Bogie as Sam Spade
Basil Rathbone made a fine Sherlock
Forensics is fairly straightforward in one sense. One does not try to prove what is true, but rather one seeks to demonstrate what is not true and then the remaining answer is likely to be right. In the case of a crime, suspects are eliminated one by one until the most likely suspect is identified and charged. The Detective Novel is a popular genre, one that most people who read fiction have at least tried to explore. From Wilkie Collins' exquisite The Moonstone, which T. S. Eliot described as the first and greatest English detective novel, and which remains a classic of the genre (Pictures of Collins here) to Arthur Conan Doyle's popular Sherlock Holmes novels to the latest modern thrillers written by James Patterson or Patricia Cornwell or John Sanford, detective novels have been written with fly-on-the-wall aspects, first person or second person and all other conceivable perspectives, from the experiences of detectives, lawyers, psychologists, pathologists and simply interested non-professionals who have the gift of writing fiction and share it with the world.
You can get it on Amazon
Once detectives have gathered all evidence available and eliminated all possible perpetrators to settle on one or two people, it is then in the hands of the prosecuting attorney to take the case to court. Court will be a different setting. While detectives were eliminating suspects until one or two are left by ruling out other possible criminals, the attorneys will now have to assert the positive evidence that points towards the suspect(s) as the murderer(s) beyond reasonable doubt.
Your mind is the courtroom. Darwinists, Creationists and ID proponents have presented their suspects to you. Darwinists credit blind chance, Creationists give the credit to God and ID'ers simply state that it had to be a Designer and not chance that did the deed of creating everything. You are to weigh the evidence, knowing where it comes from, and make the decision. But you have a hopefully long life to mull over all the evidence and the assertions of the prosecutors. Keep in mind that the prosecutors themselves are part of the decision. Are they witholding evidence? Have they twisted the evidence or made unsupported statements? The reliability of the prosecutor is part of your decision-making process.
Hopefully you are receptive to the following two articles, especially the last one on detecting design. Consider them and then come back and ask yourself this question:
The “Explanatory Filter” devised by William Dembski (see IDEAcenter.org) includes intelligent causes as a last resort, once natural law and chance are ruled out. Often, it takes time to work through the filter. When the crop circle craze hit, the simplicity of the circles suggested a natural cause at first. But then the patterns got more and more elaborate, exhausting the probabilistic resources of chance or natural law (or both) to account for them. In addition, they exhibited complex specified information, like mathematical forms only minds would comprehend. This shows that scientists intuitively use the filter, even if they don’t accept Dembski’s intelligent design theory.
A test case is underway in Africa. Live Science reported that researchers are stumped at mysterious circles out in the middle of nowhere, 111 miles from the nearest village. “In the sandy desert grasslands of Namibia in southern Africa, mysterious bare spots known as “fairy circles” will form and then disappear years later for no reason anyone can determine,” reporter Stephanie Pappas wrote. “A new look at these strange patterns doesn’t solve the wistful mystery but at least reveals that the largest of the circles can linger for a lifetime.”
Geometric circles are familiar in the plant kingdom. Some mushrooms grow in circles called “fairy rings.” Some superstitious people coming across these near-perfect circles of mushrooms jumped to the conclusion that mystical spirits were at work in the forest (thus the name). They didn’t use the explanatory filter correctly; it shows that rushing to a design inference can be unwarranted. Some grasses and bushes can also be found growing in circles. The usual explanation is that the organism moves outward in all directions as nutrients in the center are exhausted. That explanation, though, does not fit the African fairy circles. They cannot yet be explained by nutrients, toxic vapors, termites or other natural causes so far examined.
Researchers are treating this like a puzzle-solving expedition that, even though unlikely to be solved soon, will yield an answer eventually. “That’s science, isn’t it?” Tschinkel remarked. “If you knew the answer ahead of time, it wouldn’t be much fun.”
Exercise: Find historical examples of secular scientists or evolutionists allowing for an intelligent design inference after ruling out natural law and chance (SETI being a classic example). List some scientific fields that routinely infer intelligent causes (e.g., archaeology).
|The Short Answer: We detect design by looking for the tell-tale signs that an intelligent agent acted. Intelligent agents tend to produce specified complexity when they act. We can then seek to detect design by looking for that specified complexity. Using an "explanatory filter" helps us to use normal logic to infer where design was a cause involved in creating an object. Design also could makes other predictions which can also help us to detect design.|
The Long Answer:
When intelligent agents act they produce specified complexity. We know this because we understand that when intelligent agents act, they use choice. An essay by William Dembksi lays out in detail how we can understand the products of intelligent design by examining how designers work:
To see why CSI [complex-specified information] is a reliable indicator of design, we need to examine the nature of intelligent causation. The principal characteristic of intelligent causation is directed contingency, or what we call choice. Whenever an intelligent cause acts, it chooses from a range of competing possibilities. This is true not just of humans, but of animals as well as extra-terrestrial intelligences. A rat navigating a maze must choose whether to go right or left at various points in the maze. When SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) researchers attempt to discover intelligence in the extra-terrestrial radio transmissions they are monitoring, they assume an extra-terrestrial intelligence could have chosen any number of possible radio transmissions, and then attempt to match the transmissions they observe with certain patterns as opposed to others (patterns that presumably are markers of intelligence). Whenever a human being utters meaningful speech, a choice is made from a range of possible sound-combinations that might have been uttered. Intelligent causation always entails discrimination, choosing certain things, ruling out others. Given this characterization of intelligent causes, the crucial question is how to recognize their operation. Intelligent causes act by making a choice.
This explanatory filter recognizes that there are three causes for things: chance, law and design. The premise behind the filter is the positive prediction of design that designers tend to build complex things with low probability that correspond to a specified pattern. In biology, this could be an irreducibly complex structure which fulfills some biological function. This filter helps ensure that we detect design only when it is warranted. If something is high probability, we may ascribe it to a law. If something is intermediate probability, we may ascribe it to chance. But if it is specified and low probability, then this is the tell-tale sign that we are dealing with something that is designed. In these high information-situations, intelligent design theorist Stephen C. Meyer also emphasizes why intelligent design is the right explanation:
(Stephen C. Meyer, Mere Creation, pg. 140).
“ "Indeed, in all cases where we know the causal origin of 'high information content,' experience has shown that intelligent design played a causal role."
(Stephen C. Meyer, DNA and Other Designs)
"Intelligent design provides a sufficient causal explanation for the origin of large amounts of information, since we have considerable experience of intelligent agents generating informational configurations of matter."
(Meyer S. C. et. al., "The Cambrian Explosion: Biology's Big Bang," in Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, edited by J. A. Campbell and S. C. Meyer (Michigan State University Press, 2003)
There are other examples of mutually exclusive predictions of design and descent, as is explained in the tables below. In each example, intelligent design is inferred because it makes positive predictions that match the evidence, despite the fact that descent makes the exact opposite prediction (which is not met by the evidence).
Inferring Intelligent Design using its Positive Predictions:
|Table 1. Ways Designers Act When Designing (Observations):|
|(1) Take many parts and arrange them in highly specified and complex patterns which perform a specific function.|
(2) Rapidly infuse any amounts of genetic information into the biosphere, including large amounts, such that at times rapid morphological or genetic changes could occur in populations.
(3) 'Re-use parts' over-and-over in different types of organisms (design upon a common blueprint).
(4) Be said to typically NOT create completely functionless objects or parts (although we may sometimes think something is functionless, but not realize its true function).
|Table 2. Predictions of Design (Hypothesis):|
|(1) High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will be found.|
(2) Forms will be found in the fossil record that appear suddenly and without any precursors.
(3) Genes and functional parts will be re-used in different unrelated organisms.
(4) The genetic code will NOT contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA".
|Table 3. Predictions of Darwinian Evolution (Hypothesis):|
|(1) High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will NOT be found.|
(2) Forms will appear in the fossil record as a gradual progression with transitional series.
(3) Genes and functional parts will reflect those inherited through ancestry, and are only shared by related organisms.
(4) The genetic code will contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA".
|Table 4. Comparing the Evidence (Experiment and Conclusion):|
|Line of Evidence||Prediction of Darwinian evolution||Prediction from intelligent design||Data||Best explaining hypothesis:|
|1. Biochemical complexity||High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will NOT be found.||High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures will be found.||High information content machine-like irreducibly complex structures are commonly found.||Design.|
|2. Fossil Record||Forms will appear in the fossil record as a gradual progression with transitional series.||Forms will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without any precursors.||Forms tend to appear in the fossil record suddenly and without any precursors.||Design.|
|3. Distribution of Molecular and Morphological Characteristics||Genes and functional parts will reflect those inherited through ancestry, and are only shared by related organisms.||Genes, DNA sequences, and functional parts will be re-used in different unrelated organisms.||Genes and functional parts often are not distributed in a manner predicted by ancestry, and are often found in clearly unrelated organisms.||Design.|
|4. Biochemical Functionality||The genetic code will contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA."||The genetic code will NOT contain much discarded genetic baggage code or functionless "junk DNA."||Increased knowledge of genetics has created a strong trend towards functionality for "junk-DNA"; examples of DNA of unknown function persist, but function may be expected or explained under a design paradigm.||Design.|
There are thus various examples where design makes positive predictions, but Darwinian evolution coincidentally makes the exact opposite prediction. Design proponents do not argue against evolution merely because that is what proves design, but because in these special cases, the falsification of evolution also entails a matched positive prediction of intelligent design theory, because intelligent design predicts the exact opposite of evolution. We thus detect intelligent design through findings its positive predictions based upon the way we understand intelligent agents to operate.