hanging out wasting time at Uncommon Descent the last couple days. What can I say, I'm a sucker that way. I'm writing a paper, and I hate writing papers. During my last period like this I wasted time at Red State, trying to convince them that they weren't understanding how science works when they said that global warming was a conspiracy.
So, I've been banned at Uncommon Descent, and I can't address the stuff I see directly. (And actually, my answer, though true, would also get me banned). So, I'll address a post here. It's a short post, so I'll reproduce it:
What if we DID find irreducibly complex biological features?I actually think this is a fantastic question, that every ID advocate ought to ask themselves. Really, it's a fabulous question, and shows the barest inkling of starting to understand how science works: "What if we DID find irreducibly complex biological features?". What would that mean? The answer? Nothing. It wouldn't tell you anything. And here's why:
[by] Granville Sewell
In any debate on Intelligent Design, there is a question I have long wished to see posed to ID opponents: “If we DID discover some biological feature that was irreducibly complex, to your satisfication and to the satisfaction of all reasonable observers, would that justify the design inference?” (Of course, I believe we have found thousands of such features, but never mind that.)
If the answer is yes, we just haven’t found any such thing yet, then all the constantly-repeated philosophical arguments that “ID is not science” immediately fall. If the answer is no, then at least the lay observer will be able to understand what is going on here, that Darwinism is not grounded on empirical evidence but a philosophy.
You can't ever base your hypothesis on your failure to find something. Let's rephrase "finding irreducible complexity" to "failure to reduce the complexity". If you fail to reduce something into divisible parts there are two easy reasons why:
1. They truly are indivisible. Bingo, presto, intelligent design has supporting data!How do you tell the difference between these two possibilities? You can't. We refer to this in science as an answer that is uninformative. Sure, you've failed to divide something further, but what does that mean? That's why "irreducible complexity" isn't really a useful metric, and if the intelligent design movement is truly serious about science, they will abandon this metric as a measure of whether or not something is designed.
2. The person (people) currently looking at it aren't clever enough or lack the tools to properly divide it.
You can't base the test of your hypothesis on an uninformative answer. Just like I can't base my understanding of bacteria based on my failure to find a particular bacterium. You have to base science on positive outcomes (otherwise known as informative outcomes).
If the answer is no, then at least the lay observer will be able to understand what is going on here, that Darwinism is not grounded on empirical evidence but a philosophy.I give the lay observer a little more credit than that. Understanding uninformative outcomes isn't the easiest thing in science, but it is an important thing to understand. If I base my cosmological hypothesis on the fact that there isn't a planet that shares our orbit, I'm not really making a very good hypothesis. You have to have tests that will give informative answers. Uninformative ones are the ones that are "consistent" with your hypothesis, but don't prove or disprove anything. And the "irreducible complexity" sadly falls into that category.
Thank you, Granville Sewell, for asking an honest and important question about the intelligent design hypothesis. I hope you will also now treat this issue of "irreducible complexity" honestly, as well.
EDIT: However, one might ask, Granville Sewell: Why would you ask a question of Intelligent Design doubters on a site that bans Intelligent Design doubters?