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?
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?
That discussion was over a long time ago
I'd rather be elite.
Well done! It's nice to hear from a critic.
I accept the defeat and promise to try harder next time.
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.
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...
16/64=1/4 by cancellation of the 6's.
It happens but it's rare.
I hasten to quibble. Although I'm highly confident that ID, or anything similar, will never be a useful and successful part of science, I disagree with ruling it out, especially "by definition".
It was once widely agreed, for instance, that "occult forces" involving "action at a distance" were inherently unscientific (or "unphilosophical," this being before the term "science" had been invented). And yet Newton appealed to just such a force -- gravity -- which was rapidly accepted because it demonstrably worked in explaining nature and stimulating new research.
Now I can't imagine how "non-natural" forces or causes could possibly work in natural science. How can you possible deduce empirical consequences from a theory which includes a mechanism that is basically unconstrained, or at least very weakly constrained, in the effects it can produce?
But maybe, just maybe, someone might be able to DEMONSTRATE (anti-evos please note this is what is required!) how such a theory might work and produce genuinely useful results. However unlikely I won't define the possibility, or any similar possibility away.
My philosophical position is that there is no fixed or predefined "nature of science," nor certain set of characteristics to which scientific theories must adhere. (Or rather the characteristics are operational rather than definitional, regarding how theories function as opposed to their inherent characteristics.)
The "nature of science" is determined by the content of science. Before Newton is was part of the nature of science that theories involving the transfer of force appealed exclusively to physical impact between bodies. Newton actually changed the nature of science by producing ideas that were so useful that they had to be accommodated despite their novel character.
I'm probably not qualified to set the flaps on his driving cap.
According to your perception, because you value that particular combination. But it's not statistically any less likely than any other combination.
Does this 100% accuracy extend to the global flood, at around 4200-4300 years ago?
Don't forget, he's just a man. Besides, nothing in his bio suggests being a skilled driver, especially since he's been limo'd around for over a decade.
Wrong. Here's a partial list:
Stephen Meyer, The Origin of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 117(2004):213-239.
Meyer argues that competing materialistic models (Neo-Darwinism, Self Organization Models, Punctuated Equilibrium and Structuralism) are not sufficient to account for origin of the information necessary to build novel animal forms present in the Cambrian Explosion. He proposes intelligent design as an alternative explanation for the origin of biological information and the higher taxa.Lönnig, W.-E. Dynamic genomes, morphological stasis and the origin of irreducible complexity, Dynamical Genetics, Pp. 101-119. PDF(2.95MB)HTML
Biology exhibits numerous invariants -- aspects of the biological world that do not change over time. These include basic genetic processes that have persisted unchanged for more than three-and-a-half billion years and molecular mechanisms of animal ontogenesis that have been constant for more than one billion years. Such invariants, however, are difficult to square with dynamic genomes in light of conventional evolutionary theory. Indeed, Ernst Mayr regarded this as one of the great unsolved problems of biology. In this paper Dr.Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig Lönnig Senior Scientist in the Department of Molecular Plant Genetics at the Max-Planck-Institute for Plant Breeding Research employs the design-theoretic concepts of irreducible complexity (as developed by Michael Behe) and specified complexity (as developed by William Dembski) to elucidate these invariants, accounting for them in terms of an intelligent design (ID) hypothesis.Jonathan Wells, Do Centrioles Generate a Polar Ejection Force? Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum 98 (2005): 37-62.
Most animal cells contain a pair of centrioles, tiny turbine-like organelles oriented at right angles to each other that replicate at every cell division. Yet the function and behavior of centrioles remain mysterious. Since all centrioles appear to be equally complex, there are no plausible evolutionary intermediates with which to construct phylogenies; and since centrioles contain no DNA, they have attracted relatively little attention from neo Darwinian biologists who think that DNA is the secret of life. From an intelligent design (ID) perspective, centrioles may have no evolutionary intermediates because they are irreducibly complex. And they may need no DNA because they carry another form of biological information that is independent of the genetic mutations relied upon by neo-Darwinists. In this paper, Wells assumes that centrioles are designed to function as the tiny turbines they appear to be, rather than being accidental by-products of Darwinian evolution. He then formulates a testable hypothesis about centriole function and behavior thatif corroborated by experiment could have important implications for our understanding of cell division and cancer. Wells thus makes a case for ID by showing its strong heuristic value in biology. That is, he uses the theory of intelligent design to make new discoveries in biology.Scott Minnich and Stephen C. Meyer, Genetic Analysis of Coordinate Flagellar and Type III Regulatory Circuits, Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Design & Nature, Rhodes Greece, edited by M.W. Collins and C.A. Brebbia (WIT Press, 2004).
This article underwent conference peer review in order to be included in this peer-edited proceedings. Minnich and Meyer do three important things in this paper. First, they refute a popular objection to Michael Behes argument for the irreducible complexity of the bacterial flagellum. Second, they suggest that the Type III Secretory System present in some bacteria, rather than being an evolutionary intermediate to the bacterial flagellum, is probably represents a degenerate form of the bacterial flagellum. Finally, they argue explicitly that intelligent design is a better than the Neo-Darwinian mechanism for explaining the origin of the bacterial flagellum.Peer-Reviewed Books Supportive of Intelligent Design Published by Trade Presses or University Presses
W.A. Dembski, The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
This book was published by Cambridge University Press and peer-reviewed as part of a distinguished monograph series, Cambridge Studies in Probability, Induction, and Decision Theory. The editorial board of that series includes members of the National Academy of Sciences as well as one Nobel laureate, John Harsanyi, who shared the prize in 1994 with John Nash, the protagonist in the film A Beautiful Mind. Commenting on the ideas in The Design Inference, well-known physicist and science writer Paul Davies remarks: Dembskis attempt to quantify design, or provide mathematical criteria for design, is extremely useful. Im concerned that the suspicion of a hidden agenda is going to prevent that sort of work from receiving the recognition it deserves. Quoted in L. Witham, By Design (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2003), p. 149.
Rsearch? You didn't cite any experiments done by ID.
20 points to any old-timers who get that one.
Fortran implicits: a through h real, i through o integer, p through z real, IIRC.
This is the problem with the origin of life: You can shuffle those amino acids all day long, but whether you get a structure that fulfills the functions of a living organism is another matter entirely.
Looks like he is eminently qualified to express his opinions in eloquent form. Is he your source of ultimate truth?
Your first example was rejected for failing to meet the publication's criteria. Your second I haven't been able track down. The next two do not have anything to do with IC, from what I can tell (just because a guy advocates ID does not mean all his research is geared toward it). And, what the hell is a peer-reviewed book?
We live in a universe that supports life, where the laws of physics and chemistry are not random and appear to have lead to the origin of life. There is where I personally see the Creator, a Creator who has chosen the most elegant way possible to create life.
"We live in a universe that supports life, where the laws of physics and chemistry are not random and appear to have lead to the origin of life. There is where I personally see the Creator, a Creator who has chosen the most elegant way possible to create life."
That is a very nice position, but it is not open to scientific investigation.
It's when an editor decides to run a manuscript past someone else to get their take on it. Obviously, it's a highly informal process, done (or not done) totally at the editor's discretion, unlike peer-reviewed journals. Likewise, there's no real reason to expect the reviewer to have any particular expertise in the subject material - they may be "peers" purely in the sense that they also have two arms and a head, like the author. In fact IIRC the "peers" that "reviewed" Design Inference were philosophers, not mathematicians, or biologists. Curious, since the book is all about math and biology...
Actually, it's the second rule (the first is Godwin's Law). There is a way around this, though. One need only include "[sic]" within the excerpted text to which you are replying; this indicates you recognize the lack of knowledge of spelling or grammar on the part of your opponent without actually bringing it to the world's attention.
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.
Don't forget Paul Simon:
...still the man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.
Yes, it really ought to be removed to "chat"--
Are you suggesting that counting could be part of an unbiased IQ test?
We have a winner!
Assorted answers that would occur to anyone who thought open-mindedly about the problem posed for a few minutes:
Just because a particular trait makes offspring less likely it doesn't follow that it cannot persist in the population. Homosexuals still have the physical equipment to be the biological parents of children.
Homosexuality may be expressed by several genes, and may form a continuum rather than being a straight on/off switch.
Perhaps the assumptions of the question are wrong and homosexuality is not genetic at all.
Perhaps the principal genes for homosexuality are recessive. Plenty of traits survive in the population for that reason.
Latent genetic homosexuality might be triggered into actual homosexual behaviour by certain environmental events during one's lifetime, and people who didn't experience such events would grow up straight despite having one or more of the homosexuality genes.
What I find more curious, is why are so many creationists obsessed with homosexuality, to the point that again and again it is dragged into crevo debates for no discernable reason?
Hey! Wait a minute, wasn't it 'i' through 'n' for I N teger? That's how I used to remember it.
Do you know how long it's been since I used FORTRAN? But, IIRC, you're right.
What do you do when you forget a memory-aiding device?
"...it is not clear to what extent the process of evolution or the study of the history of life on Earth may reveal hints of broader cosmic, perhaps even Divine, purpose and intention...It is therefore possible that from time to time, the Foundation will support well-designed projects or research that some others may label as "intelligent design"...Some advocates of the ID position have received grants from the Foundation on the basis of successful participation in intellectually-rigorous, openly judged and peer-reviewed grant competitions.
Still think that they're legit?
I'm just waiting to collect my prize now. I believe it is a night out with a selected cohort of the Darwin Central Grand Master's Bathing Beauty Team. Just picture the Dallas Cowgirls, but somewhat less reticent in coming forward.
a. The author is sometimes the reviewer of his own work.
b. Failing (a) if a reviewer reviews a portion of the book negatively, you just go and ask another reviewer.
c. The review process apparently consists not of the question, "Is this work valid science?", but "Will this book find a ready market?"
Yet another possiblity re homosexuality is that it's a linked trait. It may not be adapative, may even be maladaptive in itself, but closely associated with some trait that IS adaptive. Let's say (just as a merely illustrative "for instance") that the genetic factors associated with homosexuality only actually cause homosexuality 25 percent of the time; the other 75 percent of the time they cause individuals to have greater empathy with the opposite sex, and a much improved "fashion sense," both of which qualities make bearers of the "homo factor" more successful in securing mates and reproducing. Clearly such a set of factors might be transmitted and even favored by reproduction and natural selection.
Actually, science can recreate conditions from millions of years ago and duplicate the results. That's science. ID cannot reproduce results. That's not science, or if anything that's a theory not able to be proven through science.
Ping to above post.
Your "research" is just a list of articles reviewing the liteature on certain problems. Reviews of literature are sometimes valuable, and may reveal problems in accepted explanations, they are not research.
ID accomodates everthing from young earth creationism to Denton's fine tuning. It says nothing about what to expect, projects no data and makes no falsifiable claims.
Before ID begins a research project it will need to have a hypothesis that is something other than a list of unexplained phenomena. It will need to offer an explanation that expects something different from Darwinian evolution.
I'm not sure how that can come about when Behe and Denton accept most of evolution as a given.
You left out the fact that RC gave us one of the truly great leaders of the Twentieth Century, Carol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. I was raised prot in New England and I am a lifelong atheist, but if there is one person whose life could test my non-belief, it would be him. The greatness of Carol Wojtyla's intellect, his vast knowledge, and amazing charisma will forever intrigue me. How could such a man be wrong in believing? As long as he lives in my consciousness there will be an asterisk beside my atheist label. The RC Church has traditionally been a vehicle for higher learning and philosophical and theological inquiry. (the conduit for classical learning through the Dark Ages to modern times) I was raised to admire the Jesuit Order before they veered so far to the left. RC is the original "Big Tent," including all the best and worst of religion. The RC will always be welcoming to knowledge, even during the Inquisition the resistance often came from within the Church.
Not without indulging a set of untestable assumptions.
Same here. I had to suffer through a couple years of Visual Basic work, so "Option Explicit" (same meaning) was always the first line.
Not true. The environment leaves traces in the fossil record in much the same manner as organisms do. The biggest example is the band of rust found in the geological column corresponding to the introduction of atmospheric oxygen.
Certain types of minerals will only form under certain conditions, meaning those conditions had to be present when those minerals formed.
This whole "untestable assumptions" crap you (and other anti-E types) toss out willy-nilly to dismiss research you don't like just does not hold water when looked at objectively.
Yes, thanks. I should have said "repeated independent trials."
Yes, I understood that to be your main point and agreed that you were correct.
Yes, and da Vinci would fall into the "It happens but it's rare" category.