Friday, December 16, 2011
The Undiscovery Institute has admitted that Intelligent Design is not science:
Looking for a good metaphor to help explain the relationship between standard Darwinian biology and the new paradigm offered by intelligent design? In a podcast at our sister site ID: The Future, "Key Figures in Intelligent Design Measure the Impact of Discovery Institute," Biologic's Doug Axe has a fine one:What science does is look at the mechanics of the universe. The "higher-level principles" that go into the "art" of forming some "higher order" of understanding is the business of metaphysics and/or its country cousin, theology ... if it can.You can think about it in terms of the difference between mastering spelling versus mastering the art of writing. One could be a very good speller and a miserable writer and vice versa. In one case you're looking at the micromechanics of how you put letters together to make words but in the other you are looking at higher-level principles that allow good writing to take place, the principles you have to master in order to write well.
We feel that biology has been stuck, looking at the mechanics -- like spelling -- and it really has to move to a higher level where it embraces principles, and these principles are manifestly design principles. We think that life cannot really be understood until you move to that higher level.
Yes, those atheists who claim that science disproves all theism are doing the same thing. But the interesting thing is that those metaphysical beliefs don't show up in the scientific literature and aren't taught in public schools ... and neither does, or should, ID.
The 'higher principles' they seek are those of evolution, and specifically good old original Darwinism.
Darwin didn't work up evolution by natural selection by knowing the mechanics as we know many of them now. He had no idea what encoded inheritance, how it produced a full organism, didn't know Mendelian genetics or population genetics, had no idea of DNA, the double-helix or homeobox genes or any of that fun stuff that gives such depth to evolutionary biology today. Darwin didn't derive evolution by natural selection from the mechanics up but by considering how a few simple 'principles' could drive adaptation and change. Darwin worked out his theory by looking not at the mechanics themselves but at their effects. He worked out that reproducing organisms with heritable variation and the natural pressure of reproductive capacity exceeding resource could produce and had produced the change and adaptation that we see as evolution.
That's what is really so powerful about Mr Darwin's great idea: it is a simple, high level process that can be derived from its effects so all the mechanics, which came after, was truly indepedent confirmation because it has been at levels below where evolution operates.
Naturally, the dimbulbs at the Dissimulation Institute can't see that Darwin was 150+ years ahead of them.
You have to be careful with the word games they play, they'd love for us to say it's all "just mechanics," when clearly theoretical knowledge per se can never be just that.
I would say that Darwin dealt with the mechanics, however. He had the mechanics of reproduction and variation, and while he did not know their basis nor the specifics of how these worked, clearly he had a reasonably good "breeder's knowledge" of them.
ID fails because it has neither "higher principles" in fact, nor actual mechanics. IDiots hate the "higher principles" because they're based on an empiricism that sensibly denies magical "explanations," and they have no mechanics because nothing known "designs" according to the patterns found in life. Axe is pretending that after all we really do have to understand life as designed in order to make sense of it, when clearly all we need to do is to understand it as functional, as, indeed, fitted to various functions. Well if they're "fitted," clearly there is a "fitter" etc., etc...., or however one wishes to characterize Axe's pretense at having "higher principles."
What's ridiculous about modern IDiocy is that it largely failed prior to Darwin. Biologists looked at life in the light of Paley, and received no direction, no explanation, and no mechanism--except by picking and choosing, as did Paley, and as do today's IDiots. By any "design standards," the vertically derivative nature of most eukaryotes is beyond the absurd, patently undesign-like. Prokaryotes more commonly are horizontally derivative, but even that is hardly "design-like"--and, worse for the IDiots, known mechanisms in evolution basically predict the differences seen in prokaryotic and in eukaryotic macroevolution.
"Higher principles" rest upon mechanism, and aid in explaining it. Axe deliberately analogizes to what agents do that is not well understood in its mechanics. But of course agents will only really be explained using "higher principles" and the "mechanics" in the brain. The IDiots are as opposed to that as they are to evolutionary principles and mechanics.
No. I think that's wrong, though it may have more to do with semantics than anything. Physics and chemistry are not "higher" principles but more fundamental ones. Evolutionary principles are "just" the working out of more fundamental realities. The IDers are proposing "principles" that transcend the mechanics of the universe.
While I'm not a radical reductionist metaphysically, science is reductionist in the sense that everything must be at least rooted in the most basic mechanics. The fact that the mechanics of the universe sometimes surprise us in the way they work out is no reason to abandon the study of the mechanics of the universe that has worked out so well for us.
Yes, that's the problem with the language used. One might consider the laws of physics "higher principles" or "higher laws" or some such thing, especially something like the Second Law of Thermodynamics which predicts macro-level results of micro-level causation, but it's probably best not to adopt the IDiots' language that they use to suggest transcendence.
The thing is, I can't really disagree with Axe that a "higher understanding" involves principles, even if it's really not best to throw around terms like "higher-level principles." Axe writes:
We think that life cannot really be understood until you move to that higher level.
An NCSE review by Brian Alters states:
The ubiquitous problem of students' wanting teachers just to tell them what to memorize is countered with three separate strategies: (a) teaching the "game" of science — and explaining why evolution is good science, (b) drawing a clear distinction between what science does and what religion does, and (c) focusing on humans — because most students are quite interested in the details of the evidence for human evolution, they will be more motivated to do the necessary work for higher-level understanding.
Those two statements are similar with respect to "higher level" understanding, it's the context that moves Axe beyond legitimacy, his claim that "design principles" are what get you to the "higher level." Is it "principles," though, that matter, or what? Well, arguably "theories" are more to the point than are "principles," which may be why Axe uses "principles" rather than bringing up their lacuna of "theory," but I don't know that "principles" is so much wrong as misleading in this context.
So is it "deeper" or "more fundamental" understanding we want, or "higher-level" understanding, that is the goal? Aside from IDiots' word games, I'd say just take your pick. Considering how they misuse words, I'd side with using "deeper" or "more fundamental."
So evolution isn't science until you can derive it from the basic physics on up?
Why I reckon evolution by natural selection is a 'higher principle' is that it looks like it is something that could work on any system complex enough to feature heritable variation and competition for resources without being dependent on any particular substrate.
No. There was a reason Darwin called it "natural" selection. His idea was rooted in the observed regularity of reproduction and variation that people of his time had accepted as "natural" and part of the basic mechanics of the universe. The fact that they couldn't at the time reduce it to the still more basis physics and chemistry that we now know didn't take selection and, therefore, evolution, out of being reliant on more fundamental realities.
it looks like it is something that could work on any system complex enough to feature heritable variation and competition for resources without being dependent on any particular substrate.
But it was the observed heritable variation and competition for resources that was the more fundamental substrate.