Skip to comments.Theory of Evolution -- Not Intelligent Design -- Is Most Like Creationism
Posted on 09/29/2005 1:41:16 PM PDT by dukeman
Dover, Pennsylvania finds itself in the national spotlight as the putative successor to Dayton, Tennessee, the rural community where the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial played out on the national stage.
This small, blue-collar community in rural Pennsylvania finds itself in the crosshairs of an ongoing and heated national debate about the propriety, even constitutionality, of public schools offering an alternative to and critical examination of the theory of evolution.
Last year, the Dover School Board voted to adopt a policy that makes students aware that evolution is a theory and not fact. The policy also states: "Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin's view."
Representing 11 parents who object to the policy, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have sued the school district claiming the policy violates the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. The trial began on Monday.
Armed with a 1987 Supreme Court decision declaring that teaching creationism in public schools is a violation of the Establishment Clause, the ACLU will argue that intelligent design is creationism repackaged. But is it really?
Creationism is an a priori argument drawn from a particular interpretation of the Genesis account of creation. In the context of a public classroom, that means the God of the Bible is the starting point and assumed ground of life's origin and the origin of the cosmos. Drawing from a literal reading of Genesis, creationists postulate a "young earth" and six 24-hour days of creation. All empirical data are subject to and analyzed within this interpretive grid.
Intelligent design, however, is an a posteriori argument; it is the inference drawn from examination of complex structures in living organisms and the universe. Instead of attributing the design evident in these structures to God, or undirected processes and natural selection, the intelligent design theorist merely posits an intelligent cause behind life and the cosmos. The inference is not held as the only possible explanation, merely, for now, the most plausible.
As a matter of science, intelligent design theory is much more disciplined and modest in its claims than either the theory of evolution or creationism. Intelligent design theory merely infers, but does not attempt to identify, a designer from evidence that even evolutionists agree has the appearance of being designed. Unlike creationism and the theory of evolution, intelligent design theory does not make dogmatic religious or philosophic claims about the origin of life because such claims are beyond the competence of science to make.
Creationism and the theory of evolution, unlike intelligent design theory, are insular in their approach to science. Creationists reason downward from an article of religious faith and conduct their science within that paradigm; the creationist's article of faith does not admit of any alternative. Evolutionists, too, reason downward from an article of faith and conduct their science with the same dogmatic zeal and selectiveness of their creationist counterparts -- there is simply no room at the inn for dissidents or competing theories.
Like creationism, then, the theory of evolution is an a priori argument drawn from the evolutionist's article of faith which holds that the origin of life and the cosmos can only be explained by undirected natural processes. This is a metaphysical claim, not scientific fact.
Still, it is not in dispute that one may infer an evolutionary process from the data, but that is not what the evolutionist does; he does not infer it, he begins with it, asserts it as an article of faith, and then he proceeds to squeeze all data through the colander of his metaphysic.
The evolutionist stomps his feet screaming that the theory of evolution is as well established as the theory of gravity. But that simply is not true. And that is why critical examination of the theory of evolution should be permitted in public schools. By all accounts there are many holes in Darwin's theory. That does not make his theory wrong, but it does counsel that the extravagant and absolutist claims made on behalf of the theory should be rejected.
Good science requires an open mind.
There is more than a little irony, then, in the evolutionist's attempt to paint intelligent design theory with the creationist brush when it is the evolutionists who have the most in common with the creationists.
Both creationists and evolutionists have as their starting point a belief in the infallibility of their creeds (though I think the creationists have the better part of the argument here). To be sure, their creeds are antithetical to each another, but it is the reception of their respective creeds among the faithful as infallible and exclusive explanatory tools that binds them together, removing them from the realm of science and placing them squarely in the middle of religion and philosophy.
Creationism requires a student to first affirm the creed that God created the heavens and the earth, and the theory of evolution requires that a student affirm the creed that there is no God. Both are exclusive claims, neither is scientific, neither can be empirically verified.
Intelligent design theory, on the other hand, does not require that any creed about the origin of life and the cosmos be affirmed, it merely points to the evidence and suggests that the best explanation (though not the only explanation) for the design found in nature and the cosmos is a designer, whoever or whatever that may be.
It is hard to imagine that Dover's students would not benefit from being told that there are gaps in Darwin's theory and that intelligent design theory offers a competing explanation for the origin of life and the cosmos. Failure to provide such an explanatory note implicitly gives state approbation to evolution's creed that there is no God.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of this current struggle will be. It has been reported that the trial is going to last six weeks. I hope not. It cannot possibly take six weeks to make the point that inferring a designer from things that appear to be designed is not a religious exercise or an endorsement of religion.
If the judge permits a trial of that length on the narrow question before him, he will likely be looking to make a final judgment about the origin of life and the cosmos. This would be heady stuff -- even for a federal judge.
I'd be interested in how they can prove that experimentally.
I appreciate you post. I have heard of this Casmir Effect. Here is my question: since the metal plates are within ranges of atomic radii, is it not more plausible to say that there is an electrostatic attraction, not a particle popping in out of no where?
Between neutral plates?
Length scales are important. Mind you, I'm not saying our chemistry students don't also often goof up on them. :-)
This statement is completely meaningless. Since there's no definition of god other than "some undefined but omnipotent force", how do you introduce that into a credible scientific discussion?:
"Anything we don't understand == Maybe God Did It.
All this stuff we seem to understand pretty well == God (for some reason) didn't do it.
Unless he did and is just messing with us."
And this is different from creationists how?
Someday you may come to realise that science is a method and not a list of facts and observations.
So, why is it such a threat to say there are other options? You just said it yourself.
Mylo: So your [sic] in real good company with those who like to ignore and reject real science to pursue their ideological dogma.
From here It appears that evolution has its own ideological dogma.
THOU SHALT NOT QUESTION!
You can question evolution on Free Republic (and reap the benefits of being called all sorts of names) but YOU CANNOT QUESTION EVOLUTION IN A CLASSROOM! . . . typical government education . . .
*buzzzz* The ToE makes no claims about the origin of life or the cosmos.
Exactly. This strip happened to come up today on the artist's "rapid-fire reruns with commentary", just after I had finished posting on this thread. Her commentary is:
Originally aired 12/08/03: I think this strip is probably among the top ten that were linked all over and grabbed people's attention. I wish I could say what I was thinking when I drew it, but honestly I have no idea other than I was frustrated in general and this seemed like a really funny outlet for the frustration. Plus Captain Planet parodies are fun. The few strips that come up as parody strips were usually triggered by some sort of random conversation with someone in my household, or just weird thoughts in my head. Regardless, this is still one of the most popular strips I've done.She has also penned some hilarious "Grammar Nazi" episodes (with the Grammar Nazi being the *good-guy*), but I can't post them here because they include (humorous) profanity.
Knowing that my hunch is right only makes me appreciate the parody more. Captain Planet was derided by people concerned about science education for the way it preached New Age, anti-science solutions to complex problems. Watching it being turned around in this way is incredibly gratifying.
One problem I've always had with Darwin's theory is the cross species thing. You mention in post 31 that it has been observed. You have provided many links to bolster your arguments; but not to this one. Could you provide one, please? Because, as of the 60s, one species evolving into another had never been observed.
You may want to turn down your combativeness a click or two; it doesn't serve you.
I "somehow feel justified" how/what/huh?
Ich, You basically demand I have a award winning scientific thesis or else I'm wrong.
Not at all. I just expect that if you make claims, you should have actual evidence and valid reasoning to back it up, otherwise you're just presenting your presumptions as if they were facts.
If I say a premise and do not provide exhaustive evidence, it is obvious that I believe it is valid based on my learning and that I am appealing to a similar understanding on the readers part.
You're dodging -- no one has asked you to "provide exhaustive evidence". We've only asked you to explain what you're basing your conclusions on, and you're not able/willing to do even that.
In essence you're asking us to just take your word for the assertion that the validity of your belief, and the reliability of your learning, are trustworthy.
This "my declaring it should be good enough" attitude is especially troubling when a) your assertions fly in the face of pre-existing research and evidence, and b) you get awfully defensive and start making excuses when asked to explain or support your naked assertions, or asked how you reconcile your claims with previous findings to the contrary.
Someday, I will have every little contention cited (a side project), but of course on FR during a study break I cannot do this.
Ah, yes, the old "plenty of time to make repeated assertions, and plenty of time to make excuses, but never a free moment to provide a shred of support" defense. I hope you don't think you're being original, I've seen that one countless times before.
Look, if your statements were just based on your presumptions about how much genetic difference there "must" have been between humans and chimps, and not based on any actual study of the matter, it's not the end of the world to say so.
I'm also a little concerned about how you've worded your vow to "have every little contention cited". Creationists in general too often make the mistake of thinking that "citations" are sufficient support for an assertion. They're not. Just because you can cite someone who says the same thing, that doesn't mean that the claim is necessarily supportable. Instead, citations should only be used to point the reader to a source wherein *actual* support for the assertion (e.g., a valid experiment which sufficiently supports the assertion and been found to be sound by others) can be found. Being able to "cite every little contention" is not the important thing. Indeed, you can dispense with citations entirely if you can adequately support your contentions directly. The other important thing that creationists too often overlook is that citing or supporting an assertion in isolation is useless if the assertions don't fit together as a coherent whole, *and* fit the entire body of known evidence. Creationists are famous for "explaining" one thing entirely in isolation, but in a way that conflicts with almost everything *else*. It may look good at first glance, but it's remarkably stupid to anyone who stops to think about it for a moment. My favorite example (although there are *thousands*) is the AiG page which attempts to explain the Coconino layer of the Grand Canyon in terms of The Flood. They postulate that the "swirls" found in the Coconino formation are not actually wind-blown sand dunes, but instead are water-rippled sands formed in the final waning days of The Flood. I suppose that's *vaguely* plausible by itself, but AiG sort of "forgets" to reconcile that hypothesis with the fact that there are another SIX HUNDRED VERTICAL FEET OF ADDITIONAL GEOLOGIC LAYERING ON TOP OF THE COCONINO which AiG's "explanation" has just made impossible. See here for my critique of AiG's idiocy.
Someday in the future, probably after december break, I will have finished my website on how scientific observations (but not the method itself) point to God/Jesus.
And, of course, you can't spare a few precious seconds to provide a single example...
Would you be interested in having us help critique it before you publish it? Are you truly interested in making sure that your material is valid and reliable and doesn't have any fallacious reasoning? I hope so, because there's enough claptrap on the web already.
And this is a change of subject anyway -- the claims I've been discussing with you do not concern your assertions about "observations pointing to God/Jesus". The actual point of contention involved your assertions concerning evolutionary biology.
Until then, I will concede that I do not have the time to aduquetely and scientifically challenge your massive postings
Why would you feel the need to "challenge" them? Do you actually spot any flaws in them? Or do you just want to attack them because you don't want to accept the conclusions?
In other words, are you motivated by a desire for accuracy and validity and discovery -- or by a desire to protect your existing presumptions?
(which I suspect were to some degree pre-generated, which is wise).
Only that one obviously pasted section entitled "Prediction 5.8: Genetic rates of change". The rest I composed on the fly in response to your posts, and that includes rereading the study I presented selected tables from.
That said, I am a biochem student so I really appreciate your attempts to educate me.
Unlike patrichenry and mylo--who seem more interested in self-justificatio--you seem genuinely interested in educating others and debating your own understanding.
I am, but I disagree with your conclusions concerning PatrickHenry and Mylo. Their styles may differ from mine, but I don't believe their goals do.
I look forward to speaking with you in the future.
Patrick Henry, You might be knowledgable about science and naturalism/theism and science--I don't know enough about you. But from what I've seen on this post and others, your dismissive and condescening remarks do not earn you the respect your potential knowledge should deserve you.
I don't think PH is seeking "respect", he's interested in shaking people out of their comfortable but unsupportable preconceptions. That's a prerequisite for being able to learn.
For what it's worth, I usually greet misstatements with little more than a link or two to what I think is accurate information. My operational assumption is that a newbie to an evolution thread is simply misinformed, and needs to be exposed to better information than he's encountered previously. I recognize that sometimes these misstatements are made in ignorance, their confused posters having blindly copied such material from notoriously unreliable creationist websites. A newbie should be allowed a few mistakes. Often the information is accepted in silence, and the newbie departs, better informed than when he arrived.
It's only when someone has a history of posting erroneous material, and the corrective information that's provided him is consistently brushed aside with the usual creationist accusations about fascism, communism, racism, etc., that I change to a different mode. And even then, my disparaging remarks are directed at the false material and fallacious arguments that have been posted.