Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Signs of the Design (Or Lack Thereof)

Rant on ID verses SETI

One interesting thing that came out of the debate between Dembski and Hitchens was when Dembski mentioned SETI in the context of ID, which set off a chain of thoughts in my head.

Consider if you wanted to send out a signal that indicated there was 'intelligent' life here on Earth so that a similarly situated life could detect it when the signal reached their world.

How would you do that? What kind of signal could you send? Or conversely, what kind of signal might we expect?

If, as Dembski suggests, the entire universe is Intelligently Designed, and all of creation bears the mark of this intelligence then EVERY signal from space should be immediately recognizable as a signal of intelligence. So, why isn't the chaotic noise we observe from space considered intelligent?

Obviously, if we wanted to try to send such a signal we would have to send a signal that was UNLIKE any signal we detect in nature. It would have be unusual or unique, it would have to stand out against the cacophony of NATURAL processes in the universe (including those that produce giant clouds of organic materials in space).

So, to me, this is yet another gapping hole in the ID Titanic. Add to this the fact that claim, after claim, after claim of ID has been demolished by the advancement of science. Sorry, but in my play book you don't get to move the goal post a distance greater than the entire playing field.

Some highlights of major failed ID claims:

* Irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum (soundly refuted)

* Irreducible complexity of the eye (not only refuted but demonstrated to have occurred dozens of different ways)

* abiogenesis of pyrimidine ribonucleotide claimed to be impossible (refuted "Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions"; Nature 459, 239-242 (14 May 2009))

* abiogenesis of ribose claimed to be impossible (refuted "Selective derivatization and sequestration of ribose from a prebiotic mix"; Greg Springsteen and, Gerald F. Joyce; Journal of the American Chemical Society 2004 126 (31), 9578-9583)

NO other scientific 'theory' would be allowed to make so many failed predictions and be that wrong and still be considered viable (ok, except the poorly named String "Theory" - which is more of a mathematical framework than a proper theory).

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