Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

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
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 701-720721-740741-760 ... 1,121-1,137 next last
To: Fester Chugabrew
As if the theory of intelligent design could not possibly cite a specific intelligent agent!

But it deliberately avoids doing that.

It is actually capable of more specificity than the theory of evolution. It posits a single, almighty, intelligent agent

Almighty? No I don't think ID does specify that, in fact it doesn't specify anything about the designer at all, not even whether there is just one designer. I've heard supporters say that the designer isn't necessarily god - it could be aliens.

721 posted on 12/13/2005 3:08:18 PM PST by bobdsmith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 657 | View Replies]

To: Fester Chugabrew
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.

Right the common definition of theory, and I was thinking we were talking about the scientific definition. I apologize for assuming that.

722 posted on 12/13/2005 3:09:38 PM PST by bobdsmith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 658 | View Replies]

To: PreciousLiberty
And that is its biggest problem - no scientist has observed this "single, almighty, intelligent agent", OR any evidence that he/she/it exists or took any action.

The evidence for an intelligent designer is indirect, much as the evidence for the director in a play is indirect while watching the play. There is ample evidence of intelligent design, as demonstrated by the ubiquitous presence of organized matter that behaves according to predictable laws.

723 posted on 12/13/2005 3:12:05 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 703 | View Replies]

To: Ichneumon
Maybe you're just not expressing yourself clearly enough, but your statement as written is trivially incorrect.

Actually it isn't. It was perhaps too brief due to time constraints but it was neither trivial nor incorrect.

First, you seem to think that "the strong sacrificing themselves for the weak" is some sort of contradiction to natural selection, and the reason for this seems to be the common misunderstanding of "survival of the fittest" as "survival of the *strongest*" (which it is not) at the *expsense* of the weak (which it is not).

Incorrect. We were discussing social populations. In that context my proposition was simply this, the strong spending disproportionate resources to ensure the survival of the weak works against natural selection as a matter of fact. Heritable genes that otherwise would be selected out by natural selection proliferate in that social population. Allele frequencies are thus changed in that population by design, that design mechanism being morality.

Likewise, immorality can have the same effect.

Second, a mother animal sacrificing herself to save her children is certainly an example of "the strong sacrificing themselves for the weak", and yet not only is it hardly the "opposition to natural selection" you claim, it is actually a *classic* example of evolutionary "selfishness" -- protecting the perpetuation of one's genes.

Yeah, and some animals eat their own. But neither fact has anything to do with what I was saying.

Do you have any examples that aren't so vaguely overgeneralized as to be obviously fallacious?

Fallacious is in the eye of the beholder Ichy. In this case it's stuck in your eye.

Furthermore, make sure that any new examples you might offer don't fall under the evolutionary instinct of "kin selection". Note also that the instincts of kin selection also apply to sacrificing oneself for other members of a close-knit group, for a variety of reasons.

Kin selection? :-} I like that one too. Is it heritable?

If you're looking for examples of counter-survival morality, you'd do best looking elsewhere than the variations on "protecting the tribe" which you've been unsuccessfully mining so far.

I go where my mind takes me. But thanks for the advice.

724 posted on 12/13/2005 3:21:07 PM PST by jwalsh07
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 395 | View Replies]

To: bobdsmith
I've heard supporters say that the designer isn't necessarily god - it could be aliens.

Or a committee of bureaucratic aliens.

This ID thingy is starting to make sense ....

725 posted on 12/13/2005 3:24:45 PM PST by dread78645 (Sorry Mr. Franklin, We couldn't keep it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 721 | View Replies]

To: Alamo-Girl; Doctor Stochastic
A string of numbers extracted from the extension of pi would falsely appear random where they are in fact highly determined.

Something to think about:

Consider the number

It is highly determined, in fact one can come up with a formula for the n-th digit.

Given any number, it is obvious that it appears infinitely many times in this decimal.

It is conjectured that pi has the same property; it is known that almost all real numbers do.

Dr S: Anything to add to AG's assertion? or mine?

726 posted on 12/13/2005 3:32:58 PM PST by Virginia-American
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 529 | View Replies]

To: bobdsmith
I was thinking we were talking about the scientific definition.

I assume that is the definition evos have been working with. Again, an intelligent designer is a reasonable way to explain the presence of organized matter that behaves according to predictable laws. I have yet to see an evo suggest a better alternative to fit the evidence, and I have yet to see any evo enumerate those things science can accomplish without the presence of either intelligence, design, or some combination of the two.

Nothing in the scientific definition of "theory" suggests there must be evidence to confute it in order for it to be a theory. Even so, I told you that the evidence which best refutes the theory of intelligent design is matter that is not organized and does not behave according to predictable laws. So far there has been little of it forthcoming, black holes perhaps being an example.

727 posted on 12/13/2005 3:33:00 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 722 | View Replies]

To: bobdsmith
I've heard supporters say that the designer isn't necessarily god - it could be aliens.

There are indeed a number of suggestions. On the face of it there are good reasons to infer that the intelligence is omnipotent, omniscient, and singular.

728 posted on 12/13/2005 3:39:41 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 721 | View Replies]

To: Ichneumon
If an idea isn't "scientifically testable", it's because it has *no* real-world consequences.

The presence of organized matter that behaves according to predicatable laws is indeed scientifically testable. It is the stuff of science. To infer from the presence of the same that intelligent design is involved with its presence is no less reasonable than assuming some other agent, which agent (or agents) on the part of evos seems a shade scrappy. Intelligent design is a theory that well explains the whole of the universe, not to mention the practice of science itself.

729 posted on 12/13/2005 3:45:04 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 704 | View Replies]

To: jwalsh07
Now stop the nonsense.

So you agree, given definition 2, there is no problem with the idea of reciprocal altruism?

Now, given that we need to keep tabs on the behavior of others in order to be able to engage in reciprocal altruism without being continually cheated; and we need to be able to convince others we ourselves should be trusted, what is the problem with the idea that we should have evolved innate senses of cheating, fairness, trustworthiness, shame, and loyalty? And, since the most important kind of reciprocal altruism is between a spouse and his/her partner, jealousy and fidelity?

I'm not claiming these supersede, or are alternatives to, those we may add or justify using a system of ethics; just that we should recognize what we all start off with as human beings.

730 posted on 12/13/2005 3:45:43 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 719 | View Replies]

To: Alamo-Girl
The entire reason the book was dated after 37 B.C. was because the scholars presumed that prophesy is impossible, i.e. mentioning the end of the Maccabee reign would date the manuscript after 37 B.C., the rise of Herod the Great. Subsequent carbon-dating set the Qumran copy's date as far back as 186 B.C. (before Herod the Great and before the Maccabees as well).

Actually, based on my brief reading, there was argument about this even before the carbon dating.

It does seem, though, that any inferences they made based on a very stretched reading of the manuscript were questionable to start with. Based on a quick reading of 89 and 90, and the history of the Jews in the Maccabean period, I don't see much relationship between the two.

731 posted on 12/13/2005 3:52:17 PM PST by Right Wing Professor
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 716 | View Replies]

To: bobdsmith; Stultis
Theory: a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; an organized system of accepted knowledge that applies in a variety of circumstances to explain a specific set of phenomena; "theories can incorporate facts and laws and tested hypotheses"; "true in fact and theory"


Note the absence of any suggestion in the above definiton - the same one evos keep posting- that, in order to be a theory, there must also be evidence that can refute, or falsify it.

732 posted on 12/13/2005 3:52:54 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 722 | View Replies]

To: Stultis
Why don't you tell me why in the world do you think that scientists in all fields and disciplines spend countless hours and dollars devising and performing observations and experiments?

From the general theory of intelligent design science engages in specific fields of study, much of which enjoys or requires the rigorus application of falsifiable hypotheses, etc. The best science does not shy away from entertaining propsitons that may appear absurd on the face of it. The more reliable science is engaged in direct observation, which places the notion of a 4.5 billion-year-old earth, among other notions like the spaghetti monster, on relatively shaky ground.

733 posted on 12/13/2005 4:01:35 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 708 | View Replies]

To: narby

I'm sure you're aware that there are many scientists who have come to a different opinion than the one you stated in your post. These viewpoints should be presented to our schoolchildren. Promoting unquestioning faith in evolution is not the antithesis to lying to schoolchildren.

734 posted on 12/13/2005 4:03:09 PM PST by GOPPachyderm
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 700 | View Replies]

To: Fester Chugabrew
Fester quoting my definition of a theory?

Will wonders never cease! I must have posted it to him enough times that something finally sank in.

735 posted on 12/13/2005 4:08:46 PM PST by Coyoteman (I love the sound of beta decay in the morning!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 732 | View Replies]

To: Alamo-Girl
...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

I tend to agree with this view. I would say philosophy has tools for evaluating knowledge, just as mathematics does, but I do not see philosophy adding knowledge.

736 posted on 12/13/2005 4:10:03 PM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 682 | View Replies]

To: Fester Chugabrew
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.

I gotta hand it to you Fester. Every time I think you can't make a sillier, more uninformed post than your previous one, you go ahead and top yourself. I think you would be more comfortable living amongst the reality-based community instead of FR.

737 posted on 12/13/2005 4:11:42 PM PST by RightWingAtheist ("Why thank you Mr.Obama, I'm proud to be a Darwinist!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 695 | View Replies]

To: Coyoteman

If I had known it was "your" definition of a theory I would have posted something else. In view of the fact that intelligent design fits comfortably under your definition maybe you'd like to change it.

738 posted on 12/13/2005 4:14:36 PM PST by Fester Chugabrew
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 735 | View Replies]

To: Fester Chugabrew
"The presence of organized matter that behaves according to predicatable laws is indeed scientifically testable."

And is just as much evidence for unintelligent design as it is for intelligent design. There is no way to choose between the two scientifically.

"To infer from the presence of the same that intelligent design is involved with its presence is no less reasonable than assuming some other agent, which agent (or agents) on the part of evos seems a shade scrappy."

Not so. Natural selection is observable. Mutations and genetic recombination are observable. The fossil record is observable. The genetic code is observable. Speciation has been observed. The evidence for evolution is PHYSICAL. The evidence for a deity/God/intelligent designer is NOT physical. ID is not capable of being examined by science, until someone can come up with some physical evidence for the existence of the alleged designer.
739 posted on 12/13/2005 4:15:51 PM PST by CarolinaGuitarman ("There is a grandeur in this view of life...")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 729 | View Replies]

To: Fester Chugabrew
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?

One can be a science writer without any credentials at all, but I would say that at a minimum, a "real" scientist must be paid to do research or must publish in refereed journals. Some people would qualify posthumously.

740 posted on 12/13/2005 4:18:12 PM PST by js1138 (Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 697 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first previous 1-20 ... 701-720721-740741-760 ... 1,121-1,137 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson