Banner
    Intelligent Design Into The Science Curriculum
    By Sascha Vongehr | October 22nd 2012 03:29 AM | 24 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

    View Sascha's Profile

    Design, according to some, needs a designer. However, famous biologists and neo-Darwinists such as D. Dennett say that evolution “designs” by natural selection. If we accept that usage of the term, “design” does not by definition imply an intentional act (much like “the hand evolved in order to grasp” does not imply that evolution desires to achieve anything). If there are “blind watchmakers” who do “design”, then the following question is scientific:


    Can we possibly, for example by investigating the designed “creation”, distinguish an intelligent designer, one that did have intentions, from an aimless design process like algorithmic evolution?


    Are there telltale signs that reveal the input of an intelligent designer directly? Must there be such, even if the designer tries to hide herself? Can we, perhaps by analyzing the designed structure, prove that it implies an intelligent designer simply by not being possible without such? These are scientific questions, regardless of how one evaluates particular attempts at answering them when it comes to the universe or biological systems. These are scientific questions, regardless of the wishful thinking that motivates some to push these issues as if the existence of an intelligent agent behind our world would imply traditional monotheisms, let alone select any particular one among them, say Christianity.


    Allow me to briefly digress for more, sadly necessary justification in order to ward off the pseudo-skeptics out to defend orthodox scientism: A new type of creationism has entered popular discourse through the backdoor. The hip computer/techno scene’s simulation hypothesis is creationism. Such also often enters, to some perhaps surprisingly, via the backfiring of overly simplistic arguments from “new atheists” like DeGrasse Tyson or physicists that think they got it all figured out but should sign up for undergraduate philosophy classes. Another topic worth mentioning is the implicit denial of evolution (See: Antidarwinism dominates Sci-Outreach) especially by “progressives” who claim to defend evolution: Bio-centrism (as well as Steven Pinker type bashing of group selection) implicitly rejects the beginning of life from pre-biological evolution; rejection of genetic influences on behavior fight “racism”, but also remove vital parts from evolution, so that it no longer works without – you guessed it – God almighty.


    Anyway - to conclude the justification before getting into the meat of what I want to write: We are justified to soberly write about intelligent design (ID) on a science site. Usual “science sites” are sufficiently stuffed with preaching the evil of ID. [BTW: Since I was accused of copying: I had a look now. Wow – prominent ID sites do look more reasonable than most angry atheists’ sites. Thanks once again to all the science bloggers of the cheerleading for naïve scientism variety for that anything can look more trustworthy science wise. In fact, if you want to find clearly stupid mistakes, you will find many more on SB than on the ID sites I just looked at! Wow! Just Wow!]



    The Inconsistent Dogma of Empiricism

    Biological evolution is consistent with all empirical data, however, so is creation by a powerful creator and deception by a simulator (i.e.: I am a brain in a vat or inside “The Matrix”). Some hold the latter as un-scientific. They may define science via the approximation/construction of truth by an empirical method, often even to the exclusion of mathematics. Thus, refusing the conceivable possibility of being deceived by a simulator, is taken as a fundamental doctrine on which empirical data are trustworthy, as being supplied by an indifferent reality rather than a deceptive agent. Such “science” is not only based on belief (and thus not empirical). It also refuses to grow into a mature science that recognizes the role of the observer as constituting reality. Mature science may be able to do without such doctrine, say if logic could tell us that there is no phenomenal consciousness inside a simulation, or that quantum mechanics strongly constraints creating observers.


    A side issue worth mentioning here: Quantum mechanics tells us that empirical data are a “consistent story” that we should expect to find, but if we do not find a consistent story, it is not strictly unexpected either. This doubts the status of empirical input as being fundamentally more than justification.


    Evolution cannot be everything there is to be known

    Algorithmic evolution is entirely able to accord for the whole of biological, social, and technological evolution. However, natural selection needs some background, some statistical ensemble on which selection can happen. Therefore, evolution cannot be everything there is to be known to the fundamental nature of totality. For example, without intelligent life back-reacting on the outcome of the universe, “fecund universe” theories, i.e. universes being evolutionary successful in the way they lead to more universes (via black holes, computer simulations, or inflating bubbles), cannot explain why thus created universes encourage the internal evolution of intelligent life.


    Fecund universes, for example, is Lee Smolin’s idea of Cosmological NaturalSelection (CNS). CNS fails on several grounds, two being the following facts: In an infinite statistical ensemble where ratios cannot be observed (e.g. you cannot count other universes around), Darwinian argumentation explains nothing, because even the atypical is in infinite supply. Second: There is no explanation for why there is anything that can start the process. Where does the first black hole come from; in what first universe is it supposed to occur? This is strangely not asked by those who otherwise without fail demand to know "Who created the creater?". But again, the more important aspect is the one mentioned in the previous section:

    If intelligent life does not lead to more universes (via creating them), there is no selection in favor of universes that produce intelligent life!


    It is not surprising that an evolved life form has an elemental abundance (i.e. the ratio of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon atoms) that mirrors the elemental abundance of the environment that the lifeform happened to evolve in. However, if the life forms have precisely the abundance of the universe (instead of the abundances of their certain enriched niches inside that universe), it seems as if the universe is made for them. Neil DeGrasse Tyson argues that this is indeed the case for our universe! The anthropic principle, i.e. observer selection in that single universe, can obviously not explain observing such an elemental abundance! Such a relation points toward intelligences-make-more-universes scenarios. Nick Bostrom and NASA’s Richard Terrile argue similarly that universes are simulated (which may be fundamentally indistinguishable from “physical” existence), which claims that the fossil record is planted and not evidence for biological evolution. So, why not look for whether we find traces of such Intelligent Design, signs that give the creator away?


    Conclusion

    Should Intelligent Design be mentioned in school? Depends on what you want school to be. If you need it to make functioning technicians that fight for their nation’s resources under the excuse of spreading a pseudo democratic doctrine, then perhaps it is a bad idea. If on the other hand your school is turning out critically thinking individuals, how can mentioning some ID do harm?

    Comments

    Rick Ryals
    Sascha, you really are a masochist by nature, aren't you?

    The part that burns me is the fact that the same evidence that gets used for cosmological ID can also represent the missing structure principle that plagued physicists for so long that they threw out the book on how science is done, in the form of a bio-oriented cosmological principle that defines the structure of the universe from first physics principles.  Like an energy conservation law that requires life to arise and evolve in the Goldilocks zones to perform a specially necessary function in the thermodynamic process.

    When was the last time that you heard anybody pondering what the cumulative effect of something like that might be?  Any suggestion of serious investigation into this kind of science is immediately trampled on by the Copernican religion of scientists.

    The missing link is a principle about near-flat, near balanced universes that maximize work by wasting less energy during the energy dissemination process... and its apparent connection to the vast array of "eco-balanced" conditions that are specific to the anthropic coincidences.

    So I'm for any means that it takes to force scientists to resort to looking in this area, even if it means that we have to introduce a counterbalancing religion into science to fight equally dogmatic and religious Copernicanism of scientists.
    Yes, ID could be mentioned in science classes if it were discussed by an intelligent teacher (IT) who pointed out that science actually describes what we see in the real world, that the "creator" behind ID would look nothing like the deity of popular religions, and that understanding evolutionary biology can get you a good-paying job while preaching ancient mythology will get you no where.

    What's that? Joel Osteen? Oh yeah, scratch that last part.

    WW

    Gerhard Adam
    Sorry, but that sounds simply like preaching too.  How does this "intelligent teacher" approach the subject of living in a simulator?  Is that somehow more scientific that ID?

    No, the simple reality is that ID, just like any other proposition must be put into scientific terms to demonstrate what the requirements are.  If there is an intelligent designer then ....?

    What is the prediction being made?  What is the scientific premise to be tested or demonstrated?  If the subject is simply too complex to be done at certain schooling levels, then the entire matter should be dropped until people have more background.  In other words, if critical thinking regarding ID is too complex for high school, then so is evolution.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    I agree.  There are too many topics where evidence is not being used to support a thesis, but instead we resort to name-calling or merely the assertion that the opposing viewpoint is unscientific or pseudoscience.  If one can't demonstrate that an opposing idea is actually wrong, then the entire premise becomes based on faith and dogma.

    I also agree that if Intelligent Design is wrong, then where does nonsense like "the universe is a simulation" originate from?  It's exactly the same thing. 

    Failure to address these issues as scientific questions that can be investigated and found to be incorrect or offer no predictive capabilities is what is necessary to put these speculations to rest.  If people can't comfortably investigate such matters, as if there is some sort of cosmic battle taking place between ideas, then perhaps the problem lies with them and not the questioner.

    Certainly there are those that will simply believe whatever they choose regardless of the science, and unfortunately often scientists are among that group too. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Thor Russell
    You can't just dismiss the simulation hypothesis as nonsense because you don't like it and don't want to consider it.


    "Thus, refusing the conceivable possibility of being deceived by a simulator, is taken as a fundamental doctrine on which empirical data are trustworthy, as being supplied by an indifferent reality rather than a deceptive agent. Such “science” is not only based on belief (and thus not empirical). It also refuses to grow into a mature science that recognizes the role of the observer as constituting reality. "
    Its like people who call anyone who mentions Boltzmann brains silly names because the idea sounds crazy. Yes it sure does sound crazy, but thats not a good enough reason. Considering apparently ridiculous ideas can sometimes give insight.

    Thor Russell
    Gerhard Adam
    You can't just dismiss the simulation hypothesis as nonsense because you don't like it and don't want to consider it.
    "Brain in the vat" problems are as old as philosophy.  I don't need a techno spin on it to recognize it as the same nonsense.  Unless those basic problems can be addressed, it is simply ID dressed up with technical jargon.
    Mundus vult decipi
    If pastors, priests, rabbis, and "so called" Christians would stop their false (old Earth) and foolish (young Earth) teachings, and start promoting the truth of Genesis (Observations of Moses), then there would hardly be any room for the ridiculous teaching of evolution.

    Collectively, Bible believers are so "blind", that their approach to Genesis is a joke. Instead of seeking the truth, they continue to support the current lies and foolishness of Creationism. Genesis does not have any "Creation accounts". When you keep telling a person that their car is running out of gas,
    and they refuse to look at the fuel gauge and go to the gas station, you begin to wonder how "dumb" they are.

    Perhaps they are just like the Jews, who value tradition over the truth of scripture.

    Is it strange that Atheists want the cram their false beliefs down everyone else's throats, without allowing a (valid) opposing view to be given?

    Herman Cummings
    ephraim7@aol.com

    Why is this article about magical intelligent design creationism on a science website? This nonsense belongs on a Bible website.

    Gerhard Adam
    Please read more carefully, and perhaps even follow the links.  It doesn't say what you think it does.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Rick Ryals
    This guy, "Bob C" is an antifantic to the nth^ from way back.  He wouldn't know the difference between science and politics if his life depended on it, no matter how many times that he read it.  I'm really surprise that this whole thread isn't filled with the likes of him, ergo my first statement.
    vongehr
    Why is this article about magical intelligent design creationism on a science website?
    Because of people like you.
    Really? Do you seriously think that the kind of out-there ID you are proposing would be accepted by more than one in a million of those who assert that they are ID 'believers?' You are climbing into bed with entirely the wrong crowd here. Someday, perhaps, some research results will be developed that support some extraordinary Matrix or other simulationverse. When that happens and a substantial body of peer-reviewed publications result, then it will be entirely appropriate for this to become at first a topic in some graduate seminar and if more results are forthcoming, become more widely known and taught. However, the distance from where we are now (no data whatsoever) to that far distant time when your musings might be sufficiently well supported to be taught in 'schools' (by which I assume you mean primary and secondary schools as is the case for the proponents of other flavors of ID with whom you appear to wish to be identified) is so vast is to not yet be worth even discussing. You do yourself a disservice by aligning yourself with the hordes of anti-science Biblical apologists that infest "intelligent design."

    Gerhard Adam
    Read the article again, if you really don't get it.  Sascha didn't invent this stuff.  He's precisely writing about how Bostrom and others have proposed this notion of "living in a simulator".  This is coming from mainstream science.

    This is precisely what the complaint is, that science is introducing a new jazzed up techno version of ID and claiming that this is somehow more scientific than ID. 

    You're engaged in reacting to something that wasn't said and ignoring those people that really are proposing something radically silly. 

    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    Someday, perhaps, some research results will be developed that support some extraordinary Matrix or other simulationverse.
    The science that confirms to us that there is no difference between ill-defined concepts of "simulation" and "reality", something philosophy has known since for ever, is called quantum mechanics. Cheerleaders for naive scientism do not want to grasp it because it destroys their naive realistic empiricism. Regarding these issues, the ID crowd is less indoctrinated than "skeptics".
    Sorry to see that you hold genuine outreach to be treason. But this is what I am all about, always been. Why not appreciate the strong progress that creationists have made in embracing science (as proven by ID)? One can only hope that "skeptics" will be able to advance equally some day. IDers and scientism advocates like to disregard different fundamental issues, but otherwise, they are on one wavelength. The underlying issue is that great apes desire enemies.
    blue-green

    The realization that there can be designs without a designer is the ongoing story of science itself. If one ignores the lessons learned on a thousand fronts, and instead religiously adheres to the notion that “there is a reason for everything,” one is sure to have ones faith shaken when tragedy and ugliness comes through one's front door. 

    Most why questions are beset with false assumptions.

    We were closer to the truth when we perceived events larger than ourselves as the result of sometimes competing and ofttimes collaborating 'n conspiring gods. Monotheism has run out of steam. Theocracies are discounted. The problem of evil is not settled in terms of black and white ~ heaven and hell. We are going back to having many gods, many winners, many losers of all stripes with scarcely a discernible pattern.

    Science is learning how to account for religious experiences without invoking a designer. 

    With his quantum physics inspired anti-realism, one might think that Sascha would embrace the authors of “Every Thing Must Go” (the book wherein there are no fundamental concrete objects, instead, just relations). Since Sascha makes allegiance to no one (but himself), he must also embrace “Every Thing is Here” even those “things” that are ghosts, illusions, deep religious experiences and misread singularities.

    vongehr
    We are going back to having many gods,
    This is what I thought exactly when recently listening to a lecture about demographics.
    If this author has a research paper supporting intelligent design creationism or creationism, containing real data and research that will withstand scientific scrutiny and testing, he should submit it to a peer reviewed science journal. Until then, this article is just more creationist balderdash and fraud.
    Where's the talking snake fossil, the preCambrian bunny fossil? creationism, a long word standing for bad theology and junk pseudosciuentific fraud.
    No contest. Show us the magical designer support that stands up to scrutiny. And Sasha, I'm meeting a lot ofpeople from the former Soviet republics that are science illiterate. Not good. Nice philosophy paper however Sasha. If one thinks they are Napoleon that is. No real scioence content or argument in this "paper". Unpublishable in a real science journal. Peer review by scientists would reject this as meta physical balderdash, which, it is.

    Gerhard Adam
    Do you not know how to read, or do you lack reading comprehension?  Let me spell it out for you.

    Neither Sascha, nor the majority of commenters on this board are creationists, IDers or even religious.  This article [and others like it] are prompted by the papers and articles coming out of NASA and philosophy [Nick Bostrom] that make creationist and ID assertions under the guise of "simulation hypothesis" and other techno-jargon sounding balderdash.

    So, if you want to make an issue, take it up with them.  This article is about that kind of back-door creationism that is being introduced by mainstream science.

    Perhaps you need to acquaint yourself with the issues and do a bit more reading before you put forth your simplistic conclusions.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Rick Ryals
    You guys don't ever seem to believe me when I say that these culture war fighting "antifantics" can't read because politics, not religion, is the issue.

    "ID is not science"... so the mantra goes...

    Because ID is ONLY a tool used by the far right winged fundamentalists to push their agenda in school.  It does not matter that you or I know what kind of ID is plausible natural science, or what kind of "design" doesn't involve an ID, and it does not matter to them that it does not matter to science what leaps of faith that creationists want to make about an ID.  They can only see ID as a Trojan Horse for the advancement of their arch enemy's primitive culture, regardless of the fact that this cannot happen because it can't be called science if it isn't.  ID also can't be pushed in school via "creation science" because that isn't science either, their paranoia is ultimately unjustified by any argument that they can make against it since there are many mechanisms in science, the constitution, and local education systems that prevent their worst nightmare from ever coming true.

    You guys also don't ever seem to believe me when I say that they get their false confidence by extreme extension of scientific dogma about the world that comes from incomplete theories that include many unestablished assumptions about the intentions or lack thereof.. of Nature.

    And they get that from liberal scientists who take their assumptions about the world for granted in spite of any and all evidence that they may be faced with that indicates otherwise.

    Religion, in other words... "Copernicanism" to be more precise.
    vongehr
    You guys don't ever seem to believe me when I say that these culture war fighting "antifantics" can't read because politics, not religion, is the issue.
    Of course the whole reddit mob for example, and since I post links there, those do show up here at times, cannot read because they have the same mindset that any fashist has. Who here does not believe you?
    You guys also don't ever seem to believe me when I say that they get their false confidence by extreme extension of scientific dogma
    Who is "you guys"? Anyway - the confidence comes like always from power. Naive scientism is clearly established and in power and in fashion in the pseudo-democratic Western world. They confidently bash cripples and babies while having the whole power apparatus for support in case they start losing anyway.
    blue-green

    RR, if you have something coherent to say about entropy or power maximization or how a cable hangs between two poles to minimize action, try harder and don't hang your argument on fluffy links. One paragraph would suffice to see if you have anything besides noise.

    Your obfuscation of the Copernican Revolution is beyond the pale. It is not a religion by any stretch of terms or meanings. It is the humble realization that Earth is but one of many planets. Beyond Copernicus and Kepler, the revolution has continued with the incredible realization that the sun is but one of many stars, our galaxy is but one of many and the universe itself is but one of potentially many.

    The latter multi-universe concept has just recently entered the crucible of science. It may just melt away. It is hardly in the domain of repeatable experiments. The leap from virtual particles to multi-universes is a cliff jump. No one has proven that certain empirical details can only be possible by throwing out Occam's Razor and bringing in multi-universes (along with the butchering of realism such a program would require). We grapple enough with virtual particles and renormalization in quantum field theories (with no solution with gravity in sight with the exception of some chatter concerning entropy, horizons and dark energy (which brings us back to vacuum fluctuations and virtual "particles")).

    The Copernican juggernaut (flattener and equalizer) rolls onward in many other domains of rigorous inquiry. Man is but one of many possible and EQUIVALENT animals or even cyber machines for the Matrix/Kurzweil enthusiasts. This "equivalence" is at the heart of doing Feynman sums. Without it, the integrations would be fraught with many new assumptions to cover why certain things are not equivalent or Copernican.

    At its breaking point, the Copernican “religion” as you call it sir is science fiction, on par with multi-verses. The Revolution does however, relentlessly play out in the theater of woman's rights and human rights in general. Calling it a “religion” is the height of folly.

    vongehr
    Perhaps to you certain aspects are not religion/politics, because you know the history better or whatever, but RR's comment was clearly about the kind of people who comment here and on reddit with stuff that proves their reading comprehension is that of an indoctrinated ten year old.
    And make no mistake - there are plenty of popular TED talks for example where this kind of reddit-mob democracy is heralded as the future of democracy. With that in mind - thank China for curbing the internet and reversing many of Deng's reforms. All hope for the planet is not lost.
    1) We are all living in a universe created and guided by the Hand of God but made to look like it formed through natural processes. God did it this way so our belief in Him would require honest faith. But if we look hard enough, we can find direct evidence of His hand at work.

    2) We are living in a simulation - a giant computer game created by a bored alien wielding a super-powerful artificial intelligence. If, like Neo or Truman, we look hard enough, we can find flaws in the simulation.

    There is no difference between these views. They require the same level of speculation, the same level of faith, can occupy the same sorts of minds in endless speculation, and will yield exactly the same results. After all, look how much we've learned about our world and our universe by contemplating God. So we can expect the same overwhelming benefits from contemplating yet another sort of intelligent designer.

    So go ahead and contemplate. Who knows - maybe your "simulation" flavor of ID will suddenly result in the direct evidence for super-powerful agency that 3000+ years of classical religions have failed to deliver.

    But don't think its anything new. And don't confuse it with science.

    1) We are all living in a universe created and guided by the Hand of God but made to look like it formed through natural processes. God did it this way so our belief in Him would require honest faith. But if we look hard enough, we can find direct evidence of His hand at work.

    2) We are living in a simulation - a giant computer game created by a bored alien wielding a super-powerful artificial intelligence. If, like Neo or Truman, we look hard enough, we can find flaws in the simulation.

    There is no difference between these views. They require the same level of speculation, the same level of faith, can occupy the same sorts of minds in endless speculation, and will yield exactly the same results. After all, look how much we've learned about our world and our universe by contemplating God. So we can expect the same overwhelming benefits from contemplating yet another sort of intelligent designer.

    So go ahead and contemplate, and by all means tell yourself you're bravely pursuing a radical way of thinking. Who knows - maybe your "simulation" flavor of ID will suddenly result in the direct evidence for super-powerful agency that 3000+ years of classical religions have failed to deliver. Hey, maybe you can even convince yourself you're doing something new or different or radical.

    After all, someone has to break away from the dogmatic, naturalistic, rationalist, reality-based version of science that took humans from eating grubs and dying from tooth infections to being well-fed and comfortably dressed with the leisure to debate nonsense over a global digital communications network.

    Plenty of obscure vocabulary and ad hominems in this article... both of which make me think this author needs an attitude check... maybe a little less time arguing with people over relatively unimportant issues and a little more time relating with human beings like they're human beings.