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Future of Conservatism: Darwin or Design? [Human Events goes with ID]
Human Events ^ | 12 December 2005 | Casey Luskin

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

Thus when Krauthammer thrashes the Kansas State Board of Education for calling Neo-Darwinian evolution “undirected,” it seems that it is Kansas -- not Krauthammer -- who has been reading the actual textbooks.

Moreover, by preaching Darwinism, Krauthammer is courting the historical enemies of some of his own conservative causes. Krauthammer once argued that human beings should not be subjected to medical experimentation because of their inherent dignity: “Civilization hangs on the Kantian principle that human beings are to be treated as ends and not means.”4 About 10 years before Krauthammer penned those words, the American Eugenics Society changed its name to the euphemistic “Society for the Study of Social Biology.” This “new” field of sociobiology, has been heavily promoted by the prominent Harvard sociobiologist E.O. Wilson. In an article titled, “The consequences of Charles Darwin's ‘one long argument,’” Wilson writes in the latest issue of Harvard Magazine:

“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

This view of “scientific humanism” implies that our alleged undirected evolutionary origin makes us fundamentally undifferentiated from animals. Thus Wilson elsewhere explains that under Neo-Darwinism, “[m]orality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. … [E]thics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed on us by our genes to get us to cooperate.”6

There is no doubt that Darwinists can be extremely moral people. But E.O. Wilson’s brave new world seems very different from visions of religion and morality-friendly Darwinian sugerplums dancing about in Krauthammer’s head.

Incredibly, Krauthammer also suggests that teaching about intelligent design heaps “ridicule to religion.” It’s time for a reality check. Every major Western religion holds that life was designed by intelligence. The Dalai Lama recently affirmed that design is a philosophical truth in Buddhism. How could it possibly denigrate religion to suggest that design is scientifically correct?

At least George Will provides a more pragmatic critique. The largest float in Will’s parade of horribles is the fear that the debate over Darwin threatens to split a political coalition between social and fiscal conservatives. There is no need to accept Will’s false dichotomy. Fiscal conservatives need support from social conservatives at least as much as social conservatives need support from them. But in both cases, the focus should be human freedom, the common patrimony of Western civilization that is unintelligible under Wilson’s scientific humanism. If social conservatives were to have their way, support for Will’s fiscal causes would not suffer.

The debate over biological origins will only threaten conservative coalitions if critics like Will and Krauthammer force a split. But in doing so, they will weaken a coalition between conservatives and the public at large.

Poll data show that teaching the full range of scientific evidence, which both supports and challenges Neo-Darwinism, is an overwhelmingly popular political position. A 2001 Zogby poll found that more than 70% of American adults favor teaching the scientific controversy about Darwinism.7 This is consistent with other polls which show only about 10% of Americans believe that life is the result of purely “undirected” evolutionary processes.8 If George Will thinks that ultimate political ends should be used to force someone’s hand, then I call his bluff: design proponents are more than comfortable to lay our cards of scientific evidence (see "What Is Intelligent Design") and popular support out on the table.

But ultimately it’s not about the poll data, it’s about the scientific data. Regardless of whether critics like Krauthammer have informed themselves on this issue, and no matter how loudly critics like Will tout that “evolution is a fact,” there is still digital code in our cells and irreducibly complex rotary engines at the micromolecular level.

At the end of the day, the earth still turns, and the living cell shows evidence of design.

1 See Charles Krauthammer, “Phony Theory, False Conflict,” Washington Post, Friday, November 18, 2005, pg. A23.
2 See George Will, “Grand Old Spenders,” Washington Post, Thursday, November 17, 2005; Page A31.
3 Douglas Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology (1998, 3rd Ed., Sinauer Associates), pg. 5.
4 Quoted in Pammela Winnick “A Jealous God,” pg. 74; Charles Krauthammer “The Using of Baby Fae,” Time, Dec 3, 1984.
5 Edward O. Wilson, "Intelligent Evolution: The consequences of Charles Darwin's ‘one long argument’" Harvard Magazine, Nov-December, 2005.
6 Michael Ruse and E. O. Wilson "The Evolution of Ethics" in Religion and the Natural Sciences, the Range of Engagement, (Harcourt Brace, 1993).
7 See
8 See Table 2.2 from Karl W. Giberson & Donald A Yerxa, Species of Origins America’s Search for a Creation Story (Rowman & Littlefield 2002) at page 54.

Mr. Luskin is an attorney and published scientist working with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Wash.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: crevolist; humanevents; moralabsolutes; mythology; pseudoscience
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To: cornelis

No, I am firmly commited to dualism until someone can explain how the thought becomes action. Once the nerves are fired up there is no problem, but how does the thought activate the nerves? Parallelism seems to be another word for dualism.

641 posted on 12/13/2005 11:28:23 AM PST by RightWhale (Not transferable -- Good only for this trip)
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To: hosepipe
"Science is composed of scientists.. And some make Vestal Virgins out of them(scientists).. whom were in fact/became whores.. and thats no BS.."

More nonsensical gobbledygook. I am still waiting for a coherent response to my question about how an untestable assumption (divine interference) is better than a testable one (natural, physical causes)?
642 posted on 12/13/2005 11:29:43 AM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: Fester Chugabrew; PreciousLiberty
Mine is wide enough to accomodate any intelligent observer who is free to accept or reject any positive statement about the universe based on the evidence at hand.

The more restrictive definition is better. Anybody can run around creating any sort of crazy explanation for anything, from crop circles to the Bermuda Triangle. But mere statement doesn't come with any credibility. Who's to know what's credible? Do we teach crystal therapy in med school because some new-age people think it works? A scientific process is in place in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Even long-standing theories have had to be changed over time or partially ignored due to a constant attack from within the scientific community. We've punched holes in Newton's gravity theory, but we did it by offering a testable, falsifiable, predictive scientific theory that better explained the same phenomena.

Thus you can be sure than ideas that went through the scientific vetting process unscathed are at least pretty damned good explanations for what we see around us. The longer the theory's been up, the more credit it has.

The rest, ID included, is chaff.

643 posted on 12/13/2005 11:30:36 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Fester Chugabrew

"At any rate, Intelligent Design is well-qualified to be called a "theory," because it explains the data, which, if it were without design, would be incomprehensible to reason and senses."

But I already told you, MY theory of Unintelligent Design (The universe just *is*) also predicts that matter is organized and acts according to predictable laws. My theory has just as much explanatory power as yours. Why is yours better? What evidence can be put forth to choose between the two?

644 posted on 12/13/2005 11:32:27 AM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: hosepipe
Sorry, that last question was for Cornelis, not you. I misread who posted to me. Busy day. :)
645 posted on 12/13/2005 11:35:10 AM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
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To: RightWhale
I see, as in the division between the sensible and the intelligible.

I use dualism in the sense that they are the fundamental bases of the universe. Your example: matter and spirit (or whatever terms you've chosen).

I think temporality splits the world of spirit. The only duality I recognize(not necessarily antagonistic) is between the temporal (or extensive) and the eternal. Obviously the temporal is not also eternal.

646 posted on 12/13/2005 11:39:19 AM PST by cornelis
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To: Fester Chugabrew
one criteria is that the organized matter will retain its organization from moment to moment, age to age

Then you've already had it falsified. The fossil record shows changes, and we have observed population adaptation to the environment through genetic mutation over generations. Things do not remain the same.

Now you could say that natural selection is one of your designed predictable laws, and that everything follows that. However, in doing so you would be admitting that the theory of evolution is valid. Your argument would be faith instead of science, but science would also not be able to disprove it.

free to enumerate those instances where science can take place without the presence of either intelligence, design,

Now you're going off again to attack science in general. Why do you attack that which you so desperately want to be a part of, but can't be? The real definition of "sour grapes."

647 posted on 12/13/2005 11:41:05 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Fester Chugabrew
At any rate, Intelligent Design is well-qualified to be called a "theory," because it explains the data, which, if it were without design, would be incomprehensible to reason and senses.

So if it is "well-qualified," what predictions does ID make?

How is ID falsifiable?

648 posted on 12/13/2005 11:42:42 AM PST by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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To: antiRepublicrat

Certainly there is something to be said for agreement in numbers when it comes to science. Doubtless there are cases where observers have been deluded and come up with highly improbable theories. But it seems that when consensus is given as a reason to accept or reject an arugment one might just as soon declare that objective reality is not dependant upon the number of people who accept or reject its claims.

ID and it opposite are two legitimate ways of doing science. Both begin with assumptions about the universe that are beyond proof, but neither is wholly unreasonable. I would posit that 99% of the world's population holds to one or the other of these assumptions, or a combination of the two.

If you can find an individual who seriously espouses spaghetti monster theory, please let me know.

649 posted on 12/13/2005 11:43:22 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Same goes for the theory of evolution. There is nothing in the universe that cannot be explained by "natural" causes.

The theory of evolution doesn't vaguely cite "natural causes" in the same way ID vaguely cites "intelligent causes". The theory of evolution presents specific natural causes.

650 posted on 12/13/2005 11:44:15 AM PST by bobdsmith
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To: cornelis

I don't view the finite and the infinite as a basic division of nature, but merely a thought construct. The finite we can handle in our logic. The logic of the infinite seems to involve abstraction, that is, removing all content from the form.

651 posted on 12/13/2005 11:44:58 AM PST by RightWhale (Not transferable -- Good only for this trip)
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To: CarolinaGuitarman
MY theory of Unintelligent Design (The universe just *is*) also predicts that matter is organized and acts according to predictable laws.

Is this a theory you genuinely espouse, or is it one you fabricated for the sake of argument? If it is the latter, what's your point? Have you somehow demonstrated that the presence of organized matter functioning under predicatable laws cannot be explained by intelligent design?

652 posted on 12/13/2005 11:45:34 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Fester Chugabrew
So? That makes the theory even more applicable, since it encompasses the practice of science itself.

It makes it non-applicable as science.

You realize there's a term for the claim that science is competent to analyze it's own grounds, or in general is philosophically omni-competent. This is called "scientism". You can endorse this if you wish, but you'll find yourself at odds with virtually all antievolutionists, and most mainstream scientists as well.

653 posted on 12/13/2005 11:45:47 AM PST by Stultis (I don't worry about the war turning into "Vietnam" in Iraq; I worry about it doing so in Congress.)
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To: Fester Chugabrew; Gumlegs
The ubiquity of intelligent design is such that, like the air you breathe, it goes unnoticed.

Gumlegs, are you laughing yet? I am.

Admittedly it's a beautiful concept, a wonderful faith. I just wish he'd quit trying to call it science and quite bandying around the vernacular "theory" as if he were referring to scientific theory.

654 posted on 12/13/2005 11:46:19 AM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Actually, that makes it the best theory then, because it best fits most of the evidence.

What I emphasised was that it would fit any kind of evidence. That's the problem.

You apparently believe some other force is responsible for the presence of organized matter and predicatable laws that govern it. What scientific cause do you propose other than an almighty, intelligent agent?

I don't assume either way

655 posted on 12/13/2005 11:47:37 AM PST by bobdsmith
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To: js1138
I guess if we talk long enough we can find something to agree on.

True enough. It's what we disagree on that makes it difficult (and a test of virtue).

656 posted on 12/13/2005 11:49:35 AM PST by cornelis
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To: bobdsmith
The theory of evolution doesn't vaguely cite "natural causes" . . .

As if the theory of intelligent design could not possibly cite a specific intelligent agent! It is actually capable of more specificity than the theory of evolution. It posits a single, almighty, intelligent agent, not vague "forces of nature;" not a concoction of natural selection, random mutations, unguided forces, etc.

657 posted on 12/13/2005 11:49:44 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: bobdsmith
What I emphasized was that it would fit any kind of evidence. That's the problem.

It's not a problem at all where the common definition of theory is concerned. Go ahead and cite the definition again, then show me where there are words stating that a theory must be falsifiable or provable, or that there must be evidence available to contradict it.

658 posted on 12/13/2005 11:54:08 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: RightWhale
I don't view the finite and the infinite as a basic division of nature

No, I don't either, especially not before we distinguish among several kinds of infinities. But this pushes us to the long-standing distinction between ens rationis and ens reale

I won't commit the fallacy in any ontological argument which jumps from our concepts to reality. This is the very mistake that scientism and theological dogmatism makes. Their A-is-A chant makes A stands for everything. But epistemology is only one aspect of the universe. Therefore all concepts are adequations.

659 posted on 12/13/2005 11:55:45 AM PST by cornelis
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To: caffe
Can any of you "real scientists" defend this statement?

What's to defend? The sun is hot, and powered by fusion. The nearest galaxies are immensely far away, so that light from them takes hundreds of thousands of years to reach us. Evolution has happened on this planet. I find the evidence for all of these statements to be so compelling that they are facts, as surely as any other fact that I am aware of (barring solipsism). The theory behind them may be debatable, and indeed scientists can be found to debate on the details of all of them, but that doesn't make the facts any more dubious.

660 posted on 12/13/2005 11:56:46 AM PST by Thatcherite (F--ked in the afterlife, bullying feminized androgenous automaton euro-weenie blackguard)
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