GET ready for a treat, dear reader. The neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) haven’t given up on intelligent design (ID), their peculiar version of creationism. The last time we paid attention to their magical theory was a year ago, here: Discovery Institute: Intelligent Design Redefined.
After we quoted — and critiqued — their definition if ID, we gave our own expanded version. As you can see, ID is no more scientific than the “theory” of Santa Claus. Here’s your Curmudgeon’s definition of ID:
An unknown intelligence (whether it’s a solitary creature or a vast swarm is never addressed), with utterly unknown characteristics (mortal or immortal, sexual or asexual, plant or animal, physical or spiritual), whose home base is unknown, and whose ultimate origin is a mystery (evolved, created, or eternal), arrived on earth somehow (in a flying saucer, perhaps, or maybe on a comet), at some unspecified time (or several times), and then in some unspecified way (technological or magical), for unspecified reasons (boredom, or maybe cosmic fulfillment), did something (or maybe several things) to influence the genetic characteristics of some (but maybe not all) of the creatures on earth.
Now they’re at it again. The Discoveroid blog has this new article by Casey Luskin: A Response to Questions from a Biology Teacher: How Do We Test Intelligent Design?
This is thrilling news! Casey is actually going to tell us how to test his “theory.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
A biology educator recently wrote me asking how we test intelligent design using the scientific method, how ID is falsifiable, and how ID explains patterns we observe in nature. These are very common questions that we receive all the time from teachers, students, and interested members of the public, and they’re usually legitimate, sincere, and thoughtful questions.
We’re supposed to believe that Casey is getting letters from biology teachers. Anyway, here’s Casey’s reply to what we suspect is a fictional inquiry:
ID is most definitely testable and falsifiable. It uses the scientific method and explains many patterns we observe in nature. Let’s start with how ID uses the scientific method. The scientific method is commonly described as a four-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, and conclusion
Biology teachers don’t need to be told that, Casey. Just get on with it:
ID begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI.
Ohhhhh! CSI — that sounds so scientific! We’re impressed. Please, Casey, do continue.
Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. When ID researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed.
Ohhhhh! Like the bacterial flagellum. Or blood clotting. Yes! Oh wait — Casey’s guru, Michael Behe, gave those examples at the Dover trial and they weren’t terribly persuasive. See Kitzmiller v. Dover: Michael Behe’s Testimony. Well, maybe Casey has something new to offer. He should, because we’re always being told that the Discoveroids are a research outfit. Let’s read on:
Regarding testability, ID makes the following testable predictions:
(1) Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information).
(2) Forms containing large amounts of novel information will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without similar precursors.
(3) Convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms.
(4) Much so-called “junk DNA” will turn out to perform valuable functions.
What can we say? Regarding Casey’s first “test,” it’s quite ridiculous, because it applies to all living things. The second test is also ridiculous, because no one expects to find fossils of the complete family tree of everything that ever existed, so gaps are inevitable and prove nothing. Ditto for the third item. And as for item four, if some junk DNA is found to be useful, that will surprise no one, because it happens from time to time. But most of it is still junk — a striking rebuke for the talents of Casey’s magical designer.
We should also point out that Casey’s fourth test appears to be weaker than a prediction he made two years ago. Now he predicts only that “much” junk DNA will be found to have a purpose. In Astounding Stupidity we discussed a Discoveroid article in which he suggested that all junk DNA was useful. He said:
[I]ntelligent agents design objects for a purpose, and therefore intelligent design predicts that biological structures will have function.
All in all, Casey’s tests are about as useful as a prophecy that “ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars” or “ye have the poor with you always.” Very impressive. Whoop-de-do!
Casey then goes on at length about how ID is passing those test. Go ahead, click over there and be amazed. When you’re done, if you want a dose of reality, see: Kitzmiller v. Dover: Is ID Science? Hint: It’s not. Sorry, Casey.
See also: Casey’s Big Three Evolution Flaws.
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