Casey Luskin.com

Casey Luskin.com

 

INTELLIGENT DESIGN

 

A few years ago I helped to co-found the "Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness (IDEA) Center," a 501(c)(3) volunteer non-profit organization which helps students to learn about and promote the theory of intelligent design (explained further below) on college and high school campuses. The IDEA Center grew out of the IDEA Club at UCSD which I started with some friends when I was an undergraduate at UCSD. The IDEA Center is a grass-roots organization founded for students and by students, and is run strictly by volunteers.

I now work full-time for the Discovery Institute, a non-profit "think-tank" based in Seattle, Washington. Discovery has a variety of programs dealing with topics ranging from transportation to technology to science and biological origins. Discovery is the leading supporter of scientific research into intelligent design. My role is with Discovery's Center for Science and Culture, helping teachers to teach the controversy over evolution objectively.

To learn more about intelligent design, follow any of these links:

  • IDEACenter.org

  • Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture

  • Evolution News and Views [blog]

  • Intelligent Design the Future [blog]

  • ISCID.org

  • ARN.org

  • IDURC.org

  • IDthink.net

  • Telic Thoughts [blog]

  • DesignInference.com

  • Occasionally when critics are running out of arguments, they claim that I have not put forth any scientific evidence supporting intelligent design. I find this claim quite odd because I've written a number of articles highlighting the scientific evidence supporting design in nature and these articles are pretty easy to find. Critics might disagree with my arguments, but they can't claim I haven't made a case for intelligent design. In this regard, a sampling of just some of the articles I've written that highlight the scientific evidence for intelligent design include (see also my article on this page below):

  • Chapter 4, "Finding Intelligent Design in Nature," in Intelligent Design 101: Leading Experts Explain the Key Issues (2008)

  • Intelligent design (ID) has scientific merit because it uses the scientific method to make its claims and infers design by testing its positive predictions at OpposingViews.com

  • Intelligent Design Has Scientific Merit in Paleontology at OpposingViews.com

  • Human Origins and Intelligent Design in Progress in Information, Complexity, and Design (Vol. 4.1, July, 2005)

  • The Facts about Intelligent Design: A Response to the National Academy of Sciences' Science, Evolution, and Creationism at Discovery Institute's website

  • Design vs. Descent: A Contest of Predictions at the IDEA Center's website

  • A Response to Dr. Dawkins’ “The Information Challenge” at Discovery Institute's website

  • Do Car Engines Run on Lugnuts? A Response to Ken Miller & Judge Jones's Straw Tests of Irreducible Complexity for the Bacterial Flagellum at the ISCID archives

  • The Science Behind Intelligent Design Theory at the IDEA Center's website

  • Intelligent Design and the Death of the "Junk-DNA" Neo-Darwinian Paradigm at the IDEA Center's website

  • A Primer on the Tree of Life at Discovery Institute's Website

  • Helping Students Answer a Professor's Challenge to "Find a Fact" That Supports Intelligent Design (Part 2) at Evolution News & Views

  • The Positive Case for Design at the Access Research Network's Website


  • The Theory of Intelligent Design in the view of Casey Luskin (version 1.0)

    By Casey Luskin. Copyright © Casey Luskin 2006. All Rights Reserved. This page could change as future updates are made.

    Below is my view of the theory of intelligent design. To understand my explanation of my view of the theory of intelligent design, the entire explanation must be taken as a whole, and no single sentence encapsulates the entire concept I am trying to explain. Thanks for reading.

    Part I: What the theory of intelligent design is NOT:

    Many critics of intelligent design have promoted false, straw versions of intelligent design. The critics' false version of intelligent design usually goes something like this:

    "Intelligent Design claims that life is so complex, it could not have evolved, therefore it was designed by a supernatural intelligence."

    This false definition of intelligent design is promoted by many ID-critics, some of which know it is a falsehood (Type I ID-Critics), others of which (Type II ID-Critics) believe and promote the false version because they have been purposefully misled by Type I ID-Critics. The false, straw version of intelligent design was most poignantly promoted by leading scientific critics of ID who testified against intelligent design during the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial. Unfortunately, in Kitzmiller ruling, Judge Jones adopted the plaintiffs false version of intelligent design. Indeed, the lead attorney in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial, Eric Rothschild, adopted their definition and regurgitated the typical false version above, claiming, "". There are 2 false components of this definition:

    (1) Intelligent design does not appeal to the supernatural:
    Many critics, such as Mr. Rothschild, have alleged that intelligent design appeals to a supernatural agent. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, intelligent design is not even focused on studying the intelligent designer, but rather studies natural objects to see if they exhibit tell-tale signs that they were designed. William Dembski explains, "Intelligent design is the science that studies signs of intelligence. Note that a sign is not the thing signified. … As a scientific research program, intelligent design investigates the effects of intelligence, not intelligence as such." (Dembski, 2004) Similarly, Michael Behe notes that "T[t]he inference to design can be held with all the firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer." (Behe, 1996)

    We do not have empirical, observation-based experience with supernatural causes so supernatural causes cannot serve as explanations in science. But we do have empirical, observation-based experience with intelligent agents, so intelligent agents can serve as explanatory causes in science. Thus, all intelligent design infers is the prior action of intelligence, because intelligence is what we have observation-based experience with in the empirical realm. As one pro-ID textbook states, "All it implies is that life had an intelligent source." (Kenyon & Davis, 1993) To stay within the realm of scientific inquiry, it is probably not possible for a scientific theory of intelligent design to address religious questions about the identity, nature, or moral purposes of the designer:

    “Intelligent design is modest in what it attributes to the designing intelligence responsible for the specified complexity in nature. For instance, design theorists recognize that the nature, moral character and purposes of this intelligence lie beyond the remit of science. As Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis remark in their text on intelligent design: ‘Science cannot answer this question; it must leave it to religion and philosophy.’” (Dembski, 1999)

    "I myself do believe in a benevolent God … But a scientific argument for design in biology does not reach that far. This while I argue for design, the question of the identity of the designer is left open. Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel--fallen or not; Plato's demi-urge; some mystical new age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being. … [A]s regards the identity of the designer, modern ID theory happily echoes Isaac Newton's phrase hypothesis non fingo.” (Behe, 2001)

    “[A]ppeals to intelligent design may be considered in science, as illustrated by current NASA search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Archaeology has pioneered the development of methods for distinguishing the effects of natural and intelligent causes. We should recognize, however, that if we go further, and conclude that the intelligence responsible for biological origins is outside the universe (supernatural) or within it, we do so without the help of science.” (Kenyon & Davis, 1993)

    “The idea that life had an intelligent source is hardly unique to Christian fundamentalism. Advocates of design have included not only Christians and other religious theists, but pantheists, Greek and Enlightenment philosophers and now include many modern scientists who describe themselves as religiously agnostic. Moreover, the concept of design implies absolutely nothing about beliefs and normally associated with Christian fundamentalism, such as a young earth, a global flood, or even the existence of the Christian God. All it implies is that life had an intelligent source.” (Kenyon & Davis, 1993)

    (2) Intelligent design is not simply a negative argument against evolution:
    Many critics, such as Mr. Rothschild, have alleged that design is simply negative argument against evolution, which says that intelligent design is only inferred because we have criticized or falsified of evolution. While there exists much scientific evidence against evolution, evidence against one scientific theory does not in-and-of-itself constitute evidence in favor of another scientific theory. Rather, intelligent design is inferred because we find properties in natural objects whose origin we know, from experience, stems from intelligence. This positive case for intelligent design is the primary subject of Part II.

    Part II: What the theory of intelligent design IS:

    Intelligent design is a scientific theory which argues that best explanation for some natural phenomena is intelligence, especially when the phenomenon has certain informational properties which in our observation-based experience are caused by intelligence. Intelligent design is primarily a historical science, meaning it studies present-day causes and then applies them to explain the historical record to infer the best explanation for the origin of the natural phenomenon being studied. Intelligent design thus uses uniformitarian reasoning based upon the principle that “the present is the key to the past.” (Meyer, 2004a) Intelligent design therefore starts with observations of present-day-processes (intelligent agency) to establish cause-and-effect relationships between intelligence and the generation of certain types of information. When we find such information in the natural world, which in our common experience derives from intelligence, then we have empirical evidence that intelligence was involved in the origin the natural object bearing that informational signature of intelligent design.

    The theory of intelligent design thus begins with observations of how intelligent agents act when they design things. (See Bracht, 2002) Human intelligence provides a large empirical dataset for studying the products of the action of intelligent agents. This present-day observation-based dataset establishes cause-and-effect relationships between intelligent action certain types of information.

    The most common indicator of intelligent design: specified complexity:

    William Dembski observes that “[t]he principle characteristic of intelligent agency is directed contingency, or what we call choice.” (Dembski, 1998) Dembski calls ID “a theory of information” where “information becomes a reliable indicator of design as well as a proper object for scientific investigation.” (Dembski, 2001) A cause-and-effect relationship can be established between mind and information, as Stephen Meyer recognizes that the famous information theorist Henry Quastler observed, the “creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” (Meyer at al., 2003) The most commonly cited type of “information” which reliably indicates design is generally called “specified complexity.” As Dembski writes, “the defining feature of intelligent causes is their ability to create novel information and, in particular, specified complexity.” (Dembski, 2003) The term was first coined by a non-ID proponent Dembski suggests that design can be detected when one finds a rare or highly unlikely event (making it complex) which conforms to an independently derived pattern (making it specified).

    Certain misunderstandings are common about the usage of specified complexity to infer design. To infer design, a structure must be both specified and complex. Mere complexity or mere specification is insufficient to infer design. It must be both specified and complex. Below are some examples which can help avoid these pitfalls:

    Specified but not complex = not designed: A salt crystal may be composed of billions of organized atoms of sodium and chlorine arrayed in a large organized lattice of Na-Cl-Na-Cl., etc. While this arrangement is specified, it is not complex, for it is easily explained by a few simple laws of chemical bonding and the geometric rules of atomic-lattice-fitting.

    Complex but not specified = not designed: A random conglomeration of chemicals floating in a test tube might have a highly complex arrangement, but it is not specified. An analogous example from the human world would be a randomly dealt poker hand. The odds of getting any one poker hand is very low (making it complex) but there is no reason to assume it is specified, even if one wins the hand.

    Non-ID proponent Leslie Orgel, who was an early pre-ID user of the term “specified complexity” explains these distinctions well:

    "It is possible to make a more fundamental distinction between living and nonliving things by examining their molecular structure and molecular behavior. In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple, well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures which are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity." (Orgel, 1973)

    Intelligent design uses the Scientific Method:
    The scientific method is commonly described as a 4-part repeatable method consisting of (1) observation, (2) hypothesis, (3) experiment (i.e. testing), and (4) conclusion. Intelligent design uses precisely this scientific methodology to infer design. By observing the sorts of choices that intelligent agents commonly make when designing systems, a positive theory of intelligent design is easily constructed by elucidating predictable, reliable indicators of design which can form hypotheses that can subsequently be tested experimentally:

     

    (1) Observation: Observe intelligent agents to understand the types of informational patterns they produce when they design objects.
    (2) Hypothesis: Use those observations to make predictions about what will be found if a natural object was designed.
    (3) Experiment: Test natural objects to see if they have the informational properties which would be predicted to exist if an object had been intelligently designed.
    (4) Conclusion: If experimental tests and the empirical data confirm the predictions, then infer intelligence as the best cause those properties in the natural object.

    Each step of the scientific method will be elaborated below, as intelligent design can be applied within 4 fields: (1) biological complexity, (2) paleontology, (3) systematics, and (4) genetics. Table 5 contains a summary of how evidence for intelligent design is found in these 4 fields using the scientific method.

    Step 1 of the Scientific Method--Observations:

    Design theorists begin with observations of what intelligent agents produce in their designs, to help them recognize and detect design in the natural world. There are many observations which can be made about how intelligent agents act. Below are four observations which can be made:

    Table 1: Observations of What Intelligent Agents Produce When Designing

    Observation

    Derivation from present-day observations of human designers

    Observation (1): Intelligent agents think with an “end goal” in mind, allowing them to solve complex problems by taking many parts and arranging them in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information):

     

    "Agents can arrange matter with distant goals in mind. In their use of language, intelligent human agents also routinely ‘find’ highly isolated and improbable functional sequences within a vast space of combinatorial possibilities. … Agents do have foresight. Agents can also select functional goals before they exist. They can devise or select material means to meet those goals from among an array of other possible states and then actualize those goals in accord with a preconceived design and independent set of functional requirements.” (Meyer et al., 2003)

    “Based on experience, we know that intelligent human agents have—by virtue of their rationality, consciousness, and foresight—the ability to produce information-rich arrangements of parts in which both individual modules and also the hierarchical arrangements of those modules exhibit complexity and functional specificity—information so defined. Individual transistors, resistors, and capacitors exhibit considerable complexity and specificity of design; at a higher level of organization, their specific arrangement and connection within an integrated circuit reflects further design. Conscious and rational human agents have, as a consequence of their powers of agency, the capacity to arrange parts in functionally specified, hierarchical patterns.” (Meyer et al., 2003)

    “[W]e have repeated experience of rational and conscious agents-in particular ourselves-generating or causing increases in complex specified information, both in the form of sequence-specific lines of code and in the form of hierarchically arranged systems of parts. … Our experience-based knowledge of information-flow confirms that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source from a mind or personal agent.” (Meyer, 2004b)

    Observation (2): Intelligent agents introduce fully formed structures into systems and can thus rapidly infuse large amounts of information into systems such that new systems appear discontinuously from previous systems:

    “Intelligent design provides a sufficient causal explanation for the origin of large amounts of information, since we have considerable experience of intelligent agents generating informational configurations of matter.” (Meyer, 2003)

    “[Stuart] Kauffman notes that in the history of human technological innovation with objects such as guns, bicycles, cars, and airplanes, ‘early diversity of forms appears more radical and then settles down to minor tuning’ of the basic design plan. Since the invention of the automobile, for example, all such systems have included four wheels, two axles, a drive shaft, and a motor. Though many new variations on the original model have arisen after the invention of the basic automobile design, all exemplify this same basic design plan. … In the top-down patterns that we know from human technology, an idea (often represented as a blueprint) stands casually prior to the assembly and arrangement of the parts of the system. A blueprint or plan for the whole precedes and guides the assembly of parts in accord with that plan. … We know from experience that intelligent agents often conceive of plans prior to the material instantiation of the systems that conform to the plans—that is, the intelligent design of a blueprint often precedes the assembly of parts in accord with a blueprint or preconceived design plan. In such systems ,the parts do not generate the whole. Rather, an idea of the whole directs the assembly of the parts.” (Meyer et al., 2003) (internal citations removed)

    ”Intelligent agents can rapidly infuse large amounts of genetic information into the biosphere, reflected in the fossil record as the abrupt appearance of novel fossil forms without similar precursors.” (Luskin, 2005)

    Observation (3): Intelligent agents ‘re-use’ functional components that work over and over in different systems (e.g., wheels are re-used on cars and airplanes):

    "An intelligent cause may reuse or redeploy the same module in different systems, without there necessarily being any material or physical connection between those systems. Even more simply, intelligent causes can generate identical patterns independently." (Nelson and Wells, 2003)

    Observation (4): Intelligent agents create things that have a purpose and a function:

    "Inferences to design form a large part of the natural workings of the human mind. Archeology, criminology, cryptography and natural theology, to name but a few domains, are saturated with such inferences. In fact, in every case in which we detect intelligent purpose in the actions or effects of other human beings, we are engaging in an inference to design. (Koons, 2001)

    Step 2 of the Scientific Method--Hypothesis:

    The 4 observations above can then be converted into predictions about what we should expect to find if a natural object was designed. This makes intelligent design a scientific theory capable of generating testable predictions that can be used as criteria for determining if intelligent design is the best explanation for the origin of a given natural object:

    Table 2: Predictions of intelligent design which are hypothesized to be commonly present in natural entities that have been designed

    Prediction

    Elaboration of Application to intelligent design

    Prediction (1) (Biological Complexity): Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information), often in the form of language-based codes or irreducibly complex machines:

    Intelligent agents are capable of producing sign-based languages:

    Life express both function and sign systems, which indicates that it is not a subsystem of the universe, since chance and necessity cannot explain sign systems, meaning, purpose, and goals. Quite contrary, the human mind possesses other properties that do not have these limitations, the property of creativity with ability to create through choice with intent. This choice does not violate any laws. It merely uses dynamically inert configurable switches to record into physicality the non-physical choices of mind. It is therefore very natural that many scientists believe that life is rather a subsystem of some Mind greater than humans or symbolic number cruncher. (Voie, 2006)

    Another important concept in ID is “irreducible complexity.” Irreducible complexity is a form of specified complexity which exists in system composed of “several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.” Irreducible complexity is an informational pattern which may be taken as a strong indicator of design:

    Molecular machines display a key signature or hallmark of design, namely, irreducible complexity. In all irreducibly complex systems in which the cause of the system is known by experience or observation, intelligent design or engineering played a role the origin of the system. Given that neither standard neo-Darwinism, nor co-option has adequately accounted for the origin of these machines, or the appearance of design that they manifest, one might now consider the design hypothesis as the best explanation for the origin of irreducibly complex systems in living organisms. … Although some may argue this is a merely an argument from ignorance, we regard it as an inference to the best explanation, given what we know about the powers of intelligent as opposed to strictly natural or material causes. (Minnich & Meyer, 2004)

    Finally, under our understanding of how designers function, the specified or irreducible complexity may be expected to take the form of machines:

    Instead of viewing centrioles through the spectacles of molecular reductionism and neo-Darwinism, this hypothesis assumes that they are holistically designed to be turbines. ... What if centrioles really are tiny turbines? This is much easier to conceive if we adopt a holistic rather than reductionistic approach, and if we regard centrioles as designed structures rather than accidental by-products of neo-Darwinian evolution (Wells, 2005).

    Prediction (2) (Paleontology): Forms containing large amounts of novel information and irreducibly complex features will appear (or disappear) in the fossil record suddenly, "fully formed," and without similar precursors:

    Intelligent agents can produce large amounts of genetic information and rapidly infuse it into the biosphere. Moreover, to find many complex solutions to functional needs of organisms, designing intelligence must introduce irreducibly complex structures "fully formed," because such irreducibly complex structures require all of their parts to be present in order to function. The presence of irreducible complexity in biology predicts (1) abrupt appearance of biological forms in the fossil record, (2) stasis, and (3) abrupt extinction of organisms from the fossil record:

    "[G]ranted that there are indeed many systems and/or correlated subsystems in biology, which have to be classified as irreducibly complex and that such systems are essentially involved in the formation of morphological characters of organisms, this would explain both, the regular abrupt appearance of new forms in the fossil record as well as their constancy over enormous periods of time. For, if “several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function” are necessary for biochemical and/or anatomical systems to exist as functioning systems at all (because “the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning”) such systems have to (1) originate in a non-gradual manner and (2) must remain constant as long as they are reproduced and exist. And this could mean no less than the enormous time periods mentioned for all the living fossils hinted at above. Moreover, an additional phenomenon would also be explained: (3) the equally abrupt disappearance of so many life forms in earth history. In a strict gradualistic scenario of the origin and evolution of life forms one would expect that – except in catastrophic events (also long denied in uniformitarian geology) like the Permian or Tertiary impacts – most species would continually adapt to varying environmental conditions. So most forms would not simply die out but continue to evolve gradually. However, this is not what has been found in paleontolgy [sic]. Instead, most life forms appear abruptly, remain constant, and disappear equally abrupty [sic] from the world’s scene (for the details, see [10, 27-29, 35-38, 53, 58, 64, 68, 86]). The reason why irreducibly complex systems would also behave in accord with point (3) is also nearly self-evident: if environmental conditions deteriorate so much for certain life forms (defined and specified by systems and/or subsystems of irreducible complexity), so that their very existence be in question, they could only adapt by integrating further correspondingly specified and useful parts into their overall organization, which prima facie could be an improbable process – or perish. Thus, it appears to be entirely clear that irreducible complexity of biological systems and/or correlated subsystems could explain the typical features of the fossil record and the foundations of systematics (morphological stasis – the basic constancy of characters distinguishing higher systematic categories)..."(Lönnig, 2004)

    Prediction (3) (Systematics): Blueprints will be re-used, or "common design" will be prevalent. From an evolutionary perspective, this means that convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms:

    Under an evolutionary paradigm, "convergent evolution" is the recognition that many species independently converge upon the same structures, or even gene sequences. Indeed, Ernst Mayr recognizes that "photoreceptor organs (eyes) had developed at least 40 times independently during the evolution of animal diversity." (Mayr, 2001) While many evolutionists do not see this as a challenge to their theory, this as a strong fulfillment of expectations of "common design" upon similar blueprints:

    "The so-called phenomenon of convergent evolution may not be that at all, but simply the expression of the same preformed “blueprints” by unrelated organisms. Example include marsupial “moles”, “wolves”, “anteaters”, “rabbits” (bandi coots), “squirrels”, including flying forms (phalangers), “woodchucks” (wombat), ”bears”, (koala), “mice” (Coenolestes) and most remarkable of all, saber-toothed cats. In Figure 1 Schindewolf presented pictures of the skulls of the marsupial Thylacosmilus atrox (left) opposite that of the placental Eusmilus sicarius (right), the former from the Pleistocene of Patagonia, the latter from the Oligocene of South Dakota. The two forms are separated by thousands of miles spatially and millions of years temporally. Schindewolf’s legend beneath the figure is of special significance as it bears, not only on the questions raised here, but also, on the whole issue of Intelligent Design with which those questions are clearly related." (Davison, 2005)

    Moreover, the existence of irreducible complexity could even explain genetic similarities in cases which evolutionists would term "conservation:"

    [I]rreducible complexity of biological systems and/or correlated subsystems could explain ... the “basic genetic processes and major molecular traits”, which are thought to have “persisted essentially unchanged for more than three-and-a-half billion years”, and the perseverance of the molecular mechanisms of animal ontogenesis for more than a billion years equally well." (Lönnig, 2004)

    Prediction (4) (Genetics): Much so-called “junk DNA” or other allegedly vestigial characteristics will turn out to perform valuable functions:

    For years, ID proponents have been stating that non-coding "junk" DNA is probably not junk, but probably has some function in our genome. This follows the recognition that in the last 100 years, many "vestigial" organs within the human body have been found to have important function. Jonathan Wells makes this prediction explicit:

    “Since non-coding regions do not produce proteins, Darwinian biologists have been dismissing them for decades as random evolutionary noise or ‘junk DNA.’ From an ID perspective, however, it is extremely unlikely that an organism would expend its resources on preserving and transmitting so much ‘junk.’” (Wells, 2004)

    Step 3 of the Scientific Method--Experiments:

    The 4 predictions above can then be tested experimentally. This makes intelligent design a scientific theory capable of falsification and testing predictions. Below is an elaboration of how each prediction can be tested through experiment:

    Table 3: Methods of experimentally testing the predictions of intelligent design which are hypothesized to be commonly present in natural entities that have been designed based upon our observations of what intelligent agents produce when they act

    Prediction

    Method of Testing

    Prediction (1) (Biological Complexity): Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information), often in the form of language-based codes or irreducibly complex machines.

    Language-based codes can be revealed by seeking to understand the workings of genetics and inheritance. Specified complexity and irreducibly complexity can be studied through theoretical calculations and analysis (Dembski, 2002), computer simulations (Behe & Snoke, 2004), and “reverse engineering” (i.e. knockout experiments) (Bracht, 2002; Miller, 1999; Minnich, 2005) or mutational sensitivity tests (Axe, 2000; Axe, 2004).

    Prediction (2) (Paleontology): Forms containing large amounts of novel information and irreducibly complex features will appear (or disappear) in the fossil record suddenly, "fully formed," and without similar precursors.

    The nature of the appearance of species can be tested by combing the fossil record to discover fossils and to determine if forms appear slowly, with similar precursors or abruptly without similar precursors. The completeness of the fossil record is easily assessable via completeness metrics. (Fara & Benton, 2000)

    Prediction (3) (Systematics): Blueprints will be re-used, or "common design" will be prevalent. From an evolutionary perspective, this means that convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms.

    Current methods in systematics for constructing phylogenetic trees can test this prediction. Current phylogenies often make predictions about the characteristics of the alleged common ancestor of two organisms. When two organisms are found to have a characteristic not expected in their alleged common ancestor, this prediction is strongly fulfilled. When two allegedly more closely related organisms share the same characteristic, this may also represent common design.

    Prediction (4) (Genetics): Much so-called “junk DNA” or other allegedly vestigial characteristics will turn out to perform valuable functions.

    Functionality for biological features can be tested via knockout experiments or removing the allegedly non-functional structure, and then observing the effects upon the organism. Effects could be direct, such as immediate death or developmental aberrations, or less immediate such that they can only be found by observing statistical rates of death and disease in organisms lacking the allegedly non-functional characteristic.

    Step 4 of the Scientific Method--Conclusions:

    Each of the four predictions above have been experimentally tested in various cases. This is elaborated in table 4 below:

    Table 4: Conclusions of experimental tests and the empirical data confirm the predictions which are hypothesized to be valid if a natural object was designed.

    Line of Evidence

    Data (Experiment)

    Prediction of Design Met? (Conclusion)

    (1) Biological Complexity

    Life exhibits both abstract language, signs, and symbols in order to produce self-replicating organisms. (Voie, 2006) Natural structures have been found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information), often taking the form of machines. The irreducibly complex molecular machine, the bacterial flagellum, is a prime example, as are some macromorphological structures. (Behe, 1996; Minnich & Meyer, 2004; Minnich, 2005; Becker & Lönnig, 2005) The simplest-known self-reproducing cell serves as another example. (Peterson & Fraser, 2001) The specified complexity of proteins and protein-protein bonds are other examples. (Axe, 2000; Axe, 2004; Behe & Snoke, 2004)

    Yes.

    (2) Paleontology

    Biological complexity (i.e. new species) tend to appear in the fossil record suddenly, "fully formed," and without any similar precursors. (Mayr, 1991; Gould, 1980) Examples include the Cambrian explosion (Meyer, 2004a; Valentine et al. 1999), a fish explosion (Strahler, 1987), a bird explosion (Cooper & Fortey, 1998), an angiosperm explosion, a mammal explosion (Cooper & Fortey, 1998; Eldredge 1982), and the origin of our own genus Homo (Hawks et al., 2000; Luskin, 2005).

    Yes.

    (3) Systematics

    Similar parts are commonly found in widely different organisms. Many genes and functional parts not distributed in a manner predicted by ancestry, and are often found in clearly unrelated organisms. (Davison, 2005) This includes the various genes that control eye development, limb development, and even wing development across the various animal phyla (such as chickens and insects). (Quiring et. al., 1994; Nelson & Wells, 2003; Lönnig, 2004) For example, Lönnig (2004) states "No theorist in evolutionary biology will ever derive chicken and insects from a winged common ancestor, and yet, clearly related sequences are specifically expressed in wing buds and imaginal disks." Yet this observation is easily accounted for by common design. The "root" of the tree of life is another prime example. (Doolittle, 1999)

    Yes.

    (4) Genetics

    Increased knowledge of genetics has created a strong trend towards functionality for "junk-DNA." Examples include recently discovered surprised functionality in some pseudogenes, microRNAs, introns, LINE and ALU elements. (Hirotsune et. al., 2003; Gibbs, 2003; Hakimi et. al. 2003; Morrish, 2002)

    Yes.

    Summary:

    Table 5: Summary table of how intelligent design uses the scientific method to make its claims.

    Observation

    Hypothesis

    Experiment

    Conclusion

    (1): Intelligent agents think with an “end goal” in mind, allowing them to solve complex problems by taking many parts and arranging them in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information).

    Prediction within Biological Complexity: Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information), often in the form of language-based codes or irreducibly complex machines.

    Language-based codes can be revealed by seeking to understand the workings of genetics and inheritance. Specified complexity and irreducibly complexity can be studied through theoretical calculations and analysis, computer simulations, and “reverse engineering” (i.e. knockout experiments) or mutational sensitivity tests.

    The prediction of design is fulfilled. Life exhibits both abstract language, signs, and symbols in order to produce self-replicating organisms. Natural structures have been found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function (e.g. complex and specified information), often taking the form of machines. The irreducibly complex molecular machine, the bacterial flagellum, is a prime example, as are some macromorphological structures. The simplest-known self-reproducing cell serves as another example. The specified complexity of proteins and protein-protein bonds are other examples. Intelligent design is the best explanation for this data.

    (2): Intelligent agents introduce fully formed structures into systems and can thus rapidly infuse large amounts of information into systems such that new systems appear discontinuously from previous systems.

    Prediction within Paleontology: Forms containing large amounts of novel information and irreducibly complex features will appear (or disappear) in the fossil record suddenly, "fully formed," and without similar precursors.

    The nature of the appearance of species can be tested by combing the fossil record to discover fossils and to determine if forms appear slowly, with similar precursors or abruptly without similar precursors. The completeness of the fossil record is easily assessable via completeness metrics.

    The prediction of design is fulfilled. Biological complexity (i.e. new species) tend to appear in the fossil record suddenly, "fully formed," and without any similar precursors. Examples include the Cambrian explosion, a fish explosion, a bird explosion, an angiosperm explosion, a mammal explosion, and the origin of our own genus Homo. Intelligent design is the best explanation for this data.

    (3): Intelligent agents ‘re-use’ functional components that work over and over in different systems (e.g., wheels are re-used on cars and airplanes).

    Prediction within Systematics: Blueprints will be re-used, or "common design" will be prevalent. From an evolutionary perspective, this means that convergence will occur routinely. That is, genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms.

    Current methods in systematics for constructing phylogenetic trees can test this prediction. Current phylogenies often make predictions about the characteristics of the alleged common ancestor of two organisms. When two organisms are found to have a characteristic not expected in their alleged common ancestor, this prediction is strongly fulfilled. When two allegedly more closely related organisms share the same characteristic, this may also represent common design.

    The prediction of design is fulfilled. Similar parts are commonly found in widely different organisms. Many genes and functional parts not distributed in a manner predicted by ancestry, and are often found in clearly unrelated organisms. This includes the various genes that control eye development, limb development, and even wing development across the various animal phyla (such as chickens and insects). For example, Lönnig (2004) states "No theorist in evolutionary biology will ever derive chicken and insects from a winged common ancestor, and yet, clearly related sequences are specifically expressed in wing buds and imaginal disks." Yet this observation is easily accounted for by common design. The "root" of the tree of life is another prime example. Intelligent design is the best explanation for this data.

    (4): Intelligent agents create things that have a purpose and a function.

    Prediction within Genetics: Much so-called “junk DNA” or other allegedly vestigial characteristics will turn out to perform valuable functions.

    Functionality for biological features can be tested via knockout experiments or removing the allegedly non-functional structure, and then observing the effects upon the organism. Effects could be direct, such as immediate death or developmental aberrations, or less immediate such that they can only be found by observing statistical rates of death and disease in organisms lacking the allegedly non-functional characteristic.

    The prediction of design is fulfilled. Increased knowledge of genetics has created a strong trend towards functionality for "junk-DNA." Examples include recently discovered surprised functionality in some pseudogenes, microRNAs, introns, LINE and ALU elements. Intelligent design is the best explanation for this data.


    References Cited (emboldened articles are by authors known to be supportive of intelligent design):

  • D. D. Axe, "Extreme Functional Sensitivity to Conservative Amino Acid Changes on Enzyme Exteriors," Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol 301:585-595 (2000).

  • D. D. Axe, "Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds," J. Mol. Biol., 1-21 (2004).
     

  • Heinz-Albert Becker & Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, "Transposons: Eukaryotic," Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (John Wiley & Sons, 2005).

  • Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box (Free Press, 1996).

  • Michael Behe, "The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis," Philosophia Christi, Series 2, Vol. 3, No. 1, pg. 165 (2001).

  • Michael J. Behe & David W. Snoke, "Simulating Evolution by Gene Duplication of Protein Features That Require Multiple Amino Acid Residues," Protein Science, Vol 13:2651-2664 (2004).

  • John Bracht, "Inventions, Algorithms, and Biological Design," Progress in Complexity and Design Vol ?? (????, 2002).

  • John Bracht, “The Bacterial Flagellum: A Response to Ursula Goodenough,” Metanexus: Views, 2003.01.16.

  • Cooper, A., & Fortey, R. “Evolutionary Explosions and the Phylogenetic Fuse” Tree, Vol 13, no 4 (1998).

  • John A. Davison, "A Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis," Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum, Vol. 98:155-166 (2005).

  • William A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities (Cambridge University Press, 1998).

  • William A. Dembski, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology, pg. 247-248 (InterVarsity Press, 1999).

  • William A. Dembski, "Intelligent Design as a Theory of Information," in Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics: Philosophical, Theological & Scientific Perspectives (Robert T. Pennock ed., MIT Press, 2001).

  • William A. Dembski, No Free Lunch (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002).

  • Doolittle, W. F., "Phylogenetic Classification and the Universal Tree," Science, Vol 284:2124-2128 (June 25, 1999).
     

  • Niles Eldredge, The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism, pg. 65-66, (1982).

  • Emmanual Fara & Michael J. Benton, "The Fossil Record of Cretaceous Tetrapods," Palaios, Vol 15:161–165 (2000).

  • Wayt T. Gibbs, “The Unseen Genome: Gems among the Junk,” Scientific American (November, 2003).

  • Gould, S. J., "Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?" Paleobiology, vol 6(1):119-130 (1980).

  • Hakimi, M.S. et. al., "A chromatin remodelling complex that loads cohesin onto human chromosomes," Nature, Vol 418:994-998 (2002).
     

  • Hawks, J., Hunley, K., Sang-Hee, L., Wolpoff, M., "Population Bottlenecks and Pleistocene Evolution," J. of Mol. Biol. and Evolution, 17(1):2-22 (2000).

  • Hirotsune S. et al., “An expressed pseudogene regulates the messenger-RNA stability of its homologous coding gene,” Nature, Vol 423:91-96 (2003).
     

  • Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, "Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis, and the origin of irreducible complexity," in Dynamical Genetics pgs. 101-119 (Valerio Parisi, Valeria De Fonzo, and Filippo Aluffi-Pentini eds., 2004).

  • Casey Luskin, “Human Origins and Intelligent Design,” Progress in Complexity and Design Vol ?? (November, 2005).

  • Dean Kenyon & Percival Davis, Of Pandas and People, pg. 161 (2nd ed., 1993).

  • Robert C. Koons, "Are Probabilities Indispensable to the Design Inference?" (2001).

  • Ernst Mayr, One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought (Harvard University Press, 1991).
     

  • Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is (2001).
     

  • Stephen C. Meyer. et. al., "The Cambrian Explosion: Biology's Big Bang," in Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (John A. Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer eds., Michigan State University Press, 2003).

  • a. Stephen C. Meyer, “The Cambrian Information Explosion,” in Debating Design (edited by Michael Ruse and William Dembski; Cambridge University Press 2004).

  • b. Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2):213-239 (2004).

  • Transcript of Testimony of Scott Minnich, Kitzmiller v. Dover, No. 4:04-CV-2688 (M.D. Pa., Nov. 3, 2005).

  • Scott A. Minnich & Stephen C. Meyer, “Genetic analysis of coordinate flagellar and type III regulatory circuits in pathogenic bacteria,” in Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece (M.W. Collins & C.A. Brebbia eds., 2004).

  • Kenneth R. Miller, Finding Darwin’s God (Harper Collins 1999).
     

  • Morrish, T. A., et al., "DNA repair mediated by endonuclease-independent LINE-1 retrotransposition," Nature Genetics, Vol. 31(2):159-165 (June, 2002).
     

  • Paul Nelson and Jonathan Wells, “Homology in Biology,” in Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (John Angus Campbell & Stephen C. Meyer, eds. Michigan State University Press 2004).

  • Leslie E. Orgel, The Origins of Life: Molecules and Natural Selection, pg.189 (Chapman & Hall: London, 1973).

  • Scott N. Peterson and Claire M. Fraser, “The complexity of simplicity,” Genome Biology Vol 2:1-7 (2001).
     

  • R. Quiring, et al. “Homology of the eyeless gene of drosophila to the small eye in mice and aniridia in humans,” Science 265:78 (1994); See also infra, Ref. #5.
     

  • Arthur Strahler's, Science and Earth History – The Evolution/Creation Controversy, (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1987).

  • Valentine, J.W., Jablonski, D., Erwin, D. H., “Fossils, molecules and embryos: new perspectives on the Cambrian Explosion,” Development, Vol 126:851-859 (1999).
     

  • Øyvind Albert Voie, "Biological function and the genetic code are interdependent," Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, Vol. 28:1000–1004 (2006).

  • Jonathan Wells, “Using Intelligent Design Theory to Guide Scientific Research,” Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design, Vol 3.1 (Nov., 2004).

  • Johnathan Wells, "Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force?," Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum, Vol. 98:71-96 (2005).

  •  

    Contact: e-mail Casey at "casey@ideacenter.org"

     

    Copyright © Casey Luskin 2008