Talk:Intelligent design

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 Definition Claim that fundamental features of the universe and living things are best explained by purposeful causation. [d] [e]
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Editorial notes

The following are notes by editors to contributors to this article.

  • As they have repeatedly and strongly insisted, the Biology Workgroup is not among the groups assigned to manage this article. Consequently, though of course we do not want this article to include incorrect information, biologists who are not also editors in the assigned workgroups do not have the authority to keep this article from being approved. In other words, biology editors working on this article are working as authors, not as editors. --Larry Sanger 13:16, 4 June 2007 (CDT)

First section in trouble now methinks

I hate to sound like wet blanket, but I thought the first section was headed in the right direction but it's taken a direction that I can't support. Non-scientists will not understand the charge that Intelligent Design is "untestable" or that ID doesn't make predictions. By gutting their argument so thoroughly in the first few lines, those who may most need an education will never read the article. They'll simply be convinced that you are part of the ID suppression conspiracy.

My experience is not with writing real encyclopedias or scientific journals. My experience is with writing business documents and entertainment pieces. In addition I am an ID sympathizer, so I have a very different perspective from the scientists (whom I greatly respect) that are donating their time for our education.

I still favor the idea of broadly describing the real core of the debate in such a way as to leave a measure of respect for those who might want to believe the claims of ID, but also to disarm them so as to let them consider the possibility that all their beliefs might not be founded in facts. I don't want to revert, but I can't see a way to edit the opening without a pretty marked change. I don't want to make that change if I am a minority of one. This opening is not modelled after a scientific or encyclopedic article, but I think it has a much greater chance of getting someone to read the article:

Intelligent design (ID) is the usual designation for a claim that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause. Proponents of ID generally evidence this claim by pointing to those parts of the natural world which are not yet fully understood by science.
Opponents, who are in the majority in the scientific community, interpret the same evidence as nothing more than a lack of evidence, meaning the universe appears to be infinitely large, but scope of human knowledge is finite. Thus, science will always paint an incomplete picture of the natural world. Any idea who foundational claims and assumptions are founded upon lack of evidence, cannot be disproven, but cannot be accepted as science in the traditional sense of the word.
In this article, we will describe some of the claims made by Intelligent Design proponents. Then, we will examine some of the mainstream scientific responses to the claims made my ID proponents, so that the reader may make up his own mind about Intelligent Design.

I know that last sentence is a little dramatic, but there is a method to this madness. I'm probably losing my last shred of credibility when I return to bigfoot again, but when National Geograpic does a special on bigfoot they don't destroy the bigfoot myth in the opening segment. They don't do that because if they did no one would watch the program. But, National Geographic doesn't lose a bit of credibility because after setting up all the evident for bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, they reveal why the claims don't appear to stand up to scrutiny. But they often wrap up the program by saying something to the effect of, while these claims didn't pan out, proponents are still out there searching for definitive evidence for the elusive bigfoot.

Instead of using a scientific journal or the typical encyclopedic article as a template, is it possible to templatize from the formula that National Geographic has developed to present pseudo-scientific claims? Will Nesbitt 06:22, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

I agree with your core reservation. leads are always contentious on articles like this and perhaps less is best, at least for now, so I've moved the second paragraph in to the lead of the criticism section. Can we leave the lead for now and see how the article shapes up? I've always felt that Introductions are best written last.Gareth Leng 07:13, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

I think that's a fair request and a good strategy. BTW, I really like what you have most recently introduced to the article. Will Nesbitt 07:58, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

The teleological argument

The Distinct from creationism section brings up "the teleological argument." That's not something we can presume an average reader will be familiar with. I think we need a brief explanation or at least a wikilink to an (existing) article on the topic. Is there someone who feels qualified to do that? --Eric Winesett 12:20, 23 May 2007 (CDT)


"much like melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), which acts as an antioxidant in organisms that don't produce melanin."

I didn't know this, and can't find a reference....?Gareth Leng 08:10, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

The Proponents of ID

Doesn't this entire section fit more in with the Intelligent Design Movement? Will Nesbitt 08:36, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

I wondered, but as we are citing these to explain the claims I thought that Nancy's point was a good one - we need to identify exactly who we are citing. This does avoid repeated circumlocutions like "a prominent proponent of intelligent design" as preambles to quotes. I would say that the ID movement article needs to explain the broad movement and the wedge tactic, here we only need the prominent theorists of IDGareth Leng 08:53, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

Agree, but perhaps a reference line to ID Movement? Will Nesbitt 11:01, 25 May 2007 (CDT)


Who is exactly the architect of the intelligent design theory? Is it William Dembski as the article implies? This is important because the background of that person is a factor in the debate whether it's a scientific or religious theory. Yi Zhe Wu 10:30, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

I agree that it is important, because any encyclopedic article on a topic would include that information. Gregor Mendel was a monk, but his ideas were science. I don't know of a famous example,offhand, but if a scientist came up with a religious essay or interpretation, that would not change it from religion and make it science. Nancy Sculerati 17:09, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Current start

Intelligent design (ID) is an attempt to rebut the naturalism of the theory of evolution through natural selection. It is an argument that random processes such as mutation could never combine to create the extremely complex species of life found in fossils and on earth today.

ID supporters argue that certain fundamental features of the universe and living things are best explained by purposeful causation—a "higher intelligence."

What on earth does the abstract first phrase mean? What exactly is naturalism - and why can't its meaning be displayed here? Shouldn't there be an attempt to relate ID to phenomena in the real world to which it applied. Or are we actually talking about objection to evolutionary theory? Why no attempt to relate the concept to actual events in the natural world until late in the article?David Tribe 19:37, 25 May 2007 (CDT)
I think the current start is argumentative, misleading and well ... in my opinion undesirable to the point of being offensive and outrageous. Several editors have worked with this version, so I'll resist my urge to edit this back to the point where this line of thinking started.
The current opening is the characterization of ID which is held by members of the Intelligent Design Movement, but it is NOT intelligent design ... theory, if you will. This is evidenced by the fact that Thomas Aquinas et al. made no attempt to rebut evolution. Intelligent design is not an attempt to rebut anything. ID is an idea about the origins of the universe. This idea is employed by members of the ID movement to both rebut evolution, but also to push a specific agenda. The idea itself does not attempt to rebut anything. The idea makes certain irrefutable, but unprovable claims about the origins of the universe.
Please edit this opening to reflect the idea, and not the aspirations of the ID Movement. Will Nesbitt 07:23, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

I didn't listen my own advice and I hope I didn't step on anyone's toes. I returned to an opening which I don't find offensive or outrageous. Then I moved the rebuttal characterization to the Intelligent Design Movement page where it seems both relevant and appropriate, rather than offensive and argumentative.

BTW, I do not support charactizing ID as a "doctrine" as Larry suggested. A doctrine is accepted on faith and without reason. I submit that ID sympathizers (as opposed to ID proponents) find the word "doctrine" as offensive to us as the word "theory" is to some of our resident scientists. Will Nesbitt 07:46, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Will, I support your recent edits. If you hadn't done it, I would have. You are absolutely correct that the edits had made the article take a decided anti-ID stance. Well, this article will not have an anti-ID stance. It will be neutral.

As to "doctrine," I'm not so sure. The doctrines of the Catholic Church, for example, are supported by arguments. Are you saying that you are an ID sympathizer and that you find "doctrine" to be offensive? If so, that's a reason to hunt for a better word. If not, then you're just speculating, right? --Larry Sanger 11:15, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Larry, I'm not an ID proponent, but I am an ID sympathizer. This is because at my core and for reasons not germaine to this discussion, I have concluded that the universe is intelligently designed. However, I do not support psuedo-science. Also, I do not ascribe to the general looniness I see within the ID Movement. For them, ID is in fact a doctrine, or belief, which does not need support. Furthermore, they reject any evidence which does not seem to support their understanding of ID. I do not identify with, nor do I agree with this "faction".
I find the word "doctrine" offensive (as an ID sympathizer) because it rules out the possibility that there is a natural (not supernatural) causation which can be described as intelligent design. ID in my humble opinion is neither a theory nor a doctrine. It is a collection of unprovable claims which can not be fully dismissed. If there is a word for that, I don't know what it is.
Mine is a very difficult position, because I agree with (and understand) nearly everything the scientists and ID scoffers have said herein. By the same token, I understand exactly why the ID crowd revolts against the scientists. The peasant rabble doesn't fully understand the scientific argument against ID nor will they stand idly by when they think that the scientific argument is assaulting their value system. (A few scientists are mirror a secular evanglism in this regard.)
I think it's not productive to put scientific theory and religious doctrine in opposition. Others who have attempted to draft a coherent article on this subject continually walk back into that circular trap and then the arguments start again. Change the first paragraph. Change it back. Resummarize. Restate the scientific position. Outcry of unfairness. It's like some kind of sick dance macabre that endlessly repeats.
That's why I keep suggesting a different template for this article. We should follow the form that respected publishers and producers have taken when discussing UFO's, bigfoot and the Bermuda Triangle. They never say bigfoot doesn't exist. They always present some hoaky evidence. Then they debunk the evidence. Then in the final segment they summarize their position by stating that noone has found any credible evidence to support bigfoot's existance, but they'll keep looking because bigfoot might be out there. Most people find that form of education more informative and entertaining than a scientific journal that says in the first line, "Bigfoot is not real." Will Nesbitt 15:24, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Proponents vs. Thinkers

My rationale behind "proponent" vs. "thinker" is that proponent seems to imply membership in the ID Movement. A couple of alternatives which I rejected are "philosopher" and "theorist". I also think it's worth making the distinction that our current section identifies a few modern ID theorists, but ignores many historical ID philosophers. Will Nesbitt 07:30, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Will, unless I am much mistaken, it is simply incorrect to say that there are many "historical ID philosophers." The philosophers you're thinking of argued for the existence of God by saying that the universe displays signs of intelligent design. By merely making this argument, surely they were not therefore wrapping it in the mantle of science, as ID proponents do. Does that make sense? --Larry Sanger 10:53, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
Will, you wrote "ID does NOT attempt to rebut evolution, that is an aim of some members of the ID Movement" in your last edit summary. The article actually said "rebut the naturalism" of evolution. Regardless, in this case those "some members" include Michael Behe and William Dembski -- both of the "thinkers" given space in this article. Dembski's No Free Lunch "critiques Darwinian and other naturalistic accounts of evolution."[1] Behe wrote Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution and had this to say in an interview: "I think the actual evidence of biochemistry leads powerfully away from the mechanistic-materialistic science of Darwinism to some kind of new formulation of biological science in terms of plan, purpose, and intelligence."[2] Are there examples of ID "thinkers" who don't use it against evolution? -- Eric Winesett 11:18, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
Fair play, Eric. I'm interested in the answer too. --Larry Sanger 11:20, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
I suppose the honus is on me to research some other modern "thinkers" who sympathize with ID but use ID to or think that ID does rebut evolution. I'm not aware that these two thinkers own this idea. If the very idea of Intelligent Design (capitals intentional because there is only one ID) is owned by these two men, then I not only stand corrected, but furthermore, count me among the number who disagree with ID's core principals. Will Nesbitt 15:06, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
BTW, I think the "historical" ID thinkers were neither scientists nor philosophers because before the Age of Enlightenment there wasn't much of a distinction between science, philosophy and religion. These fields were closely related (because the scope of human knowledge was much smaller then) and it was not uncommon for some to be considered experts in all three fields. Take for example, as late as the 18th Century both Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin could rightly be considered world-class politicians, farmers, geographers, inventors, philosophers, writers, statesmen, womanizers, botanists, etc. Will Nesbitt 15:31, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
Will, I realize that your work on these ID articles is sincere and in good faith. I'm afraid your attempt to separate the concept/theory/doctrine of ID from the "ID movement" might be misguided. I'm not sure how much time you've spent digging into ID, but from what I have learned, I can only conclude that any separation of ID "thinkers" from the "movement" that promotes ID is purely political. They are one and the same. If you are not familiar with the Discovery Institute's infamous "wedge document," you should check it out. Wikipedia has an article on the wedge strategy. (Note that Behe and Dembski are players.) Anyone who likes a good horror story will enjoy it. --Eric Winesett 17:03, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
Well, first, the Discovery Institute is not the only institution that promotes ID. Second, I wonder if that document is authentic, remember the "Elders of Zion" hoax? Please elaborate your points above. Regards. Yi Zhe Wu 17:05, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
The Discovery Institute itself does not deny that the document is authentic; they only say "so what?" (literally) and call it a fundraising proposal. (This is in the article linked above.) Who else promotes ID and is not connected to the Discovery institute? -Eric Winesett 18:19, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
Me. ;^) Will Nesbitt 18:22, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
I just read the article you recommended. File me under the "so what" camp. It just confirms that some people have passionate feelings about this idea and what it means. The Sierra Club probably has a strategy too as does the American Communist Party. The National Man Boy Love Association has a strategy to change laws in America too. But, the last time I checked (sorry for being a smart ass), people in the USA have the right to assemblage and they have freedom of speech. The very purpose for these two freedoms is so that people can change the system when they feel the system is wrong. Most usually these minority positions don't change a thing. Sometimes, as in the case of the Suffrage Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, they make considerable change to the American political landscape.
I trust the people. I don't fear NaMBLA's assemblage. I support NaMBLA's right to preach the "beauty" of pedofilia. I mainly support that right because the more these guys talk, the more ridiculous (and in some cases evil) they sound.
No matter how wrong-headed you might think ID is (and I'm not criticising you for holding that perfectly reasonable belief), you won't change the minds of those opposing hardcore believers. The only hope you have of convincing those who are on the fence is if you present both arguments as fairly as possible. Trust their logic. They'll figure it all out themselves. If you attempt to destroy the credibility of the argument by explaining the credentials of mainstream science while at the same time dimissing the opposition's reputation and motives, you will only add fuel to their fire.
Lastly, the so-called ID experts referenced in the article are clearly not thinkers (*heh*) but are proponents. Will Nesbitt 18:42, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
I'm not sure what I said that made you think I was arguing against free speech. I am one of the people here (among with you, I think) who wants an unbiased article (without overwhelming the main topic with criticism) and who thinks it should be in the Biology Workgroup (not that it's good biology).
My point about the wedge document is merely to show that Behe and Dembski, who are held up by the ID movement as the scientific backers of the "theory", are themselves part of the ID movement. The idea that there are ID scientists who do not argue against evolution, while another completely separate group of people merely use ID claims to argue against evolution, is a fiction. For political reasons, the Discovery Institute likes that perception. The very same scientists who claim in public that ID does not point to a specific designer make it clear that they believe the designer is the Christian God when speaking to religious groups.-- Eric Winesett 01:06, 27 May 2007 (CDT)
My apologies if any offense was taken. I don't think you're against free speech. I think the tactic some have taken to "debunk" the idea is to point the alleged fact that all proponents are associated with the Discovery Institute as if this somehow diminishes the idea. Will Nesbitt 08:36, 27 May 2007 (CDT)


I want to advance a principle very relevant to this article. In the context of this article, we must not simply state scientific facts, which are contrary to ID, without attribution. You can say that virtually all biologists hold X to be well established, or some device similar to that, but to assert without qualification something that is straightforwardly contrary to ID is inconsistent with our Neutrality Policy.

Then the article reads as follows: "ID proponents say that X. But in fact, not-X. ID proponents assert that Y. But actually, not-Y."

Depending on X and Y, might be accurate, but it is not neutral. To secure both accuracy and neutrality, the template is like this: "ID proponents say that X. Virtually all X-ologists, however, say not-X. ID proponents assert that Y. Save for articles in journals edited by those same proponents, however, no peer-reviewed articles exist that support Y." --Larry Sanger 10:53, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

I am reluctant to get involved in this debate, except insofar as general issues of Citizendium policy are concerned. This is partly because I am not trained as a natural scientist [although good social scientists try to adhere to scientific methodology] and partly because the whole ID issue is not taken seriously in Europe. We tend to see it as an American problem, specifically connected to the peculiar religions which seem to predominate over there.
On Larry's above point concerning refereed journals and attributions, I should also emphasise the American slant of it. Who other than Americans and Brits consider the content of refereed journals to be definitive statements of academic disciplines? Certainly, my own experience is that most journals referee very superficially and carelessly, and show an arrogant disdain for independent thinking and scientific argumentation. The result of this is that we cannot claim that the content of peer-reviewed journals identifies precisely the state of knowledge in any area; nor can we say precisely what is that state of knowledge. All knowledge is in flux, and no individual is privy to its identity at any point. Therefore, I disagree with the formulation of attribution above.
On the other hand, in the case of this specific article, I support completely the view that ID proponents refuse to accept the fundamental principles of modern philosophy of science. This is why the article belongs under the heading of Religion, and for the sake of encylopaedic accuracy a solid refutation of the approach [but not necessarily the claims] should be included from the Biology Editors. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 12:46, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

I guess I wasn't clear. The "template" I specified above was not to be taken literally. So I wasn't meaning to make any point in specific about refereed journals. Anyway, I don't recall ever hearing from anyone of any nationality saying that the content of refereed journals are definitive statements of academic disciplines.

"That's only known in the U.S." or "that's an exclusively American phenomenon" is usually false. [3] [4]

The inclusion of the article in the Biology Workgroup does not (I should have thought) imply approval of intelligent design, as a doctrine, by the workgroup. --Larry Sanger 14:01, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

It is not a question of "approval" in terms of agreement with the premise, it is a question of approval of the article by editors in the biology workgroup as an approved article on CZ. There is no editor in the biology workgroup who has expertise in this topic, there are editors (all of them) in our workgroup who have expertise in basic evolution and natural selection. I had thought that those subjects were always discussed as an inherent part of ID, maybe in opposition, but that ID was an alternative view that was always presented in series with those subjects. This talk page now states that these are not points of fundamental disagreement between proponents of ID and biologists. Instead, ID purports a ... well, I still don't know. But if I still don't know, that's a problem. This article does not belong in the Biology workgroup for the simple reason that the biology workgroup does not contain an editor who can oversee approval of this article. What is "intelligent design"? I still don't know and I am not only the approvals editor I am a biology editor. Gareth has written some things, mostly that have been disputed by others. That is why I removed the Biology workgroup. I do not understand how we can have an article in our workgroup that we do not have the expertise to oversee, and that- from what I know of biology and from what I have read here, no biologist does by virtue ofher or his education and training in biology. Remember please, I orginally agreed with that workgroup placement. I do not now. My original agreement was because it seemed very prudent to have Biology oversee an article that was going to contain a discussion of evolution as a fundamental point. Will has pointed out that natural selection and evolution are possible along with ID, and he seems to be the "expert" here. I have also changed my mind because of an unexpected consequence of this article (and two others that have intelligent design in the title) being placed in the biology workgroup. There has also been yet another article on "creationism" today assigned to the Biology workgroup. I removed that tag, too. Please see my very recent post on the forums. Nancy Sculerati 14:15, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

I am pleased to hear that this is not a template, Larry. I admit that I have imputed the reasoning about peer-review, not only from your suggestion but also from more general approaches which are easily identifed in the USA and UK.

The problem with ID is not its compatibility or otherwise with evolution or natural selection. It is the paradigm of argumentation which is inconsistent with a scientific approach, even if there are some respected scientists who support ID. Thus. it is not an issue of whether the biology workgroup agrees with the premise, it is whether they have the training and background to deal with the topic. In that sense, they likely disagree with the approach which is axiomatic rather than scientific-deductive and more properly belongs to religion.

By the way, Larry, as a matter of logic, I don't think finding one or two quirky Europeans who support ID invalidates my overall comment that it is not taken seriously in Europe. My general proposition is founded on sociological observations -- i.e. what people and the media actually talk about or hold as opinions. At least to date, ID is a non-issue for most Europeans. I hope it will remain so! --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 15:10, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

ID for Europeans is asking for their identity card. Any reference to intelligens design will get you a: hey that was dumped a century ago as wacko - don't bother us with religion. ID = Identity, nothing else. Robert Tito |  Talk  20:43, 26 May 2007 (CDT)
Here's a belated rebuttal to the above two comments: Come on , gentlemen. Whether an idea is local or global may have some general correlations with validity and importance,on a sttistical level, but it's not a worthy argument to make about the truth of an idea. In this case, as I would argue, in all cases, the topic stands or falls on its own presentation and not on which continent, country, or political party asserts it or finds it important for discussion. Should an American tell me that X subject is not important because only the ____ (fill in the blank:English, French, Dutch, Italian, Russian, South American) people think it is, I would wonder at their narrow mindedness. I would also wonder why they imagine that who embraces an idea somehow stands above what the idea is in terms of its value. This article should be telling us what the idea is, where it came from, etc. just as any article in our encyclopedia should contain that kind of real information. We American (particluarly in New York) have a rather blunt saying that I think is quite appropriate to every author on Citizendium- that's "Put up or shut up". The "put up" means-"show me your data"- or "do the job right and show how it's done", rather than speculate, or complain that the job could be done better. That's my challenge here- and to everyone, far and away outside the question of local interest, enough already with the speculation and general discussion. Get the real informaton or don't waste our time. If you don't have the time or committment to buy the books, find the library that has them and read them, then what gives you the right to demand our attention?Nancy Sculerati 08:50, 27 May 2007 (CDT)
The aproach is axiomatic and that's why I do not follow it. It is not a scientific argument. Further, the subject matter is not part of biology-except, as I have said, where "Darwin" and "evolution" etc are mentioned, and the subject matter is living things. Again, if those Darwinian concepts are inherently an aspect of ID, please, even in opposition,I stand corrected and the Biology workgroup can offer its expertise concerning exactly that- evolution, natural selection etc. . But that inherent connection needs to be proved, not just the social fact that there is a fight - that some biologists have objected to the ID movement in the US trying to force this to be taught in schools along with evolution, That I know has happened, but that does not concern Biology as a workgroup that can oversee approval of the article. That's an education workgroup area of expertise-maybe. The Biology workgroup is completely over its head here, we have no training or expertise to judge this article anymore than we would have the expertise to judge another philosophy or religion article that offered conceptual arguments (axiomatic) about how life began or how human beings were created. I am not being coy- if someone presented ID in a scientific way and it was about living things I would accept our duty to review the article in the biology workgroup.I support our editor in chief and I support our duty to be neutral. I cannot support a duty to pretend that something is within the expertise of biology when it is not. I honestly cannot follow this article, -I was hopeful at first that it was going somewhere that could be understood from a biological perspective, since there have been repeated statements that ID is actually science and is supported or at least has been generated by scientists. I do not recognize it as science from what is written here. There is no detailed explanation of the idea, only the same simple point repeated. If I am wrong, and my hope was not misplaced,that somebody is going to really explain ID in a comprehensive way and then, once they do, it will be apparent that - though unpopular- ths is a scientific argument, of course that decision to have biology be the workgroup that can vet this article will have to be reviewed. But at this point, as far as I am concerned, this article is not in the biology workgroup. It cannot be, no matter what the category tag says, because we do not have the expertise to review it. If that tag belongs here -the onus is on the authors of the article to make the scientific argument of intelligent design for the origin of life. MAKE the argument, please, don't just say that ID is a scientific argument- show us, make the argument, and-since this is a compendium of knowlege and not just a discussion, cite those who have made similar arguments, name those who have given the lectures, written the books.I don't stand on ceremony about peer review, but there has to be more to it than what is written here so far. If there really is nothing deeper than what is already written here, then ... Nancy Sculerati 15:42, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Nancy, you and the other biologists here are, I think, ignoring the quite obvious point, which I have made over and over again, that the primary critics of ID are biologists. Maybe not you, but some other biologists. Earlier, I gave links to articles by E. O. Wilson and Richard Dawkins which criticized ID. I take it that (those) biologists are experts about those criticisms. This is apart from any argument that says ID is a theory (or doctrine) about speciation or about the origin of life (although I believe it claims to be both). Moreover, we can say that those biologists are experts about those criticisms regardless of the stance we take on the question whether ID is science. I certainly don't assume that it is; it doesn't matter whether or not it is.

Nancy, when you say, "we have no training or expertise to judge this article anymore than we would have the expertise to judge another philosophy or religion article," if by "we" you mean "all biologists," I believe you are mistaken. There are other biologists who do care about ID enough to refute it, such as Wilson and Dawkins, and many others, who give scientific (not philosophical or religious) testimony as necessary before committees that examine the question whether ID is science, or credible, or worthy of being taught. By the way, biologists per se are not competent to approve any religious or philosophical claims that are made in the article. They are competent to review the biological claims and whatever claims are made about their own criticisms of ID. So, probably, the Biology Workgroup should not be the approving workgroup for this article; but they can keep it from being approved, I'd say.

For biologists to deny that ID belongs in the Biology Workgroup would be like philosophers denying that an article about Ayn Rand belongs in the Philosophy Workgroup. Philosophers, if they know about her, generally have great contempt for Rand, and would not want to be associated with an article about her; but she was writing about their field, and some philosophers nevertheless do have some criticisms of her (not often published, but nevertheless quite common). They are, therefore, experts at the very least about how they respond to her--which is a crucial part of the article, without which the article would not be neutral.

This article needs scientific review, precisely because it is about a controversial doctrine that purports to be scientific. If not the Biology Workgroup, then we will have to create another workgroup, such as "Non-mainstream Science." --Larry Sanger 11:42, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

Further on the "proper workgroup" issue. I wrote:

I'm sorry, but I'm still confused. David, are you suggesting that we not have an article about intelligent design at all? If you agree that it's all right that we have one, then how do you think the article should be improved? --Larry Sanger 08:15, 23 May 2007 (CDT)

David Tribe answered:

Larry my position is that it will inevitably attempt to include much discussion that will fail to meet ethical criteria of professional scientists. Already at least two editors in that group have stated that it will not fit. This was overridden. We are thus faced with the unpleasant task of ensuring what is written is consistent with professional biology. A simple solution is to take it out of that category. While it's under Biology it must be based on evidence about the natural world that has meet peer review criticism. The onus of those who wish to discuss it is to provide that basis. Its a tough ask. The same, less difficult actually, applies to the argument that HIV does not cause AIDS, and several other controversies. I have no problems with a CZ article on ID but if its categorised as natural science it has to meet certain demanding critical standards. In math it would have to meet the math editors standard. It might fit with History, and Current Events. David Tribe 18:18, 25 May 2007 (CDT)

Thanks for clarifying. Now I know where we disagree: you believe that all articles under Biology "must be based on evidence about the natural world that has meet peer review criticism." This implies that Biology will not manage (or co-manage) any articles that concern discredited theories. But this is wrong. Are you saying that Biology will not have articles about spontaneous generation? That no longer meets peer review criticism, I take it. But surely we can agree that that doesn't matter; Biology should still manage that article. Similarly, ID claims to have a theory of speciation and the origin of life; biologists (including many if not all the really famous ones) attack such claims; surely that's enough for Biology to co-manage the article.

You also say that "if it [i.e., ID] is "categorised as natural science" then "it has to meet certain demanding critical standards." But to say that Biology is managing this article does not mean that it is categorized as science. Logically it follows that Biology has crucial input--enough to stop an article from being approved--on articles about topics that biologists deny are natural science.

Look, if after all of these arguments, the Biologists are all uniformly against including it in the Biology Workgroup, because they think that whatever topics they manage must "meet certain demanding critical standards," then, along with spontaneous generation, I'll (a) remove the workgroup assignment, and (b) forbid you from preventing this article from being approved, even when it makes misleading claims about biology. Deal? --Larry Sanger 12:07, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

Need for full and unbiased disclosure of biological evidence

No Larry you do not phrase my position accurately. It is this, that the intelligent design article still need to have an accurate an umbiased statement of the relevant facts and evidence from modern biology related to the claims that are made, and that this provision of a factual basis should be fair and balanced as far as the full scope in terms of empirical support for its claims, and should include a full and frank, unbiased survey of peer-reviewed professsionally scrutinised evidence. David Tribe 00:11, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Whether of not the article is in the biology workgroup will not remove this ethical obligation upon CZ, and hopefully the article will reflect these intellual standards. Nor does a lack of a biology category will it be an impediment for expression of this advice from biology authors. Similarly, although your proposal about "spontaneous generation" is ill advised, in my judgment ,neither will it change the ethical obligations of CZ. In any case, the biology workgroup will be able to approve an article that attempts to present "spont gen" accurately as a fruitless hypothesis, as it could with ID. I'm assuming that the history group would not try to present "spont.generation" with the same rather unusual interpetation of neutrality that ID seems to be recieving.

That is, an unbiased, neutral treatment of spontaneous generation will factually and honestly present it right from the start as a concept with feeble empirical support. It will a great pity if ID is not treated in such an unbiased objective fashion, and enormously damaging to Citizendium's reputation. David Tribe 00:44, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

P.S. We might re-assign spontaneous generation exclusively to the History Workgroup. --Larry Sanger 12:10, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

I don't want to ignore your question, and I have focused and expanded my answer (from the forums) here. If the authors of ID article actually present "Intelligent Design" as a scientific argument concerning life, then certainly the Biology (AKA "Life Science") editors can vet the article- meaning that argument. It is not a scientific proposal at the moment but an axiomatic one, and whether that is Religion or Philosophy, I do not know. I can't follow it and I can assure you, at this point, it's not science. Please do not assume that ID is something that biologists who do not have specific outside political and religious interests know about- we don't, they don't. Is it up to us to learn about it because -reportedly- its proponents say that it is science? Is it up to us to write about it so that its proponents can point to this article as another example of the "controversy" in science over their scientific theory? If it is a scientific theory we can write about it, I think that is what David Tribe is saying, but it is not up to scientists to try to dress it up as one when it is not science. That is not ethical. It is also not ethical for a scientist to pretend to discuss a religious view as if it is science. Sure, nobody could dress it up better with the trappings of technology and science than somebody like David Tribe- who is an expert in the evolution of micro-organisms. But ID -as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with evolution at all. Looking at what is written here -including all the versions, I am sure it is not Biology, I know that it is not within the purview of Biology to approve any more than articles on "Noah" or "Sarah" or any other article in religion- all of which are likely to include some concept that is at odds with modern science. The fact that Biologists are not known to be fond of religious explanations for creation, life, and death is not the reason that they are not editors for those articles. Biology lends them no expertise to vet religious articles, that's the reason. Where scientists have expertise, they do vet subjects that they are not fond of, something like "The History of Eugenics" even at its most hateful is still Health Science. The charge that ID is not being accepted as something that the Biology Workgroup can handle because Biologists "don't like it" is not true. Physicians don't like their history in forced sterilization, but they know about it - and even if an individual physician did not, he or she could understand exactly what those operations are and can analyse an account of them if a detailed report was submitted. References would have to be consulted if this was not a particular area of specialty, but still - any competent well-educated physician could do so given enough time and a library's resources. Bear with me, please. Similarly, a neurosurgeon may have never done a frontal lobotomy, and may have never seen one, but an account of that operation is easily followed by any modern neurosurgeon- none of whom are likely to enjoy their profession's past association with it. And so, distasteful or not- the article "Frontal lobotomy" is another health science article legitimately vetted by that workgroup. But there are famous neurosurgeons who have an interest in history, and this group includes neurosurgeons who have contributed to the fields of history and archeology, and their expertise does not extend to all competent neurosurgeons. Because there are neurosurgeons who have translated ancient manuscripts written in heiroglyphics (and there are) , it is not true that therefore any respectable neurosurgeon can be expected to analyze an ancient Eqyptian papyrus, or, say in Citizendium, be expected to approve an article in archeology because it includes vague mention of the trephining of skulls. The observation that there are individual academic and practicing neurosurgeons who specialize in such history and have additional expertise in archeology is not a meaningful observation in terms of the limits of expertise in the health sciences workgroup. A biologist cannot say much about ID. Not what's written there now on this article. But there is almost nothing about the idea written there at all. It is true that certain individual biologists are famous for their criticisms of ID, (thank you for the references) but the biologists that have been named are also professional philosophers, and are as least as well known for their philosophical writings and teaching as they are for their biological research. Of course, should a biologist who has a primary interest in religion, and recognized expertise in that field - such as Richard Dawkins whose devotion to atheism is a form of primary interest in religion, or a biologist (or set of them) who have a primary interest in the philosophy of science, join us, then it could certainly be up to them to choose to vet this article and others that fall into the religion and philosophy workgroups. We have editors in other workgroups who are experts in interdisciplinary subjects and choose to do just that. Again, if Dr.X is an expert in religion (theological arguments) and in biology and qualifies as a member of both workgroups that does not in any way make each of those workgroups competent to judge the accuracy and quality of articles that fall in other camp, no matter that an individual editor has expertise in more than one field. We chose not have an interdisciplinary category of workgroups and that -I think was a good decision. However, experts are often experts in interdisciplinary fields, and the fact that their initial training was in, say, biology, or that they have careers as research biologists does not mean that research biologists or PH D level education in biology includes a thorough grounding in the philosophy of science and religious conflicts with science, such that any expert in biology is qualified to review topics in religion that offer views on classic and modern arguments for deism, and atheism. So again- to your repeated point about the critics of ID being biologists, I say it is not really as Biologists that they may understand ID, they follow the explanations of ID (as best as I can tell) because they are expert theologians and philosophers- fully at home with the "watchmaker". The criticisms that come out of their mouths to the congressmen may be in the language of biology, but their intake of this subject - ID- is likely in the same philosophical mindset that allows -Richard Dawkins say- to also write endlessly about religious ideation. I do not speak that language and no normal card carrying biologist does - unless they have made a special effort to be involved in the philosophy of science or in theology. Those scientists who read philosophy and religion extensively know these references, but not because they are scientists, but because they have philosophical and metaphysical interests that are related to science. That is very different from the situation with "Spontaneous generation". That belief and the history of how it was debunked, is taught to every biologist as a matter of course in the learning of biology. Theological arguments are not, I assure you. So, in summary- IF this is science having to do with life, the life scientist will be able to understand it if it is written up completely enough to present its thesis. I have outlined a basic list of needed information on the ID's article's talk page that, once addressed in the article by including that information in a scholarly fashion, should make clear whether or not biology can offer any real expertise here. Nancy Sculerati 10:52, 28 May 2007 (CDT)
Nancy, I realize you probably have better things to do than read through publications by people pushing ID, but you might consider reading at least the one article I link to below (under "Intelligent design publications") that was published—controversially—in a peer-reviewed biology journal. At least you'll have an idea of how close their research comes to real biology. (And you can justify the slumming because it's from a real journal!) —Eric Winesett 15:57, 28 May 2007 (CDT)

I did read it - right after you put down that link. It is not Biology, except as window-dressing of lots of terms and irrelevant arguments. There are no ideas in it that make sense to me as science - it does not contain a coherent argument (to me anyway) that either proves intelligent design or sets up an approach to proof. Perhaps a sympathizer or proponent can translate it into plain language and show me that I am wrong. When I read through it, it comes right back to "well, only divine intent can fully explain everything". That has nothing to do with Biology. The interpretation of the significance of natural selection and the known physiological mechanisms for the determination of form in embryology just doesn't reflect an accurate understanding of biology, but so what?. It doesn't matter one way or the other, because there is no proof or approach to a proof of intelligent design. The evolution stuff is just a red herring. A scientific argument in favor of intelligent design is what is needed. I didn't find it there. If some one else can, and can explain it to me- I will accept it. I am no 24 karat gold scientist, maybe it's me. But what I read is "Evolution can't explain everything..." followed by a lot of confusing arguments that are always beside the point and always use the maximum number of syllables and terms. The point is - even if one explanation for something in science isn't right, even if if that is granted, it does not prove in any scientific way that a supernatural intelligence, or a divine designer, is therefore established. If theory A is accepted as accounting for X in science, arguing that Theory A is not watertight in all aspects- even if done properly- does nothing to prove a totally unrelated Theory Z. That is not science, it's not even logic as I know it. I might prove to you that you can't take a taxi to Philadelphia, that doesn't mean you can go by boat. Maybe thos article is saying something else and I'm not reading it right, but that's what I read there (twice), a poorly made and confusing argument against something that has nothing to do with proving the existance of something else. That is not a scientific argument no matter how many scientific terms are crammed into it. Nancy Sculerati 16:19, 28 May 2007 (CDT) P.S. Even if evolutionary theory is 100% correct, there still can be God and there still can be an intelligent designer. A designer that intelligent is operating on a level we can't imagine, it can all be one thing. But whatever the truth is, the arguments made in favor of ID that I have seen are not science. Nancy Sculerati 19:05, 28 May 2007 (CDT)

The problem I have with this claimed ID aricle in the peer reviewed lit is there was no summary statement about what objective evidence about biology it presented. We need clear statemements about evidence, and these are not served by imputations of conspiracies against the authors. In fact the latter raises questions as to why the former at not forthcoming David Tribe 00:48, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Scientific Participation

Nancy, I think the reason Larry et. al. would like to get you to participate in this article on some level is to address science where it is warped to push an agenda. But I think it's important for academics and scientists to participate in this discussion to help refute the claim that there is a conspiracy of some sort to suppress ID in schools. I welcome any edits to the section I just added to refute the claim of conspiracy against ID. Will Nesbitt 19:21, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

I don't know enough about this to make an edit. I tried (see above-mountain ranges), just working within the text- and I apparently made errors. If you have any books written by the proponents of intelligent design, perhaps you could quote the arguments made in support of intelligent design. Will, I am personally sympathetic to you- all I can find on medline and my sources are rebuttals to the idea that natural selection is disproved if all intermediate structures are not completely functional in the same way as is already given here in the article, and has been cited above here on the talk page. Can you find more complete explanations of what irreducible complexity means? Or an example of some kind that supports ID - a detailed example? Quote somebody and give the reference. Nancy Sculerati 19:32, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Nancy, I appreciate you bearing with me and I hope that extruding this article hasn't been too painful to this point. If you can't tell, on a personal level I identify more with the scientists and less with the proponents in many ways. Unfortunately, I'm just an ID sympathizer and not an ID proponent, so I can't provide you the sources we are all seeking. (My resources are probably more limited than yours.)

If an opponent said this he'd get pilloried, but hopefully I have a little more latitude when I state most proponents of ID are not scientists and many ID proponents do not really think about this topic rationally or from a informed position. I think my little role (which I've probably over-stepped) is just to keep the scientists from accidentally saying to the proponents, "You're stupid and wrong." I think the article's theme --- I know scientists don't have themes, but my background is as a writer not as a scientist --- should be "you might be right, but there is no evidence for it". As long as we take that tact, you can educate people without inflaming them. Will Nesbitt 19:52, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

You can't educate people without information. If a person is interested in bringing this up on Citizendium, then I asume they are interested enough to purchase the books, and read them, and write about them. Nancy Sculerati 20:21, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

Conjecture and personal opinion

The newly added section "Problems with the charge of scientific conspiracy against intelligent design" is simply conjecture and personal opinion. While I would wish it were true, I would like to think that scientists are all so high minded. I am certainly skeptical. The real truth is probably somewhere between. I doubt there's an organized conspiracy, but there certainly is a lot of hostility. At any rate, the section is not encyclopedic. I'm tempted to remove it, but will wait for discussion. David L Green 21:25, 26 May 2007 (CDT)

It certainly won't hurt my feelings if it is pulled. I inserted it as a starting point because I think it's germaine to the subject and this charge should be addressed in some way. I don't know where to find a source to support this, simply because the charge is so ridiculous, it's difficult to find a rebuttal. Will Nesbitt 08:33, 27 May 2007 (CDT)
David, I see that that paragraph has been removed. I'm not sure that my opinion/conjecture is the answer, but I think there should be something to address both the charge of a conspiracy against ID and the general hostility against ID. To leave these subjects unaddressed would imply (to the hard-core believers) that we are a part of that conspiracy. Will Nesbitt 08:44, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

The point about where ideas have come from, and also where they circulate, is germane to the comments made above and also to Nancy's reply to myself and Robert Tito. Whereas the underlying philosophical basis of modern science is that the provenance of ideas is irrelevant [and what matters is the argument and associated proof], in other contexts it is actually central. This is the difference between science and religion, for example. It is also a major sociological difference: why are these ideas about ID not circulating in Europe? The reason lies clearly in their modern American origin, alongside the absence in Europe of particular religious groups acting with political intent. The very thought that any Church could even try to dictate the content of science teaching in European schools is absolutely unacceptable to the Continent which experienced the Reformation. This has nothing to do with science and everything to do with history and sociology. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:34, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

"This has nothing to do with science and everything to do with history and sociology." Which makes it completely irrelevant to the present article, and relevant to intelligent design movement. --Larry Sanger 10:53, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

I wrote the above paragraph in relation to the section about scientific conspiracy. If you make sure that the article has no claims of an historical or sociological nature, then my comment is partially-relevant [rather than irrelevant] and the issues should be covered by the Intelligent Design Movement, with appropriate linkages to that article. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 12:38, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

Fair play Martin, point taken. --Larry Sanger 13:38, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

Questions we are disagreeing about?

All--I think we need to decide what specific questions need to be decided, and make some decisions, or else we are going to continue to waste enormous amounts of time. The one question that I know we need to decide--finally--upon is whether the article belongs in the Biology Workgroup. What are some others such that, by answering them, we can reduce some of the needless controversy surrounding this article? --Larry Sanger 10:51, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

As a reader, here are things that I would like to know:
  • When was the term "intelligent design" first used to describe this idea? Who used it?
  • What are the major works in publication that are considered by experts in ID to be important?
  • What do these works say, in detail, concerning how life was designed or came about?
  • Who has claimed that ID is science? Actual names and quotes please.
  • What are the scientific publications (even if they are self-published) of ID?
  • What do these contain? Detailed summaries, with quotes.
  • How does "intelligent design" view the findings of molecular biology? (added after David Tribe's comment -below Nancy Sculerati 09:25, 29 May 2007 (CDT))

Nancy Sculerati 11:03, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

I'd add How does ID reconcile with modern knowledge of biology and genetics, and with the ability of genetics to provide mechanistic explanations about the evolutionary routes to "intelligent design? David Tribe 00:57, 29 May 2007 (CDT) I'll add how I understand the significance of that question to the list, because it is important. Nancy Sculerati 09:24, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear. That's a useful list (and I'd like answers to all of those questions, too), but that's not what I meant. I meant: what questions, in particular, are we disagreeing about? Another question is: do nonspecialists have the right to edit the article? I think the answer to this question is: "Obviously yes. Why should it be different for this article? Because it's controversial? That makes no difference: we have no policy that says that only experts may edit any class of articles--even the class of approved articles."

Any other questions that we are disagreeing about? --Larry Sanger 11:15, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

My question is, Who in the religion workgroup is truly expert enough to approve this article? and if no one, why is everyone wasting so much time here? Don't be baited into wasting your energies. The article is still poor, in my opinion, and will continue to be until people actually read "Books by Intelligent Design proponents" and cite them rather than regulating the book titles to a footnote! ---Stephen Ewen 13:34, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

Still not the sort of question I meant, Steve...I've changed the section title to make it clearer. --Larry Sanger 13:37, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

I think what I am saying is there is a dead end here until folk really want to take some weeks to read ID books. And this is still an unapprovable article, so why bother? I still think this version has been the best so far. ---Stephen Ewen 13:34, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

Larry, I think this fits into your question. There seems to be disagreement about the ratio of ID description/explanation to mainstream criticism of ID. My thoughts: Obviously we don't want to give undue weight to a fringe "theory". We don't need to even mention ID in the evolution article, for example, since any mention at all in an article of a couple thousand words would be undue weight. However, ID is the subject of this article; it makes no sense to overwhelm this article with criticism. 99.99 percent of the (eventual) scientific articles on Citizendium will assume evolution; doesn't that shift the balance enough toward the mainstream? —Eric Winesett 01:41, 28 May 2007 (CDT)

in approaching religious topics the editors should not and do not decide what God really intended or how He created the universe. We just report what happened in this world. Richard Jensen 00:00, 29 May 2007 (CDT)

Intelligent design publications

Okay, I took the initiative to find a listing of publications concerning intelligent design. (But honestly it didn't take much initiative; I found them in about two minutes.) The Center for Science & Culture, which is part of the Discovery Institute has a page listing what they call "Scientific Research and Scholarship." On that page, the first article under the science category is "an annotated bibliography of technical publications of various kinds that support, develop or apply the theory of intelligent design."

Also of interest might be the article "Intelligent Design in Biology: the Current Situation and Future Prospects," linked from the main research page under two different headings. It's not a technical paper, but might give an idea of where the IDers see themselves in relation to the mainstream. Lastly, there is the full text of the first (and still only?) ID article published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

So hold your noses and dig in! :-) --Eric Winesett 22:12, 27 May 2007 (CDT)

How about Darwin's blackbox? Yi Zhe Wu 22:48, 27 May 2007 (CDT)
Yes, Behe's Darwin's Black Box is in the annotated bibliography. There's much more on the site than the few I mentioned above. —Eric Winesett 01:21, 28 May 2007 (CDT)

The present lead

The present lead seems in key respects to be biased, illogical and inconsistent. The first sentence declares ID as a religious theory, making any subsequent attempt to analyse the case in objective scientific terms pointless. The claim is however not one used by serious proponents, and placing it here suggests that this article has been written by people who have not attempted to give the ID case careful consideration but instead are responding in a knee jerk fashion to what they imagine the case to be. The lead expresses clearly and overtly the conclusions and biases of the editors and authors; it also expresses arguments of a form that I would certainly wish to dissassociate myself from; most importantly the lead apparently exists to discredit ID. 1)uses argument by authority (citing NAS); 2) double standards (using as a key argument to discredit the criterion of falsifiability which is an acknowledged problem with the theory of natural selection) 3) a strawman caricature of ID theory 4) argument by denigration of proponents 5) argument by attempted presentation of ID theory in an incoherent and illogical manner. Gareth Leng 04:33, 31 May 2007 (CDT) My biggest problem therefore is that the lead makes a very strong case indeed that the critics of ID don't deserve to be listened to. This is an issue of neutrality and scholarship here, the lead is not acceptable at all.Gareth Leng 04:33, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Please fix it. Best would be to use actual references, as asked for in plan for article (see section before this one). Or- perhaps add bullet points to plan for article, if it can't be fixed so easily. I ask as approvals editor- as a general nudge towards getting this article into a state where editors in Philosophy (including philosophy of science) and editors in religion can be sought. Nancy Sculerati 07:17, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Am tied up for a few days I'm afraid. My preferred course would be to revert to the bare lead - Larry's on May 25 and freeze discussion on the lead until the rest of the article is done. I'll be able to do something more constructive next week.Gareth Leng 08:11, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

I've been too busy over the last few days to make any meaningful contributions, but I did want to pipe up just to say that I wholeheartedly approve of the direction this article is taking. Will Nesbitt 19:26, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

  • Reconcilliation with knowledge of evolution of physiological adaptations. The huge literature on evolutionary explanations for design need to be reviewed and the proposed ID interpretation reconcilled to the body of knowledge. These need development and a citation list.David Tribe 22:28, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Stanley Miller

Why has nobody mentioned the classical eperiments performed by Stanley Miller in 1953 where he mixed simple atmospheric gasses, water and used sparks to recreate early earth. Even though the real corcumstances were more complex these simple compounds formed aminoacids, and waiting for some time nearly all known aminoacids were formed. As should be known aminoacids an sich can pass over information. If transcribed DNA results in a specific protein (or ordering of aminoacids) the reverse is valid as well. It seems the only designer needed there was the creator of the experiment, not some black boxed unit. If a simple experiment like this leads to complex organic molecules much of the reasoning that lead to intelligent design becomes invalid and unnecessary. Robert Tito |  Talk  21:25, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

You are right, Rob, and it is straightforward to at least discuss the possible ways that such compounds could be selected out in lipid bilayers to begin cells. (see Evolution of cells. But the topic here is NOT the origin of life, it is this Intelligent design, it's a report on a body of thought not on what the thought is about. Nancy Sculerati 21:28, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
Since intelligent design is about how life can exist in this complex form it is the question about the origin of life, nothing less nothing more. As such the experiments of Miller should be mentioned. This is the weak part of this so-called intelligent design - as Miller showed there is no need to demand intelligence, only simple chemicals. The first cell like objects were drops of water - see the evolution (yes naughty word here) of the eye of the octopus. Robert Tito |  Talk  21:47, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
So, put it in. Nancy Sculerati 21:53, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

The failed experiment

The book The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution by Wilder-Smith shows a failed experiment to simulate evolution using computers. Should that be included here or in the evolution article? Yi Zhe Wu 21:33, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Probably neither, according to your description. The failure of an evolution simulation is not an argument for intelligent design. Unless there is more to the book than you describe (i.e. argument in support of ID), it doesn't seem pertinent to this article. As far as the evolution article is concerned, it's such a big topic that the book would have to be very significant in the field for it to be mentioned. IMHO. --Eric Winesett 21:58, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
What has a flunky computer program to do with real life evolution? To my best knowledge it tells more about the programmer than the result. Read about the experiments of Miller, they were done with materials from earth, not some compiler on a computer. Robert Tito |  Talk  22:05, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Random mutations

There are numerous mechanism for generating natural variablity that are not "random". DNA Micro-satellites in promoters are one example, as are other targetted recombination mechanisms. There is thus no requirement for natural genetic variation to be random. Furthermore, the first paragrah is incoherent, especially the statement about Darwinism. What is intended is just not clear. David Tribe 22:53, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Agree about the first para, as I've said above. I think we need to make clearer what the ID people mean by words like random and undirected. I think that they are saying that there must be some mechanism by which beneficial mutations/recombinations are favoured other than by selection for reproductive success - i.e. I think they are saying that it is too improbable that beneficial modifications arise by random mutation and chance recombination (Haldane's paradox etc), so they conclude that there has to be some mechanism that means that beneficial mutations are much more likely to occur than expected by chance. (I think this is what they are saying anyway).i.e. design works through facilitating "progress" in evolution by some undefined mechanism.Gareth Leng 11:31, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Isn't the bulk of the under the heading Modern Evolutionary Synthesis really Criticism of Intelligent Design and as such belong under that heading? Will Nesbitt 06:26, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Didn't intend it as criticism of ID, just as information about the alternative (conventional) view, information that is needed to understand how ID differs from the conventional view. At present I think the article is unbalanced in not presenting the ID theory fully enough, not because there's too much on the other side. That's not intentional as far as I'm concerned, just inevitable at this stage as frankly its easier to write accurately about something that you're confident you understand properly than to write about something youre less sure you've got right. But I will have a go at expressing the ID case more fully once I feel confident enough about exactly what the arguments are; I don't want to be putting up a "strawman" case but the best case that can be made. Gareth Leng 11:19, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

ID is a theory again?

After all the debate about what to call ID to avoid the misuse of the term "theory," it was quietly turned back into a theory on May 28. The fact that ID is called a theory was one of the points brought up in the recent "Citizendium is crap" blog post. --Eric Winesett 12:11, 4 June 2007 (CDT)

I agree: the term is not in accordance with CZ neutrality policy, either. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 13:00, 4 June 2007 (CDT)

I also agree, but please...let's not let silly, uninformed blog posts, like that one, have any bearing at all on what we do here. --Larry Sanger 13:12, 4 June 2007 (CDT)

Sure, Larry, I don't think we should do everything based on what bloggers say (although that strategy is apparently improving network TV). My point is that the reason we took it out in the first place is that Citizens were afraid calling ID "theory" would be a point of criticism, and they were right. --Eric Winesett 12:35, 5 June 2007 (CDT)

ID needs to also be reconciled, without biasing the evidence, with its failure to explain well documented evidence of evolution

Briefly the evidence against ID has to be presented and discussed without bias. This will include:

  • How does ID reconcile with the body of knowledge and factual evidence (eg as contained in gene databases and DNA sequences of whole genomes, the general topic of phylogenetics) about mechanisms and pathways by which function (=physiological design)has evolved, and the weight of evidence about how apparent design is explained by natural selection. For instance, the repeated use of homologous regulatory proteins in numerous different contexts, repeated use of "two-component" sensor systems, repeated use of signalling compounds by different organisms for different functions. An example is the use of two-component sensor circuits to contract cellular clocks. This whole topic could be called comparative molecular physiology.David Tribe 00:42, 4 June 2007 (CDT)
  • Recruitment of bacterial genes ( eg RAG1) in the immune system of fishes, later inherited by humans, and other examples inter species, inter genus and even inter kingdom gene movement as mechanisms for evolution of design. David Tribe 00:42, 4 June 2007 (CDT)
  • Endosymbiosis as a mechanism for evolution of design, as evidenced by chloroplasts and mitochondria, and a discussion of the relative merits of ID and natural selection as theories to explain these observed features of design. David Tribe 00:45, 4 June 2007 (CDT)
I know that Gareth Leng is working on deciphering Dembski from a scientific perspective. It will take time. There is so very much to do on CZ and so very little being done at the moment. Why not work on making those points in an evolution article? As far as I can see, there is no need to prove that evolution is a viable theory. Seriously, having an excellent article on natural selection and topics in evolution is an asset, and can always be referred to here. I suggest making your case in another article - perhaps a Biology workgroup article entitled something that indicates its position in terms of perceived criticisms from ID. Nancy Sculerati 13:34, 4 June 2007 (CDT)

Plan for article

Authors: Please add bullet points as needed. Responses best put in article. If do not have time or inclination to do so, leave response below bullet point. Authors other than yourself encouraged to incorporate these into article. Editing will be ongoing to keep plan current- but no comments will be erased-look through this version of this page to see earlier plans or look at history tab..

  • When was the term "intelligent design" first used to describe this idea? Who used it?
I think Paley may have used something close, ("...The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer... ") (Gareth Leng)
But surely Paley did not present the design argument as a scientific argument. I have little doubt that many philosophers used the word "design" to refer to God's plan before Paley. The word doesn't matter; what matters is when the device of design was put into the form of an alleged scientific theory. --Larry Sanger 10:00, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
Regarding intelligent design as specifically an argument against evolution, the same Witt article mentioned below cites "F.C. S. Schiller, “Darwinism and Design Argument,” in Schiller, Humanism: Philosophical Essays (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1903), 141. This particular essay was first published in the Contemporary Review in June 1897." They quote: "it will not be possible to rule out the supposition that the process of Evolution may be guided by an intelligent design.” --Eric Winesett 15:23, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
  • When was the term "intelligent design" first used in the modern context as the theory supported by the ID movement? Who used it?
According to "The Origin of Intelligent Design: A brief history of the scientific theory of intelligent design" by Jonathan Witt of the Discovery Institute, Charles Thaxton (a fellow of the Institute - bio here) appropriated the term after hearing a NASA scientist using it (presumably in a different context). This would be some time after 1984, when supporters are said to have been using the terms "creative intelligence, intelligent cause, artificer, and intelligent artificer." As far as I can tell, the earliest relevant use of "intelligent design" and "intelligent designer" in publication was the first edition of the high school textbook Of Pandas and People (1989), which in earlier drafts had used the terms "creationism" and "creator." --Eric Winesett 15:12, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
  • What are the major works in publication that are considered by experts in ID to be important?
The books by Dembski and Behe (added by Gareth Leng)
  1. Behe, Michael J. (1996). Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0743290313. 
  2. Dembski, William A. (1998). The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521678676. 
These are the two that seem to be referenced most often. --Eric Winesett 01:34, 1 June 2007 (CDT)


  • What do these works say, in detail, concerning how life was designed or came about? Use Quotes where possible to support your answer.
ID theory does not address the question of the origin of life, any more than the theory of evolution by natural selection does; you will accordingly find no detailed account of this in ID theory (or in biology). (Added by Gareth Leng) I believe that natural selection does address the origin of life, maybe Darwin didn't but the idea can be used to do so. see Evolution of cells Nancy Sculerati 10:53, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
  • What do these works say in terms of intelligence design as a science of any aspect of life (life meaning living things and the processes that enable them to live)? (quotes)
  • Who has claimed that ID is science? Include anyone with any recognized expertise in any field who has claimed this. Actual names and quotes please.
  • What are the scientific publications (even if they are self-published) of ID?
The first major high profile scientific publication I think was Dembski's monograph published by Cambridge University Press.(added by Gareth Leng)
  • What do these contain? Detailed summaries, with quotes.
It's tough going, need a mathematician/statistician to take a serious look at Dembski's work, it's not a trivial undertaking. Essentially Dembski argues that the concept of specified complexity is an objective way of recognising design in complex systems. Essentially he argues that extremely low probability outcomes (those whose probability of occurrence is of the order of 10(-120) or so) and which have features that imply that they have been or could have been specified in advance, imply directed design. (added by Gareth Leng)
  • How does "intelligent design" view the findings of molecular biology?
ID proponents (Behe notably) embrace molecular biology (he is a biochemist), and the evidence for evolution that it contains, and seek evidence for design in its details.(added by Gareth leng)

I'd like to point out that none of the people who are making a plan for this article are actually editors of the article--since they have decided that the Biology Workgroup is not managing this article. If a Religion Editor who comes along and happens to know something about ID, that person may make a more permanent and binding plan. Until then, whatever plans we make will have to be considered provisional. -- Of course, the biologists may wish to change their minds, so that they actually do have some authority over the article. --Larry Sanger 13:32, 4 June 2007 (CDT)

There is a problem here re the CZ neutrality policy. If the proponents of ID present their ideas as being without religious content, then surely it is intrinsically biased to dismiss this and discuss the ideas solely as a religion? It seems to me that it is the article on the ID movement that is properly part of the religion workgroup, while this, the article on the claims, being claims for a scientific status, needs to be under the editorial control of a science workgroup? I can understand David's wish that the Biology workgroup focus on developing articles in the mainstream, yet these, the controversial articles, are those of highest profile. Perhaps we need a separate, broad-based workgroup to develop and oversee articles that intrinsically and inevitably engage issues of neutrality? Our present structures do not appear to be effectively competent for these articles.Gareth Leng 05:44, 5 June 2007 (CDT)

Another problem is that the current editors show a high level of anxiety about it. It seems impossible to get a full and neutral presentation of what it is, without editors jumping in to offer criticisms (or defenses of what they perceive as its opponent). They cannot wait for the criticism section. I am wondering why the anxiety? And how can a neutral article ever develop in such an environment?
And personally I think it is more of a philosophy of science thing (including religion). After you make your core philosophical choices, the science develops following the same rules. Part of the drive for ID is in response to the number of so-called scientists, who step outside the realm of science to make statements against God (these are allowed in the "scientific" and legal community), but they are really speaking as philosophers and religionists (or anti-religionists) rather than as scientists. Despite the much vaunted conflicts, modern science developed in the very religious environment of Reformation Europe, and continued within "Christian" America. Science itself is impossible without a presumption of order, which came from religion. A neutral article needs to develop this concept. David L Green 08:52, 5 June 2007 (CDT)

"ID proponents have not yet proposed a test and so it is not a scientific theory in this sense (see Scientific method)."

This statement is false. See Ross, Hugh (2006). Creation As Science: A Testable Model Approach to End the Creation/evolution Wars, Navpress. Stephen Ewen 15:35, 4 June 2007 (CDT)

? I don't think that Ross is really an ID proponent. Hugh Ross is the Director of Research at Reasons to Believe. From their website: "As currently formulated, 'intelligent design' is not science," says internationally respected biochemist, Dr. Fazale 'Fuz' Rana. "It is not testable and does not make predictions about future scientific discoveries." Dr. Rana is the Vice President for Science Apologetics at Reasons To Believe and a leading expert in origin of life research. "At Reasons To Believe, our team of scientists has developed a theory for creation that embraces the latest scientific advances. It is fully testable, falsifiable, and successfully predicts the current discoveries in origin of life research."

I haven't read his book but I've chased the web site of Reasons to Believe and frankly I can't find anything that looks like much of an argument.

I'm really having problems in seeing anything in the way of arguments that don't involve a misunderstanding of the biology... I can fully see David's reservations in that presenting the arguments as given for ID in a way that is also biologically sound is hard - except for the information theory type arguments, where the question at least to me seems to be valid and interesting and wholly worthy - i.e. it seems wholly reasonable to me to discuss in theoretical terms how you might objectively try to establish whether a structure has evolved by natural selection, or whether there must have been designed - in other words, is it possible to tell whether something has been designed by an intelligence or has evolved naturally? Whether the arguments advanced so far have any real merit is another issue, but the question is fine.

ID advocates would say "yes" to your question, but it is a philosophy of science debate over conceptions of materialism, teleology, discourse control, etc.. They'd also say that science already allows for inferring intelligence, e.g., forensic science, archeology, cryptology, etc., but that discourse control among biologists and others have disallowed such things; thus, a Khunian shift is needed. But I don't think the present situation really allows any of this sort of thing to be developed, since this topic has been narrowly contorted into biology (and cannot be contorted to fit into religion or philosophy or any other one group without inherently producing a very messed up article).
But as one who over the past 15 years or so has probably read more on the topic of ID than anyone on the wiki right now, I think there are going to continue to be problems all over this article--the worst one right now simply being that it is mostly still explained through the lenses of ID critics rather than on its own terms. But I think it is simply untenable to expect anything more under the present circumstance is. This article thus far is better as Criticisms of Intelligent Design (biology), which I suggest would be an exceedingly better use of effort given the present situation. Honestly, I think articles of the type like Intelligent Design are pretty hopeless unless they be given to something like a Special Topics Workgroup, sub-branch: published experts on ID.
As for Ross, although I have read only one book from him I have heard him speak a dozen or more times including twice on the Model book. Ross (stupidly, I think) "packages" his model as "The RTB Model" (you know, the old idea of naming something you think you've discovered after yourself) to test not only ID, but various flavors of creationism and evolution in the book.
In case you're wondering: no, I am not a staunch ID supporter or adherent. Do I believe there is an intelligent being behind the universe? You sure bet I do.
As for me working much on this article, the only way I am really interested is if it is blanked, and the current content moved to Criticisms of Intelligent Design (biology), where I think most of it really belongs.
Stephen Ewen 12:20, 5 June 2007 (CDT)
I have no interest in this article being reserected as biology as it is currently totally unsatisfactory as biology. The concept diverting our limited resources to criticisms of a failed hypothesis is pretty dispiriting - we should be presenting hypotheses and theories that have high merit and explaining their features dispassionately and clearly. If it is blanked out here why does it have to appear in biology? Its not a biology topic.David Tribe 09:12, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

I have to say that there are problems with the criticisms as expressed. I'm trying to put myself into the viewpoint of an ID proponent, and in that mode, the account of the flagellum is largely uncontroversial. The ID movement does not argue with the facts of the molecular biology, these can be taken therefore as common ground to both ID explanations and the alternative. Nor does ID argue with evolution per se, the only significant point of difference is that ID draws the conclusion that this evolution must have been directed, that something more than natural selection is involved.

They draw this conclusion because of the difficulty in understanding how natural selection could have produced a structure that requires several things to have evolved simultaneously in the apparent absence of selection pressure - they infer the absence of selection pressure from the fact that only the final assembled version has any adaptive functionality.

The alternative and conventional explanations are not proved, there are speculative explanations - several very different possible explanations. It is the existence of possible explanations that satisfuies biologists that ID is unneccessary - not proof that any one of these explanations is in fact true.

What are those explanations? Broadly these include 1) that the individual components evolved under different selection pressures to serve different functional roles, and that flagellar motility is an emergent behaviour that arose relatively late in evolution after the separate components had evolved.

2) that the components indeed evolved under selection pressure for flagellar motility, producing progressively more effective motility of a proto flagellum. As the flagellum evolved, some of these elements became essential for any motility, but by this interpretation, this was not so for the proto flagellum.

We can't distinguish between these because we have no idea what the ancestors of these bacteria were like.

Anyway, I'd suggest that the section on flagella should first give the relevant facts, these facts inform ID theories as much as conventional theories so are intrinsically neutral.Gareth Leng 04:07, 7 June 2007 (CDT)

I noticed you removed my statement that the flagellum is demonstrably not irreducibly complex and commented that it's wrong also. Since a submodule of the flagellum - the secretion complex, functions in secretion per se, it IS not irreducibly complex. Further there is other evidence that some parts can be lost and function be preserved. This fits with the concept of irreducibly complex defined in the article from which it was defined. I am therefore confused about your reasoning Gareth and by your claim that this is wrong. Where's the resolution of this? ( I acknowledge that assumptions are made by me, but some assumptions are also need in the contra interpretation) David Tribe

08:34, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

It's wrong because the fact that a submodule has a different function does not mean that the flagellum is not irreducibly complex. The flagellum is irreducibly complex (in ID terms) if removing any one of several of its parts makes it non-functional as a flagellum. Take a brick from a wall, you still have a wall, a room from a house, stll a house or a functional abode, take a tower from a castle, still a castle - these are things that are not irreducibly complex in that they still are functional (though the function is degraded) in simpler forms - so it is easy to see how they can have evolved towrds progressive complexity. The challenge with a structure that is irreducibly complex is to understand how it could have evolved progressively. You are right in that our explanation of how the flagellum has evolved is by first explaining that the submodules could have evolved independently for other functions and then have been assembled. You are wrong only in asserting that this means that the flagellum is not irreducibly complex. In effect what you are proposing here is not a denial of irreducible complexity, but instead how irreducible complexity can be explained in conventional terms.Gareth Leng 11:54, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

Once and again the circle is complete

The article has returned to a criticism about ID proponents rather than intelligent design. Once and again, the article mixes the criticism with the presentation of the idea. There needn't be an obsession with disproving ever possible shred of credibility about ID on this page. Smart people figure things out. Some people will choose ignorance no matter what is written here. This is ballooning into a Wikipedian-style travesty. Will Nesbitt 06:23, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

Will, unbiased representation of flawed ideas does not consist of having large section of descriptions with all reference to their flaws removed. This is overt bias and misleading to the reader. It is biased and non-neutral in the sense of representing falsehood as if it were true. If we have an article on Perpetual motion we would need to say it has never been achieved in the intro. Flawed ideas will intrinsically have the flaws displayed if they are presented neutrally. Which parts of the article are criticisms of ID proponents rather than descriptions of concept flaws ?David Tribe 08:44, 8 June 2007 (CDT) I suspect the problem you mention Will, is intrinsic to scientific method, which works by tearing apart weak hypotheses, and it is unrealistic to have special pleading for suspension of scientific skepticism in this area. David Tribe 09:28, 8 June 2007 (CDT)
Be specific -quote lines that you object to, general complaints are easy to make and not constructive. Nancy Sculerati 08:42, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

THe section on contemporary proponents lies clearly within that category. Such content belongs in the sister article INtelligent Design Movement: what should be discussed here are the ideas, and only the ideas. All of the discussion about peer-review, scientific standing and blah blah are irrelevant to the arguments presented and distort the article. My comments have been made here before, even by Nancy, so it is rather sad to see that the article actually is going around in a circle, as described above. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 09:02, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

I agree and don't. When I inserted this section I did not include any derogatory elements, because I didn't think they belonged here (and thought they were irrelevant; I fully agree with your comments, the merits of the arguments are independent of who makesthem). I did think it necessary to introduce some of the names, particularly Dembski and Behe, because it is their concepts that have defined the basis of ID theory. Most importantly it's necessary to understand that at least some of the proponents a) accept molecular biology and evolution fully, and b) are arguing on the abstract basis of whether it is possible to infer design objectively from a statistical analysis of particular features of the construction of a complex systemGareth Leng 12:20, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

I'm sorry for not being more constructive above. I just didn't see the point of starting up a circular argument again.

It's like a dance. The opening sentence grows to a paragraph, then two, then three. Then the opening becomes part of the article and the cycle starts again. The political aspects of the idea always work their way back into the presentation of the idea. The criticism of the idea is separated from the presentation of the idea, then the criticism works its way back in one sentence at a time. Then it's separated again.

In my opinion, this article is on the wrong track despite the best of intentions of my highly qualified Citizendium colleagues. I think I know the best formula for this article, but thus far my suggestions don't seem to carry much water with our local scientists, and I don't feel passionately enough about the subject to throw myself once more into the breach.

I think the only constructive admonition I can add is that if you work this article back into a scientific proof of why ID is poppycock, you will end up with an outcry of imbalance which will make this article a never-ending circle of debate.

I'm not an ID proponent, and I never was one. I stumbled into the article at Wikipedia and got caught in a crossfire when I found a wholly unbalanced and nearly unreadable article. As a result of trying to help write about this topic on several wikis, I have come to learn a bit more about the so-called science behind ID.

That is to say, I've come to believe there is currently no science supporting ID. However, I still think that ID is an important idea because I have concluded that the universe was intelligentely designed and I should like to see a scientific mind look for evidence or proof of ID. Perhaps this is tilting at windmills.

There's not much more I can add that I haven't said already. My tiny opinion is not that important in this forum and when I at last succumb to attrition, few will note and none will long remember what I have written herein.

Still, I do hope that at some point my more scientific colleagues will see the value of presenting this idea using the formula employed when presenting psuedoscientific mysteries. That formula is: 1.) present the "mystery"; 2.) debunk the obvious hoax; 3.) but leave open the possibility that the idea has merit. This formula is not encyclopedic, but it is also not confrontational.

Of course that formula doesn't convince the hard-cores of anything (but nothing we write ever will convince them of anything) but it does encourage the open-minded to do more research. I'm quite satisified that the curious and open-minded will find the answers they seek somewhere outside this article.

BTW, we deists haven't all died out as the article implies. We're still as vibrant as ever, or depending upon how you look at it, we're still as tiny a minority as ever. I didn't argue about the opening because there is no such thing as bad press. *wink* Will Nesbitt 21:13, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

Well Will by edit the Deist statement in the opening sentence you solve one problem. Thats the more efficient way thank using the talk pages. David Tribe 23:45, 10 June 2007 (CDT)

Religion and Politics

Should we consider removing the Religion and Politics workgroups from this article and reserve them for the Intelligent design movement. That would leave only philosophy for this article. Matt Innis (Talk) 07:23, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

I that is an excellent idea. I think, too, that it is reasonable to start a new article, as Stephen Ewen suggested, that is biology and that is called something like criticism of intelligent design. Meanwhile, this article still lacks from a detailed encyclopedic presentation of intelligent design.Nancy Sculerati 08:21, 8 June 2007 (CDT)
Absolutely right, both of you (on the first point certainly, not sure about the biology criticisms, but see below). The more I look at this, the more I think that it is not the facts of biology that are in dispute here, only their interpretation. So it seems to me that the biological facts can and should be given as common grounds, grounds for either the conventional interpretation or the ID interpretation. ID is not vulnerable to attack on the basis of facts (if it were it would indeed be testable), only on the question of whether the ID interpretation is forced by the facts. The challenge for biologists is to offer plausible explanations for the phenomena that the ID proponents claim can only be explained by hypothesising a designer - this means proposing not simply evolutionary explanations, but explanations accounting for the evolution by mechanisms of natural selection. This is the hard bit. It's just not enough to show evidence that something has evolved, what's needed is to give a plausible explanation of the mechanisms of evolution. In general I think the best that we can do is to indicate the plausibility of natsel explanations for some particular elements - obviously there is no case in which we know the actual path taken through evolution for anything, we can perhaps indicate possible paths, at least in general terms Gareth Leng 12:00, 8 June 2007 (CDT)
I utterly fail to understand how biologists can be experts about criticisms of intelligent design and yet fail to be experts about one important aspect of the intelligent design article itself--namely, the criticisms thereof. --Larry Sanger 09:07, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

That is only true if there actually is a mathematical proof that unless a plausible explanation is available, ID stands. In reality, there is no such proof that has been accepted by mathematicians and it is not incumbent to prove anything about evolution here. That requirement is imposed by the advocates of ID, and that is a separate article. Do you understand ID? Can you explain that proof to us? That is the major issue here -this article needs to present that proof and those ID ideas in detail. Evolution is another article, as is DNA which is up for approval and deperately requires your attention. Nancy Sculerati 12:30, 8 June 2007 (CDT)

A few points:

  • I disagree that this article is appropriately managed only by the Philosophy Workgroup. To say that would be to say that philosophers are the main people who are experts about the topic, which is clearly false. While philosophers do write about it, religious people calling themselves biologists, or who purport to be writing about biology, are the main experts. Most philosophers, like me, have no interest in that whatsoever.
  • It appears there is an inference going on here: it sure as heck ain't biology; but it is biased to call it religion, because they don't call it religion; therefore, it's philosophy! Sorry, but the conclusion doesn't follow.
  • Clearly, in any case, people in the Religion Workgroup are apt to know most about the topic--hence, "religion" belongs here, at the very least.
  • I would agree that the article about the movement is better placed in the Politics Workgroup.
  • In fact, I'm not even sure that Philosophy should be a workgroup at all, because philosophers per se are as expert in this topic as they are in any topic to which they bring their tools to bear--which is to say, they know the philosophical aspects, but not necessarily any others in much detail. Philosophy of Biology studies the subject of life, but I notice that the Philosophy Workgroup is not only not the main workgroup, it isn't even assigned. (Perhaps it should be.) Again, a point I think some of you may not yet understand is that anyone who endorses an article studied by philosophers--the design argument--is not thereby an advocate of "Intelligent Design Theory," purportedly a scientific theory. The idea of converting that old theological argument into science is an innovation, and not one for which philosophers per se are responsible, any more than biologists are. --Larry Sanger 08:57, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

I am surely not a philosopher by any means, in fact some don't even consider me a scientist, but isn't ID the same as the Aristotle/Plato controversy that has been going on since the beginning of modern times and don't we consider them philosophers? Maybe this should be presented in much the same way we would present articles about their ideologies - or at least as an extension of this same ancient debate that has added some modern knowledge (be it misguided or not). Certainly we aren't going to be able to prove anything right or wrong, nor should we try. This is just food for thought in the minds of those who concern themselves with the origins of Life. Now, using this to teach religion in school is certainly not philosophy, but religion and politics. --Matt Innis (Talk) 09:27, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

I'm not sure what you mean by "Aristotle/Plato controversy," but definitely philosophers and theologians have been discussing some version of what they call the Design Argument (or the Teleological Argument) for the existence of God for a very long time. But it is simply incorrect to think that what today goes under the name "Intelligent Design Theory" is nothing more than the most current version of that argument. The most important difference is that IDT is advanced as a scientific theory, and purports to use something like scientific methods, in making its case--the conclusion of which is not that God exists, but that life had some intelligent design. (It is left to philosophers and theologians, presumably, to argue from the premise that life had some intelligent design, to the conclusion that, say, the God of Christianity exists.) The design argument presented is very rarely, if ever, presented as a scientific theory by philosophers. I've never seen or heard of such a presentation, anyway, notwithstanding the fact that there is a philosopher, apparently, among the ID proponents. --Larry Sanger 10:19, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

One of the main problems here is assigning it to any disciplinary workgroup at all, see,945.msg7647.html#msg7647. Stephen Ewen 15:39, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

Leaving this in your hands

I leave this topic and related topics in the able hands of the persons working on them. I've commented enough, perhaps too much, and I have to focus on more consequential matters. --Larry Sanger 10:21, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

Sign me up for that as well. Will Nesbitt 15:08, 9 June 2007 (CDT)

OK I've had a go at expressing the argument for intelligent design from the perspective of its proponents. There is now duplication in the article, but for the moment, have I made the argument reasonably clearly and correctly?Gareth Leng 07:03, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

I have removed the old lead, part of which related to the ID movement article not this, part of which introduced themes not developed in the article (links with Deism) and part of which contained a representation of the ID case that even I recognised as a misrepresentation.Gareth Leng 07:26, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

Gareth, I for one endorse this version. It's clean, straight-forward, unbiased and non-confrontational, but still factual and doesn't concede any points to ridiculousness. Will Nesbitt 08:05, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

This cut..?

I've cut this because it seems to me that this paragraph uses "undirected" in a different sense to that used by ID proponents. ID proponents use undirected as meaning "lacking in a direction" in the sense of lacking a predetermined objective. It's not wrong, far from it, its exactly right, but with my ID hat on I'd say "yes...and what's your point exactly?"

"The basic thesis of intelligent design that 'natural selection is undirected' is open to logical challenge. Natural selection of organism survival is indirectly specific on organism subcomponents, because many features of the subcomponents are determined by genes whose retention is determined by their importance for reproductive success of the organism. Organism survival selects for effective function of the organism sub-components as part of a coherently functioning whole. In any organism, survival places specific and subtle requirements and restrictions on particular components such as enzymes, sensors, organs and systems that interact to generate behavior of living things."Gareth Leng 08:07, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

I made minor edit to the first line. Hopefully you'll approve. I don't think the last paragraph has a place in this article. Will Nesbitt 15:42, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

The Stinger

Bravo! This is a work of both science and art Gareth. I'm quite impressed.

I do have a minor and vague suggestion for your conclusion, so feel free to ignore me. Basically, I think more brevity and more specificity would make for a stronger conclusion. Will Nesbitt 09:43, 19 June 2007 (CDT)


1) The para on US courts I moved to ID movement; here it smacked of argument by authority not argument by reason.

2) The lead I tried to balance an account of ID that I thought propnents would be happy with a proportionate summary of the critical position. Proportionality I think is important here, argument by weight of words won't do.

3) The arguments are fashioned directly rather than by attribution. Although Larry has indicated that one way of avoiding problems is to attribute arguments to others, here I felt this quickly became argument from authority - and engaged discusion about the credentials and stature etc of the relevant parties. I tried instead to express the themes and arguments and make the article a matter of pure reason.

4) there are some difficulties of "level", an appeal to reason is no use if the reason engages in jargon and requires specialist knowledge. Accordingly the hard balance is to express all arguments (on both sides) accurately yet in understandable terms. There are certainly still problems. Gareth Leng 11:26, 19 June 2007 (CDT)


The article states "the requirement that every intermediate form must have a selection advantage beyond the previous form severely limits the possible paths by which evolution might have proceeded". I believe this is technically incorrect, as all sorts of essentially harmless mutations will not be selected out. The intermediate form does not need to have any selection advantage, it is only restricted in that it can not have a selection disadvantage. Cheers! Brian Dean Abramson 11:31, 19 June 2007 (CDT)

Absolutely right Brian, especially if you're talking about "founder effects", but generally I agree that it's the neutral mutations that accumulate in a population that provide the inter-individual variability that is the fuel for rapid evolution. A mutation that is neutral in one context may be beneficial in another (genetic or environmental) context. Thanks; I'll try to modify.Gareth Leng 03:40, 20 June 2007 (CDT)

Hear, Here!

Gareth, my regard for your talents only continues to grow. I've seen countless people attempt to take on this ID article / debate and none has done so with your grace and intelligence. To my mind, the last draft addresses my every concern except one, but I don't think you can help much with that one. My only concern is that I envy your adroit wordsmanship and wish I were able to execute this as flawlessly as you have. The current incarnation is nearly exactly what I would have wished for and what I have tried to argue for.

I would hope that this article will stand as a template for how Citizendium tackles controversial topics. The formula you have so expertly employed is:

Summarize the majority and minority viewpoints without bias. Then summarize the authority position.
Presentation of the Concept
Without bias or degradation, present the "logic" and "facts" behind the concept at issue.
Debunk the Myths
Dismantle the logic of the minority position by exposing facts which may be overlooked or unknown to the minority position.
Concur with the authority position on the basis of known facts. At the same time, acknowledge the possibility that some material facts may yet be unknown. Identify those portions of the argument which are not even debatable. (In this specific case, the existance/non-existance of God has nothing to do with the argument at hand.) In closing, acknowledge the possibility for reasonable people to agree on facts but disagree on conclusions.

My template probably needs an edit or two, but my time is limited. Thank you Gareth. Will Nesbitt 07:29, 20 June 2007 (CDT)

What does "the authority position" mean? Concurring or even seeming to concur with any disputed position is contrary to Neutrality Policy.

I agree that providing general guidelines for articles on controversial topics would be very useful. But our commitment, first and foremost, is to neutrality. Encyclopedia articles should not have conclusions that tell readers what to believe. --Larry Sanger 08:44, 20 June 2007 (CDT)

Interesting question, which points directely to my need to be more specific. Despite what I may have implied above, I agree that it is not productive for this forum to produce findings or draw conclusions.
I am in agreement and understand that Citizendium is not an authority. Citizendium's position is one of neutrality. The "authority" is a source or reference that has exhibited a special expertise in the field being discussed. In this case one of the authorities is U.S. National Academy of Sciences. The authority position is most usually the majority opinion and is always an expert opinion. It is certainly neutral to report the authority opinion. It is also neutral to report the minority opinion.
This is an awkward subject to discuss because what we are discussing is a framework around the issues rather than the issues themselves. Please allow me a second crack at that template and then I'll back off for other editors to comment / ignore me as they see fit.
Summarize the majority and minority viewpoints without bias. Then summarize the expert (called "authority" above) position.
Presentation of the Concept
Without bias or degradation, report the "logic" and "facts" behind the concept at issue.
Debunk the Myths
Report flaws in the logic of the concept position by exposing facts which may be overlooked or unknown.
Report the expert position on the basis of known facts. Report the possibility that some material facts may yet be unknown. Report which portions of the argument which are not even debatable. (In this specific case, the existance/non-existance of God has nothing to do with the argument at hand.) In closing, acknowledge the possibility for reasonable people to agree on facts but disagree on conclusions.
Will Nesbitt 09:10, 20 June 2007 (CDT)

Looking over article, and the old "plan"

I have learned so much from reading this and, for me, anyway, have never read anything that gave me a better understanding. I also thank you, Gareth, for your work here. There are some questions I have, and if you can answer them, they might improve the article. I went back to the old plan here on the talk page, written when I (anyway) really had no idea what ID was about. Thanks to you, I now do- but remain confused on some points. It may be that you don’t have the information but some one else does. It may be that these questions are besides the point- if so, please tell me so- along with why. It seems that ID harks back to deist arguments- and was first presented as a scientific (or mathematical, for my purposes I’m willing to look at both as being roughly equivalent.) by Dembski. The article makes clear that Dembski’s mathematics are not amenable to presentation at CZ level, but gives examples- like the arrow and target, to explain them. What explains the lack of the National Foundation’s acceptance of this as science (mathematics)? The quote from that organization talks about testability. Have there been any attempts to use Dembski’s statistical analysis to try to distinguish between objects known to be designed and known to be “natural”? What about his statistics, or ideas are seen as “untestable”? The other main question goes to the change from deist arguments (I am not sure if these are classed as theology or philosophy or both) to science. Does Dembski regard his work as having its roots in Paley, for example, or not? Where does he see his ideas as having arisen? Anyway, you have made the notions of irreducucible complexity and specified complexity meaningful. Again, it seems to me that both might be testable on a statistical basis, and I am surprised that they have not been field tested on say- random signals v. coded signals, or ancient artifacts v. debris. Maybe that just shows my own mathematical limitations. Nancy Sculerati 08:56, 20 June 2007 (CDT) Oh- one more, having read that peer reviewed article-there does seem to be a link between evolution and ID in terms of explaining some aspects of life-like the Cambrian explosion. I understand the author of that article to argue that if natural selection cannot account for the sudden diversity of formns, then ID must be correct. I'll go back and read both articles (this one and that one) again, but I wonder of you could specifically refer to the exact contents of that article here. It is on-line and accessable to CZ readers and so using it to explain the ID view (unless it doesn't actually portray the ID view) would be very helpful. Nancy Sculerati 09:04, 20 June 2007 (CDT)

I've looked at the Meyer article and added it as a link. It's a review that considers whether conventional biological theory can explain the information explosion evident during the Cambrian period. He seems to misrepresent the conventional explanation. He says: "For neo-Darwinism, new functional genes either arise from non-coding sections in the genome or from preexisting genes. " He points out that the first leaves too much to luck and chance to be plausible on a large scale and the second has the problem that changes to existing genes are almost invariably deleterious.

However he omits probably the major known mechanism, whereby novel genes arise via gene duplication. Gene duplication is extremely common through evolution, and means that one copy can continue to sustain its normal function while the other is "surplus", and is free to accumulate mutations. Thus a new gene dosn't have to be built from nothing - instead evolution is handed an already functional "toy" to play with.

On the statistical issues, I think all that can be said is that Dembski's work has not attracted much interest from mathematicians, and that flaws in it are recognised by some who’ve looked closely at it. My own feeling is that it is an interesting idea nevertheless. I can see problems, I think it has an underlying circularity - in that if you ever presuppose that some complexity is indeed prespecified and calculate on that basis, then its not necessarily surprising that you come to conclude that has to be some direction in its design. The problem to me is whether you can ever establish that anything is specified in the sense required. Meyer talks about the specified complexity of new body plans, meaning to me that he considers the particular body plans as a preordained requirement, which allows him to calculate what is needed in information terms to achieve them. This, I think is a fallacy. As Gould said endlessly, run history of evolution again and you wouldn’t get the same answer, there was nothing inevitable about any particular outcome; we see what happened not what might have happened had chance been different.

There was a perfectly healthy tradition in evolutionary biology of analysing by calculation the probability of evolutionary change. Haldane back in 1930 calculated the rate of mutation in humans, and that paper was reprinted as a classic recently - his estimates are very close to modern estimates. He went on to estimate plausible rates of evolution by natural selection, and some of these works are (mis)used by ID proponents now.

So why do the NAS say it’s not science? I think their arguments and others are covered in the conclusion, particularly the emphasis on testability. In the end the deep problem with ID is simply that, one way or another, it presupposes the conclusion that it seeks to establish, and however hard it tries to disguise the circularity, in the end the circularity remains.

(Actually the NAS seems not to count maths as science)Gareth Leng 11:25, 20 June 2007 (CDT)

Unhelpful innacurate stements

QUOTE One of the challenges for biologists is to explain how highly complex structures can have evolved in this way, as the apparent requirement that every intermediate form must have a selection advantage beyond the previous form severely limits the possible paths by which evolution might have proceeded.(but see [5]) This constraint becomes particularly hard to reconcile with evolutionary explanations when the final form requires the involvement of each of several different elements for the final form to have any effective functionality. To proponents of ID, it is inconceivable that evolution by natural selection could have perfected multiple elements that only have any functionality when all are complete and assembled.

This will have to be cleaned up. It may appear in ID literature but it is poor science and even if poor needs to be confirmed by some citation. It may be what ID people argue that science says, and if so that meaning should be stated. David Tribe 21:57, 20 June 2007 (CDT)

? What's your problem with this exactly? Dawkins analysis of eye evolution for instance assumed rigorously that every intermediate form has a selection advantage over other forms, and the belief that evolution occurs by tiny incremental improvements in fitness is common, though I think unneccessary as in the "but". ? Are you looking for citations from prominent evolutionary biologists who argue that indeed evolution occurs through progressive and cumulative minor enhancements in fitness? Or are you arguing that this is not a serious constraint on possible paths - many have argued that indeed it is, Gould in particular at great length and in many places.Gareth Leng 03:40, 21 June 2007 (CDT)

I'm guessing he is referring to genetic drift where no selective advantage is required. So some intermediates could be neutral from the perspective of natural selection. Chris Day (talk) 11:40, 21 June 2007 (CDT)
Agree. Isn't this covered adequately in the "but see"?Gareth Leng 12:18, 21 June 2007 (CDT)
Does this help? I had not read that note prior to my comment above. Chris Day (talk) 13:20, 21 June 2007 (CDT)
It seems to me that one problem is failure to distinguish between the genotype and phenotype. When features seem to "spring from nowhere" we have (relatively) rapid adaptation at the level of the phenotype, but "neutral" (perhaps inactive) modifications to the genotype can accumulate over time without being particularly obvious. Greg Woodhouse 13:56, 21 June 2007 (CDT)
The responses do capture some of my concerns. The statement has the implication that there is some overall restriction on pathways of evolution to incremental changes that all must have adaptive usefulness. The creation of duplicated genes, and gene and allele redundancy is not acknowledged. Genetic drift also. David Tribe 19:43, 14 July 2007 (CDT)

Gene duplication is covered in the section on ID publications. However this restriction is one that Dawkins for example seems to have accepted. Neutral mutations drift and gene duplication all add importantly to variability and give some bootstrap mechanisms for evolutionary change, but still a limiting factor is how rapidly alleles can be fixed in a population, and if there's no selection pressure...Gareth Leng 03:28, 17 July 2007 (CDT)


I guess I need help here, as I'm certainly not an expert in evolutionary biology. So what follows is really as much by way as a request for others to correct me as anything else. As I understand it, the rate of evolution is really governed by two things, the mutation rate and the rate of natural selection. If we agree provisionally anyway, that in a large population the rate of spontaneous mutation through all mechanisms provides an ample source of variation, then we can go on to consider natural selection itself. The constraint here is the rate at which an adaptive mutation can spread through a population if it spreads only by differential survival of offspring. Haldane considered this problem, and estimated that, when there is selection for a single mutation only, then it takes about 300 generations for this mutation to be fixed, and this is largely independent of the selection pressure except when selection pressure is very intense, (and very high selection pressure entails a high risk of extinction). He was assuming a stable population (fixed size across generations and unchanging selection pressure). Now, he saw a problem when more than one trait is being selected for independently. Put simply, the assumption that possesion of trait A has a survival advantage over all others is diluted when an independent trait B elsewhere in the population has similar survival value. He saw that the rate of natural selection would inevitably be slowed when this is the case. So for me anyway, the challenge to understand the evolution of complex traits is to understand the constraints on the speed of natural selection when several indepedent traits are being selected for independently and when there is greater survival vulue for the traits in combination. Has there been any analysis of the possible speed of natural selection in these circumstances? I can see some possible ways by which the speed might be ehanced. One is through unstable population size - when a population experiences repeated bottlenecks, by crashing annd growing rapidly. There is another problem here which is that bottleneck loses variability in the population, and involves eliminating neutral mutations that might be needed for emergent complexity. So there is some cost here as well as a possible payoff. Another way is through sexual selection, and I suspect that this might important, but again, have there been any analyses of its effect on the speed of natural selection? (BTW David, did you mean sexual selection rather than sexual reproduction? I thought sexual reproduction does not in fact increase the rate of natural selection). Essentially what needs to be explained is, for example, whether say 5 million years, (300,000 generations) is enough to explain the divergence of human and chimpanzee lineages from a common ancestor given the known extent of genetic divergence, given known mutation rates, but particularly, given known constraints on the plausible speed of natural selection. In the last sentence of the paragraph questioned above, I conceded that this was a difficult problem, without suggesting that it was insuperable. Was I wrong? I may very well be, and indeed expect to be in what I have written here. Any help very gratefully received.Gareth Leng 04:30, 22 June 2007 (CDT)

If beneficial mutation A exists at one place in the population, and equally beneficial mutation B exists at another, it seems to me that so long as the population doesn't speciate (i.e. evolve so divergently from the original ancestor that members of two groups of descendants can no longer interbreed) then eventually both mutation A and B will dominate. In other words, some carriers of A will breed with carriers of B, and their progeny that inheret both A and B will prevail over progeny that only inherit one or the other. If twenty beneficial mutations occur in twenty different strains of a group that continues to interbreed, then within a few dozen generations, each of those twenty mutations should be spread throughout the group, although it may take hundreds more generations for most of those twenty to become so inculcated that all normal members of the species will carry them. Considering the divergence of human and chimpanzee lineages from a common ancestor, there are a certain specific number of mutations between the average human and that common ancestor, and a certain specific number of mutations between the average chimp and that common ancestor. The trick would be to figure out how many mutations separate each population from the common ancestor (probably only a few thousand, as chimps and humans remain quite similar). Brian Dean Abramson 13:19, 23 June 2007 (CDT)

Hard to know. The genomes are very similar, but there are still an estimated 29 million bases different[5]. Most of these are in non coding DNA. As I understand it, this paper shows that, in a sample of 7600 genes, "1547 human genes and 1534 chimp genes had experienced relatively rapid changes that likely endowed a survival advantage." So we're probably talking about natural selection (positive selection, non neutral changes) producing adaptive changes in about 5000 human genes through multiple substitutions, mainly in regulatory regions.Gareth Leng 11:21, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

Er ...

Sorry for confessing to my own stupidity, but could my scientific colleagues please take time to dumb down the text in Irreducibility Complex. Reading that text makes me feel like Gilligan right after the Professor explains how simple a concept is. Will Nesbitt 11:22, 15 July 2007 (CDT)

Maybe it just doesn't mean anything. Seriously, I haven't seen anyone offer a definition, either. It is somewhat reminiscent of a concept in computer science where a set (or pattern) is as complex as any description of it. A proper definition would certainly be helpful. Greg Woodhouse 16:12, 15 July 2007 (CDT)

Sorry Greg, I thought the definition of irreducible complexity was clear. In evolutionary terms, a system is irreducibly complex if it can't be built by successive minor modifications each of which produces a fitter form than the previous form. This disallows building a complex system in sections and then assembling them.

I saw that, but there's a certain circularity here, so I wondered if the definition had been presented elsewhere, and if this wasn't really a statement being made about irreducible complexity. Greg Woodhouse 07:35, 16 July 2007 (CDT)
Yes you're right in that the above statement is a statement about irreducible complexity. The definition is as given in the article, (that a system is irreducibly complex if removing any of several parts makes it stop functioning.) My statement here was just to relate the concept to evolutionary mechanisms.Gareth Leng 09:39, 16 July 2007 (CDT)

I think Will was talking about the text that David inserted on Lynne Caparole's ideas. I haven't been able to get to that review but have looked at some of her other papers that seem to say the same. This is clearly relevant to the article though actually I don't see it as relevant to irreducible complexity - sorry I can't see the connection there. Caparole's ideas are relevant in that they explain how some genes can evolve very rapidly indeed, essentially the idea is that some genes are very prone to errors in replication and so are highly variable - variability is the raw material of evolutionary change. She explains that some genes are much more variable in this way than others, and so are hotspots for rapid change.

I find the papers quite confusingly written in key places. The important point here is the sense in which these changes are not random. She is not saying that a beneficial mutation is more likely to occur than a harmful mutation in these genes, rather that all mutations are more likely and hence it is likely that amongst a population some will have beneficial changes. In other words she is NOT saying that this is a mechanism that actively favours beneficial mutations, although some quotes make it sound as though she is saying that.

I've tried to strip this down to the core message and put it in terms that are accessible. The important issue is what does she say that is relevant to this issue. I think the key message is that there are mechanisms by which random changes occur very often for particular genes. That I think is all. It's important here because it helps to explain how evolution by natural selection can occur very rapidly, but it doesn't seem to me to help explain irreducible complexity. David, please correct me if I've missed something here.

I don't know, but I guess Caporale's ideas are a bit controversial as they pose selection as a species level mechanism, and the general importance of this is not widely accepted. What she says makes perfect sense to me, but how is this viewed generaly in EvoBiol? Gareth Leng 04:25, 16 July 2007 (CDT)

Thanks for the edit, this is much easier to grasp. Will Nesbitt 05:38, 16 July 2007 (CDT)
Caporale's ideas are not controversial in the molecular microbiology community - they are standard- , and microbes are the major part of current biodiversity. Whether of nor group selection is controversial, it needs to be remembered that microbes have much larger population sizes than say, mammals or birds. Many microbes act as dispersed multicellular organisms and have mechanisms such as Quorum sensing (via signals such as acyl-homoserine lactones) to act cooperatively. this would be group selection I'd say. Furthermore, she has a lot more to say than group selection.David Tribe 14:59, 27 July 2007 (CDT)

My point in introducing concepts relation to complex rearrangement/recombination/duplication gene mechanisms is that much of the argument for ID contains claims that evolution cannot explain certain adaptations while leaving out mentioning any of the processes most likely to provide the explanation, even though they are widely discussed and well known to biologists. This is overt bias and misrepresentation of current scientific understanding.David Tribe 15:31, 27 July 2007 (CDT)

That's fine, Caporale's ideas made sense to me, but I know that the importance of group selection and species level selection have been very controversial. I'm not trying to eliminate discussion of the mechanisms, only to refer to them in a way that doesn't presume that the reader is an academic biologist. The issue is not about evolution though; ID doesn't discount evolution, only natural selection as a major force in evolution. This is the only issue that they really question; they are simply anti Darwinist.

Your edit: "in which change over time is not incremental" This you surely didn't mean literally? I think you are talking of change occurring as discrete steps rather than continuous change, but both are incremental.Gareth Leng 06:52, 30 July 2007 (CDT)

Detection of new species frequently documented

In these discussions, Larry has remarked tha "its not as if the apperance of new species is dococumented" or words to that effect.

This assumption is false.. Appearance of new species is widely documenented, and this quote from a recent botanical article illustrates this well:

Hybridization is perceived as an important phenomenon in plant speciation (e.g. Arnold, 1997; Rieseberg et al., 2003; Gross and Rieseberg, 2005). This is mainly evident in hybrids emerging from hybridization involving at least one species non-indigenous to the respective area (Abbott, 1992). Such cases are usually well documented and carefully studied, because they represent examples of speciation caught in the act (Ownbey, 1950; Rieseberg et al., 1990; Gray et al., 1991; Ashton and Abbott, 1992; Soltis et al., 1995; Krahulec et al., 2005; Mandák et al., 2005). Species co-occurring at the same locality for a longer time may also hybridize; however, their hybrids may be more easily overlooked or misidentified when the parental species are morphologically similar and the morphology of hybrids is overlapping with that of the parental species. Elytrigia repens and E. intermedia (Poaceae), on which this study focuses, are examples of such a potential underestimation of hybridization in their native area.

Both species are perennial, outcrossing allopolyploid grasses belonging to the wheat tribe Triticeae (Dewey, 1984; Löve, 1984). The tribe is especially well-known for the economic importance of its three major crops: wheat, barley and rye. The tribe's structure is highly reticulate, with distinct genomes/gene lineages occurring within many polyploid, but also within some diploid species, which is a consequence of ancient hybridization events, introgression, lineage sorting of ancestral variation, multiple origins of particular species, or a combination of these (Kellogg et al., 1996; Mason-Gamer, 2004). These processes resulted in a strong ecological, morphological and genetic resemblance of many Triticeae taxa (Stebbins, 1956; Dewey, 1984). Their ability to hybridize with each other is so common that Stebbins noted: ‘So many hybrid combinations in one group is unparalleled in the higher plants.’ (Stebbins, 1956). One consequence of a reticulate structure is that if subsequent hybridization between genetically related species occurs, fertility of the hybrids can be enhanced because their chromosomes may pair more readily, and polyploidization generally provides an effective way to escape from sterility (Stebbins, 1940). Within the wheat tribe, about three-quarters of the taxa are of polyploid origin (Löve, 1984)...

Annals of Botany 2007 100(2):249-260; doi:10.1093/aob/mcm093 Recent Natural Hybridization between Two Allopolyploid Wheatgrasses (Elytrigia, Poaceae): Ecological and Evolutionary Implications Václav Mahelka*, Judith Fehrer, Frantisek Krahulec and Vlasta Jarolímová Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Zámek 1, CZ-25243, Pruhonice, Czech Republic David Tribe 14:42, 27 July 2007 (CDT)

Suggested Improvements

I think we should mention that Christians are known, for using the theory of intelligent design as a gimmick for converting people to Christianity. Trying to make people believe that the idea of an higher intelligence creating the universe, is scientifically plausible; or at least could be explained by using a scientific lexicon.

This is in the scope of the article on the Intelligent Design Movement, not for hereGareth Leng 05:54, 20 December 2007 (CST)

We could improve the article on several points:

1)One of the first religions that believed that there is a single (but dualistic) higher intelligence is Zarathustrianism.
2)Judaism got there idea of a single higher intelligence from the Zarathustrians when they where held captive in Babylon, tracing the Christian idea of a single higher intelligence back to the Zarathustrian religion.
3)The first European people who believed that there is a single higher intelligence where the Hellenic Greeks. If i remember right; Plato believed that there was a realm of idea's that could contain pure truth. That the material world could fool one's senses, but that truth and a single higher intelligence where contained within the realm of idea's. Making a single higher intelligence abstract and not physical.
4)Deducting the existence of a single higher intelligence with reason can also be called Deism.
5)Deducting the existence of a single higher intelligence by using empirical evidence can also be called Deism.
6)What separates intelligent design from deism?
The fact that ID declares itself not to be about deducing the existence of a God but about the process by which design can be inferred from the nature of things. This article deals with what ID proponents say ID is, not about what we really think they mean when they say those things.Gareth Leng 05:54, 20 December 2007 (CST)
7)What counter arguments exist against the watchmaker theory.
1)Seeing evidence of something that was intentionally created does not have to mean a single higher intelligence. It could mean aliens did it or people you don’t know anything about.
2)A watch is not a self containing organism. It could not have come from inanimate matter, because it has not way to extract sustenance from the surrounding environment, it cant grow, reproduce or repair itself. The watch itself in inanimate. It does not have an origin in the realm of the microscopic; where it would have developed the ability to manipulate chemicals or energy in order for it to grow towards the macroscopic and retain its ordered and complex nature.
These are indeed arguments that make living things seem far more elaborate and perfect in their design than a watch.Gareth Leng 05:59, 20 December 2007 (CST)
3)An infinite universe would create an infinite number of combinations. A watch would be one of them.
Not true. An infinite number of combinations is not the same as all possible combinationsGareth Leng
8)This sentence has no meaning: To many who believe in a Creator of the universe, the idea that the nature of living things might contain some evidence that they have been built purposefully rather than having been evolved by natural selection is a natural one.
1)We refer to the nature of living things when we talk about it’s gene’s; biological traits, behaviour maybe it’s chemical make-up. So that should be made clear.
2) there is not natural pre-positions for the existence of a single higher intelligence, unless you adhere to that philosophy yourself. Your actually saying that your theory is true because its true; that’s called circle logic. That has to change.
The sentence expresses a simple logical argument: If there is a creator, then there will (probably) be some evidence of His work in the nature of the things that he has made. Many people believe in God, so they expect to find evidence of Intelligent Design. People may expect to find such evidence in the genes, or in structure, or in higher attributes of living things - i.e. in the nature of living things. It would be inappropriate and wrong to say that they might expect evidence at just one level. The sentence is of course not an argument for ID, nor can it be an argument for the existence of a God. It is a statement that, for those who do believe, the concept of ID may seem uncontroversial. I do not believe, but then that's me. But the most important point is that here we are representing the arguments as made by ID proponents we are not, as editors, making those arguments ourselves. If you finfd them weak or unconvincing, fine. That's not the point. The point is, are they true and fair representations of the arguments made by ID proponents. If you can express the arguments for ID more logically and powerfully, please do.

Gareth Leng 05:43, 20 December 2007 (CST)

9)This sentence has no meaning Casual observation might similarly lead to the conclusion that, compared to a watch, even the simplest living form is incredibly complex, giving it the appearance of being designed for a purpose. There must be a designer, said Paley, "and that designer is God.
1)The human body is not that complex. You have mathematical laws describing the physical laws of the universe, and these are far more complex.
This is a misunderstanding of complexity. If we could describe the human body by mathematical laws then we would not consider it so complexGareth Leng 05:52, 20 December 2007 (CST)
2)Something that is complex does not have to give the idea that it is designed. It only appears designed when you have the preconceived notion that complex things are designed. See; circle logic.
It does not have to, indeed. Gareth Leng 05:52, 20 December 2007 (CST)
10) This sentence has no meaning Thus, William Dembski has argued that ID can be formulated as a scientific theory of information that has empirical consequences and which is devoid of any religious commitments.
it has factual content (it expresses Demski's views), whether you believe those views is another thingGareth Leng 05:45, 20 December 2007 (CST)
1)What does it mean when something has empirical consequences?
empirical consequences are predictions by which a hypothesis can be falsifiedGareth Leng 05:45, 20 December 2007 (CST)
2)The believe in a single higher intelligence is in itself religious in nature; therefore it could not be devoid of any religious commitments. It could be free of religious dogma; unless you view the idea of a single higher intelligence as religious dogma.
Any "belief" unfounded in observation and reason might be said to be religious; if this were a conclusion based on reason and observation it would not be a belief Gareth Leng 05:45, 20 December 2007 (CST)

I will continue with the rest of the article on a later date. But first I want these questions resolved. Micha van den Berg 22:25, 26 November 2007 (CST)

Welcome to the wiki, Micha!
I think a large number of our readers would find the language used in your opening paragraph needlessly offensive and a caricature ("gimmick" is primarily used today in a derogatory sense) so I hope anyone adding such a statement would intend to use a more diplomatic style when contributing to this article.(1) However, I don't think this point really belongs to this article.(2)
Regarding your earlier points on the origin of beliefs you would need to have impeccable sources (and be prepared to rigorously defend them) if you hope to introduce those ideas (3)and avoid endless edit wars;(4) I doubt that there is anything near agreement on the matter even in academia.(5) My feeling is that many of your suggested improvements are not "givens" and, as they are already the subject of rigorous and potentially endless debates and disagreements outside of this wiki, they would most likely result in much endless debate and disagreement on this wiki. Care would have to be taken to introduce these topics in a neutral way and presenting both sides of the arguments fairly(6) (see Neutrality Policy).
I do think some limit of scope on this article may be in order and I don't think that conducting a full debate on the merits/demerits of Intelligent Design is really what it should be about.(7) I favour an article that summarizes the current majority view of what Intelligent Design is (from the perspective of its proponents) along with some of the main disagreements.(8) The endless debates should be left to other platforms (you could include some links to ongoing debates and refutations in the Links section).(9)
I do think that the unclear sentences you quoted could do with being rewritten for clarity. Mark Jones 08:35, 27 November 2007 (CST)
(1):No it is not needlessly offensive. I was very serious when i wrote that.
(2):Me, the third party. Does indeed think that this point should be discussed. What ever that point might be because that is not mentioned.
(3):I never talked about the origin of believe. I talked about the origin of a single higher intelligence.
(4):Citizendium really does not have much edit wars. We get along very well.
(5):Academia rarely agrees on anything. That's why we write articles with multiple view points.
(6):I believe that they are givens (please use correct English). That the horrible dangers of a debate, does not mean we should not have debates, and why would this be a bad thing if it will end up improving the article?
(7):Here you confuse me. I don't get it. Could you restate that sentence.
(8): The majority of what? The United States, Canada, Europe? The majority of the people who know what intelligent design is? Why does the majority decide how an topic should be discussed, when an article goes beyond the scope of social and communal experience and needs a scientific bases to be understood. The majority of scientists and laymen who are able to understand every part of the theory of intelligent design? That would make this article secular.
(9): I understand it is very frightful to try and defend your opinions. But this isn't about discussing ID. This is about improving a citizendium article.

I find this very frightful of you. How will we create an article with multiple view points, when we can't debate and discusse the article and topic. Why don't you awnser any of my questions? Micha van den Berg 17:07, 27 November 2007 (CST)

The article is an article explaining what Intelligent Design is, and explaining the key concepts and the objections to them. It is not an article about arguments for or against the existence of God. The key concepts in ID are those of irreducible complexity and specified complexity, and the key rebuttals of these are explained. I think it is worth noting that at present the article gives a very lengthy and carefully argued critique of the ideas of ID. The introduction, explaining the ideas of ID, is deliberately left free of objections and counter arguments, but those are given later. Gareth Leng 05:43, 20 December 2007 (CST)

Hello Micha and Mark. This article is currently listed under the Religion and Philosophy workgroups. Any questions regarding content should be directed to editors in those workgroups. You can take a look at previous discussions concerning content and direction. Otherwise, please feel free to work on this article as any other. In the interest of collaboration, please be sure to review the CZ:Professionalism policy. For some, this can be a controversial subject, so it's a good idea to avoid personal remarks that might agitate others. Ultimately, working neutrally on the article as well as professionally on the talk pages should produce an article that we can all feel good about. If you need any help or have any concerns about how to proceed, feel free to contact me. --D. Matt Innis 17:52, 27 November 2007 (CST)

over-reaction in POV

As perspective, I'm an editor in the Biology workgroup, and a committed and trained evolutionist. But I think the article is overbalanced in the opposite direction. In discussing the individual tenants of the movement, there is much more space devoted to the refutation of ID than to the presentation of it. This amounts to an article on why the arguments for ID is wrong from a biological standpoint. Bow I think is is wrong, or at the least an unnecessary hypothesis. But it first has to be fully presented. Of the various non-evolutionist viewpoints, this is the only one that has an reasonably coherent intellectual basis. that needs to be emphasised. The explanation of what is known to happen in evolution is basically a subject to be treated in depth elsewhere. This ought to be a page about how the intelligent among the ID advocates accommodate their views to the facts of biology. (Let me mention I have tried to express similar views in Wikipedia, but I found that the other evolutionists regarded me as essentially a traitor, and have avoided working there on the subject.). DavidGoodman 05:18, 27 December 2007 (CST)

I think it's a trick argument based on the null hypothesis (they use the null hypotheses = ID). If there are flaws in evolution then the model fails and you should return to the null hypothesis, ID. As far as I can tell no one actually believes in ID--practically all the proponents actually believe in a personal God. It's hard to be serious about a belief that no one believes. Richard Jensen 06:03, 27 December 2007 (CST)
I don't know enough about ID to weigh in on which versions are the most coherent or whether anyone "seriously believes" in it, but I think David's broader point is right on mark. The article really ought to be devoted primarily to what ID is and not what's wrong with it. Disagreements should obviously be mentioned in the main article but the place to flesh out discussion of controversies around the subject is the debate guide. --Joe Quick 08:30, 27 December 2007 (CST)
I agree with both David and Joe, while also insisting that Gareth has put in a model fair-hand effort here. I think a principle important step in the, uh, evolution of this article is the arrival of a bona-fide expert in specifically Intelligent Design: one who has read all the major ID authors, and perhaps is one of those. Stephen Ewen 11:03, 27 December 2007 (CST)
Just to say that I agree with Stephen and David here. If I knew how to put the pro ID case more strongly (intellectually strongly, I'm not talking about rhetoric) I would have done so, I did try. I don't think it's possible to explain the ideas of ID without addressing controversy, essentially because so much of ID theory is expressed as opposition to current theories, so I don't think that you can explain ID without explaining what those current theories are, nor can you describe attacks on those theories without also explaining the response. I think the best you can do is present the ID arguments fully, clearly, honestly and neutrally, and try to make the "response" position as clear and concise as possible. Personally, I think that the rebuttal side at present is longer and more detailed than is needed or helpful Gareth Leng 03:05, 29 December 2007 (CST)

Cut this

I cut this short section "The power of such systems to solve complex problems is recognised by artificial intelligence engineers when they create software that exploits a genetic algorithm. Genetic algorithms inspired by the theory of evolution by natural selection are now widely used by engineers to suggest efficient solutions for design problems"

This is all true, but it's really a purely rhetorical argument. I do know about GAs (and have a paper in press using a GA)- of course you can get to any theoretical solution using an unconstrained GA, but biological paths do have constraints - not all types of mutation are possible in the real world, so the argument from AI is not really valid. I just don't feel that this is an honest argument to use here.Gareth Leng 03:30, 29 December 2007 (CST)

In the very last edit I made, I cut the last sentence of the paragraph on biological clocks. The sentence asserted that there seems to be no need to invoke ID to explain these; I agree with the opinion, but it is just an opinion, and the argument is not made to make it more than an opinion. If this sentence is left in, the entire paragraph seems to be an anti ID argument. If that single sentence is cut, the paragraph becomes wholly neutral, as useful to the pro ID side as to the critics.

I think, after a fresh close reading, is that the article is not badly unbalanced, but we need to be alert for things like this that bias the way that the article reads.Gareth Leng 04:31, 29 December 2007 (CST)


I'm not sure either, but there is such a thing as RNA! That's as much as I know. --Robert W King 16:14, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

Also, change your clock to reflect DST. I forgot to do mine also. --Robert W King 16:15, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

What would you gentlemen like to know about RNA or DNA? David E. Volk 16:20, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

With regard to a revert at Intelligent design. In the context of that paragraph DNA is definitely correct, however, in the context of first life RNA may well be correct. Intelligent design tends to use modern definitions of life, hence they invoke the impossability of a cell appearing from nowhere. But first life does not have to be cellular. This is the basis of the RNA world hypothesis and probably the reason for the edit you reverted. Chris Day (talk) 16:41, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

FYI: I added an new image to the RNA page showing the primary difference between RNA and DNA. I see now this whole conversation started with a similar switch of words, to the correct one I might add. David E. Volk 16:57, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

I have an undergrad handle on DNA/RNA and have read about the RNA hypothesis in the past (I think its pretty interesting, like most of these things) and have studied the Out of Africa theory (which I find pretty convincing), er, Out of Africa Theory (hint-hint) in some depth. My reversion to DNA seemed correct because of what was stated in the immediately surrounding context. I'll let ya'll hammer it out, though. :-) Stephen Ewen 20:05, 10 March 2008 (CDT)

The simplest organisms don't have DNA. Either the sentence has to be changed by removing the word "simplest" or the word has to be RNA instead of DNA. While the step from organisms with RNA to organisms with also have DNA is certainly interesting and probably challenged by ID-people I think the intent of the sentence is: The genetic information of the simplest (or first) organisms was too complex, to have evolved at random. Those organisms didn't store their genetic information in DNA according to the established scientific worldview that is challenged by intelligent design. Christian Kleineidam 17:21, 11 March 2008 (CDT)

With respect to science there is definitely a consensus that RNA pre-existed DNA, however, whether the first cell existed before DNA is not known as far as I'm aware. The ID article appears to be talking about cells and probably bacteria-like cells. Do ID creationists acknowledge a pre-DNA world? The article cited can be seen here and the minimal set of genes they talk about is definitely for a DNA cell. Chris Day (talk) 18:14, 11 March 2008 (CDT)

I cut and pasted the discussion above from Stephen Ewens talk page since it seems to be more appropriate here. Chris Day (talk) 20:44, 11 March 2008 (CDT)

I think it is overinterpreting to say :the simplest organisms dont have DNA". Perhaps you are referring to RNA viruses, but they are not organisms that can live in the absence of complete cells, and can therefore have no real relevance to the origin of life--they must have arisen subsequently. I think the RNA world hypothesis is quite convincing--I think it represents a major advance in the work to fill in the processes of evolution that the creationsist kept saying could never be known. But its still an hypothesis. No body can say at this time baldly that the first organisms were [ whatever ] DavidGoodman 04:28, 12 March 2008 (CDT)

By the line maintained in Life, only complex systems (cells) really qualify as living and can be sensibly be called organisms. My understanding of the ID view is that they embrace the evidence from molecular biology (if not always its interpretation), accept the fact of evolution (but do not believe that natural selection can explain everything), and dissent from consensus mainly in that they believe there must have been some additional "guiding hand". So I don't think that they would necessarily balk at pre-life. ID is not naive creationism.Gareth Leng 04:46, 12 March 2008 (CDT)

According to some definitions of life viruses don't count as living because they need processes of the cell they inhibit to replicate and can't replicate on their own. According to Molecular Cell Biology by Alberts, which presents the RNA world hypothesis as the likely story of how things got started, there were first systems with only used RNA followed by systems that used RNA and proteins followed by systems which used RNA, proteins and DNA. I don't see why a RNA protein systems can't be complex. Christian Kleineidam 11:22, 12 March 2008 (CDT)
They can be complex but we do not know what such ancestors were like. They may or may not have been cells. Viruses are not primative but a derived state. There are bacteria in the gut that are similar in that they are discarding their genes to a point they are completely dependent on a host. A virus may well represent an extreme example and as such may also be complex, in the sense of their survival strategy.
But to get back to the article, the citation that appears to be quoted to exemplify the ID viewpoint, discusses a minimal gene set, for a cell, based on a DNA genetic code. Whether there are RNA cells cannot be speculated using that reference. More important is what citations do the ID'ers use for ancestral minimal gene set? And are their examples generally cellular or pre-cell? Chris Day (talk) 12:06, 12 March 2008 (CDT)

Indeed they are complex, very complex. Problem is that we actually have no examples of autonomous self-replicating living systems that are not cells, so while the theory of the origins seems reasonable, we have no examples to show that it is feasible.Gareth Leng 11:39, 12 March 2008 (CDT)

The viewpoint and its adherents

Can we have a bit more separation between the viewpoint of ID and the motivations of its adherents? I don't think we would call Evolution into question, merely because prominent proponents of use evolution as bulwarks to support arguments for Materialism or Atheism.

Hi Ed. I thought the article was pretty conscientious in separating arguments from motives -and motivations, which can't be completely ignored, are really confined to one short section. Can you be specific about what troubles you?Gareth Leng 11:48, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps a bit more of compare and contrast would be helpful to the reader also. I'd like to see the concept of testability applied equally to ID and to evolution. What kinds of tests would evolution proponents (or critics) say ought to be applied to the idea that new species of life have come into being due to natural causes such as mutation? In particular, is there any one test (or conceivable set of tests) which - if the result is negative - would disprove the theory? Some for ID, too, of course.

Well this is an article about ID, the place to question the modern evolutionary synthesis would properly be in an article on that. It would be possible to include a paragraph that discusses the relative explanatory/predictive power of ID and the modern synthesis, but it would inevitably seem one-sided; with full genomes now sequenced for many species these evolutionary interrelationships provide a huge mass of evidence for the MES, but do we really want to start explaining the details of molecular phylogeny here? That belongs elsewhere.Gareth Leng 11:48, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Is the motivation of the ID movement relevant to an article about the idea itself? That is, can we separate the implications of ID from the basic question of whether it is true or not? People on both sides of the question have said (about the other side) that "you only support your viewpoint because it provides credibility for your ideological views". That is, critics of ID frequently say that ID is promoted only because it makes atheism and materialism harder to accept and Creationism easier to accept. Likewise, critics of evolution sometimes say that evolution is promoted primarily because it makes it easier to reject belief in God and easier to accept materialism or atheism.

I agree, we tried to keep motivations away from this article as much as possible and present the arguments on their own merits - please say where we failedGareth Leng 11:48, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Is it possible to separate discussion of either idea (evolution or ID) from its implications? If so, would anyone still be interested?

Also, there's a scope issue. Evolution per se is concerned chiefly about (what I think is called) biogenesis, i.e., how one form of life gives rise to another form of life. Maybe I mean "speciation" or descent with modification. (I find a lot of the terms confusing; is this because they are poorly defined, or what?) ID tries also to address the question, How did life begin? Evolution, if I understand it correctly, takes up the origins question at the point where a living cell (perhaps a bacteria) is already in existence. --Ed Poor 18:39, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Yes you're correct, the modern synthesis really doesn't address origins.Gareth Leng 11:48, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

There really is only one criteria to judge this. Does ID adhere to the scientific method? If not, it should be treated accordingly. Denis Cavanagh 18:41, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

Well, clearly the overwhelming majority of scientists think that ID affects the appearance of being scientific without actually adhering to being scientific, and I hope why they think that comes through from the article, just as I hope the article makes the best honest case possible for ID. It's for the reader to judge further. Gareth Leng 11:48, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
Sorry to bypass your specific questions; I will return to them. I just discovered this statement in Scientific method:
  • ... one presumption is that no intelligent creator directs the process of evolution.
If the theory of evolution contains this presumption, then wouldn't this be the primary reason its adherents opposed ID? They would seem be saying that ID must be wrong, because its adherents refuse to accept evolution's denial of the agency of an intelligent creator.
On the other hand, ID's main point is that this presumption is unfounded; it should be discarded or at least called into question. Indeed, ID's primary argument is that life is too complex to have evolved naturally: life's complexity is a sign of this presumption's inadequacy and even proof that it "must have been designed".
I wonder if we can separate out the two aspects involved here:
  1. There is a clash of assumptions: one side says no intelligent creator caused life to come into being (or to evolve once the first living cell appeared). The other says that life's origin and variety are proof of design, the sort of design requiring intelligence.
  2. There is another clash: one of implications. If natural causes alone can explain evolution (without a designer), then there is no intellectual or ideological need to posit any sort of creator; hence, atheism is supported by naturalistic evolution. On the onther hand, if natural causes are deemed insufficient, then this gives rise to ideological or philosophical questions as to the attributes of a designer, while also undermining support for atheism and propping up religious faith
It seems to me that most of the verbiage I've encountered in the last half dozen years about evolution and ID have focused much more on the second clash, the clash of implications.
Accordingly, I'd like to propose that we first examine both evolution and ID in terms of the scientific method alone. Second, that we detail the political, ideological, philosophical or religious implications of both theories.
By the way, we also would profit by making a distinction between ID's scientific claim (the argument that natural causes are insufficient) and ID's (apparent) heritage (i.e., the "scientific creationism" or Creation Science of Young Earth creationism). When we examine evolution, we leave out Darwin's involvement in (or distancing from) religion, don't we?
Or is this request for neutrality merely the repetition of the ID movement's own policy and viewpoint? (If so, then maybe we can take a step back and describe the ID movement's challenge to the scientific establishment. Which assumptions or methods does the movement make or employ, which the mainstream of science does not? --Ed Poor 01:15, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
ID is one particular view of the role of a deity, but certainly not the only one. In The Phenomenon of Man, Pierre-Teilhard du Chardin, paleontologist and Jesuit theologian, proposed a view that evolution was absolutely consistent with Biblical teaching about man being made in God's image; the design was that life would evolve from the unicellular "Alpha Point" to the "Omega Point", when man becomes indistinguishable from God's image. Evolution, in his theory, was an elegant way for God to have designed a self-managing system. I personally don't have faith that is the way it works, but I admire the argument. He also wrote, fairly strongly, that religion and science are separate domains and incommensurable but not incompatible.
In Teilhard's theory, God started a mechanism, natural selection, that was self-regulating. ID appears to make God work much harder. :-) Howard C. Berkowitz 01:38, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

I don't think the scientific method rules out a creator, it's just that scientists cannot design sensible experiments to test the concept. Science is not antagonistic to religion and it presumes nothing when building models based on the data. Chris Day 03:17, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

(edit conflict) Okay, I'm going to have to do a lot of work here. I'm traveling tomorrow, so I'll resume on Friday. But there seems to be some confusion about whether ID is:

  1. a theory which posits (or entails) a "role of a deity"; this would either involve it having a priori religious faith (i.e., God did make life and/or the various species), or
  2. a theory which, with presumptions, merely declares that natural forces alone are insufficient: (i.e., some kind of intelligent designer is warranted by the evidence)

Howard, you are also bringing up the "compatibility viewpoint" (sometimes called evolutionary creation, or theistic evolution). I'm not sure if this means progressive creationism guided by God or merely that God got things going and then let natural forces (like mutation and natural selection) do the rest. Either way, I don't see how this is related to ID.

We need to clarify what each school of thought is saying. I mean we because I don't know enough of the details to do it by myself. --Ed Poor 03:26, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Good observation. From my perspective, ID is largely the province of certain Christian denominations (my Baptist fundamentalist buddy gets quite indignant at being called a "Protestant"). A question, because I don't know the precise terms of art. Simply as a term, "theistic evolution" seems broader than ID; compatibility and ID seem subsets. Theistic evolution, as a phrase, suggests to me that a deity had some involvement with the process.
So, are we really talking about the set of cases where a deity was involved in the...umm...origin of species, guided evolution or deliberate design? Is your second point compatible with a nondeistic intelligent designer, sort of what engineered intelligent bacteria might consider a geneticist? :-) Howard C. Berkowitz 03:37, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
[EC with Howard] I have to admit I have not read this article recently so I can not discuss the specifics here, yet. But ID, to me, seems to be a case of not looking for the gaps. It's similar to conformation bias without any real critical testing of the hypothesis (irreducible complexity), or worse selective use of data. If it can be classified as science it would be a bad example of the scientific method, IMO. I'm willing to be find learn more maybe ny first impression is unjustified? Chris Day 03:39, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
As far as ID proponents claim about their own work, they are making exactly two main points. They are claiming that certain features of the world have been designed (the factual claim) and there is an empirical and scientific way to detect that design (empirical claim). The ID proponents support the factual claim by use of the empirical claim. One points to such examples as the flagellum to support the factual claim. This differs from theistic evolution for two reasons. First, theistic evolution claims that God is the creator of the world and these features. ID does not claim this. Second, theistic evolution does not claim that there is empirical support for their beliefs. Most use religious sources for their belief instead. Third, theistic evolution accepts all of evolutionary theory. ID is not committed to such a belief.Matthew McKean 01:49, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Weasel disclaimer

The last paragraph shares with Homeopathy a rather weasel-like "science doesn't know everything" vibe:

This is not to say that the proponents of ID are necessarily wrong in their analyses of weaknesses in conventional understanding, or in their conclusions. For scientists, allknowledge and understanding is provisional. Our scientific understanding is the best we have now, but if science continues to progress, our present understanding will be, in time,superceded by something different and better.

Science being provisional doesn't really change much with regard to ID. Are we going to have these disclaimers at the bottom of every article on fringe science and pseudoscience? –Tom Morris 08:08, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

I, probably like virtually every academic biologist alive, regard Darwin as one of the greatest scientists who ever lived. But there are major uncertainties within our present understanding; they include disagreements for example about the relative importance of different levels of selection, about the scope of epigenetic change and its heritability, and about the role of non-coding elements of DNA. There are problems entailed by the small number of genes; virtually all genes are polyfunctional and genes are massively interdependent - they are not isolated islands where selection can easily be understood as honing things to perfection. What ID calls irreducible complexity addresses an issue widely recognised by scientists as a challenge to our understanding. It is not all clear, and I'd be surprised and disappointed if our explanations 20 years on didn't look different from the accounts we give now. I don't see this paragraph as a gesture to ID proponents, but as a statement of faith in the scientific method as the route to resolving imperfections in our understanding; if we don't acknowledge those imperfections ourselves we don't deserve to be called scientists. Science is not about authority and dogma, it's about constant skepticism, especially about things we have to take for granted for want of any alternative. We don't have any reason to fear declaring that we don't have all the answers (if we did, we'd be out of a job) and that's what makes science different to ID. We affirm the method of science, not dogmas.Gareth Leng 12:47, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

Struggling with this

I'm struggling with this sentence "Critics of this view suggest it needs to be reconciled with mechanisms of evolution involving the many gene rearrangements that are possible from DNA recombination in which change over time is not incremental." This compresses a vast amount of complex science (and controversy among scientists about macromutations into a sentence that is just not really comprehensible, and it's hard to replace it concisely with a consensus statement. Trouble seems to me is that different scientists attack the ID position here from different, sometimes mutually incompatible arguments - some by saying there's mo problem, time and incremental change can do it all (Dawkins), others - there's no problem, there are lots of known mechanisms for large non-incremental change, others still - there's no problem, there's such a residue of variation within a species arising from accumulated neutral mutation and redundancy (miltons in Gould's terminology) that there's plenty of latent material with incipient functionality available for rapid change.Gareth Leng 12:31, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Drastic deletions

Knowing nothing about ID and indeed having no interest whatsoever in it, I noticed that a student of the University of Edinburgh deleted large pieces of text that coincidentally were (partly) written by a professor of the same university. Anybody may edit anything here at CZ, but we have the custom, in contrast to the mores at another place, to explain and motivate large edits before we apply them. If no good explanation will be forthcoming, I'll ask a constable to look into these drastic deletions and consider reverting them.--Paul Wormer 06:46, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

I had already noted this before going to bed last night and was mulling what to do about it. I have now made up my mind -- I am going to revert all of Adam's changes.
Adam, as Paul says, we do NOT made such large and bold changes to ANY article here at CZ with first discussing this on the discussion page. Please give *detailed* reasons for such proposed deletions, and then wait for response from competent people. This policy is absolutely clear, well-defined, and part of our process. Please, in the future, adhere to it. Thanks, Constable Hayford Peirce 14:53, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
IN RESPONSE TO PAUL WORMER, 06:46 I'm glad to see that some of my edits got deleted by Adam with the edit summary saying that he is making it conform to the mainstream view. Which is hilarious, since I actually balanced out the ID view with the mainstream view in my edits, specifically by referencing the Wein paper which strongly criticises Dembski's views and, in the process, presents the mainstream view. But I guess I must be a crank, what with having written my undergraduate dissertation on the gaping flaws in ID. If Wein or myself are cranks needing deletion, then up is down and left is right. ;) –Tom Morris 15:03, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
Tom, we had *many* long discussions about this several months ago and the concensus was to indent *everything* until it got so far along that an (unindent) was necessary to restart it at the left margin. PLEASE do not start this argument again. If you do, I am going to be a very grouchy Constable. I KNOW that there are other systems, particularly at some academic or computer programming levels, but this is CZ, not the other places, and we have our own conventions and, for the general convenience of the other readers, I am going to make certain that *everyone* adhers to them. What you want to do on your *own* user page or Talk page, however, is up to you. Hayford Peirce 17:45, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
Consensus does not justify stupid rules, and indenting just for the point of indenting is a stupid rule. The point of indenting is to mark that one thing is a reply to another. If you have three posts and second post is a response to the first, and the third is a response to the first, then the second and third posts ought to be on the same level. If there is no way of expressing that post 3 is a reply to post 1 rather than post 2, then there's no point in indenting at all. Dogmatic adherence to broken rules is just that: consensus is not some sacred magic pixie dust that makes everything alright. Indentation is there to form a tree structure. A tree is not a straight line: it has branches. But if you can't clearly make a distinction between a new branch and a sub-branch of an existing branch, what's the point? I'm afraid, I cannot conform to bad rules. See this post to see why the current policy is utterly broken. Until the 'consensus' stops being broken, I won't conform to it. That everyone else wants to jump blithely into idiocy doesn't give me reason to. --Tom Morris 20:00, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
Hayford, I have to agree with Tom here. If there is an indentation I assume the reply is to the message immediately above. In this case, though, Tom was replying to Paul, so does it not make sense to have the two replies at the same level of indentation? A possible solution is to bullet the two replies so they are more distinct? This should probably be discussed further in the forum. Chris Day 16:22, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Bulleting might indeed work, if people could remember to do it. So sure, bring it up in the Forums again, and let's have a *real* discussion, and then, say, an actual vote and a clear decision one way or another. I sure don't want to spend the rest of my life fighting people about this! Hayford Peirce 16:32, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

I think this is a classic case of 'different people, different methods': how people indent is a matter of personality, mood, etc. definitely not worth making rules about. There is a rule that matters, and that we are all obeying, as far as I know, which is that no-one tampers with another's post, but otherwise, well, if you want to alter the number of colons before this post (currently nought) because you think it helps, then do go ahead. Ro Thorpe 18:51, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

As Professor Higgins, said, no matter *how* you talk, you'll make some *other* Englishman despise you.... Hayford Peirce 18:54, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Absolument - Ro Thorpe 19:35, 28 May 2009 (UTC)


Well, the days we hanged students for blasphemy in Edinburgh are passed sadly. Yes the changes should be reverted, that's not the way we do things here, but I'm glad Adam is here. I'd note that the changes 1)delete a large section that explains the sense in which ID is anti scientific, 2) remove a section on molecular biology that properly states that ID claims to be consistent with and fully accepting of molecular biology, and 3) replaces a section on irreducible complexity with a brief rgument that profoundly misses the point. The first of those changes (removal of a long section giving the essential anti ID viewpoint that ID is not scientific) is a serious unbalancing act; the second is just wrong, we may not like the fact that ID proponents claim molecular biology for themselves, but they do, so we must say so.

The argument inserted is this

"Intelligent design components claim that when the final form of a structure requires the involvement of each of several different elements for the final form to have any effective functionality, it would be impossible for this structure to have evolved, and would thus be evidence for creation. However, duplication of genes, followed by differentiation, can cause one (for example) protein that fulfilled two roles to now have two genes coding for it. If each of these genes evolves to specialise in a different aspect of the original function, followed by further duplication"

Note that wheras the ID case talks about structures the response is about proteins - i.e. it's not a response at all to the claim of ID. Unfortunately this becomes an example of a common rhetorical device of taking a question that's difficult to answer, giving an answer to a different question that's easy to answer, and just pretending that it's an answer to the difficult question. It's sophistry I'm afraid. The challenge is how to explain the apparent evolution of separate elements to achieve a functionality that is only achieved when those separate elements are combined. The resolution can take many forms - it can involve a) denying that this ever happens, b) postulating that the different elements evolve for a different functionality and are subsequently co-opted into a complex structure c) postulating that neutral mutations and duplication can give rise to elements with incipient functionality. However the answer given above is not an answer to irreducible complexity, as circumstances where that answer would apply would not be cases of irreducible complexity.

But, yes we don't do things like that here because a) we try here to first understand the arguments that the "fringe" are making, b) try to express those arguments as honestly and clearly as we can, i.e. in the stongest intellectual form that they can be made, and then c) explain what the scientific response to these is. The purpose of this as of other articles on Citizendium, is not to tell the world what we think ID is, it is to explain what the proponents of ID think it is (perhaps more coherently than they do), and also explain why scientists don't think much of it. The extracted argument given above I'd junk not because it is concisely anti ID, but because it is not an intellectually coherent answer to the question.Gareth Leng 14:49, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Context setting

While I have no strong position in this issue, I've been noting the deletions without discussion, and, indeed, the comments on "what scientists do" that may have been overdone.

Noting that the Related Articles page is not in standard form, I wonder if someone might start setting context there: the top level being the way life developed/created and the major scientific, religious, and other theories; Subtopics on the ID variants, etc. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:57, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Watchhmaker analogy or god?

I created a lemma for god. While I haven't done a detailed literature search, Unitarian/Universalist theologians discuss it a great deal, and "god" seems to be the more modern usage than "analogy".

Incidentally, Google count isn't an informative metric, because it could be bringing up centuries-old discussions. --Howard C. Berkowitz 16:28, 18 October 2010 (UTC)


The Intelligent Design sorting algorithm: [6] Sandy Harris 12:50, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

And a Doonesbury strip: [7]. Sandy Harris 00:16, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Devil's advocate

Has it occurred to proponents of intelligent design to argue that our scientific theories are products of human intelligence? As a result, these theories are adapted to the workings of the human brain, and that is a limitation upon these theories. This idea has distant underpinnings, as suggested by Kant, for example, who held that 'cause' and 'effect' were programmed into our brains and were not facts of nature. More recent philosophers like Chomsky and Pinker have pointed out that language is programmed into our brains, and what is more important to our formulation of scientific theories than language?

So the theory of evolution is a convenience of our minds. It 'explains' things in a paradigm that we can grasp. But, one might argue, the bigger picture, which transcends 'nature' and 'evolution', is based upon metaphysical truths of much greater importance. When we understand better how our childish minds work, we will also understand that the perfection of nature is no accident, rather our explanation of it is an accident of our mental construction. John R. Brews 18:37, 19 February 2013 (UTC)