Skip to comments.'Explore as much as we can': Nobel Prize winner Charles Townes on evolution & intelligent design
Posted on 05/16/2007 6:54:51 AM PDT by SirLinksalot
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Nope. Got it right on. You yourself said that evolution means 'change', nothing more. Big deal. A created biology that is fragmenting and accumulating errors is 'changing'.
If you had a point, you would have made it. Hand-waving and pretending to have a point doesn't cut it.
Son, you are not worth talking to. Good night.
Funny, your “son” is not nearly as dense as you are. He must have had a bright mother.
But philosophy does influence the interpretation of the data.
Facts are facts, as far as we know them, until some other *fact* comes along to contradict it, but anything beyond that is going to be colored by one's world view. Scientists are not inherently objectively neutral simply because science is perceived to be. Science can perhaps be reduced to a purely mechanical system of observation but the subjective factor of the scientists observations and conclusions would render it incapable of being entirely neutral. The only way that can happen is if science can be divorced from human interference; scientists, if you will.
Russ P is right. You do have a philosophy of life. Everyone does.
And the discussion you and A-G are having at this point, is about as important a thing to say as can be said as it pertains to the relationship between religion, philosophy, and science. Its significance, I think, cannot be overstated.
But for those of us who have not acquired all the needed skills in science or philosophy to fully partake in every aspect of the discussion; we nevertheless are not without resources to arm ourselves against anyone who believe themselves so possessed of invincible virtue that they may bypass public policy or otherwise ignore human rights with impunity. So, as one who is in possession of a Bravo Sierra detector of a different sort, I would just like to express my appreciation for the efforts of all of the participants on this thread.
Good ‘n mom.
You were exactly right when you said that "Intelligent Design is not and cannot be science because it implies a Designer, and science cannot possibly study the Designer." It has nothing to do with liking or disliking religion and everything to do with what science is and is not.
Until someone smarter than all us can propose a scientific mythology for the study of the designer we are in the "how many angels can dance on the head of pin" territory."
You don’t need to be able to study the designer to know that one exists. Evidence for a designer’s existence is clearly observable and testable. The order and complexity that science itself depends on is evidence of design and can be tested.
Certainly scientists running a complex, controlled experiment expect it to show thought, reasoning, and intelligence. If order and complexity are not evidence of intelligence than all of the above reduces science meaninglessness. A *scientific* experiment then means nothing more than chaos.
There you go again. As I said, you simply reject ID by fiat because you don’t like its religious implications.
And what does “study of the designer” have to do with it? Science is the study of the design, not the study of the Designer.
The distinction here is very simple. Suppose someone sends you some software, and you have no clue who wrote it. Would you claim that it was not intelligently designed because you know nothing about the designer? I hope not. But that is the logical equivalent of your nonsensical claim.
I suppose one could consider the fact that oxygen will bind with hydrogen and not helium shows intelligence on the part of oxygen.
No, but I would believe that whoever ran the that software on the their computer whould lack intelligence. In a similar manner I would attribute to any scientist a similar lack of intelligence if she decided that something was so complex that only God could have put it together and thus stopped searching for the truth.
“I would attribute to any scientist a similar lack of intelligence if she decided that something was so complex that only God could have put it together and thus stopped searching for the truth.”
“This most elegant system of the sun, planets, and comets could not have arisen without the design and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being.” —Sir Isaac Newton, The Principia
I guess the greatest scientist who ever lived “stopped searching for the truth,” eh.
“The Darwinian theory has become an all-purpose obstacle to thought rather than an enabler of scientific advance.” —Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel-laureate physicist
Congratulations, you got it exactly backwards!
Here’s more insight from Prof. Laughlin:
Much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause! —Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel-laureate physicist
Newton has passed on. He now knows the truth that you and I can only speculate about right now. However, since his death other great scientists have carried the torch of learning to newer and greater heights. If Dr. Richard Feynman, one of those great scientists, had read your postings he would repeat his famous quote, "Surely you jest."
If Dr. Richard Feynman, one of those great scientists, had read your postings he would repeat his famous quote, “Surely you jest.”
I quoted Isaac Newton, the greatest scientist ever, and Robert B. Laughlin, a Nobel-laureate physicist. Which one is jesting?
Surely you can cover for your lack of an argument better than that.
As far a Newton goes, one can only speculate about how he would revise his quote if he lived today. I suspect he would be a tad less dogmatic about creation.
Oh, so Newton would bow to political correctness, eh? How nice of you to speak for him.
For the record, Newton studied the Bible daily and “religiously.”
As for the Laughlin quote being “out of context,” that’s a canard. Whenever evolutionists don’t like a particular quote from a respectable person, it is “out of context.”
I did not claim that Laughlin advocates ID. I actually don’t know where he stands on the matter. But his quote stands perfectly well on its own, whether you like it or not.
After our discussion yesterday, I sent Dr.Laughlin and email. I asked him directly how he felt about using his quote for this purpose. This is a direct quote from his response:
"No, I don't like having my words used for ideological purposes. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do about it. The deeper subject matter of UNIVERSE is belief systems and how they color perceptions even when they shouldn't. You have to expect that people will misread a perfectly clear statement that beliefs corrupt perceptions as supporting their own particular beliefs. In other words, you hold a mirror up to show how ugly the queen is and she sees only how beautiful she is! "
Truth in ID FYI ping. Start at post #58.
“After our discussion yesterday, I sent Dr.Laughlin and email. I asked him directly how he felt about using his quote for this purpose. This is a direct quote from his response:”
I’d like to know what you told him before he replied. If you told him that I was using his quote for “ideological purposes,” then you misrepresented me. In fact, I used his quote to discredit the “ideological purposes” of evolutionists. If you told him that I used it to indicate that he advocates ID, then you lied. I specifically said otherwise in plain English.
I don’t have any special reverence for Laughlin other than to acknowledge that he won a Nobel Prize. I read his book and found it interesting but very confusing in many places. If he “denies” ID in any way, I really don’t care. But if he is going to deny what he said in plain English about the Darwinian Theory, then he should make it clear that he is retracting his statement. If not, then he should shut up.
This reminds me of the time when some Republicans quoted MLK on the ideal of colorblindness, only to be scolded by his wife. Apparently only bona fide liberals or leftists are allowed to quote MLK — even though we have a national holiday named after him.
Have no fear. you were not mentioned. I referred Dr Laughlin to the essay written by the the IDer from whom you got the quote:
But if he is going to deny what he said in plain English about the Darwinian Theory, then he should make it clear that he is retracting his statement.
He has nothing to retract. He said what he said and meant it within the context of his scientific philosophy - which has nothing to do with ID.
If not, then he should shut up.
If you think he should shut up then maybe you should consider removing his quote from your Great Quotes web page on your web site.
I think Laughlin’s quote is worth repeating:
“Much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological. A key symptom of ideological thinking is the explanation that has no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!” Robert B. Laughlin, Nobel-laureate physicist
Why don’t you email him again and ask him which part of this quote he would like to retract or revise.
I said nothing about his quote except that it contradicts what you are claiming about evolution, which it clearly does. For you or him to claim that I am using his quote for “ideological purposes” simply by quoting him is ridiculous.
Newton saw not just “evidence,” but *proof* if ID in the mechanics of the solar system. The simplest living cell is arguably far more complex than the equations of motion of the solar system, and that complexity was completely unknown in Newton’s time, so I have no reason whatsoever to believe that Newton would change his views on ID. I just wish more scientists these days would have the guts acknowledge that the anti-ID emporer has no clothes.
If I recall correctly, that quote came from his book. I suggest you re-read it a few times, then tell me what part of it you disagree with.
I’ll keep it on my website until Laughlin personally tells me that he retracts it.
"You have to expect that people will misread a perfectly clear statement that beliefs corrupt perceptions as supporting their own particular beliefs." - Dr. Laughlin
I borrowed his book A Different Universe from a library about a year ago (in fact, I needed an inter-library loan). I posted the quote on my website months after I had returned the book, and I can’t remember specifically where I got it from, but I know he said something like that in the book. If you have the book handy, why don’t you tell us exactly what he wrote. Just look up “evolution” in the index.
I agree that his statement was perfectly clear, but I think *you* are the one who is “misreading” it. Actually, I get the impression that you are simply *ignoring* it because it doesn’t fit well with your outlook and your ideological agenda. Please tell me what part of it I am misreading!
Perhaps you are referring to this part:
Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong.
Not even wrong? What do you suppose that means?
Oh, one more thing. You are quoting his response to someone else’s use of his quote as if it applies to me. Your “logic” escapes me.
I noticed that.
It demonstrates intelligence on the part of the designer to create atoms to consistently behave in such a way. You might as well say an automobile has intelligence because it you start it and put it in gear, it will move on it's own whether someone is in the drivers seat or not.
1. It has no defintion of "something real"; and
2. It is a statement of faith.
1. If by "something real" you mean "those things that can be perceived by the senses", then that is fine, but please realize that sensory perceptions are entire subjective in nature. There is no way to demonstrate that the figures displayed upon a gauge, measuring rod, or scale you may be reading bear any relation to anything "real" at all. There is similarly no way to demonstrate without a doubt that anything you may see, hear, smell, touch, or taste has any existence outside of your own mind. For all you know there is no physical world "out there". For all you know this is all a dream.
2. Your criterion for "truth" seems to be "only those statements demonstrable via the scientific method are True". Unfortunately for you, however, the statement "only those statements demonstrable via the scientific method are True" is itself not demonstrable via the scientific method. Therefore, your own definition of Truth is self-refuting and meaningless. You may believe that only those statements demonstrable via the scientific method are True, but you cannot demonstrate the truth of that statement via the scientific method; therefore, the statement "only those statements demonstrable via the scientific method are True" is a statement of faith, not of objective truth.
All worldviews proceed from undemonstrated and undemonstrable axioms. The scientific worldview proceeds from the axiom that "a material reality external to the human mind exists and can be postively known through observation". This is a commonsense axiom, and one I share, but make no mistake: it is an axiom. I happen to believe that a material reality external to the human mind exists and can be postively known through observation, but the truth of that statement cannot be demontrated. I take the existence of the physical, knowable universe on faith as do you.
If one cannot rely on the evidence of the senses as the criteria for Truth, how then can we know Truth? We can know it through logic. We can know one thing for certain our own existence because we do not apprehend our existence via our senses. We do not "see" ourselves, "feel" ourselves, "taste" "touch" or "hear ourselves". We are ourselves. We experience our own existence directly, immediately, without recourse to the senses. Anesthetize a man, drop him in a sensory deprivation tank, and otherwise cut him off from all sensory input, and he may come to doubt the existence of the outside world but he continues to exist. We need no ear to hear ourselves think; we can see with our mind's eye even in a pitch-black room. Thus the basic truth of philosophy as formulated by Réne Descartes becomes obvious: cogito, ergo sum, "I think, therefore I am".
For the Christian, the fundamental axiom of thought might be stated as "God exists, and sent His Son, Jesus, to save mankind from destruction". We can demonstrate the existence of Jesus and His miracles using historical, eyewitness documentary evidence, but of course we have no way of "proving" the Christian faith via science. One cannot put God under a microscope, after all; He transcends space and time, matter and energy. The Christian worldview, however, does not depend entirely upon an unprovable axiom, for we can know the Truth behind it in an absolute way the same way we can absolutely know the Truth of our own existence. We can know God exists through direct experience not by means of our senses, but directly. We do not see, hear, smell, touch, taste, or otherwise sense the existence of God; we can join with Him and experience His presence directly. Not every believer has experienced God in this direct way, of course; for most, God is known via reason (i.e. via the evidences of His existence, intellectual faith, and logical necessity). A select few humans, however, are permiitted to contact the Divine Presence directly, intimtely, knowing Him in the same way they know themselves. We call such people "saints".
If quantum physics proves anything, it proves that the universe is not a blind clockwork, a deterministic machine made of dead matter. At their most fundamental level, space, time, matter, and energy are impossible to quantify precisely, and are thus "real" in a way that is more than merely the sum of their physical descriptors. Just as the universe is real at a level beyond our ability to observe, so too is the human mind. The brain may be the organ by which our consciousness contacts physical reality, but the brain is not the mind. The map is not the territory. Human consciousness has its foundation somewhere beyond all this somewhere outside of nature and, therefore, so does Truth.
Quantum physics tells us not that the world is real but that the world is probably real. :-)
I’m always amused by atheists who refuse to believe in God until they get “proof.” If they are consistent, shouldn’t they also refuse to believe that any other conscious being exists until they get “proof” of that too?
Think about it. There is no way to prove, scientifically or otherwise, that any conscious being exists other than yourself. How could you possibly know that anyone or anything else is conscious unless you were them?
So why don’t Dawkins and Hitchens go around preaching solipsism? Because they would make fools of themselves? I have news for them: they are already doing that.
Thanks for the ping.
Youve given us a direct quote from Dr. Laughlin. Now perhaps you would be so accommodating as to give us a direct quote of how you put the proposition to Dr. Laughlin that elicited his response.
Jeez Louise. Surely you can’t be that dense.
You’re not alone. I enjoy reading your posts whenever these threads sprout.
It all boils down to one thing. I prefer to do science, and argue from the rules and evidence of science. I am not arguing "Truth" but rather what can be perceived by the senses and deduced from logic.
You appear to believe in something outside of science, "Truth" or the equivalent. That's fine, but its not science.
Your criterion for "truth" seems to be "only those statements demonstrable via the scientific method are True". Unfortunately for you, however, the statement "only those statements demonstrable via the scientific method are True" is itself not demonstrable via the scientific method.That might be true if I were seeking "Truth." I will leave that to philosophers and theologians. I prefer data and well-supported theories. Show me the evidence and we can go from there.
Therefore, your own definition of Truth is self-refuting and meaningless. You may believe that only those statements demonstrable via the scientific method are True, but you cannot demonstrate the truth of that statement via the scientific method; therefore, the statement "only those statements demonstrable via the scientific method are True" is a statement of faith, not of objective truth.You are arguing for religion or philosophy here. I have proposed no definition of "Truth." There is no quest for "Truth" in science. "Truth" is not something that can be verified by observation; it is based on belief.
Science seeks to work with facts, and to organize those facts with hypotheses, then theories. Hypotheses seek to organize the multitudes of facts; when a hypothesis has matured, and withstood the tests of data and time, and shown that it can make accurate predictions, it can be classified as a theory. Not "Truth," but a well-supported theory.
And this is where your argument breaks down. I need not take anything on faith. Science works with facts and theories--things that can be observed and documented.
Philosophy and religion rely on faith because their subject matter can't be observed and documented.
This is where we begin to part company.
The rest of your post deals with your personal beliefs, which I choose not to dispute.
Perhaps you had best halt any further elaboration. Otherwise one of our Darwinian friends might get an idea, start thinking real hard and cause all us Jesus Freaks to go poof!
Thanks! You put it much better than I did. Kudos!
You have been famously quoted as saying, “The Darwinian theory has become an
all purpose obstacle to thought rather than an enabler of scientific
The primary example of the use of this quote can be found here:
Your quote is now widely used by many to support the theory of Intelligent
Design. I have the distinct feeling that your quote is being used out of
context to back up a theory which you would not or do no support. I came to
this conclusion after reading your essay, “Reinventing Physics: The Search
for the Real Frontier.” I believe that you would find the idea of
Intelligent Design as limiting as you did “The End of Science”
I am wondering how you feel about the use of your name and reputation in
supporting the ID theory.
Thank you for your time,
In his reply, did he actually say anything against ID? If he did, I must have missed it.
"Last year I got invited to a conference on a related subject at Baylor University. The organizers lost enthusiasm for inviting me, however, when they discovered that I would talk about primacy of experiment. I'm reasonably confident that they wanted to use me as a fall guy for the Theory of Evolution - i.e. as a supporter of the theory that they could then pillory in public. Thus I get grief from both sides of the evolution conflict. "
This seems more than a bit unusual. They wanted to “pillory him in public” for *supporting* the ToE? Isn’t the “pillorying” usually done for the opposite reason? Was it an ID conference? If so, why would he attend if he is offended by ID? Just wondering.
Thank you for your time. I appreciate your courtesy.
I fail to see where the Professors quote is being used out of context. It certainly isnt being represented as an endorsement of ID. Just to be unequivocal about the matter, RussP has stipulated that he does not represent the Professors quotation as an endorsement of ID. If you propose that any fair use quotation can only be cited by someone who is in total agreement with everything the person quoted has ever asserted, then you raise an impossible standard. Good Lord man! I quote Jefferson all the time and I find myself in the rare disagreement even with him.
But, congratulations on your skilful elicitation of precisely the sort of quote you wished from Professor Laughlin to use against RussP. A most novel and innovative form of quote mining. Salute!
If you Google Dr. Laughlin's quote you will each and every reference to it is using it to support ID. (Every one except the stand alone reference on RussP's Great Quotes page and now RussP's repeat of the quote on FR).
Maybe he wanted to talk about the "primacy of experiment" just like he said?
"you hold a mirror up to show how ugly the queen is and she sees only how beautiful she is!" - Dr. Laughlin.
If you Google Dr. Laughlin’s quote you will each and every reference to it is using it to support ID. (Every one except the stand alone reference on RussP’s Great Quotes page and now RussP’s repeat of the quote on FR).
When a Nobel-laureate in physics blasts the Darwinian ToE, you can expect it to be used to support ID. If he hadn’t anticipated that, then he apparently doesn’t follow the online debates over evolution.
Actually, I think the Nobel Prize is often overrated. People tend to think it confers a god-like infallibility, but it doesn’t. What it does is shield the recipient against being labeled a crank, which is why I used Laughlin’s quote.
I am curious, however, about Laughlin’s actual position on evolution. He obviously has problems with the ToE, but yet he does not seem to accept ID. I’d like to know what he thinks the alternative is.