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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: VadeRetro
If a Creator did in fact design Life, then there likely cannot be any evidence to be found: The Creator would reside outsidethe universe, outside of spacetime.

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?

How?

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?

Peace.

281 posted on 12/05/2005 1:56:16 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
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To: sauron
Miller-Urey
FAILED TO PROVE ABIOGENESIS.

That this failed to produce life means that this failed to produce life.

But what does it have to do with ID or evolution?

282 posted on 12/05/2005 1:56:31 PM PST by Rudder
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Evolution has NEVER BEEN an explanation for the origins of life.

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.

283 posted on 12/05/2005 1:57:35 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew
"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."

And this has nothing to do with evolution. It's abiogenesis.

BTW, physics textbooks also say that the planets revolve around the sun without mention of God either. Why don't you get upset over that too?
284 posted on 12/05/2005 1:59:50 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: sauron
"If a Creator did in fact design Life, then there likely cannot be any evidence to be found: The Creator would reside outsidethe universe, outside of spacetime.

We, as part of the created universe, would have no way of detecting something from "outside" our universe."

Thank you for making our point that ID is not a scientific idea.
285 posted on 12/05/2005 2:03:03 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Please try to understand my point: If Science can't prove abiogenesis, it has failed miserably, and should be held accountable.

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. ;)

286 posted on 12/05/2005 2:04:05 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
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To: longshadow
They can't, because it makes NO useful (meaning testable) predictions; hence the reason why IDers are so determined to try to change the very definition of science itself to include the supernatural.

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.

287 posted on 12/05/2005 2:05:18 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: sauron
"Please try to understand my point: If Science can't prove abiogenesis, it has failed miserably, and should be held accountable."

No, it will be like every other theory. None have ever been *proved*. And how will *Science* be held responsible? Will it be spanked and sent to its room?

"This will be the ultimate yardstick--abiogenesis shown to be possible under the rigorous standards of a laboratory experiement, peer-reviewed and duplicatable."

When life is created in a test tube, anti-evolutionists will just say it's an example of ID.

" Hasn't happened. And we've had DECADES in which to affect a satisfactory result, haven't we?"

No. Scientists have just barely started in the investigation. The means to explore the question are only just beginning to be developed.
288 posted on 12/05/2005 2:09:02 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: Virginia-American
Was Linnaeus an evolutionist?

I don't know but I am limited to what I can remember from study 35 years ago. The debate is the same but names, agenda, speculation, and concepts have changed. ID, regardless of denial would seem to be a religious agenda. Someone once said that if you are not smart enough to have a profession be a politician. If you can't succeed politically become a preacher and you only have to repeat the same thing over and over.
289 posted on 12/05/2005 2:10:04 PM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: js1138
Is it scientifically "productive" to speculate that aliens seeded the Earth with life, via rocket ships?

And who determines the benchmark and standard that defines productive?

It seems pretty subjective if you ask me.

290 posted on 12/05/2005 2:10:41 PM PST by pby
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To: sauron
Please try to understand my point: If Science can't prove abiogenesis, it has failed miserably, and should be held accountable.

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.")
291 posted on 12/05/2005 2:10:42 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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To: sauron
The origin of life on Earth is quite a separate issue from the origin of the universe. There are something like 10 billion years separating the one from the other. We may or may not ever get much of a handle on the origin of the universe.

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.

292 posted on 12/05/2005 2:13:01 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: sauron
And we've had DECADES in which to affect a satisfactory result, haven't we?

Was there a deadline?

293 posted on 12/05/2005 2:14:46 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Thank you for making our point that ID is not a scientific idea.

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.

Peace.

Sauron

294 posted on 12/05/2005 2:17:58 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
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To: shuckmaster

"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.


295 posted on 12/05/2005 2:20:43 PM PST by KamperKen
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To: antiRepublicrat; oblomov
You'd be amazed how many people can't figure that one out.

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!

296 posted on 12/05/2005 2:23:14 PM PST by jennyp (WHAT I'M READING NOW: Art of Unix Programming by Raymond)
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To: pby
No, it would merely beg the question.

I'm looking at first causes.

297 posted on 12/05/2005 2:23:33 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
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To: dotnetfellow
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,

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.

298 posted on 12/05/2005 2:23:41 PM PST by donh
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To: sauron
"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."

Physics isn't provable either. The universe may be a simple consequence of the laws of nature.

"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."

Physicists can explain the Big Bang. Just not completely. No science explains reality completely.

" It is completely plausible, given the facts that we have, that an Intelligent Designer created Life."

Or not.

"If the universe created it (Pantheism), then the ultimate quesiton would be, fine, what created the universe? "

Unanswerable. Mystics aren't intellectually honest enough to admit they may not know something.

"Again, the mind is pointed toward an extra-univeral entity."

Some minds. Could also be a million entities, working in committee fashion. No way to know.

"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."

As long as religion changes to fit the physical evidence.
299 posted on 12/05/2005 2:25:43 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: Junior

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.


300 posted on 12/05/2005 2:26:11 PM PST by balrog666 (A myth by any other name is still inane.)
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