Skip to comments.How Intelligent Design Hurts Conservatives (By making us look like crackpots)
Posted on 08/18/2005 5:17:34 PM PDT by curiosity
The appeal of "intelligent design" to the American right is obvious. For religious conservatives, the theory promises to uncover God's fingerprints on the building blocks of life. For conservative intellectuals in general, it offers hope that Darwinism will yet join Marxism and Freudianism in the dustbin of pseudoscience. And for politicians like George W. Bush, there's little to be lost in expressing a skepticism about evolution that's shared by millions.
In the long run, though, intelligent design will probably prove a political boon to liberals, and a poisoned chalice for conservatives. Like the evolution wars in the early part of the last century, the design debate offers liberals the opportunity to portray every scientific battle--today, stem-cell research, "therapeutic" cloning, and end-of-life issues; tomorrow, perhaps, large-scale genetic engineering--as a face-off between scientific rigor and religious fundamentalism. There's already a public perception, nurtured by the media and by scientists themselves, that conservatives oppose the "scientific" position on most bioethical issues. Once intelligent design runs out of steam, leaving its conservative defenders marooned in a dinner-theater version of Inherit the Wind, this liberal advantage is likely to swell considerably.
And intelligent design will run out of steam--a victim of its own grand ambitions. What began as a critique of Darwinian theory, pointing out aspects of biological life that modification-through-natural-selection has difficulty explaining, is now foolishly proposed as an alternative to Darwinism. On this front, intelligent design fails conspicuously--as even defenders like Rick Santorum are beginning to realize--because it can't offer a consistent, coherent, and testable story of how life developed. The "design inference" is a philosophical point, not a scientific theory: Even if the existence of a designer is a reasonable inference to draw from the complexity of, say, a bacterial flagellum, one would still need to explain how the flagellum moved from design to actuality.
And unless George W. Bush imposes intelligent design on American schools by fiat and orders the scientific establishment to recant its support for Darwin, intelligent design will eventually collapse--like other assaults on evolution that failed to offer an alternative--under the weight of its own overreaching.
If liberals play their cards right, this collapse could provide them with a powerful rhetorical bludgeon. Take the stem-cell debate, where the great questions are moral, not scientific--whether embryonic human life should be created and destroyed to prolong adult human life. Liberals might win that argument on the merits, but it's by no means a sure thing. The conservative embrace of intelligent design, however, reshapes the ideological battlefield. It helps liberals cast the debate as an argument about science, rather than morality, and paint their enemies as a collection of book-burning, Galileo-silencing fanatics.
This would be the liberal line of argument anyway, even without the controversy surrounding intelligent design. "The president is trapped between religion and science over stem cells," declared a Newsweek cover story last year; "Religion shouldn't undercut new science," the San Francisco Chronicle insisted; "Leadership in 'therapeutic cloning' has shifted abroad," the New York Times warned, because American scientists have been "hamstrung" by "religious opposition"--and so on and so forth. But liberalism's science-versus-religion rhetoric is only likely to grow more effective if conservatives continue to play into the stereotype by lining up to take potshots at Darwin.
Already, savvy liberal pundits are linking bioethics to the intelligent design debate. "In a world where Koreans are cloning dogs," Slate's Jacob Weisberg wrote last week, "can the U.S. afford--ethically or economically--to raise our children on fraudulent biology?" (Message: If you're for Darwin, you're automatically for unfettered cloning research.) Or again, this week's TNR makes the pretty-much-airtight "case against intelligent design"; last week, the magazine called opponents of embryo-destroying stem cell research "flat-earthers." The suggested parallel is obvious: "Science" is on the side of evolution and on the side of embryo-killing.
Maureen Dowd, in her inimitable way, summed up the liberal argument earlier this year:
Exploiting God for political ends has set off powerful, scary forces in America: a retreat on teaching evolution, most recently in Kansas; fights over sex education . . . a demonizing of gays; and a fear of stem cell research, which could lead to more of a "culture of life" than keeping one vegetative woman hooked up to a feeding tube.
Terri Schiavo, sex education, stem cell research--on any issue that remotely touches on science, a GOP that's obsessed with downing Darwin will be easily tagged as medieval, reactionary, theocratic. And this formula can be applied to every new bioethical dilemma that comes down the pike. Earlier this year, for instance, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued ethical guidelines for research cloning, which blessed the creation of human-animal "chimeras"--animals seeded with human cells. New York Times reporter Nicholas Wade, writing on the guidelines, declared that popular repugnance at the idea of such creatures is based on "the pre-Darwinian notion that species are fixed and penalties [for cross-breeding] are severe." In other words, if you're opposed to creating pig-men--carefully, of course, with safeguards in place (the NAS guidelines suggested that chimeric animals be forbidden from mating)--you're probably stuck back in the pre-Darwinian ooze with Bishop Wilberforce and William Jennings Bryan.
There's an odd reversal-of-roles at work here. In the past, it was often the right that tried to draw societal implications from Darwinism, and the left that stood against them. And for understandable reasons: When people draw political conclusions from Darwin's theory, they're nearly always inegalitarian conclusions. Hence social Darwinism, hence scientific racism, hence eugenics.
Which is why however useful intelligent design may be as a rhetorical ploy, liberals eager to claim the mantle of science in the bioethics battle should beware. The left often thinks of modern science as a child of liberalism, but if anything, the reverse is true. And what scientific thought helped to forge--the belief that all human beings are equal--scientific thought can undermine as well. Conservatives may be wrong about evolution, but they aren't necessarily wrong about the dangers of using Darwin, or the National Academy of Sciences, as a guide to political and moral order.
Why would God allow his chosen come out and lie about evolution?
It is really a epistemological criticism of Macro evolution, and they have some points from this angle.
The real problem, of course is that much of the evo argument cannot be really be approached from the empirical, experimental methodology that can be found in the so-called "head science" (which from my point of view is really science proper,) while at the same time the Evo side want to claim the surety of "hard science." I really think that some areas of Biology were if fact better characterized by our forebears as "Natural Philosophy."
I see a lot of rhetorical and philosophical hanky panky on both sides, and some of it seems to be even unwitting. I imagine if this get thrust into public scrutiny this will come to the fore and the whole argument will shift completely. You evos might be surprised at the outcome and who you end up arguing against.
My background is in Mathematics and Philosophy, and from that viewpoint, I find much of the claims of much of what we call "science" on today's campuses do have some dubious value, and built on some methodologically unsound footings.
You people imagine that all educated people are scientist, or buy the claims of science without analysis.
In this the IDers have sensed something: You too have a "religious" bent as well.
The public sense this as well. or so it seems to me.
You give some of your own prejudices away here by somehow implying that the "blue state voter" is somehow more intelligent that the "red stater." The admission is as striking as it is inadvertent
Evos to not seem to grasp the broader implications outside of science that the IDers somehow intuitively grasp, and those implications need to be addressed, though perhaps the conflict between the two sides here is not the place to do so.
Because the perfect creation is perfect in its own, limited, way and not perfect like God.
Hmmm. Man created sin. Maybe man created God?
So if we live in a created universe it is beyond the powers of science to confirm it?
Wow, you've really stirred up the "The Bible says it, I believe it, That settles it." group of posters.
I'm also a believer, but treating a 2,000+ year old philosophical text that has been through multiple translations as literally as an automobile repair manual or calculus textbook definitely reflects a certain want of intellect.
It would not shake my faith either, if a scientist could create life from non-life. The next task would be to create something from nothing. But I don't see a great chance of that happening, it has been tried for over 5 years with no success. As for the "crevices" or "gaps" in science, when they are present, they may in fact be wide chasms. I don't suggest that God is "hiding" at all, and that doesn't sound like a very scientific statement.
I was referring to physical (the body) creation, not purposes, intent, desires, emotions
You're right. The dealer said that I could be that way and still operate the vehicle. He said that a monkey could drive the vehicle if monkeys were still around. Unfortunately, they all evolved into human beings.
Why don't you ask Him?
Too funny...a freudian spellchecker.
What God created was perfect...you are forgetting what man "created"......sin
It was sin, that set in motion the deterioration (sickness, disease)of the perfect creation
And so man cause the very genetic material of every living creature to degerate into the mess it is in now?
God help you, because it's for sure reason can't reach you.
God gave you horses and camels, amongst other things. All else was to be from your own hands. Including your science and engineering books.
And maybe man created evolution
"God does not play dice."
hmmmmm, well there you would have some issues.
The classical view, put forward by Laplace, was that the future motion of particles was completely determined, if one knew their positions and speeds at one time. This view had to be modified, when Heisenberg put forward his Uncertainty Principle, which said that one could not know both the position, and the speed, accurately...One could calculate probabilities, but one could not make any definite predictions... God still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Are you kidding?
How do you resolve the fact that the Bible is not the same as it was thousands of years ago. Parts have been added and removed to suit the times. Many times these edits have been made by a "vote". Since man has "free-will" these "votes" represent the will of man, not God. You have been had.
You said: He might have called it "Eden."
As we know, God left the possiblity of sin open in Eden. That's why we're in the mess we're in. God could have, if He wanted, made Eden without the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so that no sin was possible. But He chose to give us free will, which we promptly used to sin against Him.
"I believe that if God had designed life, rather than letting it happen at random, he would have done a much better job."
You are blaming the wrong "god". This flesh age is not about man's perfection, only one has passed through this flesh age in perfection.
NO, that's not what I said, I didn't say it was man I said it was SIN
Can you grasp the difference?
God help you, because it's for sure reason can't reach you.
Reason? There is nothing more reasonably than belief in God
Hmmm....so we're supposed to take advice from people (The New Republic) who want us to fail?
By the way, I can agree that Intelligent Design and Creationism are not matters of science. I would submit, however, that neither is Evolutionism, on the same grounds. I frequently see statements from evolutionists about how Creationism or ID are not science and why, but rarely if ever do I see evidence offered that evolutionism is any different.
Since God knew when he created man that they would sin, he created that sin. There was no free will since it was all determined when God created man.
When God created man, he knew he was also creating the BTK murderer and all the pain he would inflict on those innocent victims.
I understand. Thanks.
You must be new to these threads.
Hence communism which mass murdered several times more than all the above combined.
Are you kidding?
Was there some part of this you didn't understand?
Thanks for the explanations and the introduction to Intelligent Design!!!
Nor mine. Science doesn't phase me in the least until science steps directly on my toes as in abortionists claiming that unborn babies are "clumps of cells" and stem cell researchers claiming that embryos are not human life so they should be able to get the government to take my money to support their bad habit of creating human life to destroy it.
I'm neither an ID'er nor an Evolutionist but I can observe both intelligent design and evolution and thus recognize both as facts. I'm just a Catholic who believes Gods greatest gift to man on this Earth is free will and the greatest gift to mankind is the offer of salvation.
I'm from the Bob Ross School of Creation, which is to say that I believe this is all a "happy accident."
But I can easily reconcile this with my faith in God. The trick is, sometimes a parable is just a parable.
Without the ability to make a a bad choice, to have HARD choices to make, how do you grow, how do you become a full person, a mature, self-reliant, trustworthy and confident adult, and not just a spolied child?
That ability to make bad choices -- that's sin. Without that ability to make real choices by ourselves, we'd all be wimps, babies, nothings.
Yeah a perfect design of independent intelligent entities seems to need that "sin" so as to allow those entities the ability to mature, to become full standing adults.
Why wouldn't Intelligent design folks work in labs?
I believe that being omniscient means knowing only that which can be known. God being omnipotent, can create whatever He wants, including creatures with free will. How free is free will if God already knows how it will be used? God need not, and I believe did not, have created automatons. My feeling is that He gave us free will, so that when we believed in Him and worshiped Him, it would be our own voluntary act, rather than something caused to happen. Kind of like when your kids tell you they love you without you making them do it, it feels so good. This obviously ain't science, of course.
I enjoy reading Sitchin's books and give him credit for being one of the best and most readable experts on ancient civilizations and biblical archeology as well as understanding early language BUT...
There is one more planet in our solar system, orbiting beyond Pluto but nearing Earth periodically; Advanced "Extraterrestrials -- the Sumerians called them Anunnaki, the Bible Nefilim -- started to visit our planet some 450,000 years ago; And, some 300,000 years ago, they engaged in genetic engineering to upgrade Earth's hominids and fashion Homo sapiens, the Adam.
His absurd genetic engineering by extraterrestrials from a way past Pluto planet is contrary to common sense and contemporary genetics. The modern human genetic line traces back to 200,000 or slightly less years, it's only been the last 85,000 years that existing humans left Africa and 60,000 years that any humans settled in the fertile crescent and there's no trace of any genetic engineering in the meantime. There's never been any genetic engineering of modern humans (making all ancient astronaut fables rubbish) and definitely not in the time frame of Sumeria, Babylon or Egypt.
1. Darwin did not found the theory of evolution. It was being discussed from before when he was in short trousers, but most people thought it happened because some Intelligence was Designing it to happen.
What Darwin (and wallace, and some Scot forester) did was say it could happen Naturlly, by variation and environmental Selection,
Whereupon everybody struck their forehead with their palm and said "D'oh!"
2. So Darwin proposed a test which would have falsified his Theory, establishing it to be one of Science. Not just a made-up untestable fantasy like ID.
Why did Noah's flood happen and why was Noah and his family the only ones fit to survive?
It was called the teleological view as of a few years ago. The argument that a watch being so intricate, there must be a watch maker...
Before reading this, I thought that was the inteligent design argument. Outa touch I guess. Couldn't figure what the fuss was about.
When God created man, he was creating you and he knew whether you would pray, how many times and what for. Since this was all known to God before you were born, you had no free will.
That's your belief,not mine.
Hoaving said that, an article in the New Yorker, called, MASTER PLANNED, Why intelligent design isn't", that is meant to play down intelligent design, actually, IMHO, describes some of the science behind it. Here's one example:
Michael J. Behe, a professor of biological sciences at Lehigh University (and a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute), is a biochemist who writes technical papers on the structure of DNA. He is the most prominent of the small circle of scientists working on intelligent design, and his arguments are by far the best known. His book Darwins Black Box (1996) was a surprise best-seller and was named by National Review as one of the hundred best nonfiction books of the twentieth century.Darwins' Black BOx makes a lot more of this particular avenue and is good reading of you are really interested in what a fairly prominent bio-chemist thinks in this regard.
Not surprisingly, Behes doubts about Darwinism begin with biochemistry. Fifty years ago, he says, any biologist could tell stories like the one about the eyes evolution. But such stories, Behe notes, invariably began with cells, whose own evolutionary origins were essentially left unexplained. This was harmless enough as long as cells werent qualitatively more complex than the larger, more visible aspects of the eye. Yet when biochemists began to dissect the inner workings of the cell, what they found floored them. A cell is packed full of exceedingly complex structureshundreds of microscopic machines, each performing a specific job. The Give me a cell and Ill give you an eye story told by Darwinists, he says, began to seem suspect: starting with a cell was starting ninety per cent of the way to the finish line.
Behes main claim is that cells are complex not just in degree but in kind. Cells contain structures that are irreducibly complex. This means that if you remove any single part from such a structure, the structure no longer functions. Behe offers a simple, nonbiological example of an irreducibly complex object: the mousetrap. A mousetrap has several partsplatform, spring, catch, hammer, and hold-down barand all of them have to be in place for the trap to work. If you remove the spring from a mousetrap, it isnt slightly worse at killing mice; it doesnt kill them at all. So, too, with the bacterial flagellum, Behe argues. This flagellum is a tiny propeller attached to the back of some bacteria. Spinning at more than twenty thousand r.p.m.s, it motors the bacterium through its aquatic world. The flagellum comprises roughly thirty different proteins, all precisely arranged, and if any one of them is removed the flagellum stops spinning.
In Darwins Black Box, Behe maintained that irreducible complexity presents Darwinism with unbridgeable chasms. How, after all, could a gradual process of incremental improvement build something like a flagellum, which needs all its parts in order to work? Scientists, he argued, must face up to the fact that many biochemical systems cannot be built by natural selection working on mutations. In the end, Behe concluded that irreducibly complex cells arise the same way as irreducibly complex mousetrapssomeone designs them. As he put it in a recent Times Op-Ed piece: If it looks, walks, and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude its a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because its so obvious. In Darwins Black Box, Behe speculated that the designer might have assembled the first cell, essentially solving the problem of irreducible complexity, after which evolution might well have proceeded by more or less conventional means.
MOre comes from a prominent mathmatician and philosopher who is also well published. His books, The Design Inference", and, "No Freee Lunch" also provide good examples of the science driving this particular theory. From the same article in the New Yorker, these comments are made about this branch of study:
The other leading theorist of the new creationism, William A. Dembski, holds a Ph.D. in mathematics, another in philosophy, and a master of divinity in theology. He has been a research professor in the conceptual foundations of science at Baylor University, and was recently appointed to the new Center for Science and Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (He is a longtime senior fellow at the Discovery Institute as well.) Dembski publishes at a staggering pace. His booksincluding The Design Inference, Intelligent Design, No Free Lunch, and The Design Revolutionare generally well written and packed with provocative ideas.So...adding the other researcheres and scientists who line up on the intelligent design side of the equation...there is scince behind it. It is just a matter of whether you are inclined to believe that science or not and try and push its envelope furuther...or to try and punch holes in it...which, according to our limited science exist. Just like they do in the evolution theories.
According to Dembski, a complex object must be the result of intelligence if it was the product neither of chance nor of necessity. The novel Moby Dick, for example, didnt arise by chance (Melville didnt scribble random letters), and it wasnt the necessary consequence of a physical law (unlike, say, the fall of an apple). It was, instead, the result of Melvilles intelligence. Dembski argues that there is a reliable way to recognize such products of intelligence in the natural world. We can conclude that an object was intelligently designed, he says, if it shows specified complexitycomplexity that matches an independently given pattern. The sequence of letters jkxvcjudoplvm is certainly complex: if you randomly type thirteen letters, you are very unlikely to arrive at this particular sequence. But it isnt specified: it doesnt match any independently given sequence of letters. If, on the other hand, I ask you for the first sentence of Moby Dick and you type the letters callmeishmael, you have produced something that is both complex and specified. The sequence you typed is unlikely to arise by chance alone, and it matches an independent target sequence (the one written by Melville). Dembski argues that specified complexity, when expressed mathematically, provides an unmistakable signature of intelligence. Things like callmeishmael, he points out, just dont arise in the real world without acts of intelligence. If organisms show specified complexity, therefore, we can conclude that they are the handiwork of an intelligent agent.
For Dembski, its telling that the sophisticated machines we find in organisms match up in astonishingly precise ways with recognizable human technologies. The eye, for example, has a familiar, cameralike design, with recognizable partsa pinhole opening for light, a lens, and a surface on which to project an imageall arranged just as a human engineer would arrange them. And the flagellum has a motor design, one that features recognizable O-rings, a rotor, and a drive shaft. Specified complexity, he says, is there for all to see.
Dembskis second major claim is that certain mathematical results cast doubt on Darwinism at the most basic conceptual level. In 2002, he focussed on so-called No Free Lunch, or N.F.L., theorems, which were derived in the late nineties by the physicists David H. Wolpert and William G. Macready. These theorems relate to the efficiency of different search algorithms. Consider a search for high ground on some unfamiliar, hilly terrain. Youre on foot and its a moonless night; youve got two hours to reach the highest place you can. How to proceed? One sensible search algorithm might say, Walk uphill in the steepest possible direction; if no direction uphill is available, take a couple of steps to the left and try again. This algorithm insures that youre generally moving upward. Another search algorithma so-called blind search algorithmmight say, Walk in a random direction. This would sometimes take you uphill but sometimes down. Roughly, the N.F.L. theorems prove the surprising fact that, averaged over all possible terrains, no search algorithm is better than any other. In some landscapes, moving uphill gets you to higher ground in the allotted time, while in other landscapes moving randomly does, but on average neither outperforms the other.
Now, Darwinism can be thought of as a search algorithm. Given a problemadapting to a new disease, for instancea population uses the Darwinian algorithm of random mutation plus natural selection to search for a solution (in this case, disease resistance). But, according to Dembski, the N.F.L. theorems prove that this Darwinian algorithm is no better than any other when confronting all possible problems. It follows that, over all, Darwinism is no better than blind search, a process of utterly random change unaided by any guiding force like natural selection. Since we dont expect blind change to build elaborate machines showing an exquisite coördination of parts, we have no right to expect Darwinism to do so, either. Attempts to sidestep this problem by, say, carefully constraining the class of challenges faced by organisms inevitably involve sneaking in the very kind of order that were trying to explainsomething Dembski calls the displacement problem. In the end, he argues, the N.F.L. theorems and the displacement problem mean that theres only one plausible source for the design we find in organisms: intelligence. Although Dembski is somewhat noncommittal, he seems to favor a design theory in which an intelligent agent programmed design into early life, or even into the early universe. This design then unfolded through the long course of evolutionary time, as microbes slowly morphed into man.
Is it written that every human in the flesh has free will?
I don't think so.
Anything complex becomes "the great designer did it"
Anything not too comples is known to be not too complex because it's already been figured out.
When God created man, he was creating you and he knew whether you would pray, how many times and what for. Since this was all known to God before you were born, you had no free will.>>>
God also knew every possible scenario of what would happen in your life. You still chose it. Because GOD knew that you would oneday type here on FR doesnt mean he made you do it, god also knew that you maybe could be typing on DU instead of FR. So who made that choice for you? Because GOD knew doesnt mean GOD made you, there is an incredible amount of difference them and its an incredibly silly argument.
I think the crack pots are those who can look at the wonders all around us, and believe it all just happened. Sounds very fairy taleish to me.
If someone tried to say the auto in their driveway just formed itself out of all the crap they had failed to clean out of the garage. Those who call us crack pots would call that person a crack pot too.
We know who the real crack pots are, regardless of their well oiled propaganda machine and the diplomas on the walls of their abettors.