The Instigator
Derrida
Pro (for)
Winning
33 Points
The Contender
olle15
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Intelligent Design Is Not Science

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/27/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,931 times Debate No: 2234
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
Votes (11)

 

Derrida

Pro

My Argument is that Intelligent Design is not science, and so shouldn't be given the same treatment as science, i.e. shouldn't be taught as a scientific theory, shouldn't be debated in scientific journals or given scientific research grants by the government etc...

For my position, I will put forward 2 arguments:

1) Intelligent Design is wrong; there is no reason to believe that the theory of ID has any weight, and as such should be discarded along with Lamarckian evolution and geocentricism.

2 )Intelligent Design isn't even wrong; various tenets of ID are characteristically unscientific in their implications.

Science is here defined as the method of investigating empirical phenomenon, forming a hypothesis as to how that phenomenon can be explained by scientific laws, then making a generalization as to how this hypothesis relates to phenomena of a similar kind, also known as a scientific theory. This theory is modified or corroborated by new evidence, and as such the best theories are kept whilst the unsuccessful are junked.

Hence, the theory of gravity explains the interaction of different forms of matter based on their properties, i.e. mass, trajectory etc... which have been adduced by the scientific laws that operate, (Such as, if I drop an apple it will fall to the ground).

Because of these criteria, the statements that scientists make are extremely well supported, as they constantly reevaluate and seek to dispute them.

Thus, for a theory to be scientific, it must have supporting evidence, must be open to disproof, (Falsifiable), and must be at base empirical, (Hence the fact that science has a methodologically naturalistic bias).

Onto the arguments:

1) There is no evidence for Intelligent Design.
Intelligent Design is, according to the Discovery Institute: "The theory 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." (http://www.discovery.org...)

Intelligent Design is unlike other forms of popular creationism, in that it doesn't attack the evidence put forward for evolution, such as the fossil record, but puts forth positive claims relating to the inability for certain features, mostly microbiological, to have evolved. However, none of the arguments put forth by ID advocates make it likely that ID is true. I will survey the 2 most well-known, Specified Complexity, and Irreducible Complexity.

-Specified Complexity. Mathematician William Dembski has put forth an argument for a designer, based on a "design filter", which is ordered thus:

1) If a phenomena is likely to occur, attribute it to regularity (Physical laws), otherwise proceed to (2).
2) If a phenomena is unspecified, then attribute it to chance, otherwise attribute it to design.

To say that something is specified means that it conforms to a pattern that is "objectively given and not just imposed on events after the fact" (http://www.evcforum.net...).

However, Dembski doesn't show how such a difference is made apparent. He states that an unspecified event could be a bull's-eye being painted onto a wall where an arrow lands, making it seem as if an archer purposefully shot it there. However, we cannot tell that this hasn't happened in the past with relation to living organisms. The theory of evolution states that animals flourish and languish, and because of this the animals that happen to evolve beneficial attributes survive and pass on their genes while the others don't. This would be analogous to a blind archer shooting arrows at a target in a patch of long grass; the arrows that don't hit the target are hidden in the grass while the arrows that hit the target can be seen by onlookers.
Now suppose that some of the arrows have "mutated" feathers, these arrows can travel larger distances and so are more likely to hit the target. To the onlookers it would seem as if the archer has "picked" these feathered arrows and shot them at the target, even though the archer is (Unbeknownst to them) blind.
In fact, we have evidence of this: the fossil record. This seems to make ID less likely than evolution, as there is evidence that the phenomena are unspecified, and that we impose patterns onto them.

-Irreducible Complexity. Michael Behe's argument that certain structures, such as the flagellum or the blood-clotting cascade, could not function without all their parts interacting, and so couldn't have evolved gradually. Behe's argument is basically this:
(P1) Direct, gradual evolution proceeds only by stepwise addition of parts.
(P2) By definition, an irreducibly complex system lacking a part is nonfunctional.
(C) Therefore, all possible direct gradual evolutionary precursors to an irreducibly complex system must be nonfunctional.
(http://www.talkorigins.org...)

However, there are various objections to this argument. Firstly, mutations needn't be additive, but can also be reductive; mutations can involve the removal of parts, meaning that parts can be taken away, making other parts of the structure necessary. For instance, a stone bridge is irreducibly complex, in that taking away any part would cause it to fall apart . However, it can be produced naturally by erosion of the centre by a stream or lake (http://www.a-taste-of-france.com...).

Secondly, the function of certain parts can change with the addition of new parts. For instance, the flagellum has been shown to be reducible; if forty of its parts are taken away, the remaining parts form the type III secretory system, which has a different function but is nonetheless a functioning structure. ()

2) ID isn't scientific, for 2 reasons:

- It isn't falsifiable. If there were no "Intelligently Designed" objects in the universe, this still wouldn't disprove the ID theory. But this is a weakness of the theory, as it shows that ID isn't empirical. It is thus like the theory of "intelligent falling", in that there is no way we can disprove this theory, whilst we can potentially disprove evolution by finding rabbits in the precambrian and so on.

- It is vague as a theory. ID is vague because intelligence is an ambiguous term. Both arguments fallaciously assume that intelligence is anything that isn't the laws of nature or chance, but this is an argument from ignorance, and stops us looking for other naturalistic explanations. Dembski states that scientific bodies like SETI use the concept of intelligence in looking for other life forms, but researcher Seth Shostak has replied that SETI looks for instances of artificiality rather than intelligence. (http://en.wikipedia.org...)

For these reasons, if there are no good arguments for the negation of my claim, Intelligent Design should be labeled as pseudoscientific and left ultimately to the philosophers and historians, as to do otherwise would go against the nature of scientific enquiry.
olle15

Con

olle15 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 1
Derrida

Pro

I would like to take this opportunity to rebut another argument used by the ID community, called the Fine-Tuning argument. It is argued for by such notables as Hugh Ross, William Lane Craig and Robin Collins. The argument goes like this:

1) The universe is fine tuned for life.

2) If the universe is fine tuned for life, then it is likely that an intelligent being fine tuned it.

3) Probably, the universe was fine tuned by an intelligent being.

There are several objections to this argument that I believe nullify the argument:

1) This premiss rests on the assumption that, if the physical constants were different, that the formation of life would be impossible, or extremely unlikely. What evidence is there for this? Many proponents, such as Davies or Barrow have put forth examples of the effect of changing these constants, using mathematical models of the universe:

-If Gravity were slightly stronger or weaker, the universe would either collapse in on itself before stars could form, or the universe would expand to such an extent that stars could form.

-If the electromagnetic force were slightly different, life as we know it could not have formed.

And so on. However, in all of these cases, the constants are changed independently of the other constants. But this isn't how the universe works. The laws of physics are interrelated, having arose from the structure, and ratio of matter and energy with respect to space-time. Hence, if more matter had formed at the Big Bang, then the universe may have expanded at a quicker rate, due to the increased violence of the explosion, thus counteracting the increased gravitational force. As for other changes, such as the electromagnetic constant, this may make human life impossible, but it doesn't show that all forms of life would be incapable of forming. If we define intelligent life as anything complex and structured enough to be self conscious, then the only important factor is time. But we have good evidence that the average universe would live long enough to produce life.

This evidence comes in the form of work by Victor J Stenger, specifically a program called "Monkey God". This program calculates the lifespan of an average star in relation to four physical constants which impress upon this value, rather than just one (http://www.colorado.edu...). Stenger has concluded from this study that "... it is safe to conclude that the conditions for the appearance of a universe with life are not so improbable as those authors, enamored by the anthropic principle, would have you think."

2) Even if the existence of life given the possible values of the physical constants is improbable, this doesn't make ID the best or only explanation. One perfectly acceptable alternative thesis is the multiverse hypothesis, the hypothesis that ours isn't the only universe. Under this hypothesis, different universes have different values, arising from the randomness of the Big Bang, and that, therefore, it is statistically likely that at least one of these universe's, ours, would contain life.

Some counter-objections have been raised against the multiverse model:

- There is no evidence for the hypothesis.
This, however, doesn't seem to be a problem for the hypothesis, as there is just as much supporting evidence for the design hypothesis.

Nonetheless, arguably some evidence has been found for the existence of other universes. Harvard educated Professor Lee Smolin, (http://en.wikipedia.org...), has put forth a multiverse hypothesis known as the "Fecund Universes" or Black Hole Selection theory, which states that universes can bud off of the singularities in Black Holes. The theory also states that the laws of one universe are "inherited" by the child universe, with variations. From this point, something akin to Natural Selection takes over, as the universes that have the longest lifespans produce the most Black Holes, and thus have the most offspring, making it likely for universes with constants necessary for life to form. The only ad hoc law that this model presupposes is the method of inheritance, which hasn't yet been explained. There is however, evidence to support this theory: firstly, the preponderance of Black Holes in our universe. These Black Holes require that the universe be mostly filled with a deadly, radiation filled vacuum, which in fact makes most of the universe unsuitable for life. Secondly, studies have shown that when atoms are split in controlled conditions, they produce the same ratio of subatomic particles that were produced by the Big Bang singularity, showing that the Big Bang singularity and Black Hole singularities are probably similar in many respects. All of this is outlined in Richard Carrier's "Sense and Goodness Without God", which I would recommend to all interested in the subject of multiverse hypotheses.

- The multiverse hypothesis goes against Ockam's razor.
This is a basic misunderstanding of the multiverse hypothesis, as, even though the hypothesis posits a multiplicity of universes, these universes are explained by the theory put forward. As such, that there are many universes doesn't mean that we have to account for each individual universe, but that we can account for all of them using a single theory.

Furthermore, the design hypothesis seems more ad hoc, as it posits the existence of a non-material personal being, a being for which we have no explanation, and no knowledge of how such a being would fine tune the physical constants.

For these reasons, the Fine Tuning argument is untenable and the ID theory remains unsubstantiated.
olle15

Con

olle15 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Derrida

Pro

My opponent has failed up to now to put forth any arguments against either the proposition or my arguments themselves. This means that my arguments follow through as they have been left uncriticized.

Intelligent Design is an unsupported supernatural position that is fundamentally unscientific and shouldn't be thought otherwise by anyone in the scientific community.

Even if you reject of doubt the theory of evolution, this in no way entails the validity or veracity of Intelligent Design.

Thank you.
olle15

Con

After excepting your argument I found it hard to make any valid points against it and fount it less embarrassing to forfit than to fight a battle I could not win. I am sorry for wasting your time.
Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by hattopic 9 years ago
hattopic
Olle, it's accepting, not excepting.
Posted by Kleptin 9 years ago
Kleptin
Aww, he didn't even put up a fight x.x
Posted by Defenestrator 9 years ago
Defenestrator
Good points Derrida, you made a very convincing argument.
Posted by Derrida 9 years ago
Derrida
Whilst I don't really deem ID a "religion" as such, it does imply certain metaphysical biases that exclude it from being a scientific theory.

Your honesty is admirable, but I would have preferred if you had just posted a concession so the debate didn't have to draw on for days.

Overall, a pretty good debate, if I say so myself.
Posted by olle15 9 years ago
olle15
Derrida you are right ID is a religion and should be treated as such but that doesn't mean I don't think my religion is real. It may not be a science but I believe science and religion can coexist.
Posted by Derrida 9 years ago
Derrida
I won't!

People can't be that hypocritical, can they?
Posted by Korezaan 9 years ago
Korezaan
If he posts something in R3 and people vote off of it I will laugh so hard.
Posted by Derrida 9 years ago
Derrida
I'm getting a terrible feeling that olle15 isn't going to respond.

Either that, or only respond in Round 3, so I haven't a chance to post objections...
Posted by Derrida 9 years ago
Derrida
The Government Finance Statistics Manual?
Posted by Kleptin 9 years ago
Kleptin
I'll give it a little while, and maybe I'll join and bust out some GFSM XD
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