Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

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
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 221-240241-260261-280 ... 861-875 next last
To: js1138
There are examples of species with a high proportion of nonreproducing individuals.

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.

241 posted on 12/05/2005 12:33:52 PM PST by rootkidslim (... got the Sony rootkit on your Wintel box? You can thank Orrin Hatch!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 219 | View Replies]

To: Thatcherite
Just picture the Dallas Cowgirls, but somewhat less reticent in coming forward.

That'd be the Carolina Panthers cheer leading squad.

242 posted on 12/05/2005 12:35:49 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 185 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

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.


243 posted on 12/05/2005 12:35:53 PM PST by dotnetfellow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Thatcherite
Altogether now, "In the Navy..."

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...

244 posted on 12/05/2005 12:36:31 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 239 | View Replies]

To: Junior

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.
/sarc.


245 posted on 12/05/2005 12:38:13 PM PST by going hot (Happiness is a momma deuce)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 240 | View Replies]

To: Junior

Sorry, I was aware of your Navy service, and I just couldn't resist.


246 posted on 12/05/2005 12:38:24 PM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 244 | View Replies]

To: dotnetfellow
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

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?

247 posted on 12/05/2005 12:39:29 PM PST by JeffAtlanta
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 243 | View Replies]

To: dread78645

Multiple times - yes, and, theoretically, multiple times - no.


248 posted on 12/05/2005 12:39:39 PM PST by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 221 | View Replies]

To: Junior
I don't think that was the norm though. I am certainly not an authority on the subject. In Christian Europe I don't think though that there was the same type of exclusivity that we see (sorta) today. Of course, you had to put on an act for most of that time. At any rate, I don't think it is possible, for the time being, to explore the roots of such a complex behavior.
249 posted on 12/05/2005 12:39:39 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 240 | View Replies]

To: dread78645
52! ~ 8.065 x 1067

It's a miracle!

250 posted on 12/05/2005 12:39:46 PM PST by RogueIsland
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 216 | View Replies]

To: rootkidslim

H. L. Mencken.


251 posted on 12/05/2005 12:40:12 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 194 | View Replies]

To: dread78645

Supremely adapted members of female hom sap, and a credit to the good genetic taste of the GM.


252 posted on 12/05/2005 12:40:41 PM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 242 | View Replies]

To: Fester Chugabrew
Is he your source of ultimate truth?

No.

I am.

As a Biochemist and a research-faculty member at a large internationally-known university, I would do the same as the esteemed Dr. Behe's colleagues did............sign a public letter distancing myself from Behe's opinions.

253 posted on 12/05/2005 12:41:24 PM PST by DoctorMichael (The Fourth-Estate is a Fifth-Column!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 171 | View Replies]

To: dotnetfellow
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.

Nice bait-and-switch! Evolution is not "an explanation of the origins of life," so that has nothing to do with "the same burden of proof on any other theory."

Brush up on some definitions and try again later (from a google search):

Theory: a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"

Hypothesis: a tentative theory about the natural world; a concept that is not yet verified but that if true would explain certain facts or phenomena; "a scientific hypothesis that survives experimental testing becomes a scientific theory"; "he proposed a fresh theory of alkalis that later was accepted in chemical practices"

Guess: an opinion or estimate based on incomplete evidence, or on little or no information

Law: a generalization that describes recurring facts or events in nature; "the laws of thermodynamics"

Assumption: premise: a statement that is assumed to be true and from which a conclusion can be drawn; "on the assumption that he has been injured we can infer that he will not to play"

Speculation: a hypothesis that has been formed by speculating or conjecturing (usually with little hard evidence)

Observation: any information collected with the senses

Data: factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions

Fact: when an observation is confirmed repeatedly and by many independent and competent observers, it can become a fact

Belief: any cognitive content (perception) held as true; religious faith

Faith the belief in something for which there is no evidence or logical proof

Dogma: a religious doctrine that is proclaimed as true without proof

Impression: a vague idea in which some confidence is placed; "his impression of her was favorable"; "what are your feelings about the crisis?"; "it strengthened my belief in his sincerity"; "I had a feeling that she was lying"

Based on this, evolution is a theory. CS and ID are beliefs.

254 posted on 12/05/2005 12:41:53 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 243 | View Replies]

To: JeffAtlanta

When I was in high school the teacher DID try to pass abiogenesis off as evolution. If that is what teachers and professors are doing, then how come there is no watch dog going after them? Because of the duplicitousness of the evolution militants, that is why.


255 posted on 12/05/2005 12:42:27 PM PST by dotnetfellow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 247 | View Replies]

To: dotnetfellow
"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."

Evolution has NEVER BEEN an explanation for the origins of life. And Punctuated Equalibria theory is not about the origins of life either. Nor is it opposed to evolution in any way, or to natural selection. Nothing you stated is correct.
256 posted on 12/05/2005 12:42:42 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 243 | View Replies]

To: KeepUSfree
...but ID'ers are the Democrats of Science. ...

Indeed. They're pushing affirmative action to have ID taught as though it were science, just like the race-baiting Dhimms push Ebonics and Afrocentrism as though they were English and history.

Lowering standards just so some group of supporters will feel good about themselves.

Neither the IDers not the Dhimms care how much they're hurting the USA (as well as individual students).

If ID wasn't so transparently a cover for creationism. it might be possible to get the Dhimms to adopt IDers as another one of their affirmative action mascots, but the D*ms hatred of religion makes that impossible.

257 posted on 12/05/2005 12:43:17 PM PST by Virginia-American
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: dotnetfellow
"When I was in high school the teacher DID try to pass abiogenesis off as evolution. If that is what teachers and professors are doing, then how come there is no watch dog going after them? Because of the duplicitousness of the evolution militants, that is why."

Your anecdotal *evidence* is worthless. When I was in high school, my biology teacher (a nun as it turned out) taught us that evolution did not try to explain life's origins. We have now canceled each other's *evidence*.
258 posted on 12/05/2005 12:46:41 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 255 | View Replies]

To: dotnetfellow
When I was in high school the teacher DID try to pass abiogenesis off as evolution. If that is what teachers and professors are doing, then how come there is no watch dog going after them? Because of the duplicitousness of the evolution militants, that is why.

Soooo, because you were badly taught, you want what exactly?

Evolution to be not taught any more? Non science like ID to be taught in science class? Something else?

259 posted on 12/05/2005 12:49:29 PM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 255 | View Replies]

To: dotnetfellow
Evolution has never adequately defended itself against the empirical evidence of punctuated equilibrium.

PE does not contradict evolution. Indeed, Darwin actually postulated punctuated equilibrium in his writings.

260 posted on 12/05/2005 12:52:44 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 243 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 221-240241-260261-280 ... 861-875 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson