Originally Posted by snoopy
I don't view the set back in ID as the collapse of ID however, as some do. This happens all the time in science. Someone has a theory and it's proven wrong. So what? Better luck next time. ID covers a lot of territory, not just the few examples of irreducible complexity that were shown to be not irreducible after all.
Okay, that is just an introduction. I'm not posting it for debate.
Tough. You'll get debate on it anyway!
(I'll at least get to another question of yours later too, to make up for this.
I'll give ID a little credit for coming up with a couple of thought-provoking ideas -- trying to codify how one recognizes an intelligently designed artifact vs. an undesigned thing, and the spin-off idea of irreducible complexity.
But they haven't gotten anywhere with these ideas, they're just clever philosophical baubles right now, and there's no sign they'll ever be more than that. As far as I'm concerned, the IDers attempts to use information theory are fatally flawed, because they only get what little distance they've gone by conflating the idea of information with purpose
. When you aren't diligently careful about your use of that word -- and the IDers aren't -- the idea "purpose" becomes the idea of a conscious, willful desire to achieve a particular goal. If you're assuming a conscious, willful desire to achieve goals then you are essentially making the assumption of the very thing you are supposed to proving, not assuming -- intelligence.
If I want to "prove" that the moon is made of green cheese, and you let me get away with assuming the moon is made of green cheese as my starting point, it's little wonder that I can make such a startling success (in my own mind, at least) of that venture.
The IDers haven't come up with any useful procedures to test their own ideas either. If you look at something like the good ol' bacterial flagellum, and declare it "irreducibly complex", how do you actually prove that the structure is truly irreducibly complex, and that you aren't simply suffering from a failure of imagination to see useful partial steps towards the final structure in question?
There's an old joke in cryptography that anyone can come up with an encoding scheme so clever that he or she can't imagine
how someone else would break it. People like Behe are guilty of looking at structures like the flagellum and declaring them irreducibly complex simply because they can't imagine
the iterative steps which could produce these things.
Read the transcripts of the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. Behe, supposedly one of the leading lights of this "theory" (I'm using scare quotes because ID isn't really good enough to be considered more than conjecture) and others, given ample opportunity to make their best case for ID, made a rather poor showing of themselves, and ended up having to admit to a number of fairly damning weaknesses in ID.
One of the pro-ID witnesses was essentially saying, "Yeah, we know that there isn't very much to ID right now, it isn't very strong yet, but gosh darn it, we think it has great potential. If you let us use the public schools to recruit a new generation of ID researchers, I'm sure we can impress you later!"
Look at the ID research program -- if you can find one to look at, that is. Nearly all of the money going into places like the Discovery Institute has been spent on PR activities and legal challenges, not research. They simply don't have any clear direction to go for research, nor seemingly much desire to get down to doing research either. The closest thing I've heard someone like Behe propose as an actual experiment, which has never been carried out, was something that wouldn't even help prove ID. It only had a small potential for detracting from evolution, even if one bought into the questionable validity of the experiment.
Is the best thing that someone can say about ID is that "evolution isn't good enough, we're the only other game left in town, so we win"?
The biggest problem is that ID doesn't actually solve any problems for you, it just moves the same problem one step further away. That's fine and dandy if you have a good reason for thinking the answer is one further step away -- suppose for instance, aliens from another planet were responsible, completely or in part, for life on Earth. If that's the truth, that's the truth, and it's best that we find the truth whatever it is. But then, of course, you'd have the new question of how the aliens themselves came to be.
If you really think you're finding an ultimate answer to how the complexity of life arose, and don't have any good rationale for pushing the answer you're looking for one step further away -- in terms of Occam's Razor, introducing a new entity
-- you're just deluding yourself with ID. If you're motivated to seek a creator intelligence simply because you think life is too complex to have arisen by chance, all your "creator" becomes is a black box which you allow, by definition, to be the source of the complexity you can't otherwise figure out.
If you're going to allow that something, anything at all, is capable of being a source of complexity and intelligence without itself needing a creator to exist, why not attribute that capability to the physical universe as we see it, instead of needlessly introducing a new actor on the scene -- especially one that you're tempted to dress up with cultural baggage, with characteristics totally unrelated to the mystery you're trying to solve, oh, like having a Plan of Salvation for you?
My question is this, why does evolution only occur when it is needed? It is as though the evolutionary process is itself a defensive mechanism, a way to help a species survive. No? To me, this suggest some form of intelligence. A mechanism that triggers evolution for survival, just as the instinct to fight or flight is triggered in the presence of immediate danger.
I think groverat did a very good job of answering this, but I'd like to add a little more to this myself. I've taken so long writing the first part of this post, however, that I'll have to get back to what I'd like to say here in another post later.