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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
"...but I suspect someone had a fully operable BS detector."

If they do have a BS detector over at the Templeton Foundation, they couldn't have rejected Behe as a result of it going into alarm as it must have been in alarm ever since Templeton established the Foundation or installed the thing (way before Behe's discussions with them)!

341 posted on 12/05/2005 3:26:18 PM PST by pby
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To: sauron
FAILED TO PROVE ABIOGENESIS.

Because it wasn't trying to prove it. Like most anti-Evolutionists, you have basically no idea of what you are talking about, having gotten your information from some creationist claptrap site. Here's a layman's article on the experiment.

342 posted on 12/05/2005 3:30:47 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: VadeRetro
Yeah...And maybe the world reknown developmental biologist that signed on to the study paper that states that sinosauroptyrex doesn't have feathers is a crackpot too (but like the feathers on this dinosaur fossil...you don't have any evidence to prove that either)!
343 posted on 12/05/2005 3:31:29 PM PST by pby
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To: pby
The link that PatrickHenry provided states that the Foundation funds ID research and supports the ID debate.

You must be hoping no one actually visits the site.

From here:

The John Templeton Foundation does not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge. In addition, we do not support political agendas such as movements to determine (one way or the other) what qualified educators should or should not teach in public schools. However, it is not the policy of the John Templeton Foundation to “black list” organizations or individual scholars or to proscribe the outcome of well-designed research projects. In addition, the Foundation does not itself hold, or require that its grantees accept, any specific position on scholarly questions that remain open to further study. (The Foundation’s motto is “How little we know; how eager to learn.”) Thus while it is our judgment that the general process of biological evolution is well attested by many lines of research, it is not clear to what extent the process of evolution or the study of the history of life on earth may reveal hints of broader cosmic, perhaps even divine, purpose and intention.

It is therefore possible that, from time to time, the Foundation will support well-designed projects or research that some others may label as “intelligent design.” But the Foundation does not support the movement known as Intelligent Design as such, as an intellectual position or as a movement. The Foundation is a non-partisan philanthropic organization and makes funding decisions based on a process of peer review as is standard practice in scientific research funding and publication. Our expectation is that the products of Templeton-funded research will appear in high-quality and peer-reviewed journals. If your project takes an anti-evolutionist position scientifically, or seeks to engage in political advocacy concerning evolution or anti-evolution, it is unlikely to pass through the initial filters and external expert review process of the John Templeton Foundation. In contrast, some advocates of the ID position have received grants from the Foundation on the basis of successful participation in intellectually-rigorous, openly-judged and peer-reviewed grant competitions.

Emphasis mine.
344 posted on 12/05/2005 3:32:12 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Rudder
From that link, more on what I heard:

Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation wrote:

The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.

“They never came in,” said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.

“From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don’t come out very well in our world of scientific review,” he said.


345 posted on 12/05/2005 3:39:21 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Is it Feduccia who is the main opponent of Sinosauropteryx having feathers?

He's almost the whole show. The issue was fuzzy when he started but he's held on about 10 years too long.

He thinks birds descended directly from archosaurs, the parent group of dinos.

346 posted on 12/05/2005 3:41:32 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Sinosauroptyrex, without good study or actual evidence, is their definitive dino-bird.

I know...abiogenesis is not the same as evolution (However, a link provided on this thread to Scientific American's website calls abiogenesis chemical evolution...so don't we just go from one kind of evolution that allegedly explains the origin of life and another that allegedly explains speciation on a grand scale...Are not biological and chemical evolution linked?)

The point was that museums pass of abiogenesis speculation as scientific theory relating to the origin of all life.

I understand the evidence provided for human evolution from a common primate ancestor...Do we have actual evidence that it is the clean line of the monkey walking into an ape walking into a human that is displayed? (no.)

347 posted on 12/05/2005 3:42:43 PM PST by pby
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To: PatrickHenry
ID is running out of friends, when even its natural allies are turning their backs.

In 10 or 20 years, you'll be eating your words.

348 posted on 12/05/2005 3:43:58 PM PST by Fitzcarraldo
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
And this has nothing to do with evolution.

Perhaps you ought to inform the authors of biology textbooks who bring abiogenesis into discussions of evolution that they are out of bounds. Most biology textbooks present evolution as a progression from the simple to the more complex. On what basis do paleontologists assert they are capable of constructing good evolutionary histories? They assume that similarities in form necessarily point to common history. That in itself is a huge leap of faith.

. . . physics textbooks also say that the planets revolve around the sun without mention of God either.

Physics enjoys present phenomena to observe and record. Anyone is free to assert purely natural causes to all phenomena. Will billions of years of billions of combinations of matter a virgin birth here and there should hardly be scientifically impossible, let alone improbable.

349 posted on 12/05/2005 3:44:18 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Yes...new study out in October of this year with some heavyweights.

Shows that this fossil never had feathers or protofeathers (just wishful thinking by many not-so scientific evolutionists).

There was a press conference and there were several articles written and posted on the internet.

350 posted on 12/05/2005 3:46:09 PM PST by pby
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To: VadeRetro
" He's almost the whole show. The issue was fuzzy when he started but he's held on about 10 years too long."

Ok. I knew he was a big opponent of dinosaur-bird evolution, though I was not sure if this was one of his big bones of contention, so to speak. :)

I do know that even if Sinosauropteryx is found not to have feathers, there have been a number of other species that do have them.
351 posted on 12/05/2005 3:48:47 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: VadeRetro
From my post 336:"...and the Templeton Foundation cut off discussion before a proposal was even on the table."

No wonder they "never came in."

Yeah, the BS detector headed them off at the pass and the VP provided a PC disclaimer to CYA.

Wll, that's what I think happened.

352 posted on 12/05/2005 3:49:18 PM PST by Rudder
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To: pby
"I know...abiogenesis is not the same as evolution (However, a link provided on this thread to Scientific American's website calls abiogenesis chemical evolution...so don't we just go from one kind of evolution that allegedly explains the origin of life and another that allegedly explains speciation on a grand scale...Are not biological and chemical evolution linked?)"

No.

" The point was that museums pass of abiogenesis speculation as scientific theory relating to the origin of all life."

It is.

"I understand the evidence provided for human evolution from a common primate ancestor...Do we have actual evidence that it is the clean line of the monkey walking into an ape walking into a human that is displayed? (no.)"

Define *clean line*.
353 posted on 12/05/2005 3:50:42 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: pby

What wishful thinking looks like.

354 posted on 12/05/2005 3:52:29 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
"Perhaps you ought to inform the authors of biology textbooks who bring abiogenesis into discussions of evolution that they are out of bounds."

If they call one abiogenesis and the other evolution there is no problem.

" On what basis do paleontologists assert they are capable of constructing good evolutionary histories? "

The vast fossil record and their ability to reason.

"Physics enjoys present phenomena to observe and record. Anyone is free to assert purely natural causes to all phenomena. Will billions of years of billions of combinations of matter a virgin birth here and there should hardly be scientifically impossible, let alone improbable."

I'll try to decipher this jumble. A virgin birth here and there is outside of scientific explanation.
355 posted on 12/05/2005 3:54:44 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: pby

I just did a Scholar Google search on "Sinosauroptyrex" (your spelling). I could not find any papers published on the critter. Is it possible this is a misspelling of the name? Honestly, before today's thread I do not remember coming across this critter before.


356 posted on 12/05/2005 3:55:38 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: CarolinaGuitarman
I do know that even if Sinosauropteryx is found not to have feathers, there have been a number of other species that do have them.

Right. And the problem with Feduccia's premise is that there shouldn't be any feathered dinosaurs at all, unless all the dinos from day one had them. Thus it's absurd to harp on the most ambiguous, and perhaps even the most primitively scale-like fossil feathers when we have so many unambiguous fossil dinosaur feathers that wreck his case.

357 posted on 12/05/2005 3:55:53 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: pby
"Yes...new study out in October of this year with some heavyweights.

Shows that this fossil never had feathers or protofeathers (just wishful thinking by many not-so scientific evolutionists).

There was a press conference and there were several articles written and posted on the internet."

Any citations?

BTW, there are still a number of unambiguous feathered dinosaurs even if Sinosauropteryx is found not to have them.
358 posted on 12/05/2005 3:56:03 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: VadeRetro
Come on Vade...What I referred to is right there.

"From time to time the Foundation will support well-designed projects or research that some others may label as "intelligent design" ..."

"...some advocates of the ID position have received grants from the Foundation."

In the portion of the link that you did not post...I am pretty sure that it refers to the Foundation supporting the ID debate.

No lies...just what it says.

If only you were as critical towards the proponents of the evolutionary theory..."science" may get away with less wishful thinking.

359 posted on 12/05/2005 3:57:59 PM PST by pby
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To: Junior

The composition of the earth's primitive environment is often discussed in relation to how it might give rise to life. If one is going to insist upon unintelligent causes for such things, it only stands to reason that the whole progression from non-life to life falls within the purview of science. Why is this question suddenly considered beyond scientific consideration? Don't you think it is a tad disingenous to imply that science does not talk about abiogensis, or that it has "nothing to do with evolution?" I would consider it a remarkable evolution for substances to change from non-living to living, no matter what the cause.


360 posted on 12/05/2005 3:58:39 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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