Predictions Intelligent Design Supposedly Makes

The speculation is that intelligent design makes predictions that turn out to be right so far. Casey Luskin makes this claim. Let’s not worry toomuch about what intelligent design means. For now, it means that some intelligence made the basic kinds of life on earth, and these kinds have diversified through evolution, but evolution is not able to take one kind into another kind. The four predictions are:

Predictions of Design (Hypothesis) [emphasis mine, redacted for simplicity]:

(1) Natural structures will be found that contain many parts arranged in intricate patterns that perform a specific function.
(2) Forms containing large amounts of novel information will appear in the fossil record suddenly and without similar precursors.
(3) Genes and other functional parts will be re-used in different and unrelated organisms.
(4) Much so-called junk DNA will turn out to perform valuable functions.

I’ll briefly say why I either don’t understand how these connect to intelligent design or, in the case of (1) I’ll say how I don’t understand the prediction at all.

(1) has terms I don’t understand. What do “natural structures” mean? What would be an example of something that is not a “natural structure“? How many parts is “many parts“? How can I tell an intricate pattern from a non-intricate-pattern? Is repeatability sufficient, or do I need something else to establish intricacy? Finally, either the patterns or the parts need to have a specified function. How can this be detected? The language seems to imply some sort of purpose. How could a purpose be observed?

(2) has a couple confusing terms. What makes information novel? What’s an example of information thats not novel? How fast is suddenly? How similar do similar precursors have to be? We can set aside these ambiguities, and make assumptions about the meaning of (2), especially since it seems to have quite a bit in common with an old argument. It seemed at one time from the fossil record that species would not change for a great deal of time, tens of millions of years, and then within a few million years the change would be rapid, and then would slow down again. Stephen Gould posed a theory about how this could be called Punctuated Equilibria. More recently, measured rates of genetic mutation seem to coincide with changes observed in the fossil record, once factors such as migration and the destruction of fossils over time in various layers. Currently there is not much consensus that this is very different from what evolution predicts.

(3) is exactly what you’d expect from evolution also.

(4) I’m not sure what Junk DNA means, even after reading through the Wikipedia article some, and I assume valuable means valuable for the sake of survival. Here’s what I speculate it means. Evolution driven by random mutations and natural selection predicts that there should be large portions of DNA in any organism that, if removed or changed, do not significantly affect its chance at survival. It seems as though there are no such large sections of DNA. This failed prediction would be a difficult problem to resolve for evolution by natural selection and random mutations alone. Maybe there’s another mechanism?

Even if this really is a problem for evolution, I don’t see how it helps Intelligent Design. An example. Atlas Shrugged is intelligently designed. Atlas Shrugged contains all sorts of unnecessary information. I can cut pages out of the book and the story is not significantly changed. There’s an example of intelligent design containing junk. Why wouldn’t the presence of unread DNA indicate either that the designer wanted to protect us better from harmful mutations, or maybe that the designer was very wordy?

I don’t think any of these four predictions really are predictions for intelligent design (except maybe the first one; I can’t understand it at all). Even if true, they wouldn’t be very convincing to me, or I suspect most scientists, that there is an Intelligent Designer.


About שאול בן דניאל

I'm a dad, husband, scientist. I spend a lot of time wondering how life came about, and about how lightning works, and how these can be connected on planets outside our solar system.
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