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?
We, as part of the created universe, would have no way of detecting something from "outside" our universe.
So...we have to use other methods.
The clue will be in the Kalam Cosmological Argument (q.v.).
The universe might not yield provable evidence--the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence--but the universe could not have CREATED ITSELF.
One can "beg the question" all day and posit brane theory for creating our universe, but sooner or later, you have to pay the piper and ask where the first created universe in our posited multiverse came from.
The answer is always: from OUTSIDE. From an intelligent source not bound by our laws of matter and energy and time. This is hinted at in Genesis, also in Pslams, Isaiah, and other books. How could they have known, 3,000 years ago?
Judeo-Christianity doesn't have a giant turtle holding up a flat earth. It doesn't invoke Atlas. It doesn't say the universe came from a cosmic frog egg that hatched.
The Judeo-Christian worldview, of all religions, very nearly aligns with scientific theory in sequence of what was created. It's remarkable, when you roll up your sleeves and look into it. Remarkable.
The biggest question of all is this: Why should there be SOMETHING...instead of NOTHING?
That this failed to produce life means that this failed to produce life.
But what does it have to do with ID or evolution?
A good many biology textbooks suggest the origin of life as a particular combination of molecules apart from any intelligent agent and leave it at that.
This will be the ultimate yardstick--abiogenesis shown to be possible under the rigorous standards of a laboratory experiement, peer-reviewed and duplicatable.
Hasn't happened. And we've had DECADES in which to affect a satisfactory result, haven't we?
Has anyone ever wondered why? What's the current view of this in biochemistry?
Do they just dismiss it as "not important" (because they're secretly embarrassed by an inability to explain the process)?
Serious repsonses only, please. ;)
That IS the problem with a "Goddidit" theory. Anything you see, God could have done that. See something different tomorrow, God could have done that, too. Hard to imagine ever seeing anything God couldn't have done. Thus, a "Goddidit" theory can't give you much of an idea of what to expect. Everything is consistent with it. Anything is consistent with it. So the real-world information content of the theory is ... zero.
And who determines the benchmark and standard that defines productive?
It seems pretty subjective if you ask me.
What do you want, up against the adobe wall or something? Some things just take time.
For your consideration.
Clarke's Third Law:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.(Recently we could substitute "ID" for "magic.")
The origin of life on Earth is a toughie in its own way. We may identify some number of scenarios by which it may have happened. We may create life from non-life in the laboratory. Even if we do, creationists will only cite the demonstration as proof that life is designed. At any rate it won't prove that the original abiogenesis event happened along the same lines.
Both of these questions are separate from whether life on Earth now is the result of common descent diversifying via variation and natural selection. This one already has a huge preponderance of evidence for it, none against, and must be taught in biology classes if biology is to be properly understood.
Was there a deadline?
NO, I'm actually in full agreement with that statement. NO difference of opinion, there.
We, as a species, are forever unable to use science to prove/disprove ID claims. I find them intellectually challenging. Just because we can't disprove/prove doesn't mean they aren't valid (as you probably realize).
The intent of my argument was to carry the idea further, out of the realm of biology and into physics, where it would be provable, through deduction: the universe cannot have created itself. (Q.v., Kalam Cosmological Argument, no such thing as an actual infinite, begging the question, etc.)
The universe cannot have been created through the agency of other matter and energy coming from elsewhere, because it would merely beg the question: what created that? Therefore, "brane theory" falls apart.
I am constantly suprised that Christians are challenged (fairly, I must say) by those who attack their claims saying that Christians (or Deists) invoke God when they can't explain something. We do. But the rhetorical rules must be evenly applied: When physicists can't explain Big Bang, they just as deceitfully resort to brane theory, which is violating the same rhetorical principles, and is also a cop-out, begging the question, giving us no answer.
They're too proud to admit it. They also don't want to play by the same rules they attempt to hold Deists to.
It is completely plausible, given the facts that we have, that an Intelligent Designer created Life. If the universe created it (Pantheism), then the ultimate quesiton would be, fine, what created the universe? Again, the mind is pointed toward an extra-univeral entity.
Don't get me wrong: Science and the Judeo-Christian religion point strongly to each other. There is no conflict between them which will not be resolved as it always has been.
"I'm convinced that Behe and thus ID are nothing but a book selling charlatan hoax"
I found Behe's book compelling. No trace of charaltanism anywhere that I could detect, merely a great of deal of very intriguing information. Have you read it? Cite for me those passages that you feel are charlatan. I promise, I'll go to my copy and re-read them and then get back to you.
When another student in college showed me that proof, I almost slapped him. Not until oblomov's #109 did I see where it breaks down. Thanks!
I'm looking at first causes.
Darwin talks about what is now called punctuated equalibrium in "Origin of Species". Please specify the "evidence of punctuated equlibrium" to which you refer. No biologist is surprised to hear that evolution moves faster when the environment changes faster.
then how can one put the same burden of proof on any other theory.
There is no such thing as proof in a natural science.
Vice Admiral Sir John Cunningham: Ah, hello. [snip] may I take this opportunity of emphasizing that there is no cannibalism in the British Navy. Absolutely none, and when I say none, I mean there is a certain amount, more than we are prepared to admit, but all new ratings are warned that if they wake up in the morning and find tooth marks at all anywhere on their bodies, they're to tell me immediately so that I can immediately take every measure to hush the whole thing up.