Time To Get Religion Out Of Science Classes

Once again, science teachers are under fire by the “scientifically ignorant” for “just trying to teach science,” and they’ve decided that it’s time to fight back:

“There’s a climate of confusion in this country around climate science,” says McCaffrey, and NCSE’s goal will be to ensure that “teachers have the tools they need if they get pushback and feel intimidated.” Recent surveys, such as one done among K-12 teachers in September by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), suggest that attacks on climate education are far from rare. NSTA found that over half of the respondents reported having encountered global warming scepticism from parents, and 26% had encountered it from administrators. And a December survey from the National Earth Science Teachers’ Association found that 36% of its 555 K-12 teachers who currently teach climate science had been “influenced” to “teach the controversy.”

NCSE expects this task to be much harder than fighting creationism. “The forces arrayed against climate science are more numerous and much better funded,” Scott says, and are better able to get their message across in the mainstream media than creationism supporters. Organizations such as the Heartland Institute, which questions whether humans cause climate change, send out free educational materials to teachers and school boards. As Science reported in September, teachers who already struggle with small science budgets and little time for teaching have no time to fend off ideological attacks from students, parents, and administrators. Scott says that one of NCSE’s tasks will be to analyze these materials and educate teachers on why they are scientifically unsound. NSTA’s survey found that many teachers feel unprepared for global warming skepticism because of a lack of teaching tools.

Emphasis mine. Note the assumption that “the science is settled” just as much on climate change as it is on evolution. As someone who strongly believes in science and the scientific method, and who thinks that the “climate science” community has betrayed those values (as demonstrated by the scientifically nonsensical phrase “the science is settled”), I am continuously infuriated by the comparison between these two topics, and the implication that if one doesn’t accept the lousy science, not to mention the fraud, one is akin to a creationist. Note also from that link that in order to put together the bible to defend the climate-science religion, they have hired the notable hack Paul Gleick:

While Dr. Gleick is presented as an expert in climate science, he’s mostly about water and water systems. Climate seems to be just an angry diversion for him. But don’t take my word for it, have a look at how he treats others on the topic when he thinks he’s among friends.

Follow the link, he really is a piece of work.

But even leaving the fraud aside, here’s the problem with the comparison between creationism and climate skepticism. Evolution is a scientific theory. It is the one that best fits all of the available evidence. There is also a creationist theory that fits all the evidence: God did it, complete with evidence that evolution occurred. The problem with the latter theory is that, while it might be true, in some sense, it is not scientific, because it isn’t falsifiable. “Intelligent design” also isn’t a scientific theory — it’s merely a critique of one. And hence, it does not belong in a science class, except as an example to illustrate what is science and what is not. If people want to challenge the theory of evolution, they have to come up with an alternative one that is testable, and to date, they have failed to do so.

In contrast, even accepting for the sake of the argument that the planet is really warming abnormally (despite the cooling trend of the past decade), there are numerous scientifically testable alternative theories to explain this, which is why AGW skeptics “are better able to get their message across in the mainstream media than creationism supporters.” In fact, as has been pointed out on numerous occasions over the past several years, belief in AGW has taken on the aspects of a religion itself, complete with sin, a corrupt priesthood, indulgences for the rich to buy absolution and into green heaven, and the persecution of heretics.

In a discussion of this topic on my blog the other day, one of my commenters points out that, in fact, it is AGW theory that is akin to creationism:

Neither one is scientific. CAGW predicts that storms will get more severe, or less severe, or more frequent, or less frequent. Winters will become either warmer and milder or colder and more severe. Summers will be drier, unless they’re wetter. Global temperatures will increase, unless of course temperatures decrease because of the human-induced temperature increases change the oceans’ thermo-haline circulation. You can just pick from a host of completely contradictory papers, depending on what the latest weather event was, citing the one that was correct by random chance as proof that your consensus of credentialed scientific experts is as infallible as the Pope.

Just like creationism, no piece of data, observation, or negative result can refute CAGW, because the theory predicts anything and everything. Theories that aren’t logically refutable by any conceivable observation aren’t part of science. CAGW is something that isn’t science, something that in all respects maps as an offshoot of medieval Christianity, complete with sin, redemption, damnation, indulgences, inquisitions, and charges of heresy and apostasy.

Because its priesthood earned PhD’s in science, and claim what they do is science, their followers can boldly evangelize for an illogical, wacko religion while wrapped in the trappings of acceptable secular appearances, feeling smug and enlightened because what they believe is scientific “truth.”

…Certainly some skeptics are skeptical because they think CAGW conflicts with their belief in God’s creation, but many more are skeptical because they are devoted to science and are horrified by the abuses it is suffering at the hands of a bunch of zealots intent on saving the planet from man’s sin, regardless of actual science, reason, and logic.

Communism, Fascism, and Nazism were also “scientific” belief systems, arrogant in the certainty of their scientific truths, intent on saving the world, focused on exposing skeptics and non-believers, while arrogantly demeaning the un-enlightened, ignorant masses held in thrall by primitive religious beliefs. Do we need another one of these pseudo-scientific, dogmatic, self-destructive secular-religions running amok in our schools? Should we be subjecting students to mindless indoctrination in the hopes that they’ll lower their standard of living, and hopefully stop reproducing altogether?

There are two problems here that are fundamental (to use one of Newt’s favorite words). First is that when you have a public-school system to which everyone has to send their children if they can’t afford private schools, there is always going to be tension about what should be taught, not just in science classes, but in all subjects, given the indoctrinatory nature by which it often occurs. But specifically with regard to how science is taught, sadly, it often isn’t. It is taught not as a method for acquiring knowledge, but as a compendium of established “settled” facts, and that scientists have special knowledge inaccessible to the rest of us, and so we must rely on what they say (hence the priesthood).

I have a modest proposal. Instead of promulgating either the Christian religion, or the Green religion in our science classes, let’s get teachers who actually have degrees in science (as opposed to “education”), so they don’t need “teaching materials,” and teach kids how to do math (including statistics), think critically, and actually formulate testable and falsifiable hypotheses and test them, so that they will be inoculated to all religions, when it comes to learning science.

220 thoughts on “Time To Get Religion Out Of Science Classes

  1. jls

    I have no argument with your description of “survival of the fittest”. It is a compelling concept. The question is how far can this process go. It seems clear that design features that are present and embedded in the genome can be uncovered and expressed. For example, if a piece of granite had the face of a president embedded in it’s structure a random process like erosion could bring it out. The question comes if we assert that the original gnome does not contain the embedded structure/design.

    I am trying to differentiate between architecture/design and variations within the structure. Let me try this example: If you think of the genome as a quadratic equation (ax^2 + bx + c) where the whole equation expresses a snout and “c” is the length. It is easy to see how “survival of the fittest” could select for the most advantageous snout length but not so clear how variations in “c” could create novel feature or new species.

    1. Karl Hallowell

      Jls, this is a problem with man-made genetic algorithms. If what’s being optimized is a fixed set of numbers, then you are indeed so limited. You can only vary those numbers and can’t apply whatever solution you get outside of that niche.

      But what happens when you’re evolving a program instead? That’s a much more open-ended thing. That’s what’s going on with biological evolution. You’re not just evolving traits like length of snouts, but also how the genome manifests itself physically and what it does. Among other things, that’s easily enough to allow for new trait creation or to restructure the genome so that there’s creation of a new species.

      My view is that the process can go very far and that the current variety of life on Earth is merely a taste of what could be done just with evolution.

    2. jls

      Karl, the distinction you make goes to the heart of the question:

      “If what’s being optimized is a fixed set of numbers, then you are indeed so limited. You can only vary those numbers and can’t apply whatever solution you get outside of that niche.”
      And

      “But what happens when you’re evolving a program instead? That’s a much more open-ended thing.”

      The question I raise is just how open ended can it be and still be successful? In the first instance the operation is clear. The scheme is to combine traits of the successful progeny (fixed numbers) while maintaining the equation. In fact there is an elaborate scheme to insure that the program is passed along unchanged. As you say, this allows for the program to express it’s range but solutions are limited to the current niche.

      The only way for the “program to evolve” is if this process fails to work properly. This sets one limit. The second limit comes from the “opened-endedness” of the process. At first blush “open ended” would not seem to set a limit but by definition would allow for the widest range of outcomes. The problem comes when the ratio of “all possible outcomes” far exceeds the “biologically viable outcomes”. Then we have the proverbial “specks of viability swimming in the sea of dead ends” problem. Given a time limited finite universe the limit to this ratio comes at a relatively low complexity.

      This thought process leads me to believe that the “open-endedness” is not so open. If it isn’t open then evolution is not the designer of the genome but merely the agent of exposure. Thus the argument for Intelligent Design.

      1. Karl Hallowell

        The only way for the “program to evolve” is if this process fails to work properly.

        What do you mean by “fail to work”? The “goal” as such of evolution is merely propagating genes, programs, information, or whatever. If there is a way for this information to both manipulate its environment and reproduce in some fashion, then that’s sufficient from the point of view of evolution. It can run with it at that point. Everything, how genes express or reproduce, how the “programs” run, and how things can change are all subject to the same evolutionary forces. If the “open-endedness” is too big (and that’s not unreasonable to expect BTW since it is a problem with genetic algorithms acting on programs – the programs being modified tend to break too easily from subtle changes), then the surviving organisms (as such) can tend to be those that have processes that somehow limit it.

        Evolution also isn’t a fixed game. An organism can happen on a niche and fill that even though the niche didn’t exist before. For example, mice and other rodents feed off of human habitats and food storage even though that niche didn’t exist before people did.

        My view is that if you can get to the point where you have molecules that reproduce and change, then you have the basis for evolution and have opened a Pandora’s box that very well could lead to what we see today.

      2. jls

        “What do you mean by…”

        The process I am referring too is DNA replication and error correction. When the process works “correctly” DNA is passed unaltered from one generation to the next. When the process “fails to work correctly” mutations occur.

        1. Karl Hallowell

          The process I am referring too is DNA replication and error correction.

          I see. It appears to me that the problem is mostly with your perception of what is or isn’t “proper”.

          Mostly faithful replication is required or you aren’t passing traits on to the next generation or even generating viable offspring. But at the same time, perfectly faithful replication is an evolutionary disadvantage (whether or not you agree that life is intelligently designed, this evolution game still exists to some degree) since the environment, and more importantly other organisms, change while the organism does not (aside from any built in changes programmed by its DNA).

          Perfect DNA replication is harmful to the long term survival of any species.

        2. jls

          I am not sure why you resist my characterization. By definition a “mutation” is an uncorrected error in the replication process. An error is a deviation from correctness ( a mistake) i.e. mistakes are not proper operation.

          That’s not to say that mutations are not beneficial in some larger context. Without mutations each species would be confined to it’s particular design characteristics. Snouts could grow longer, eyes could change color, hair could get thicker and longer but the critter would always and forever more be the same critter (species). The range of expressed characteristic would be limited to the designed in range of inheritability.

          Mutations are the X factor that allows one species to jump the rail and become another.

          BTW I accept all this as a reasonable interpretation of the data. The question I have is whether these mutations are the agent of design or are they simply a form of erosion that exposes the inner design. I am drawn to the latter.

  2. Karl Hallowell

    I am not sure why you resist my characterization. By definition a “mutation” is an uncorrected error in the replication process. An error is a deviation from correctness ( a mistake) i.e. mistakes are not proper operation.

    Sounds to me like you have a problem there. Evolution has an elegant explanation, namely, that even the “errors” are incorporated into the functioning of the organism’s lineage. In other words, the errors aren’t errors. Intelligent design, on the other hand, has to explain why such an error-prone system was used.

    BTW I accept all this as a reasonable interpretation of the data. The question I have is whether these mutations are the agent of design or are they simply a form of erosion that exposes the inner design. I am drawn to the latter.

    It’s worth noting that in actual known cases of intelligent design, namely, the breeding of plants and animals by humans, intelligent design works hand-in-hand with evolution. Humanity uses, if you will, “intelligent selection” to decide what traits are passed on. In that way, they’ve shaped the plants and animals we associate with today.

    1. jls

      Your response suggests that you don’t understand my thesis. Below is a simplified snapshot of the two competing ideas. Perhaps this will help.

      Evolution:

      1. Life Happened… (Self replicating semi-complex DNA based biological system emerged)

      2. Filtered for Fitness.. (Combinatorial replication process coupled with environmental pressure shapes organism to environment.)

      3. Design by Mutation…. (Uncorrected errors of transcription occasionally construct useful design features and they are added to the genome leading to a fully complex system)

      4. Man happens… (I think therefore i am)

      Intelligent Design:

      1. Life Happened… (Self replicating fully-complex DNA based biological system emerged)

      2. Filtered for Fitness.. (Combinatorial replication process coupled with environmental pressure shapes organism to environment.)

      3. Expressed by Mutation…. (Uncorrected errors of transcription occasionally express useful design features and they are propagated into the environment)

      4. Man emerges… (I think therefore i am)

      The essential difference is the initial state (semi-complex vs fully complex) and the role of mutation (design creation vs feature expression).

      1. Karl Hallowell

        It’s “design by selection” not “design by mutation”. Mutation doesn’t create features on its own.

      2. jls

        It’s “design by selection” not “design by mutation”. Mutation doesn’t create features on its own.

        It’s also true that “selection” doesn’t create functionality on it’s own. Does it make a difference how you characterize it? We both agree that it is a two step process. First, a useful design feature must be created by an error in the transcription process then environmental pressure reduces competing constructs allowing the new feature to propagate. If “design” is defined as a purposeful arrangement of parts then mutation creates the arrangement and selection filters for purpose. New features are “proposed” by mutation but “decided” by selection. A two step process.

        I suppose the question of how to characterize goes to how you understand the process. If you think of mutations as just “noise” and selection as “damping down in particular ways” then selection would seem to deserve the credit. If you consider functional biology a statistical challenge then the mutation process moves to the front.

        I draw a distinction between filtering (selection) and design. In step 2 (filtered for fitness) the design is not altered. The organisms can evolve and take on different aspects but they are bound by the fundamental constraints of the design. Selective breeding shapes the organism but does not design it. Combinatorial variability serves as noise and the environment selects for fitness but the design is constant.

        The challenge is that evolution requires a functional biology as a base to shape around. With random mutations the challenge becomes how to maintain the functional base while altering the fundamental design. The theory of intelligent design offers a solution.

        1. Karl Hallowell

          I draw a distinction between filtering (selection) and design. In step 2 (filtered for fitness) the design is not altered. The organisms can evolve and take on different aspects but they are bound by the fundamental constraints of the design. Selective breeding shapes the organism but does not design it. Combinatorial variability serves as noise and the environment selects for fitness but the design is constant.

          And why do you draw this distinction? It’s worth noting here that the means by which “design” manifests, which is called “expression” is itself subject to selection. A mutation can manifest in different ways.

          I see here a deep problem with your approach. In biological systems, the distinction between “design” and “traits” just isn’t there. To be blunt, life on Earth is very haphazard for work supposedly done by an intelligent designer.

          The challenge is that evolution requires a functional biology as a base to shape around. With random mutations the challenge becomes how to maintain the functional base while altering the fundamental design. The theory of intelligent design offers a solution.

          The problem with Intelligent Design as a scientific theory is that you need evidence of an intelligent designer. That’s a more serious problem than the issues with abiogenesis, because the latter actually has a plausible means to go from random combinations of atoms to evolving biological systems and some evidence, feeble as it may be, that supports it.

      3. jls

        Another way to illustrate the point and distinguish between variability within the design vs. variability of the design. Consider an application program such as Word. The design of Word has a basic architecture divided into two parts. A machine layer of sequential binary information that embodies the fundamental design of the program and an application layer of user selections. At the application layer a single decision (or variation) such as font size or style results in a cascading set of coordinated decisions that brings the users selection to life while maintaining the basic functionality of the program. At the binary layer the logic is reversed. It takes a coordinated set of sequential changes to introduce the simplest variation and a single error can destroy the functionality of the entire program.

        I see step 2 above (Filtered for Fitness) as analogous to variation in the application layer. Selective breeding or variations in inheritability create opportunities for improvement as determined by the environmental selection process. Design by selection if you will because the variations at the application level are simple in comparison to the environmental filtering.

        To illustrate step 3 consider a von Neumann archaeologist examining the evolution of Word and contemplating the emergence of “spell check”. “It could have started with a mutation that introduced a simple spell check. Perhaps words made up of a single letter and then over time the words grew longer and more complex.”

        1. Karl Hallowell

          Another way to illustrate the point and distinguish between variability within the design vs. variability of the design. Consider an application program such as Word. The design of Word has a basic architecture divided into two parts. A machine layer of sequential binary information that embodies the fundamental design of the program and an application layer of user selections. At the application layer a single decision (or variation) such as font size or style results in a cascading set of coordinated decisions that brings the users selection to life while maintaining the basic functionality of the program. At the binary layer the logic is reversed. It takes a coordinated set of sequential changes to introduce the simplest variation and a single error can destroy the functionality of the entire program.

          It’s worth noting here that replication of a software program is far less error prone than DNA is and execution of the program is sharply defined. A mutation in a software program can be very destructive, so the people who made the machines and the software have come up with a variety of ways to both keep that from happening and recovering when it does happen.

          With a biological system, not only is the “within the design” part subject to a rather high rate of mutation, but so is the “design” itself. We see a number of rather large errors (such as duplication of chromosomes or crossover of chromosome pieces) that somehow can still result in a viable organism.

          The replication and expression structure underlying how genes manifest in the real world is subject to a great deal of replication error and yet it perseveres. This is expected from an evolutionary point of view because of both the advantages to having some degree of mutability and the advantages of having that mutability preferentially manifest in more survivable ways.

          I think my fundamental warning here is that intelligent design is based on the assumption that perceived structure of a certain level of complexity can only come from a designer. That is reinforced by the evident structure of Earth organisms from specialized tissues (such as organs) to specialized cellular parts. The problem is that such structure need not be intentional. An organism that is structured or is composed of cooperating specialized parts could have a huge survival advantage over one that is not.

          Intellectual concepts such as “design” versus something within a scope of a perceived “design”, can be useful without requiring a designer. Perhaps the framework by which traits manifest, the “design” might need to be far less susceptible to error, or you don’t have a viable organism. So there would be as a result selection pressure towards organisms with that apparent distinction.

          To summarize, arguments on perceived complexity or structure are based on the assumption that such complexity or structure cannot arise from evolution. The problem is that if these things provide an evolutionary advantage to organisms, then yes, it could happen. There’s nothing in these sorts of arguments to validate the assumption requiring a designer.

          The process of evolution, while it is a random process due to mutation and sexual reproduction, also has a directed component through the process of selection.

          To illustrate step 3 consider a von Neumann archaeologist examining the evolution of Word and contemplating the emergence of “spell check”.

          To have evolution, you have to have successive generations and a plausible means of transferring traits from one generation to the next. There would be several warning signs that Word is not evolutionarily directed. First, it changes in huge, discrete jumps. There’s no fossil record of generations of Word programs with traits tending to a usable spellchecker. It’s just there, a sudden, working spell checker in full form. Second, there would be all sorts of human artifacts in the code such as common labels, comments, and reused programming structures (a biological equivalent might be rabbit ears spontaneously showing up in most mammals and perhaps non-mammals because the designer liked how they worked with rabbits and passed them on to every other species. You have the absence of a method of reproduction. How does a previous version of Word spawn a future one?

          It’s only with a log of the revision history of Word that one sees how Word actually comes about with perhaps millions of revisions over several decades. The revisions also would tend to be focused (such as changing a small part of the program rather than making simultaneous changes sprinkled through the codebase). An email record of the discussion going into these changes would make the process rather obvious and kill off the evolution theory completely.

          We don’t see such things with biological systems. The fossil record shows incremental change in biological organisms. Every organism has one or more parents. There’s no obvious signature in the genes. There’s no obvious case of copied genes from one animal to an unrelated second.

      4. jls

        And why do you draw this distinction?

        The simple answer is that evolution is a compelling theory for the expression of an existing design but not strong for the creation of the design. If you aren’t careful in drawing the distinction then it is easy to mistake one’s conviction in the truth of the first for evidence for the truth of the second.

        To be blunt, life on Earth is very haphazard for work supposedly done by an intelligent designer.

        You’ve mentioned this before so I will take your concern seriously. Since I have never mentioned an “intelligent designer” or the necessity for one I assume you are getting there by the “what else can it be” or “intelligent design – implies – intelligent designer” route. In either case you see haphazardness in life on earth and imply the lack of intelligence. Funny, but I see the opposite, draw the opposite conclusion and wonder how that can be.

        The problem with Intelligent Design as a scientific theory is that you need evidence of an intelligent designer.

        Interesting way to put it. It sort of reverses the normal flow. Most would say that evidence of intelligence (life) is the evidence of the designer. But let’s not get caught in a semantic trap. The theory of Intelligent Design does NOT require an intelligent designer. At least not in any normal sense of the word. The theory does not answer the question of where intelligence comes from but merely starts the search. It starts by postulating that evidence of intelligence is detectable. It examines the nature of information and specifically ordered complexity and it explores the universe looking for the source.

        The early efforts have been directed at evolution to see if intelligence can be derived from a random process working through a fitness filter. Clearly, evolution can shape the parameters of an existing design but can it serve as the source of intelligent creation. (Is Evolution the Intelligent Designer?) So far the answer is .. Not likely.

        I think my fundamental warning here is that intelligent design is based on the assumption that perceived structure of a certain level of complexity can only come from a designer.

        Another way to say this is that “ordered complexity” is not an ordinary result of natural law. Complexity is easy to come by and we see it everywhere. Any random sequence (or collection) has complexity equal to its randomness. Information about a subset does not inform about the rest. Order is also common (the laws of physics). Think a series of one’s. If you know one digit you know them all. Ordered Complexity on the other hand is rare. An example of ordered complexity would be the binary code that codes for the spell check function in Word. That sequence is very hard to come by. It is both ordered and complex. Intelligent design can be described as the search for the origin of ordered complexity.

        1. Karl Hallowell

          The simple answer is that evolution is a compelling theory for the expression of an existing design but not strong for the creation of the design.

          This reminds me that I need to get back to work on a personal project to study this very issue.

          As I note earlier, the distinction between design and expression of design is more a human construct than a feature of biological systems. So it may well be that there is evolutionary advantage to an organism which is structured so that we can make this sort of distinction and get away with it.

          In either case you see haphazardness in life on earth and imply the lack of intelligence. Funny, but I see the opposite, draw the opposite conclusion and wonder how that can be.

          So why is your conclusion more valid than mine? When I look at designed mechanisms by humans I see several things: 1) better designs are simpler and sparser, 2) fails basic engineering principles such as engineering factors and human quality of life, and 3) identifying marks by the designer and/or constructor. While I don’t expect all of these attributes to appear on lifeforms, it does remain that we are overly complex for what we do.

          Similarly, we don’t have good engineering factors on humans. If a human engineer had designed the human body and had made a good faith effort to design it well, then the body would last longer than necessary without the messy degradation of the body that we see (OTOH, if the cheapest bidder had a shot at it, we might see similar compromises in human design). Also as an ethical issue, failure modes (eg, dying of cancer) would be more painless. There wouldn’t be much point to parasites, not even the predator/prey relationship (unless, of course, the designers were the parasites in question). Just make life nearly closed loop.

          Most would say that evidence of intelligence (life) is the evidence of the designer.

          That’s begging the question.

          The theory of Intelligent Design does NOT require an intelligent designer.

          Yes, it does. Intelligent Design is not intelligence design. It makes assertions about what is behind the design. As I noted earlier, if you loosen this criteria too much, then you include evolution as a subclass. The process of evolution becomes the “intelligent design”.

          The early efforts have been directed at evolution to see if intelligence can be derived from a random process working through a fitness filter. Clearly, evolution can shape the parameters of an existing design but can it serve as the source of intelligent creation. (Is Evolution the Intelligent Designer?) So far the answer is .. Not likely.

          These fitness filters as used by humans are fairly specific. For example, the fitness filters are generally set by the programmer or livestock breeder early on with the program or organism then adapting to the fitness filter or breed specification.

          But what happens when the fitness filter is not so established? In the theory of abiogenesis, the fitness filter is a combination of the rigors of the natural environment and competition from fellow DNA strands, proteins, or whatever. It’s a moving target and very open-ended. From our distant point of view, the successful would be that which has descendants today.

        2. jls

          As I note earlier, the distinction between design and expression of design is more a human construct than a feature of biological systems.

          I am trying to understand you on this but it is difficult. Are you questioning the idea that there is an underlying organizational construct in biological systems? Check out this video of the inner workings of a cell:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fiJupfbSpg

          Assuming that isn’t the question, perhaps if I express my hypothesis in a slightly different way. I am saying the genome has two major organizational constructs: Fixed and Variable. The fixed portion of the design in intended to be passed from generation to generation unchanged. (This portion of the DNA string is inherited from only one parent and there are intricate mechanisms to maintain it’s fidelity.) The variable portion is derived from a combination of the two parents and is intended to be an amalgam. (Intentionally varied from generation to generation). I refer to the fixed portion as “the design” and the variable portion as the “range of expression” of the design. A simple example of this in action is the size of an organism. The design is constant but the size of each individual varies as a function of the parents. (Fixed design / variable size)

          Yes, it does [require a Designer]. Intelligent Design is not intelligence design. It makes assertions about what is behind the design.

          My interest in intelligent design theory is to discover the source of the intelligent information that we find in the universe. It may prove to be a product of the creation of the universe (some undiscovered natural law), a product of an advanced designer or even the result of a random process operating in a specialized environment. The questions haven’t been answered and we are just starting the quest. If you preface the search by asserting that we first need to answer how the search is to end then the search will never start. Further, the word “Designer” carries the connotation of a sentient being of some sort and unnecessarily prejudices our thinking. Perhaps this quote will be clarifying.

          The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations.

          Too be clear if there is an “assertion about what is behind the design” it is an intelligent cause and not necessarily a Designer.

        3. jls

          Similarly, we don’t have good engineering factors on humans.

          Your mistake here is to conflate the idea of “good” design with “Intelligent” design. The theory makes no such assertions. Clearly a “bad” design could come about from an intelligent cause.

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