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Intelligent designís long march to nowhere
Science & Theology News ^ | 05 December 2005 | Karl Giberson

Posted on 12/05/2005 4:06:56 AM PST by PatrickHenry

The leaders of the intelligent design movement are once again holding court in America, defending themselves against charges that ID is not science. One of the expert witnesses is Michael Behe, author of the ID movement’s seminal volume Darwin’s Black Box. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, testified about the scientific character of ID in Kitzmiller v. Dover School District, the court case of eight families suing the school district and the school board in Dover, Pa., for mandating the teaching of intelligent design.

Under cross-examination, Behe made many interesting comparisons between ID and the big-bang theory — both concepts carry lots of ideological freight. When the big-bang theory was first proposed in the 1920s, many people made hostile objections to its apparent “supernatural” character. The moment of the big bang looked a lot like the Judeo-Christian creation story, and scientists from Quaker Sir Arthur Eddington to gung-ho atheist Fred Hoyle resisted accepting it.

In his testimony, Behe stated — correctly — that at the current moment, “we have no explanation for the big bang.” And, ultimately it may prove to be “beyond scientific explanation,” he said. The analogy is obvious: “I put intelligent design in the same category,” he argued.

This comparison is quite interesting. Both ID and the big-bang theory point beyond themselves to something that may very well lie outside of the natural sciences, as they are understood today. Certainly nobody has produced a simple model for the big–bang theory that fits comfortably within the natural sciences, and there are reasons to suppose we never will.

In the same way, ID points to something that lies beyond the natural sciences — an intelligent designer capable of orchestrating the appearance of complex structures that cannot have evolved from simpler ones. “Does this claim not resemble those made by the proponents of the big bang?” Behe asked.

However, this analogy breaks down when you look at the historical period between George Lemaitre’s first proposal of the big-bang theory in 1927 and the scientific community’s widespread acceptance of the theory in 1965, when scientists empirically confirmed one of the big bang’s predictions.

If we continue with Behe’s analogy, we might expect that the decades before 1965 would have seen big-bang proponents scolding their critics for ideological blindness, of having narrow, limited and inadequate concepts of science. Popular books would have appeared announcing the big-bang theory as a new paradigm, and efforts would have been made to get it into high school astronomy textbooks.

However, none of these things happened. In the decades before the big-bang theory achieved its widespread acceptance in the scientific community its proponents were not campaigning for public acceptance of the theory. They were developing the scientific foundations of theory, and many of them were quite tentative about their endorsements of the theory, awaiting confirmation.

Physicist George Gamow worked out a remarkable empirical prediction for the theory: If the big bang is true, he calculated, the universe should be bathed in a certain type of radiation, which might possibly be detectable. Another physicist, Robert Dicke, started working on a detector at Princeton University to measure this radiation. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson ended up discovering the radiation by accident at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., in 1965, after which just about everyone accepted the big bang as the correct theory.

Unfortunately, the proponents of ID aren’t operating this way. Instead of doing science, they are writing popular books and op-eds. As a result, ID remains theoretically in the same scientific place it was when Phillip Johnson wrote Darwin on Triallittle more than a roster of evolutionary theory’s weakest links.

When Behe was asked to explicate the science of ID, he simply listed a number of things that were complex and not adequately explained by evolution. These structures, he said, were intelligently designed. Then, under cross-examination, he said that the explanation for these structures was “intelligent activity.” He added that ID “explains” things that appear to be intelligently designed as having resulted from intelligent activity.

Behe denied that this reasoning was tautological and compared the discernment of intelligently designed structures to observing the Sphinx in Egypt and concluding that it could not have been produced by non-intelligent causes. This is a winsome analogy with a lot of intuitive resonance, but it is hardly comparable to Gamow’s carefully derived prediction that the big bang would have bathed the universe in microwave radiation with a temperature signature of 3 degrees Kelvin.

After more than a decade of listening to ID proponents claim that ID is good science, don’t we deserve better than this?


Karl Giberson [the author of this piece] is editor in chief at Science & Theology News.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist; evochat; goddoodit; idjunkscience; idmillionidiotmarch; intelligentdesign
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To: pby
What were Darwin's education and qualifications and did not he dictate the course of science?

That was not my quote however I will answer. Darwin was a Doctor engaged in the study and observation of plant and animal life. He chose a ships commission in order to enhance his travel and study. Although he is credited with a lot his ideas were not that new. Aristotle, the father of science speculated much of the same ideas centuries before the bible and its new ideas was written.
101 posted on 12/05/2005 7:31:23 AM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: Clemenza

"IDers will go the way of ... Baseball Card Economists."

Just so I can understand the analogy, exactly what is a "Baseball Card Economist"?


102 posted on 12/05/2005 7:32:53 AM PST by riverdawg
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To: Rudder
Exactly one-half of the population of America has an IQ of 100 or less.

It seems that somebody needs to be educated on the difference between a mean and a median. Perhaps you should stick to your area of specialization.

103 posted on 12/05/2005 7:34:06 AM PST by AmishDude (Your corporate slogan could be here! FReepmail me for my confiscatory rates.)
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To: Senator Bedfellow

Exactly, or presidential candidate and early ID proponent William Jennings Bryan. Long and Bryan were hardly conservatives in the sense of a belief in limited government. They were "conservative" because they opposed modernity, Bryan advancing a pre-modern guild employment system that was not so different from Long's flirtation with fascism.


104 posted on 12/05/2005 7:37:17 AM PST by oblomov
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To: Senator Bedfellow
If only we weren't so thick-headed, we'd be able to see how 1 is equivalent to 2.6...

I suppose for sufficiently large values of 1 and sufficiently small values of 2.6...
105 posted on 12/05/2005 7:37:53 AM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: Rudder
How did they do this? Was the same test used for all countries?

Yep, non biased based on mathematics.
106 posted on 12/05/2005 7:38:46 AM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: antiRepublicrat

Scientific American had a specuial supplement that discussed parallel universes. What I described was a Type I based on the classification scheme given. Type II was based on quantum mechanics. When a quantum 'event' become manifest, all probability outcomes become real, but our universe only follows one path of outcomes. I can't remember the Type III but I think it was based on Brane theory.


107 posted on 12/05/2005 7:40:11 AM PST by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: jec41

Strange. I have graduate courses in testing and have never heard of an unbiased test.

Lots of people have tried to make unbiased, but it's pretty futile.


108 posted on 12/05/2005 7:41:27 AM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: antiRepublicrat

Sorry, since you divided by (a-b), this equality holds only if a <> b. So a and b both can't be 1.


109 posted on 12/05/2005 7:42:26 AM PST by oblomov
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To: AmishDude
Re: mean and median

see post 97.

110 posted on 12/05/2005 7:43:32 AM PST by Rudder
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To: oblomov
Sorry, since you divided by (a-b), this equality holds only if a <> b. So a and b both can't be 1.

I think he is aware of that. The proof in his post is a very famous one.

111 posted on 12/05/2005 7:44:11 AM PST by JeffAtlanta
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To: Rudder

You said "exactly". Don't use a single example to generalize to all results.


112 posted on 12/05/2005 7:46:05 AM PST by AmishDude (Your corporate slogan could be here! FReepmail me for my confiscatory rates.)
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To: antiRepublicrat
If a probability is more than zero, it will probably happen given infinity.

More precisely, if the probability of an event is more than zero, it will occur with probability approaching one as the number of repeated trials increases without limit.

I'm familiar with the joke proof that 1 = 2, but thanks for the laugh.

113 posted on 12/05/2005 7:46:44 AM PST by TheGhostOfTomPaine
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To: All
if evolution is true and homosexuality is genetic - why are there still homosexuals? wouldn't this non reproductive gene have been eliminated from the gene pool at some point? when it comes to science, i'm one of those ignoramuses who believes that God created man in His own image and homosexuality is a choice that people make.
114 posted on 12/05/2005 7:50:51 AM PST by Snowbelt Man (ideas have consequences)
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To: Rudder
Yeah...speciation in progress.

What it really means is that if your IQ is 135 or above and you have have a argument, debate, or discourse with someone with a IQ of a 100 or less you are wasting your time and their time. Neither will ever be able to accept the others position.
115 posted on 12/05/2005 7:50:56 AM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: js1138

And The John Templeton Foundation doesn't?


116 posted on 12/05/2005 7:51:18 AM PST by pby
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To: AmishDude

Delete exactly and insert hyperbole...'cause that's what I was doing.


117 posted on 12/05/2005 7:51:51 AM PST by Rudder
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To: jec41

Darwin was a doctor with a completed medical degree?


118 posted on 12/05/2005 7:52:37 AM PST by pby
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To: jec41
...you are wasting your time and their time. Neither will ever be able to accept the others position.

Or, Murphey's Law of Speciation No. 322: "Don't go to bed with someone dumber than yourself."

119 posted on 12/05/2005 7:54:30 AM PST by Rudder
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To: Doctor Stochastic
"Of course, if the French hadn't won at Hastings, we'd all be speaking English now."

No creo eso!
120 posted on 12/05/2005 7:54:32 AM PST by MHalblaub (Tell me in four more years (No, I did not vote for Kerry))
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