Skip to comments.Intelligent designís long march to nowhere
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 movements seminal volume Darwins 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 bigbang 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 Lemaitres first proposal of the big-bang theory in 1927 and the scientific communitys widespread acceptance of the theory in 1965, when scientists empirically confirmed one of the big bangs predictions.
If we continue with Behes 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 arent 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 Trial little more than a roster of evolutionary theorys 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 Gamows 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, dont we deserve better than this?
Right. Especially when organic compounds form so readily, thus before very long, the oceans are full of sub-assemblies that don't need to be "invented" all over again from ground zero.
Additionally, all these "the odds are against DNA" computations totally ignore the powerful effect of what me might call parallel processing. Each cubic meter of ocean has millions (billions?) of "experiments" going on all the time. So in a few hundred million years, an amazingly large number of combinations is possible.
You'd be amazed how many people can't figure that one out.
They will morph into something else. I'm anticipating "Designed Macroevolution".
OK, but the point is that while there are many (in fact an infinite number of ) theoretical circumstances in which the mean and median are the same, this is not true in general, and it shouldn't be assumed to be so.
Not if the gene is recessive.
You need to add, "If the events are independent."
This is one of the Borel-Cantelli lemmas. (Wikipedia's entry is correct here; I checked.)
When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.
-- Isaac Asimov's Corollary to Clarke's First Law
Terry Goodkind's 'Wizard's First Rule' seems appropriate here, too...
People are stupid. They will believe anything they want to be true or fear to be true.
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.
Presuming for a moment that homosexuality is in fact genetically determined (a hypothesis far from demonstrated), I'd have two responses:
Sorry, no "canceling" after junior high. And no dividing by zero before or after junior high.
I knew that the John Templeton Foundation and Dr. Karl Giberson did not support ID.
I don't support or adhere to ID either...but I would never quote Giberson and/or The John Templeton Foundation in defense of my objection to ID.
In your case, I believe that it is must be an instance of...my enemy's enemy is my friend.
BTW, when creationists do that...you guys call it quote-mining.
Nice try, but that's not quote mining.
Quote mining is taking parts of a quote out of context to try and make the quote appear as though the person was saying the opposite of what they were actually saying.
For example, Darwin in his writings anticipated a series of objections to his ideas, and then answered them, demonstrating why those objections were baseless. Several creationist websites have listed those objections without his answers, making it appear that Darwin knew his theories were flawed. That's quote mining.
This may be a case of strange bedfellows, or a broken clock being right twice a day (as in the case of Pat Robertson and radical feminists agreeing on pornography or the ACLU supporting Rush Limbaugh's case in Florida), but so long as Patrick Henry isn't misrepresenting their views on this subject it isn't quote mining.
"Intelligent design" may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud.
i don't presume that homosexuality is genetic. in fact, like all other behavior, i believe that it's chosen. thanks for the explanation. it seems this recessive trait is becoming more and more prevalent - at least in post Christian europe and america. it'll be very interesting to see where america is in 50 years. my guess is we're about a half century "behind" europe. the only hope for america is if the evangelical church can withstand the stampede toward secularism both inside and outside of the church. based on the rest of western civilization's track record, i wouldn't bet on it.
Who is Charles Krauthammer?
Huh? PH possibly posts more articles on ID than anyone here. Posting articles on a subject and pinging people to them is a strange way to "suppress" something!
Or when you write "suppress," should we read "disagree with"? (Easily done if so, as we're used to the same decoding when reading whining rants from leftists.)
It's still not clear how homosexuality is relevant to the evolution vs ID debate.
So, IDers, tell us something we didn't know, based on your theory. Then go find it.
They can't, because it makes NO useful (meaning testable) predictions; hence the reason why IDers are so determined to try to change the very definition of science itself to include the supernatural.