe interview (Guardian 12/09/05)
Some satanic force, eh? Nice!
It was notable the amount of old and dodgy ID arguments he was using. He could at least come up with some new ones, couldn't he? The mousetrap analogy has always been pretty poor.

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Tusko
Member (Idle past 178 days)
Posts: 615
From: London, UK
Joined: 10-01-2004


Message 14 of 304 (243238)
09-14-2005 5:02 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Brad McFall
09-13-2005 6:11 PM


Re: Behe interview (Guardian 12/09/05)
I don't know what n! abstractions are, but you said that you thought that irreducably complex things might be reductable. I think I agree with that. Im uncertain about how one can be sure that DNA (for instance) wasn't iteslf the product of some primeval natural selection.

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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7801
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 15 of 304 (243278)
09-14-2005 9:21 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tusko
09-13-2005 10:07 AM


Another test
What would be interesting would be to test this 'specified complexity' stuff out. First we can use intelligence to design something, then we can use an evolution like system to evolve it. Then we test for specified complexity and see if it can tell the difference.
Unfortunately IDists think that by designing the environment, there is an IDer which would invalidate this research. However I don't think that's true. Evolution would be a fine theory even if God/whoever designed an appropriate environment for it to happen in.
I guess we need to wait on the ID movement to help out on this.

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