The Implication

I have now spent some time nailing down what seems clear to me – without independent evidence of the designers, science has no method to determine whether or not something was designed, explaining why it is that the concept of purpose or goals has no place in science.  Many will deny this.  But if you can see this, then it is time for the next step.

What I have been outlining is a key limitation of science – in order for science to detect design, it requires independent information about the designer.

Without that information, science is blind to the possibility of design.

Meaning that if life and/or evolution was designed, science could not detect it.

We should pause and take that in before moving to the next step.

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23 responses to “The Implication

  1. It’s all about cause and effect Mike.

    And science requires knowledge in order to do anything.

    So if you are saying that our knowledge of causal relationships is “independent evidence of the designers”, then you have a point.

    What ID says is that it is our knowledge of causal relationships that affords us the design inference- biological organisms appear designed because they were designed.

  2. OK, let’s go to the next step.

  3. I have now spent some time nailing down what seems clear to me – without independent evidence of the designers, science has no method to determine whether or not something was designed, explaining why it is that the concept of purpose or goals has no place in science. Many will deny this.

    But this has long been a point made by ID sceptics. I doubt you will find many deniers among ID sceptics.

  4. What I have been outlining is a key limitation of science – in order for science to detect design, it requires independent information about the designer.

    Without that information, science is blind to the possibility of design.

    This is not news.

  5. So Alan, if SETI gets a narrowband radio signal with the pattern of prime numbers from 2 to 101, can science determine whether or not it was designed?

  6. No, Bilbo.

  7. But it would be strong evidence of intelligent alien life.

  8. Why would it be strong evidence?

  9. Because it is difficult to think of an explanation that would end in the production of a signal by means other than an extraterrestrial civilization. But it’s all hypothetical until somebody locates a signal that is difficult to explain.

  10. And lots of other caveats, too!

  11. We don’t know what we don’t know until we know what we don’t know, for example!

  12. So if something is difficult to explain other than by means of intelligent designer, then we have strong evidence of intelligent designer?

  13. I guess so. But you can never exclude all possibilities as you have no way of knowing what you don’t know. Of course it all depends on what you mean by an intelligent designer. Do you mean an alien of some sort?

  14. By intelligent designer I mean something that purposely manipulated matter in some way to achieve a certain outcome.

    In the case of the radio signal, it was something that knew how to transmit radio signals and knew what the prime numbers were.

  15. By intelligent designer I mean something that purposely manipulated matter in some way to achieve a certain outcome.

    It’s a bit vague, Bilbo. Is the something real? How are we to work out that an outcome was instigated or intended? As Mike says, without knowing anything about the designer, we have no way of forming hypotheses to test.

  16. If by “real” you mean “exists,” then yes it exists. We “work out that something was intended” by the fact that it fits Mike’s criteria:

    1) Discontinuity: there doesn’t appear to be a non-intelligent explanation, or as you put it, we can’t think of another way to explain it.

    2) Analogy: it’s very much like the sort of thing we design — narrowband radio signals, and we know prime numbers.

    3) Rationality: It makes sense to send a signal by a narrow radio band, since it takes less energy to do so.

    4) Foresight: An intelligence seeking out other intelligence would want to use a mathematical signal, thinking that anyone who new how to build a radio receiver would know what prime numbers are.

  17. All well and good, if we are talking hypothetical radio signals. If and when we get an anomalous signal, the analysis can begin.

    But I took your remark “By intelligent designer I mean something that purposely manipulated matter in some way to achieve a certain outcome.” as referring to the intelligent designer.

  18. No, “intelligent designer” is a generic placeholder until we have more information. For example, with the hypothetical radio signal, it would probably be an extraterrestrial civilization, but without more information, how do we know for sure? But I think we would agree that we have strong evidence that somebody or something (like a very smart machine) designed it.

    Now the punchline: we know that there is strong evidence for design largely because it fits into subjective categories of analogy, rationality, and foresight.

    So did we just do science or did we do something else?

  19. Alan:

    As Mike says, without knowing anything about the designer, we have no way of forming hypotheses to test.

    I never said that. You are confusing yourself with your own scientism.

  20. Alan Fox:

    As Mike says, without knowing anything about the designer, we have no way of forming hypotheses to test.

    Mike didn’t say that and the hypothesis would pertain to the design not the designer.

    And we can figure out all sorts of things about the design.

    Alan Fox:

    But you can never exclude all possibilities as you have no way of knowing what you don’t know.

    So yoiu think science is about absolute proof?

    No Alan we make scientific inferences based on our current knowledge.

    We cannot and do not wait for what the future may or may not reveal.

    As I said before Alan it is all about cause and effect- that is figuring out what it takes to bring about whatever it is we are investigating.

    BTW Alan, what type of independent evidence (for the designer(s)) do you require?

    We have evidence from physics which is independent from the evidence from biology which is independent from the evidence from cosmology.

    So what is it that you require?

  21. Michael:

    You are confusing yourself with your own scientism.

    Well, according to the definition you quote in the other thread, I apparently don’t suffer from this particular affliction.

  22. Bilbo:

    Now the punchline: we know that there is strong evidence for design largely because it fits into subjective categories of analogy, rationality, and foresight.

    Ah, but you are still equivocating. You need to qualify design like I need to qualify reality. Do you posit that a real designer (not visible via scientific method) exists in the current reality domain? I say that is not possible to claim scientifically, though perfectly OK to imagine.

    So did we just do science or did we do something else?

  23. That was a typo but actually is a way of saying back at ya!

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