Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

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
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 501-520521-540541-560 ... 861-875 next last
To: Right Wing Professor
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.

And what will that be? A broad brush that equates your opponents with the village idiots surrounding castle Frankenstein? Well, it may come as a surprise to you, but I'm sure most Creationists decry physical violence against anyone. But, whatever comes of the story, if the violators exist, they should be appropriately punished and it should be aggravated punishment for allowing opportunists to use Creationists/IDers as scapegoats.

521 posted on 12/05/2005 9:21:03 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 514 | View Replies]

To: AndrewC
... I'm sure most Creationists decry physical violence against anyone...

Perhaps, but there are some (on this and other threads) celebrating it. Your response if refreshing in this matter.

522 posted on 12/05/2005 9:22:51 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 521 | View Replies]

To: Doctor Stochastic
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

Bingo!

523 posted on 12/05/2005 9:23:28 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 519 | View Replies]

To: AndrewC
Thank you.
524 posted on 12/05/2005 9:24:36 PM PST by Liberal Classic (No better friend, no worse enemy. Semper Fi.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 523 | View Replies]

To: All

I can't help being a bit skeptical. Oh well, we'll know soom enough.


525 posted on 12/05/2005 9:27:25 PM PST by Virginia-American
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 519 | View Replies]

To: Doctor Stochastic

I really think most Creationists, felt "OH NO". It is no help to anyone to have that happen. I don't even want the other outcome to occur, it, to me is just as bad. I'm stuck. This is a distasteful situation. It might be wise to consider what the Gideon rep told me about his actions when the police told him to leave. He was handing out Bibles to those who would accept them. He left without comment. This happened in the U.S.


526 posted on 12/05/2005 9:30:48 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 522 | View Replies]

To: Liberal Classic
Thank you.

And thank you.

527 posted on 12/05/2005 9:35:36 PM PST by AndrewC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 524 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor; Doctor Stochastic
Welcome to the "Festival of the Violence-Celebrating Cretin".

I recommend PERMANENT VI™ for the guilty party. People who are that warped and demented deserve to be cyber-shunned.

528 posted on 12/05/2005 9:35:58 PM PST by longshadow
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 514 | View Replies]

To: AndrewC
I'll withhold judgment (consonant clusters are not as tasty as peanut clusters) until the evidence is in. I find many of the comments over the ugly edge though. Too many people jump to unwarranted conclusions; many wanted to execute the boyfriend of the "fiancee" who ended up in Albuquerque.

I did find the comments about Matthew Shepherd problematic; that case was not fake, but I still see (various internet sites, sometimes FR) some justyfing his murder.

529 posted on 12/05/2005 9:39:07 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch ist der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 526 | View Replies]

Festering placemark


530 posted on 12/05/2005 9:56:24 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 529 | View Replies]

To: Doctor Stochastic
I did find the comments about Matthew Shepherd problematic; that case was not fake, but I still see (various internet sites, sometimes FR) some justyfing his murder.

Yes, people do rationalize things. But that is not truly rational.

531 posted on 12/05/2005 9:57:00 PM PST by AndrewC
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 529 | View Replies]

To: VadeRetro; PatrickHenry; CarolinaGuitarman
Some observations of my own:

1) Atheistic liberatarians can never live down that they live under a system instituted by God-fearing men.

They skirt that (ahem) inconvenient point.

(But I confess that I delight in it.)

Our wonderful (and brilliant!) system of government allows for the greatest latitude in personal freedoms exactly BECAUSE it was devised by God-fearing men.

2) Science progressed in Europe not despite of, but largely BECAUSE OF the influence of Christianity.

Science could not have evolved anywhere else on the globe as rapidly as it did in Europe precisely because Christianity (almost always) was tolerant of scientific inquiry. Certainly far more so than Islam. It also valued education, which directly supported science.

532 posted on 12/05/2005 10:13:59 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 287 | View Replies]

To: sauron
TOUCHE

Wolf
533 posted on 12/05/2005 10:18:24 PM PST by RunningWolf (Vet US Army Air Cav 1975)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 532 | View Replies]

To: dotnetfellow; dread78645; Coyoteman; CarolinaGuitarman; Right Wing Professor; AndrewC; ...
I noted that many in this discussion (and there have been excellent arguments on both sides) abandoned ship, fled for the hills, or diverted arguments when abiogenesis was mentioned.

Abiogenesis is their *weakness* in the discussion of creation vs. evolution.

If it were their strength, believe me, you'd be hearing more about it. But they can't tout it, because no one understands it.

(Again: Remember that Genesis says specifically that "the Earth brought forth life"--which implies evolution from abiogenesis. Judaic tradition sure describes the origin of all things better than Eskimo, eh?)

Say what you will, but the lack of progress with the abiogenic field speaks volumes about the limitations of our understanding of how life first formed. We simply *don't know,* but only a few honest biochemists will fess up to the truth. The rest remain guilty in their silence.

There's a huge amount of peer pressure to toe the line in science. If you want continued grant funding, you need a good word from your peers as a future reference. If you don't have it, you lose your livelihood. Few will dare to buck the establishment.

ID is new. There's no hurry. I think they're onto something, because they can't disprove Intelligent Design. In fact, many unanswered questions are hinting at, pointing at, Intelligent Design as the cause for why we can't answer a simple question: How did Life begin?

Why should there be something...rather than nothing?

While we cannot (and probably never will be able to) prove ID, the circumstantial evidence for it is overwhelming...but not quite proof.

Conversely, they cannot disprove I.D.

As for me, I view evolution and the entrenched cabal defending-it-at-all-costs as very close-minded. They're putting forth their own "just so" story.

For me, I view evolution as the Theory of Accidentialism.

There just hasn't been enough time elapsed here on Earth to generate life from inorganic materials, even by their own theories.

There's also the problem that life appeared the minute liquid water was able to form. In reality, that's the point where the countdown should have begun, and add many billions of years to that date. But that's not what happened. Life seemed to have been either introduced, or pre-programmed to introduce itself (Genesis, anyone?).

Either way, I think this univese was meant to have life in it. We have some bacteria that have more than a hundred times the genetic material you would expect for a bacteria...is it meant to be "seed material" to create other organisms?

Here we are, living on this Goldilocks world...right orbit, smack dab in the ecospshere...right inclination...right star...right part of the spiral arm...right age...a tiny fraction in change of temperature and matter wouldn't exist...quantum gravity "tuned" to be just right...even Hoyle said that it appeared as if Someone has "monkeyed" with the physics of the universe, that it was fine-tuned for life....

I'm sorry, but I think O.J. murdered Nicole because of all the circumstantial evidence, and I think God exists because of all the circumstantial evidence, too.

We're sitting here discussing the evidences for Design in biology. There's PLENTY, if you want to be honest about it.

But what's more important--there's even MORE evidence for Design in the cosmos. Some of the older Christians here can recollect when a select sect (cult, cabal...I'll use the word "sect") of slightly less-than-honest-to-the-general-public astronomers held out for far too many years for the Steady State Theory, held out beyond all reasonableness, and held out--by their own admission--because the thought of a universe with an "origin" carried too weight of an implication, and made them "uneasy." (Hints at the existence of a God to whom they might be accountable.) It all gets down to the desire to be libertine, rather than accountable.

If the universe is ultimately uncreated, eterally self-existent, or even accidental...then it has no purpose, and neither do we. Morality becomes irrelevant.

If, however, it was created, then morality becomes paramount. And this frightens some. But on the good side, it would mean that love, perception of aesthetic beauty, and the concept of altruism and mercy actually do have meaning, and our having them was by no means an accident.

I'm sickened by a few deceitful astronomers who clung tenanciously to the Steady State Theory (now on the ash heap), only to discard it and immediately jump onto the (minority) bandwagon of Brane Theory. They weren't held accountable. (Scolding would be sufficient.)

They'll simply do anything to DENY that this universe had an origin, a creation, in time.

(Brane Theory says that another universe "bumped" into this one, creating it. It conveniently begs the question of what created THAT OTHER universe. Another "just so" story we're supposed to accept. Oh, and there are 11 dimensions to it...did I mention that? We're supposed to lay back and accept this stuff, cut from whole cloth, unprovable, posited from nothing but imagination, and yet we cannot posit a Creator? Dudes, you guys must play by the same rhetorical rules. If you can make up your universes, we can posit God, for whom there's tons of circumstantial evidence.)

My $0.02, again. YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Let's all rest easy.

Sauron.

534 posted on 12/05/2005 10:26:32 PM PST by sauron ("Truth is hate to those who hate Truth" --unknown)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 457 | View Replies]

To: sauron
Abiogenesis is their *weakness* in the discussion of creation vs. evolution.

Abiogenesis is irrelevant in a discussion of evolution. Evolution occurs regardless of how the first life forms came to exist. Anyone who tries to claim that evolution somehow relies on a specific type of abiogenesis event is either fundamentally ignorant of evolution and not to be trusted when speaking on evolution or an outright liar and not to be trusted when speaking on evolution.

Conversely, they cannot disprove I.D.

That ID cannot, under any hypothetical situation, be falsified is precisely why it is not science and has no place in a science discussion.
535 posted on 12/05/2005 10:38:10 PM PST by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 534 | View Replies]

To: sauron

I hear you Sauron. Thank You.

Wolf


536 posted on 12/05/2005 10:41:35 PM PST by RunningWolf (Vet US Army Air Cav 1975)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 534 | View Replies]

To: Right Wing Professor
If you are going to blog about the 'FReeper reaction',

then you should blog however the case turns out to be (legit or not)

What kind of bs is that??

Wolf
537 posted on 12/05/2005 10:51:33 PM PST by RunningWolf (Vet US Army Air Cav 1975)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 514 | View Replies]

To: sauron
Likewise: Do the scientists truly understand the DNA they're cutting and pasting?

I believe you're moving the bar. You asked if anyone could prove that life could be made from non-life. I gave you one example of how this might be done.

And what's to understand about DNA? It's a simple organic polymer. You know. Plastic.

538 posted on 12/05/2005 11:09:45 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 417 | View Replies]

To: <1/1,000,000th%; sauron
And what's to understand about DNA? It's a simple organic polymer.

I find that akin to "What's to understand about Linux? It' a simple sequence of 1's and 0's."

Well, when you think it is that simple, you end up with billion dollar spacecraft crashing into the surface of Mars instead of gently landing there.

539 posted on 12/05/2005 11:32:08 PM PST by AndrewC (Darwinian logic -- It is just-so if it is just-so)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 538 | View Replies]

To: AndrewC
Yeh, like one of the other evos said he could design a better universe by kicking something around on the ground with arms tied behind back.., LOL!!

Hmmm..,, the best of science in the name of evo.

Well okaaayy, let's see it then.., HA HA HA HA!!

Wolf
540 posted on 12/05/2005 11:38:36 PM PST by RunningWolf (Vet US Army Air Cav 1975)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 539 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 501-520521-540541-560 ... 861-875 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson