Friday, 27 April 2012

Examples of using ID in practice

The statistical theory of Intelligent Design posits the practical possibility of inferring to purposeful intelligent activity towards changing configuration patterns of an arbitrary complex system, given the results of an analysis of these configuration patterns and an independent specification. In other words, based on compelling empirical evidence, ID states that under certain conditions inference to intelligent agency is the best explanation of certain traits.

Design inference is possible given functionally complex patterns of matter that comply with an independently provided specification. However, when intelligent actors generate simple patterns, it is not possible to infer to design using this theory without additional information.

We use the basic idea of Intelligent Design, i.e. the practical possibility of design inference, in many areas of our daily life. In Fig.1 we present an incomplete list of examples of this.

Fig.1. Examples of using intelligence involvement detection in practice.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

A Quote from Darwin

If I saw an angel come down to teach us good, and I was convinced from others seeing him that I was not mad, I should believe in design. If I could be convinced thoroughly that life and mind was in an unknown way a function of other imponderable force, I should be convinced. If man was made of brass or iron and no way connected with any other organism which had ever lived, I should perhaps be convinced. But this is childish writing (citation based on "The Design Matrix" by Mike Gene, emphasis added).
This is a quote from a letter by Charles Darwin to Asa Gray, a professor of botany at Harvard. Darwin wrote it in response to Gray's question, what it would take to convince him that life was designed. I think that Darwin's position here is profoundly unscientific. Yes, science encourages skepticism, but doubt is a double-edged sword. A scientist should always remain, to a reasonable extent, skeptical of his own views. A scientist should take pains to analyse all available data fairly and be prepared to follow evidence wherever it leads. 

Now that mathematics has established the existence of empirical limits of reason, such determination against the mysterious and non-formalisable should itself, dialectically, raise scientific doubts. On the other hand, the radicalism of bias is always dangerous as it can make us blind to something essential:  

If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Luke 16:31).


1. M. Gene, The Design Matrix, 2007 (see also the eponymous blog).
2. M. Behe & J. Wells, Then and Only Then.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Towards Defining Intelligence

Over the recent months during Intelligence Design related discussions at I heard many naturalistically-minded colleagues say that we, ID proponents, cannot adequately define intelligence.

I think that as far as cybernetics is concerned intelligence can be defined as anything that is able to impart functionality to systems. This phenomenological definition is analogous to the definition of gravity in Newton's mechanics as a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a pull proportional to their mass. Intelligence is the only means of creating functionally complex configurations/patterns of matter that we know of in practice. Figuratively speaking, intelligent agency leaves a trace of specified complexity behind, similarly to ants communicating by a feromone trail. Using the above definition we can get away from the curse of infinite regress that comes as a package deal with naturalistic emergence theories (that is, the so-called theories of self-organisation that have little to do with reality or practicality).

Defining intelligence in this way, we can get away from the vicious circularity of naturalistic emergentism present contemporary self-organisation theories.
  • Emergentism postulates the hypothetical spontaneous emergence of particular properties of systems under certain conditions. E.g. self-organisation assumes unobserved spontaneous generation of formal functionality and cyberbetic control in complex systems.
Another important issue here is the ability to scientifically describe concrete ways by which intelligence can act on matter. I believe that the action of intelligence is inherently heuristic. It is quite interesting to note in defense of this statement, that animals and humans can sometimes solve practical combinatorial problems very efficiently (see e.g. this paper about the efficiency of solving the travelling salesman problem visually by practitioners).