/*sidenote tool from arc90 */ /* end of Google Analytics code */ A Random Pattern: Intelligent design meets recursive decomposition (at Fury.com)

A Random Pattern

Monday, August 29, 2005

Intelligent design meets recursive decomposition (at Fury.com)

I wrote some very long posts in response to an interesting discussion on a Googler's blog (and I'm finally getting around to posting them). After reviewing my post, I decided to post it here also. The subject was, loosely, Intelligent Design, Evolution, and the existence of intelligence in the universe. Your thoughts are welcome on the subject, from any side of the issue. There will also be more to follow on this topic.

Intelligent design meets recursive decomposition (at Fury.com): "Yay, thanks for the response! You've asked some good questions, too. Hopefully I can provide as good of a response as you did. :)

I'll have to add more at a later time (maybe tomorrow night) when I can look up and post some good references, but for now I'll just try and clarify what I meant.

I agree that to most people, ID and creationism aren't different to most people. I just disagree on why that is the case. It's not that they're not different, it's that most people don't understand ID. It's really simple - how many people heard of ID without instantly hearing it related to creationism? Not many, probably, including me. And then, based on a person's position towards creationism, our position toward ID is already defined. Which ends up with a lot of people talking about ID when they probably shouldn't be, and it's sort of a self-perpetuating situation. Do you see how that could be the case, leaving aside for a moment the second part of your point in your second paragraph?

Now I didn't realize I had implied or said that I never hear the two brought up in the same discussion. My intended point was that the two shouldn't be brought up in the same discussion, at least not as being the same thing. Because my understanding of both is that they're different. I can certainly understand why, though, people think they are related. Here's the litmus test: what theology is in ID? If you look, you won't find any. ID doesn't deal with anything other than current scientific observations, and dicussions on the interpretations of those observations. It starts with the "real" science, and also tries very hard to stop with the real science. Obviously people can then build what philosophies they want upon it, just as they can upon Evolution, but that is certainly not where it starts, nor where the researchers and scientists who hold that view are working on or from. BTW, I quite like your Shakespearean play analogy. :) Of course, what I'm saying is that everybody is already claiming they're the same person, and so the second person gets booed off the stage by the same people that booed off the first person.

Ok, I'll come back to that later maybe. I wanted to quickly touch on your second statement also: That's exactly the point. No one has yet shown (to my knowledge) how it could have gone from 39 parts to 40 parts. See, the flagellum can't work with 39 parts (this would be a very technical explanation that I'm not capable of, I will try to find a link to one of the research papers explaining how the motor works and why it needs all 39 parts). At least no one has yet proposed how. And if it did, then someone would also need to show how and why it would be possible for it to gain the 40th part. No one's proposed an answer to that question either. What I'm saying is that there hasn't been any scientific answer to how this engine came into existence. "Survival of the fittest", and all the actual processes that make up that theory, don't fit this actual observation from science. Nor do they fit other observations. It's not just because we don't yet understand how it works, either. Evolution is fine as a theory, but it's not explaining things like this. Now, let's not say "magic" or "aliens" - but then again, what's another thing science is looking for? Aliens. How will we know if we have found them? How will we recognize if they send us a message through space? By pattern and complexity, which are the guidelines we consciously and unconsciously use to decipher our worlds every day. I'm not saying Evolution's discredited, at least certainly not by this one example, but it's certainly not credited. It just doesn't answer the question yet. At this point the answer is often "Fine, we'll figure it out eventually, leave God out of it." And "You are trying to set science back 50 years, and you want us to stop trying to solve problems."

Alright, so if we get to those questions maybe we're getting somewhere, but before I go off on more tangents I want to know what you think of my points so far. I'll try to keep this one last point short. We're sort of discussing several different things at once, which is very difficult not to do, but also can really muddy debate and understanding. I think we're discussing science, actual cases, philosophy of science, politics (not national politics) and theology, all in one big muddle. My goal is always to try and keep fields separate, so that on each field we're playing by the correct rules. Does that make sense?

I hope I did my tags correctly. I know I didn't answer all of your questions or points, but hopefully will be able to do that in the next post or two. :) In the meantime, I look forward to your thoughts on this.

Ok, I've reread the thread again (I like to respond to the actual questions, rather than what I thought or felt when I read the questions - which is more difficult than it sounds, I suspect). I have to add a few more comments real quick. First, David has a decent point: ID is really a critique of Evolution, that it's not currently doing it's duty as a scientific theory. The idea is that science generally chooses the best answer to a problem. Best is defined by simplest that actually accounts for all the observations. Theories that have proven true over time generally get more elegant as more observations are gathered - that doesn't appear to be the case with Evolution. So Evolution comes up because ID is in many ways just a critique of E: look, here's a simpler solution that really fits our observations. Why don't we procede under that unless or until we find something better? Look, we can't ignore or dismiss ID just because of the following philosophical implications, which is I think pretty obviously what is really going on for a lot of people. Just like we can't accept, or disgard, Evolution because of the follow-on philosophical implications. Science does not say "our results can't have implications in other fields". Science shouldn't care. Of course, that's part of the claim, that ID is driven by religious dogma. That's certainly true, for many of the people that talk about it on forums. But is it true for the scientists that are actually writing the peer-reviewed papers? Some would say that's an easy answer, but I challenge you to do a little better than that. Did you know over 400 scientists have signed a recent statement that is critical of Evolution? I'll try to provide a link later. You can go to the Discovery Institute's website if you want to venture into "ID territory". :) Tom had some good points, many of which I disagree with also, but hopefully some I've answered here. :) He's right to point out that we're intermingling talk about origin of life, origin of species, origin of intelligence. We also need to be careful in our definitions and use of words to represent concepts. For example, Tom states that Evolution is fact. Well, depends on what he means. micro-evolution is certainly fact. macro-evolution, or the evolution most people mean when they capitalize it, is not fact. It's theory. It's generally used to refer to Darwin's theory, though most of what he came up with has been replaced. His "pretty good treatise" doesn't have much scientific validity anymore, though the philosophy is still around. The distinction between micro and macro-evolution is a pretty important one, and to date there's no good interpolation of one to the other. At least, not that I know of. :) Ok, I'll break now.