Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Intelligent Design Experiments

Ben asked me to name an Intelligent Design theory that could be tested. Here are two good ones. The first one "test" evolution. The second one "tests" intelligent design. Both of these are from [].

The Punctuated Equilibrium Theory Test

This test is essentially an experimental test of the supposed biological mechanism which drive the rapid speciation predicted by the theory of punctuated equilibrium. The theory of punctuated equilibrium basically states that given the right selection pressures and population sizes, species can evolve extremeley rapidly. By saying the evolution was too rapid to form fossils, this theory attempts to explain away why there are not the predicted fossil intermediates of evolutionary theory. However, according to the fossil record, this change is often so rapid that it ought to be quite visible within, say, 1000 or even fewer generations!!! Given that punctuated equilibrium states that the changes occur most rapidly in small populations in environments with very strong selection pressures, this evolution ought to be possible to observe under the properly controlled conditions.

Put a bunch of small populations of say, rhodents, or small animals with high reproduction rates into small enclosed controlled environments with strong selection pressures, and see what you get! If there really is a biological mechanism which allows for the rapid speciation called for by the "punc eq" model, then eventually you ought to see your guinea pigs adapt to their strange new environment and perhaps actually form a new species!

Of course it is realized that this experiment might need to be done a thousand times before it could really be said, "punc eq" is, biologically speaking, a garbage theory. However, punc eq enthusiasts boast of how adaptable life really is and how quickly it will change given the proper conditions. Just open up a few niches and change the environment, and whalla, you're supposed to get about 30 new orders of mammals with a relatively short evolutionary time period! Something at least beginning to approach such changes should be observable givne the right conditions.

We've done a little bit of thinking over here to come up with some possible "weird" environments to choose from. Perhaps a computer could randomly select the variables to allow for large and random selection pressures. Here go a few:
1. Random electrical storms/electrical charges.
2. Extremely strong magnetic fields, perhaps fluctuating
3. Slightly, or dramatically changed oxygen content of air, or air-gas content in general
4. Bubbling Milk Pots.
5. Constant but controlled high winds with a food source at the top.
6. Random and constantly falling objects
7. Bumpy, shifting, moving terrain, such that animals might be flung into the air if at the wrong place at the wrong time.
8. Strange obstacle course type setups with food sources inside.
9. Non-biological but potential food sources.
10. Random defeaning noises.
11. Predators or prey completely foreign in the organisms natural environment (for example crawdads).

Testing Irreducibility Complex Systems
Let us say that a primitive organism uses a hemoglobin-like molecule to dispose of unwanted oxygen. We observe that there are other organisms which use oxygen for respiration. We understand that their usage of oxygen involves a base number of different interacting enzymes and organ parts, not present in the organism which doesn't use oxygen. Thus, for an organism to use oxygen for respiration, we can see some pre-specified level of a target complexity necessary over the complexity found in organisms which don't use oxygen for respiration. Through "reverse engineering" of biological systems, we can come up with a target complexity retroactively. Irreducibly complex systems are useful in detecting design because they clearly show that some target level of specified complexity was necessary for some base level of functionality to be present. Looking at the steps necessary in the hypothetical construction of irreducibly complex systems may reveal many places where specifications must have existed in the past, and thus complex specified information exists in the present.



  • At 6:46 PM, Blogger Ben Meyer said…

    Your first statement about natural selection is an example of a scientific experiment.

    "It has a set of actions and observations, performed in the context of solving a particular problem or question, to support or falsify a hypothesis or research concerning phenomena."

    There are many examples where you can pick some environment and make it "weird" and watch as the animals change. What if the cold war had not ended and a lot of the world had been nuked. Even in the U.S. there were be spots that would get only a little radiation. Now those humans that could cope with the radiation would survive. Any child who couldn't cope would die and thus not have kids on their own. Pretty soon there would be lots of people who could get by without problem. Sound silly? That is exactly what happened to the animals in chernobyl (click for some more info) You can come up with many different tests and you could argue if this example even has anything to do with natural selection and evolution. Suffice it to say the first test is a valid scientific experiment.

    Moving on to the second section on Irreducibility Complex Systems and intelligent design. The wikipedia link I posted last time already covered Irreducible complexity and many other tests too. Click on the link for a good reason for why it is not a Scientific experiment. Not to over use wikipedia here and here are some more explinations.

    Again I am not trying to say that ID is wrong, but that before one can claim intelligent design is a scientific theory it must have a scientific experiment. Until then it really shouldn't be part of science class.

  • At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Before you get to far in to your research, even the Vatican had made the comment that Intelligent Design does not belong in a science class, and that it should be taught in a religion class. link

    Now if the Vatican, who is always the last to admit anything, is saying that Intelligent Design does not belong in a science class, you might want to consider teaching Intelligent Design to your children in a "theology class" rather then a "science class".

  • At 12:17 PM, Blogger Deena said…

    It seems to me that you have a very narrow view of ID. ID is a lot more than just "proving" that the world was created. It is also about learning all the intricacies of the world around us. Since I believe in ID I know that I am not surrounded by "accidents of nature" so I am going to look carefully for the patterns that I'm sure are there. For instance, in homeschool I might have the children count the petals on flowers, spirals on pinecones and seeds on a sunflower. With a little coaching my children will observe that these come in fibonacci numbers. They can observe that snowflakes never repeat a design. They can look for symmetry like rain drops in a pond; and bilateral symmetry like orchids. After making observations and given the hypothesis that everything was designed with purpose in mind this can lead to some fascinating questions and experiments. For instance, why ISN'T the intestines symmetrical or the heart symmetrical? My kids could explore this issue and find out that the intestines forfeit bilateral symmetry to gain length to do it's job. The right side of the heart pumps blood around the lungs. The left side of the heart pumps blood around the entire body so the left side needs to be bigger.

    So you see, this really isn't bible class I'm teaching here. This is science class. And even if you disagree with Intelligent Design you would probably teach an identical science class yourself because these observations and hypothoses are pure science.


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