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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: Right Wing Professor; PatrickHenry; Doctor Stochastic
Hot off the wire:

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.

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/13336260.htm

501 posted on 12/05/2005 8:20:03 PM PST by Senator Bedfellow (Sneering condescension.)
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Comment #502 Removed by Moderator

To: Fester Chugabrew
It is easy to study evolution apart from abiogenesis.

Cool, your words, my bedtime. Talk to you later.

503 posted on 12/05/2005 8:23:18 PM PST by Rudder
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To: Morris_Hattrick
Well, it looks like the mentality of the fundies is consistent . . .

Actually, what it looks like is that the position of all materialists and evolutionists is scientifically and morally bankrupt. Look, the guy lost a tooth. He was beaten severely. That proves beyond question evolutionists and materialists are plumb dumb and wrong. It also proves that you had best repent before the rest of us fundies don red baseball hats and wool gloves. Deal with it. Be sure to check the bushes outside before you go to sleep.

504 posted on 12/05/2005 8:43:12 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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Comment #505 Removed by Moderator

To: Morris_Hattrick
But what is to be expected by one suffering from the mental defect that is religious belief.

So why do you have the American flag on your home page? You belong in an atheistic society such as China. Certainly anyone who would call Washington and Lincoln mentally defective should not feel at home here.

that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

506 posted on 12/05/2005 8:54:46 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: Morris_Hattrick

It smarts not in the least to be "shamed" by someone who knows neither the One to whom all are accountable nor any significant reason for pronouncing judgment upon others.


507 posted on 12/05/2005 8:55:47 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Despite all of the idiotic ranting and shameless lies I've seen from creationists through the years I have never seen such a shameful display of malice and hate, not to mention the most odious demonstration of abject stupidity in claiming that physical violence against someone who accepts evolution somehow proves evolution is false.

You are a very, very disturbing kind of stupid.
508 posted on 12/05/2005 8:59:09 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: Dimensio

Again, not unexpected.


509 posted on 12/05/2005 9:00:22 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Doctor Stochastic

I expected shameful gloating over an act of violence. I never expected the disgusting bile that Fester vomited forth.


510 posted on 12/05/2005 9:01:25 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: Dimensio

I've observed Creationists for the last half century. It's sad to say, not much has changed.


511 posted on 12/05/2005 9:03:10 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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512 posted on 12/05/2005 9:04:33 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
...hospitalized Monday after an apparent roadside beating...

...Just a minor glitch in the heartless process of natural selection, etc. Just the "laws of nature"

What a class act you are, FC.

513 posted on 12/05/2005 9:06:58 PM PST by Virginia-American
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To: Dimensio
I expected shameful gloating over an act of violence. I never expected the disgusting bile that Fester vomited forth.

I did. Over on the main thread more than one person has expressed chagrin the beating was not more severe. I hit abuse on the first of those. No result. Evidently management agrees that Mirecki was not damaged enough.

I have to say I'm withholding judgement on this incident until the police weigh in. We've seen too many cases like this that turned out to be fakes. But if it turns out to be legitimate, I will be blogging on the FReeper reaction, and it won't be pretty.

514 posted on 12/05/2005 9:07:48 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Actually, what it looks like is that the position of all materialists and evolutionists is scientifically and morally bankrupt. Look, the guy lost a tooth. He was beaten severely. That proves beyond question evolutionists and materialists are plumb dumb and wrong. It also proves that you had best repent before the rest of us fundies don red baseball hats and wool gloves. Deal with it. Be sure to check the bushes outside before you go to sleep.

You gotta be kidding me.

515 posted on 12/05/2005 9:10:25 PM PST by Liberal Classic (No better friend, no worse enemy. Semper Fi.)
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To: Right Wing Professor
Over on the main thread more than one person has expressed chagrin the beating was not more severe.

There's a main thread? I couldn't find it with several search terms.
516 posted on 12/05/2005 9:11:40 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
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To: Right Wing Professor
We've seen too many cases like this that turned out to be fakes.

It's possible. It's kind of a shame when people want pity so badly that they'll stage something like this. If this is the case, he should suffer the consequences of filing a false police report.

We've seen too many cases like this that turned out to be fakes.

I gotta see this. Where?

517 posted on 12/05/2005 9:14:28 PM PST by Liberal Classic (No better friend, no worse enemy. Semper Fi.)
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To: Right Wing Professor

The "narnia" review thread is almost as bad. Perhaps the Moon has slipped phase tonight.


518 posted on 12/05/2005 9:17:00 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Right Wing Professor

Just to comment before the fact: if it's a fake, the faker should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law; likewise if it's real, same to the perps.


519 posted on 12/05/2005 9:18:18 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
That proves beyond question evolutionists and materialists are plumb dumb and wrong. It also proves that you had best repent before the rest of us fundies don red baseball hats and wool gloves. Deal with it. Be sure to check the bushes outside before you go to sleep.

Inappropriate!

520 posted on 12/05/2005 9:20:48 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
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