Re: [asa] The Myth of the Rejected ID Paper

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Mon Jul 07 2008 - 22:26:57 EDT

On Jul 7, 2008, at 7:18 PM, Murray Hogg wrote:

> Hi Pim,
> Regarding the claim re testability in the following;
> > "The National Academy of Sciences in 1999 stated "Creationism,
> > intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in
> > the origin of life or of species are not science because they are
> not
> > testable by the methods of science."
> It's well-worn observation in debates over YECism that one cannot,
> at one and the same time, claim that a position is "scientifically
> unfalsifiable" and also that it is "scientifically false".
> In that respect, I think the doorkeepers of scientific orthodoxy
> (amongst whom the AAAS and the NAS) are simply so keen to reject ID
> that they end up making quite contradictory statements.
> So too for those - such as yourself - who want to claim that ID is
> not falsifiable AND that there IS evidentiary support for (say)
> evolutionary development of the Bacterial Flagellum.
> One can either advance the "not falsifiable/testible" OR the
> "falsified" claim, but not both.
> Care to pick one? :)

A choice is not needed because the two statements are to two different
claims by ID. The following is from the 2008 NAS statement. The
(testable and thus scientific) idea of irreducible complexity has been
disproven while the positive argument for ID (IC therefore ID) is not
science. The confusion comes from the conflation of ID with IC by both
proponents and opponents of ID.

> Some members of a newer school of creationists have temporarily set
> aside the question of whether the solar system, the galaxy, and the
> universe are billions or just thousands of years old. But these
> creationists unite in contending that the physical universe and
> living things show evidence of “intelligent design.” They argue that
> certain biological structures are so complex that they could not
> have evolved through processes of undirected mutation and natural
> selection, a condition they call “irreducible complexity.” Echoing
> theological arguments that predate the theory of evolution, they
> contend that biological organisms must be designed in the same way
> that a mousetrap or a clock is designed — that in order for the
> device to work properly, all of its components must be available
> simultaneously. If one component is missing or changed, the device
> will fail to operate properly. Because even such ”simple” biological
> structures as the flagellum of a bacterium are so complex,
> proponents of intelligent design creationism argue that the
> probability of all of their components being produced and
> simultaneously available through random processes of mutation are
> infinitesimally small. The appearance of more complex biological
> structures (such as the vertebrate eye) or functions (such as the
> immune system) is impossible through natural processes, according to
> this view, and so must be attributed to a transcendent intelligent
> designer.
> However, the claims of intelligent design creationists are disproven
> by the findings of modern biology. Biologists have examined each of
> the molecular systems claimed to be the products of design and have
> shown how they could have arisen through natural processes. For
> example, in the case of the bacterial flagellum, there is no single,
> uniform structure that is found in all flagellar bacteria. There are
> many types of flagella, some simpler than others, and many species
> of bacteria do not have flagella to aid in their movement. Thus,
> other components of bacterial cell membranes are likely the
> precursors of the proteins found in various flagella. In addition,
> some bacteria inject toxins into other cells through proteins that
> are secreted from the bacterium and that are very similar in their
> molecular structure to the proteins in parts of flagella. This
> similarity indicates a common evolutionary origin, where small
> changes in the structure and organization of secretory proteins
> could serve as the basis for flagellar proteins. Thus, flagellar
> proteins are not irreducibly complex.
> Evolutionary biologists also have demonstrated how complex
> biochemical mechanisms, such as the clotting of blood or the
> mammalian immune system, could have evolved from simpler precursor
> systems. With the clotting of blood, some of the components of the
> mammalian system were present in earlier organisms, as demonstrated
> by the organisms living today (such as fish, reptiles, and birds)
> that are descended from these mammalian precursors. Mammalian
> clotting systems have built on these earlier components.
> Existing systems also can acquire new functions. For example, a
> particular system might have one task in a cell and then become
> adapted through evolutionary processes for different use. The Hox
> genes (described in the box on page 30) are a prime example of
> evolution finding new uses for existing systems. Molecular
> biologists have discovered that a particularly important mechanism
> through which biological systems acquire additional functions is
> gene duplication. Segments of DNA are frequently duplicated when
> cells divide, so that a cell has multiple copies of one or more
> genes. If these multiple copies are passed on to offspring, one copy
> of a gene can serve the original function in a cell while the other
> copy is able to accumulate changes that ultimately result in a new
> function. The biochemical mechanisms responsible for many cellular
> processes show clear evidence for historical duplications of DNA
> regions.
> In addition to its scientific failings, this and other standard
> creationist arguments are fallacious in that they are based on a
> false dichotomy. Even if their negative arguments against evolution
> were correct, that would not establish the creationists’ claims.
> There may be alternative explanations. For example, it would be
> incorrect to conclude that because there is no evidence that it is
> raining outside, it must be sunny. Other explanations also might be
> possible. Science requires testable evidence for a hypothesis, not
> just challenges against one’s opponent. Intelligent design is not a
> scientific concept because it cannot be empirically tested.

Rich Blinne

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Received on Mon Jul 7 22:27:43 2008

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