ID for Dummies
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TECHNICAL DEFINITIONS OF ID:

1. MECHANISM: ID as a mechanism in and of itself – Intelligent Design is the action and result of artificial intervention interrupting undirected natural processes, such as natural selection.

2. HYPOTHESIS: ID as a scientific hypothesis in biology – Intelligent Design is the proposition that evolution requires an artificial intervention in addition to natural selection and mutations.

3. SCIENTIFIC THEORY: Intelligent Design Theory in Biology is the scientific theory that artificial intervention is a universally necessary condition of the first initiation of life, development of the first cell, and increasing information in the genome of a population leading to greater complexity evidenced by the generation of original biochemical structures.

Authorities:

* Official Discovery Institute definition: http://www.intelligentdesign.org/whatisid.php
* Stephen Meyer’s definition: http://www.discovery.org/v/1971
* Casey Luskin’s Discussion:http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/11/misrepresenting_the_definition028051.html
* William Dembski’s definition: http://www.uncommondescent.com/id-defined/

ID Theory does not recognize any designers per se because there are numerous sources of design. Whether there is an ultimate “designer” is a philosophical inference that has nothing much to do with science. ID is a study of information and design. The scientific issue is the source of information or intelligence that lead to design. Design does not necessarily infer a designer, it only is evidence that there is a source of intelligence, which could be entirely artificial.

There is an expanded discussion on the technical definitions of Intelligent Design here.

Conjectures as to Sources of Intelligent Design:

Such artificial sources include:

1. Natural Genetic Engineering, http://www.microbialinformaticsj.com/content/1/1/11

2. Quantum biological hypothesis, http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-scientists-erase-energy.html; and this article.

3. Reductionism, http://www.uncommondescent.com/science/2010-coming-down-from-the-reductionism-trip/

4. Problem Solving on a Molecular Level:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125172418.htm

5. Although the front-loading hypothesis offered by theistic evolutionists is rejected by ID proponents, it is still plausible that information might enter in the universe in a similar manner, which would explain events such as the Cambrian Explosion.

6. Extraterrestrials: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUV55M_ncns&feature=related; and this article.

Definition of Irreducible Complexity:

“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” – Charles Darwin, Origin of Species

Since the publication of Darwin’s Black Box, Behe has refined the definition of irreducible complexity. In 1996 he wrote that “any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.”(Behe, M, 1996b. Evidence for Intelligent Design from Biochemistry, a speech given at the Discovery Institute’s God & Culture Conference, August 10, 1996 Seattle, WA.http://www.arn.org/docs/behe/mb_idfrombiochemistry.htm).

By defining irreducible complexity in terms of “nonfunctionality,” Behe casts light on the fundamental problem with evolutionary theory: evolution cannot produce something where there would be a non-functional intermediate. Natural selection only preserves or “selects” those structures which are functional. If it is not functional, it cannot be naturally selected. Thus, Behe’s latest definition of irreducible complexity is as follows:

“An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.” (A Response to Critics of Darwin’s Black Box, by Michael Behe, PCID, Volume 1.1, January February March, 2002; iscid.org/)

Quotes taken from: http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/840

One thing that is glaringly evident about my immediately preceding comment is that the heart of IC goes straight to the falsifiability of Darwin as expressly stated by Darwin himself. So, attacking this issue is a delicate matter because otherwise Darwin’s theory could be held as not falsifiable science. If a theory is not falsifiable, then it is not science by definition of science.

A more comprehensive discussion on irreducible complexity is discussed here.

Definition of Information, or Complex Specified Information (aka CSI) :

Intelligence and Information with respect to ID theory:

The scientific method is commonly described as a 5-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, results and conclusion. Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). The basic protest of scientists to ID are the ambiguous definitions of information and complexity. When we see in the biological structure-producing DNA machinery the ability to create some structures, and not others, which perform some specific action and not some other specific action, we can legitimately say that we have complex genetic information. When we specify this information as necessary for some function given a preexisting pattern, then we can say it was designed. This is called “complex specified information” or “CSI”.

It is the work of William Dembski who was able to quantify information and complexity so that design and information can be studied in molecular biology as their own independent field of study. The quantified versions of these are specified complexity, and complex specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. When ID researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed. Irreducible complexity is falsifiable, and therefore a legitimate scientific hypothesis. Quotes taken from the Discovery Institutehere.

The basic protest of scientists to ID are the ambiguous definitions of information, complexity, specified complexity, and complex specified information (CSI). To understand Dembski better, this is a good video to get a gist of what the mathematics are attempting to analyze: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vV5vThBcz1g&feature=related The excellent mathematical explanation starts at about the 2:57 mark.  For more on Dembski’s work, seehere and here.

So, in other words, when we see in the biological structure-producing DNA machinery the ability to create some structures, and not others, which perform some specific action and not some other specific action, we can legitimately say that we have complex genetic information. When we specify this information as necessary for some function given a preexisting pattern, then we can say it was designed. This is called “complex specified information” or “CSI”.

If a function vital to survival of an organism of a given structure (the pre-existing specified pattern) could occur only if a given set of parts (the complex information) were present, and this complex set of parts were to come into being, then we could justifiably infer it was designed.

Because we can observe intelligence being able to manipulate parts in an innovative manner to create novel CSI, the presence of CSI indicates design at some level, and removes the possibility that a chance-law mechanism such as the mutation-selection mechanism was responsible for it. Novel CSI itself cannot be generated by a chance-law based process, but rather can only be shuffled around. As Stephen Meyer says, “Because we know intelligent agents can (and do) produce complex and functionally specified sequences of symbols and arrangements of matter (i.e., information content), intelligent agency qualifies as a sufficient causal explanation for the origin of this effect.” Quote taken from: http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/832

DEFINITION OF INTELLIGENCE:

There is no special ID definition of intelligence other than what is defined in Webster’s dictionary. ID refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof.

Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence.

Definition of Intelligent Design Discussed:

What is intelligent design?

Intelligent design refers to a scientific research program as well as a community of scientists, philosophers and other scholars who seek evidence of design in nature. The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Through the study and analysis of a system’s components, a design theorist is able to determine whether various natural structures are the product of chance, natural law, intelligent design, or some combination thereof. Such research is conducted by observing the types of information produced when intelligent agents act. Scientists then seek to find objects which have those same types of informational properties which we commonly know come from intelligence.

Intelligent design has applied these scientific methods to detect design in irreducibly complex biological structures, the complex and specified information content in DNA, the life-sustaining physical architecture of the universe, and the geologically rapid origin of biological diversity in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion approximately 530 million years ago. [Source: http://www.intelligentdesign.org/whatisid.php]

The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.

In a broader sense, Intelligent Design is simply the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. Design detection is used in a number of scientific fields, including anthropology, forensic sciences that seek to explain the cause of events such as a death or fire, cryptanalysis and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). An inference that certain biological information may be the product of an intelligent cause can be tested or evaluated in the same manner as scientists daily test for design in other sciences.

ID is controversial because of the implications of its evidence, rather than the significant weight of its evidence. ID proponents believe science should be conducted objectively, without regard to the implications of its findings. This is particularly necessary in origins science because of its historical (and thus very subjective) nature, and because it is a science that unavoidably impacts religion.

Positive evidence of design in living systems consists of the semantic, meaningful or functional nature of biological information, the lack of any known law that can explain the sequence of symbols that carry the “messages,” and statistical and experimental evidence that tends to rule out chance as a plausible explanation. Other evidence challenges the adequacy of natural or material causes to explain both the origin and diversity of life.

ID RESEARCH

You can access a more comprehensive list of about one hundred peer-reviewed pro-ID research published in science journals here.

Here’s a research paper done by University of Washington that was published in Nature:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v453/n7192/abs/nature06879.html andhttp://uwnews.washington.edu/ni/article.asp?articleID=40536. It’s significance to ID Theory is discussed here, http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/intelligent-design-research-published-in-nature/

2. Here’s a more current one under peer review,http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/rjohns/spontaneous_4.pdf

The crux of ID Theory is a study of biological information. Up until the present time, ID faced the difficult dilemma of being able to identify “design.” Information must first somehow be quantified before design can be recognized because an unnatural, artificial intervention cannot be demonstrated unless complexity is defined.

Here’s a scientific paper that is up for peer review that might resolve this problem. The paper was published last month in Synthese, and is entitled, “Self-Organisation in Dynamical Systems: A Limiting Result.” The “self” means without external help. The paper shows that physical laws, operating on an initially random arrangement of matter, cannot produce complex objects with any reasonable chance in any reasonable time. The argument is based on a number of original mathematical theorems that are proved in the paper. For a more detailed explanation, seehttp://www.uncommondescent.com/biology/the-limits-of-self-organisation/#more-15265.

3. And another one very recent, http://www.physorg.com/news204810859.html.

This is a new Darwin-bypassing hypothesis for the evolution of shape, coined “morphogenesis” by Stuart Pivar of the Synthetic Life Lab in NYC. This hypothesis came from the field of research in astrobiology, a branch of aerospace engineering that does research in bionics, artificial bio-components and limbs used in the medical industry. The concept is that the formation of biological organisms might be driven more from developmental dynamics that occur inside the embryo than the genome. You can download the research paper from a link in the article. The article linked below states, “How life originated and evolved is arguably the greatest unsolved problem facing science. Thousands of scientists and scores of organizations and scientific journals are dedicated to discovering mechanisms underlying the mystery.” Although the hypothesis provides a fully naturalistic explanation for the development of form, the causation is entirely independent of genetics or natural selection.

The jury verdict is still not over yet with several hypotheses regarding irreducible complexity. For a comprehensive list,http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=submitSearchQuery.

4. Here’s an interesting research paper. It’s entitled “The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds” – http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2010.1/BIO-C.2010.1. It is discussed further in the ID blog linked here,http://www.idintheuk.blogspot.com/.

We are still looking to see if we can detect design in the first place. Since there is much to learn in molecular and cellular biology, we don’t know yet what we are going to find. What we do know is that DNA, purine, adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine, deoxyribose, and phosphate combine chemically to form information. That information is somehow processed. The question is how. It is as if there were at some juncture an intelligent computer programmer that set the computer software to run DNA sequencing in the first place. Perhaps the first cell that caused life on earth is extraterrestrial. We just don’t know. Somehow, the information was downloaded to begin with. The smallest single-celled organism there is requires 300 nucleotides to function.

How did the building blocks of information increase in complexity without guidance before a living organism might exist in the first place? How does Darwin’s theory operate on a molecular level? This is the kind of research that ID will be involved with. Your question is on the other side of the chain, at the result of species and a variation occurring in a population. I don’t think the answer will be found there. Species are a product of evolution. What ID is interested in studying is how the information increased in complexity because mutations alone have not been an adequate answer, but only lead to new hypotheses.

One might think of abiogenesis, but it seems as if that same process continues on throughout all life. In other words, it is my hypothesis that whatever the information processing is that directs cell division to reproduce reptiles, primates, and other life forms including humans is the identical process that occurred in the original abiogenesis event. I believe abiogenesis is very much testable because the information generation that takes place millions of times a minute in present life forms is the identical process that took place to form the original cell. In other words, in the same manner that we learned from embryology how the formation of an embryo portrays a picture of the evolutionary process so likewise the abiogenesis process is constantly reoccurring as well. ID’s search for design might end up being falsified, but I think there will be some surprise discoveries along the way. That’s often the case in the history of science.

ID predicts:
1. Information stored in DNA can be quantified and measured.
2. Biological complexity can be quantified and measured.
3. The blood clotting process is irreducibly complex.
4. Bacteria flagella are irreducibly complex.
5. The cilium is irreducibly complex.
6. The illuminating mechanism of a firefly is irreducibly complex (that one’s my own)
7. There are geologic processes that cause rapid fossilization to occur, probably in about 100 years rather than epochs of time.
8. The fossil record will show morphology as punctuated equilibrium instead of phyletic gradualization.

Source: Dennis Jones Journal

 

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