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?
Didn't Giordano Bruno get burnt at the stake for this?
In fairness RKS only ventured a hypothetical, and it was at least an interesting one. There would be a bizarre irony in the freedom to come out being bad for the homosexuality genes. Though I agree with you that I suspect it won't work like that. In evidence I cite that homosexuality hasn't died out in past human societies where it was openly practiced AFAIK.
I don't know a lot of openly gay people, but one of my former co-workers had been married and had children. It's possible that in a world without closets, fewer gay men would get married and have children. I wouldn't bet either way on the outcome.
The point of my card-shuffle post is not that our particular biosphere isn't unlikely, because it is. It's just that whatever biosphere gets produced will be equally unlikely. Ours is no more unlikely than any other. If you went back to 4 billion years ago and started the whole thing up all over again, you'd probably end up with a totally different mix of species, none of them exactly like what we have now. But this "shuffle of the cards" is ours. We're unique. Which is why -- contrary to the endlessly repeated claims of the creationists -- the evolutionary point of view places a higher value on humanity than one where we could be wiped out and started up again at the whim of a deity.
Behe also said that ID requires NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE.
Which is appropriate since it doesn't have any.
That's the kicker, what you value. What we all value, of course, is our present existence, our present form of life. If things had worked out a bit different, there could be another form of life here, valuing its outcome.
If the selected ball is red I would find that astonishing because the odds of that happening were so low (this is entirely valid astonisment, showing that retrospective astonishment is not always a fallacy)
I would be astonished, too. However, now think of that tank having a billion different colors in it and you didn't care which one was picked. Are you now astonished that the red one came up?
Are you changing the subject now? You made an unfounded assertion that a lot of research was based on "untestable assumptions." I pointed out that you were wrong, and now suddenly we're talking about phenomena "occuring naturally."
I personally lean toward the rare earth hypothesis. If you look at the history of mass extinctions on this planet it seems unlikely that any planet would undergo the history that led to primates.
There are lots of big brains around, but only one species with syntactical language.
Not if it were recessive.
One thing y'all may be overlooking is that relatively few homosexuals are exclusively homosexual. I've only known a few gay folks in my lifetime, and generally they were bisexual with a strong, though not exclusive, tendency toward attraction to members of their own sex.
Lots of gay men are married and have children. I imagine the same is true of women.
Not necessarily. It depends on the polarization of the light. In one direction left-hand predominates, in the other direction, right-handed.
We don't know if it's possible for right-hand life to exist in the universe; Our one example, Earth, is exclusively left-handed.
On that same note, if there IS a genetic component to homosexuality, the expression of it could be highly variable depending on the social environment that the individual was a part of. Present day expression, with the desire of gays to have pair bonding, is relatively new historically speaking. Trying to figure out in what way this genetic component (if it exists) was expressed in early Man is probably not possible.
May your nose never need to grow longer.
Moties, on the gripping hand, would be easier, right?
The research is readily admitted to be theoretical. In one of the articles, though, the scientist explicitly disagrees with the assesment that ID projects no data and makes no falsifiable claims.
Altogether now, "In the Navy..."
That was the thrust (arf arf) of one of my original replies to snowbelt, though not in so many words.
IIRC, the Persians of Alexander's time maintained a regiment composed solely of homosexual men and their lovers, the idea being that no man would want to appear cowardly in the presence of his significant other.
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