Posts tagged ‘darwinism’

February 21, 2012

Where’s the Line of Demarcation Between Science and Pseudoscience?

by Max Andrews

There isn’t a straight line of demarcation between science and pseudoscience (PS), which is universally applicable in all fields categorized as scientific.  A general guide for demarcating between the two is that the theory should have observable evidence, provides predictions, uses non-controversial reasoning, and is repeatable.  These are simply guidelines and do not necessarily count as criteria for disqualifying a theory if all aren’t met because some are simply untenable depending on the field in which they are applied.  Falsification is not necessary for a scientific theory but it does help substantiate the theory as a robust scientific theory.

When considering the criterion of observable evidence I make the distinction between observation and what is empirical.  Something may be observed and qualify as evidence even though it’s not related to material causes.  This is where the distinction between Duhemian science and Augustinian science must be made. I would deny the use of Duhemian science.  This method, or philosophy, has a goal of stripping science from all metaphysical imports.  Augustinian science is open to metaphysical presuppositions with science.  In the mid 1800’s William Whewell was the first to restrict science to only mean natural science.  Pierre Duhem followed this idea and constructed a methodology, which barred explanations to material causes.  For instance, agent causation is completely compatible with Augustinian science but is prohibited as a scientific explanation in Duhemian science.  Agent causation is something that can be observed but isn’t necessarily reductionistic in the material sense as with material causation because agent causation has metaphysical import.

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February 15, 2012

A List of Peer-Reviewed Articles on Intelligent Design

by Max Andrews
There’s been a long running tradition in the Darwinian anti-ID camp propounding that there are no published peer-reviewed papers on intelligent design.  Ever since this mantra was first popularly proclaimed they’ve been wrong.  Below is a list of peer-reviewed articles cataloged by the Discovery Institute.  For abstracts and more on the articles please visit their site.

Publications Supportive of Intelligent Design Published in Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals, Conference Proceedings, or Scientific Anthologies.

  1. David L. Abel, “Is Life Unique?,” Life, Vol. 2:106-134 (2012).
  2. Joseph A. Kuhn, “Dissecting Darwinism,” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, Vol. 25(1): 41-47 (2012).
  3. Douglas D. Axe, Philip Lu, and Stephanie Flatau, “A Stylus-Generated Artificial Genome with Analogy to Minimal Bacterial Genomes,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(3) (2011).
  4. Stephen C. Meyer and Paul A. Nelson, “Can the Origin of the Genetic Code Be Explained by Direct RNA Templating?,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(2) (2011).
  5. Ann K. Gauger and Douglas D. Axe, “The Evolutionary Accessibility of New Enzyme Functions: A Case Study from the Biotin Pathway,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2011(1) (2011).
  6. Ann K. Gauger, Stephanie Ebnet, Pamela F. Fahey, and Ralph Seelke, “Reductive Evolution Can Prevent Populations from Taking Simple Adaptive Paths to High Fitness,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010 (2) (2010).
  7. Michael J. Behe, “Experimental Evolution, Loss-of-Function Mutations, and ‘The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution,’” The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 85(4):1-27 (December 2010).
  8. Douglas D. Axe, “The Limits of Complex Adaptation: An Analysis Based on a Simple Model of Structured Bacterial Populations,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010(4):1 (2010).
  9. Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, “Mutagenesis in Physalis pubescens L. ssp. floridana: Some further research on Dollo’s Law and the Law of Recurrent Variation,”Floriculture and Ornamental Biotechnology, 1-21 (2010).
  10. George Montañez, Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, and Robert J. Marks II, “A Vivisection of the ev Computer Organism: Identifying Sources of Active Information,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010(3) (2010).
  11. William A. Dembski and Robert J. Marks II, “The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search,” Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics, Vol. 14 (5):475-486 (2010).
  12. Douglas D. Axe, “The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds,” BIO-Complexity, Vol. 2010 (1) (2010).
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February 7, 2012

Junk DNA Isn’t Necessarily Junk

by Max Andrews

The argument from junk DNA suggests that a designer would be maximally efficient in his use of information.  There appears to be some information that does not execute or have any meaningful coding.  Darwinism takes this issue and uses it as the result of the prediction that there would be left over information not being used due to natural selection and random mutation.  However, it doesn’t appear that all junk DNA is actually junk.

The classical model of the genome was developed to support the Darwinian New Synthesis and was based on these assumptions:

  • Genetic determinants are discrete physical units
  • Only the collection of genes (genotype) is real; organismal development and traits (the phenotype) are epiphenomenal
  • The structure of gene can be explained solely in terms of population genetics (mutation and selection/genetic drift)

The presuppositions of the model

  • Genomes are the only carriers of phenotypic determinants; no laws of form exist à phenotypes mirror genotypes
  • Genomes are aggregates of simple entities that are constantly changing entails that phenotypes are always transforming
  • Genomes can be recombined and mutated in an unlimited way à morphological evolution is “open-minded”
  • Any two sets of genomes are connected by a finite number of mutations à morphological gaps are illusory
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February 6, 2012

Darwinian Whale Evolution

by Max Andrews

When evaluating population drift/evolution one must keep in mind a pattern/process distinction.

  • To be explained:  A pattern of a sequence of ancestors to present (a phylogenetic sequence)
  • Explanation:  High random mutation rates + high selection coefficients –> Incremental genetic change over time (“evolution”)

We now know that the majority of anatomical changes unique to fully aquatic cetaceans (Pelagiceti) appeared during just a few million years.

Here are only a few of the changes that had to have occurred during the transition to a fully marine whale

  • Counter-current heat exchanger for intra-abdominal testes
  • Ball vertebra
  • Tail flukes and musculature
  • Blubber for temperature insulation
  • Ability to drink sea water (reorganization of kidney tissues)
  • Reverse orientation of fetus in the uterus
  • Nurse young underwater (modified mammae)
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November 10, 2011

The Free Exchange in the Marketplace of Ideas

by Max Andrews

The English poet John Milton did well when he said that “Truth will rise to the top through a free and open exchange in the marketplace of ideas.”  I am so encouraged when I have and see a substantive dialogue with someone concerning an issue.  This is certainly important in every day discussions, blogs, and teaching.  I assist in managing and teaching an Intro. to Philosophy course at university and I always encourage my students to make us work hard to convince them of what we believe to be true.  Do not simply sit there and take what I say and teach prima facie–challenge me, challenge the thoughts, challenge your thinking.

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October 4, 2011

An Objection to Intelligent Design I’ve Never Heard

by Max Andrews

I was in a tweebate (tweet debate) with another person [whom shall remain anonymous] over a previous post of mine where I claimed that Ken Miller’s argument against irreducible complexity was a bad argument (I really don’t like Twitter debates/conversations either).  This person went on about how Miller’s argument convinced Judge Jones and my position was that it’s actually quite embarrassing that the argument would convince anyone (see my post for the context).  Then he claimed the type three secretory system is an objection to irreducible complexity in the bacterial flagellum, which prompted me to claim that it may indeed be IC itself and there are arguments that the flagellum may have come first.  Anyways, those aren’t what interests me.  The argument that I had never heard before was:

ID claims are anything but modest.  Incapacity to imagine other explanations of our beginnings is not evidence of ID. Non sequitur.

Let me be clear, I have never claimed anywhere at any time… ever… that one should be a proponent of intelligent design because of an incapacity to imagine other explanations.  So first of all, this argument belongs in a cornfield scaring away the crows.  Secondly, this is an utterly blatant attack on my imagination! I’ve got a great imagination! (Okay, the second point isn’t really a part of my argument.) It’s true, if anyone did make an argument for ID based on a lack of imagination it would be a non sequitur since one’s capacity to imagine something has nothing to do with the truth claim (as long as the claim is sound/rational, I cannot imagine the actualization of a contradiction).  I’m fairly confident anyone familiar with intelligent design and the state of the evolution controversy would never make an argument for intelligent design like this.  In fact, no one should ever make such an argument for ID like this.

I’ve explained before in my post on God and Darwinism, the reasons why I’m not a Darwinist are for two reasons: 1) the origin of information must be mind and 2) there is objective teleology in the world and primarily human beings.  I do believe the argument from irreducible complexity is a good argument for ID but I’m not going to die on that hill.  I think intelligent causation is a legitimate scientific hypothesis and explanation.  However, there are certain philosophical truths that press the argument.  I could care less if man evolved from a common ancestor but this evolution could not have occurred without a mind acting on the origin of the information in DNA and I believe man [evolves] with an end goal in mind.  That’s why I reject Darwinism.

October 1, 2011

Metaphysical Implications of Intelligent Design

by Max Andrews

The truth is that now all theories of origins, theistic or atheistic, involve speculation as to the nature of what it was that created a universe so fine-tuned for life.  The question is only, was it an intelligent or an unintelligent cause that created time, space, matter and energy out of nothing?[1]  With regards to the argument from design, Columbia University astronomer, Robert Jastrow discussed what he calls “the most theistic result to ever come out of science”:

According to the picture of the evolution of the universe developed by the astronomer and his fellow scientists, the smallest change in any of the circumstances of the natural world, such as the relative strengths of the forces of nature, or the properties of the elementary particles, would have led to a universe in which there could be no life and no man…

It is possible to make the same argument about changes in the strengths of the electromagnetic force, the force of gravity, or any other constants of the material universe, and so come to the conclusion that in a slightly changed universe there could be no life, and no man.  Thus according to the physicist and the astronomer, it appears that the universe was constructed within very narrow limits, in such a way that man could dwell in it.  This result is called the anthropic principle.

Some scientists suggest, in an effort to avoid a theistic or teleological implication in their findings, that there must be an infinite number of universes, representing all possible combinations of basic forces and conditions, and that our universe is one of an infinitely small fraction, in this great plenitude of universes, in which life exists.[2]

The design argument is quite modest by simply stating that intelligent causation can be detected in the natural world.  The argument does not and cannot infer the identity of the designer alone.  In order to identify the designer one must seek external evidences, such as other scientific, philosophical, historical, and theological evidences.  A cumulative case argument would fulfill this need.  The extent of what can be known is that the designer is an agent.  Agency is inferred by the ability to create brand new information, to initiate and cease a causal chain of events.  Also, this agent must not be organic since it too would require a cause of its information.  No regress is necessary since there is only one entity that must be identified as the cause.  Whether there is a regress doesn’t really matter at all since only one phenomena, that of the origin of information in living matter, only requires that one entity be instantiated.


            [1] Granville Sewell, In the Beginning (Seattle, WA:  Discovery Institute Press, 2010), 25.

            [2] Robert Jastrow quoted by Roy Varghese, The Intellectuals Speak About God, (Regenery Gateway), 1984.

October 1, 2011

Theistic Evolution and Purposive Permission

by Max Andrews

This objection to intelligent design is within a theistic philosophy and theology.  The theistic evolutionist would make the arguments for Darwinism just like the atheist would make his arguments for Darwinism; the only difference is that the former is a theist.  Asa Gray (1810-1888) was a proponent of evolution who suggested that God guided evolution.  The problem for the theistic evolutionist at this point is that if God guides evolution, it is design.  Guidance implies purpose and involvement.  The theistic evolutionist, so defined as God guiding evolution, is not really a detractor from design, rather he would be a proponent of common decent, which is entirely compatible with design.

It was not until the early twentieth century when a movement that emphasized Darwinian natural selection did theistic evolution attempt to reconcile unguided evolution with God.  The following theistic evolutionist present an appropriate summation for the current understanding:

“An evolutionary universe is theologically understood as creation allowed to make itself.”[1]

“Mankind’s appearance on this planet was not preordained… we are here… as an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just as well have left us out.”[2]

“Evolution could appear to us to be driven by chance, but from God’s perspective the outcome would be entirely specified.  Thus, God could be completely and intimately involved in the creation of all species, while from our perspective, limited as it is by the tyranny of linear time, this would appear a random and undirected process.”[3]

It may be important to distinguish the last quote from Collins from the former quotes.  It is difficult, even impossible, to distinguish Collins’ position as not being intelligent design.  Why would Collins use the human perspective as the objective standard for whether or not there actually is design?  He willingly concedes that God could be intimately involved in creating yet it is illusory to the human perspective.

The argument from cognitive relations may be understood as an argument from omniscience or providence.  If God allows any state of affairs to be actualized, and knows that it will happen, and then there is a teleology in that events actualization.  The underlying principle is what is called “purposive permission.”  This principle makes a minimal commitment to any event X, such that X will come to be either by it being permitted to occur or by being strongly actualized to occur.  Purposive permission assumes that if any event is permitted to happen then it is within the will of the knowing agent that the event be actualized.  If the event were known that it would come to pass and it was not desired to come to pass, then it would not have been permitted to be and would not have happened.  Under the current understanding of unguided evolution, the only way to reconcile that with theism is to adopt process theology, an understanding that God is not ontologically perfect and is literally evolving with the world.[4]


            [1] John Polkinghorne, Faith, Science, and Understanding (New Haven, CT:  Yale University Press, 2000), 23, 111, 197.

            [2] Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God (New York:  Harper Perennial, 2000), 272-273.

            [3] Francis Collins, The Language of God (New York:  Free Press, 2006), 205.

            [4] Even weak understandings of cognitive relations, or interactions, would still render design (categorically defined from an orthodox perspective).  All that would require from the knowing agent (God) is that, within the mind, there must at least be two moments of knowledge:  natural knowledge (the first logical moment) and free knowledge (the last logical moment).  In the first moment the agent must know all tautologies and every possible circumstance.  The final moment is knowing the actual world, the current, past, and future state of affairs.  The only theistic model that does not hold to these two moments would be the process model.  I want to note, that open theism would not even be compatible with a Darwinist understanding of evolution because God would only be ignorant of future contingencies that involved human freedom.

October 1, 2011

Ken Miller’s Embarrassing Attempt to Disprove Irreducible Complexity

by Max Andrews

This video has been out for a while but I just saw it reposted on a blog I saw through Twitter.  I’m not going to summarize the video here; rather, just give it a quick watch, it’s only two minutes.

Honestly, it’s a bit embarrassing and I feel bad for him.  His attempt to disprove irreducible complexity demonstrates that 1) he doesn’t actually understand it or 2) displaces the information. When he changed the mousetrap to function as a tie clip that tie clip then becomes a new mechanism.  Whether that tie clip was actually irreducibly complex or not doesn’t matter.  His attempt would be correct if he could remove or change a part of the mouse trap while keeping it’s function as a mouse trap.

As for the scholarship of intelligent design and irreducible complexity, he’s simply incorrect there as well.  Darwinists always do this and it’s just annoying and dishonest (or simply wrong).  For a list of peer-reviewed articles that have been published in regards to intelligent design and irreducible complexity (and yes, the words are used in the articles, sorry Ken) please see the Discovery Institute’s list.

August 2, 2011

Inferring Design From Data

by Max Andrews

The data presented must be evaluated as either being the result of necessity, chance, a combination thereof, or design (intelligent causation).  How may one infer design?  As William Dembski advocates in his work, The Design Inference, there must be a relay of specified complex information.[1]  In the 1940’s, Claude Shannon at Bell Laboratories developed a mathematical theory of information.  The information-carrying capacity of a sequence of a specific length can then be calculated using the expression I=-log2p.[2]  When this formula is applied to genetic sequence probability formulas the information being conveyed is more than mere Shannon information.  The word information in this theory is used in a special mathematical sense that must not be confused with its ordinary usage.  In particular, information must not be confused with meaning.[3]

Since the late 1950’s, biologists have equated the “precise determination of sequence” with the property “specificity” or “specification.”  Biologists have defined specificity tacitly as “necessary to achieving or maintaining function.”  They have determined that DNA base sequences are specified, not by applying information theory, but my making experimental assessments of the function of those sequences within the overall apparatus of gene expression.[4]  The same application of specificity would be applied to complexity.  Given the complexity of the components need for and to sustain life, the complexity is that which maintains function, a specified complexity.[5]

When arguing for design, the argument cannot take one to Christianity or even God.  All one can purport is an intelligent cause.[6]  The evidence cannot identify who or what the cause is.  This is constructive empiricism.  Constructive empiricism states that one can only refer to the aspects of that being, in this case, the intelligence of the cause, respective to the issue and evidence at hand.  It is only be a cumulative case argument can one infer that the intelligent cause is God.

By experience, it can be deduced that mind originates information (as previously described) and that the other competing hypotheses do not have the explanatory scope and power as design does.  It is by the means of abduction one can infer that design, or intelligent causation, is the best explanation for the data.  Chance and randomness cannot substantially account for the data.  The improbability alone is infinitesimally improbable.  The necessity explanation has no support and the physical variations of the cosmic landscape place the explanation at implausible.


            [1] William A. Dembski, The Design Inference (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1998).

            [2] This equated the amount of information transmitted with the amount of uncertainty reduced or eliminated by a series of symbols or characters.  Claude Shannon, “A Mathematical Theory of Communication,” Bell System Technical Journal 27 (1948):  379-423; 623-656.

            [3] Claude Shannon, W. Weaver, The Mathematical Theory of Communication (Champaign, IL:  University of Illinois Press, 1998), 8.

            [4] Stephen C. Meyer, “ A Scientific History—and Philosophical Defense—of the Theory of Intelligent Design.”

            [5] Ibid. To avoid equivocation, it is necessary to distinguish “information content” from mere “information carrying capacity,” “specified information” from mere “Shannon information,” “specified complexity” form mere “complexity.”

            [6] Intelligent causation is entirely consistent with the scientific method.  For example:  The design inference begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex specified information.  The hypothesis would follow with predictions of design.  For experiments, one would one need to test whether scientific data has complex specified information.  The conclusion may follow as:  Because X exhibits high levels of complex specified information, a quality known to be a product of intelligence, therefore, life was designed.