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?
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.
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