Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quick Intro to the Science of Intelligent Design Theory

First, Id like to include a comment from another blog, Telic Thoughts, to help somewhat clear the fog regarding ID misconceptions.

The comment that I am replying to is centered and colored blue:

I thought that ID ended with the inference that a particular biological structure was designed.

MY understanding of the issue (how I view ID) is that ID is interested in discovering how to define the phenomenon we understand as "intelligence" and then to discover the relation between intelligence and other natural systems. Furthermore, ID attempts to discover which phenomenon (if any) is a necessary result of or necessarily a result of the phenomenon known as intelligence. This is where informational systems and information theory comes into play. ID deals with so much more than just biological structures; it deals with complete (informational) systems. So far, the math behind articles such as those of Dr.s Trevor and Abel seems to hold that informational systems will not generate themselves through stochastic processes.

Furthermore, intelligence has the capacity to generate informational systems. To simplify and make a long argument short, add it up and you just might get a correct answer. There is nothing "mystical" or religious going on here … unless you think that intelligence is inherently religious or "mystical."

To me, the interesting stuff would be when, how, why and of course who designed thestructure, but as I understand it all of that is outside the scope of ID.

Well, as far as I am aware, apart from psychoanalysis "why" questions can't be answered scientifically.

As to "when" and "how", those are definitely interesting questions that many scientists have and are working on. Ie: when did the first informational system appear in our universe? As to the how, when it comes to ID there are many opinions … some easier to test than others … all the way from "the universe is programmed to necessarily produce life" all the way to "an outside intelligence had to intervene and seed life." The initial, in my opinion is the more scientific and perhaps testable with mathematical and computer models and simulations, starting with an understanding among many phycisists and cosmologists that the universe itself is the result of the processing of information.

Now, this is where the "who" question comes in. However, I don't know if we can scientifically verify "who" even if a model positing the causal phenomenon as intelligence is the best and most coherent explanation, although that may be further possible ID research (such as the further research which nails the perpetrator after an examination of the forensic evidence posits an intelligent cause). Furthermore, when a person asks, "who," they usually mean that they want a specific name or something. ID Theory can't tell you the name of the guy who designed something, it merely let's you know that there was an intelligent cause to the event you see.

In addition ...

Here is a cycle that is observed within nature: If previously programmed by intelligence, information processors can produce programs which cause laws which, can produce designs and further information processors directly or through evolutionary means. This observation is the description of the creation of evolutionary algorithms to provide solutions to engineering problems.

There are also two other related phenomenon seen in nature: Natural law itself, which is now seen to be a result of the processing of information which causes the program we know as our universe; and the laws produced by the program of life which results from the replication and processing of information. The relation between these two systems -- our universe and life – and the aforementioned cycle is that they follow the cycle from information processor to program to laws to further information processors. Now, we just need to discover the cause. According to the observed cycle mentioned above, programming by an intelligent system is the most probable (and only observed) cause of this type of cycle, instead of accidental generation of information processors (resulting from nothing but chance and necessity) to begin the cycle.

But, the laws can still create other stochastic processes, such as the pattern created by a leaf fluttering to the ground or the position of where a lightning bolt streaks through the sky, without necessarily being designed to create that exact phenomenon. Stochastic processes will result from any set of laws. If there is matter and laws then there will be stochastic processes which are caused by the laws of attraction between matter.

Intelligent Design theorists and proponents operate on the mathematics involved with information theory and on the assumption that the aforementioned observed cycle is a law of nature, thus extrapolating it to related natural phenomenon such as the information processing ability of our universe and life and inferring if a certain type of information exists then previous intelligence is the cause.

As an aside, if inference and extrapolation of observations are not a tool in the scientists’ methodological kit, then a study of past evolution is not science, even though I do think that evolution from primitive replicating information processing biochemical systems has indeed occurred.

With the above understood ...

-ID Theory = Many features of nature are best explained by an intelligent cause because in our experience intelligence is the sole cause of their informational properties. Because ID has been continually verified by observational statistical data ever since human intelligence began to use language and then even more so when human intelligence began designing computer programs, ID is a theory as opposed to being merely a hypothesis. It is a theory which provides the framework for other hypotheses to emerge.

(Upon a basic understanding and definition of the key terms [information, information processor, and intelligence], which I discuss on my blog, a further hypothesis arises within ID theory: Life is necessarily a result of intelligence.)

-Statistical Data for ID Theory: If we take the sample of all information processing systems in which we know the cause, 100% so far have had an intelligent cause.

-more verifying observations (data): The only observations (data) we have of probabilities being overcome in a direction where further information is being created is through designed programs. One way that ID theory, as it relates to biology and evolution, has already been verified is by these evolutionary programs which are intelligently and purposefully designed to converge upon a solution to a specific problem, through the process of controlled random searches acting within the parameters of fine tuned information. Thus, evolutionary algorithms (which in our experience must be designed with a goal with which to generate and converge information) are one major verification of ID theory. Remember this, as I will be discussing it more in depth in latter blog posts.


Martin said...

The essays on this site represent some of the most thoughtful comments that I have seen so far on this topic of ID. I haven't read them all yet, but I will. Why are you publishing under a pseudonym? (I have tried to find your contact info, but failed.)

CJYman said...

Hello Martin,

So long as you aren't being sarcastic, thanks for the compliment. I don't mean to be rude there, but I've seen a fair amount of negative sarcasm on some of the other larger blogs that deal with ID Theory.

If you want more good perspective as well as critiques of Intelligent Design Theory, I highly recommend UncommonDescent and TelicThoughts.

Why do I publish under a pseudonym? I am a firm believer in the fact that an argument rises and falls on its own merit. It is much easier to present an argument solely on the facts presented within the argument, when all you can see is the argument and not the personality and supposed credentials or lack thereof behind the argument. The internet and blogosphere in particular provide an excellent venue for focusing on the argument rather than the personality in the background.

Please do continue to read through my posts and give me constructive criticism.

Martin said...

I assure you that I am not being sarcastic! What I have read so far indicates that your views and mine are very similar. I do understand that there is a lot of hostility among contributors to this debate, so your wariness is perhaps inevitable.

I will follow up on your suggestions regarding UncommonDescent and TelicThoughts. Over time, I will read more of your material and leave comments.

Martin said...

"Well, as far as I am aware, apart from psychoanalysis "why" questions can't be answered scientifically."

CJY, I have a little more free time, and I thought I would continue reading your material. Here is one minor point. As concerns the above quote, scientific explanation IS concerned with "why" questions. See, for example, Explanation in Science in the Encyclopedia of Philosophy.