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?
On the other hand, non-breeders may be helpful to breeders by aiding them in producing more offspring. Worker bees don't breed but they gather.
Da Vinci had extensive training for the time. He worked 6 years as del Verrocchio's apprentice. So da Vinci did get both formal and informal training.
What do you do when you forget a memory-aiding device?
Heck, I'm 64 with a major in math and a degree in chemical engineering and I couldn't remember it. Concepts are fine but details are a no no.
Until Verrocchio became a real boy.
On the contrary, it is an easy matter to dismiss all phenomena as occuring "naturally." That does not make one's conclusions necessarily more reliable, true, or "scientific."
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.
Change that to research they don't understand.
I sure that specific skills vary genetically, but I do not accept the concept of g. Any large population will have those factors that contribute to survival in that culture. We value counting and reading. It is circular to say that the factors we value define general intelligence.
All populations have exceptional individuals, by any standards. The frequency of these exceptional traits can shift rapidly if they become valuable to the population.
Oops, I think I misread your post. Friendly fire alert!
You'd soon shake yourself of that notion if you walked along some of the streets near my home. Either that or everyone else out there has the IQ of a fencepost. I'm not sure which prospect is more alarming. (anecdotal observations applying to population of many millions disclaimer, before Dr Stoch gets on to me)
Congratulations, the pair of you have come up with the first interesting and novel (to me) comments that have ever arisen as a result of creato homo obsession.
52! ~ 8.065 x 1067.
Of course that's only one deck, dealt one time.
CarolinaGuitarman: That is a very nice position, but it is not open to scientific investigation.
Indeed, that's just my point. You do not have to adhere to "creationism" or ID to believe in a God who created the universe and life, and you're right, this isn't open to scientific investigation. I might recommend the book Finding Darwin's God, by Kenneth Miller; he is a prominent biologist who is a Roman Catholic, who explains why evolution is compatible with Christian theology but why ID is bad theology and bad science.
Rampant agreement placemarker
evolution works on populations, not individuals. There are examples of species with a high proportion of nonreproducing individuals. You can't simple deduce the correct answer to questions like this.
No, but the probability of getting a combination that I value is extremely low, which is why I would find it astonishing to get one.
Take a better analogy: A lottery machine containing 100 billion blue balls and just one red ball. The lottery machine randomly selects a ball. 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)
An argument parallel to your above argument would be that my astonishment at getting a red ball is only due to my perception because I value red balls, and pointing out that the red ball had just as much chance of being selected as any particular blue ball. But it isn't the particular ball that astonishes me, it is the particular color of that ball.
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.
Canis Lupus, just as a mammalian example. There is an extreme example in the social insects. (Order Hymenoptera?) I didn't mean it to be serious proposition, just a conceit. I suspect the premise is flawed, that a gene or group of genes is responsible for inflexible, lifelong preference for one's same sex is unlikely. Probably it is just a "wild type" being acted on by unusual environmental factors. Even if were true, there is no reason to suppose that it would have an appreciable effect on gene frequency, necessarily. Then there is the question of why some societies, like The Greeks and Romans, didn't make the same rigid distinctions we do. It was useful in their societies to redirect the sexual drives of males, in certain circumstances, to boys, and then back to females for procreation. Some say that they had no heterosexuals and homosexuals, but I would argue that that pattern in society masked those who were different in the sense that they primarily responded to visual stimuli from same sex secondary sexual characteristics. My objection to public policy that allows same sex marriage is that it furthers the view that sex is primarily for pleasure rather than procreation. The declining birth rates of advanced Western societies should be of concern to us. (The Death of The West) Earlier Western societies did a better job of integrating homosexuality into their cultures than we do, to wit, the Castrati. Even though it was strictly banned by the Church, it was accepted as a part of high culture with a wink and a nod by the elite.
That'd be the Carolina Panthers cheer leading squad.
These articles always fail to address the elephant in the room: Evolution has never adequately defended itself against the empirical evidence of punctuated equilibrium. If evolution as an explanation of the origins of life can't hold water, then how can one put the same burden of proof on any other theory.
Hey! As an 18 year veteran of the (U.S.) Navy and Navy Reserve I was ever only aware of one homosexual incident at any of my duty stations. Of course it sucked that the two involved were in my department and I shared a 40-man berthing space with them...
I don't see what all the commotion is about. It really is quite simple. I do not understand how something works, cannot explain it with my present accumulation of experience and knowledge, therefore it is unexplainable and irriduceable. It is in fact, therefore, the will of the creator, ie, intelligent (more than me) design.
Sorry, I was aware of your Navy service, and I just couldn't resist.
How can you expect evolution to adequately explain the origins of life when it's not even part of the theory? Your beef is with abiogenisis not with evolution.
Do you discount germ theory because it doesn't encompass how "germs" originated?
Multiple times - yes, and, theoretically, multiple times - no.
It's a miracle!