Monday, June 18, 2007

Enter the Klone

Hello!

I'm EJ Klone, and I thought I would say a little hello to everyone. I've been lurking around the science blogosphere, commenting here and there, absorbing it all in, and asking a few questions. I then found myself on www.overwhelmingevidence.com, writing a few posts, which got me mixed reviews. You see, when I told everyone that I supported Intelligent Design, as an atheist, folks gave me props. But then when I question the idea that the designer(s) of biological organisms is/are supernatural, I was roundly criticized.

William Brookfield noticed my posts, and invited me on to his blog, here, and his recent attention reminded me of his offer. So here I am now, ready to shake a few foundations.

You see, I think there's a huge nugget of wisdom in this design concept, and I think it has the potential to reshape the way we view everything in much the same way that Darwin did in his day. But more so.

However, if ID is going to be the scientific framework that it should be, the ID community is going to need to shake itself of its presuppositions. Let me give you a short list of what's to come, and try to think about how ID has come to approach each of these issues:
  • Singular designer vs multiple designers
  • Supernatural designers vs natural designers
  • Design flaws vs design perfection
  • Intentional design vs accidental design
  • Same designer(s) for living organisms and the universe itself?
  • Common descent vs common design - are these even mutually exclusive categories?

And together, we shall put an end to this uber-Darwinian magical nonsense. Hope you'll stick around for the show!

18 comments:

Duae Quartunciae said...

That's a good list of issues. One way to tell whether or not there is a real design theory involved here is to look at the ways in which the theory is applied to the questions, and how evidence relates to the different variants of theory.

My own view, frankly, is that there's no identifiable design theory. Everything in ID seems to be based on finding (alleged) problems with evolutionary biology or other models used by conventional scientists, rather than giving any specifics about alternative models involving design.

If you can actually develop the kinds of detail that allow such issues to be distinguished; that is, have a theory which actually involves answers to the questions raised, then you'll have achieved something that seems to have eluded other ID proponents to date.

Always excepting the religious creationists, of course, who have a series of faith statements that may bear upon the questions. I'll be fascinated to see what you guys come up with. Good luck.

Lars said...

You wrote, "Common descent vs common design - are these even mutually exclusive categories?"

If I understand you right, this is a question Paul Nelson has addressed in some detail. See Design and Common Ancestry. His answer is no, design and common descent are not necessarily mutually exclusive. (Behe is a major counterexample.)

Anonymous said...

This is a very funny blog! You ID guys are taking over thw world! Ha ha!

EJ Klone said...

re: Duae Quartunciae
My own view, frankly, is that there's no identifiable design theory. Everything in ID seems to be based on finding (alleged) problems with evolutionary biology or other models used by conventional scientists, rather than giving any specifics about alternative models involving design.

I have noticed that several ID proponents and adherents don't address design characteristics so much as poke holes in evolution. I don't think that will work. It has never worked, and I don't plan on following that strategy.

Re: lars, I'll take a look at that. I haven't heard much more than statements that either claim that design excludes common descent, or that design can incorporate common descent. In my opinion, it should be possible to predict one or the other, or some combination of the two. Predictions are key. I'll be writing about this.

William Brookfield said...

"I'll be fascinated to see what you guys come up with. Good luck."

Hey thanks Duae, and thank you for visiting.

I enjoyed your blog too ooo...nice pics... what is that nice girl bouncing on??... Yes IT'S THE WEDGE!!!! :)

William Brookfield said...

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I have been having problems posting replys to comments. Hopefully this problem will be fixed tommorrow (soon!)

dobson said...

William, It's time to set yourself aboiove the religionist IDers.

Can you present actual evidence of ID - I'm not talking about evidence that purports to show why darwinian evolution is impossible or does not account for the diversity of life.

You need to show actual evidence of design. Where is it?

Thanks

William Brookfield said...

Hi Dobson,

You have come to this blog and made various comments. These comments indicate that you have concluded (rightly or wrongly) that the writings (in letters a b c etc,..) are not random gibberish nor just a malfunctioning blogger program spouting miscelaneous letters. You appear to have detected design in my(?) words(?). Somehow (?) you are seeing sentences and paragraphs that you believe to be designed by some intelligence (?) who goes by the name of "William Brookfield."

"Intelligent design science" logically and mathematically formalizes the proccess by which such commonplace design inferences are made. Do you believe this paragraph -- this sentence -- to be the product of intelligent design? If so why? Where is your "evidence of design?"

Design detection has long been accepted as a scientific enterprise (SETI, forensic science, copyright law, etc.) It is only in the fields of cosmology and biology where detecting design is forbidden. This we believe is due to the unsettling implications (for many) of such detections. Galileo's detection (via telescope) of moons orbiting Jupiter was likewise forbidden due to the (then) unsettling implications of the new information.

The faces on mount Rushmore are easily detected as designed by us (who do indeed have faces). But what about faceless aliens in a dead post apocaliptic world? Could they detect such design? Surely they could. The faces on the mountain exhibit four utterly improbable patterns or "arrays"("faces"), mathematical facial symetry (that we interpret as handsomeness) and alignment of the "faces" with the horizon. Taken together Mount Rushmore exhibits what is known as "specified complexity" the hallmark (evidence) of design.

dobson said...

William, thank you for taking time to respond to my question.

So basically your argument comes down to the fact that we just infer that certain things are designed: I know that your words were carefully selected and not just random gibberish, and therefore I can conclude that they are designed right?

But is that all? For example I know that you are a human being and that you speak and write English, a language which I also understand. I know part of your biography and I can see a picture of you, so when I conclude that you wrote the above post I am making a very safe conclusion based on a large amount of evidence that connects and agent (you) with an artifact (your text).

There is no designed artifact that i can think of for which we cannot make such a connection. That is why it is quite safe to conclude human design with even quite mysterious objects (e.g. Stonehenge, Pyramids of Giza) - it's because we know a lot about human beings and the ways that we can make stuff.

On the other hand, the position of ID seems not so easy to defend: IDers claim that they can infer design from certain kinds of complexity but unlike a stone spear-head or the ancient pagan temple, they cannot say who the designer was, what process was used to design or manufacture the life or what motive this designer may have had.

ID proponents (with the exception of Creationists) are notoriously silent on these most important questions.

The ID hypothesis simply does not make the causal connection between agent and artifact because we do not know who/what the intelligent agent was and how it operated.

Let me put this into perspective - supposing I were to claim that I knew Mount Rushmore to be designed, and not an entirely natural phenomena. I show my reason for believing this: a statistical measure of the probability of that formation coming about by chance, and therefore conclude that this might not be a natural structure. Is this sensible - I think not, because I would have missed out the most obvious clues as to the designed origin of Mt. Rushmore:

I can point to the well documented history of the object - the faces of the former presidents and their individual histories. I can show plans, diagrams and documents about the carving process. I know who did it, i know why they did it and I know how they did it. Basically I can connect the agent to the artifact and I can establish incontrovertible proof of design.

If the IDists comparison of life to Mount Rushmore was a good comparison you would also be able to tell me the who, how, and why life was 'created'. The fact that you cannot answer any of these questions just illustrates how different life is from any human artifact we can think of.

The reason you know Mount Rushmore is designed is completely different from the the reason you believe that life has ID origins. If you somehow found evidence that identified the designer, his motive and his method you would be able to claim this as a good example. As it stands this is really an example of how different human design is from the apparent-design found in life and nature.

Since you are not hamstrung by religion, you should be in a good position to formulate ID as a scientifically testable theory. Simply state:

* Who / What is the designer / intelligence
* By what process was life intelligently designed

And then devise and experiment that would prove or falsify this conjecture.

William Brookfield said...

Hi Dobson,

#1. You have detected design in these blog writings. No religion was involved. No need to go to church.

#2. The reason I used a faceless alien in a post apocaliptic world was so that the alien would have to detect design as a result of the four highly symetric "arrays," the forms of which have no anticedent in the "natural" world. Such an alien has no knowledge of humans and their designing habits.

dobson said...

#1. You have detected design in these blog writings. No religion was involved. No need to go to church.

My point was that the technique I used to detect design in your writing and mount Rushmore will not help me detect design in life the universe of stuff other than man-made objects. Care to address that issue?

#2. The reason I used a faceless alien in a post apocaliptic world was so that the alien would have to detect design as a result of the four highly symetric "arrays," the forms of which have no anticedent in the "natural" world. Such an alien has no knowledge of humans and their designing habits.

I did not understand any of that - would you mind explaining what it means in smaller, simpler words. I do not know anything about aliens or what they would have to do, or what these symmetric arrays are. Please expand!

William Brookfield said...

Since you are not hamstrung by religion, you should be in a good position to formulate ID as a scientifically testable theory. Simply state:

* Who / What is the designer / intelligence


ID is a scientific methodology of design detection. ID is not (at this time) a science of designer identification. Opinions as to who/what the designer(s) is/are differ within the ID community. Opinions do not differ as to whether the bacterial flaggela was designed or whether design is a worthy topic for scientific exploration/debate.

It seems to me the question "Who designed the designer of the designer?" is the logical equivalent of the materialist question "What materialized the materializer of the material?" Questions for philosophy perhaps, but far divorced from the science of design detection.


* By what process was life intelligently designed

Conscious planning and execution.

William Brookfield said...

Hi Dobson,

"My point was that the technique I used to detect design in your writing and mount Rushmore will not help me detect design in life the universe of stuff other than man-made objects. Care to address that issue?"..

"would you mind explaining what it means in smaller, simpler words. I do not know anything about aliens or what they would have to do, or what these symmetric arrays are. Please expand!"


If the aliens don't have anything resembling our human faces then they won't be saying "hey look at those four faces on that mountian.. they must have been designed/sculpted." What they will likely see instead is four highly symetric "arrays" -- Arrays to which they can subsequently apply their math, their knowledge of geology, wind and soil erosion and detect design as the only possible explanation for these "arrays."

dobson said...


If the aliens don't have anything resembling our human faces then they won't be saying "hey look at those four faces on that mountian.. they must have been designed/sculpted." What they will likely see instead is four highly symetric "arrays" -- Arrays to which they can subsequently apply their math, their knowledge of geology, wind and soil erosion and detect design as the only possible explanation for these "arrays."


When you were first told about Mount Rushmore, what was it's most striking feature: It's symmetry or the faces? What first led you to conclude that it was not a natural formation - abstract contemplation of it's form or knowledge of it's history?

The reason you and I know that Rushmore was designed is because we know the history of this mountain. We know who made it and how we made it. We can safely make a design inference because we can connect the designer to the designed object. Any claims we make can be validated by multiple lines of independently confirming evidence.

We cannot do this with natural life, because as you say ID only claims to detect design. But since it cannot say anything more then we never have a means of validating ID's claims. This is why so many scientists have said that ID is not real science: It makes no claims which can be validated.

ID is a scientific methodology of design detection. ID is not (at this time) a science of designer identification. Opinions as to who/what the designer(s) is/are differ within the ID community. Opinions do not differ as to whether the bacterial flaggela was designed or whether design is a worthy topic for scientific exploration/debate.

If there is overwhelming evidence for design, why does none of it reveal anything about the nature of the designer or it's methods? There is no other kind of artifact we know of that tells us nothing at all about it's designer.

Can you account for this?

It seems to me the question "Who designed the designer of the designer?" is the logical equivalent of the materialist question "What materialized the materializer of the material?" Questions for philosophy perhaps, but far divorced from the science of design detection.

Please do not try to dodge the question! You claim that you can detect design in life just like you can detect design in Mount Rushmore.

When we detect design in human-created objects we can say a great deal about the designer and the manufacturer. Rushmore is a great example, because the faces carved into the mountan are those of H. Sapiens, the very species that carved it.

Why is it that we cannot say the same about life? Is it possible that you have been deluded and that there is no designer, and life is not an artifact of design, but a naturally occurring phenomena? This is the overwhelming scientific consensus at the moment.

People say that ID is vacuous, because it is unable to answer the most fundamental questions implied by it's basic claims:

If you say that Mount Rushmore was designed, then the obvious question is by whom, how and why.

If you say that life is designed the same questions apply. If you cannot answer those questions then we may never be able to validate claims that life is designed.

* By what process was life intelligently designed

Conscious planning and execution.


If I asked you how Mount Rushmore was designed and built, would that be a valid answer? Not at all, I could give you pages of history about the artist's inspiration, the way the design was refined and the clever way that blueprints were produced and the hundreds of builders used them.

Give me a real answer please!
Now tell me what life tells you about the identity, methods and intent of the designer. If you cannot, please explain why ID unique amongst methods of historical inquiry in it's inability to answer these important questions.

William Brookfield said...

Sorry Dobson, I guess I didn't understand your question.

*By what (physical?) process was life intelligently designed

I am sorry but I just don't know for certain how the flaggela was originally built. I don't even know much about how Mount Rushmore was physically built/sculpted. I am Canadian.

dobson said...

I am sorry but I just don't know for certain how the flaggela was originally built. I don't even know much about how Mount Rushmore was physically built/sculpted. I am Canadian.

I'm British, but I can find out an awful lot of confirmed facts that explain the history of mount Rushmore, including the design process and the way it was manufactured. Every artifact known to man tells us something about the designer.

If ID really allowed you to make a valid design inference you would be able to say something about the designer by studying the designed object. You would (for example) be able to say how the designer did it's designing and what process it used to manufacture or influence it's designs.

The fact is you cannot - ID offers nothing at all other than an unconfirmed suspicion that certain things may have been designed.

EJ Klone said...

If ID really allowed you to make a valid design inference you would be able to say something about the designer by studying the designed object. You would (for example) be able to say how the designer did it's designing and what process it used to manufacture or influence it's designs.
Dobson, I agree with you that the design involves discovering information about the designer. I think that ID can very well do that, but for some reason, many ID proponents are unwilling to do that. Behe seems to be the one that realizes this, and every now and then he makes statements about the nature of the designer.

I plan to explore some of the possibilities about the method of design in future posts, hope you're still around then.

dobson said...

Dobson, I agree with you that the design involves discovering information about the designer. I think that ID can very well do that, but for some reason, many ID proponents are unwilling to do that.

Yep, it's a simple dichotomy: Either there is evidence of design in which case it should tell you something about the methods and nature of the designer...

or

there is no evidence of design, in which case it will not cast any light on the existence of a cosmic designer.

I've always felt that since IDers have never been able to make any testable claims about the designer or even the nature of his intelligence, that this is a strong indicator of the vacuity and lack of rigor of ID.

Behe seems to be the one that realizes this, and every now and then he makes statements about the nature of the designer.

I'm not aware of any statements that he's made in that direction. If anybody, Dembski probably goes further than any famous IDist. If you read his theodicy on the subject, you can be certain that he's an old-earth creationist, however the manner in which he formulates intelligence makes it entirely consistent with the kind of undirected, unpurposeful evolution proposed by most mainstream biologists today.

I plan to explore some of the possibilities about the method of design in future posts, hope you're still around then.

I will be around - I'd love to see how you tackle this. Where will you be publishing your first thoughts on the matter?

ID has been around for almost 10 years. Why do you think any of it's leading proponents have spent much time speculating on this most obvious of topics. I often hear IDers like Salvador Cordova claim that one does not need to answer these questions. Do you agree?

Dobson