Presentation on theme: "The “Best” Arguments Against Intelligent Design (ID) Theory"— Presentation transcript:
1 The “Best” Arguments Against Intelligent Design (ID) Theory Sean D. Pitman, M.D.May 2007
2 ID answers everything; therefore nothing ID is “utterly boring”How did this happen? “Goddidit!”ID is thinly disguised creationism (religion)ID uses “God of the Gaps” argumentsID proposes no testable falsifiable predictions that have not already been falsifiedIrreducible complexity (Behe)Specified complexity (Dembski)No intelligent God would have done it that way
3 Everything and Nothing Does the ToE explain everything; Therefore nothing?Wasn’t everything evolved by a mindless Nature?How can scientists, like forensic scientists and SETI scientists propose intelligence behind certain phenomena when mindless nature could have done the same thing?
4 ID is Utterly Boring“The most basic problem [with ID] is that it’s utterly boring. Everything that’s complicated or interesting about biology has a very simple explanation: ID did it”.William Provine, science historian at Cornell UniversitySETI scientists are looking for particular types of radio signals coming from space as evidence of alien intelligenceIf such a signal were ever found, would any scientist be bored by such a hypothesis?Computers also have a very simple explanation: “Humans did it!” Does that make investigation into how they work “simplistic” or “boring”?2+2=4 is boring; 2+2=5 is much more interesting!
5 ID is Religion, Not Science Religion talks about non-physical non-testable non-falsifiable “truths”Any examples? – of non-falsifiable truths?Love?Joy?Beauty?Taste?Desire?Mathematics?God?
6 ID uses “God of the Gaps” Arguments So do all scientific hypothesesNo hypothesis is 100% provableAbsolute certainty removes the usefulness of the scientific methodThere is always the potential for falsification with additional information that reduces the “gap” in knowledgeGiven current knowledge, which potential hypothesis most likely explains how the gap was, is, or will be crossed?
7 “ID Has Been Falsified” (i.e., it was a valid scientific theory) Irreducibly complex systems do not existRandom mutations combined with natural selection easily produce Dembski’s complex specified information (CSI)
8 No IC systems?The logic of their argument [IDists] is you have these multipart systems, and that the parts within them are useless on their own. The instant that I or anybody else finds a subset of parts that has a function, that argument is destroyed.”- Kenneth Miller, biologist, Brown UniversityLike a car without a motor (lights and radio still work)Like a fish without eyes (everything else still works)
9 “All of the systems that Behe claims to be irreducibly complex really aren’t. A subset of bacterial flagellum proteins, for example, are used by other bacteria to inject toxins into other cells . . .”Ker Than, staff science writer, LiveScience
15 TTSS Sub-SystemUses about 10 of the 50 or so structural proteins used to form the flagellumSupposedly evolved hundreds of millions of years after the flagellar motility systemFlagellum found in many kinds of bacteriaTTSS system restricted to a few pathogenic gram-negative bacteria that attack plants and animals – which are thought to have came along billions of years after flagellar motility
16 Little similarity (homology) to anything within less complex motility systems – only homologous to a flagellum subsetSeveral scientists have recently promoted the idea that TTSS evolved from the fully formed flagellar motility system; not the other way round.Nguyen, L., Paulsen, I. T., Tchieu, J., Hueck, C. J. and Saier, M. H., Jr., Phylogenetic analyses of the constituents of Type III protein secretion systems. J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 2 (2),
17 The Real “Gap” Problem cat to hat to bat to bid to did to dig to dog 19,683 possible combinationsDefined vs. non-defined: about 1 in 18For two-character sequences: about 1 in 7What about 7-character sequences?Ratio of about 1 in 250,000A linear increase in minimum distance develops between what is and what might be beneficial with each increase in minimum structural threshold requirements – i.e., the “Gap Problem”
23 Specified Complexity“The second major argument for intelligent design comes from William Dembski, a mathematician and philosopher [who] argues that nature is rife with examples of non-random patterns of information that he calls “complex specified information” or CSI for short.To qualify as CSI, the information must be both complex and specified. The letter “A”, for example, is specific, but not complex. A string of random letters, such as “slfkiwer”, on the other hand, is complex but not necessarily specific. A Shakespearean sonnet, however, is both complex and specific.” – Ker Than
24 Dembski’s Hypothesis Falsified? “If Dembski were right, then a new gene with new information conferring a brand new function on an organism could never come into existence without a designer because a new function requires complex specified information.”- Kenneth Miller
25 Specific Examples? Nylonase – Kinoshita et al., 1975 Nylon not invented until 1935Lactase – Barry Hall, 1983Lactase deletion experiments with E. coliAha! Dembski’s hypothesis falsified!If truly falsified, it would mean that it was a valid scientific hypothesis – by the way . . .
26 Limited Evolutionary Potential AntibioticsResistance evolves very rapidly via blocks or disruptions to a previously established systemFunctions based on small single proteinsLactase, nylonase, etc (no more than 3-4 hundred amino acid residues at minimum)Occasionally evolve (Barry Hall’s lactase deficient E. coli and Kinoshita’s nylonase eating bacteria)Demonstrate interesting limitations (rest of the story)No novel functions with threshold specificity requirements greater than 1,000 specifically arranged amino acid residues have ever been shown to evolve – not one example in literature
27 Erich Bornberg-Bauer, How Are Model Protein Structures Distributed in Sequence Space?Biophysical Journal, Volume 73, November1997,
28 God Just Wouldn’t Have Done It That Way In his 1986 book, “The Blind Watchmaker,” the famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins posses a interesting design flaw argument for the human eye:
29 “Any engineer would naturally assume that the photocells would point towards the light, with their wires leading backwards towards the brain. He would laugh at any suggestion that the photocells might point away, from the light, with their wires departing on the side nearest the light. Yet this is exactly what happens in all vertebrate retinas. Each photocell is, in effect, wired in backwards, with its wire sticking out on the side nearest the light. The wire has to travel over the surface of the retina to a point where it dives through a hole in the retina (the so-called ‘blind spot’) to join the optic nerve. This means that the light, instead of being granted an unrestricted passage to the photocells, has to pass through a forest of connecting wires, presumably suffering at least some attenuation and distortion (actually, probably not much but, still, it is the principle of the thing that would offend any tidy-minded engineer).