Topic: ID on a Scientific par with Evolution and Genetics
Member # 262
posted 01. July 2002 11:25
It is sometimes argued that ID will not be taken seriously as a science until it produces a testable theory. I am proposing here that ID can achieve exactly the same level of scientific rigor as evolutionary biology and genetics if design or intelligent design is defined in terms of teleological or adaptive change.
PROPPOSED DEFINITION: A system or process exhibits ‘intelligent design’ if and only if 1)the system or process is dynamic or changeable and can take an identifiable number of different forms, 2)the set of possible forms contains a subset of forms (called adaptive or teleological forms) that are more likely to result in some goal being achieved than other members of the set, and 3) there exists a process or processes to change the system from non-adaptive forms to adaptive forms.
It will be recognized that this definition includes some designs that might be considered elementary or ‘barely intelligently designed’, but it clearly includes all examples of intelligent design in biological systems.
It may not be immediately apparent, but this appears to be a scientifically precise definition since all the components are observable and verifiable. It also may not be immediately apparent, but this definition also makes it possible to quantify ‘amount of intelligent design’ involved in a process by measuring its complexity. The definition also, it appears, makes it possible to enumerate or count the instances of design (and thus the overall complexity) of a life form. [I would be glad to discuss the ‘mathematics of design’ which results from the above definition.]
ID EQUALITY WITH EVOLUTION AND GENETICS
The claim that the proposed definition puts ID on exactly the same scientific footing as genetics and evolution may seem a bit radical, but it is easily demonstrated.
To begin, it will be noted that ID, genetics and evolution all involve some type of change process operating on a clearly identifiable, observable phenomena. Evolution involves change processes operating on species, genetics involves change processes operating on genetic material, and ID, as defined, involves change processes operating on dynamic systems or processes.
Three distinct levels of ‘scientific knowledge’ can be identified with respect to these change processes. These can be labeled 1)the fact level, 2)the process level, and 3)the scientific theory or model level. The ‘fact’ level is well established for all three change processes. There is extensive, but incomplete knowledge at the ‘process’ level for all three change processes. Finally, there is currently no valid/testable scientific model or theory for any of the three change processes.
It might be useful to consider the level of scientific knowledge for each type change process, but there is an easier way to evaluate the issue. It can be demonstrated that 1)evolutionary change is, or can be defined as, a subset of genetic change, and 2)genetic change is a subset of the adaptive or teleological change processes associated with ID.
It is well established that evolutionary change, defined as changes in species, can be represented or defined as a type of genetic change. It is not, however, true that genetic change is the same as evolutionary change. In addition to the type genetic change associated with species change, there is second form of genetic change associated with genes called "Gene regulatory networks (GRNs)". Evolutionary change is thus only a subset of genetic change.
It is readily demonstrated that both forms of genetic change (both evolutionary changes and changes in GNR’s) fit the definition of adaptive or teleological change(the issue or question of non-adaptive change and/or devolution might seem to contradict this claim. Although the issue is somewhat technical, I believe it can be shown that ‘non-adaptive change’ can be explained in terms of noise or inefficiency in the adaptive processes). It can also be readily shown that there are forms of adaptive or teleological change associated with biological systems in addition to genetic change. Specifically, some types of learning associated with nervous systems involve adaptive or teleological change but not genetic change. [Long term memory is apparently explained at least in part by changes in GRN’s. Short term memory or learning, appears to involve non-genetic mechanisms.]
Although certainly a more speculative assertion, it appears that ‘human social learning’[a phenomena not limited to humans] is a form or adaptive or teleological change clearly distinct from nervous system learning.
Using the definition of intelligent design provided above, it is possible to demonstrate that evolutionary change is a subset of genetic change which is a subset of the adaptive or teleological change which produces intelligent design. Using the definitions provided, there is clear evidence supporting the existence or fact of 1)evolutionary change, 2)genetic change and 3)teleological change.
Starting with the same definitions, there is also clear evidence supporting the claim of ‘partial knowledge’ of the processes responsible for 1)evolutionary change, 2)genetic change, and 3)teleological change in biological systems.
Finally, it is clear there are currently no models or theories capable of modeling, simulating, and explaining 1)evolutionary change, 2)genetic change and/or teleological change. There are limited scope models which can explain, model and/or simulate certain types of changes under limited conditions, but such models or theories as comprehensive models are easily falsified.
[ The above is obviously only an outline of the claim that ID is on an equal footing with evolution and genetics. I am prepared to provide additional detail/explanation on any feature which may be unclear. ]
Member # 169
posted 01. July 2002 12:41
An interesting proposal to bring ID from eliminative to a more productive positive evidence approach but as I shall show, it still fails.
It fails because ID by its nature of being eliminative cannot eliminate natural forces as its Intelligent Designer.
Let me explain. The proposed definition provided by Warren can be shown to fit RM&NS thus making RM&NS a mechanism of intelligent design.
What are other mechanisms of ID? Do these proposed mechanisms explain the observations better?
Indeed this would place Warren's definition on a similar footing as evolution and genetics since it includes evolution and genetics.
This means that one is faced with eliminating natural forces as the Intelligent Designer, but that is exactly what ID is trying to do, elimination. Neither ID nor Warren's proposal provides for a mechanism of ID unlike the natural equivalent of ID it seems.
Warren's claim that "it is readily demonstrated that both forms of genetic change (both evolutionary changes and changes in GNR’s) fit the definition of adaptive or teleological change" shows that RM&NS fits his proposal.
Issues that would benefit from additional explanation would include evidence of teleological change. Remember that one has to show a forward looking goal not one of hindsight.
I am agreeing with Warren that no models are able to fully capture all aspects but that applies even more to ID which proposes afaik no mechanisms at all. Of course science hardly ever has models which capture the full extent. Instead they attempt to either simulate the phenomenon as accurately as possible with our present understanding or they attempt to model a particular aspect of the phenomenon. As such RM&NS is not very different. So of course limited scope models are easily 'falsified as being comprehensive'. But unless there was a claim to the contrary, the relevance of such is lost on me.
Warren's definition has failed to exclude RM&NS as the mechanism of intelligent design. Unlike RM&NS, ID has not proposed any mechanisms that would allow us to model in a limited scope fashion nor in a more comprehensive scope how ID can lead to the observed data.
Thus ID has not shed its eliminative nature. More importantly, it just seems to have adopted RM&NS as an intelligent designer.
[ 01 July 2002, 12:43: Message edited by: Frances ]
Member # 262
posted 02. July 2002 11:27
In looking over your comments, it seems that our differences revolve around the proper usage of certain terms and concepts. The following are my views on the usage of certain key terms and concepts.
First, it is essential to distinguish between ‘intelligent design’ and ‘an intelligent designer’. The suggestion that ‘design’ implies a ‘designer’ is fundamentally flawed logic. Design simply implies a design process.
The term ‘design’ or ‘intelligent design’ clearly refers to something that exists in the real world. Scientifically verifiable, operational definitions of ‘design’ are created by listing examples of design such as wings, eyes, and flagellum. My proposal simply moves beyond operational definitions to a general scientifically verifiable definition of ‘intelligent design’ based on teleological or adaptive change processes. The definition of design I offered may not be the only scientifically verifiable definition of design possible, but as far as I am aware it is the only one that has been proposed. [The definition offered is not, original, but is based on a set of concepts that have their origins with the ancient Greeks. ]
Given a scientifically verifiable definition of ID, we can turn to the processes responsible for producing teleological or adaptive change and thus ‘design’. There are two broad classes of teleological change processes. One group is what are called naturalistic or materialistic processes. The second group is what can be called super-natural processes. It is important to note that it is logically possible that BOTH natural and super-natural teleological processes exist.
It is also important to note that naturalistic teleological processes are both ‘compound ‘ and ‘diverse’ processes. Describing a naturalistic teleological process as compound simply means that it can be broken down into a number of simpler sub-processes. Describing teleological processes as diverse means that different occurrences of teleological change can involve different sub-processes or different forms of sub-processes. Both these characteristics of naturalistic teleological processes are generally recognized today.
It is useful to make a distinguish between a ‘paradigm’ and a ‘process’. A process is something like gravity that is assumed to be the same everywhere and always. A paradigm, by contrast is a collection of processes sharing a common logical form. Different manifestations of a paradigm can involve different sets of processes, as long as the combination of processes produce the same logical form. Traditionally, hard science theories have been formulated to express processes. Constructing a ‘hard science theory’ of a paradigm involves a number of technical challenges. Solving these technical challenges is, IMO, one of the key issues associated with formulating valid rigorous hard science theories of evolution, genetics and/or ID.
Although it is often forgotten today, the original RM&NS was an attempt to develop a hard science theory of evolution in terms of two ‘processes’ mutation and selection. The attempt failed, which is also often overlooked, but it was an interesting attempt.
You correctly noted that RM&NS fits the definition I provided for a teleological change process. It is, however, incorrect to extrapolate this to conclude that because RM&NS is a teleological change process, it is a model which fits all teleological change processes. To use RM&NS as a general label for all naturalistic teleological change processes is both misleading and inaccurate. To assert that such a vague general label constitutes a ‘scientific theory’ is even more inaccurate and misleading. [It is probably accurate to say that it an accepted convention to treat RM&NS as a label for a very wide range of naturalistic change processes, and it is a widely accepted convention to treat Darwinian, NDG, and RM&NS as general labels for broad class of potential scientific theories or models. These conventions are misleading and inaccurate. IMO, these conventions need to change.]
You made the following interesting comment regarding teleological change:
QUOTE: Issues that would benefit from additional explanation would include evidence of teleological change. Remember that one has to show a forward looking goal not one of hindsight.
First, the statement about forward looking goals is not correct. The whole reason behind the ‘scientific concept of teleological change processes’ is the recognition that ‘forward looking goals’ in the natural world are a logical impossibility. There is absolutely no evidence of any natural phenomena being able to see the future and there is no evidence (except possibly in some obscure physics) for any future event, goal, or purpose to cause or influence any current or past event. This rule applies to humans since human are part of nature.
It is inaccurate, scientifically unsound, and totally unnecessary to assert that behaviors or designs produced by humans are the result of future goals. From a scientific perspective, human goal-oriented or purposeful behavior is the result of, is caused by, ‘expectations’ based on past experience (a form of hindsight). To assert that teleological change is the result of a forward looking goal, rather than the appearance of a forward looking goal, is to suggest or refer to ‘super-natural’ rather than a natural forms of teleological change. [There is no rule saying super-natural processes can’t have knowledge of the future.]
The issue of a designer or of super-natural teleological processes is, IMO, a very simple one. There are, again IMO, only two relevant categories or levels of scientific knowledge. Either 1) "phenomena A is explained, modeled, and simulated by a rigorous testable non-falsified theory", or 2) ‘phenomena A is not so explained’. We either have scientific knowledge of A or we don’t. Much of the ID versus Darwin debate seems to focus on ‘If we don’t have a rigorous scientific theory, should the scientifically unknown phenomena be attributed to an unknown natural process or an unknowable super-natural process." My view, and what I consider it the scientifically sound view, is that ‘it doesn’t matter’. An ‘unknowable super-natural’ explanation has equal status with an ‘unknown scientific process’. [Not only, IMO, doesn’t it matter, but it is not productive to debate the issue.]
You raise the questions- QUOTE: What are other mechanisms of ID? Do these proposed mechanisms explain the observations better?
These, plus the question ‘Can the identified processes or mechanisms be formulated in a rigorous hard science theory?’ are the central issues surrounding evolution, genetics and ID. These are the questions I have been working on and the questions I would prefer to be addressing.
It is not, however, even possible to begin a serious discussion of such issues until one can establish some realistic ‘scientific’ ground rules for evaluating the issues. One of those issues is the treatment of RM&NS. Is it a general label for ‘any naturalistic change process’? Is it a scientific theory? Is it a logically precise definition of a set of processes?
If, I would argue, RM&NS is more than a vague ‘mantra’, then it needs to be explicitly defined. No such definitions of RM&NS as either a precise set of procedures or as a theory is being offered.
I have offered a definition that makes it possible to clearly define occurrences of evolution(species change), genetics, and design all in terms of the teleological or adaptive change paradigm. Using the definitions provided, it is possible to discuss evolution, genetics and intelligent design on the same scientific basis. Unless RM&NS is far more precisely defined, it has no role in such a discussion.