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?
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?
'Hawks interception placepark
It would be an honor. Look forward to seeing the results. A true delight to get under your skin for a change. All this time I thought I was being ignored. Maybe you could place a fruitcake picture next to my words. Please please please?!!!
The rocket ship conjecture is a bit far out for my taste, but panspermia is alive and well as a hypothesis, but panspermia is alive and well.
A productive ide is one that generates research or which suggests research. After 203 years, we are still waiting for ID to generate research.
I've heard him talk; I would disagree. Shifty eyes, shuffling gait; never look at the audience; etc. Or maybe I read too much into his embarassing presentation.
The arrogant charlatans come from the militant evolutionist camp.
I find it disappointing that Dawkins wouldn't respond to my later e-mails
trying to get his response to Ms. Brown's claims and indeed his lack of
response says a lot to me about this incident. I also found it
disappointing that Dawkins wouldn't admit that that the incident had occurred.
I owe Ms. Brown an apology for my initial skepticism and I offer it here. I
was unequivocally wrong in my suspicion of her. While we have in general
been on civil terms, I do want her to know that not all evolutionists
disregard truth as many creationists believe. After listening to the audio
tape, her video, I firmly believe records an accurate account of the
I might add that I think Ms. Brown did Dawkins a favor. While Dawkins is
shown staring at the ceiling for 11 seconds on the video, the actual time
on the audio is 19 seconds. She spared Dawkins 8 seconds of embarrassment.
I am sending a copy of this to both Dawkins and to Ms. Brown.
BTW....................GOOGLE is your friend.
Krauthammer was part of the Carter administration. He was a speechwriter for Walter Mondale and worked on Walter Mondale's bid for the presidency. He worked for The New Republic.
A "premiere Conservative"???...yeah, whatever
Dr. Krauthammer wrote this: "This new attack claims that because there are gaps in evolution, they therefore must be filled by a divine intelligent designer." - Clearly Krauthammer knows next to nothing about intelligent design or his agenda is showing. In Krauthhammer's attacks on ID he makes no scientific challenges.
Here is another angle on Krauthammers positions on ID from William Dembski's blog:
"Krauthammer is living proof that otherwise smart people have fallen hard for the despicable Darwinist strategy of conflating ID and religion. Especially onerous is their unscientific ad hominem assaults based on guilt through association. The fact of the matter is that some 80% of the U.S. population are Christians and another 10% are Jewish and/or Muslim who believe in the God of the old testament but not the messiah of the new testament. When 9 of 10 randomly chosen people believe in the God of Abraham how can anyone find it unusual or suspect when the vast majority of ID proponents happen to be Christians? Thats what happens when the vast majority of potential proponents are Christians. Indeed, what would be unusual and suspect would be to find a vast majority of proponents of any particular science in the U.S. to NOT be mostly Christians. Consider the National Academy of Science where the membership is 71% positive atheists and 12% agnostics leaving only 7% who are deists and theists. Its highly suspect when that particular group denies any theory of origins involving intelligent agency. The Academys unscientific religious bias is glaring. If theres any smoking gun pointing to a religious agenda (or anti-religious agenda) its the anti-ID crowd thats guilty of it. I prefer to consider just the ideas regardless of the person who holds it - thats objectivity and its one of the most important things for any scientist to strive for in their professional life. Subjectivity causes nothing but problems in science and engineering."
BTW: Google is your friend.