Skip to comments.Intelligent designís long march to nowhere
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 movements seminal volume Darwins 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 bigbang 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 Lemaitres first proposal of the big-bang theory in 1927 and the scientific communitys widespread acceptance of the theory in 1965, when scientists empirically confirmed one of the big bangs predictions.
If we continue with Behes 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 arent 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 Trial little more than a roster of evolutionary theorys 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 Gamows 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, dont we deserve better than this?
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.
I think that VadeRetro's posts on the topic are a good indicator of what is to come...attack and name-call.
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.
Does he he qualify for nomination for permanent membership in the distinguished ranks of the Ignorati? (i.e., those who refuse to see)
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.Does that look like "funding" or "not funding?"
From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people dont come out very well in our world of scientific review, he said.
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.
I have no debate with you on anything outside of that.
Stop confusing Junior. There is no Sinosauroptyrex.
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.
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?
And still not proven.
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.
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 Foundations 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.
What is the difference between arguing from probabilities and arguing from astonishment?
"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".
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.
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.
Perhaps Vade can read it in blue.
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.
I knew I remembered seeing it spelled that way.
"I maintain that science is in and of itself a supernatural occurence." (Fester Chugabrew, post 428)
Your Brain on Creationism worthy?
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.
Look for yourselves.
Ahhh... Tired eyes. "E" before "Y" if it's dinos that fly...
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.
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.
What is "Creationism?"
"What is "Creationism?"
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)
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.
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.
Well, case closed then. Shut 'er down and retool for the full and final proof of the pentultimate "theory of everything": Intelligent Democrats
Darwin dedicated a whole chapter of "On the Origin of Species" to what he called "a crowd of difficulties". For example, "Can we believe that natural selection could produce...an organ so wonderful as the eye". How could organisms that need it survive without it while it was evolving over thousands or millions of years? Most complex organs and organisms must have all of the parts functioning together at once from the beginning. Any gradual acquiring of them would be fatal to their functioning. Further, "can instincts be acquired and modified through natural selection?" Darwin admits the difficulties with evolution that "some of them are so serious that to this day I can hardly reflect on them without being in some degree staggered". Darwin admitted, Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain, and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. Darwin hoped that enough of these missing links would eventually be found to substantiate what he called the theory of evolution. Gould says, Darwins argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution directly. Dawkins adds, Some very important gaps really are due to imperfections in the fossil record. Very big gaps, too. Gould admits, All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt. We all know this is a waste of time posting these apparent contradictions because readers have made up their minds even though this theory on the origin of species has been decimated.
No. It is easy to study evolution apart from abiogenesis.
Where does, in historical perspective, abiogenis begin? Before the Big Bang? After? etc.
It seems fairly apparent that this would happen after the big bang, when the elements are present and in such a condition as to facilitate the presence of life. Why do you consider this question to be a serious obstacle to a relationship between evolution and abiogenesis?
That takes us immediately back to the Big Bang.
Wait a minute. The Big Bang is necessarily tied to abiogenesis, but evolution is not? I can appreciate the desire to see science remain strictly within the limits of empirical practice. Most believers in evolution have a difficult time distinguishing between empirical facts and reasonable conjecture. Why is it they are permitted to indulge reasonable conjecture to the hilt and still be considered "scientific", while proponents of ID are not? Why is it "unscientific" to infer intelligence is involved in cases where matter is organized, while it is "scientific" to assert anything but intelligence is involved with the same arrangement of matter?
If organized matter is not the result of intelligent design, then what is it? The opposite? Something in between? Which choice is most reasonable?
They wouldn't admit to them, that is correct. They would rather dance around them, but they never could confront them adequately.
Definitely! We don't have a specimen from that individual. I'll post the results when it's ready.
Talking to Himself too. :)
So how would probability and predictabilty speak to the present universe as either a.) a product of intelligent design or b.) a product of unguided processes?