Ann Gauger: The Mechanism of Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design

One of the many problems of the Discovery Institute’s “theory” of intelligent design is that it doesn’t describe how the magic happens. Their transcendent designer — blessed be he! — is alleged to have accomplished all kinds of neat things, but they never even try to suggest how he does it.

We’ve written about this before — most recently Intelligent Design Has a Mechanism. That links to a few earlier posts, and the Discoveroids have consistently admitted that they can’t describe any mechanism for their theory. That’s the same admission they make today in What’s the Mechanism of Intelligent Design?

It was written by Ann Gauger, who is best known for the clandestine nature of what she does and where she does it. She’s a “a senior research scientist” at the Discoveroids’ Biologic Institute. Ann’s work is so sensitive that the interior of her lab must never be seen by outsiders. You can read all about that in Klinghoffer Defends Photo Trickery.

The work done in that secret facility sometimes appears in the Discoveroids’ captive “peer reviewed” journal, BIO-Complexity. That lab, plus the Discoveroids’ own “peer reviewed” vanity press operation (Discovery Institute Press) constitute their imitation of the accouterments of science, and have caused intelligent design to be described as a cargo cult.

Okay, you know what we’re dealing with, and you’re eager to learn what Ann has for us today. Here are some excerpts from her new post, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

University of Toronto biochemist Larry Moran has issued a challenge at his blog Sandwalk, a challenge that advocates of intelligent design have heard before. We’ve answered it before as well, but it’s not unreasonable and therefore worth addressing again. He asks: Tell me the way information is incorporated into living things. Give a detailed explanation. What’s the mechanism?

Moran’s post didn’t use the word “mechanism.” But he asked what the designer did and how he did it. Ann says:

Indeed, I would bet that some readers have wondered the same thing. Taking Moran’s post as a welcome occasion for revisiting the question, let me expand on it in a slightly different way than it’s posed. Let me also say that this is my personal view, and does not necessarily reflect the approaches others might take to these questions.

In other words, no one at the Discovery Institute has a clue, but Ann is willing to take a stab at it. Let’s read on:

The first question to be addressed is why Dr. Moran insists I provide a mechanism. That insistence is indicative of a particular view of science known as methodological naturalism, or methodological materialism. This view of science claims that science must limit itself to strictly materialistic causes to explain all phenomena in nature, even things like the origin of the universe, the origin of life, and the origin and causes of human consciousness.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What Ann refers to as a ” particular view of science known as methodological naturalism” is what the rest of us simply refer to as “science.” Science can’t function without observable or detectable data that can be examined, measured, tested, etc. The spirit world offers no verifiable evidence of a scientific nature, so there is no scientific work that can be done with such things, and there can’t be any scientific theories based on the existence of spiritual matters. We explained all that in Bring Me An Angel Detector! Ann continues:

But does the rule [methodological naturalism] work? The requirement for a material cause, a mechanism, can lead to the odd conclusion that Isaac Newton’s law of gravity is not scientific because he famously refused to provide a mechanistic explanation for action at a distance. Likewise Einstein’s E = mc2 has no mechanism. But these laws are certainly scientific.

Aaaargh!! Newton didn’t explain what makes gravity work, but Einstein did. As for E = mc2, that’s an observation, not a theory. Here’s more:

Not all science involves observable entities or repeatable phenomena, for example — you can’t watch all causes at work or witness all events happen again and again, yet you can still make inferences about what caused unique or singular events based on the evidence available to you.

Aaaargh!! We do more than make inferences. Scientific hypotheses can be and are tested to see if they hold true. But the elusive intelligent designer — like Zeus — has never been more than an inference. Moving along:

Historical sciences such as archeology, geology, forensics, and evolutionary biology all infer causal events in the past to explain the occurrence of other events or to explain the evidence we have left behind in the present.

Yes, but unlike intelligent design, those sciences can be tested — see The Lessons of Tiktaalik. So far, the intelligent designer isn’t doing very well, but maybe Ann will come up with something. Another excerpt:

The theory of intelligent design also qualifies as historical science. We cannot directly observe the cause of the origin of life or repeat the events we study in the history of life, but we can infer what cause is most likely to be responsible, as Stephen Meyer likes to say, “from our repeated and uniform experience.” In our experience the only thing capable of causing the origin of digital code or functional information or causal circularity is intelligence and we know that the origin of life and the origin of animal life, for example, required the production of just such things in living systems.

Aaaargh!! No, Ann, despite Discoveroid dogma, we don’t know that’s the only way DNA can originate. On with the article:

Briefly, although the designing agent posited by the theory of intelligent design is not directly observable (as most causal entities posited by historical scientists are not), the theory is testable and makes many discriminating predictions. Steve Meyer’s book Signature in the Cell, Chapters 18 and 19 and Appendix A, discusses this thoroughly.

We haven’t read the book, but we have doubts that intelligent design has ever been scientifically tested — by Meyer’s predictions or by anything else. Does Ann have anything other than Meyer to offer us? We’ll soon find out:

Moran assumes that scientists may not invoke mind, or any intelligent cause, as an explanation for natural phenomena, at least if they want their theories to be considered scientific. He assumes, again, that science must limit itself to strictly materialistic causes in order to explain all phenomena, even the origin of biological information such as digital code in DNA, or the Cambrian explosion.

Moran is correct. Ann keeps going ’round and ’round, so we won’t bother with much more. This is what she says near the end:

The theory of intelligent design does not propose a mechanism (a strictly or necessarily materialistic cause) for the origin of biological information. Rather, it proposes an intelligent or mental cause. In so doing, it does exactly what we want a good historical scientific theory to do. It proposes a cause that is known from our uniform and repeated experience (to borrow a phrase) to have the power to produce the effect in question, which in this case, is functional information in living systems.

[*Sigh*] They have no observations of their designer, no concept at all of how he does what they claim he does, and no way to test their claims. In other words, they have nothing. But we’ve always known that.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “Ann Gauger: The Mechanism of Intelligent Design

  1. Doctor Stochastic

    Not much is said about how anything works but much is said about the experience of IDers.

  2. Reading an “explanation” by Ann or any other Discoveroid is a lot like eating cotton candy at a county fair: All fluff and sugary air with nothing of substance. Ann writes like a high school kid trying to fake a term paper on a subject she knows nothing about.

  3. michaelfugate

    Telepathy?

  4. Per SC: “Ann’s work is so sensitive that the interior of her lab must never be seen by outsiders.”

    A thorough search of the Dishonesty Institute’s site has uncovered a picture of their much touted secret lab:

    That’s Ann (at right) and Klinghoffer (seated). Unknown person at top, perhaps the great designer.

  5. michaelfugate

    And then there is who is the designer, what did it do, when and where did it do it, and why did it do it? How is only a small part of their ignorance.

  6. michaelfugate

    This has answers to Meyer’s “predictions from SitC:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/A_Dozen_ID-Inspired_Predictions

  7. And once again, they discredit their own team.

    It’s funny how paleontology is a “historical science” and thus can’t be used to make predictions (according to IDpeople), but ID is fine being a “historical science” (which is neither historical nor science).

  8. Thanks, michaelfugate. It’s as I suspected.

  9. But does the rule [methodological naturalism] work? The requirement for a material cause, a mechanism, can lead to the odd conclusion that Isaac Newton’s law of gravity is not scientific because he famously refused to provide a mechanistic explanation for action at a distance. Likewise Einstein’s E = mc2 has no mechanism. But these laws are certainly scientific.

    Aaaargh!! Newton didn’t explain what makes gravity work, but Einstein did. As for E = mc2, that’s an observation, not a theory.

    It’s not even an observation, in itself; rather, it’s mathematically derived from a set of equations previously developed (from observation) for other purposes.

    As for whether “methodological naturalism” actually “works,” it does so well enough to give us our modern technological society rather than the medieval one creationists seem to prefer. Can ID’ers make any similar claim? No–which is why, when confronted on this issue, they so often change the subject to the alleged moral superiority of creationism.

  10. Okay, WHY would they decide that essentially slamming Moran was in their best interest? Of all of the people whom I follow, Moran has bent over backwards to give ID a far-more-than-deserved fair shake. And yet, they keep slamming the door in his face time and again.
    Yes, I realize that Moran is not ID’s best friend; they need to realize that Moran is their ONLY friend.

  11. Hans-Richard Grümm

    The only intelligent and mental causes we have observed work via quite materialistic methods: the interaction of actins and myosins in our muscles.

  12. “The theory of intelligent design does not propose a mechanism (a strictly or necessarily materialistic cause) for the origin of biological information. Rather, it proposes an intelligent or mental cause.”

    This is like saying that understanding the origins of Ann Gauger’s computer does not require a knowledge of microcircuit fabrication, since it has “an intelligent or mental cause”

    Intelligent design is nothing without intelligent fabrication, intelligent assembly, and intelligent delivery.

  13. Or, as I think it was Maarten Boudry who put it this way, Intelligent Design leaves us with all the work of explaining still to do

  14. To paraphrase the inimitable Gauger:

    Mechanisms? We don’t need no stinkin’ mechanisms!

    We got MAGIC!!!

  15. As I suggested in response to the recent contest here about an explanation for the Egyptian Pyramids: They are intelligently designed.
    Although everyone knows, they are intelligently designed. But that is a mighty poor explanation. For example, it leaves open
    who: whether they were designed by Joseph son of Jacob, by some Egyptian master of Israelite slaves, space aliens, the same designers as the designers of the Mesoamerican pyramids, Egyptian gods, or even some clever native Egyptian adviser to pharoahs
    when: 3000 BC to 1200 BC or whenever
    why: granaries, tombs, data banks for ancient Egyptian deep lore, beacons for space travelers, public projects for make-work, astronomical observatories, anchors for Noah’s Ark
    how, what, where etc.
    And, if we go along with the suggestions of the creationists, who tell us that living things are also intelligently designed, telling us that “the Egyptian Pyramids are intelligently designed” does not differentiate them from native flora – that pyramids just grew, like some sort of tree or fungus. or shells of some extinct animals which grew on the sea bottom during Noah’s Flood but died out when the waters receded.
    And, as Paul Braterman pointed out, just being designed does not account for their appearance from the drawing board to reality. Plenty of projects have never made the step to being built. Plenty were infeasible, or physically, or even mathematically, impossible – from Project Orion to perpetual motion machines to the Penrose triangle.

  16. “…although the designing agent posited by the theory of intelligent design is not directly observable (as most causal entities posited by historical scientists are not)…”

    Hold it right there Science Lady, could you maybe back up just a bit and describe some of the “causal entities posited by historical scientists”? You know, the ones that aren’t observable today. Like, for example, ummm, what? Are you talking about people? Physical properties? Basic natural phenomena like gravity, heat, etc.?

    WTF does she imagine she’s talking about? Does she think that because we accept that physical processes we can observe today also acted in the past, that this is analogous to proposing an entirely different additional process that we can’t observe or describe or quantify in any way?

  17. “What Ann refers to as ….”
    It’s even better – lovely Ann admits here that the paradigm revolution the IDiots from Seattling were prattling about is actually a regression to at least two centuries ago, when scientists hadn’t fully understood the scientific method yet. Think of Newton, whose model of the Solar System wasn’t perfect and hence left room for a Grand Old Designer.

    “you can’t watch all causes at work”
    Additional evidence that IDiots are idiots indeed. You can’t observe forces – and that specifically includes gravity – at all. My second graders understand that. Gravity is an abstract concept used to accurately describe and predict a huge variety of empirical data. So is evolution.
    The concept of the Grand Old Designer describes either nothing or everything imaginable, including for instance superconductivity at relatively highly temperatures – and hence again nothing. It hasn’t been instrumental for any testable prediction. At best it’s one big explanation with hindsight.

    “those sciences can be tested”
    Indeed. It’s not as well known as it should be, but very similar to TIktaalik History of Antiquity has predicted where to find Julius Caesar’s military camps east of the river Rhine. Correctly.

    “In our experience the only thing capable of causing the origin of digital code or functional information or causal circularity is intelligence.”
    And we are back at square one. The origin of digital code used for BASIC (for the youngsters: a popular computer language in the ’80’s) is intelligence indeed. And we know exactly which mechanism that intelligence used. So Ann actually argues that the question which mechanism the Grand Old Designer used is a highly valid one indeed.

    “it proposes an intelligent or mental cause.”
    specifically for evolutionary events that haven’t been or are suppose to not have been described by Evolution Theory.
    While Ann provides an interesting twist it still all boils down to the three core elements:

    a) Evolution Theory is wrong;
    b) God of the Gaps (that intelligent or mental cause);
    c) Paley’s False Watchmaker’s Analogy (origin of digital code).

  18. @Paul,

    Intelligent design is nothing without intelligent fabrication, intelligent assembly, and intelligent delivery.

    Well said – and all those require manipulating material.

  19. Can you also, Lucullus, affirm that there is any power united with wisdom and prudence which has made, or, to use your own expression, manufactured man? What sort of a manufacture is that? Where is it exercised? when? why? how?

    Cicero: Academica, Book II (Entitled Lucullus), Chapter XXVII, section 87
    (see Wikiquote)

  20. To my knowledge, the DI has never specified a single instance when a design was implemented. They assert that design events happened in the past, but they have never been curious enough to attempt to determine when and where.

    Even Casey’s book on the Cambrian explosion is essentially an argument that scientists cannot explain (to Casey’s satisfaction) a period of relatively rapid diversification of life, rather than a description of any sort of ID event.

    If ID is as well developed a theory as its apologists claim, then I would like to read an ID explanation for the rise of modern humans – what happened and when. Surely the secret DI lab can reveal whether a DNA code update occurred, what it was and when it happened, or on the other hand, if humans were created entirely new. What is the DI position on whether humans evolved naturally subsequent to that design update, or are there mini-updates occurring continuously? Was Neanderthal a discreet design, or the product of evolution from an original human design?

    Georgia may think that ID advocates do not have to make up mechanisms to sell their faith, but she should at least pretend to be curious as to the mechanisms, and the who, what, where, when, and how that ID occured. If she’s not, then why does she have a lab? What can she possibly do all day?

  21. @Ed:
    IMHO, you point to the most significant problem with ID.
    As bad the problems with the attacks on the science, the quote mining, and on and on, there is the long-standing problem of “what happens if it isn’t something natural”. It goes back as far as Cicero, it was brought up by a pointed essay of Herbert Spencer of 1852, “The Development Hypothesis”. It is the subject of a famous quote of Dembski about “pathetic level of detail”, and on and on.
    As far as I know, no scientific revolution (no revolution other than a political one) has lasted long without an attempt at providing an alternative. Political revolutions can last for a while with merely destroying the old order. But Copernicus found it necessary to go beyond “there’s something wrong with the Ptolemaic model”.
    What ID resembles most is a political negative ad campaign.