Friday, September 30, 2011

Crypto-Deism



America, Masons, Deism,Conspiracy Theories, Fundamentalism and Paranoia

America, nowadays, is a nervous if not rather frightened country (See my last blog entry, http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.com/2011/09/witchs-brew-from-townhallcom.html). The US are going through a tough time when many Americans have become paranoid about all manner of dogs, real and imagined, who are out to get them; from actual Islamic terrorists to florid tales about conspiratorial groups within the US government itself. Given this malaise it is no surprise that certain motifs - such as global warming theories - are listed as subversive of the American way of life and provoke passionate responses. Such reactions, if they boarder on the obsessive compulsive, are not good news for us in the West who look to the US for firm and confident leadership in science, technology, culture, politics, commerce and even in Christianity. Instead the Country seems to be tearing itself apart with all sorts of spiteful polarised arguments.
Another of those ideas regarded as subversive, especially amongst America’s considerable Christian fundamentalist population, is of course evolution or “Darwinism” as they refer to it. For Christian fundamentalists the question of the origins of life is seen through a “God did it” versus “Darwinism did it” dichotomy. The Christian anti-evolutionists see the two as mutually exclusive and this, as I have suggested before on this blog, is down to a subliminal deistical mindset which is over-awed by the putative creative and sustaining vitality of “naturalism” and therefore sees it as a threatening pretender to God’s sovereign role. For if “Darwinism did it” then that is regarded as a challenge to the claim that “God did it”. If God didn’t do it that means naturalism did it. If naturalism can do it, that means we don’t need God to do it. If we don’t need God to do it that makes His presence, perhaps even his very existence, superfluous. Thus for many American Christians “Darwinism” challenges the very basis of their faith.
In a blog entry dated 19th September 2011 anti-darwinist blogger Cornelius Hunter (See the “Darwin’s God" blogspot) paints the perfect picture of classic deism where“Natural laws” are putatively able to do God’s work for him thus giving him his redundancy papers. In fact this kind of deism, if followed to its natural conclusion, is in danger of taking God out of the picture altogether and handing Him His “God is Dead” certificate: Here are some pertinent extracts from Hunter’s article:

The view that God should work according to natural laws rather than direct providence has always been attractive to religious believers. These believers prefer a more distant God for many reasons. For instance, is it not obvious that God would not have directly created such an evil world? Instead, God must have created the laws and went away. Like Aristotle’s Prime Mover, God is removed from the evil and not culpable. But there are several other theological traditions that argue just as strongly against divine intervention, and for creation by natural law. One is that the world, especially the lowly things of the world, are beneath God’s dignity.
In the era of modern science the infra dignitatem argument, orinfra dig for short, traces at least back to the Cambridge Platonists in the seventeenth century. The idea was that God would not, as the Anglican botanist John Ray put it, “set his own hand as it were to every work, and immediately do all the meanest and trifling’st things himself drudgingly, without making use of any inferior or subordinate Minister.”
The subordinate minister or agent was Plastic Nature which, unlike the Creator, was not infallible or irresistible. Instead, Plastic Nature had to contend with the ineptitude of matter. The results were those “errors and bungles” of nature.
Such gnostic tendencies by no means ceased with the seventeenth century. Indeed, this view seemed to have a divine sanction. After all, to control the world exclusively through natural laws—God’s secondary causes—required an even greater God. In 1794 Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus Darwin wrote this Gnostic-sounding vision of how natural history should be viewed: “The world itself might have been generated, rather than created; ….”
Divine providence could engage in the noble activity of impressing laws upon matter, but not grovel in the muck of nature
Alfred Wallace agreed. Evolution’s cofounder argued that the universe was self-regulating according to its general laws and in no need of continual supervision and rearrangement of details. “As a matter of feeling and religion,” concluded Wallace, “I hold this to be a far higher conception of the Creator of the Universe than that which may be called the ‘continual interference hypothesis’.”
Darwin, for his part, was keen to the implications of this modern gnosticism. If God was not intimately involved in the world, then was He involved at all?
Likewise, it was reasonable for Darwin to argue that complex organs were not likely shaped by God because that would mean he works as man does. (This latter statement appears to be motivated by a humunclus view of ID – see http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.com/2011/09/does-intelligent-design-make-testable.html )

In his post Hunter puts these deistical ideas into the minds of Victorians who he claims had a Gnostic-like religious rationale for putting a distance between God and a world full of suffering and evil. These Victorians, according to Hunter, favoured the idea of evolutionary and “naturalistic” mechanisms being responsible for a morally sub-standard creation, because it got God off the hook for the evil and suffering in the world; basically a maneuver very similar to the Gnostic attempt to solve the problem of suffering and evil with a theological kludge which puts creation into the hands of a demiurge.
Now, I myself can’t speak for Victorians, but Hunter is clearly portraying them as promoting a distant and unconnected God, a God that is not exactly the epitome of the incarnate God of the Cross who closely identifies with His creation. Hunter’s subtext here is that because these spiritually suspect Victorians used and needed evolution as a kind of gnostic rationale for suffering and evil, therefore “evolution” is concomitantly discredited. But Hunter’s argument is only compelling for those who implicitly accept the force of the deistical notion that “naturalism” implies a disconnected if not absentee God. Ergo, Hunter is a crypto-deist.
Before proceeding I must make it clear that I have no strong commitment to conventional evolution and I would even go so far as to say that I’m very interested in the kind of criticisms Hunter makes of standard evolutionary theory. But if evolution is to be ultimately rejected it must be rejected for the right reasons: The crypto-deism that Hunter subliminally espouses is not one of those reasons.
It is irony is that many a Christian believer is subliminally impressed by the logic of deism and its challenge to their faith. That they (subconsciously) accept the underlying categories of deism is seen in their reaction to it: If “naturalism” renders God redundant they respond by re-employing God in acts of “super naturalism” ; that is they bring Him back in to the show by allowing Him to intervene in the workings of nature from time to time; the bigger the “intervention” the better it is. For if the creation of life is to be regarded as a kind of macro “intervention” that fails to fit into a Darwinian natural law framework then it leaves a conspicuous logical hiatus readily filled with God’s interventional role, a role which for many is the rationale for His existence and the underwriter of faith. But my thesis is that many anti-evolutionists have in fact swallowed the concept of deism and its concomitant concept of “naturalism”; for the only way they can think of challenging the sovereignty of “naturalism” is by holding onto to the concept of divine “interventions” in the face of what they take for granted as the otherwise autonomous “natural” processes. For the Christian crypto-deist the existence of those “interventions” is important, if not critical, to faith. Evolution is thought of as a non-interventional process whose efficacy to generate form and pattern must be challenged at all costs. In this context “generation” and absolute creation are conflated; there is a failure here to see that the concept of  "pattern" doesn't just apply to a configuration that is an end result but also to a configuration that is spread over time in the form of a process of generation.
At the heart of this reaction to the putative autonomous creativity of “natural mechanism” is, I suggest, a profound misunderstanding about just what science is uncovering. Science is not uncovering autonomous mechanisms and processes, but rather the amenability of the patterns of nature to be described using two kinds of mathematical object, namely, algorithms and statistics, (or “law and disorder” as I call it). That we find the patterns of nature to be amenable to mathematical description does not mean nature runs itself any more than computer algorithms can run themselves – such algorithms need the constant sustaining presence of a computational substrate to run. (A similar sustaining immersive presence of God may be alluded to in Acts 19:27b-29). Algorithms and statistics ostensively make nature more knowable but that says little about the metaphysical question of whether or not that that entails less need for some transcendent supporting substrate. If nature does contain those one-off discontinuities in pattern such as water being transmuted into wine, this interruption in the flow of normalcy would be no more an “intervention” than a hardware interrupt in the execution of a program. So called “naturalism”, (that is the reign of law of disorder) has less to do with absolute creation than it does a description of the patterns of what is already created. (I’m using the running of an algorithm as a metaphor here, but some people are taking it more literally! See here: http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.com/2007/02/time-travel.html )
In any case if the unknowability of the “miraculous” one-off somehow prompts us to feel the presence of God more keenly, then even should our world be exclusively a story of law and disorder it is still subject to the unknowable and the singular. Viz: The laws of our world are non-linear and therefore the patterns they generate are highly sensitive to  the least significant decimal places of real numbers, numbers whose information in the decimal depths is inaccessible to human kind. Moreover it may well be that quantum randomness is absolute in sense that it generates patterns that are not amenable to humanly manageable short time algorithms. Thus as far as we are concerned the cosmos is open ended, the receptacle of one-off providences, even under so called “naturalism” .
In sum then I don’t see why the tainting of evolution with Victorian religious motives and deistical assumptions has any necessary effect on its truth or falsehood. In some ways Hunter typifies the nervous anti-evilutionist who obsesses about the apparent threat evolution poses to his faith. Although his blog contains many thoughtful challenges to evolution it is largely the domain of anti-theory and on the actual history of life he has little to say.


End Note: I don't want to be entirely negative about Hunter. He often makes some good points. Here's one of them taken from the post I've considered above: It is perhaps one of the great enigmas in religious thought that one can profess to be an agnostic, skeptic, or even atheist regarding belief in God yet still hold strong opinions about God. Very true I feel.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Witch's Brew from Townhall.com

...plus, one Mayan end of the world prediction, a page or two from Revelation, Islamic terrorism, Haitian Earthquake, US tornadoes, Wikileaks upstarts, Japanese tsunamis, Super Volcanoes, North Korean H bombs, the Sun going Super Nova...... With that mixture of unconnected scare stories you won't want for an apocalypse.

The email below was been sent to me twice from what appears to be my "Townhall.com" account. "Townhall.com" is a right of right wing American Web sight. Now, I'm not exactly a follower of the "Zilch Government, Mega Big Business" philosophy, but I've signed up with them because I'm interested in hearing what the've got to say. But even by "Tea Party" standards the "Government Conspiracy" theory hawked below looks to be so extreme I am wondering if it is some kind of spoof based on an application "Poe's Law". I have to admit that I'm completely at a loss as to whether it's serious or not. But what the hell, it will definitely sell; threat of apocalypse sells books so why let authenticity get in the way of big business? The story exploits humanity's deeply entrenched superstitious and apocalyptic fears and taps into the 2012 survival guide market. It reminds me of the witch's brew in Macbeth; every scary rumour and morsel from urban folklore is thrown into a fearful brew, from Mayan end of the world predictions, through Islamophobia, to scientifc patter about Solar instability. After reading it you'll be hallucinating all sorts of frightening monsters from the id. Needless to say the author of the story wants us to read his four volume post-apocalypse survival guide which he will post to us if we send him a dollar or two; why let the End Of The World get in the way of a nifty Big Business plan? I'll be purchasing my copies after 21st December 2012 when I can get a knock down stock clearance discount - I suggest everyone does the same; why let the End Of The World get in the way of a good business head?


STOP PRESS 28/9/11

The  21st December 2012 profiteers are making hay while the sun shines: See:


http://uk.movies.yahoo.com/blog/article/260614/mexican-film-claims-proof-of-aliens.html


Dear Fellow American, The US government has been lying to you. I wish I could say that the government was just keeping the secret because they’re incompetent… But no one can miss how vital this secret is. In fact, this secret could literally save millions of innocent American lives… Or spell near-certain death for thousands of families. Please don’t think I say this to scare you; this is reality.

Horrific Predictions


For 2012…

From: Maxwell Swart – Independent American Researcher
Date: Friday 9/16/11
Dear Fellow American,
The US government has been lying to you.
I wish I could say that the government was just keeping the secret because they’re incompetent…
But no one can miss how vital this secret is.
In fact, this secret could literally save millions of innocent American lives…
Or spell near-certain death for thousands of families.
Please don’t think I say this to scare you; this is reality.
The worst part is…
We’ve made it easy for them to lie to us.
You and I have been ignoring the fact our loved ones are in grave danger. Pretending this “President” isn’t ruining our country, military and economy. Pretending it’ll just “blow over.”
But you’ve had that sinking feeling…
You know there is something very wrong here.
I can relate to that.
It was tough for me to admit it, but our homeland is in a precarious position.
As hard as it is to imagine, our great nation could literally be wiped-out – by an enemy we don’t even have on the radar.
You see, right now our biggest threat isn’t the Taliban, Islamic radicals, North Korea or even a deadly disease from Africa.
Our biggest danger, is also something we can’t live without…
The sun could kill us.
Oddly enough, there’s more here than pure scientific discoveries…

For The First Time In


Modern History, Science, Religion,

& Common Sense Agree…

Strangely enough multiple unrelated sources are pointing to something big:
  • The Mayan Calendar drops off completely
  • Current events have started sounding an awful lot like Revelation
  • Now NASA picks up potential for the sun to go haywire and decimate our nation.
Bottom line?
Something is very wrong. Sure, here in the US we’re still reasonably safe – but for how long?
Take a good look at the world. In 2010 alone we’ve had:
  • The Haitian earthquake killing over 220,000 – not to mention more massive earthquakes than the world has seen in the past few centuries…
  • A dramatic increase in tornadoes in the US…
  • Wikileaks jeopardizing our relationship with practically every country on the map…
  • North Korea gearing up to attempt a nuclear Armageddon…
  • Islamic Jihadists in Sweden…
Just turn on CNN & I’m sure you’ll have more.
The painful reality is… we’re spiraling downward.
The even more painful reality is…

If you haven’t started preparing for 2012 you could be sealing your family’s fate.
Again, this isn’t fear mongering. Here’s why:
I HATE to think of my fellow Americans harmed, and I pray that your wife and children stay safe.
Which is exactly why I’ve got to be honest with you about the dangers of 2012.
  • No one likes to imagine your starving neighbors rioting. Beating down your front door to steal any food you were smart enough to stockpile…
  • It’s a nightmare to imagine yourself losing everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve… The home your family was raised in, the nest-egg you scrimped and scraped to save.
  • Worst of all is the thought of our noble nation being torn apart from the inside. Torn apart by widespread fear and panic. Brother turning against brother.
Trust me, you don’t want to be forced to rely on strangers for your next meal.
Or even worse – the government…
But don’t take my word for it. Ask the Katrina survivors what it was like…
Not showering for days. Having no place to go but FEMA refugee camps, and being treated like dead weight…
You see, the reality here is not pretty. And the government knows it. But…

The Government Does NOT Want


This Information Becoming Public!

Since the Wikileaks fiasco, the electronic arm of the FBI has been on the prowl to shut down any and every website that might have “potentially harmful” information.

While I applaud them for prosecuting that good-for-nothing cyber-spy Assange, the sad truth is they’re going to tackle anything they see as a threat.
Which wouldn’t be so bad, but, this administration sees American pride and truth as a threat.
Now, I’m not going to lie down and give up without a fight, but, I’m not sure how much longer this information will be available…
Please do not procrastinate! Without this knowledge you and your family are wide open to serious danger that you absolutely must prepare for.
Sincerely,

Maxwell Swart

P.S. NASA has made some of the biggest discoveries in human history. Don’t let their earth shattering secret that could save our nation stay hidden!
P.P.S. You’re not going to get any scientific mumbo-jumbo here – just exactly what you need to save your family, and possibly your country.
Click Here to learn exactly how to protect yourself & your family from the horrific predictions of 2012…








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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Failed YEC Star Light “Solution” One Year On


Jason Lisle – A Clever-Dick Ahead of the Game?

On September 22nd of last year “Answers in Genesis” published yet another attempt to solve a very basic problem that has bugged Young Earth Creationism since its 1960s recrudescence amongst Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists – namely, the problem of how star light arrives on our Earthly doorstep given that few people disagree (even YECs) that those stars have distances measured in thousands, millions and even billions of light years. The author of this latest YEC “solution” is AiG blogger Jason Lisle. Lisle’s theory uses the fact that issues of repeatability and uniformity make it difficult to measure the one way speed of light with scientific rigor, whereas the two way speed of light can be measured with much greater experimental strictness. In 1963 the theoretical physicist W. F. Edwards showed that the results of special relativity still apply even if the speed of light in one direction is different from that in the opposite direction; in fact it is possible, without compromising special relativity, to arbitrarily define the speed of light as infinite in one direction and ½ x c in the opposite direction – as long as the “there and back” journey returns an average speed of c, special relativity still works, it seems. Thus, it is possible to define an anisotropic speed of light without any apparent observational knock on effect.

The star light problem is not only a very difficult problem for YECs, but it is also a very clear problem, a problem that even your average fundamentalist rube with little understanding or respect for institutionalized science can appreciate; go out on a starry night and look at the Milky Way and one has on one’s hands an elementary observation that appears to refute Young Earth Creationism, regardless of the veracity (or otherwise) of Big Bang Theory or Evolution. Given the seemingly intractable nature of this elementary difficulty with YEC it is easy to imagine how the slightest hint of a possibility that the speed of light, if only one direction, might be infinite would ping on a bulb in Jason Lisle’s fundamentalist head.

And so Lisle developed his “Solution” of the YEC star light problem: To be consistent with his reading of the Bible Lisle postulates that all the distant heavenly bodies, with appropriate words of magic from God himself, were “spoken into existence” around 6000 years ago “just like that” (as the comedian Tommy Cooper used to say). Because Lisle thinks (wrongly) he can define the speed of light to have an all but infinite value toward the Earth he can claim that we see the stars more or less as they are now.

But this theory has a major flaw, a flaw that neither Lisle nor his AiG reviewers spotted: My understanding is that Lisle could not postulate this geocentric anisotropy in the speed light without introducing space-time distortions that would constitute a gravitational field. Therefore what he thinks of as just a mathematical maneuver involving the setting of the one-way speed of light by convention is in actual fact a statement that has physical content, content that in all likelihood violates observation. My more detailed criticism of this theory can be seen in this blog entry .

Since the publication of Lisle’s paper things, as far as I can tell, have been quiet at AiG regarding the gravitational field problem, although a few months ago my blog was briefly linked to from AiG’s administration pages. However, outside of AiG many are now aware of the failings of Lisle’s “solution” to YEC's biggest and yet simplest conundrum. This page on rationalwiki has, amongst many other comments and links, a link to my blog post refuting Lisle’s paper and this talk page on the same site takes a quote from my post. If you want to see further atheist comments on Lisle follow the links to “Sensuous Curmudgeon” on the former of the two rationalwiki web pages I have linked to. More views on Lisle from an atheist platform (including a quote from my blog post) can be seen on the provocatively named web site Why won’t God heal amputees? ( a valid question in my view)

Amongst scientifically literate Christians the reaction to Lisle is also scathing. I don’t think my particular issue with Lisle is the only line of criticism that one can take; in fact this web page at GeoChristain contains a comment by GeoChristian himself where he mentions other issues that need consideration, such as Maxwell’s equations, stellar aberration and interference. However, off the top of my head I’m not so sure that even these phenomena could be used to detect a systematic skew in the speed of light in one direction alone. The point about the Edwards space time is that it is possible to get rid of the skew in the speed of light with the appropriate coordinate transformation; that’s what makes such a skew simply a convention. But as soon as the light speed skew varies from place to place one gets a gravitational field that cannot be eliminated with a coordination transformation; under these conditions GeoChristian’s points are probably valid. However GeoChristain also writes: "Finally, I wish I could take credit for this, but I didn’t really bother studying Lisle’s nutcasery beyond the point where it was obviously wrong, but someone did, and it turns out that Lisle’s variable speed of light would require a gravitational field oriented across the universe toward the Earth, one that could quite easily be noticed if it actually existed". So clearly he is also aware of the gravitational problem

****

Now, when it comes to YECs I don’t always want to have to play “hard cop” with them; after all deep time, like deep space, can be very intimidating and demeaning to small creatures such as ourselves, creatures whose deep seated sense of self importance is violated when we hear that we are just a small scratch at the end of huge tracts of time utterly devoid of human effect and endeavor; the temptation to restore one’s self esteem by shrinking time until one sees oneself as a big fish in a small pond is overwhelming for those whose religion presents them with a naive view of humanity’s cosmic significance. Likewise deep space also has the effect of belittling our presence and therefore one can understand the motivation (if not the science) behind the latest clutch of geocentric Christian fundamentalists who are denying Copernicus and whose beliefs restore the physical importance of the Earth by placing it at the stationary centre of a universe that rotates around the Earth all in one day. In the vast theatre of space and time the human act is as if something very much smaller than a microbe alighted on the huge stage of a very long drama. And yet Christian theism’s perspective on humanity is that humankind actually does have a centre stage significance in the cosmic drama. In the light of this Christian paradox it is understandable that a naive religious egotism often instinctively rebels against the humbling dimensions of space-time with some kind of outright denial, a denial that is seen both at AiG and amongst Christian geocentrists.
I also try to be understanding of the skepticism one finds amongst reasonable atheists; after all, the notion of a complex transcendent entity like God is barely tractable to the imaginative discourses of theology let alone a science that is largely geared up for dealing with relatively simple objects that manifest themselves in patterns of law and disorder amenable to mathematical treatment. This highfalutin entity, of which Christian theism claims to be the self explaining source of a contingent cosmos, is only known to His followers through a mixture of intuition, subjective epiphany, personal anecdote, historical imagination and some philosophy. Therefore when atheists say there is little or no evidence for God it is presumptuous to bad-mouth them from an assumed position of epistemic arrogance; the reasonable atheists have at least a prima-fascie case (although I believe it to be a case I must ultimately reject). I say this as a Christian theist who realizes that a reciprocating mutual respect is not going to be an option with the likes of the acerbic PZ Myers of this world.
But, bad-mouthing, at least of the pietistic kind, is the consummate skill of Ken Ham at AiG; when he is not slagging off well-meaning liberal-left atheists he is accusing scientifically literate Christians of transgressing and compromising on his bigoted reading of “The Word of God”; Ham does his level best to impugn the consciences and motives of Christians who don’t accept the divine authority of his opinions. Given the cognitive fragility of the theist’s case it hardly helps if yet another botched attempt to the solve the YEC star light problem is seen, once again, to proceed against a background of doctrinaire, overbearing and spiritually egotistical Christian partisans. Perhaps I should close ranks with AiG on the basis that Christians should stick together, but this is impossible, because as a traitorous heretic in the eyes of AiG I’m likely to be regarded as worthy of an even lower place in hell than PZ Myers. Not that that worries me as the grace in Christ more than matches the bullheaded and sectarian pronouncements of some of His querulous followers. However, in trying to sum up the reflection of this affair on both Christian “heretics” like myself and the Flintstone fundamentalists, Jason Lisle has in fact taken the words right out of my mouth: “HOW EMBARRASSING!”

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Does Intelligent Design Make Testable Predictions? Part 3: Homunculus ID

Parts 1 and 2 of this series can be found here and here respectively. The “ID predictions” I have been looking at appeared in this post on Uncommon Descent. The predictions examined in this part all pertain to Biology and Paleontology, subjects outside my own area of training and interest. Therefore my comments will be rather brief and may not do justice to the subject, although this gives me an excuse to quickly wind up this series.

As I have said before on this blog my general view is that unless we have a-priori information about the nature of the designer, then in its most abstracted form, few substantive predictions can be made from ID  After all, it seems that at the back of most ID supporter’s minds is an intelligent entity whose genus is so different in substance to ourselves that it renders unreliable all attempts to anticipate that entity’s methods and motives. In particular, if we are dealing with the standard concept of Deity then we are talking about something transcending the human realm and which is not only the ultimate source and sustainer of biological configurations but also of the fundamental physical regime supporting those configurations. It is this transcendence which raises questions over the biocentric concept of ID we see on UD: UD correspondents usually have a low view of the laws of physics and believe those laws do not provide sufficiently improbable preconditions (i.e. preconditions with adequate information content) to explain the absolute improbability of biological configurations. But if Deity has selected those laws then who knows what level of computational complexity Deity is capable of rising to in order to find and pull out of the limitless tracts of platonic space a very rare kind of physical regime; namely, a regime with a sufficiently high probability of generating life (assuming such a regime has at least a mathematical existence). Therefore even evolution, as a configuration generating process, can be interpreted as having its origins in ID. All in all then, without some a priori theological revelation about the specific nature of the designer, the making of specific predictions from abstract ID is a very chancy business.

As I have already said, the ID supporters who contribute to UD are in the main not convinced that our cosmic physical regime possesses a sufficiently high probability of generating life. They may claim that this is an a-posteriori opinion based on empiricism, but I’m not so sure about that; I suspect cultural, philosophical and metaphysical reasons also figure. For example, militant atheism is very enamored with the concept of a life generating physical regime and this has had the effect of spiritually blighting evolutionary ideas. Moreover, latent deism in our culture favours the notion that like a well oiled clock rational physical regimes run all by themselves, rendering redundant a supporting diety. Therefore in a reactionary move against militant atheism some IDers, I feel, prefer a much more overt involvement of ID than carefully chosen physics. They are therefore working to an almost homunculus view of ID: They envisage a designer very much in the anthropomorphic mold as a kind of molecular engineer or DNA programmer who is tinkering with the given machinery of nature and almost on a par with an alien technological player who is inside the cosmos rather than transcending it.

However, I’ll hand it to the UDers; if this homunculus view of ID is assumed then it does at least suggest vaguely perceived expectations about the molecular configurations we call life, expectations which, if realized, are difficult to make sense of in the context of bog standard evolutionary theory. This biologically hacking homunculus, one might expect, would leave traces behind that do not sit well with evolutionary theory, but that is about as strong as I can put it because I don’t think we are talking hard science predictions here. In fact homunculus ID “predictions” are more akin to the kind of retrodictions historians make as they call on that important resource of understanding they refer to as the “historical imagination”. However, once established evolutionary theory has been dumped a form of prediction by negation can be carried out and perhaps even positive predictions can be made on the basis that we are dealing with a biological hacker rather than a cleverly chosen generating system. For example, we might expect a hacker to clean up his code every now and then and thus predict that junk DNA is unlikely to exist. But then again even this prediction is not absolutely assured – a hacker might well want to keep a record of his past efforts and simply “comment out” historical code. Who knows? After all, by definition intelligence is personality and personality is intelligence. Therefore it is likely that a Creative intelligence will have those atypical idiosyncrasies and foibles that make personality difficult to predict.

Most of the following predictions have their basis in anti-evolutionary and homunculus expectations and really are a way of saying “We don’t believe Darwinism did it”. However, if some of these predictions are correct they would present conundrums for standard evolutionary views. But frankly I see them as less predictions than a set of stated obstacles to evolutionary ideas; when I surveyed this list I was unsure whether I was dealing with authentic “predictions” or simply a wish list of hoped for observations that would give the evolutionists of the scientific establishment a hard life!

ID Prediction 05: ID predicts an increase in evidence for the non-adequacy of the DNA-centric view of living systems.

My Comment: Possibly; a hacking molecular engineer is free to build significant synergy into the biological contexts that use DNA simply as one resource amongst many others. This would be one in the eye for evolutionary theory where the story of the mutating “selfish” replicator is exclusively center stage.

ID prediction 06: ID predicts that complex molecular convergence will happen routinely.

My Comment: Possibly; a molecular engineer is not bound by the strict nesting of the “Tree of Life” concept and has no need to reinvent the wheel each time; useful complex molecular mechanisms can be co-opted for use right across a spectrum of otherwise seemingly unrelated organisms.

IID prediction 07:  ID predicts the presence of irreducible complexity with respect to macromolecular systems and organelles.

My Comment: Possibly: Our molecular engineer is not bound by the incremental change of evolution that requires structures to be reducibly complex; presumably he can and does implement great leaps of the imagination. The trouble with IC is that it is difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt: The presence of IC may only be apparent; a human perspective effect of only seeing the end result of a complex and convoluted history of change that defies human imagination to reconstruct.

ID prediction 08: ID predicts that the prevalence of functional protein folds with respect to combinatorial sequence space will be extremely small.

My Comment: The frequency of functional protein folds is not a consequence of the ID hypothesis but a consequence of our physical regime. If it turns out that functional protein folds are too few and far between for standard evolutionary processes to search them out, then evolutionists would have to think again. Needless to say this would not be a problem for a very intelligent designer who can presumably locate functional protein folds. This is not so much a prediction but a much desired show stopper for evolution which if true would enable the homunculus IDers to shout “I told you so!” and then usher in their homunculus.

ID prediction 09: ID predicts that evolutionary pathways to new protein functions will require multiple co-ordinated non-adaptive mutations (more so than likely to be achieved by a random process).

My Comment: Possibly; basically this is a molecular restatement of IC: Presumably our homunculus designer is intelligent enough to create structures that can only be arrived at by large inventive leaps of the imagination.

ID prediction 10: ID predicts that DNA, which was once considered to be junk, will turn out to be functional after all.

My Comment: Difficult to tell: Junk DNA may be an idiosyncratic artifact of the designer’s methods; he might want to keep evidence of his experiments.

ID prediction 11: ID predicts delicate optimisation and fine-tuning with respect to many features associated with biological systems.

My Comment: Quite Possibly: One might expect a homunculus designer to have pride in his work and have a desire to hone his creations to an optimum. But then whether evolution is efficacious enough to do the same is unknown to me.

ID prediction 12: ID predicts that organisms will exhibit in-built systems which promote evolvability (e.g. front loading).

My Comment: Possibly; are they referring to “front loading” in terms of on board genetic code waiting in the wings? But then if evolution works, it could only do so as a consequence of the selection of the right systems constituting the physical regime; in that sense even bog standard evolution is “front loaded” – although ironically neither militant atheists nor homunculus IDers are very clear about this fact.

ID prediction 13: ID predicts the observed pattern of the fossil record whereby morphological disparity precedes diversity.

My Commment: I don’t see why this is a specific prediction of homunculus ID; it seems also to be an expectation of standard evolution.

ID prediction 14: ID predicts saltational, or abrupt, appearance of new life forms without transitional precursors.

My Comment: Possibly; this prediction presumably maps to our homunculus designer’s ability to implement his leaps of imagination.

Final Comments
I’m uncomfortable with homunculus ID because it appears to give God an ancillary role in His creation rather than a totalizing role; it has a tendency to contrast the Creator over and against a contingent physical regime, as if that regime’s ability to generate form and pattern somehow answers the question of aseity. As a consequence homunculus ID actually favours atheism should homunculus ID's scientific program become bankrupt. Another fact that makes me feel uncomfortable with homunculus ID is that intelligence, at least intelligence as we understand it, actually generates its artifacts using a form of generalized evolution: Human intelligence is capable of only limited intellectual leaps – for example, a Neolithic culture could not invent a jet fighter – the latter can only be an end product of a progression of many incremental innovative steps involving the co-option of many fortuitous developments along the way, both cultural and technological. And yet this process culminating in a highly sophisticated artifact is a product of both limited human foresight and limited intelligence and entails a convoluted route of trial and error that doesn’t necessarily have those sophisticated end products in sight: Ergo, the complex artifacts of our technological societies were not purposely strived for early on in the history of man; and yet that early history contains vital precursors for the sophisticated artifacts of industrial society.

It is a truism that baring the existence of magic certain structures can only come about as the end product of a sequence of stages. This necessary sequential assembly implies that these structures have a lower limit computational complexity as measured in terms of the number of necessary precursor stages required to arrive at them. Intelligence itself (with an eye on some of Penrose’s ideas) may not be thoroughly computational, but one can use computational ideas to elucidate the complexity of the products of intelligence just as one can do so for the products of evolution. Taking these ideas of complexity together with the evolutionary nature of human technical and cultural development, homunculus ID must, in the final analysis, conceive its concept of intelligence in generalized evolutionary terms. In any case a general evolutionary experimental method of search, reject and select is implicated in the operation of intelligence as we understand it. Therefore if homunculus ID becomes associated with too strong an anti-evolutionary platform its thinking will harbor deep internal contradictions.