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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

What is the difference between arguing from probabilities and arguing from astonishment?


421 posted on 12/05/2005 5:39:07 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: PatrickHenry
Astutely commented. I'm going to pass up troll-rolling for the delights of Monday Night Football, methinks.
422 posted on 12/05/2005 5:39:58 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: VadeRetro
One more time Vade...because you seem to be having difficulty with this one. From PH's link:

"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.

and

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".

In contrast, some advocates of the ID position have received grants from the Foundation...

...we do fund open and rigorous debate concerning the "ID" position. 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...is much needed.

There is the evidence...argue with them now.

423 posted on 12/05/2005 5:45:10 PM PST by pby
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To: sauron
Exactly
424 posted on 12/05/2005 5:45:52 PM PST by RunningWolf (Vet US Army Air Cav 1975)
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To: VadeRetro
Stop confusing Junior.

Too late. I'm extremely confused.

There is no Sinosauroptyrex.

At least not in the official literature. However, your chart earlier spells it exactly the same way as pby, which really makes me confused. One would think there would be lots of literature available on just about any dinosaur, let alone one as somewhat controversial as this one.

I'm beginning to think I've slipped into an alternate universe... again.

425 posted on 12/05/2005 5:46:09 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: sauron
"Not proven until scientists confirmed prediction associated with BB, the CBR, in 1965. "

Not proven even now. It is strongly supported though.

"Miller-Urey: 1953.

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

(We're still waaaaaiiiiting....) "

We're still waiting for you to understand that the above experiment was NEVER meant to produce life. And no, we are not *still waiting* as if there have been no advances since Miller-Urey. The field is progressing, but it is going slow because it's a tough puzzle to solve.

"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."

There is no such thing as *irreducible complexity*. The phrase was bastardized from a legitimate term in engineering called *irreducible simplicity*. Most of the *IC* examples that ID'ers have provided turn out to be not *IC*.

"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."

It's been around for over 2,000 years.

"Not many on this list can make the claim that they understand this high degree of specialization, which is itself irreducibly complex."

*Specialization* is not *IC*.
426 posted on 12/05/2005 5:46:27 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: PatrickHenry
Thank you PatrickHenry.

Perhaps Vade can read it in blue.

427 posted on 12/05/2005 5:47:30 PM PST by pby
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To: sauron

The earth brought forth life and continues to sustain it on account of a cause beyond itself.

Would ID predict something akin to a periodic table of elements, "laws of nature," and the like?

If the definition of "supernatural" is subject to the extent of human understanding, what is there that cannot be defined as either "natural" or "supernatural," with the observer being the sole determinant of which is which?

Maybe the "natural" state of things is for them to fly apart, disintegrate, and disappear. If so, then the presence of any data for any observer to contemplate would be far from natural. I maintain that science is in and of itself a supernatural occurence.


428 posted on 12/05/2005 5:47:42 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Junior; VadeRetro
However, your chart earlier spells it exactly the same way as pby...

I knew I remembered seeing it spelled that way.

429 posted on 12/05/2005 5:50:11 PM PST by pby
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To: PatrickHenry; Fester Chugabrew

"I maintain that science is in and of itself a supernatural occurence." (Fester Chugabrew, post 428)


Your Brain on Creationism worthy?


430 posted on 12/05/2005 5:50:35 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: MissAmericanPie
The speed up of the universe could be explained because of the black hole discovered at the center of the Milky Way, or some other reason yet to be discovered.

And I thought this thread wouldn't be entertaining.
431 posted on 12/05/2005 5:52:07 PM PST by self_evident
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To: PatrickHenry
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.]

Your bracketed comment contradicts what the sentence says. It seems to me the author is stating antipathy toward supporting "one way or the other." That means nothing is ruled in or out, other than supporting political agendas.

432 posted on 12/05/2005 5:52:57 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Junior; pby
Dyslex much? Padian's chart says "Sinosauropteryx." That's the only one I remember.

Look for yourselves.


433 posted on 12/05/2005 5:54:06 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: VadeRetro

Ahhh... Tired eyes. "E" before "Y" if it's dinos that fly...


434 posted on 12/05/2005 5:56:16 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
There is the evidence...argue with them now.

Just brazen. They do not fund ID. You said they do.

Now, I allowed that you could have been innocently mistaken in your initial reading.

That cannot be true now. You, sir, are absolutely, positively, without a doubt a shameless liar.

Out for probably the rest of the night. You may have the last word. Have a ball with it.

435 posted on 12/05/2005 5:58:11 PM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: KamperKen
I'm neither a Christian or relgious. Merely curious enough to put aside long-held beliefs and entertain the arguments being made.

Well, in fact, a goodly number of scientists look at the problem of very early life, and other conundrums, and find there's a good case to be made for ID. However, they also mostly understand the difference between idle speculation, that offers, as yet no tangible traction for critical experiment or field work, and natural science. There is another branch of thought, presently spearheaded by Kauffman, Woese and Wolfram, who do perform experiments with critically examinable results, that holds that self-reproductive organization is a natural state of chaotic matter over time, and is inevitable even in the short run.

Kinda easier to get your mits around an ongoing physical phenomenon, than it is to examine a supposed one-shot event a couple of billion years ago.

436 posted on 12/05/2005 6:01:00 PM PST by donh
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To: CarolinaGuitarman

What is "Creationism?"


437 posted on 12/05/2005 6:01:17 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew

"What is "Creationism?"

??


438 posted on 12/05/2005 6:02:18 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: PatrickHenry
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.

How so? 1965-1927 is 38 years.

Gamow and Teller were both proponents of the expanding-universe theory that had been advanced by Friedmann, Edwin Hubble, and Georges LeMaître. Gamow, however, modified the theory and named his version the “big bang.” He and Ralph Alpher published this theory in a paper called “The Origin of Chemical Elements” (1948). This paper, attempting to explain the distribution of chemical elements throughout the universe, posits a primeval thermonuclear explosion, the big bang that began the universe. According to the theory, after the big bang, atomic nuclei were built up by the successive capture of neutrons by the initially formed pairs and triplets.

That is 21 years before the testable prediction was made followed by 17 years before the theory was widely accepted.(and I'm not sure how close that initial description is to the current theories synthesis of elements)

http://cosmos.colorado.edu/stem/courses/common/documents/chapter12/l12S7.htm

But, in 1950, a Japanese astrophysicist, Chushiro Hayashi, pointed out a big flaw in Gamow's theory. One of Gamow's basic assumptions, that the universe was originally filled with neutrons and gamma rays, could not be correct. If the radiation had a temperature of 109 K when the universe was 20 minutes old, it would have to be much hotter when the universe was much younger, say 1 second A.B.E. But if the radiation is hotter than 1010 K, the gamma rays will be sufficiently energetic to produce electrons and positrons (anti-electrons) by the reaction:

"Darwin's Black Box" was written in 1996.

439 posted on 12/05/2005 6:03:47 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
I am frankly alarmed at the suggestion one can have abiogenesis without evolution. How can this be?Or, Vice Versa, right?

I understand your intuition about these two disciplines---they should be related, you feel.

There are many obstacles to that happening. To mention a few, I think, is sufficient.

Where does, in historical perspective, abiogenis begin? Before the Big Bang? After? etc.

That takes us immediately back to the Big Bang, and events before which we must forever remain ignorant. We'd be getting close to the supernatural, and science abhors the unempirical.

Outside the MSM, the Theory of Evolution, and its proponents, has never been about the beginning of life. I think that is the result of the first issue I raised. Also scientists tend not to venture beyond the limitations of the scientific method.

Some scientists, on the other hand, do research in abiogenesis. Most are in the Chemetistry areas of research. Today, bringing the Chemical research into the fold of those searching for the beginning of life is unwarranted simply because the data are not sufficiently supportive.

440 posted on 12/05/2005 6:05:07 PM PST by Rudder
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