Intelligent Design Detection

  1. All systems combine control with randomness. No known controlled system specifies the distribution of all its subatomic particles, while even “true random” generators are bound by controlled limits. In the classic dice example, the die is designed as is the experiment itself, while the outputs are random within the limits provided (no seven ever from a standard six face die). The position of any individual atom on the surface of the die may not be specified by the designer, but the aggregate of atoms that form the surface must have a set of predefined properties.
  2. Design is order created by controlling parts of the designed system. The system is designed even if the order created is minimal (e.g. smearing paint on cave walls). ‘Design’ is inferred only for those parts of the system that reveal the order imposed by a controlling force. For cave art, we can analyze the paint, the shape of the paint smear, the shape of the wall, composition of the wall, etc. Each one of these separate analyses may result in separate ‘designed’ or ‘not designed’ conclusions. The ‘design’-detection algorithm shown in the attached diagram can be employed to analyze any system desired.
  3. How do we know something is not random? By rejecting the null hypothesis: “the order we see is just an artifact of randomness”. This method is well established and common in many fields of research and is illustrated as the first decision block in the ‘design’-detection diagram. Typical threshold (p-value) is 0.05 meaning “the outcome observed may be due to randomness with a 5% or less probability”. The actual threshold is not critical for ‘order’ tests as probabilities quickly get extreme. For instance, given a 10-bit outcome (10 coin toss set), the probability of that outcome being random yet matching a predetermined sequence is 0.1%, well below the 5% threshold. A quick glance at biological organisms show extreme precision repeated over and over again and indicating essentially zero probability of system-level randomness. Kidneys and all other organs are not random, reproduction is not random, cell structure is not random, behavior is not random, etc.
  4. If not random, is then the feature caused by design or by necessity? Once randomness has been excluded, the system analyzed must be either designed as in “created by an intelligent being”, or a product of necessity as in “dictated by the physical/scientific laws”. Currently, as illustrated in the second decision block in the ‘design’-detection diagram, a design inference is made when potential human/animal designers can be identified, and a ‘necessity’ inference is made in all other cases, even when there is no known necessity mechanism (no scientific laws responsible). This design detection method is circumstantial hence flawed, and may be improved only if a clearer distinction between design and necessity is possible. For instance, the DNA-to-Protein algorithm can be written into software that all would recognize as designed when presented under any other form than having been observed in a cell. But when revealed that this code has been discovered in a cell, the allegiance to Darwinism kicks in and those so inclined start claiming that this code is not designed despite not being able to identify any alternative ‘necessity’ scenario.
  5. Design is just a set of ‘laws’, making the design-vs-necessity distinction impossible. Indeed, any design is defined by a set of rules (‘laws’) that the creator imposes on the creation from termite mounds to beaver dams, beehives, and human-anything from pencils to operating systems. Product specifications describe the rules the product must follow to be acceptable to customers, software is a set of behavior rules obeyed, and art is the sum of rules by which we can identify the artist, or at least the master’s style. When we reverse-engineer a product, we try to determine its rules the same way we reverse-engineer the scientific laws. And when new observations infirm the old product laws, we re-write them (central dogma in biology) the same way we re-write (includes scope change) the scientific laws when appropriate (Newton’s laws).
  6. Are then scientific laws in any way different than design rules? Scientific laws are the rules that describe phenomena observed to occur whenever certain conditions are present. These laws cover all the domains of knowledge including mathematics, physics, chemistry, economy, linguistics, logic, and biology. Design rules have the same exact properties as scientific laws with the arbitrary distinction that they are expected to be limited in space and time whereas scientific laws are expected to be universal. But to the laboratory animals, the human designed rules of the laboratory are no different than the scientific laws they experience. Being confined to their environment, they cannot verify the universality of the scientific laws, and neither can we since we are also confined in space and time for the foreseeable future.
  7. Necessity is Design to the best of our knowledge. We have seen how design creates necessity (a set of ‘laws’). We have never confirmed necessity without a designer. We have seen that the design-necessity distinction is currently arbitrarily based on the identification of a designer for design and on the expectation of universality for necessity. We can also see that narrow scientific laws do not simply flow from a few broad laws that we can take as “fundamental” and “given”. Finally, we can see that natural design features are much more than the sum of the scientific laws these designs obey from cosmology (galaxies/stars/planets), to geology (sand dunes/mountains/continents), weather (clouds/climate/hydrology), biology (molecules/cells/tissues/organisms), and any other natural design out there.
  8. Only instances of the scientific laws are known. Mathematics is necessary but insufficient to determine the laws of physics and furthermore the laws of chemistry, biology, behavior, etc., meaning each of the narrower scientific laws has to be backwards compatible with the broader laws. Since the only known source of regularity (aka rules or laws) in nature is intelligence, it takes a much greater leap of faith to declare the scientific laws to be uncreated, eternal and universal than to expect them to be products of intelligence. Aside from mathematics that do not depend on observations of nature, the ‘eternal’ and ‘universal’ attributes attached to the scientific laws are justified only as simplifying working assumptions, yet too often these are incorrectly taken as indisputable truths. Any confirming observation of a scientific law is nothing more than another instance that confirms our mental model. But we will never know the actual laws no matter how many observations we make. Conversely, a single contrary observation is enough to invalidate (or at least shake) our model as happened with many of them.
  9. The universe is more than the sum of the scientific laws. Whether we study astronomy, geology, hydrology, biology, or any other science, everywhere we look we see nonrandom features. And while compatible with the known scientific laws, these features are not explained by simple interraction between the scientific laws and random events. Most of these regularities are arbitrarily ascribed to yet-to-be-discovered laws and interractions, but the observed natural design-like features are too many and too specific and thus in conflict with the supposedly ‘eternal’ and ‘universal’ characteristics of the scientific laws. Especially in biology, the explosive diversity of designs cannot be explained by the laws of physics or the laws of chemistry since all those laws equaly affect all organisms and thus cannot differentiate. Therefore the “explanation” relies on iteration and randomnss when in fact neither has shown a capacity to generate design-like features in experiment after experiment and computer simulation after computer simulation. To escape this dead end, the non-random (how so?) phantasm called “natural selection” supposedly acts on mutations to create non-random outcomes. However, this “design without a designer” scenario simply does not work since “natural selection” is not even a necessity as in the flow chart. Furthermore, complex machines such as the circulatory system in many organisms cannot be found in the nonliving with one exception: those designed by humans. So-called “convergent evolution”, the design similarity between supposedly unrelated organisms also confirms the ‘common design’ hypothesis.
  10. How does this proposed Intelligent Design Detection Method improve Dembski’s Explanatory Filter? The proposed filter is simpler, uncontroversial with the likely [important] exception of equating necessity with design, and is not dependent on vague concepts like “complexity”, “specification”, and “contingency”. Attempts to quantify “specified complexity” by estimating ”functional information” help clarify Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, but still fall short because design needs not implement a function (e.g. art), ‘the function’ is arbitrary as are the ‘target space’, ‘search space’, and ‘threshold’. Furthermore, ID opponents can easily counter the functional information argument with the claim that the ‘functional islands’ are linked by yet unknown, uncreated, eternal and universal scientific laws so that “evolution” jumps from island to island effectively reducing the search space from a ‘vast ocean’ to a manageable size.


Links: -gpuccio ID;view=1up;seq=9 – W Paley

Posted in Views and tagged , , , .