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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: antiRepublicrat
IIRC an ID book in question in the Dover case was originally a creationist tract, re-edited for ID mainly by making all the God references vague.

The book was 'Of Pandas and People'. The major re-editing work was search-n-replace s/God/Designer/g.

681 posted on 12/13/2005 12:31:15 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: js1138; betty boop; cornelis
Thank you for your reply!

My remark at 631 ("all attempts of science to unseat philosophy notwithstanding") speaks to the inclination of many in the science community to suggest that knowledge gained through science is more valuable or certain than knowledge gained through philosophy instead of the other way around.

682 posted on 12/13/2005 12:32:53 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Fester Chugabrew

Lay people often misinterpret the language used by scientists. And for that reason, they sometimes draw the wrong conclusions as to what the scientific terms mean.

Three such terms that are often used interchangeably are "scientific law," "hypothesis," and "theory."

In layman’s terms, if something is said to be “just a theory,” it usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even lack credibility. But in scientific terms, a theory implies that something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true.

Here is what each of these terms means to a scientist:


Hypothesis: This is an educated guess based upon observation. It is a rational explanation of a single event or phenomenon based upon what is observed, but which has not been proved. Most hypotheses can be supported or refuted by experimentation or continued observation.

[this actually matches ID very well]

Theory: A theory is more like a scientific law than a hypothesis. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers. One scientist cannot create a theory; he can only create a hypothesis.

In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

The biggest difference between a law and a theory is that a theory is much more complex and dynamic. A law governs a single action, whereas a theory explains a whole series of related phenomena.

An analogy can be made using a slingshot and an automobile.

A scientific law is like a slingshot. A slingshot has but one moving part--the rubber band. If you put a rock in it and draw it back, the rock will fly out at a predictable speed, depending upon the distance the band is drawn back.

An automobile has many moving parts, all working in unison to perform the chore of transporting someone from one point to another point. An automobile is a complex piece of machinery. Sometimes, improvements are made to one or more component parts. A new set of spark plugs that are composed of a better alloy that can withstand heat better, for example, might replace the existing set. But the function of the automobile as a whole remains unchanged.

A theory is like the automobile. Components of it can be changed or improved upon, without changing the overall truth of the theory as a whole.

Some scientific theories include the theory of evolution, the theory of relativity, and the quantum theory. All of these theories are well documented and proved beyond reasonable doubt. Yet scientists continue to tinker with the component hypotheses of each theory in an attempt to make them more elegant and concise, or to make them more all-encompassing. Theories can be tweaked, but they are seldom, if ever, entirely replaced.

683 posted on 12/13/2005 12:33:43 PM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Fester Chugabrew
To deduce an intelligent agent from the presence of organized matter that behaves according to predictable laws is not a deduction wholly without merit.

As a belief or logical exercise, maybe even as a hypothesis, it's just fine. I've never said it's illogical to believe or propose ID, just that it is not part of natural science. Or, rather, nobody has been able to present it in a way that is compatible with natural science. Maybe that'll happen, I don't know.

684 posted on 12/13/2005 12:37:22 PM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: Gumlegs

By ascribing detail to the "stuff," namely organization and predictbility.

As it happens, I notice the air I breathe because I'm allergic to much of what it carries.

Is it all you think about? How about gravity. You may say it is "natural," but why? Is it because it is really natural, or only because you've lived with it all your life? The distinction between natural and supernatural is arbitrary, moreso than the distinction between species. It is not a scientifc distinction, but a semantic one that depends upon each observer.

Intelligent design explains nothing, it predicts nothing, and it has nothing to do with science.

As I said, intelligent design predicts organized matter that behaves according to predicatable laws will be found. That is far more than nothing. It fairly well fits everything. Take a single drop of water out of the ocean and descibe all of its attributes. The fact you can see it in the first place is but one small sign that it is designed. It's organization and predictability can be described in great detail.

Can you state something that ID doesn't explain?

Not yet. Can you enumerate something science can do with out making use of either intelligence or design or some combination of the two?

685 posted on 12/13/2005 12:37:40 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: dead

Of course, Darwin himself asked: "Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind...?"

686 posted on 12/13/2005 12:43:21 PM PST by GOPPachyderm
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To: Gumlegs
Behe denied this. Under oath.

That's his prerogative. He may actually mean what he says, and he may be right. But I'm curious as to the nature of the oath he swore in the first place. Do you have a copy of the oath he took? Maybe we could take a look at it.

687 posted on 12/13/2005 12:45:02 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: antiRepublicrat

Whether one uses the layman's term for theory or the more refined, scientific version, one is still dealing with a body of knowledge that is tentative.

688 posted on 12/13/2005 12:48:22 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: narby
If I understand your post correctly, articles indicating that there may be another explanation [other than random chance and time] will drive you out of the conservative movement. I think an honest appraisal of issues presented in books such as Lee Strobel's 'Case for Evolution' might at least raise the possibility that there could be a force other than chance at work in the incredible complexity of the universe.
689 posted on 12/13/2005 1:00:46 PM PST by GOPPachyderm
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To: Aquinasfan
My mistake. Replace "Galileo" with "Copernicus."

That's OK; I think most folks know who you meant.

("that Prussian astronomer" was a clue.)

690 posted on 12/13/2005 1:01:58 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: antiRepublicrat
Everybody knows the Invisible Pink Unicorn (PBUHH) created the universe. Reject your pagan pasta god or be cleaning out Her stables for eternity!

Does the IPU have stripper factories or beer volcanoes?

691 posted on 12/13/2005 1:07:53 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: Fester Chugabrew
Whether one uses the layman's term for theory or the more refined, scientific version, one is still dealing with a body of knowledge that is tentative.

True, but your way lacks any scientific credibility, and therefore should not be taught in a science class. It's only an issue of classification. Teaching it in philosophy or religion class is fine with me.

If you allow ID in the science class, you're paving the way for astrology in an astronomy class, or crystal therapy in med school. If it weren't for the scientific process, we'd all still think polywater and N-rays were real. So if you want people to accept ID as science, allow it to go through the established process rather than redefining the process to match your needs.

692 posted on 12/13/2005 1:09:19 PM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: dread78645
Does the IPU have stripper factories or beer volcanoes?

That's immoral. Only pagan religions would have that. Although I admit it sounds a lot more fun than running around naked in Her Fields.

Excellent proselytization. Looking for a convert?

693 posted on 12/13/2005 1:15:57 PM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: so_real; Virginia-American; dread78645; js1138; PatrickHenry
"Finding an ERV in both orangutans and chimps that was not also present in gorillas and people would disprove the currently-accepted family tree of the primates."

You might find this study interesting. How about an ERV found in chimps, gorillas, baboons and macaques but not found in orangutans, siamangs, gibbons or humans? [...] Then consider that the primate-ERV studied is found in Old World Monkeys, not in gibbons or orangutans, and then in gorillas and chimps, but not in humans ...

Sorry, but this is apples-and-oranges.

Virginia-American was speaking of shared ERVs which have the characteristics which show that they are due to a single insertion event (i.e., are monophyletic). If any of these would be found in a pattern (across lineages) which is grossly "out of whack" with other evolutionary indications of phylogeny, in a way that can't be reconciled, this would indeed be a severe problem for evolutionary theory.

The paper you link, however, is about *polyphyletic* patterns (i.e., ones which clearly entered different parts of the primate "tree" at different times during different infection invents) of a specific ERV among primates, and as such is not the kind of potential "killer" for evolutionary theory that a mismatch in a *monophyletic* ERV would be.

As the paper mentions, it does raise some interesting questions which researchers are seeking answers for, but most conceivable answers to those questions will pose no challenge to evolutionary theory (nor require any modification to it).

Of course, this was already pointed out to you when you linked the same study in an earlier thread.

694 posted on 12/13/2005 1:31:48 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: antiRepublicrat; Alamo-Girl
If you allow ID in the science class, you're paving the way for astrology in an astronomy class, or crystal therapy in med school.

I consider that to be a non-sequitur of sorts. Qualified, precise language, as well as mild disclaimers, are honest ways of presenting what we know and why we claim to know it. Such things belong in a science class precisely because it is fraught with philosophical and religious underpinnings. To extrapolate from the admittance of ID the admittance of every disjointed notion is to introduce a red herring. There is a measured and mature way for both atheistic and theistic assumptions to be brought to bear if/when necessary.

The debate is overblown in a way, because even though most school textbooks present only the atheistic point of view, they do so only slightly, yet without good reason; they state with confidence things that should be stated with qualification, but they do so within an exceedingly limted framework, little of which is germane to empirical science.

As for astrology in astronomy class, I think that would be a good way to introduce the subject since astronomy stands on the shoulders of those who first observed the stars and tried to make sense of them. That is to say, astrology contains a fair amount of science. And by now you know I grant a wide meaning to the word "science," similar to that of Alamo Girl.

695 posted on 12/13/2005 1:32:17 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Alamo-Girl
So there is no specific reference to Herod the Great, other than a reference to the reign of the Maccabis as 'the great horn'? That's hardly very compelling, is it?

The Messiah is ubiquitous in Jewish prophesy, and it would not be unusual for the author of Enoch to invoke him.

696 posted on 12/13/2005 1:36:11 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
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To: js1138
I'm not a real scientist . . .

I beg to differ. Or does one have to be paid to observe and comment coherently upon the universe in order to be a "real" scientist?

697 posted on 12/13/2005 1:38:15 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Oztrich Boy
Actually, Australians consider that that worked.

And I'd agree with them.

698 posted on 12/13/2005 1:42:40 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
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To: JohnnyM; js1138
But I freely admit, that one's world view or religious persuasion effects their definition of morality. So the elephant in the room is which is right.

Define "right" as you are using it in this sentence. Be specific and precise. If you can clarify the exact nature of your question better, I'll be glad to address it.

If there is a right answer, then there MUST be a standard that makes it so.

What's wrong with the ones I listed?

What makes your definition or standard of morality right and that of the terrorist wrong?

I asked you first -- try answering it. Furthermore, it appears that you have more necessity of answering that question, since *you're* the one with the morality based on the same standard as that of the terroists. Mine has far less need to distance itself from that of the terrorist, since mine is based on different foundations entirely.

699 posted on 12/13/2005 1:43:07 PM PST by Ichneumon
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To: GOPPachyderm
Evolution is not "random chance and time". That you believe it is demonstrates that you don't understand the underlying principles. Not unlike a typical campus leftist doesn't understand the fundamentals of capitalism, and so dismisses it as irrelevant.

The "design" part of evolution is the decision of which creature survives, and which does not. That is a very powerful generator of information, as demonstrated by experiments at Caltech's Digital Life Lab.

Besides the validation that evolution theory increases information content, the verification of common descent is very well established by a few thousand ERV virus sequences in common among humans and other primates. We understand how these virus segments get inserted into the genome, and these common sequences are proof that we share common ancestors millions of years ago. Not merely share common ancestry with another species, but that species such as New World Monkeys and humans have a single *individual* we are both descended from. I.E. Great, Great ...... Grandpappy.

That's the facts. If someone wants to explain some other way we share common ancestry with an individual primate millions of years ago, fine. But I have no problem with evolution, and I won't tolerate lying to school children and telling them that evolution is false.

700 posted on 12/13/2005 1:46:09 PM PST by narby (Hillary! The Wicked Witch of the Left)
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