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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
"Infinite combinations of matter over an indefinite period of time can explain everything that exists. Shall we call this "science?"

Basicly yes, but some clarification is needed here. There are not an infinite number of combinations as the structure of the amino acids will only allow so many combinations. Have this finite number of combinations attempt to happen milions and millions and millions all of times all over the earth where the primordal soup existed and bingo, you start having protein molecules. That's called science.

And, the process very obviously is not happening for an "infinite" amount of time because the primordal soup from which we came ceased to exist in that form millions of years ago.

Where did you get in my post that this suggests an explanation for "everything that exists"? That is not science.

41 posted on 12/05/2005 5:39:16 AM PST by DaGman
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To: liliesgrandpa
You can't compute odds without a model of the event. You evidently think complex structures jump together all at once from amino acids. At any rate, that's what you modeled. There's very little evidence for this ever happening.

The closest analogy I can find to your model is the Genesis creation story. A man is formed from dust in one afternoon. Yes, it's pretty ridiculous. I doubt even God would do it that way.

42 posted on 12/05/2005 5:41:46 AM PST by VadeRetro (Liberalism is a cancer on society. Creationism is a cancer on conservatism.)
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To: PatrickHenry

Speaking as a believer, I think science would be aided in it's advancement by not ignoring the 100% accuracy of the Bible regarding physics.

God states in the Bible that we humans should know he is God because he tells us the ending from the begining. There is recorded in it's pages details of future physical events that will greatly impact not only the earth but the universe.

For instance the sun will grow hotter and scorch the earth and it is the sun's power, not man that will cause global warming on a scale that blisters men with sores.

It also relates the rising seas, roaring tides, the sudden stillness of the sea, it's turning red and watery as a dead man's blood, now the evidence is in, we have the "red tides". We are told that this red tide will kill every living thing in the sea. This red tide has already appeared from Galveston to Italy devastating the fishing industry with each appearance.

We are told that the stars will appear to fall, that the earth will rock to and fro on it's axis like a drunkard.

All these things are coming, it's rediculous for science to disregard the Bible out of hand. Especially given the universe is speeding up rather than slowing down as predicted, the red tides are here, the melting of polar ice, and the contested global warming, the conditions that are causing fish kills on a massive scale are here.

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. We count on science to ponder the causes of these future events, identify them, and use the same physics used to discover the Big Bang, to verify where we are along our clearly marked path using the Bible as it's template.

I don't think that it's alot to ask of science to stop being one step behind the Bible, blindly following along after the fact instead of in sinc.

43 posted on 12/05/2005 5:49:30 AM PST by MissAmericanPie
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To: Doc Savage

If an Intelligent Designer is responsible for things so complex they could not have happened by chance, surely the Intelligent Designer is the most complex of all.

So who designed the Intelligent Designer ?

44 posted on 12/05/2005 6:03:34 AM PST by Axlrose
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To: catpuppy
But it seemed a bit elitist, don't you think?

Ahh gee, I wish I could say I'm sorry.

Should we just let anyone do science or surgery or rocket design? And why wait all those years plodding through high school and college, just to satisfy some smart elitist?

Nah, there a damned good reason that those pursuing such professions are intellectually endowed.

45 posted on 12/05/2005 6:05:26 AM PST by Rudder
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To: Ike
How do they explain "natural law" in the first place? Where do they say it comes from?

Probably many (most? all?) ID proponents are of the personal opinion that an intelligent creator is responsible for all of natural law as well. But that's not part of the official theory of intelligent design, because ID itself doesn't seek to explain the origins of things that can be accounted for by natural law.

46 posted on 12/05/2005 6:06:51 AM PST by TheGhostOfTomPaine
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To: PatrickHenry
Apher, Bethe, Gamow link.
47 posted on 12/05/2005 6:23:06 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: MissAmericanPie
I think science would be aided in it's advancement by not ignoring the 100% accuracy of the Bible regarding physics.

Way to go, Miss Pie!

48 posted on 12/05/2005 6:23:49 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: All
Help for new visitors to the evolution debate
Another service of Darwin Central, the conspiracy that cares.

If you're interested in learning about evolution, visit The List-O-Links.
If you're serious about debating this issue, see How to argue against a scientific theory.
If you're permanently stuck on stupid, but determined to post anyway, use the Evolution Troll's Toolkit.

49 posted on 12/05/2005 6:26:05 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry

I'm convinced that Behe and thus ID are nothing but a book selling charlatan hoax. What baffles me are the people who fall hook, line, and sinker for this hoax. On one hand it's understandable that a person who's never studied science could easily be deceived by charlatans (after all they're selling their pseudo science books to someone). But, on the other hand it would seem that people who fall for a charlatan hoax and are interested in understanding evolution would sooner or later get around to reading a real science book. The evidence I see from these threads is that the trolls who keep invading seem to relish digging themselves deeper into the pit of ignorance when it would be so much simpler and more personally rewarding to just read the science books that debunk the pseudoscience. What is it about pig-ignorance that causes otherwise rational people to wallow in it? Common sense tells you that a any new heavily marketed best selling book that starts off telling you that all the other scientists and experts on the planet are wrong is feeding you a line of stinky BS.

50 posted on 12/05/2005 6:26:49 AM PST by shuckmaster
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To: PatrickHenry
"They seem quite legitimate."

Again, I have to guys have strange bedfellows.

What is your definition of legitimate?

If you want science and religion to become one, then Giberson and Templeton are your men. If you want these two to remain separate, then these aren't your men.

Giberson is a professor at Eastern Nazarene College, in Quincy, Mass., and promotes Process Theology and Open Theism. I have read several of his articles, both of his co-authored books ("The Unholy War" and "Origins of a Creation Story"...or something like that...I have them on my bookshelf) and formerly subscribed to Science & Theology.

Several of my friends have had Dr. Giberson for a professor. Wesley would be rolling over in his grave, if he knew what Giberson was teaching at a Nazarene Church University.

Templeton, a billionaire investor, is a universalist who believes that the Bible does not have/hold all of the information about God and that "new spiritual information" will be found via scientific discovery until some point omega is reached. He gives away a lot of money in an effort to encourage and advance "religion" in, and through, science (I think VadeRetro would really like him).

What Templeton and Giberson advance is no form of Biblical Christianity, nor is it the pure form of science that you say evolutionists adhere to...But I am not surprised that those at Darwin Central would gravitate towards these guys.

It is either a case of my enemy's enemy is my friend or...your evolutionary views are philosophical and religous in nature, as well. Which is it?

51 posted on 12/05/2005 6:33:08 AM PST by pby
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To: shuckmaster
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
-- Arthur C. Clarke (Clarke's First Law)

When, however, the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion — the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, probably right.
-- Isaac Asimov's Corollary to Clarke's First Law

52 posted on 12/05/2005 6:34:03 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: Right Wing Professor
Where do you dig up this rubbish?

I wondered that myself, so I did a bit of digging. It appears to be a rather confused reading of a rather confused chapter from a rather confused book. So now you know.

53 posted on 12/05/2005 6:34:42 AM PST by Senator Bedfellow (Sneering condescension.)
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To: Doc Savage

Good parody. Nice paranoid ranting with no justification of the inane rhetoric. You sounded just like a creationist without making it over-the-top and unbelievable.

54 posted on 12/05/2005 6:34:47 AM PST by Dimensio ( <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: catpuppy

Doing science takes knowledge and practice. It's no more nor less elitist than playing baseball or being a concert pianist or flying an F-16. Those who haven't walked the walk merely babble the talk. (I would never venture to advise Alex Rodriguez on how to swing a bat nor to advise George Bush how to set the flaps on an F-16.)

55 posted on 12/05/2005 6:36:12 AM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: pby
Does the John Templeton Foundation support intelligent design? Excerpt from the Foundation's website:
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. ... [T]he Foundation does not support the movement known as Intelligent Design as such, as an intellectual position or as a movement.

56 posted on 12/05/2005 6:36:44 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: liliesgrandpa
The odds against being dealt any particular hand of bridge are astronomical. Mars could occupy billions of orbits different from the one it does. The arrangement of the sand grains in this pile is absolutely unique. Every snowflake is unique....therefore each of these examples is a proof of intelligent action.

Sorry...that does not follow.

Most of the ID enthusiasts are just trying to wedge creationism into the domain of science. Those that are not should produce some testable predictions.
57 posted on 12/05/2005 6:37:23 AM PST by Rifleman
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To: liliesgrandpa
The odds against this happening in at least 239 protein molecules to form the smallest living organism are 1029345.

That's way less that the odds of shuffled deck of cards coming up in their exact order and you can shuffle a deck of cards all day long.

58 posted on 12/05/2005 6:38:20 AM PST by shuckmaster
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
10123 is not a probability.

He probably just cut and pasted the entire block of text from a creationist website without attribution, plagarizing it and presenting it as his own work and losing the code for superscript in the process. Likely he meant 10123.

He might also have meant 10123, which we know is a rather large number (though not quite as large as 1720).
59 posted on 12/05/2005 6:39:34 AM PST by Dimensio ( <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: Proud_texan
Reagan didn't operate on that principal, he believed that Americans could be talked to, not insulted or talked down to.

But he didn't look to opinion polls to determine policy, which is what you're suggesting we do with science.

60 posted on 12/05/2005 6:39:47 AM PST by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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