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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
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To: Diamond
It [ID]says nothing about what to expect, projects no data and makes no falsifiable claims.

This is not my statement.

I said that the citations you posted had no data and no experimentation.

But the heuristic aspect that is claimed by one of the writers has not proven itself. After 10 years, there's still no data. If ID is ever going to get on the map it will have to generate data first.

261 posted on 12/05/2005 12:53:18 PM PST by Rudder
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To: Junior

Both are applicable. One cannot test unobserved, unrecorded phenomena but can only make inferences from what exists. One can also dismiss all phenomena as "occuring naturally" whether it occurs naturally or not. In either case, the assertions are no more scientific, and no more provable, than those of ID proponents.


262 posted on 12/05/2005 1:08:28 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: DoctorMichael

To what do you attribute the presence of organized matter?


263 posted on 12/05/2005 1:11:55 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew
One cannot test unobserved, unrecorded phenomena but can only make inferences from what exists.

The phenomena in question are not "unrecorded" as I pointed out to you. And they do occur naturally as they are occuring even to this day. You're dancing around the issue.

264 posted on 12/05/2005 1:21:15 PM PST by Junior (From now on, I'll stick to science, and leave the hunting alien mutants to the experts!)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
What if...

we just happen to live in a universe that has the property of organizing itself? To me, that is much more feasible than it being organized by some sort of all powerful personage
265 posted on 12/05/2005 1:25:11 PM PST by rootkidslim (... got the Sony rootkit on your Wintel box? You can thank Orrin Hatch!)
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To: Junior
The phenomena in question are not "unrecorded" as I pointed out to you.

The phenomena in question happens to be an arrangement of molecules that results in the formation of a biological entity. Please direct me to that time and place where such phenomena have been observed and recorded; where life has been observed to arise from non-living matter. It is you who are dancing around the issue.

266 posted on 12/05/2005 1:25:34 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Rudder
After 10 years, there's still no data. If ID is ever going to get on the map it will have to generate data first.

And once it does, then we should discuss it. Until it does, it's not worth the time.

267 posted on 12/05/2005 1:26:32 PM PST by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: dotnetfellow
Evolution has never adequately defended itself against the empirical evidence of punctuated equilibrium.

Darwin and Punctuated Equilibrium. "PE" was actually predicted by Darwin.

268 posted on 12/05/2005 1:27:20 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: rootkidslim

That is one way a person could view the universe as we know it. Many people think of it that way. It is not wholly unreasonable. Nor is it wholly unreasonable to infer that where there is organized matter a designer may be involved. Both points of view will affect how one does science; how one interprets the evidence.

The best evidence for lack of intelligent design is chaos. Science doesn't happen very well where chaos reigns.


269 posted on 12/05/2005 1:28:54 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: jec41
Darwin did not have a degree in medicine (He could not stomach surgery).

His degree was in religion/theology from Cambridge.

His interest in nature was an extracurricular activity.

270 posted on 12/05/2005 1:31:57 PM PST by pby
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To: js1138
Do you have a link to Scientific American's article on Directed Panspermia and the related research?
271 posted on 12/05/2005 1:35:17 PM PST by pby
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The regularity of the world proves a designer.
Irregularities and improbabilities prove a designer.

The Designer designed everything.
We can spot design when we see it.

Life is impossible, therefore ID.
The universe is made for life, therefore ID.

Evolution causes communism.
Evolution causes fascism.
Evolution causes the evils of capitalism.

272 posted on 12/05/2005 1:36:53 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: highball
And once it does, then we should discuss it. Until it does, it's not worth the time.

If it weren't for the Ignorati (what one web site calls the antievolutionists), there would be nothing to say at all.

273 posted on 12/05/2005 1:39:46 PM PST by Rudder
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To: js1138
Just pure speculation.

And Dr. Crick theorized that it was aliens seeding Earth via rocket ships...not meteors from Mars seeded with life of some sort. He even drew pictures of the rocket ships in his book. What was it called...Life Itself?

I liked the comment on chemical evolution equalling abiogenesis though.

274 posted on 12/05/2005 1:43:01 PM PST by pby
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To: CarolinaGuitarman; jec41
While the idea of the transmutation of species was not new with Darwin, his presentation and explanation for the causative agent (Natural selection) WAS new.

Interestingly enough, Linnaeus was led to the conclusion that species aren't fixed.

Was Linnaeus an evolutionist? It is true that he abandoned his earlier belief in the fixity of species, and it is true that hybridization has produced new species of plants, and in some cases of animals. Yet to Linnaeus, the process of generating new species was not open-ended and unlimited.

Source

275 posted on 12/05/2005 1:44:10 PM PST by Virginia-American
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To: Rudder
I'll cite one: Miller-Urey.

FAILED TO PROVE ABIOGENESIS.

276 posted on 12/05/2005 1:46:28 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
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To: montag813
Those preachers, that you referred to, might just be accurately pointing out the outright misrepresentations in the museum displays relating to human origins, human evolution, horse evolution and dinosaur to bird evolution (complete with feathered dinosaurs that don't even really exist...sinosauroptyrex and so forth).
277 posted on 12/05/2005 1:48:52 PM PST by pby
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To: sauron
"I'll cite one: Miller-Urey.

FAILED TO PROVE ABIOGENESIS."

It was never intended to *prove* abiogensis. No theory is ever *proved*; the experiment was still an important first step in the study of how life began.
278 posted on 12/05/2005 1:49:24 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: Servant of the 9

I believe you have missed my point completely. I am in total agreement that Theology cannot be falsified by Science, nor can Science be proved through Theology.

What I am saying is that this journal DOES attempt to verify theology using science and that it does so on the presumption that science will trump theology whenever the two are perceived to conflict. I find this prejudicial and possibly bigoted, certainly unintellectual.

Do we still disagree on any point?


279 posted on 12/05/2005 1:49:57 PM PST by BelegStrongbow
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To: pby

"Those preachers, that you referred to, might just be accurately pointing out the outright misrepresentations in the museum displays relating to human origins, human evolution, horse evolution and dinosaur to bird evolution (complete with feathered dinosaurs that don't even really exist...sinosauroptyrex and so forth)."

What misrepresentations?
BTW, some dinosaurs DID have feathers.


280 posted on 12/05/2005 1:54:27 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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