A micrometer sleeve, with vernier, indicating a reading of 5.783 millimeters.

Courtesy of Glenn McKechnie and Wikipedia.

Table of Contents | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven |

Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven | Part Twelve | Part Thirteen | Part Fourteen | Conclusion |

Lord Kelvin. Courtesy of Hubert Von Herkomer (1849-1914) and Wikipedia.

Many people have written about the definition of science during the past few years, in the wake of the Dover trial. One aspect of science which, I believe, has been overlooked in the literature, is *quantification.* Without quantification, it is impossible to test either the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution or the theory of Intelligent Design.

In this post, I'm going to explain why Intelligent Design is a scientific theory and neo-Darwinism is not. In a nutshell: it all boils down to numbers. Any scientific theory has to be capable of quantifying its statements. As Lord Kelvin once put it, "When you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know something about it" (Lecture to the Institution of Civil Engineers, 3 May 1883).

Three views of one of the two parts (*monomers*) of the **protein** triose phosphate isomerase. Intelligent Design theory would be falsified if proteins like this one could be shown to have a probability of at least 1 in 10 to the power of 150 of having evolved as a result of purely natural processes, given the *known laws* of physics and chemistry, and starting from a *random assortment* of organic chemicals (i.e. no special initial conditions). **Left**, an all-atom view colored by atom type; **middle**, a cartoon view colored by secondary structure; **right**, a solvent-accessible surface view colored by residue type (acidic residues red, basic residues blue, polar residues green, nonpolar residues white). Image courtesy of "Opabinia regalis" and Wikipedia.

For Intelligent Design theory, the cut-off point in terms of probabilities is 1 in 10 to the power of 150. That's a very low number. **Why do Intelligent Design proponents use that number?** Because the total number of *events* (or "elementary logical operations") that could have occurred in the observable universe since the Big Bang has been calculated as no more than 10 to the power of 120 by MIT researcher Seth Lloyd, in his 2002 article, Computational capacity of the universe (in *Physics Review Leters* 88 (2002) 237901, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.88.237901 ). 10 to the power of 120 is 2 to the power of 400, so in binary terms that's 400 bits. Let's be generous and make it a round 500. That's 10 to the power of 150. All that Intelligent Design proponents are asking for, then, is a physical or mathematical demonstration that an event that can reasonably be expected to be happen at least *once*, *somewhere*, in the lifetime of the observable universe.

Intelligent Design makes two kinds of quantifiable assertions.

**First**, it asserts that for systems exhibiting a high degree of functional specificity, whose probability of occurrence falls below a certain threshold (1 in 10 to the power of 150), we can be certain beyond reasonable doubt that these systems are the work of an intelligent agent. Intelligent Design would therefore be *falsified* as a method of identifying artifacts produced by intelligent agents if someone came up with a system exhibiting a high degree of functional specificity, whose probability fell *below* the 1 in 10 to the power of 150 threshold, but which could be shown to be the result of blind processes (chance, necessity, or a combination of both).

**Second**, Intelligent Design theory asserts that living things contain *lots of* biological components exhibiting functional specificity, whose probability falls below the critical threshold of 1 in 10 to the power of 150. Indeed, ID proponents claim that even a *single protein* often fall below this threshold. The theory of Intelligent Design would therefore be *falsified* if it could be empirically demonstrated that the biological components of living things *aren't* that improbable after all.

Below, I've listed *four conditions* under which my belief in Intelligent Design would be *falsified*. All four conditions involve a demand for *quantification* from the proponents of neo-Darwinian evolution - a demand which they have so far been unable to meet. Here's my list of conditions that would partially or totally falsify Intelligent Design as a *biological* hypothesis:

1. An empirical or mathematical demonstration that the probability of the emergence of **a standard, 150-amino-acid protein** on Earth during the past four billion years as a result of purely natural processes, given the known laws of physics and chemistry, and starting from a random assortment of organic chemicals (i.e. no special initial conditions), is greater than 1 in 10 to the power of 150.

2. An empirical or mathematical demonstration that the probability of the emergence of **cell-based life** on Earth during the past four billion years as a result of purely natural processes, given the known laws of physics and chemistry, and starting from a random assortment of organic chemicals (i.e. no special initial conditions), is greater than 1 in 10 to the power of 150.

3. An empirical or mathematical demonstration that the probability of any of the 40 **molecular machines** listed on this page arising on Earth **as a result of non-foresighted** ("blind")

4. An empirical or mathematical demonstration that the probability of either of the following events occurring on Earth **as a result of non-foresighted** ("blind")

- the emergence of
**eukaryotes**(plants, animals, fungi and protists) from prokaryotes (archaea and bacteria); - the emergence of the
**30+ major groups**(phyla)**of animals**from a single-celled ancestor;

Let me emphasize that I *already accept* common descent. Showing *that* these events happened in the past won't impress me; what a neo-Darwinian evolutionist will need to show is that they could have occurred as a result of *unintelligent* (i.e. non-foresighted) *natural processes*.

I would like to emphasize that I'm *not* asking for a detailed step-by-step pathway for any of the major transformations in the history of life that I described above. I'm *not* asking for a calculation of the number of steps involved, either. I'm *not* even asking for a detailed description of the starting point or end point of these transformations. I'm *not* asking for a detailed description of the evolutionary mechanism. And I'm *not* asking for proof that the proposed mechanism (commonly dubbed "random mutations plus natural selection") would work. **All I want is a feasibility demonstration** – what we might call a "proof of concept." What I want is a *rigorous mathematical and/or empirical argument* showing that there's a probability greater than 1 in 10^150 that it *could* work, over a four-billion-year time period. I think that's a pretty reasonable demand.

Even a "back-of-the-envelope" calculation showing the adequacy of unintelligent processes to bring about any of the above evolutionary transformations would satisfy me, *if* it were to the point. A scientific model of the changes involved, which allows a rough calculation of the probability of their occurrence as a result of "random mutations plus natural selection" over a four-billion time-period, would be even nicer.

However, I refuse to be *excessively* generous to my Darwinist opponents: **I won't accept attempts to explain away the astronomical improbability of life by appealing to unobservable universes inside some larger multiverse.** It's not that I object to the multiverse as such (after all, it may exist, for all we know); what I object to is the

By contrast, appealing to a Intelligent Designer if all other explanations fail is *not* cheating, any more than it would be cheating to appeal to an intelligent designer to explain the monolith in Arthur C. Clarke's *2001*, if you stumbled across it. *By definition*, intelligence is a process that is capable of generating things like that - i.e. items with a high degree of *specificity*, whether functional (means-end specificity, which we find in the world of biology) or mathematical (exact ratios, which we find in Arthur C. Clarke's monolith). Nobody would invoke a multiverse to make the monolith's appearance less unlikely, and nobody should do that for the emergence of life, either.

The Nobel Prize winning physicist Wolfgang Pauli. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Nobel Laureate scientist Wolfgang Pauli, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1945, astutely identified this weakpoint in Darwinism. Pauli's open skepticism towards Darwinism is discussed by Harald Atmanspacher and Hans Primas in their article, Pauli's ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science (*Journal of Consciousness Studies* 13, 5-50, 2006). In section 7.1, the authors identify the target of Pauli's criticism: the Modern Synthesis, which, like neo-Darwinian synthesis of 1959, insists that mutation is *random,* and not adaptively directed:

Before the advent of molecular biology in the 1940s, the mainstream position with respect to biological evolution was referred to by the termModern Synthesis. A key concept of this position was that the genetic variation within a population arises byrandom mutations, not by adaptively directed mutations and recombinations (Mayr, 1982).

The authors go on to point out that Pauli was not convinced that the evolution of life could be explained by random mutations only, and that he questioned this aspect of the Darwinian model of natural evolution **on mathematical grounds:**

"As a physicist, I should like to critically object that this model has not been supported by an affirmative estimate of probabilities so far. Such an estimate of the theoreticaltime scaleof evolution as implied by the model should be compared with the empirical time scale.One would need to show that, according to the assumed model,the probability of de facto existingpurposeful features to evolve was sufficiently high on the empirically known time scale. Such an estimate has nowhere been attempted though."

(Pauli, W. 1954.Naturwissenschaftliche und erkenntnistheoretische Aspekte der Ideen vom Unbewussten.Dialectica 8, 283–301. Quoted passage from p. 298.)

Darwinists know that their theory is incapable of coming up with the hard numbers. To cover up their embarrassment on this score, they often put forward proposals for the origin of proteins, the origin of life and the origin of complex animals which are *highly speculative*. But a *good* mathematical argument should only appeal to processes that are *already known to generate results*. **As they say in Missouri, "Show me."**

Table of Contents | Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven |

Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven | Part Twelve | Part Thirteen | Part Fourteen | Conclusion |