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Can Any Theory of Intelligent Design be A True Scientific Theory? Sean D. Pitman, M.D. April 2006

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Presentation on theme: "Can Any Theory of Intelligent Design be A True Scientific Theory? Sean D. Pitman, M.D. April 2006"— Presentation transcript:

1 Can Any Theory of Intelligent Design be A True Scientific Theory? Sean D. Pitman, M.D. April 2006

2 Both Could Have Been Deliberately Designed Only One Had to Have Been Deliberately Designed

3 The Scientific Method 1.Make an observation 2.Use that observation to make a falsifiable prediction as to what will happen in the future 3.Test the prediction to see if it successfully avoids falsification 4.If the prediction avoids falsification, the hypothesis gains predictive value It is more likely that this prediction will continue to hold true with more testing 5.If the prediction fails, the hypothesis must be either modified or discarded completely in favor of a new hypothesis

4 Karl Popper, one of the most influential philosophers of the 20 th century: Any hypothesis that does not make falsifiable predictions is simply not science. Such a hypothesis may be useful or valuable, but it cannot be said to be science.

5 Popper began considering the importance of falsification in science after attending a lecture by Einstein Noticed that Einsteins theories were much different than those of Marx or Freud Einstein Theories were extremely risky while those of Marx and Freud were not in that they explain too much, often with completely opposing explanations for observations that could not be decisively disproved

6 Non-Scientific Prediction? Observation: Dinosaurs and Birds share several features Hypothesis: Dinosaurs and Birds have a common ancestor Prediction: A link between dinosaurs and birds will be found sharing additional features – like a feathered dinosaur This prediction is not falsifiable, it is only verifiable If feathered dinosaurs are never found, the hypothesis still isnt falsified It therefore does not meet Poppers criteria as a true scientific prediction – however useful it may be

7 A Scientific Prediction? While in Las Vegas I observe that I roll double sixes every time after I scratched my nose... 3 times so far! Through inductive reasoning, I hypothesize that scratching my nose causes me to roll double sixes I therefore predict that every time I scratch my nose I will roll double sixes If I continue to roll double sixes after scratching my nose, my hypothesis gains predictive value If I end up rolling anything else after scratching my nose, just once, my hypothesis looses predictive value

8 Designed Things Do things of known design have any predictable characteristics that can be used to predict design when such characteristic are found in other things?

9 Everything and Nothing It is a common saying among many evolutionists that ID explains everything and therefore nothing Is this true? Can ID explain everything? –Can anyone name anything that could not be deliberately formed given enough knowledge, power and creativity? If ID can explain everything, does this mean it explains nothing?

10 ID Explains Nothing? ID does seem to be able to explain everything ID is limited in explanatory power only by the limits of the proposed designer Mindless Nature is used to explain everything as well – and therefore nothing? If ID and non-deliberate natural processes are both equally limitless in potential creative ability, how can one tell the difference? One or the other must be limited in the ability to produce certain characteristics over a certain span of time

11 Non-Deliberate Forces Which one is more limited, intelligent or non-intelligent activity – given access to the same amount of energy, basic building blocks and time? Oh, but given enough time, cant non- deliberate forces do everything that highly intelligent forces can do? Sure, but how much time do you have?

12 Time is the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years... Given so much time the 'impossible' becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs miracles. –George Wald (1967 Nobel Prize winner in Medicine), "The Origin of Life," Scientific American, vol , p. 46; reprinted on p , A Treasury of Science, Fourth Revised Edition, Harlow Shapley et al., eds., Harper and Brothers Publishers, p 309.

13 Deliberate or non-deliberate?


15 Non-deliberate?



18 What Limits Non-Deliberate Processes? All known non-deliberate processes interact in an apparently random way when it comes to certain features of certain materials Apparently random or chaotic activity has a certain fairly predictable look Cant predict heads or tails of a particular coin toss better than 50/50, but I can predict that the ratio will almost certainly be 50%H/50%T after 1 million tosses – if the tossing is truly random

19 Kolmogorov/Chaitin Complexity "Although randomness can be precisely defined and can even be measured, a given number cannot be proved to be random. This enigma establishes a limit to what is possible in mathematics." – Gregory Chaitin, Scientific American, 1975

20 A non-random process, like ID or Pi, can produce non-random and random-looking looks A truly random process, coin tossing, can also produce non-random and random-looking looks –Given enough time it is possible for a million monkeys typing away at random to produce all the works of Shakespeare What good are the concepts of random and non-random processes if there is no detectable difference between what one can do vs. what the other can do? Some things just seem so intuitively random while other things seem so non-random Is there a detectable difference?

21 Gregory Chaitin Explains Almost everyone has an intuitive notion of what a random number is. For example, consider these two series of binary digits:

22 The first is obviously constructed according to a simple rule; it consists of the number 01 repeated ten times. If one were asked to speculate on how the series might continue, one could predict with considerable confidence that the next two digits would be 0 and 1. Inspection of the second series of digits yields no such comprehensive pattern. There is no obvious rule governing the formation of the number, and there is no rational way to guess the succeeding digits. The arrangement seems haphazard; in other words, the sequence appears to be a random assortment of 0's and 1's.

23 ... The second series of binary digits was generated by flipping a coin 20 times and writing a 1 if the outcome was heads and a 0 if it was tails. Tossing a coin is a classical procedure for producing a random number, and one might think at first that the provenance of the series alone would certify that it is random. This is not so. Tossing a coin 20 times can produce any one of 2 20 (or a little more than a million) binary series [potential sequences in sequence space], and each of them has exactly the same probability. Thus it should be no more surprising to obtain the series with an obvious pattern than to obtain the one that seems to be random; each represents an event with a probability of

24 If origin in a probabilistic event were made the sole criterion of randomness, then both series would have to be considered random, and indeed so would all others, since the same mechanism can generate all the possible series. This conclusion is singularly unhelpful in distinguishing the random from the orderly. A more sensible definition of randomness is required, one that does not contradict the intuitive concept of a patternless number. Gregory J. Chaitin, Randomness and Mathematical Proof, Scientific American, 232, No. 5 (May 1975), pp

25 A Patternless Pattern Patternlessness is based on the pattern itself without any regard to its actual origin Patternlessness = Complexity (KCC) KCC = Measure of Compressibility Given the ability to recognize symmetry or repeating patterns, a sequence with greater internal symmetry has greater compressibility (Low KCC)

26 What about Pi? No simple, repeating patterns longer than 10 digits (out of 200 million digits) Yet, this apparently infinite patternless sequence is very compressible/reproducible with a very simple formula of Pi –the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a perfect circle

27 Patternlessness cannot be absolutely known this side of absolute knowledge An unknown compressor, like Pi, may come along and compress a very long apparently random sequence into a very small expression or formula –Something with apparently high KCC in reality has a low KCC So, what good is the concept of KCC?

28 Apparent Randomness or Chaos Chaos Theory arose out of trying to predict the weather (Edward Lorenz) Its kinda like playing pool: Perfect knowledge of position, direction, velocity and several other features of each pool ball on a perfectly frictionless table would give exact predictability over time Slightly non-perfect knowledge results in exponentially worse and worse predictability over time –i.e. The Butterfly Effect


30 Even a slight lack of knowledge of the starting parameters results in an appearance of randomness/non-compressibility or high KCC The actual rules governing the starting parameters may have been very simple (low KCC) and very reproducible - if they could be perfectly known Problem: certain apparently simple formulas cannot be known to perfection by us humans – i.e., the current starting points, velocities, and trajectories of all particles involved in next years weather patterns Such things will therefore predictably produce an apparently random pattern with high KCC

31 The Predictable Random Look Imagine a 10 x 10 meter very smooth/polished highly symmetrical granite cube Now, imagine that it gets exposed to intense natural weathering for 10,000 years What is it going to look like? What are the odds that the resulting irregularities of one half will look identical to the other half? Will the irregularities show any significant symmetry? – this side of repeating this experiment a near infinite number of times?

32 or Simple? Complex? What About Random Etchings?

33 Entropy and Disorder Non-Deliberate processes tend toward Complexity and away from Simplicity – Right? Complexity, in this common understanding of the word, actually means Randomness or Chaos Greater Complexity equals greater KCC, which equals greater Entropy (Algorithmic Entropy (AE)) Like Thermodynamic Entropy (TE), AE heads toward its maximum value over time Highly symmetrical irregularities have lower overall AE

34 From Complex to Simple Mindless Nature can turn Complex to Simple Some materials can turn apparently random forces into non-random highly ordered activities with very predictable outcomes Crystals like quartz, salt, snowflakes, pyrite, etc. Humans, dogs, cats, iguanas, trees, bacteria, etc. –Based on the pre-established internal order of the subparts of such systems

35 Where are the Limits? If nature can create both complexity and simplicity, where are the limits? It depends on the material in question There are types of materials where all known non-deliberate forces have pretty much the same limitations when it comes to producing certain features – like symmetry Granite, marble, flint, clay, French-style gardens etc.

36 When to Stop Looking Science doesnt demand 100% certainty If all potential ways of falsification were ruled out completely, 100%, there would be no more need for science Science is needed because of limited knowledge – A gap in knowledge Science is an effort to determine the odds that a particular possibility is not filling the gap What do statisticians do at Las Vegas? – You draw 4 Aces 10 times in one night, youre never going back! What if Schwarzenegger wins the CA Lottery 5 times in a row? – keep looking for a non-deliberate process?

37 Einstein: A beautiful theory can always be destroyed by one ugly fact! Gaps will always be there, but the odds that a falsifiable hypothesis or theory is actually wrong become less and less with more and more testing that the limits are what they are The odds that anything other than an intelligent agent can fill certain gaps, within a certain period of time or number of occurrences, can be statistically calculated What are the odds that mindless Nature could produce a near perfect symmetrical polished 10 m granite cube with 3 different complex etchings identically reproduced on opposing faces this side of 1 trillion years? –1 trillion to one? If true, should I keep looking for a Natural cause? – or accept ID as being most likely?

38 All scientists actually do accept the truth of their hypotheses well shy of 100% certainty... even when it comes to the notion of ID - Except if the ID hypothesis has something to do with the origin of life or different kinds of life.

39 James Gibsons List of Seven Criticisms of ID Theory 1. Intelligent Design Inhibits Scientific Inquiry: –Attributing a phenomenon to design is to remove motivation for further study, and/or to make it impossible to reach any conclusion because we cannot know the intentions of the designer How long does one have to look for a non- deliberate cause of a French-style garden or a similar highly symmetrical pattern drawn in the sands of Mars before one should loose the motivation for such a fruitless pursuit?

40 2. Intelligent Design is a Sterile Idea –Intelligent design does not provide any questions to explore scientifically, hence it is useless for science, whether true or not. Gibson argues: Intelligent design may not be a hypothesis to test, but it may provide a metaphysical research programme in which hypotheses may be generated and tested Is this really true? – that ID cannot be based on any testable hypothesis?

41 If I hypothesize that all known non- deliberate forces have a limit with regard to a certain feature, like symmetry in gardens or granite, beyond which they cannot go this side of a practical eternity of time, what happens to my hypothesis if some non-deliberate apparently random force does happen to cross this line?

42 What if there is a limit to Natural Selection? Gibson himself quotes Darwin: –If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed [that] could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. Hypothetical: If such a demonstration could be done, what would be left besides ID as the most reasonable scientific explanation for such an organ system? Is the Mindless Nature Can Do It Hypothesis falsifiable this side of a practical eternity? – or is it only verifiable?

43 3. Intelligent Design is an Appeal from Ignorance –Design is invoked when we dont understand something. It is the same kind of argument as the god- of-the-gaps argument of former ages. As science advances, our understanding will increase, and the number of mysteries will decrease. Thus, what appears as designed today will eventually be shown to be the result of chance and natural law. Science is based on a lack of perfect knowledge It is science that is invoked when we dont fully understand The ID Theory is not based on a complete lack of evidence or knowledge, but on an extensive data base concerning the very similar limits of all known non-deliberate forces, with regard to certain features, like symmetry, acting on certain materials – like granite, gardens, and even biosystems (Ill explain the biolimits shortly)

44 4. Design is Religiously Motivated and Inappropriate in Science –Is the detection of design in forensic science religiously motivated? –How about SETI? –How about detecting cheaters in Las Vegas? –Are these sciences Religions just because they propose to detect design? –It seems to me like the Religion Card is played only when deliberate design is theorized as a valid origin for certain aspects of living things

45 5. Any Designer Would Also Have to be Responsible for Evil –What about the creation of true freedom? –What about the possibility of multiple designers? –What about the possibility of a truly evil designer who indented to create just what we see around us? - as it is? –ID Theory only shows that design happened as a cause for certain aspects of certain things –ID Theory does not detect who or why or how

46 Such a Wide Range of IDists Those who enter under the umbrella of Darwinian-style evolution are also just as wide ranging in their beliefs regarding evolution The range of those who accept an idea is not evidence that is it ill-defined and therefore invalid as a good scientific idea

47 6. Design is Superfluous Because Natural Selection is Adequate –Natural selection is an adequate mechanism to explain the apparent design of living things. This has been demonstrated by computer analogies such as the Tierra program, in which computer images are subjected to a series of modifications and selection, resulting in unexpected complexity and creativity. Design is an unnecessary and untestable hypothesis. If natural selection were an adequate mechanism, ID would not be detectable in living things Problem: Random mutation and natural selection only give rise to different systems that are at very low levels of Functional Complexity

48 Tierra evolution –Starts out with program codes that reproduce themselves –Gain reproductive advantages if they reproduce faster –Result: paracytic-type programs that are actually smaller than their original programs –These smaller programs leach off the functional aspects of larger programs –Because of this leaching effect, the population eventually stalls out and usually goes extinct –No higher-level systems of function evolve beyond what the population started with

49 Biosystem Evolution –A higher Level of functional complexity requires a greater minimum sequence size and specificity –Antibiotic Resistance (can evolve, basically unlimited) Most forms require a loss or interference with a pre- established function (antibiotic-target interaction) Much easier to break something than to make it again, because there are so many more ways to break than to fix –Nylonase: Minimum of ~ 300 AA (can evolve, limited) –Lactase: Minimum of ~ 400 AA (can evolve, limited) –Ratios in language systems: cat – hat – bat – bad – dad – did – dig – dog Try it with longer sequences – gets exponentially harder and harder to do because of an exponential decline in the ratio of potentially beneficial vs. potentially non-beneficial Odds that a large book will have the sequence cat preformed somewhere? – what about supracalafragalisticexpialedocious?

50 Higher level biosystems –Flagellar Motility system: > 10,000 AA (>30,000 bp of genetic real estate) –Evolution never makes it past systems with a minimum requirement of more than a few hundred fairly specified AA ( < 3,000 bp of genetic real estate ) –A system requiring a minimum of just 4 or 5 K bp of genetic real estate would require literally trillions upon trillions of years to evolve – on average –A God-of-the-Gaps argument? – Certainly! –What else besides a very high level of ID could fill such a gap with an average time less than trillions upon trillions of years?

51 7. Accepting Design Would Overturn All of Science –Science is based on naturalistic explanations. To accept design as an explanation would change the fundamental nature of scientific methodology. Furthermore, it would alter the conclusions drawn in all areas of science and would create chaos, leaving only religious speculations to take the place of rigorous inquiry. ID Theory can be based on naturalistic explanations –Are humans intelligent? –Are humans natural? –How then is the detection of design behind anything going beyond what natural intelligent agents are theoretically capable of achieving? –Does the detection of a superior intelligence really force the conclusion that such an intelligence is unnatural? –I can certainly detect that many people are smarter and more creative than I am. Are these people therefore unnatural from my perspective? – Yes! They clearly go beyond my natural abilities

52 Different Ways to Truth? I often hear, Oh, thats just a philosophical notion or Thats just a religious idea I never hear, Oh, thats just science Why do scientific claims demand so much respect while philosophical and religiously derived truths take a back seat? I believe it is because of the testable nature of the truths derived by science Is it possible for ones religious ideas to be testable? – at least when it comes to those ideas about things that happen in the physical world outside the mind?

53 The fact that I like vanilla ice cream is a truth that cannot be tested – I just know it as an internally derived fact Morality, like knowing that it is wrong to steal or to murder, is likewise an internally derived truth – as part of the Law apparently written on the heart of all human beings However, the religious notion that God or some higher power exists outside the mind and does stuff to the physical world and to the mind that can be detected as being beyond the natural capabilities of either the physical world or the mind - - is moving into the realm of science and potential falsification (risky ideas)

54 God, as quoted in the Bible, often use the notion of falsification to support His claims as God and of being more real than false gods made of wood or stone Only I can do this or that – and no other – like predict the future or raise the dead or burn up alters on Mt. Carmel or guide new mother cows back to Bethel Prove me [through tithes and offerings] and see if I will not open the store houses of Heaven and pour you out a blessing so great that you will not be able to receive it Often God provides physical signs and miracles as proofs of the Divine origin of a promise or warning

55 Abundant physical testable evidence of both Gods existence and character are available –For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Romans 1:20 KJV) God does not expect or desire blind faith Religion can therefore be a science The strongest evidence will be rejected if one does not have a Love of Truth that is greater than everything else

56 Scientists are always religious – even atheists –Subjectivity and faith are always required for even scientifically derived beliefs about the world that exists outside the mind Distinguishing Truth from Error, concerning ideas about the world around the mind requires the same not true filter –Can be used by both science and religion, making both the same thing Ellen White comments that in Heaven the study of the plan of salvation will be our science and our song

57 Is Love Testable? The fact that I love someone or something is not testable – it is an internally derived truth –Therefore doesnt need scientific evidence My notion that someone else, like my wife or God, loves me is testable (tested every day even if only subconsciously) and falsifiable – qualifies as a science

58 A Little Quiz Designed or Not?


60 Stonehenge in the Snow



63 Non-Deliberate Potential ID Potential

64 Flagellar Assembly – A Marvel of Microengineering

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