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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: All; b_sharp; Ichneumon; longshadow; CarolinaGuitarman; Thatcherite; MineralMan; Coyoteman; ...
Hot news. I'm putting it here, rather than starting a new thread. Source: The Kansas City Star.

Mirecki treated at hospital after beating
LAWRENCE, Kan. - A professor whose planned course on creationism and intelligent design was canceled after he sent e-mails deriding Christian conservatives was hospitalized Monday after an apparent roadside beating.

University of Kansas religious studies professor Paul Mirecki told the Lawrence Journal-World that two men who beat him were making references to the class that was to be offered for the first time this spring. Originally called "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies," the course was canceled last week at Mirecki's request.

The class was added after the Kansas Board of Education decided to include more criticism of evolution in science standards for elementary and secondary students.

"I didn't know them," Mirecki said of his assailants, "but I'm sure they knew me."

Messages left by the Associated Press on Mirecki's cell phone were not immediately returned Monday night.

One recent e-mail from Mirecki to members of a student organization referred to religious conservatives as "fundies," and said a course describing intelligent design as mythology would be a "nice slap in their big fat face." Mirecki has apologized for those comments.

Lt. Kari Wempe, a spokeswoman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, said a deputy was dispatched to Lawrence Memorial Hospital after receiving a call around 7 a.m. regarding a battery.

She said Mirecki reported he was attacked around 6:40 a.m. in rural Douglas County south of Lawrence. Mirecki told the Journal-World he was driving to breakfast when he noticed the men tailgating him in a pickup truck.

"I just pulled over hoping they would pass, and then they pulled up real close behind," he said. "They got out, and I made the mistake of getting out."

He said the men beat him on the head, shoulders and back with their fists, and possibly a metal object.

Wempe said Mirecki drove himself to the hospital after the attack.

Mirecki told the student newspaper, The University Daily Kansan, that he spent between three and four hours at the hospital. He said his injuries included a broken tooth.

"I'm mostly shaken up, and I got some bruises and sore spots," he told the Journal-World.

Wempe said Mirecki described the suspects as two white men between 30 and 40 years of age. One of the men was described as wearing a red visor-like ball cap and wool gloves. Mirecki said the men left in a large pickup truck

Wempe said the department would investigate "every aspect," but couldn't discuss specifics.

Andrew Stangl, president of the Society for Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics at the university, described the attack as "bizarre and terrifying." He said Mirecki, who is the group's faculty adviser, was adamant that the beating was related to the recently canceled course.

"That absolutely shocked me," he said, "because people don't do that in a civilized society."

461 posted on 12/05/2005 7:16:17 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman

Which virgin birth?

Huitzilopochtli
Krishna
Dionysus
Buddha
Baldur
Mithra (Dec 25) (Oct 31 for computer junkies)
Amenophis III
Jason
...


462 posted on 12/05/2005 7:16:30 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: PatrickHenry
Ah, those peaceful creationists. Acting just like Christ.

(sarc./off)
463 posted on 12/05/2005 7:18:06 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: Dimensio

Ever install an operationg system from sense switches?


464 posted on 12/05/2005 7:18:58 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: PatrickHenry
Needs its own thread.

I would like to know more, though. One is always a little skeptical. But if it's true, well, it shows how crazy it's gotten.

465 posted on 12/05/2005 7:19:18 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: Right Wing Professor

You post, I'll ping.


466 posted on 12/05/2005 7:21:16 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman

Wonder when a few creationists (I know that not all of them are that crass) will show up to try and justify the act of violence.


467 posted on 12/05/2005 7:22:30 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: AndrewC
"Darwin's Black Box" was written in 1996.

"Natural Theology" was written in 1802. What new concept has arisen in the ID movement since then?

468 posted on 12/05/2005 7:23:49 PM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Ever install an operationg system from sense switches?

No. I think that after a semester of assembly and microcomputer design (nothing fancy at all) I've found my niche somewhere far above the low-level direct hardware access mode.
469 posted on 12/05/2005 7:23:58 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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Ah yes, Christian bashing, well now we see what the real motivations of the militant evolutionist are.


470 posted on 12/05/2005 7:24:03 PM PST by dotnetfellow
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To: PatrickHenry
. . . bizarre and terrifying . . .

Unguided processes tend to be that way. Fortunately no intelligence or design was involved with this occurence.

471 posted on 12/05/2005 7:24:49 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: PatrickHenry

Maybe wait until the morning newspapers? Let's give it 12 hours. While it's likely legit, it's serious enough I'd hate to be hoaxed.


472 posted on 12/05/2005 7:25:15 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: PatrickHenry

Sounds like the BAV have moved to Kansas.


473 posted on 12/05/2005 7:27:12 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Right Wing Professor
Maybe wait until the morning newspapers? Let's give it 12 hours. While it's likely legit, it's serious enough I'd hate to be hoaxed.

Sounds okay.

474 posted on 12/05/2005 7:28:15 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: js1138
What new concept has arisen in the ID movement since then?

Information theory and computation.

475 posted on 12/05/2005 7:28:53 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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"Smart" Prof or....

"They got out, and I made the mistake of getting out."


476 posted on 12/05/2005 7:32:19 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: Right Wing Professor
I'm checking out for the evening. So I can't ping 'til morning anyway.
477 posted on 12/05/2005 7:33:09 PM PST by PatrickHenry (Virtual Ignore for trolls, lunatics, dotards, common scolds, & incurable ignoramuses.)
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To: PatrickHenry

It's in several places, and there was a news conference this afternoon, so I'm assuming it's a legitimate story. I can usually pick up Kansas TV here, so I'll see if I can get the 10 p.m. news. Be ready to ping early a.m.


478 posted on 12/05/2005 7:37:48 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: Rudder
Exactly one-half of the population of America has an IQ of 100 or less.

And from this, your conclusion is . . . ?

...should we let those who are uneducated and unqualified dictate the course of science?

It doesn’t seem that we ought. But, should we then demand that those without a voice in the matter nevertheless must share in paying the bill? (Let’s see . . . what was that called back in 1774/75)

479 posted on 12/05/2005 7:38:17 PM PST by YHAOS
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To: PatrickHenry
One of the men was described as wearing a red visor-like ball cap and wool gloves..."That absolutely shocked me," he said, "because people don't do that in a civilized society."


480 posted on 12/05/2005 7:41:12 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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