Skip to comments.Future of Conservatism: Darwin or Design? [Human Events goes with ID]
Posted on 12/12/2005 8:01:43 AM PST by PatrickHenry
Occasionally a social issue becomes so ubiquitous that almost everyone wants to talk about it -- even well-meaning but uninformed pundits. For example, Charles Krauthammer preaches that religious conservatives should stop being so darn, well, religious, and should accept his whitewashed version of religion-friendly Darwinism.1 George Will prophesies that disagreements over Darwin could destroy the future of conservatism.2 Both agree that intelligent design is not science.
It is not evident that either of these critics has read much by the design theorists they rebuke. They appear to have gotten most of their information about intelligent design from other critics of the theory, scholars bent on not only distorting the main arguments of intelligent design but also sometimes seeking to deny the academic freedom of design theorists.
In 2001, Iowa State University astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez’s research on galactic habitable zones appeared on the cover of Scientific American. Dr. Gonzalez’s research demonstrates that our universe, galaxy, and solar system were intelligently designed for advanced life. Although Gonzalez does not teach intelligent design in his classes, he nevertheless believes that “[t]he methods [of intelligent design] are scientific, and they don't start with a religious assumption.” But a faculty adviser to the campus atheist club circulated a petition condemning Gonzalez’s scientific views as merely “religious faith.” Attacks such as these should be familiar to the conservative minorities on many university campuses; however, the response to intelligent design has shifted from mere private intolerance to public witch hunts. Gonzalez is up for tenure next year and clearly is being targeted because of his scientific views.
The University of Idaho, in Moscow, Idaho, is home to Scott Minnich, a soft-spoken microbiologist who runs a lab studying the bacterial flagellum, a microscopic rotary engine that he and other scientists believe was intelligently designed -- see "What Is Intelligent Design.") Earlier this year Dr. Minnich testified in favor of intelligent design at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial over the teaching of intelligent design. Apparently threatened by Dr. Minnich’s views, the university president, Tim White, issued an edict proclaiming that “teaching of views that differ from evolution ... is inappropriate in our life, earth, and physical science courses or curricula.” As Gonzaga University law professor David DeWolf asked in an editorial, “Which Moscow is this?” It’s the Moscow where Minnich’s career advancement is in now jeopardized because of his scientific views.
Scientists like Gonzalez and Minnich deserve not only to be understood, but also their cause should be defended. Conservative champions of intellectual freedom should be horrified by the witch hunts of academics seeking to limit academic freedom to investigate or objectively teach intelligent design. Krauthammer’s and Will’s attacks only add fuel to the fire.
By calling evolution “brilliant,” “elegant,” and “divine,” Krauthammer’s defense of Darwin is grounded in emotional arguments and the mirage that a Neo-Darwinism that is thoroughly friendly towards Western theism. While there is no denying the possibility of belief in God and Darwinism, the descriptions of evolution offered by top Darwinists differ greatly from Krauthammer’s sanitized version. For example, Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins explains that “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” In addition, Krauthammer’s understanding is in direct opposition to the portrayal of evolution in biology textbooks. Says Douglas Futuyma in the textbook Evolutionary Biology:
“By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous.”3
“Evolution in a pure Darwinian world has no goal or purpose: the exclusive driving force is random mutations sorted out by natural selection from one generation to the next. … However elevated in power over the rest of life, however exalted in self-image, we were descended from animals by the same blind force that created those animals. …”5
Mr. Luskin is an attorney and published scientist working with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Wash.
Heathen infidel blasphemer! Everybody knows the Invisible Pink Unicorn (PBUHH) created the universe. Reject your pagan pasta god or be cleaning out Her stables for eternity!
I have yet another theory. It is that the entire universe is a construct of my over-wrought imagination. Someone asked what my theory predicts, and I said, "That organized matter behaving according to predicatable [sic] laws will be found."
An interesting wager and I'm not entirely sure about how to proceed as I'm unclear about the nature of the interrogation. Ethics is rather a complex of many elements, and your scenario will require more details before it can get a good answer. Some things that are missing are, kinds of virute, and kinds of consequences. Also, the nature of temporality and eternity will have to be settled. Does your question assume that there is nothing eternal?
Heretic! You will be forever boiled in a giant vat of the holy garlic-pepper-sausage sauce!
(It's my personal favorite.) :^)
Of course, Galileo produced some pretty convincing evidence that the moons of Jupiter orbited Jupiter. This upset the assumption that everything orbited the earth.
One of the main differences between Galileo and Copernicus.
Ah, so it is. Obviously, my theory is correct.
Of course, what's missing from all this is an explanation of how and why that particular prediction is a necessary consequence of my cat-creation theory being correct. In the case of the Big Bang, the theory was that the universe expanded in such-and-such a way. Well, the prediction from that specific event was that there should be some leftover radiation as a consequence of the specific mechanism by which the universe expanded. Notice that there is some sort of logical connection between the theory and the prediction - the prediction is not a complete non sequitur in relation to the theory. Asserting that Big Bang theory predicts that my dryer will have lint in it doesn't work, because there's no reason to accept that dryer lint is a necessary consequence of the Big Bang.
Or if you think it is a necessary consequence, it's incumbent upon you to explain how and why that consequence necessarily results from your theory - simply asserting that it does is meaningless. Ya gotta put some chips on the table if you want to play the game.
No more than evos need to nail down some other cause. The theory of evolutioon is a general statement supporting the evidence at hand. It makes "obvious general statements" in view of the givens with which its proponents operate.
Assume for a moment that death is akin to snuffing out a candle - once your bodily functions cease, you are no more. Will you behave yourself prior to that event, or not?
Please enumerate the activities science can engage without the presence of intelligence, design, or any combination of the two.
Actually, genetic engineering is just cut and paste with existing materials. It is not design any more than stringing Shakespeare quotes together is writing.
What ID lacks, and what it could genuinely use, is understing of how the materials work, how the blueprints lead to organisms. You really can't do design without understanding your materials.
I am puzzled why design advocates aren't conducting research toward demonstrating that design is possible.
I think you have answered the question. Anyone who hedges on the question of whether they would behave well without fear of punishment or expectation of reward really doesn't have any internalized moral compass.
I am assuming you are referring to design and intelligence in the phenomena being studied. Are you suggesting that all phenomena are designed?
You will not be allowed to proselytize edible idolatry to our children. Let the holy wars begin, noble equine vs. Spaghetti-Os. Bring it on!
You mean, will I behave virtuously or not?
That depends on the concept virtue, i.e. understand its origin and application. Again, you'll need more details to get a good answer.
By your own definition of virtue, naturally. You currently have a sense of what is "moral" versus what is "immoral", correct? Will you continue to live according to that sense, or not?
Who is hedging? And on what point?
Just answer the question. Would you behave differently if you were certain there would be no personal consequenses for being altruistic or selfish?
No, this is not self-evident. You have already removed one of the conditions for virtue in the initial question and thereby excluded my understanding of elements involved in virtue. So I need your understanding of virtue.
Methodological naturalism is the stance almost all of us adopt almost all the time these days. We put more confidence in physicians than in faith healers; in meteorologists rather than seers; in radar rather than divination. Our experience is, that as knowledge and understanding of our universe grows, so the domain of the supernatural shrinks.
To the contrary, I assert that the natural is part of what you would consider "supernatural" and indeed, the natural declares that God exists. For instance, that there was a beginning, that the universe is intelligible at all, the unreasonable effectiveness of math, the existence of information in the universe, that order has arisen out of chaos (the void), willfulness, autonomy, semiosis and so on.
What you are speaking to is causation. Where you have looked you have found physical causation. Science depends on physical causation to understand nature, so that is not surprising.
But I doubt you have weighed the full concept of causation. For instance, were it not for A, C would not be. Were it not for space/time, events would not occur, etc. Or as Physicist remarked on another thread, existence exists.
To that I would add that everything we observe ought to be understood in that context. Intentionally not doing so, leaves one in worse shape than a blind man in the elephant metaphor (from post 529)
Considering your credentials and fields of interests which I have discerned from your postings on the forum over the years, I also suspect there are many anomalies you have not yet weighed.
For instance, you mentioned prophesy. Here's a simple one which is not part of either a Jewish or Christian canon. Consider that the book of Enoch was dated by Laurence before the rise of Christianity, most probably at an early period of the reign of Herod because it prophesied the reign of King Herod the Great which began 37 B.C. and was quoted by Jesus Christ and His apostles. In other words, the presumption of scholars is that prophesy cannot be true and therefore if something prophesied actually happened, it must have been written after the event mentioned. That is a false presupposition which leads to error. In this case, a copy of the manuscript was found in the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran fragment 4Q208 and was dated with a paleographic age 200 B.C. and was carbon-dated, calibrated 166-102 BC and 186-92 BC.
We could examine other prophesies in Scripture - but to do so would involve much more discussion, sources, etc. But if you are interested in such things, we can set them up and proceed to examine them one at a time.
You can put aside your whip. This is a discussion forum, not an interrogation.
I said to Bedfellow that the question is unclear on the starting points. If you have a deductive argument, conclusions will differ, depending on the starting points.
Nah. Look at medicine. Once the plague was a supernatural visitation. Now it's a medical condition. One excludes the other.
The fact that you have to ponder this says something about you as a person.
In any case, a medical condition does not exclude divine agency.
Would you behave any differently than you do now?
I'll take that as a compliment. Dogma and simplification (scientific and philosophical) is politically dangerous. And the compliment belongs to Socrates, who taught me to ponder.
A good scientific theory must explain the data, but it must also be vulnerable to the data. The validity of the theory must be put at risk when we make observations or do experiments. There must be things that, apart from the theory in question being true, we would reasonably expect to observe, but which are prohibited by the theory.
However you said here, in response to your correspondent's complaint that ID "is compatible with *any* pattern" of evidence, "that makes it the best theory then, because it best fits most of the evidence."
This is wildly perverse. It's saying that a theory can be consistent with any possible observation -- that is be invulnerable to the data and therefore untestable, and still be good theory. This is most emphatically not the case.
When organized matter is found to behave in accord with predicatable laws, then it is reasonable to attribute this to intelligent design. What is intelligent design but taking matter and then organizing it to behave according to predictable laws?
Actually this is the opposite of ID. Propents of ID claim to infer "intelligent design" in precisely those case that (they assert) CANNOT be accounted for by the natural behavior in the form of predictable laws!
What's more you're taking a presupposition shared BY all scientific theories (the uniformity of natural law) and saying it's a prediction OF a particular theory.
Supernatural is by definition what is not natural.
Consider that the book of Enoch was dated by Laurence before the rise of Christianity, most probably at an early period of the reign of Herod because it prophesied the reign of King Herod the Great which began 37 B.C. and was quoted by Jesus Christ and His apostles.
Please identify the verses from Enoch that prophesy Herod the Great.
" In any case, a medical condition does not exclude divine agency."
It's not that calls to divine action aren't possible after the natural causes of the medical condition are discovered, it's that they are no longer necessary. Why bring in a supernatural explanation when a natural, testable one will do perfectly well?
If the intersection of sets A and set B is zero, and if the union of A and B is C, and we move elements into set A, from within C, then we must subtract the same elements from B.
In any case, a medical condition does not exclude divine agency.
It does if you accept a naturalistic explanation for disease.
Who says? Why carry the attribute of "vulnerability" into the definition of theory? A theory by defininition is simply a way of explaining data. Read the definition again, and tell me how you wring "vulnerability" out of it.
If you look back at the earlier years of the last century, some supporters of Darwinian evolution supported eugenics and other efforts to "improve the race." So did plenty of other people whose notions of humanity's origins were not derived from Darwin. After Hitler, most people rejected such ideas of eugenics, selective breeding, or the elimination of the "unfit." They saw clearly where such ideas could lead. That held for Darwinians, non-Darwinians, and anti-Darwinians.
Now we've come full circle. New techologies create new possibilities and some rush to embrace them. Some Darwinian evolutionists are in the lead, but they aren't the only ones. It will take some time to sort things out. It's doubtful that Darwinians will ever be won over to intelligent design. The question is whether we can adopt a moral consensus that can prevent dangerous policies from being put into effect. There are extreme Darwinians and extreme anti-evolutionists. Most people fit in somewhere in the middle, and are more concerned with doing the right thing in practice, rather than with asserting this or that vision of the universe.
If there is only one kind of causality, one will do perfectly well. My experience with nature is that there is more than one kind of causality.
This isn't dogma and it isn't simplification. It's a simple question about what kind of person you are.
To the extent that you can understand situations and determine outcomes, would you behave differently if the difference between helping or hurting others had no consequenses for you?
So? That makes the theory even more applicable, since it encompasses the practice of science itself.
Evolution (the fact, not the theory) is due to changes in a population's gene pool, with changes more adaptable to the environment more likely to live on and pass those changes to the next generation (the theory).
That statement puts forth a cause. "The organization of matter that behaves under predictable laws" does not.
I told you this is not an interrogation. If you are willing to discuss what virtue is, I can talk with you. If not, fine.
I find it amusing that you can't pin down creationists or semi-creationists on the simple question of their natural inclination towards selfish or altruistic behavior.
The notion that everything will fly apart without an omniscient authority handing out rewards and punishments just has to be projection.
I think the answer is he can think of no rational reason, besides the dictates of a Deity, to make any moral decisions. Morality in that case is subjective, not objective. It's either the subjective whims of a deity, or it is the subjective feelings of an individual. But there can no objective basis to being *moral*. The question seems nonsensical to a subjectivist.
Perhaps there is a hierarchy of causes, but that again is something different than exclusionary causes. What other kinds of causality are there? Aristotle lists four.
The tyranny of logic is in its being locked within the extreme limitations imposed by attempts at verbalized reasoning. The difference between true reasoning--that is by scanning all of the observations of a lifetime, in relation to any subject--and the verbalized constructs of formalized logic, is the equivalent of the difference between the modern computer and an old adding machine.
The reality, easily observable, is that Creation involved the creation of creatures, with a built in tendency to evolve. Hence the idea of a conflict is absurd. (To deny the tendencies that God gave his Creatures, is to deny the reality of Creation. The quest, again, of both science and religion is the same: To find and by implication to celebrate the truth.)
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
No, I've made an attempt to answer the questions based on Bedfellow's understanding of virtue. I will not conjure what he thinks virtue is. I only understand that we must deny eternal consequences to proceed.
This is a point that's easy to miss. Somehow.
This sort of thing reminds me of a bloodhound, nose to the trail, sniffing out his prey, following the spoor.... Everything else around the dog is screened out from the dog's consciousness. But that doesn't mean that only the prey and the spoor exist.
Thanks so much for your excellent essay/post, Alamo-Girl!
"Perhaps there is a hierarchy of causes, but that again is something different than exclusionary causes. What other kinds of causality are there? Aristotle lists four."
How does that make an untestable assumption (divine interference) better than a testable one (natural, physical causes)?
Eugenics, in one form or another, has been around for a long time. It didn't start with Darwin.
Greek warrior Spartan civilization. Weakling infants were left in the mountains to die.
The Republic, Book 5, Section 1. Plato recommended state-supervised selective breeding of children.
History of Australia. Before Darwin, England exiled criminals to purify the race.
" One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish, and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun. It is not a theory, and for pitys sake, lets stop confusing the philosophically naive by calling it so. Evolution is a fact"
BACK TO BASICS
Can any of you "real scientists" defend this statement?
Indeed, what does "virtue" or "morality" mean if the behavior is compelled by a whip in one hand, and a carrot in the other? Can we not make any behavior moral or virtuous merely by offering a reward for some aritrary behaviors and a punishment for others?
The person I'm criticizing is Dawkins, et al. I don't think he makes that distinction at all. His "method" tells him what is legitimate for him to be concerned with, and how he is to think about it. What the method does not cover does not exist for him.
Others recongize that free causality would not be testable as such. Between the two, the second is the health of a civilization and makes politics possible. That is why better is relative. But the denial of one for the other is an exclusion with consequence.
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