Why Can’t We Just Test Intelligent Design and Be Done With the Question?

When Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell came out (roughly December of 2009) a discussion on Amazon was started.  Lately, the thread has become a rather embarrassing set of comments for the pro-ID crowd.  I don’t encourage reading the whole thing.  The first hundred pages or so contain some interesting commentary, but nothing no one on either side hasn’t seen before.  The rest of it is one vociferous ID defender who does nothing but make personal attacks.  Heck, do read it.  This is what passes for ‘evidence based discussion’ among the ID crowd.
It’s been almost 2 years (OK, 19 months) and the actual topic that the book is about ‘evidence for design’ hasn’t even really come up. Oh a few of the ID proponents have made some claims, but the concept of ‘evidence’ seems to be beyond them.

If a court of law used the same standards of evidence that the ID proponents used, then the jails would have hundreds of thousands more inmates and all of them convicted on the say-so of one person with zero physical supporting evidence.

What’s even funnier is that the science proponents are more interested in testing ID than the ID proponents. The ID guys know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the one thing that they cannot allow is ID to become testable. They know, in spite of what they claim, that ID will fail miserably (as it already has) anytime it becomes actually testable.

The science proponents (including me) actually want to test this. I’d love to have a testable hypothesis for ID. I’m sure that Gary and David would too. Then we could go to the lab and the universe at large (if RK is to be believed) and do some actual work (that ID proponents haven’t ever done).

Then, we have an answer. We wouldn’t have to have this kind of multi-year discussion (multi-decade discussion) over and over again.

Test it, find an answer. Done. Or have additional questions that could be used to expand our knowledge of the world.

But no and it’s purely because the ID proponents refuse to participate. I personally have been begging to have a conversation with an ID proponent that would lead to a testable hypothesis. David has been begging RK to support his claims and try to figure out a testable hypothesis for RK’s ‘many habitable planet’s’ notion for almost a year.

But when you are dealing with people who absolutely refuse to even talk about science or facts or observations or anything else even related to a notion that is claimed to overturn over 150 years of research, there’s not much anyone can do.

It honestly doesn’t help that most of the ID proponents really don’t have a clue about science, how it works, what it does, and why it even works. Heck, even Michael Behe, who has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry has tried to redefine what science is so that ID can be included… of course, he has admitted, under oath to a federal court, that his definition of science would also include witchcraft, voodoo, and astrology (which, apparently, should also be taught in public schools, based on these claims).

Unfortunately, science education in the US has been so disrupted by a few people who can’t understand it, that we have reached this point. A point where adult citizens of the US, with Ph.D.s in a science field are claiming that astrology is science. Think about that and then ask your self why all of our electronics are made in China.

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19 Responses to Why Can’t We Just Test Intelligent Design and Be Done With the Question?

  1. LRA says:

    “The world looks like it is designed” will never be scientifically testable because it is an opinion.

    The argument from design is a philosophy and has no place in the science classroom. We science people know that. IDers aren’t science people, so they keep re-arranging chairs on a sinking ship.

  2. selectedpete says:

    Ever read the book (sig in the cell)?
    It would help your article cred out a bit if you actually took Meyer to task on at least one of his technical points.

  3. OgreMkV says:


    That’s been done ad infinitum. Here’s a few selected links to the problems with the book. As far as the scientific community, it’s a dead letter.

    This is a chapter by chapter review: http://sfmatheson.blogspot.com/2010/01/signature-in-cell-preliminary.html

    Like I said, if there were any actual data or evidence for Intelligent Design, then it would be a different story.

    Tell you what, since everyone asks me if I actually read the book (which is a pretty dumb question), why don’t YOU, selectedpete, point out some data or experiment in SitC that shows positive evidence for Intelligent Design. Give me a page number and we’ll talk about.

  4. David says:

    Why Can’t We Just Test Evolution and Be Done With the Question?

    Evolution: The Creation Myth of Our Culture
    by David Buckna [July 10, 2011]

  5. LRA says:

    How funny! David has used an evolutionary strategy (namely, looking like the predator to avoid getting eaten) to disguise his website to look like TalkOrigins.

    Quite amusing indeed!

  6. OgreMkV says:

    Yep. It’s not even worth tearing part piece by piece, but I’ve got it on the list for a rainy day.

  7. Joe Jensen says:

    Please, ID is tested all the time and passes. Just find a plausible, ie a process we observe in nature, that explains any of the bio-chemical features raised by ID proponents. Flagellum motor perhaps?
    Evolution is tested a fails many times, because a gradualistic explaination for countless features are as of yet, unexplained. See for example,
    Darwinism Fails.
    Read the conclusion of Behe’s book, “the Edge of Evolution” and you’ll see, Darwinism Fails!

    ID is falsifiable if you find a process to explain any of the ID biochemical Icons.
    Tell me how Darwinism or Neo-Evolution is falsifiable?

    Joe Jensen, Canada

  8. OgreMkV says:

    I note that you have note given an example of ID being use. Perhaps you should give such an example that doesn’t involve forensics or anthropology where we know who the designer is.

    As far as the rest, I would suggest a complete education in biochemical science.

    As far as Behe, he’s the guy who changed the definition of science in a court of law such that he was forced to admit that astrology is science. He also stated that “ID is only about the mechanism” and when asked to provide the mechanism he stated “ID doesn’t have a mechanism”. (You’d think after 15 years of thinking about it, he could at least come up with a testable hypothesis.) Oh, he also claimed that work he hadn’t read couldn’t defeat his notions.

    I would also ask that define your words completely, so that I may provide the evidence you need.

    Or let me rephrase… what evidence would convince you?

  9. LRA says:

    It looks like Joe Jensen knows nothing about entropy, activation energies of chemical bonding, gene duplication, transposons, the bacterial toxin injector, punctuated equilibrium, or the fact that evolutionary sciences have advanced greatly in the 150 years since Darwin, and therefore is not called “Darwinism”.

    Looks like Joe Jensen fails.

    Creationists, please do yourselves a favor… Evolutionary science (like any science) is a *TECHNICAL* field, not armchair philosophy. Unless you have put in the requisite time and effort to actually read the scientific literature, you are, in fact, painfully ignorant and are not entitled to an opinion on these matters.

    Gain some humility and realize how foolish you look to those who have actually bothered to learn the material. Who are you going to challenge next, Einstein? LOL!

  10. OgreMkV says:

    Notice how none of them actually give examples of ID being tested. And yes, Jason Lisle seems to be challenging Einstein (and all of physics) with his armchair physics.

    Here’s a hint guys, altering reality to fit the notions of a multi-thousand year old myth is not going to impress anyone.

  11. Joe Jensen says:

    I disagree, Evolution SHOULD be a TECHNICAL field, but is only a philosophy. If you want technical, I would be happy to engage you, please walk me through the current evolutionary theory on the origin of the flagellum motor. You don’t have to have it 100%, just a step or 2, to prove a reasonable process is actually possible. Surely after 150 years of TECHNICAL science behind this theory, somebody must have some theory as to the origin of novel bio-chemical machines. Hint, you can start with Ken Miller’s famous step by step process, and we can discuss it a little. (How’s that for making it easy).
    Joe Jensen

  12. Joe Jensen says:

    Oh, and by the way, it’s not me who’s bringing religion into the forum, it’s you ID critics.

  13. OgreMkV says:

    Sigh. Joe… let me ask you one question first. Why do you demand answers to a certain level yet refuse to provide any answers of your own to any level. Typical creationist with no knowledge of science.

    You say you want the origin and evolution of the flagellum motor. Which one? There are something like 30 different types and flagella in eukaryotes are COMPLETELY different from those in prokaryotes. Are you, just out of curiosity, aware of that?

    Are you also aware that of those varieties of flagella motor, many do not have what would be considered required proteins in other flagellal systems? Are you aware, that even in some flagellal systems, you can remove certain ‘motor’ proteins (notably MotB) and the system will work just fine, even though it has only MotA?

    I would be willing to bet almost anything that you are NOT aware of any of this. In spite of Behe’s degree in biochemistry, HE doesn’t seem to be aware of it.

    I’m sorry, I didn’t read Ken Miller’s synopsis. I read the actual papers.

    Now, how’s this for a list (see below). Read them all. Integrate them and then let’s start talking details. mkay? Start with the first one and let’s just see how far it goes.

    BTW: You are wrong. Any intelligent designer MUST be a deity and therefore it is, by definition, religion.

    BTW2: I would request that you answer any questions asked of you. Please cite the evidence that you claim ‘ID is tested all the time and passes’. I expect, at least, the level of evidence I provided for you (list below). Again, anthropology, forensics, and other disciplines where we know the designer doesn’t count… because we know the designer. ID specifically claims that features of organisms and (sometimes) the universe are best explained via a designer. show me the evidence.


    Wong, Tim; Amidi, Arezou; Dodds, Alexandra; Siddiqi, Sara; Wang, Jing; Yep, Tracy; Tamang, Dorjee G.; Saier, Milton H. (2007). “Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellum: Cumulative evidence indicates that flagella developed as modular systems, with many components deriving from other systems”. Microbe 2 (7): 335–40.

    Sagan L (March 1967). “On the origin of mitosing cells”. Journal of Theoretical Biology 14 (3): 255–74. doi:10.1016/0022-5193(67)90079-3. PMID 11541392.

    Gibbons IR (1995). “Dynein family of motor proteins: present status and future questions”. Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton 32 (2): 136–44. doi:10.1002/cm.970320214. PMID 8681396.

    Asai DJ, Koonce MP (May 2001). “The dynein heavy chain: structure, mechanics and evolution”. Trends in Cell Biology 11 (5): 196–202. doi:10.1016/S0962-8924(01)01970-5. PMID 11316608.

    Faguy DM, Jarrell KF, Kuzio J, Kalmokoff ML (January 1994). “Molecular analysis of archael flagellins: similarity to the type IV pilin-transport superfamily widespread in bacteria”. Canadian Journal of Microbiology 40 (1): 67–71. doi:10.1139/m94-011. PMID 7908603.

    Jones, Dan (16 February 2008). “Uncovering the evolution of the bacterial flagellum”. New Scientist. Retrieved 1 December 2009.

    Hall JL, Ramanis Z, Luck DJ (October 1989). “Basal body/centriolar DNA: molecular genetic studies in Chlamydomonas”. Cell 59 (1): 121–32. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(89)90875-1. PMID 2571418.

    Pallen MJ, Matzke NJ (October 2006). “From The Origin of Species to the origin of bacterial flagella”. Nature Reviews. Microbiology 4 (10): 784–90. doi:10.1038/nrmicro1493. PMID 16953248.

    Blocker, Ariel, Kaoru Komoriya, and Shin-Ichi Aizawa. 2003. Type III secretion systems and bacterial flagella: Insights into their function from structural similarities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA 100(6): 3027-3030. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/100/6/3027

    Cavalier-Smith, T. 1987. The origin of eukaryote and archaebacterial cells. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 503: 17-54.

    Cavalier-Smith, T. 2002. The phagotrophic origin of eukaryotes and phylogenetic classification of Protozoa. International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 52: 297-354.

    Hueck, C. J. 1998. Type III protein secretion systems in bacterial pathogens of animals and plants. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews 62: 379-433.

    Kuwajima, G. 1988. Construction of a minimum-size functional flagellin of Escherichia coli. Journal of Bacteriology 170: 3305-3309.

  14. OgreMkV says:

    Also, you might want to take 20 seconds and use research tool. For example, google scholar, though it isn’t my favorite by far. Here’s one called scirus:


    14,845 hits for “evolution AND flagellum”

    Of course, some of the articles cover sperm, but that is a flagellum and you were very non-specific in your request. Start reading… and I would suggest doing a modicum of research before asking other ignorant questions.

    Yes, it was an ignorant question. Feel free to become concern troll and feel all offended that I called you ignorant. A person who was actually interested in the subject would be bothered to at least read the wikipedia page on the subject (and the references, related articles, and further reading). I know this, because I do it all the time, literally, several times a week I research materials this way. Many times, I go straight to peer-reviewed literature, but in those cases I know enough of the basics to skip the baby stuff.

    You haven’t even reached the baby level of knowledge yet. Even reading this ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagellum) would have given you the basic knowledge to realize that asking for the evolution of the flagellum is a stupid question. Which flagellum. Just a cursory reading of the Wikipedia article I found no less than 8 different types of bacterial (including Eubacteria and Archaebacteria) flagella and at least one Eukaryotic flagella.

    You might be interested to note that there is a piece on the ‘irreducible complexity’ of various flagella mentioned and a specific critique with a link to a seminal paper about the evolution of some flagellal systems.

    I know that most scientists will read work that goes against their own positions, if only to understand those positions and look for errors*. It is a shame that creationists and IDists don’t do that same level of work. Otherwise Meyer might have realized his mistakes in Signature in the Cell and Dembski might have realized his mistakes in No Free Lunch, etc, etc, etc.

    Again, feel free to be concern troll if you can’t actually deal with any of this.

    *Note that ‘errors’ in this case refers to procedural errors, data analysis errors, and systemic errors that the paper’s author may not have considered. In other words, real errors. Searching a paper to look for sentences to take out of context and misuse doesn’t count.

  15. Joe Jensen says:

    Sigh OgreMkV,
    I did in fact, answer your question, but you chose to ignore it. I find it typical of Evolution advocates, to stoop to personal attacks, rather than addres the science. So let’s try again.
    The point of Behe’s book, “the Edge of Evolution”, is that in the REAL world, when you actually observe what evolution is capable of, cannot provide and organism more than 4 needed mutations for a survival advantage. This observation both tests and vindicates the ID position.
    Now you’ve thrown lots of literature at me but failed to respond to my relatively simple siting of 1 book. is that fair?
    I’m familiar with some of the papers you’ve sited, but frankly, they always boil down to the same thing. They all rely on lucky mutations beyond the REAL world observable capabiliies of Evolution. You can confirm it mathmatically, fairly simply yourself. Take the know average mutation rate of bacteria, the know time it takes for a generation cycle, and the odds of getting the Evolutionary “lucky draw”, you guys rely on so much. You’ll quickly see the problem.
    So instead of throwing more papers around, how about simply explaining in simple childlike terms, so I can understand it, duh…, how you and your ilk get around this problem.
    This is the ID test, we’re saying evolution can only be within the bounds of probability, prove us wrong.
    BTW, ID can work, with Aliens seeding Earth, no need for a deity. IT’s a scientific theory, not religion.
    Joe Jensen.

  16. OgreMkV says:

    No you did not answer my question. My question has zero to do with evolution. There is no evolution.

    What is a test of Intelligent Design that has been shown to be true.

    Let me explain it to you very carefully. Even if you, JoeJensen, prove evolution 100% wrong right here, right now… it still does not mean that Intelligent Design is correct. That is called ‘false dichotomy’ and it is a logical fallacy.

    Scientists understand this concept. That is why scientists always do experiments and make observations that support their own work. Only POSITIVE EVIDENCE for a position can be used to support a position. Intelligent Design has none.

    As you have shown, ID can only attack perceived faults of evolution. Unfortunately, that is not how to support your case.

    At this time, you may retract your claim that ID is tested and passes all the time. It doesn’t even make a claim that can be tested.

    And as far your thoughts that evolution depends on 4 mutations and that can’t happen. That is wrong as well. It happens. In fact, it happens, in real time, in a lab and can be observed every step of the way.

    I invite you to read “evolution on a chip” (here: http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pbio.0060085)

    While you are reading note that the best result of the runs was an RNA that had an actual NEGATIVE mutation. That is called a potentiating mutation and, even though it is negative, it allows for further mutations to radically increase the efficiency of the final result.

    In fact, the final result after a mere 70 hours of reproduction (500 generations) contained 11 mutations (that’s almost 3 times as many as you (via Behe) claim is impossible). The resulting increase in efficiency was 90 fold (not 90%).

    4 mutations… phfft. Nothing. Easily done, in less than 70 hours. In fact, 3 mutations were already present at generation 198… less than 35 hours into the experiment.

    So, regardless of what you have read, Behe is very simply wrong. I guess that’s to be expected from someone who think astrology is science.

    BTW: I did not attack you personally INSTEAD of refuting your arguments. I attacked you personally AND refuted your arguments. My statement remains, anyone who is not biased toward a specific result would read ALL of the available literature before attempting a discussion at levels well above what they are prepared for. Especially, when such literature is easily available.

    BTW2: I’m sorry, intelligent aliens seeding Earth does not work either. 1) It does not explain the origin of the universe, which many IDists claim is also designed. 2) Where did the aliens come from? Even in a universe that came about the scientifically accepted way, you can only go back so far with aliens, until they couldn’t have existed. So who designed them?

    BTW3: You still need to cite your claim that ID is tested. Only positive evidence of ID please. Negative evidence of evolution (not that there is any) does as much good for the Flying Spaghetti Monster as it does for ID.

  17. Joe Jensen says:

    Hi again Ogre,
    I’m not sure you read the article you sited. I stand by my statement that any evolutionary advantage requiring more than 4 lucky mutations, won’t happen. The article you sited, measures mutations to an RNA molecule, artificially reproduced and artficially mutated at a rate far above anything seen in the REAL world. On top of that, advantages were realized before 4 mutations, so this is case of step by step and making evolution possible, because the steps are small enough.
    I hate to sound like a broken record, but it would do you good, personally, to read the chapter in Behe’s book, ” the Edge of Evolution” on the “mathmatical limits to darwinism”. It explains that ‘in the real world’, you can measure the rates of mutations in a strain of bacteria, needing 1 specific amino acid change, on a specific protein, in a specific position, as 1 in a trillion. This change used in that example, confers Malaria with resistance to the drug Atovaquone. This ordinarily isn’t a problem for Malaria, because an infected person can have about a trillion Malaria cells in his body.
    But, if the drug used is Chloroquine, then 2 specific mutations are needed BEFORE any advantage to Malaria is realized. The odds of this have been measured, in real world trials at 1 cell in 10^20. In other words, 2 lucky mutations are about 100 million times less likely than 1 lucky mutation. And because about a billion people get infected with malaria in a typical year, even this remote resistance shows up occasionally.
    But you will find, if you understand the science behind his case, and check the papers sited in the notes at the back of the book, a very compelling case for the impossibility of any selective advantage being realized by mammals with much longer generation times. Evolution has to account for numerous multi-lucky developments before selective advantages, that go well beyond the bounds of probability.
    This is where Evolution fails it’s test as Darwin himself indicated.
    As for ID testing:
    All specified information of the equivalent complexity of this sentence, has always been the product of a (semi) intelligent mind. This is the way all historical sciences must operate, by taking the best explanation for the observed situation, basing it on processes we see today.
    Test ID by either finding a low enough odds step by step real world process for bio-chemical machines like the flagellum motor, or show us another source of specified complex information not produced by intelligence.
    This should be easy for an intelligent person like yourself. Instead of siting a hundred papers, try siting one, and help me, by explaining it. I’m not that bright and would appreciate going through the points in the article, step by step.
    Joe Jensen.

  18. Pingback: A reply to Joe Jensen | Cassandra's Tears

  19. OgreMkV says:

    Here you go Joe. I tried. And there are plenty of links for you to explore.


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