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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: Fester Chugabrew

But, you see, I wasn't talking about abiogenesis, nor was the posts to which I was referring. You brought that into the discussion later. I refuse to be sidetracked.


361 posted on 12/05/2005 4:02:28 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
"Why is this question suddenly considered beyond scientific consideration?"

It isn't. It's just outside of the theory of evolution.

"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?"

Abiogenesis is a part of science, but it is not nor has it ever been part of the ToE.
362 posted on 12/05/2005 4:03:57 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
Is abiogenesis chemical evolution as Scientific American states?

"It is."

Where is the evidence that a cell climbed out of a primordial ooze some million/billion years ago?

"Define *clean line*."

Clean line is defined in the museum displays as they show a monkey walking into an ape walking into a human (with time-line)...A clean, straight line succession. Is there evidence for this or just a common ancestor between these?

363 posted on 12/05/2005 4:06:00 PM PST by pby
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To: pby
No lies...just what it says.

Everybody can read. How many times do we have to catch you?

364 posted on 12/05/2005 4:06:07 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
A virgin birth here and there is outside of scientific explanation.

Not if science considers the current universe to be the result of countless potential combinations of matter forming by way of unguided, unintelligent, forces. It is the naturalistic viewpoint of all viewpoints that condones virtually any potential combination of matter, or random occurence, and so a virgin birth, water into wine, etc. are viable possibilities scientifically speaking. They must be, because matter is capable of behaving any way imaginable. It operates sans design and sans intelligence. Hence we may very well see a virgin birth simply by virtue of mutation and natural selection. Again, with virutally any scenario possible (since probabilities are scientifically non-explanatory), a virgin birth is a simple matter. Sure, it doesn't happen very often, and no one has witnessed it personally of late, but they didn't see the first life forms either.

365 posted on 12/05/2005 4:06:28 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: pby
See also.
366 posted on 12/05/2005 4:09:33 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: VadeRetro
What looks like feathers to you in a photograph, via actual on-site scientific testing and study, turns out to be nothing related to feathers.

You can cry "crackpot" and "but it looks like feathers" all you want...but that won't change the actual study results.

I'm sorry...I know it hurts to be defrauded in such a way, again.

367 posted on 12/05/2005 4:10:46 PM PST by pby
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To: VadeRetro; CarolinaGuitarman
I have not been caught in a lie now...and you have never caught me in a lie previously.

This is just your common tactic...slander.

Everyone can see the link for themselves and read the words "support" and "funding" as it relates to ID and the ID debate.

They can also read Templeton's quotes from the Foundation website referring to "strong hints" for design and purpose.

Maybe some honest Darwin Central devotee will step in and settle this between us?

368 posted on 12/05/2005 4:17:30 PM PST by pby
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To: pby
"Is abiogenesis chemical evolution as Scientific American states?"

It's using evolution in the vernacular. The ToE has nothing to do or say about abiogenesis.

" Where is the evidence that a cell climbed out of a primordial ooze some million/billion years ago?"

Our DNA. And nobody says a cell *climbed out* of the ooze.

"Clean line is defined in the museum displays as they show a monkey walking into an ape walking into a human (with time-line)...A clean, straight line succession. Is there evidence for this or just a common ancestor between these?"

That's a simplification of a more complicated process. They obviously had to leave out the dozens of intermediary fossils or else the display would be too confusing. The general picture though is correct.
369 posted on 12/05/2005 4:17:46 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: pby

Why was I pinged on the Templeton Foundation quotes? I have never mentioned them. You have the wrong guy.


370 posted on 12/05/2005 4:19:36 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: pby

" You can cry "crackpot" and "but it looks like feathers" all you want...but that won't change the actual study results."

What study finds? Links please.


371 posted on 12/05/2005 4:20:40 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
October issue of the Journal of Morphology.

The study results can also be found at the UNC website along with a transcript of the related press conference.

I provided the info. in a previous thread some time ago.

The Discovery website and several other websites had articles about it recently as well.

372 posted on 12/05/2005 4:24:58 PM PST by pby
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To: Fester Chugabrew
"Not if science considers the current universe to be the result of countless potential combinations of matter forming by way of unguided, unintelligent, forces."

How does this view make the idea of Virgin Births any more subject to scientific examination?

"It is the naturalistic viewpoint of all viewpoints that condones virtually any potential combination of matter, or random occurence, and so a virgin birth, water into wine, etc. are viable possibilities scientifically speaking."

No, methodological naturalism does not allow any potential combination of matter. It is understood that the universe works by regular, law-like processes. Virgin births, water into wine, are all outside of scientific examination. They cannot be tested in any way.

"They must be, because matter is capable of behaving any way imaginable."

Nope, completely wrong.

"Hence we may very well see a virgin birth simply by virtue of mutation and natural selection"

Now your just making things up to make us laugh. lol

Your ideas just keep getting nuttier and nuttier.
373 posted on 12/05/2005 4:25:42 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: pby
I'm sorry...I know it hurts to be defrauded in such a way, again.

Oh, my! Another empty victory dance. Maybe Running Wolf will come by and give you a cyber high-five for nothing; he's easy.

Here's your problem. Feduccia is hammering, hammering, hammering on Sinosauropteryx. The feathers look like scales (version one) or some kind of vague integuments (version two). So what? Here's the mainstream science progression for dinos to birds. (A cladogram.)

From here.

Sinosauropteryx is allowed to have primitive-looking proto-feathers. It's just insulation. The feathers get truer as you go out the branch. That's just what happens in the fossil record.

Feduccia is just pounding the table. That's why the museums are ignoring him. EVERYBODY's ignoring him.

374 posted on 12/05/2005 4:25:52 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: pby
Templeton does not fund ID research and is now unlikely to do so. You have been given all the support for this anyone who can read would ever require.

They looked at it and found it lacking in rigor and intellectual seriousness. Now stop brazening your dishonesty.

375 posted on 12/05/2005 4:28:36 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Junior
My spelling could be wrong...But I didn't think so.

Check out the October Issue of The Journal of Morphology or UNC's website (Dr. Alan Feduccia).

376 posted on 12/05/2005 4:28:40 PM PST by pby
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To: pby
Ah, it WAS Feduccia. He IS a crackpot. His is NOT the consensus opinion, not even close. You'll have to do better than this.
377 posted on 12/05/2005 4:29:40 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
VadeRetro called me a liar...I thought a third party could settle the score.

You seem reasonable.

378 posted on 12/05/2005 4:31:20 PM PST by pby
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To: pby
VadeRetro called me a liar...

You could have originally been mistaken in your reading. However, an honest person would have owned up at once when presented with the evidence.

379 posted on 12/05/2005 4:32:39 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: pby
“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.”
Charles L. Harper, Jr., senior Vice President of the John Templeton Fund
380 posted on 12/05/2005 4:34:40 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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