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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: Rudder
Yeah, and they turned down Behe before he even submitted the written proposals.

Where can I read Behe's written proposal for a falsifiable test of ID? Also, where can I read Templeton's official rejection of Behe's paper from BEFORE it was submitted?

321 posted on 12/05/2005 2:59:38 PM PST by donh
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To: VadeRetro

Well, from what I read they had some verbal discussions with Behe and soon thereafter shut the door to him...without additional comment.


322 posted on 12/05/2005 2:59:43 PM PST by Rudder
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To: Rudder
I might be prejudiced but I suspect someone had a fully operable BS detector.
323 posted on 12/05/2005 3:02:35 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: sauron
What I've found, however, is that they don't always present all the evidence on the table for public discussion when they should.

Try any major university library--that's where its all hidden. The shelves are brimming with evidence, aisle after aisle and floor after floor.

But just try putting that out volume of information out the public and see how far you get. "The public" has trouble with anything beyond entry level science, and many are just not interested. That's fine, not everyone likes the same things, and to become really good in even a narrow field may take many years of study and research.

The fault may lie more with reporters and populizers of science, many of whom are scientifically illiterate themselves.

324 posted on 12/05/2005 3:05:45 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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To: donh
...where can I read Templeton's official rejection of Behe's paper from BEFORE it was submitted?

I am pretty sure it was here.

I don't think the rejection was "official." Templeton simply stopped interacting with Behe altogether.

If that site doesn't have the info, let me know, because I have it somewhere amidst all the clutter.

325 posted on 12/05/2005 3:07:07 PM PST by Rudder
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Any museum that displays sinosauroptyrex with feathers is misrepresenting the truth to the public (and most museums do...as it is considered to be one of the most definitive fossils in the dinosaur to bird evolutionary "theory").

As it turns out, it was just wishful thinking on many evolutionists part...There are no feathers on this fossil. (They were even warned, in 1997, at the finding of the fossil but they were so zealous for a transitional that it was deemed to be feathered before more rigorous study could be done.)

Any museum that talks about a single cell evolving out of a primordial ooze some million/billion years ago is labeling an assumption as science (misrepresenting what the evidence states).

Any museum that shows a clean, straight, line of monkey to ape to human evolution is misrepresenting what is scientifically theorized (common ancestor...no clean lines).

etc.

326 posted on 12/05/2005 3:07:35 PM PST by pby
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To: VadeRetro
Templeton called for research papers in ID...

Didn't mean to imply these were to be completed papers. Templeton wanted research proposals and presumably meant to fund anything promising.

327 posted on 12/05/2005 3:08:56 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: donh
Behe's written proposal for a falsifiable test of ID?

Boy, do you ask tough questions...but I've read parts of it and does it stink.

I will try to find a link for you...it's laying around here somewhere.

328 posted on 12/05/2005 3:10:24 PM PST by Rudder
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To: sauron
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?

It is completely plausible, given the facts that we have, that Evolution is the driving engine of terrestrial life. If God created it(monotheism), then the ultimate question would be, fine, what created God?

329 posted on 12/05/2005 3:11:13 PM PST by RogueIsland
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To: pby; Stultis

Someone at Darwin Central previously posted (not this thread...another) that Darwin was on the HMS Beagle for purposes of providing company to the captain (not to be the ship's physician).
Which is it?



On leaving Cambridge in the spring of 1831 Darwin, in preparation for a scientific trip to the Canary Islands, read Alexander von Humboldt's Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, a scientific travelogue of a journey to Central and the northern parts of South America. At Henslow's recommendation he accompanied Adam Sedgwick, Woodwardian professor of geology at Cambridge, on a three-week tour of North Wales to learn geologic fieldwork.

In August 1831, at Henslow's recommendation to the Admiralty, Darwin was invited to sail as the unpaid naturalist on HMS Beagle. The ship was to survey the east and west coasts of South America and continue to the Pacific islands to establish a chain of chronometric stations.
Henslow suggested Darwin as both an acute observer and a companion for the aristocratic young captain, Robert FitzRoy. (The Beagle already had a naturalist-surgeon, but one whom FitzRoy found socially unsuitable.) Robert Darwin first refused permission on grounds that it was dangerous and would not advance Charles in his career. But upon the intercession of his brother-in-law, Josiah Wedgwood II, he changed his mind.


330 posted on 12/05/2005 3:11:40 PM PST by jec41 (Screaming Eagle)
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To: sauron
If science can't explain abiogenesis--hey, man, it's THEIR theory, not ours (Christians)-

Right. The Christian way of explanation is just "Genesis" without that "abio" part. But come to think of it, man created from mud (or dust depending on which myth you support) sure sounds like life from non-life to me. BUt what do I know?
331 posted on 12/05/2005 3:11:45 PM PST by whattajoke (I'm back... kinda.)
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To: pby
Any museum that displays sinosauroptyrex with feathers is misrepresenting the truth to the public (and most museums do...as it is considered to be one of the most definitive fossils in the dinosaur to bird evolutionary "theory").

Funny they pretty much all still do that. Maybe Alan Feduccia is a crackpot?

332 posted on 12/05/2005 3:15:32 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: VadeRetro
...someone had a fully operable BS detector.

LOL!!

I've seen portions of Behe's proposal and he sinks his own ship when he gets into his tautological definition of irreducible complexity.

I'm trying to find that link as I type this, but...I will, it just may take some time.

333 posted on 12/05/2005 3:15:56 PM PST by Rudder
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To: VadeRetro

The link that PatrickHenry provided states that the Foundation funds ID research and supports the ID debate.


334 posted on 12/05/2005 3:17:28 PM PST by pby
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To: Stultis
Thank you, Stultis.
335 posted on 12/05/2005 3:19:07 PM PST by pby
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To: VadeRetro; donh
A quote from one of the sources:

"I know for a fact that Discovery Institute tried to interest the Templeton Foundation in funding fundamental research on ID that would be publishable in places like PNAS and Journal of Molecular Biology (research that got funded without Templeton support and now has been published in these journals), and the Templeton Foundation cut off discussion before a proposal was even on the table."

Here's one link.

336 posted on 12/05/2005 3:21:08 PM PST by Rudder
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To: Fester Chugabrew

No. We were talking about the composition of the Earth's primitive environment. Still trying to change the subject, I see.


337 posted on 12/05/2005 3:22:41 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: pby
"Any museum that displays sinosauroptyrex with feathers is misrepresenting the truth to the public (and most museums do...as it is considered to be one of the most definitive fossils in the dinosaur to bird evolutionary "theory")."

There is a debate over whether they were feathers with Sinosauropteryx. There certainly WERE feathered dinosaurs though.

"Any museum that talks about a single cell evolving out of a primordial ooze some million/billion years ago is labeling an assumption as science (misrepresenting what the evidence states)."

And they wouldn't be talking about evolution, they would be talking about abiogenesis.

"Any museum that shows a clean, straight, line of monkey to ape to human evolution is misrepresenting what is scientifically theorized (common ancestor...no clean lines)."

There is ample evidence that we DID evolve from ancestral primates. Fossil, morphological, and DNA evidence. Any museum that equivocated on this would be lying to the public about what we know.
338 posted on 12/05/2005 3:23:33 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: VadeRetro
Is it Feduccia who is the main opponent of Sinosauropteryx having feathers? I wasn't sure how extensive the debate was about it.
339 posted on 12/05/2005 3:26:03 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: donh

At your suggestion, I'll read "Finding Darwin's God". I've read both sides of the argument, and grew-up immersed in Darwinism, as we all did. There's another book I've only perused at the book store, "The Case for a Creator", by Lee Strobel. I remember the interviews with Ph.D. physicists/cosmologists. Like Behe's work, I found it compelling.

There are things, like the Cambrian Explosion, that should make one wonder about ID, completely independent of anything Behe might write. Also, as I recall, either Watson or Crick believed that DNA did not evolve on Earth, but came from elsewhere.

I'm neither a Christian or relgious. Merely curious enough to put aside long-held beliefs and entertain the arguments being made.


340 posted on 12/05/2005 3:26:16 PM PST by KamperKen
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