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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: Rudder
Should we just let anyone do science or surgery or rocket design? And why wait all those years plodding through high school and college, just to satisfy some smart elitist?

Nah, there a (sic) damned good reason that (sic) those pursuing such professions are intellectually endowed.

Evidently that endowment does not include facility in written English. Perhaps such skills are reserved for the ignorant unwashed masses.

141 posted on 12/05/2005 8:29:01 AM PST by catpuppy
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To: Fester Chugabrew
"Who is Charles Krauthammer?"

Google is your friend.
142 posted on 12/05/2005 8:29:52 AM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: catpuppy
>Should we just let anyone do science or surgery or rocket design? And why wait all those years plodding through high school and college, just to satisfy some smart elitist?

>Nah, there a (sic) damned good reason that (sic) those pursuing such professions are intellectually endowed.

Evidently that endowment does not include facility in written English. Perhaps such skills are reserved for the ignorant unwashed masses.

Congratulations. You've done a nice job of making a strawman argument over grammatical errors in order to dodge the content of the argument. I guess that makes you the elitist.

143 posted on 12/05/2005 8:34:46 AM PST by Antonello
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To: pby
Darwin was a doctor with a completed medical degree?

I don't believe he ever received a medical degree even though he was commissioned as the ships after there was some problem with the original ships physician. He did attend medical school at 16 for two years but did not like the subject matter and it is not clear if he received any certification. He later received certification or a degree in theology. His advance study was Botany but a degree was not offered at the time.
144 posted on 12/05/2005 8:35:58 AM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: Snowbelt Man
i don't presume that homosexuality is genetic. in fact, like all other behavior, i believe that it's chosen.

I was speaking hypothetically, to answer his question. Thought I had made that clear.

thanks for the explanation. it seems this recessive trait is becoming more and more prevalent - at least in post Christian europe and america.

I'm pretty sure that the percentages are about the same historically. More likely, what you see as an increase is a combination of increased access to media for all types of people via the Internet and the fact that people just feel less compelled to keep it to themselves.

145 posted on 12/05/2005 8:37:20 AM PST by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Rudder
Ping to Rudder since I stepped in on your discussion.
146 posted on 12/05/2005 8:38:51 AM PST by Antonello
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To: JeffAtlanta

just a question that puzzled me since those who say that homosexuality is genetic and not a behavior choice are also usually strong evolutionists. it would seem to me that this gene would be getting less prevalent not more prevalent as the human species continues to evolve but apparently that's not necessarily the case. hopefully, it won't continue to multiple to such an extent that the whole human race is homosexual - although that would solve the "population explosion" problem and alleviate the need for so many abortions.


147 posted on 12/05/2005 8:39:06 AM PST by Snowbelt Man (ideas have consequences)
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To: Fester Chugabrew

JMHO: One of the current premiere Conservative thinkers and editorialists in the USA and a member of the FOX opinion team/roundtable almost every night in prime-time.

BTW....................GOOGLE is your friend.

148 posted on 12/05/2005 8:39:13 AM PST by DoctorMichael (The Fourth-Estate is a Fifth-Column!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
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To: jwalsh07
Sorry, no "canceling" after junior high.

Students are usually taught by their teachers to "cancel" things, and they forget the actual mathematical operation they're doing. Couple that with being so used to playing with variables, forgetting they stand for actual (oops, almost said "real") numbers, and most people fall for this joke.

Speaking of "real," more geek humor: "God is real, unless declared integer."

20 points to any old-timers who get that one.

149 posted on 12/05/2005 8:41:54 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Snowbelt Man

Whatever genetic component homosexuality has, the expression of it has changed quite a bit just in historical times. It's not an all or nothing proposition. There is no reason someone with homosexual proclivities can't have children. They can have heterosexual sex to procreate, and on the side have homosexual sex. It's almost never been 100% one way.


150 posted on 12/05/2005 8:45:21 AM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Doing science takes knowledge and practice.

I would agree that generally doing "good" science requires knowledge and practice. But would you not agree that at least some important scientific work has been accomplished by persons who had little formal "scientific" training?

151 posted on 12/05/2005 8:45:53 AM PST by catpuppy
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Comment #152 Removed by Moderator

To: Antonello
Yeah, thanks.

That discussion was over a long time ago

153 posted on 12/05/2005 8:47:54 AM PST by Rudder
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To: oblomov
What's wrong with being elitist?

I'd rather be elite.

154 posted on 12/05/2005 8:49:44 AM PST by catpuppy
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To: Antonello
I guess that makes you the elitist.

Well done! It's nice to hear from a critic.

155 posted on 12/05/2005 8:51:22 AM PST by catpuppy
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To: Javelina
Sorry, you lost.

I accept the defeat and promise to try harder next time.

156 posted on 12/05/2005 8:52:35 AM PST by catpuppy
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To: bobdsmith
The vast majority of nucleotide combinations are no-results.

I wonder about that. I've read of an observed mutation that enables metabolism of nylon. It is a frame shift mutation which means that the resulting protein is essentially random. Also, I am continually amazed by the amount of difference between the codes for functionally similar proteins between species. It seems to me that the genome is vastly more plastic wrt functionality than is usually portrayed.

157 posted on 12/05/2005 8:56:37 AM PST by edsheppa
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Comment #158 Removed by Moderator

To: Doctor Stochastic
nor to advise George Bush how to set the flaps on an F-16.)

In that case, you're on closer to equal terms, since he's probably never been in one either. Now ask him about an F-102...

159 posted on 12/05/2005 9:00:08 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: antiRepublicrat

16/64=1/4 by cancellation of the 6's.


160 posted on 12/05/2005 9:04:36 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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