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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
What is a "grant" and what is "support", if not funding?

Integrity...That BS detector is going off again (for some strange reason it goes off every time that you mention that word).

You could demonstrate some of that if you took back your claim that I was telling a lie.

401 posted on 12/05/2005 5:12:09 PM PST by pby
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To: Fester Chugabrew
"Sure. And within those processes any combination of matter is possible. "

No. Not even close. If that were true, the universe wouldn't be working by regular, law-like processes.

"It can combine in such a manner as to produce evolution in any sense."

Not in any sense. There are many constraints.

"It is a small stretch to consider that molecules can combine under the same rules to form life apart from sexual intercourse, or wine apart from any process of fermentation as we know it."

Maybe if you're dropping acid. Otherwise, the above are way outside the laws of nature and outside the province of scientific examination.

"If you are so sure that regular, law-like processes are involved with the universe, then it should also be no big stretch to infer intelligent design, because of all things, intelligent desing results in processes that are orderly and law-like."

Perfect circular argument. Unfortunately, it's equally likely that the regularity of nature just *is*.

"How do you explain the law-like nature of the universe apart from either intelligence or design?"

I'm intellectually honest enough to say that there IS NO answer to this question. As such, it no longer interests me. I am not a child anymore who needs to have every question answered for me to feel secure. Part of growing up is knowing there are things you will never know.
402 posted on 12/05/2005 5:12:56 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: longshadow

401


403 posted on 12/05/2005 5:14:33 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: Junior
You're welcome.

I think that VadeRetro's posts on the topic are a good indicator of what is to come...attack and name-call.

404 posted on 12/05/2005 5:14:48 PM PST by pby
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To: pby
You said they fund ID. They don't. It's that simple. Admit it or be exposed as the lying sham you are.
405 posted on 12/05/2005 5:16:28 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Rudder
You're talking about two concepts: Evolution and Abiogenesis.

Just because they are two different concepts does not mean they are unrelated. I am frankly alarmed at the suggestion one can have abiogenesis without evolution. How can this be? Granted, abiogenesis may be one particular focus of certain scientists, but I cannot understand how they could possibly divorce one from the other en toto. I can certainly understand why one would want to turn a blind eye to abiogenesis while arguing for a universal history of simple to complex biological forms.

406 posted on 12/05/2005 5:16:39 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Dimensio
Fester passed that point long ago.

Does he he qualify for nomination for permanent membership in the distinguished ranks of the Ignorati? (i.e., those who refuse to see)

407 posted on 12/05/2005 5:19:31 PM PST by Rudder
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To: VadeRetro
My posts speak for themselves and so does PatrickHenry's link to Templeton's website...There are no lies just like there are no feathers on sinosauroptyrex (just your imagination getting carried away).
408 posted on 12/05/2005 5:19:51 PM PST by pby
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To: Fester Chugabrew

seriously...alarmed??


409 posted on 12/05/2005 5:19:56 PM PST by bobdsmith
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To: pby
Interesting, too, that the answer to this

They also don't fund it. You said they did. They were interested once and called for papers. None came. Now they aren't much interested, as their guidelines for submissions make crystal clear.
is this.

What is a "grant" and what is "support", if not funding?
I mean, are we all supposed to be idiots not to see the tap dance?

And what about this?

“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.

Does that look like "funding" or "not funding?"
410 posted on 12/05/2005 5:22:57 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: pby
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.
Does this say, "We fund ID?" Pby says John Templeton Foundation funds ID.
411 posted on 12/05/2005 5:24:54 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: VadeRetro
Stick to the link that PatrickHenry provided and my posts.

I have no debate with you on anything outside of that.

412 posted on 12/05/2005 5:27:08 PM PST by pby
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To: pby
sinosauroptyrex

Stop confusing Junior. There is no Sinosauroptyrex.

413 posted on 12/05/2005 5:28:01 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
How do you explain the law-like nature of the universe apart from either intelligence or design?

Hey Fester, keep in mind that random events can allow a great degree of prediction. Study a short text about the 'Standard Normal Curve,' and you'll see that randomness certainly does not imply design---it's the diametric opposite---yet it does provide scientists with a tool: Probability.

414 posted on 12/05/2005 5:28:15 PM PST by Rudder
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To: VadeRetro; CarolinaGuitarman; Fester Chugabrew; <1/1,000,000th%


POINT #1:


George Lemaitre's assertion of a Big Bang: 1927.
Not proven until scientists confirmed prediction associated with BB, the CBR, in 1965.

38 years.


Miller-Urey: 1953.

We've had 52 years for someone to advance the theory of abiogenesis.

(We're still waaaaaiiiiting....)


The fact that nothing has happened along these lines (abiogenesis) doesn't necessarily prove anything, but it is, at the least (now let's be honest, guys) indicative that, perhaps, if abiogenesis were easily provable...someone would have LOVED to have been the prover, and win the prize that let's you travel to Stockholm and meet Swedish royalty.

No one has.

When a golden apple is put up for anyone to grasp...and no one does...it means the apple is a little tougher to grasp than people are admitting.

My thinking is that it would seem that the irreducible complexity of biological organisms at even the smallest levels seems to be the roadblock preventing us from, after 52 years, being able to settle this point.

It ain't settled.

Why has no one been able to build upon the Miller-Urey experiment toward something--anything--more substantial? Certainly, you would think someone would at least try.

It's very telling.

Yet...and I don't want to play both sides, here, but Genesis does say this: the Earth created ("produced, brought forth") life. The waters created life. Some Christians won't want to hear this. But there it is. Genesis supports evolutionary abiogenesis.

There. Now, I've got BOTH sides on the Crevo debate mad at me. ;)


POINT #2:


This thread was initiated by the article in Science & Theology News. The article correctly pointed out that science is ill-equipped and not in the position to ever be able to prove or disprove the existence of the Creator.

I am in full agreement. I wish I weren't. We have to rely on circumstantial evidence for deducing the existence of the Creator, of which we have plenty.

The article's main point, however, was of the dissimilarity of the Big Bang and Intelligent Design, how the BB was later supported by the evidence in 1965, and how ID doesn't have that level of supporting evidence--and so the analogy breaks down that ID and BB, according to Michael Behe, are analogous.

*** I think the author missed a vital point: When Lemaitre argued for a Big Bang, and when the CBR (cosmic background radiation) was discovered in 1965 supporting it, the new discovery didn't prove the existence of a Creator, merely that the universe had been created. It did take us a step closer, to be sure, and I'm glad for it.

When Intelligent Design was proposed and is defended, we have a problem in that there is nothing like a CBR to be found that might prove/disprove it. The analogy between the astronomical and the biological discovery doesn't hold--the best that can be done in biology, sad to say, is to note the piling up of uncanny coincidences (anthropic argument, to be sure, but the sword of the anthropic can cut for or against both sides in the debate).

I think there's a lot going for irreducible complexity. Activity at the sub-cellular level is astonishingly SPECIALIZED. Not many on this list can make the claim that they understand this high degree of specialization, which is itself irreducibly complex.


POINT #3:


Kalam Cosmological Argument. No such thing as infinity. Can't be. The universe has not always been here. What created it?

I bring this up repeatedly because NO ONE HAS ATTEMPTED TO ANSWER IT. I know it's cosmogeny, and we started this as a biologically-based discussion, but as I pointed out, supra, it is my belief that biology can't move us any closer to understanding the Creator than humanity taking note of the apparent design inherent in living organisms. Still can argue that one either way, and it doesn't seem to nail the lid shut.

But when you take into account issues in cosmogeny, the origin of the universe, you quickly realize (ahem, Kalam) that the Big U didn't self-create, and you cannot argue that some other universe created this one (brane theory--stupidest thing I've heard of, begs the whole question!) because you then ask: what created THAT universe? And on, and on.

At some point, there has to be a First Cause of it all.

And then one realizes that any First Cause cannot exist either within THIS universe, nor within another universe that might have caused this one, but must exist OUTSIDE of it all. One simultaneously realizes that whatever caused this universe to spring into existence wasn't inanimate matter itself, but something intelligent. Intelligent things act upon things. They cause. Things don't cause things. Things don't cause things to exist.

Biology hints at a Creator.

Astronomy SHOUTS at a Creator.

My $0.02. YMMV.

Sauron


415 posted on 12/05/2005 5:28:18 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
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To: pby
Stick to the facts and people won't have to correct you so often. Mr. Harper is a highly relevant authority, being a senior VP at JTF.
416 posted on 12/05/2005 5:29:51 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
There are already companies that are creating DNA libraries and building the capability to build organisms one base pair at a time.

That would be no more significant than when I was a kid and cut and pasted hexadecimal code to crack a game...although I did it, did I know what the hex code represented?

Likewise: Do the scientists truly understand the DNA they're cutting and pasting?

Or are they merely playing with materials that, yes, they can manipulate, but cannot understand?

Are they just kids eagerly taking credit for something they really don't understand?

A poor analogy might be this: I understand how to create fire. I know what it will do once I create it. I know its heat, its light, and how to propagate it--or, more likely, avoid propagation!

...but do I understand what the FLAME ITSELF is made out of?

417 posted on 12/05/2005 5:34:31 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
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To: sauron
George Lemaitre's assertion of a Big Bang: 1927.
Not proven until scientists confirmed prediction associated with BB, the CBR, in 1965.

And still not proven.

418 posted on 12/05/2005 5:34:55 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: sauron
We've had 52 years for someone to advance the theory of abiogenesis. (We're still waaaaaiiiiting....)

Asked you once already, was there a deadline?

The fact that nothing has happened along these lines (abiogenesis) doesn't necessarily prove anything...

Probably shows you aren't following the research.

When Intelligent Design was proposed and is defended, we have a problem in that there is nothing like a CBR to be found that might prove/disprove it.

Right. There never will be, either. The whole idea is useless as tits on a boar hog, scientifically speaking.

419 posted on 12/05/2005 5:34:58 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: VadeRetro
Let us look at the Templeton Foundation's statement in its entirety, with my comments in brackets:
The John Templeton Foundation does not support research or programs that deny large areas of well-documented scientific knowledge. [Thus, ID is out.] 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. [Again, ID is out.] 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. [Clear enough?] 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. [Thus ID is out.] 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. [So ID is out.] In contrast, some advocates of the ID position have received grants from the Foundation on the basis of successful participation in intellectually-rigorous, openlyjudged and peer-reviewed grant competitions. [Obviously, the grants didn't fund ID, even though the grant recipients may have been advocates of ID.]

While the Foundation does not generally support theologically-motivated critiques of evolutionary science, [thus ID is out] we do fund open and rigorous debate concerning the “ID” position. [Debates aren't scientific research into ID.] We believe that open debate and competition among positions is the best long-term method for choosing a wise course of action. This is particularly important in this instance because debate about the philosophical interpretations of evolutionary science (as distinct from wholesale rejection of the scientific findings relevant to evolution) is much needed.


420 posted on 12/05/2005 5:37:16 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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