Skip to comments.10 Ways Darwinists Help Intelligent Design (Part I)
Posted on 08/03/2006 12:22:06 PM PDT by SirLinksalot
10 Ways Darwinists Help Intelligent Design (Part I)
Eighty years after the Scopes Monkey Trial, the public still refuses to accept the idea that Darwins theory of natural selection is a sufficient explanation for complex biological phenomena. In fact, opinion polls show that fewer people are willing to accept the idea that human beings developed from earlier species than they were just ten years ago.
In Britaina country that is not exactly known for fundamentalist Christianityfewer than half accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life. (And more than 40% of those polled believe that creationism or intelligent design (ID) should be taught in school science lessons.) Even doctors, who are more informed about biology than the general public, overwhelmingly (60%) reject the claim that humans evolved through natural processes alone.
Why do so many people have such difficulty accepting the theory? Is it due to a resurgence of religious-based creationism? Or is it that the Discovery Institute and other advocates of Intelligent Design are more persuasive? I believe the credit belongs not to the advocates of ID but to the theorys critics.
Had the critics remained silent, ID might possibly have moldered in obscurity. But instead they launched a counter-offensive, forcing people into choosing sides. The problem is that the more the public learns about modern evolutionary theory, the more skeptical they become.
I wont argue that critics of ID are always wrong or that ID is alwaysor even mostlyright in its claims. But I do think a compelling case can be made that the anti-IDers are losing the rhetorical battle. Here is the first five in a list of ten reasons ways in which they are helping to promote the theory of intelligent design:
#1 By remaining completely ignorant about ID while knocking down strawman versions of the theory. Whether due to intellectual snobbery or intellectual laziness, too many critics of ID never bother to understand what the term means, much less learn the general tenets of the theory. Instead, they knock down a strawman version of ID that they have gleaned from other, equally ill-informed, critics. The belligerent or paranoid advocates of ID will assume that the misrepresentation is due to dishonesty or a conspiracy by Darwinists. But even those who are more charitable will agree that when a critic misrepresents the theory, it undermines their own credibility.
#2 By claiming that ID is stealth creationism. -- Resorting to this red herring is one of the most common arguments made against ID. While its true that ID could be used to promote a particular religious agenda, this is not a sufficient argument against it being a legitimate scientific research program. There is no a priori reason why a research program could not be completely in adherence to accepted scientific methods and yet be completely compatible with a particular religious viewpoint.
But it also refuses to acknowledge the vast majority of people throughout history have believed in at least a basic form of creationism. Most people believe that some form of intelligent being (i.e., God) created the universe and everything in it. For most of these people, creationism is not a derogatory term. The phrase stealth creationism might appeal to the pseudo-intellectuals (those who know almost nothing about science but do know that they despise fundamentalist Christians) yet for most ordinary people it sounds like bigoted nonsense.
#3 By resorting to science of the gaps arguments. Critics of ID often claim that the theory relies on a God of the Gaps argument. (Dont understand how something occurred? Well God did it. Case closed.) As scientific reasoning, this method is obviously flawed. Yet the critics of ID often resort to the same tactic, only instead of saying God did it they claim Science will find it.
The problem is that this almost never happens. Closing a "science gap" almost always leads to the discovery of other, even more difficult to explain gaps in knowledge. For example, when evolution was first proposed by Darwin, there was no explanation for the mechanism of transmission of traits from one generation to the next. With the discovery of DNA, Watson and Crick closed that particular gap.
But as physicist David Snoke notes, no one today has an adequate explanation for how this highly complicated molecule arose out of nowhere. Also, we do not have an adequate explanation within chemical evolutionary theory for the appearance of the mechanism that gives us a readout of the information, or for the appearance of methods that replicate information with out error, or for the appearance of the delicate balance of repair and maintenance of the molecular systems that use the information stored in DNA.
Scientific discoveries tend to find that nature is even more complex than we imagined which makes it even more unlikely that a process like natural selection is a sufficient explanation.
#4 By claiming that ID isnt science since it's not published peer-reviewed literature...and then refusing to allow publications of ID papers in peer-reviewed journals. The hypocrisy of snubbing ID because it lacks peer-review was exposed by the treatment of Richard Sternberg, a journal editor who made the career-killing mistake of actually publishing an article that was sympathetic to ID.
The resulting controversy exposed just how close-minded some scientists were to criticisms of neo-Darwinism. As Sternbergwho is not an advocate of ID--said after the incident, It's fascinating how the 'creationist' label is falsely applied to anyone who raises any questions about neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. The reaction to the paper by some [anti-creationist] extremists suggests that the thought police are alive and well in the scientific community."
#5 By making claims that natural selection is responsible for all behaviors and biological features. -- Instead of saying that God created X, Darwinists tend to claim that Sex selection created X. Take, for instance, this statement made by zoologist Richard Dawkins:
"Why did humans lose their body hair? Why did they start walking on their hind legs? Why did they develop big brains? I think that the answer to all three questions is sexual selection," Dawkins said. Hairlessness advertises your health to potential mates, he explained. The less hair you have on your body, the less real estate you make available to lice and other ectoparasites. Of course, it was worth keeping the hair on our heads to protect against sunstroke, which can be very dangerous in Africa, where we evolved. As for the hair in our armpits and pubic regions, that was probably retained because it helps disseminate "pheromones," airborne scent signals that still play a bigger role in our sex lives than most of us realize.
Why did we lose our body hair? Sex selection. Why do we retain some body hair? Yep, sex selection. Why do humans walk on two legs? Again, the same answer, sex selection. Why do dogs walk on all four? You guessed it, sex selection.
The same goes for human behavior. Hardly a week goes by that some newspaper or magazine article does not include a story claiming how evolution is the reason humans do X, avoid Y, or prefer Z.
Even scientists grow weary of hearing such faith claims presented as if was science. As Philip S. Skell, emeritus professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, notes in a recent edition of The Scientist:
Darwinian explanations for [human behavior] are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self- centered and aggressive - except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed - except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.
Even those who flunked high school biology can see that when a theory can be used to prove any behavior that it ceases to be science and enters the realm of faith. Yet when evolutionists make such claims they are often flummoxed by the publics skeptical reaction. They cant understand how we could be so stupid as to not accept their claims. And we wonder how they could be so stupid as to think we are really that gullible.
To be continued in Part II
"I think the sticking point is when a virus becomes something that is not a virus."
Oh, actually, that has probably happened many times. We carry what are probably ancient viruses in every one of our cells. It's amazing.
You know, it's precisely because the book was written so long ago--and stands the test of time and very closely parallels the scientific account of Earth's creation and evolution (yes, I used the "E" word!)--that I believe in it.
The Bible does not exclude evolution. It does not exclude even abiogenesis (life creating itself spontaneously). Cf. Genesis 1:11-12, which says outright that the EARTH brought forth life (in response to a Divine command to do so).
Remember, Genesis ain't a science text. It was never written to be one--merely a (greatly) condensed, easy-to-understand version answering how the world came to be, written for nomadic shepherds.
How does the Judeo-Christian creation account fare vs. other creation accounts?
It fare far better than other creation myths where the world springs, fully formed, from an egg.
Better than Atlas holding the world on his shoulders.
Better than a great celestial snake barfed up the world, then the stars, etc.
Better than any other creation account, Genesis basically gets things in close to the right order.
Not bad for a buncha dumb shepherds, huh? ;)
Sauron (But then, some think it was an inspired writing. Of course, you know they're wrong, dontcha?)
It is turtles all the way down only so long as the last turtle, the one on the bottom, is metaphysical.
"I hate to tell you this but people have known how for millennia. Men seem to enjoy it more than women, and both seem to enjoy it more than animals, but we have all understood the process pretty well.
An excellent point. Sexual reproduction is a good teacher regarding evolutionary changes. We see it in small ways every time we reproduce. The new human being created by two people is never identical to its parents. That's the amazing thing about sexual reproduction. It enables changes in each new organism.
Sometimes those changes are benificial to the survival of the new organism. Such changes are passed along, genetically, to its offspring. These changes are cumulative.
Go in a time machine to the land of your ancestors, about 1000 years ago. Stand in a crowd there. You will find, if you are typical, that you are head and shoulders above that crowd. Height is a positive attribute. It is selected for by the environment. In just 1000 years, the average human being is considerably taller than its ancestors. Remarkable.
And that's just 1000 years. Imagine what can happen in millions of years.
Yes, sexual reproduction is very important in evolutionary theory. Things moved much more slowly before sexual reproduction evolved. Sharing of the genetic code of two different individuals was a great accelerant for the process.
"It is turtles all the way down only so long as the last turtle, the one on the bottom, is metaphysical."
There is no last turtle. Even metaphysical turtles need a place to stand. Once you move into the metaphysical realm, it's just one metaphysical turtle standing on the back of the one below. There is no bottom turtle. It is turtles all the way down.
You then responded: Only two that you can think of. To close the door on there being a third is unscientific, even if nobody can think of another at the moment. At one time, people only saw one possible theory: that some supernatural force created life.
The problem is, you read something between the lines that is not there when you suggest that I am closing the door. I used present, not future, tense. My statement is correct. It may not be correct at some future date, but it is correct NOW and stands on its own.. Your follow up comment implying that since we used to have only one theory, but since we now have two, we may someday have three is one I strongly agree with, although I doubt it so far. But it is, as yet, speculation about an as yet unknown future..
Also, to say that any ID is by definition a supernatural force and then throw out as unscientific any theory that involves a supernatural force is not only disingenuous, but unscientific itself. After all, scientists have discussed the concept of actually creating a parallel universe. Anything the scientist then did within that contained natural universe would be, by definition, supernatural. Yet the man who created that universe is deity only to those who live in the universe he created. That fact does not instantly cause him to disappear in a puff of logic (1)
And heaven help the men who live in such a universe that I, a seriously flawed man, created and controlled. I would have a hard time being as free with "grace" as our Father is.
FWIW, I firmly believe that if the Lord waits long enough, we will actually achieve that ability, or one like it.
(1): Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams
(I'll bet you'll get no answer to this one. They'll ignore it. Call it an inconvenient truth.)
Which reminds me: We see no evidence of abiogenesis in action on this very richly warm, wet world. WHY IS THAT?
Shouldn't life still be--always be--forever be!!!--in the process of creating itself? And if not, why not?
I agree that there's no particular bar to evolution in the Genesis account. An awful lot of Jewish and Christian scholars believe as you do, and with good reason. They understand the primitive nature of the Genesis account and accept that human beings are capable of figuring out the details.
That said, the same can be said about some of the other creation myths. It's just a matter of explaining their allegories in a way that works.
The general order of things is:
1. There was nothing. (a blank slate on which to write)
2. The deity (of whatever nature) appears or already exists
3. The deity speaks or waves or whatever, and things appear, although the order is sometimes different. Earth, Sun, Moon, Water, etc.
4. Somewhere in the process, human beings appear, generally after the animals, because there has to be something for the humans to eat.
That pretty much covers most creation stories. And that's natural. Humans had logical powers quite early, or they wouldn't have been human.
The order above is logical, with each thing appearing before the thing that requires it appears. Not too complex, really.
If you look at the various creation stories in their basic foundations, they are all pretty much the same. Some are animistic, with players like the Crow and the Coyote. Others are more oriented toward invisible beings. But the order is essentially the same.
Yes, I've noticed that, and to your credit.
But I don't agree with how there came to be so many religions on the planet. I believe that it is possible to lay them out, side-by-side in a chart, and discard some in favor of others, using a logical process to arrive at the truth.
Because the laws of our universe are founded in space time (the physical universe), prior to space and time is a metaphysical reality, thus the whole thing depends upon a metaphysical basis ... your stack of physical turtles will have a metaphysical turtle on the bottom, or, your stack of metaphysical turtles supports we physical turtles, if you prefer.
It's that probably that you stuck in there that trashes everything else you said.
From a scientific viewpoint, that is.
From a philosophical point of view I'd be very interested in discussing the suggestion.
First off God would not be "supernatural" in that by definition, would be the same as a physical laws, a non created non destroyable, omnipresent & unchanging constant in all time and place...
It is a true to say that sum total of logic interaction physical laws is ultimately responsible for all (Creation as is a physic question staring with what physical laws created the Universe)
The other question is what is self aware intelligence... it seem man is intelligently self aware so being self aware intelligence does exist (I think therefor I am?)... but what is it...logic interaction? (is the mind a giant logic processor that at some point hit critical mass and be comes "self aware" like some sic fi computer?)
So do the total logic interaction physical laws act self aware & intelligence? (the Great I Am)...we can't even define how self aware intelligence exited in finite man
Their mommy and daddy SNAKES gave them to them?
How does a duckbill platypus have a bill and lay eggs. It seems reasonable to decide that a duckbill platypus is a transitional form between a bird and a mammal.
Except I have been assured from my high-school biology on to the present day that no biologist considers it so. It's just a mammal that has a duck's bill and lays eggs.
I believe the problem that keeps these threads alive is how the duck-billed platypus came to be a duck-billed platypus.
And the same would be true of snakes with legs.
"But I don't agree with how there came to be so many religions on the planet. I believe that it is possible to lay them out, side-by-side in a chart, and discard some in favor of others, using a logical process to arrive at the truth. "
I wonder. You might logically discard a different set of religions than might the follower of a religion different from yours.
Logic is a funny thing when it comes to religion. Since the existence of supernatural entities is, essentially, illogical, the religion in which you believe sort of dictates the logic of that religion.
I expect the Hindus would discard Christianity as a religion of shortcuts, since Christianity believes that a single action of a man can guarantee him salvation. For a Hindu, that is silliness. Logically (to a Hindu), a man can only improve his lot through his actions, being reincarnated at various levels depending on the karma of each incarnation.
Religion, in the final analysis is based not on logic, but on something else. Call it faith. Call it fear. Call it wonder. Each religion has its own logic of the supernatural.
The common ground is belief. For the Christian, the Hindu, the Jain, the Zoroastrian, belief in a particular set of supernatural "truths" is the source of the logic of that religion.
Most religions are logical within their own belief sets. If you accept the opening premise, then the religion follows.
It's fascinating, but it's difficult to stand outside of your own culture and education to look at the various world religions with an unbiased mind.
I suppose that most of us, had we been born in southern India, would be Hindus or atheists, for there are atheists with a Hindu tradition. It's a matter of culture. Yes, some convert to other religions, even as they do here in the United States. The bulk, however, retain the dominant religion of their native culture.
Basic myth sets are very powerful.
Not the ones that keep these threads alive. The dog breeders create a fascinating variety of dogs. But they always get dogs. Everyone knows this and NOBODY is arguing about it.
As you said, things change.
The sticking point is where the dogs came from, what mechanism introduced the change from what they were to dogs, and where the long series of proto-dogs is that connects dogs to slime.
Actually, I remember studying Pasteur's experiment (scientific experiment, no less) that proved it doesn't happen.
"From a philosophical point of view I'd be very interested in discussing the suggestion."
I'm afraid that my knowledge of viral remnants in evolutionary history is too small to take on the discussion.
You can Google it, though. Google "viral remnants evolution" (no quotes). That will bring up a number of sites which get into this area of evolutionary research. It's quite fascinating, and is growing as a sub-discipline.
I'm afraid that any attempt I might make to go much deeper into it would lead to errors on my part, so I'll leave it to you to investigate for yourself.
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