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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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Bold and underlining added by me.

ID is running out of friends, when even its natural allies are turning their backs.

1 posted on 12/05/2005 4:06:57 AM PST by PatrickHenry
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To: VadeRetro; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Doctor Stochastic; js1138; Shryke; RightWhale; ...
Evolution Ping

The List-O-Links
A conservative, pro-evolution science list, now with over 320 names.
See the list's explanation, then FReepmail to be added or dropped.
To assist beginners: But it's "just a theory", Evo-Troll's Toolkit,
and How to argue against a scientific theory.

2 posted on 12/05/2005 4:07:55 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry

Your puerile attempts to suppress other points of view are useless. People are free to investigate and inquire based on their own beliefs. What a sad and demented life you must lead. Each waking moment spent attempting to stifle others so that your own twisted logic is the only one allowed.


3 posted on 12/05/2005 4:12:58 AM PST by Doc Savage ("Guys, I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more COWBELL...Bruce Dickinson)
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To: PatrickHenry

I never could understand why the scientific explanation of the way things are had to interfere with ones faith in God.

I guess it is because I was raised RC(the original fundamentalist Christian religion) and not into one of the newer Christian faiths.

Yes the R.C. church did persecute people like Galileo etc., but have since seen the error of their ways.


4 posted on 12/05/2005 4:13:25 AM PST by Vaquero ("An armed society is a polite society" R. A. Heinlein)
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To: All
If that article isn't enough to start the week, check out these developments in the Dover litigation. Each side is submitting "proposed findings" for the court to work on, which is why this thing is taking so long:

PLAINTIFFS’ FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW. PDF file, 161 pages long.
DEFENDANT'S PROPOSED FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW. PDF file, lots of extra attachments.

5 posted on 12/05/2005 4:15:11 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry

I cannot say that S&T News is any kind of friend for ID, nor that it ever would have been. I tried it out and found it resolutely opposed to the very notion of Theology having any dependability for any question whatsoever. The magazine appears designed to destroy whatever credibility theology might have ever had. It should really be named Science trumps Theology News.

Thanks for posting this, though. Always good to know that the mainstreamers occupy every height in culture now as ever and are just as blind and self-centered now as ever.

Or are you agreeing that Fred Hoyle looks like anything but a fool for having so readily discounted the Big Bang?


6 posted on 12/05/2005 4:20:01 AM PST by BelegStrongbow
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To: PatrickHenry

IDers will go the way of the Flat Earth Society and Baseball Card Economists. They will remain a cult with devoted followers, but with little respect.


7 posted on 12/05/2005 4:21:21 AM PST by Clemenza (I am here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubblegum!)
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To: Doc Savage
Your puerile attempts to suppress other points of view are useless.

Oh how your ideaology has blinded you. No one is attempting to suppress anything. All researchers are asking is that ID proponents actually do some science to support their positions. So far, there hasn't been one piece of research done with the aim of finding evidence for design. Partly I believe this can be chalked up to the ID proponents not having clue one on how to test for design. Their whole thesis revolves around, "this looks like it was designed, so therefore it must have been -- and besides, Darwin sucks."

8 posted on 12/05/2005 4:22:26 AM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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To: PatrickHenry
The smallest living organism requires a minimum of 239 individual protein molecules.
Protein molecules are made from amino acids.
Amino acids are made of carbon, hydrogen nitrogen and oxygen.
Amino acids joined together in a long twisted string form a protein molecule.
Each protein molecule requires a minimum of 410 amino acids. All formed in left handed spirals. (Protein molecules do not have right handed spirals for some unknown reason.)
The chances of at least 410 amino acids accidentally forming a chain to produce one protein molecule is 10123.
The odds against this happening in at least 239 protein molecules to form the smallest living organism are 1029345.
The odds of that one organism surviving long enough to learn to eat, breathe and reproduce are beyond calculation.
You have better odds of having an explosion in a sand pile and getting a fully operating computer with a copy of XP with no bugs! Good luck
9 posted on 12/05/2005 4:22:53 AM PST by liliesgrandpa (The Republican Party simply can't do anything without that critical 100-seat Senate majority.)
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To: BelegStrongbow
Or are you agreeing that Fred Hoyle looks like anything but a fool for having so readily discounted the Big Bang?

Hoyle was wrong about his "steady state" theory, although at the time he was its champion, it fit the then-available data. He was also wrong when he wandered from his specialty and started babbling about tornadoes in junkyards.

10 posted on 12/05/2005 4:23:54 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry

ID has many foes, but evo has the world saying, "where's the beef"???

LLS


11 posted on 12/05/2005 4:26:30 AM PST by LibLieSlayer (Preserve America... kill terrorists... destroy dims!)
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To: PatrickHenry

God Almighty, here we go again.


12 posted on 12/05/2005 4:26:38 AM PST by n230099
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To: Clemenza
"They will remain a cult with devoted followers, but with little respect."

Ya mean sorta like the general public views evols?

I ain't got no dog in this hunt but it impresses me that evols are not only defensive about a position that they claim has no foundation and are often downright abusive about it. That ain't no way to win a battle considering that the majority of American's think evolution is full of holes.

Might I suggest that another approach is to calmly and without invective explain the position rather than use words like "cult", "ignorant", "bible thumpers", "knuckle draggers", "cousin marrying", et al. All of which I have seen used to describe those that question any aspect of the ToE.

Just a thought of course. If evols want to continue to insult those they wish to convince by all means, that is certainly the way to go.

But then that's the way the ACLU usually operates so I guess it's just business as usual.

13 posted on 12/05/2005 4:32:46 AM PST by Proud_texan ("Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." - Barry Goldwater)
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To: liliesgrandpa

You should be thankful that evolution is not the game of chance as you have falsely implied, or you wouldn't be here.


14 posted on 12/05/2005 4:33:25 AM PST by Rudder
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To: All
I haven't used Science & Theology News as a source before, so I looked up their About Us link. It starts thusly:
Science & Theology News is the monthly, international newspaper reporting the latest research findings, funding opportunities and discussions on the relationship among religion, science and health ... .

Over the past four years, Science & Theology News has become the definitive source for information about science-and-religion. Our 30,000 national and international readers go to Science & Theology News to learn about research, funding and education in the field. A generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation supports the newspaper, allowing us to offer a subsidized subscription price.

They seem quite legitimate.
15 posted on 12/05/2005 4:35:42 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: liliesgrandpa
The smallest living organism . . .

All true, which means "chance" can't be the explanation; on that, all sides are agreed.

Of course, the odds against Avogadro's number of sodium chloride molecules "just happening" to arrange itself into a cubic crystal are also so astronomically huge as to make the event a practical impossibility.

The conclusion we draw there is that some sort of physical law is at work -- a conclusion that would be justified even if we couldn't yet state the law precisely, as long as there was no compelling reason to the contrary.

What we need from the ID crowd, and haven't seen (and in my opinion aren't going to see), is just such a compelling reason to the contrary.

16 posted on 12/05/2005 4:37:06 AM PST by TheGhostOfTomPaine
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To: Proud_texan

Going to the "general public" for views on science is like going to a chef for open heart surgery: NOT QUALIFIED.


17 posted on 12/05/2005 4:40:39 AM PST by Clemenza (I am here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I'm all out of bubblegum!)
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To: Proud_texan
That ain't no way to win a battle considering that the majority of American's think evolution is full of holes.

Exactly one-half of the population of America has an IQ of 100 or less. And, even if the majority believe in space aliens and ghosts...should we let those who are uneducated and unqualified dictate the course of science?

18 posted on 12/05/2005 4:42:37 AM PST by Rudder
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To: LibLieSlayer

Maybe my naivete is extreme, but it seems to me that science would have nothing to research if there was no reason in creation. Isn't that what scientists DO... try to find out how things work? If they kept discovering chaos, they would stop.
Those of us who believe in divine creation are all the more awed when science uncovers yet another layer of amazing interrelationships in the universe. (The Golden Mean is a prime example). I remain awed, and firmly believe that ultimate discovery will come when we "see Him face to face". In the meanwhile, no approach to science is wrong, or sacreligeous - they all serve to humble us even more.


19 posted on 12/05/2005 4:49:51 AM PST by Ike
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To: Rudder
Reagan didn't operate on that principal, he believed that Americans could be talked to, not insulted or talked down to.

Seemed to work out pretty well for him and for our country.

But of course if the annointed elete don't wish the great unwashed to be educated and that the annointed ones are only those that have the answers then that's probably not an issue.

But to me at least that kinda sounds like how liberals operate.

20 posted on 12/05/2005 4:56:07 AM PST by Proud_texan ("Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." - Barry Goldwater)
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