Discoveroids: Intelligent Design Is Testable

There ought to be some special award for the Discovery Institute to let them know how much we appreciate the brazen other-worldliness of the title they gave to the newest post at their creationist blog: Intelligent Design is Testable. Is Darwinism? It was written by Jonathan Witt, a Discoveroid “senior fellow.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

A familiar canard is that intelligent design isn’t science because it makes no empirically testable claims or predictions. The objection is a canard because intelligent design makes many empirically testable claims and predictions.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Hey, you gotta admit — that was good! And the fun is only beginning. Then Witt says:

Consider Darwin’s Black Box, [in which] molecular biologist Michael Behe points out that the neo-Darwinian mechanism lacks foresight. [So does gravity.] It requires a functional system at each mutational step on the evolutionary path, and it doesn’t give a fig for some distant goal. If the thing can’t compete, survive, and reproduce, it gets weeded out of the evolutionary game of life — plain and simple.

Okay, what of it? Witt tells us:

Behe went on to argue that bacterial flagellum needs all of its parts to work and there’s no pathway for it to have evolved one small neo-Darwinian step at a time, even allowing for the possibility of nature co-opting simpler machines serving other functions.

Uh huh. If you’re confused, dear reader, you should know that Michael Behe is a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow. He’s also a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. His colleagues at Lehigh are so impressed by his brilliance that they publicly disassociated themselves from him by issuing this statement: Department Position on Evolution and “Intelligent Design”. Also, Wikipedia has an article on Evolution of flagella. Okay, Witt continues:

Behe calls this feature “irreducible complexity,” and says it’s a hallmark of intelligently designed systems. Whether it’s a mousetrap, a bicycle, an integrated circuit, or any of countless other machines, any time we find an irreducibly complex device and can trace it back to its source, the source always turns out to be an intelligent agent.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!. “The source always turns out to be an intelligent agent.” Let’s read on:

Behe predicted that scientists would not uncover a continuously functional Darwinian pathway from a simple precursor to the bacterial flagellum, and that any evolutionary pathway that someone might describe would presuppose other irreducibly complex systems. He further argued that for all of the above reasons taken together, intelligent design is the best explanation for the origin of the bacterial flagellum.

How might one test and discredit Behe’s argument? Demonstrate, or at least describe, a realistic, continuously functional Darwinian pathway from simple ancestor to present motor. This would falsify Behe’s design argument.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!. You can’t discredit Behe, because when you point to an evolutionary precursor, he can assert the God of the gaps and William Paley ‘s Watchmaker analogy all the way down!

But wait — Witt isn’t done yet. He has even more evidence:

Consider another design argument, this one in astronomy and cosmology. In The Privileged Planet, Gonzalez and Richards show that there is a striking correlation between the conditions needed for life and the conditions needed for making many types of scientific discovery. They argue that such a correlation, if true, points to intelligent design.

Yeah, we know. In all the universe, Earth was specially created, just for us. The Discoveroids have no evidence for that — none at all — other than the fact that we exist. Nevertheless, like all creationists who assert Oogity Boogity, they insist they’re correct, and you have the burden of proving that their claims are wrong. Witt quotes Gonzalez and Richards:

The most decisive way to falsify our argument as a whole would be to find a distant and very different environment, which, while quite hostile to life, nevertheless offers a superior platform for making as many diverse scientific discoveries as does our local environment. The opposite of this would have the same effect — finding an extremely habitable and inhabited place that was a lousy platform for observation.

It’s difficult to digest that. Witt quotes them further, but we’ll skip that. You can click over there to read it all if you like. We’re getting near the end now. Here’s another excerpt:

I’ve offered only a couple of examples of testable design arguments here, but there are many others [link to stuff from Discoveroid Stephen Meyer’s book]. Of course, if the arguments are true, then they’re falsifiable only in principle, but not in fact — hardly a weakness in a scientific theory!

And now we come to the thundering climax:

So, rather than beating the dead horse of un-testability, design doubters would do well to focus on a more fruitful question: Where does the evidence lead? What is the best, most causally adequate explanation for things like the bacterial flagellum, biological information, the fine-tuning of the laws and constants of physics, and the strong correlation between life and discovery?

[*Groan*] What can we say? To begin with, the Discoveroids’ “theory,” like every appeal to supernaturalism, is untestable. Then, of course, it’s utterly lacking in evidence. Where’s the designer? What does he do? When? How? Why? The same arguments presented by the Discoveroids could also be offered for the Olympian Gods — or any other variety of Oogity Boogity. Enough said.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Discoveroids: Intelligent Design Is Testable

  1. “Behe predicted that scientists would not uncover a continuously functional Darwinian pathway from a simple precursor to the bacterial flagellum.”
    Behe also predicted the same for the mousetrap, specifically mentioned by Wells. This prediction was debunked many years ago.

  2. The argument from “Irreducible Complexity” is valid, then certain features of life on Earth are not compatible with the the laws of nature. Those features require intervention outside nature in order to exist.

    Likewise, the argument of the “Privileged Planet” depends on the special features of Earth being not a natural result of the laws of nature.

    The three arguments, IC, PP, and “Anthropic Principle” are not compatible. Only one of the three, at most, is valid.

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Great logical argument in a post-facts-and-rationality Trumpism world.

  4. First, the Curmudgeon’s argument, that any of dozens of gods fulfill the discoveroids criteria is right on point. Which of the thousands of gods that humans have imagined might be the real one, and why?

    Second, the opinion that this is somehow a privileged plant grows weaker daily, as more planets are found. There are something like 10^22 stars in the known universe. If only 1 in 10000 have a planet, that’s some 10^18 planets. And even if ours is the only one on which life evolved, that’s still not good evidence that some sky fairy thought it was a good idea to stick us here.

  5. michaelfugate

    Um, need I say anything other than bonny Davie Hume – Scottish Enlightenment scholar…
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleological-arguments/

  6. I think I’m liking the argument that the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex because all the parts that it needs are also irreducibly complex.
    It’s brilliant, works for everything. Water is irreducibly complex because hydrogen and oxygen are irreducibly complex and so are protons, neutrons, quarks…….

  7. So, rather than beating the dead horse of un-testability, design doubters would do well to focus on a more fruitful question: Where does the evidence lead? What is the best, most causally adequate explanation for things like the bacterial flagellum, biological information, the fine-tuning of the laws and constants of physics, and the strong correlation between life and discovery?

    I see. So the universe was created especially so that we and the creatures (and presumably plants, though the Noah tale doesn’t say so) which went aboard the Ark could exist.

    Creationists, er, “intelligent design” advocates, routinely get causality wrong in this way. Since they start with the assumption that ID is correct, they have to work backward to find “evidence” to prove what they already believe.

    They, of course, claim that this is precisely what Darwinists do. They routinely dodge the fact that when Darwin published The Origin of Species, biological evolution was highly controversial and indeed was rejected by many reputable scientists. If ID were “the best, most reasonable explanation” for the universe we observe, evolutionary theory would have been abandoned in the nineteenth century. The fact that this didn’t happen speaks for itself: either the theory is true or there has been, for at least 150 years, a steadily growing worldwide conspiracy of atheistic scientists dedicated to destroying faith in the Bible by promulgating the idea of biological evolution.

    Creationists–including ID proponents–choose the second alternative, which happens to be a textbook example of paranoid schizophrenia. And as with paranoid schizophrenics, the more evidence accumulates that they’re wrong, the more they’re convinced that there’s a conspiracy against them.

  8. I think Witt watched Comfort’s latest movie “The Atheist Delusion” (where all Comfort does is make the false analogy of living organisms to manufactured artifacts), and translated it from creationist language into ID language. “cdesign proponentsists” all over again.

  9. @Paul S
    Slight correction:
    Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei, e.g., a proton is composed of two up quarks, one down quark, and the gluons that mediate the forces “binding” them together.

    Free neutrons (n0) can can decay ~14 minutes, e.g.,
    n0 → p+ + e− + νe

  10. AIUI, under normal conditions, quarks do not exist except in combination, so one might think that a proton might be called an irreducibly complex combination of quarks?

  11. Reflectory analyses: “translated it from creationist language into ID language”
    IDiocy being a form of creationism that can’t be more difficult than translating from British English into American English.

  12. How might one test and discredit Behe’s argument? Demonstrate, or at least describe, a realistic, continuously functional Darwinian pathway from simple ancestor to present motor. This would falsify Behe’s design argument.

    Things get worse for Behe. First, this is an enormous shift of the burden of proof onto requiring a demonstrated pathway for potentially ALL biological proteins and functions. Second, that still isn’t enough; a Designer that created complex things can also create simple things, and a demonstrated evolutionary pathway STILL doesn’t falsify Design. A Designer that can do anything CANNOT be falsified, and the fine feathers folks at the Discovery Institute refuse to design what the Designer is, is not, or what it can and cannot do.

  13. Can a designer produce anything other than a concept?
    For a designer to produce something is to go beyond the job of design.
    A architect qua architect does not produce a building. The architect gives the plan of the building to a builder.