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?
You are probably right. However, it's seldom a mistake to wait a day or two to make sure all the facts are in, before one reacts.
Creationism is a cancer on conservatism placemarker
Whether or not the attack really happened (or is fake or whatever), the responses of Freepers has already become a valid discussion point. There have been more than one support such an attack. BAV (the political arm of Harun Yahya) seems to be making inroads on FR even if not in Kansas.
"Bolshevik monopoly" (( aclu // nea )) ...
tyranny (( taliban // jihad )) ---
brainwashing (( conservatism // Truth )) ...
indoctrination (( liberalism // atheism // evolution // communism )) !
Libertarian schlock ... anarchy --- evolution !
" RC is actually the original large-scale organized apostasy FROM the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3)"
Peter= 1st Pope. look it up.
"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).
....and David Horowitz was a Communist before he had an epiphany.
....and C.S.Lewis was an atheist before J.R.R.Tolkien sheparded him into the Christian Faith.
I am saddened by this. :-(
I grow weary of the duplicitousness of the militant evos. Growing up I remember hearing about the wealth of evidence from the paleontology community demonstrating the irrefutable evidence of the fact of evolution. Yet when we focus on this evidence we find that the wealth of transitional forms Darwin hoped for is devoid of substantiation. Now we are told to believe the theory absent the record of transitional paleontological fossils. To boot, when Gould, Dawkins, et al admit to one another of said absence of fossils, they attempt to back pedal from their own admission in the face of public attack. Sorry, no take backs. The militant evos are flat wrong and they have been called on it and no volume of slippery forked tongues will undo the grave they have excavated for themselves. Simply duplicitous!
I respect your position, and agree wholeheartedly. Scientists should educate the public, and not let the forces of ignorance frame the debate. For example, skipping the Kansas hearings was a monumentally stupid idea. Bad strategy, and an opportunity lost.
I would take issue with one thing that you said, at least as far as it relates to conversation on these threads:
For instance as a non-scientists I have an idea of what the word "theory" means: "An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.". However the scientific definition of theory is, of course, quite different.
It's not the publics fault that they go with the one they're likley to understand from their non-scientific lives. They're not morons, they've simply not been exposed to the fact.
Few people on these threads are ignorant as to the scientific meaning of the word "theory." The vast majority of creationists who twist it into "guess" do so with full knowledge of their dishonesty.
Everybody gets one free pass on that mistake. Most don't seem to care about the truth so long as they can advance their agenda, and I have no problem calling out those people for it.
5 AM is a bit early for happy hour
Then put the bottle down.
Your parents took their ideas for child training from someplace other than the Darwinian model.
Don't argue from the consequences? That's exactly what evolution tries to do. It sees a consequence of time in "nature" and tries to imagine its source over spans of time it makes up itself.
Welcome back AndrewC!
Haven't seen you around for awhile.
And that crash of the polar lander was the engineers' fault for not getting their units correct. There was nothinig mystical about it.
Again I say the bar is on the rise. Sauron was trying to say that no progress has been made in abiogenesis hypotheses in the last 50 years, now we're talking about the deeper mysteries of DNA. You know that the literature on the topic is abundant for anyone who wants to look.
My own personal view is that we'll never discover everything that can be known in the universe in this life, and probably not in any other. I'm just happy when the furnace is working when it's 4 degrees outside, the sports highlights come on in the morning before work, and I can get on FR and blather like an idiot. ;)