The shy, fragile face of ID

Over at The Panda’s Thumb there is a highly informative guest post by Dan Brooks detailing a pro-ID conference he was invited to in June of last year. After the conference, Brooks and others received an email "stating that the ID people considered the conference a private meeting,and did not want any of us to discuss it, blog it, or publish anything about it. They said they had no intention of posting anything from the conference on the Discovery Institute’s web site (the entire proceedings were recorded). They claimed they would have some announcement at the time of the publication of the edited volume of presentations, in about a year, and wanted all of us to wait until then to say anything." Apparently the little blossom that is ID is too fragile to survive under the harsh light of scientific scrutiny. Thankfully, Brooks has refused to play these reindeer games and details his experiences listening to the following speakers and talks:

  • Stephen Meyer – “The Theory of Intelligent Design as an Inference to the Best Explanation for the Origin of Biological Information.”
  • Doug Axe – “The Language of Proteins – Revisiting a Classic Metaphor with the Benefit of New Technology.”
  • Michael Behe – “Observational Data that Strongly Circumscribe the Role of Randomness in Molecular Evolution.”
  • Richard von Sternberg – “Genomes, Formal Causes and Taxa.”
  • Robert Marks – "The Need for Active Information in Evolutionary Search.”
  • William Dembski – “Conservation of Active Information in Evolutionary Search.”
  • Scott Minnich – “Testing Competing Hypotheses for the Origin of the Bacterial Flagellar Motor and the Type III Secretory System: Co-option, Co-evolution or Aboriginal Design?”
  • Ann Gauger – “Assessing the difficulty of pathway evolution: an experimental test.”
  • Scott Turner – “Agents of Biological Design: Why Are Living Things Well-Crafted for the Things They Do?"
  • Paul Nelson – “Why Building Animals is Hard.”
  • Jonathan Wells – “Designing an Embryo: Beyond Neo-Darwinism and Self-Organization.”

The usual suspects. Gauger, if you didn’t know is employed (along with Axe) at the Biologic Institute. Turner is a professor in the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at SUNY Syracuse.

Gunther Wagner and John Collier were also in attendance. Wagner was prevented from questioning Marks while Collier – whom Brooks describes as "a world class philosopher" – had to put up with Marks patronizing him. Also attending were Gregory Chaitin, Jonathan Smith, and Robert Ulanowicz. It would be interesting to hear what their impressions of the ID dog and pony show are.

Probably the highlight of Brooks’ account is the following:

[Gauger] was then prompted by one of her colleagues to regale us with some new experimental finds. She gave what amounted to a second presentation, during which she discussed “leaky growth,” in microbial colonies at high densities, leading to horizontal transfer of genetic information, and announced that under such conditions she had actually found a novel variant that seemed to lead to enhanced colony growth. Gunther Wagner said, “So, a beneficial mutation happened right in your lab?” at which point the moderator halted questioning. We shuffled off for a coffee break with the admission hanging in the air that natural processes could not only produce new information, they could produce beneficial new information.

Game over.


12 thoughts on “The shy, fragile face of ID

  1. I swear I could hear crickets chirping after reading “So, a beneficial mutation happened right in your lab?” Must have been an awkward moment for the ID crowd.
    Good stuff.

  2. Thanks for keeping an eye on these guys.
    Small correction: “SUNY Syracuse” should read “SUNY ESF” or “SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry”.

  3. ID does not deny beneficial mutations. Even Dembski says that existing CSI can beget lesser CSI.
    For all anyone knows, at this point, is if said beneficial mutations were the result of non-telic processes or perhaps it was the result of a “built-in response to environmental cues” as in Dr Spetner’s “non-random evolutionary hypothesis” (see “Not By Chance” by Dr Lee Spetner circa 1997).
    In the ID scenario living organisms are pre-programmed not only for variation but also to respond to changing needs.
    BTW if you guys want ID to go away just start demonstrating that genetic accidents can accumulate in such a way as to give rise to useful protein machines along with novel body plans.

  4. I wonder if the God of the Gaps can get subatomically small… I suppose if he’s omnipotent, he’d have no problems with neutron degeneracy or (if the theory happens to be accurate) being smaller than a string.

  5. Wow….if the creationists keep going like this, their rolling stone gathering the moss of scientific rationality, eventually intelligent design will include all the hallmarks of evolution (with 100% denial that they have accepted evolution).

  6. It seems like enough of a concession that evolution has proceeded at all, even with an Intelligent Designer clicking the remote. As long as the creationists acknowledge that the Book of Genesis is not literally true. They wind up pleasing neither the fundies nor the rationalists.

  7. When do creationists finally consider themselves shamed? Do they think saying more stupid things in public just makes them more popular and affective? Why would someone go to a conference with Michael Behe at it?

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