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Diluting Evolution

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The Bible, which has not been updated in over 2000 years, is most decidedly not a science book. Charles Darwin’s controversial 1859 bestseller, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, which is widely accepted by modern scientists as the prevailing theory with regard to the origins of life, is not an holy book. And intelligent design, which is not based upon any religious text, is really more about mathematical probability — that life/nature are far too complex to have come about randomly/accidentally — than it is about creationism or any particular theism.

Charles Darwin did an excellent job of documenting a scientifically verifiable and therefore plausible accounting of the biological and genetic connections between living things and the scientists who have followed in his footsteps have expanded upon and modified Mr. Darwin’s original theories as new discoveries have been made over the years. However, the theory of evolution is still incomplete — it has been a work in progress for almost 150 years — in that it does not actually explain that much about the origins of life on Earth.

Creationism is based upon the literal reading of the Book of Genesis, in which the Biblical God created the heaven and the earth, the day and the night, the land and the seas, the plants and the trees, the sun, moon and stars, the fishes and the animals and of course, man — “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27, KJV) — in six days, about 6000 years ago.

Intelligent design is supposed to help to bridge the gaps between what we already know and understand from scientific observation and experimentation, what we have not yet learned and those empirical concepts and spiritual ideas which we accept on faith in the meantime until new research and discoveries come to light. Intelligent design is simply an effort to apply critical thinking and practical experience to the question of whether the apparent design of nature is a genuine design of an intelligent agent or the product of an undirected process. Unlike creationism, intelligent design is agnostic regarding the source of the design and does not involve defending the Bible or any other religious scriptures.

Because the origin of life is still a gigantic question mark and much of what we understand of it requires various leaps of faith in natural and/or supernatural forces, the teaching of both evolution and intelligent design in schools is a way to allow for a scientific basis for the leaps of faith we make to ease our uncertainties without sacrificing proper scientific instruction or promoting or dismissing any particular religious belief.

These distinctions should be fairly easy to understand if one is intellectually honest and open-minded about the many questions that science has yet to answer completely, but distinguishing between them appears to be quite difficult for the people who are so set in their ways that they think of alternative viewpoints as sacrilegious to either their scientific doctrine or religious dogma.

What I find most ironic about the evolution/intelligent design/creationism issue is the zeal with which some evolutionists will attempt to quash any debate about the controversies surrounding the incompleteness of the work Mr. Darwin began over a century ago (Mr. Darwin passed on in 1882 but his theory of evolution is still evolving). Those who agree with the idea of teaching the controversy and contemplating the possibility of intelligent design are automatically — and unfairly — branded as religious zealots hoping to sneak Biblical instruction into public school science curricula, supposedly leading us down the slippery slope into a future in which our childrens’ science textbooks are taken away and burned so that they can be replaced with Bibles.

These evolution zealots have created a straw man (ostensibly to push him down their slippery slope) and are trying to make intelligent design stand for religious fanaticism so they can debate against that easy target, thus avoiding the challenge of having to explain deficiencies in the theory of evolution or having to acknowledge that a lot of educated people who are not religious fanatics believe that some sort of intelligent design is evident in nature. And they likely also wish to avoid discussing the fact that Mr. Darwin himself believed in a Creator, “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”

Meanwhile, the real religious zealots are not actually relevant to the controversy — even if some of them might be laboring under the delusion that they are — because they completely reject the theory of evolution in favor of the literal Biblical explanation of creation and, by the same measure, reject the idea of intelligent design as well. Sure, they’re fanatics, but at least they are honest about their closed-minded assertions with regard to evolution and intelligent design.

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About Margaret Romao Toigo

  • td

    Just because someone believes that scientific reasoning is the best way to answer questions of our origin, it does not make them a zealot. They just prefer to describe our reality using 1+1=2, not 1+X=2.

    And as much as suipporters of Intelligent Design would like to seperate themselves from the strict, literal bible thumping, christian right, you can’t.

    You can claim that the aim of Intelligent Design is solely to explain the complex nature of our planet, and point to unnanswered scientific enquiry as proof, but in the end all this is secondary to the ego of religion.

    Intelligent Design requires that some grand poobah, i’ll give him a name, God, intentionally created a giant universe, so that one small little blue dot could be formed, that billions of years down the road would provide the environment for an intelligent species to exist.

    What does this amount to? Not science. It’s just another way of saying:

    “I believe in God. And God believes in me. Therefore my life has a purpose.”

    Throw out all the science and it comes down to people wanting God to give them a purpose. The only difference between Intelligent Design and the bible is that Jesus didn’t save you in 0 bc, he came at the beginning of time and set your salvation in motion.

    If people want to have faith in a higher power because it gives them confort that’s fine. Buit stop trying to justify your faith by picking on science.

    If God could be proven, what’s the point of Faith?

  • Duane

    I wish I had more time to make fun of your post but I have to go to work. Just a few quick things….

    The Bible, which has not been updated in over 2000 years….

    I doubt that very much. Any biblical scholars out there?

    …the teaching of both evolution and intelligent design in schools is a way to allow for a scientific basis for the leaps of faith….

    As has been discussed exhaustively elsewhere on BC, the invocation of an intelligent designer falls way outside the purview of science.

    …to ease our uncertainties….

    It is not the aim of science to put us at ease. It is the aim of science to gain a thorough description of Nature, then to devise underlying principles that produce the observed phenomena.

    …the incompleteness of the work Mr. Darwin began over a century ago….

    Well, Ms. Toigo, that’s the nature of scientific advancement. It takes a long time, oh ye of little patience. Are you at all familiar with the history of science?

    Charles Darwin did an excellent job….

    Hehe. I’m sure he would be immensely flattered by your approval.

    Sorry for that last one. I just couldn’t resist taking a shot at your presumptuous tone.

    Nicely written essay, however. Carry on.

  • chipmunk stew

    “…thus avoiding the challenge of having to explain deficiencies in the theory of evolution or having to acknowledge that a lot of educated people who are not religious fanatics believe that some sort of intelligent design is evident in nature. And they likely also wish to avoid discussing the fact that Mr. Darwin himself believed in a Creator…”

    The problem with ID is less that it *proposes* a creator than that it attempts to undermine several thoroughly verified mechanics of evolution in the hopes that it *proves* a creator. (ID insists there is no proof of common ancestry among hominids, for example.) There is no reason to do this except to justify religious belief. To accept ID, you must discard the naturalist approach of science, at which point science itself falls apart. Faith is best left for the unknown. History is full of scientist believers who understood this.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    The problem with ID is less that it *proposes* a creator than that it attempts to undermine several thoroughly verified mechanics of evolution in the hopes that it *proves* a creator.

    Or worse, ID starts from the position [not theory, but belief] that a creator exists, and then looks for ways to interpret the world that coincides with that position. It’s not objective in the least, which is what it claims to be.

    Why is it that all people who believe in ID also believe in a creator, while the same is not true for evolution: some believe in a creator and some don’t.

    That’s the main problem right there. ID is the “science” of religion.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    check out today’s tom the dancing bug over at salon.com, where activists propose that water frezzing at 32 degrees is “only a theory”.

  • http://www.anti-everything.us a-[e]

    Straw men?

    Darwin’s books, while certainly influential, are not the current state or final say in evolutionary theory. Our understanding of evolution has advanced considerably since Darwin’s initial insights into biodiversity. ID-ers repeatedly draw their argument back to Darwin as means to ignore modern biology and avoid grappling with real data and issues.

    Evolution is explicitly about biological diversity. The questions of the origins of life and the origins of species are not the same question. Conflating these two questions seems to be a consistent strategy of both Creationist radicals and ID “theorists.” I guess it makes their work easier, though.

    The biggest straw man ID-ers are publicly battling is their false image of science. They mischaracterize theory as a random guess not based upon data. The irony is, of course, that ID-ers refuse to engage in anything remotely similar to science. Where do they operationalize their “theory”? Where do they test their hypotheses? No where. Rather, they assert that the world is “irreducibly complex” and spend the rest of their time flailing about to convince the public they’re right.

    If they want to argue about scientific theories, shouldn’t they at least *try* to do some science?

    There seems to be either a fundamental ignorance of how scientific inquiry is conducted or a willful misleading of the public to score a religious goal.

    The whole issue boils down to whether or not we should water down science course work with untestable religious assertions and other sorts of non-science.

    I think we should not.

  • http://turningeros.blogspot.com/ Girl with Boots

    Why is it that because science doesn’t have ALL the answers right NOW, it is assumed by the proponents of ID that those questions are not answerable by science? In the arena of scientific discovery I can only assume that we are practically new borns. Scientific exploration has only been around for 200 years or so. Imagine what it will be like in another 200 years. A thousand, ten thousand. (If we are around long enough.) Do we assume that because a three year old child doesn’t know how to read or do basic math at that point, that they will never learn to do those things? Of course not. We can’t expect science to have all the answers now.

  • Duane

    Good point, Girl with Boots (uh, shouldn’t your middle name be capitalized?). That’s sort of the point I was trying to make up in Comment #2, but you’ve managed to expound upon the thought most agreeably. People seem to want instant answers, then, when the answers don’t appear, like, yesterday, they get critical of science (i.e., scientists). “Hey, yer a trained perfessional sonteeist! Yer gittin’ paid ta know these thangs! I wan’ the answers, and I wannum now, galdernit!”

    Democritus made famous the concept of the atom about 2400 years ago, and it wasn’t until Einstein’s famous 1905 paper on Brownian motion that the concept had any sort of proof. That’s about 2200 and ninety eleven years, iffen ah did mah safferin kerreckly!

    I blame this attention-spanless attitude on MTV as much as anything else.

    — Duane (aka, Guy with no Gun)

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Intelligent design does not require a “grand poobah,” because if we contemplate the possibility that some intelligent agent (God, extraterrestrials or who knows what else) designed nature as we know it, then we must also contemplate the possibility that there was no intelligent agent and that nature as we know it came about via random events.

    Now perhaps the “invocation” (interesting word choice, Duane) of an intelligent designer falls outside the purview of science, but since when does the practice of speculation (which is the very first step of the scientific method) fall outside the purview of science?

    duane wrote: “It is not the aim of science to put us at ease.

    No, it is not. Perhaps I was not sufficiently clear with regard to how it is our leaps of faith that ease our uncertainties about our religious beliefs and the limits of our scientific knowledge.

    Duane wrote: “It is the aim of science to gain a thorough description of Nature, then to devise underlying principles that produce the observed phenomena.”

    Indeed it is. But we do not serve that aim by closing our minds to certain possibilities simply because they might not jibe with what we already know, as if our understanding of nature has not/cannot/will not evolve and change as new discoveries were/are/will be made.

    Open-mindedness is an essential element of the very nature of scientific advancement. And indeed, as history demonstrates, such progress does take time and patience.

    In the meantime, we employ leaps of faith to ease our impatience and keep us from losing our focus while we use our curiosity to speculate and form the basis of new hypotheses that inspire the new research and experimentation from which new theories emerge.

    From a scientific perspective, the hypothesis of intelligent design cannot presuppose the existence of a creator. A thorough discussion of intelligent design must also involve the supposition that there was no creator because all of the angles must be considered in the contemplation of the many questions that don’t yet have definitive answers.

    And much of the scientific process is asking and attempting to answer thus far unanswered questions like, “is the apparent design of nature the genuine design of an intelligent agent or is it the product of an undirected process of random events?”

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    then we must also contemplate the possibility that there was no intelligent agent and that nature as we know it came about via random events.

    But that is specifically what ID proponents say did NOT happen. Evolutionary theory claims it was all random, and ID directly opposes that point of view: it was designed by someone or something, it is so complext that it could not possibly BE random.

    That’s the crux of the ID argument: it does indeed require a creator, or grand poobah, if you will.

    A thorough discussion of intelligent design must also involve the supposition that there was no creator because all of the angles must be considered in the contemplation of the many questions that don’t yet have definitive answers.

    This will never happen because ID starts with the supposition that there IS a creator. What you’re describing makes a certain amount of sense, but it’s not the official ID party line.

  • Duane

    Margaret says: From a scientific perspective, the hypothesis of intelligent design cannot presuppose the existence of a creator.

    No, from a scientific perspective, one can frame any hypothesis one chooses. Scientists (real scientists) would be perfectly happy to entertain the ID hypothesis, if there were testable predictions that followed from it.

    But we do not serve that aim by closing our minds to certain possibilities simply because they might not jibe with what we already know….

    This is a common theme among ID proponents, this notion that scientists are closed-minded. What you have to realize is that scientists have huge egos (on average). Most scientists, therefore, want to be known among their peers as being “smart.” Therefore, there is nothing that scientists like better than smashing the prevailing wisdom. The greatest and most famous scientists made their marks by overturning or fixing current theories. This tendency strongly discourages dogma and the rule of authority in science. Church-oriented people don’t get this. They are familiar with the rule of authority and dogma, they’re comfortable with it, and they assume that other establishments, such as Science, follows a similar paradigm. But Science, particularly American Science, breeds a willingness to “question authority.” If you like, this is synonomous with “open-mindedness.”

  • http://www.anti-everything.us a-[e]

    “but since when does the practice of speculation (which is the very first step of the scientific method) fall outside the purview of science?”

    The question of whether or not scientists engage in speculation is irrelevant. The real difference between ID proponents and scientists is that at some point scientists are expected to *test* their hypotheses. This is the point you and the rest of the ID-ers want to ignore. Intelligent Design is just not a testable hypothesis. It is *purely* speculation and that is all it will ever be. As such, it cannot be science. Regardless of your religious beliefs, Intelligent Design has continually failed to move from speculative rhetoric to hypothesis testing.

    Margaret keeps bringing up “leaps of faith.” This only reinforces the notion that ID is entirely faith-driven (broad sense) and totally divorced from data, hypotheses and operationalized theory. My comments on speculation are relevant here and I won’t repeat them.

    “From a scientific perspective, the hypothesis of intelligent design cannot presuppose the existence of a creator.”

    I don’t think you understand what a hypothesis is. All hypotheses presuppose their content. That is the point. They set up an argument which data are then brought to be bear upon. Data are brought to bear in formal tests that should allow us to reject or “fail to reject” the hypothesis.

    Again, this is where ID-ers repeatedly fail to achieve science, thus making the inclusion of ID in science classes a moot point. The arguments they make for a creator are philosophical, for lack of a better word. The repeated assertion that the universe was created *isn’t* a hypothesis test and ID isn’t a scientific theory.

    Duane: Excellent point about egos and the desire to overthrow old theories, though I don’t think that all scientists are ego driven in their desire to generate new knowledge.

  • td

    “And much of the scientific process is asking and attempting to answer thus far unanswered questions like, “is the apparent design of nature the genuine design of an intelligent agent or is it the product of an undirected process of random events?””

    —————-

    What ‘apparent design’? There is no apparent design. When hydrogen and oxygen particles collide to make water do you look at them and say ‘hmmm, that water looks designed’.

    If that’s the case, then what should matter look like that doesn’t display ‘apparent design’. Because everything is just a combination of some particles colliding together.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    I understand that many people see the struggle over evolution as a wedge in the religious right’s efforts to combine church and state and how the idea of intelligent design seems like a slippery slope that could lead to science textbooks eventually being replaced with the Bible.

    But the slippery slope is a fallacy because it is based upon arbitrary notions about an undetermined sequence of possible future events. Talk about speculation in the absence of testable predictions!

    It is a given that we cannot predict the future, but we can learn something from the study of the recent history of the evolution controversy. And that history demonstrates that intelligent design is a disincentive to diluting evolution in favor of creationism.

    Or has nobody noticed that the evolution debate has evolved from the quaint old “Darwin versus Genesis” argument into a rather sophisticated discussion of the complexity of nature as it pertains to evolution and the origins of life?

    The creationists now know and understand something that they had previously failed to realize, which is that bluntly dropping evolution from the science curriculum of their local public schools always causes their localities to become national — worldwide, even — laughing stocks.

    Now, instead of evolution being diluted in favor of the religious study of biblical creationism, creationism is being diluted in favor of the agnostic concept of intelligent design, which must be taught in conjunction with evolution for it to be relevant.

    That old slippery slope seems to be defying the laws of gravity these days.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    The US Supreme Court ruled that it is illegal to teach creationism in public schools. That is why it has been “diluted.”

    So ID started gaining steam because it doesn’t specifically creationism. But that doesn’t mean that the ID proponents will stop at injecting ID discussion into science classes. No, this is the first step.

    First, you get ID included in the science curriculum. Over time, you teach less and less evolution and more and more ID until ID becomes the science curriculum.

    The slope is still slippery, if you ask me.

  • http://www.anti-everything.us a-[e]

    Margaret:

    The slippery slope fallacy isn’t the issue here and your continued attempt to frame the debate in terms of it seems rather disingenuous.

    The real issue is whether or not we’re going to teach science in science classrooms. Intelligent Design proponents–regardless of their take on either the Genesis myth, aliens or modern evolution–have failed to meet the criteria for doing science. The problem is entirely one of definition.

    ID, for all of its rhetorical heat, is not a scientific theory. Proponents have failed to move beyond armchair speculation and into the realm of hypothesis testing and real data. Until ID proponents can operationalize the concepts of their theory and *test* them, their theory isn’t science. Get it? Forget about building bridging arguments between data and generalization, they don’t even have basic data-driven hypothesis testing under their collective belt!

    Despite your claims, it is a *major* problem when we start incorporating wild, untestable assertions into science education. Why? Because it ceases to be science education. It is a disservice to students when we teach non-scientific speculation as real, honest science.

    What don’t you get about that?

  • chipmunk stew

    Margaret Romao Toigo: “I understand that many people see the struggle over evolution as a wedge in the religious right’s efforts to combine church and state and how the idea of intelligent design seems like a slippery slope that could lead to science textbooks eventually being replaced with the Bible.
    But the slippery slope is a fallacy because it is based upon arbitrary notions about an undetermined sequence of possible future events. Talk about speculation in the absence of testable predictions!”
    —————

    I’m not worried about ID being a slippery slope. I’m worried about children being taught the wrong things about science. Not its conclusions but its foundation. To even propose an “intelligent designer”, you have to discard the most basic function of science–to understand nature. There is plenty of room for *faith* in a designer where science has no answers, but it is not allowed in science to stop at “God (or ‘some designer’ in this case) did it”. Built into science is the understanding that we don’t know everything, but a scientific hypothesis is necessarily naturalistic. If there really are things with supernatural explanations, those things cannot be discovered by the scientific method. You can’t change science (the very tool, I mean, not the body of knowledge) to suit your hypothesis.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I think one thing we might consider is that if someone on the Kansas school board or anywhere else, is a true fundamentalist who believes in Creationism and evangelicism, then that person is not capable of being open to debate. If they use the adage that this country was founded on Christian principles (principles that a lot of faiths and athiests also adhere to) and should remain on Christian principles, they can’t change. They are under a mission from God to make a God-fearing society, to spread the word and save as many people as they can. This is their duty, their mission from God. How can a human ‘debate’ away what another person perceives as a direct order from God?

    Does anybody know of any fundamentalist anywhere who’s come to change their viewpoint on evolution?

  • http://www.publichealthpage.com MDE

    The question remains: how do we account for nature’s affinity for ‘useful’ proteins and other apparently nonrandom processes affecting evolution? Looking for answers in ID is a waste of time. There’s science to be done.

    “…if ‘random’ is given a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and … an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical, and biological.” Murray Eden, “Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory,” Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, editors Paul S. Moorhead and Martin M. Kaplan, June 1967, p. 109

    Mark

  • gonzo marx

    ok`..my 2 drachma here once again

    this is a very interesting discussion between a Theory and a Hypothesis

    i believe it is perfectly appropriate for college level discussion and research and see no problem with these ideas being explored here

    but , at Issue is the contents of high school biology classes

    note..high school, and biology falling into the science category

    NOT the place for high end metaphysical discussion, eh?

    once the big thinkers in science and academia iron this all out , and gather empirical data to take ID from a Hypothesis towards a peer reviewed scientific Theory on par with “evoloution” , then perhaps we can discuss high school level curriculum being adjusted

    until then, it belongs in a college level metaphysics class at best, eh?

    your mileage may vary..

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    bhw wrote: “First, you get ID included in the science curriculum. Over time, you teach less and less evolution and more and more ID until ID becomes the science curriculum.”

    See, a-[e]? The slippery slope fallacy is the issue for some people. Just because it is a logical fallacy doesn’t mean it is ineffective as a propaganda technique (sex sells, but fear persuades) or that the fears expressed by those who employ it are invalid — even if they are somewhat unfounded.

    Regardless of how it is used on which side of any particular issue (such as the silly notion that the legal recognition of same-sex marriages will lead to people suing for the right to to marry their pets), it is a flawed argument because it is based upon hypothetical supposition about the future and has no historical basis.

    In fact, as I had pointed out before, recent history demonstrates the opposite in that the very idea of teaching creationism instead of evolution has become ridiculous — and there is no going back from that.

    It is also important to note that these proposals to add intelligent design to public school science curricula have only been forwarded in a few localities while the vast majority of middle and high school students have been, still are and will continue to study evolution.

    Kansas and other localities make the news on this issue because they are quaint oddities, not because they are trend setters.

    It is important to point out the slippery slope because it has become part of the larger discourse with regard to this controversy and, as such, it causes an unnecessary hysteria that clouds issues like, “whether or not we’re going to teach science in science classrooms.”

    And, of course we are going to teach science in science classrooms. Get past the hysteria and the theophobia and get real about what’s really at stake here, which is very little.

    Intelligent design is not intended to replace evolution and it couldn’t anyway because science students will not even be equipped to speculate whether or not there is an intelligent design in nature until they have actually studied what is known about its evolution.

    The practice of science is a discipline in which there is little room for scientists to make wild, untestable assertions and engage in non-scientific speculation.

    However, the teaching of science is not so limited because science teachers and their students have different goals than scientists. They are not seeking new knowledge or discoveries, they are teaching/learning science that is already known and documented.

    When scientists use their imaginations to contemplate untestable speculation and non-scientific assertions it is a waste of resources, but when science students use their imaginations to contemplate untestable speculation and non-scientific assertions it is their first opportunity to use and apply what they have learned from their evolution textbooks.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Why study something specious like ID? there are more valuable things to do than waste their time. Of course, since the World is now Flat, if one bunch of students studies something irrelevant, another bunch elsewhere will outclass them soon enough, and anthropologists/scientists will look for advancement of science elsewhere.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    The thing about intelligent design is that there isn’t that much to study, it’s just something to think about and consider.

    If any bunch is going to be outclassed, it is the one that closes its minds to new ideas because they do not jibe with old ideas.

    Of course this has always been true of young Earth creationists, but there is a special sort of irony in it when this dynamic applies to the widely accepted theory of evolution.

    If Charles Darwin had not opened his mind to speculate new ideas about the origin of species, maybe someone else might have or maybe creationism would still be a prevailing scientific theory instead of the quaint old notion that it has become.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Jesus on a dinosaur! That’s an earnest defense of nothing much!

  • http://www.gehirn.org.uk Naadir

    Steven Weinberg puts it best:
    “Even though their arguments did not invoke religion, I think we all know what’s behind these arguments. They’re trying to protect religious beliefs from contradiction by science. They used to do it by prohibiting teachers from teaching evolution at all; then they wanted to teach intelligent design as an alternative theory; now they want the supposed “weaknesses” in evolution pointed out. But it’s all the same program — it’s all an attempt to let religious ideas determine what is taught in science courses.”

    For atheists, science provides us with suitable replacements for supernatural phenomenon – cosmology, quantum behaviour and thermodynamics.
    ID definitely steps on sciences toes, as it serves to say that the natural processes discovered by science are insufficient for complex behaviour to result.
    Maybe it’s because I’m a European that I feel I don’t need to be sent back to the middle ages.

  • chipmunk stew

    Margaret Romao Toigo: “The practice of science is a discipline in which there is little room for scientists to make wild, untestable assertions and engage in non-scientific speculation.”

    A perfect reason *not* to teach ID as an ‘alternative’ to an ‘unproven’ theory.

    “However, the teaching of science is not so limited because science teachers and their students have different goals than scientists. They are not seeking new knowledge or discoveries, they are teaching/learning science that is already known and documented.”

    Again, another great reason *not* to teach ID.

    “When scientists use their imaginations to contemplate untestable speculation and non-scientific assertions it is a waste of resources, but when science students use their imaginations to contemplate untestable speculation and non-scientific assertions it is their first opportunity to use and apply what they have learned from their evolution textbooks.”

    For a class on critical thinking skills this might be appropriate as a focus of study (perhaps alongside ghost sightings and the like), but in a class intended as a primer on biology and the origins of species, anything outside the consensus of the scientific community just clouds the waters. Which seems to be exactly the goal of ID-proponents. Students ought to be taught that scientific theories are always tentative and subject to revision, but they should also be taught about what makes a good hypothesis, what makes a good testable model, and what makes a good conclusion based on convergence of evidence. If ID is presented as a poor example of these, then yes, maybe it could be included in a study of evolution. I suspect that’s not how it would be taught, though.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Evolution steps on the toes of creationism, intelligent design steps on the toes of science while science has been stepping on the toes of religion since before the dawn of the Age of Reason. And the atheists still squirm every time someone commits the blasphemy of contemplating the supernatural. We have almost come full circle.

    The central theme in any of these discussions about religion and science and faith and toes is the manifestation of closed-mindedness as a palliative to whatever is causing discomfort to the toes.

    This used to be the case with the creationists who were uncomfortable with the way that evolution — and other scientific theories — contradicts the Biblical account of creation. So they fought tooth and nail to keep prayer in and Darwin out of our classrooms.

    Well, they lost. Big time. Now a good number of them opt for homeschooling or send their children to religious private schools, knowing full well that their constitutional right to their faith cannot supplant the fact that their beliefs are considered obsolete by the vast majority of their contemporaries.

    Now it is the strict evolutionists who have the closed minds, unwilling to even contemplate the source of the design of the nature that Mr. Darwin and the scientists who followed him documented so well.

    The introduction of intelligent design as a supplement to (not a replacement of, as some of the associated propaganda suggests) the study of evolution has got to be one of the most controversial non-controversies ever but it is a fascinating study of the connections between pride and faith.

  • chipmunk stew

    Margaret Romao Toigo: “The central theme in any of these discussions about religion and science and faith and toes is the manifestation of closed-mindedness as a palliative to whatever is causing discomfort to the toes.”

    No, the central theme is are we teaching science or speculation? Even as a “supplement” to evolution, ID is still speculation, not theory. It doesn’t get to be a theory until it’s been presented in a testable way and been verified. And it doesn’t get to be taught as an alternate theory until it’s a theory. So far it’s failed.

  • Duane

    Again with this unwarranted assertion by Margaret that scientists are closed-minded. Where do you get this idea? Some of the greatest minds in history have dedicated their lives to science. Consider the atomic theory of matter, relativity, the expansion of the Universe, the size of the Universe, the age of the Universe, galaxy formation, planetary formation, the age of the Earth, plate tectonics, the energy source of the Sun and the stars, electromagnetism, dark matter, dark energy, black holes, pulsars, wormholes, nuclear power, superfluids, a description of nature with the language of mathematics, and equally stunning progress in the life sciences, including (yes!) the theory of evolution. All of these steps were made by creative intellects of the first rank. For you to dismiss these monuments to civilization, the highest intellectual attainments of humankind, as arising from closed minds is preposterous.

    Also, see Comment #11.

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    The slippery slope fallacy is the issue for some people. Just because it is a logical fallacy doesn’t mean it is ineffective as a propaganda technique (sex sells, but fear persuades) or that the fears expressed by those who employ it are invalid — even if they are somewhat unfounded.

    Regardless of how it is used on which side of any particular issue (such as the silly notion that the legal recognition of same-sex marriages will lead to people suing for the right to to marry their pets), it is a flawed argument because it is based upon hypothetical supposition about the future and has no historical basis.

    Except for the fact that Kansas, just a few years ago, removed evolution from their science curriculum entirely. It has since been reinstated, but my hypothetical does indeed have a historical basis.

    In Kansas, evolution has a big target painted on it. Plan B seems to be not to remove it all at once but to slowly replace it with ID.

    It is also important to note that these proposals to add intelligent design to public school science curricula have only been forwarded in a few localities while the vast majority of middle and high school students have been, still are and will continue to study evolution.

    The entire state of Kansas is more than a locality.

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Kansas — yes, the entire state — did not remove evolution from its curriculum. In August 1999, evolution was removed from the state tests of student performance, but it was still taught in the classrooms. After Kansas was ridiculed worldwide, a new school board was elected and evolution was reinstated in February of 2001.

    I point this out, not to prove anyone wrong, but to demonstrate that we are moving up the so called “slippery slope,” and that the worst fears of creationists have been realized. Biblical creationism has become an anachronism and the very idea of teaching it in a science class is now considered laughable.

    Proposals to teach creationism instead of evolution are not taken seriously any more. States or other localities that try to ban evolution from classrooms or student assessment tests invariably become laughing stocks.

    We mustn’t close our minds to new ideas simply because they may reveal something that might make some people uncomfortable (that is the reason why creationists objected to evolution back when they could still do so credibly).

    And that is what all of these rather weak objections to intelligent design are really all about, the fear of a loss of faith in something (evolution) that the vast majority traditionally accepts as a fact.

    This is evident in the way the debate is playing out. Those who object to the introduction of intelligent design into the instruction of evolution have been employing the same tactics as the creationists who objected to evolution way back when educated people could still do so with a straight face:

    emotional arguments: Compare “our children will be taught that there is no God.” to “our children will not be properly educated in the sciences and will be left behind.”

    slippery slopes: “evolution will lead us to abandon our religious faith and consequently, our morality and our souls” versus “intelligent design will lead to Biblical creationism replacing evolution in our schools’ curricula.”

    straw men: “evolution denies the existence of God” and “intelligent design is just creationism by another name.”

    generalizing: compare “evolutionists are atheists” (back when calling someone an atheist was that same as calling him or her a communist) “people who question the theory of evolution are religious fanatics.”

    evasion: “evolution goes against the Word of God” and “intelligent design is not science.”

    Now, I couldn’t really care less if intelligent design is taught alongside evolution or not (although purposely avoiding any discussion of it in classrooms seems condescending to the students who might just be interested and smart enough to learn something scientific from reflecting upon intelligent design), but I do find the debate about it most interesting — especially the way that it demonstrates the natural human tendency to protect the status quo from being upset by the introduction of new ideas.

    Of course, from an historical perspective, it is easy to understand why creationists were afraid of Darwin supplanting the Bible, but why should people who already believe in science object to/be afraid of the agnostic contemplation of the origins of life?

    Charles Darwin — who did believe in a Creator — was not afraid to speculate and because of his courage and hard work we now have a far more advanced understanding of the relationships between living things.

    So, I have to wonder if all of this controversy is really about the strength of science/science education and how defining the difference between theories and hypotheses figures into that or if it is actually about jumping on the backlash bandwagon against the religious right.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Please disprove “intelligent design is just creationism by another name.”

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Intelligent design is agnostic and is not based upon any religious text. Creationism is the study of the Biblical account of creation.

    Intelligent design is about contemplating whether or not there is an intelligent design in nature. Creationism is about having unquestioning faith in the Scriptures.

    Intelligent design must be taught in conjunction with evolution for it to make sense. Creationism must be studied instead of evolution because evolution contradicts the Bible.

    Intelligent design requires questioning the existence of God. Creationism requires unwavering belief in God.

  • Dayton Turner

    I sort of feel sorry for Margaret who seems to be standing alone in fending off the ID-phobics who sort of remind me of homo-phobics in their approach to this enigma.

    It remains that we here on Earth have no idea how the universe got here or how life began. We have lots of guesses and conjecture but no irrefutable evidence of any cause or process. We have two possible answers: 1. It just happened or 2. Some intelligence cause it.

    I don’t know which of those two possibilities is the actual case. I know what I believe, which seems to be quite different from what a lot of other people seem to think they “know.”

    We can look, for instance, at the Great Pyramid of Giza. But we do not even know how that was built. We can perceive that it was built and by people who carried out some design and construction plan.

    It amazes me that when our “superior” intelligence of this day cannot even figure out how primitive men constructed a very complex building such as the Great Pyramid, we still somehow feel qualified to explain how the even more complex universe got here and how life began.

    One point here is that anyone can easily recognize that some intelligence was behind the construction of the Great Pyramid, but cling to the idea that the far more complex systems of the universe and living matter were random events.

    How many times must I shake a box of gears before I get a working time piece??

    I think the reason most of these people cling to the idea that origination happened by random events (but then who shook the box?) is because they innately fear that if there is an intelligent designer, it could be someone’s God and they, as a result, are in very deep and unrandom doo-doo.

    I also note that Margaret and I seem to be using real names rather than hiding anonomously behind initials and symbols. So who really believes in symbolism here ?

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    Biblical creationism has become an anachronism and the very idea of teaching it in a science class is now considered laughable.

    Well, I agree that it’s laughable, but if there were no law against it, you can be sure it would still be taught in some science classrooms in this country. Luckily, it’s unconstitutional: the case had to make it all the way to the Supreme Court for it to be deemed a violation of government endorsement of religion. That was in 1987, not really all that long ago to be considered an anachronism, if you ask me.

    Intelligent design requires questioning the existence of God.

    No, it requires the starting point that some sort of creator exists. It’s reverse science: it doesn’t start with honest, open-ended questions: the answer to the question is already known, that someone created the design, a.k.a us.

    Here’s a quote from a document on the Intelligent Design Network website:

    If evolution is defined as “change over time,” then clearly one can believe in God and evolution because God could have directed the change. But it is precisely here where definitions are so critical, because if one defines evolution as do the scientists quoted above (i.e., unguided and unplanned accidents), then it is logically
    difficult to believe in a God other than one who has simply thrown the dice without intending any particular outcome. Thus if God used a random evolutionary process, by definition only purposeless and unintended outcomes will result. It is self-contra-dictory to believe in a “guided, unguided” process. Professor Kenneth Miller discusses
    this dilemma:

    As [Kurt] Wise makes clear, he believes that the real danger of evolutionary
    biology to Christianity
    is not at all what most scientists might suspect. It is not that evolution’s version of natural history threatens to unseat the central Biblical myths of unitary creation and the Flood. Rather, it is the chilling prospect that evolution might succeed in convincing humanity of the fundamental purposelessness
    of life. Without purpose to the universe, there is no meaning, there are
    no absolutes, and there is no reason for existence.

    So you see, ID does indeed require a belief not only in a god, but in a particular type of god, one who has designed the universe with a purpose.

    More:

    The deistic evolutionist also holds that because there is no evidence of design in nature, belief in a God cannot be based on “natural revelation,” that is, on evidence for God in nature. According to Christian scriptures, the design apparent in nature is real. As a consequence, the deistic evolutionist is left only with subjective personal spiritual experience as a basis for belief. Logically the deistic evolutionist would be virtually indistinguishable from a strict Darwinist. The theistic evolutionist,
    who believes that life was somehow planned, would find support in ID theory.

    Again, to believe in the theory of ID, you have to believe that life was planned by some greater intelligent being for a purpose. If that’s not God, then who is it? And if all of this ID business is truly so “objective,” then why do documents written by its biggest proponents discuss ID in the context of not only religion but Christianity?

    Intelligent design requires questioning the existence of God.

    As I’ve shown, it absolutely does not. It requires the belief in a specific type of god/creator, who purposefully designed our universe and everything in it.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Margaret, when we learn about something in science class, say a new type of cell, we don’t just study it’s creation, we study the how and why of it too. (why does a blood cell get thinned out, etc.)

    How do you propose handling the issue of:

    If we introduce ID into the science classroom to discuss the possibility of it’s existance, then we also need to discuss the how and WHY of ID, in the science classroom. How do you approach the ‘why’ of ID in science, or how do you avoid it, while discussing the possibility that ID itself exists?

  • gonzo marx

    to Margaret,

    thanks for sharing more of your thoughts and quite a bit of your very interesting prose..

    i am all for the exploration, discussion and researd in ID, or ANY other decent Hypothesis that will advance our understanding of the Reality around us…

    i believe the whole point here is that this is a fine subject for a Metaphysics or Philosophy class, until further study and experimentation can be done..

    but can any honest, thoughtful , individual..much less one with a background that includes Critical Thinking, really believe that this belongs in a high school biology class in the science department as it currently stands?

    that’s my whole problem here..

    i hope my pitiful prattling helps..

    Excelsior!

  • http://www.landofthefreehomeofthebrave.org/wp/ Margaret Romao Toigo

    Dayton, thank you for your support, but I am having lots of fun playing the debating game, it is my sport.

    However, I do not make assertions lightly or for the purpose of instigating wrath, but rather to test the viability of the ideas behind them and to exercise my skills in applied semantics and pragmatism.

    The challenge is to make an assertion and defend it unless (or until) I am presented with logic and/or data that enlightens me and forces me to humbly concede.

    bhw, that document was an article from THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC BIOETHICS QUARTERLY, which is hardly an objective source.

    TEN REASONS WHY “EVOLUTION ONLY” IS LOGICALLY, SCIENTIFICALLY AND LEGALLY CONTROVERSIAL, which is a publication directly from Intelligent Design Network, Inc., is somewhat less biased and deals with the actual debate surrounding the controversies of intelligent design and evolution.

    Admittedly, there is a theistic influence driving the idea of intelligent design, which is evident in the speeches and writings of its most ardent supporters, but logic ultimately demands that the speculation of nature’s design begin with honest, open-ended questions.

    Sure, there are proponents of intelligent design who would rather operate from the assumption that there is an actual designer, but they have confused this issue in the same manner as the evolutionists who operate under the assumption that only natural processes can explain nature’s phenomena.

    In both cases, the answer to the question of nature’s design is presumed to already be known. And that’s not science, its faith — be it in God or evolution or extraterrestrials.

    And that is the main point here, that everyone needs to be open to the possibilities and that new ideas — or new twists on old ones — should not be dismissed simply because they do not jibe with tradition.

  • Duane

    Dayton:

    I sort of feel sorry for Margaret who seems to be standing alone in fending off the ID-phobics who sort of remind me of homo-phobics in their approach to this enigma.

    “Fending off?” She’s not doing a very good fending job. You’re certainly not helping her case. “ID-phobics?” A better label might be ignorance-phobics. “Homo-phobics?” Huh?

    It remains that we here on Earth have no idea how the universe got here or how life began.

    That’s what science is for. You’re not the least bit acquainted with the study of cosmology, are you? You’re also not the least bit acquainted with the history of science, are you? A hundred years ago, there was no believeable model of how the Earth formed. Now, there is. As far as how the Universe got “here,” as you say, there are theories for the time after t=0 that go far beyond “guesses” (google Alan Guth, for example). It’s true that answering the “why” question is beyond current capabilities. Scientific advancement occurs over long periods of time. The fact that we don’t have all the answers today does not imply that scientists have given up and are now clinging to dogma. They don’t get paid for that.

    …but no irrefutable evidence of any cause or process.

    This does not lead to the conclusion that there is an intelligent designer. That would be very sloppy thinking, if one were to fall into that trap.

    It amazes me that when our “superior” intelligence of this day cannot even figure out how primitive men constructed a very complex building such as the Great Pyramid….

    I thought it was aliens.

    bhw: Great post.

    Steve S: Just a comment or two on your post #36. If you look at the six questions: who? what? when? where? how? and why?, scientists deal only with the what, the where, the when, and the how. The “why?” question falls outside their area of inquiry. Maybe there is an intelligent designer. Who knows? So, I would agree with your first sentence if the “why” got changed to “how.”

  • gonzo marx

    as i keep stating “why” falls into the realm of metaphysics and philosophy

    and thus, ID should be there…NOT in HS biology classrooms..

    Excelsior!

  • http://paperfrigate.blogspot.com DrPat

    Thank you, gonzo! In its very name, “intelligent design” implies an “intelligent Designer,” i.e., God.

    You can’t sneak that camel into MY tent!

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    bhw, that document was an article from THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC BIOETHICS QUARTERLY, which is hardly an objective source.

    I agree with you that it’s not objective. But it WAS written by William S. Harris and John H. Calvert, the managing directors of the Intelligent Design Network, the organization that supposedly offers another article that is “less biased.”

    I quoted the words two key proponents of ID theory. Those words reveal that ID requires a belief in a god with a purpose.

    Your definition of ID, while compelling and, to me, preferable, isn’t the same as theirs. And they’re the ones fighting for ID’s inclusion in the Kansas curriculum.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    I’m still not even convinced that the ‘why’ can be left out of science.

    It is a small word that makes the difference between:

    “HOW is cancer spread throughout the body”, and “WHY cancer spreads throughout the body”.

    Even if you left out the ‘why’ in terms of why we were created, you are still going to be left with ‘why’s’ all over the place.

    We know that earthquakes are a shifting of plates in order to release pressure. If we were going to assume that evolution and creation were intelligently designed, then we need to know WHY such an ineffective means of pressure release was created. Wouldn’t permanent steam vents do the job without additional destruction? See, already I’m looking for different reasons behind earthquakes!

    I say teach evolution in the classroom and if people want to say that there is an intelligent designer behind it, let them say it in church where no proof is needed. And I happen to believe in intelligent design too.

  • chipmunk stew

    Margaret Romao Toigo: “Sure, there are proponents of intelligent design who would rather operate from the assumption that there is an actual designer, but they have confused this issue in the same manner as the evolutionists who operate under the assumption that only natural processes can explain nature’s phenomena.”

    Correction: Evolutionists operate under the (correct) assumption that science can only explain nature’s phenomena in naturalistic terms. (NATURE’s phenomena, thus the term NATURALISM)

    Restricting science this way is not close-minded (many evolutionists and other scientists believe in God or some “intelligent designer”, just not Intelligent Design as a scientific theory), it’s pragmatic. SCIENCE SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK ANY OTHER WAY. Supernatural explanations short-circuit further scientific exploration.

  • http://www.publichealthpage.com MDE

    As Hume would say, “Commit this thread to the flames, for it contains naught but metaphysics and illusion.”

    Mark

  • Dayton Turner

    Duane:

    What? You don’t believe in aliens, either? Are you one of these people who doesn’t believe in anything?

    Actually, I think Margaret is doing a pretty good job, but I suppose that is a matter of perspective which, of course, also directs one’s view of the importance and relevance of various pieces of information relating to this topic.

    As to cosmology, I did watch the Carl Sagen series, but I’m sure that by now cosmology is completely different, leaving me somewhere behind, whereas my basic beliefs pretty much remain quite similar to what they were then.

    I do not recall posing the question why, but do agree with Gonzo that “why” is more of a philosophical approach. Even so, that is only the aspect of why which might discuss the meaning and purpose of life rather than the aspect of why which discusses the way things work or integrate together. Would we understand the bonding of elements if some scientist had not asked why do oxygen and hydrogen combine to form water? And why are there no compounds using helium?

    I am not sure how you leap from my comment that we have no idea how we got here to suggest that I believe science has (or should have) thrown in the towel. I guess I didn’t mean “no” idea. I meant that even with all the theories being advanced, none seem to have advanced to the fore. We are still almost as perplexed by this question as was the first person who posed it.

    I have no fear of science investigating various ideas on how the universe came about and how life started. What troubles me is that the prevailing tide dominates because it has successfully squelched any intelligent opposition in the education process. Then it insists that grade and high school is an inappropriate place to present both sides of this issue. “Wait until we have thoroughly indoctrinated and propagandized these little minds before you try to confuse them with other alternate facts.”

    As to ID-phobia – the idea that by teaching intelligent design, you open the door to teaching that the intelligent designer is deity which then opens the door to teach that the deity is God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If that is not the same exact logic used by homophobics that tolerance opens the door to acceptance which in turn opens the door to endorsement – hey, I’ll eat your shorts. It would seem to me that anyone would be reviled by this kind of thinking.

    What I find is that often both sides of this question charge the other side with the very same flaw they themselves suffer.

    As another example, someone up above chastises intelligent design because it is unquantifiable and immeasurable. I would bet that same person puts a lot of credence into the latest fad concept of string theory which has at least two things standing in its way. It is unquantifiable and immeasurable.

    What you, Duane, actually said was, “Scientific advancement occurs over long periods of time. The fact that we don’t have all the answers today does not imply that scientists have given up . . .”

    Scientific advancement involves not only verification but also debunking. Science is fraught with former errors which it has found and corrected. One need only to look at the laws of thermodynamics as they appeared in 1940’s text books and as they now read. I mean, when the very basic laws of science must be changed and revised, how deeply should one rely on them? It is a true case of the old oxymoron that the only thing that is constant is change. (In my lifetime the first law of thermodynamics that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed was changed to fit a new reality and right now, in this very day, the second law dealing with universal entrophy is being questioned and strongly challenged by {honest to goodness scientific} information which indicates that rather than slowing down, the universe is actually speeding up!)

    And “we don’t have the answers today but we will find them,” honestly, is no more satisfactory to the theist than “God did it,” is to the atheist. It is the exact same argument from the opposite ends of the spectrum.

    You did get half the point of the irrefutable evidence comment. Not only does it not lead to the conclusion that there is an intelligent designer but neither does it preclude that possibility nor disprove the concept. The only truly honest answer is, “WE DON’T KNOW.”

    Current data on this matter is often enough to allow a person to intellectually lean toward one side or the other of this question, but I know of nothing which proves or disproves the existence of some intelligence behind the formation of the universe and the development of life.

    Reasonably intelligent people look at all this information and come to different conclusions. But I am of the opinion that no one’s opinion on this matter is totally and completely the result of intellectual investigation. All that information is filtered through our value systems, our life experiences and other factors which go into making us the unique individuals we are.

    So is the reason some believe and some do not believe, a scientific question or a philosophical question? Or is it because some people are smart and others are stupid?

  • Bennett

    Uh, correct me if I’m wrong (been a looooong day) but this analogy relies on tricking the reader into ignoring that you are equating “teaching” and “tolerence”, as if they are the same thing.

    Okay, here’s the deal. You can teach ID for one hour per week in public high school science classes, and Gay/Lesbian Awareness Groups can teach tolerance and homo-sensitivity in science classes for one hour each week.

    You down with that?

    As to ID-phobia – the idea that by teaching intelligent design, you open the door to teaching that the intelligent designer is deity which then opens the door to teach that the deity is God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If that is not the same exact logic used by homophobics that tolerance opens the door to acceptance which in turn opens the door to endorsement – hey, I’ll eat your shorts. It would seem to me that anyone would be reviled by this kind of thinking.

  • Bennett

    The final paragraph in the last post was extracted from Dayton’s post, for reference purposes.

  • Duane

    Dayton,

    Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

    What? You don’t believe in aliens, either? Are you one of these people who doesn’t believe in anything?

    I believe in ghosts, or something like what people call ghosts.

    Would we understand the bonding of elements if some scientist had not asked why do oxygen and hydrogen combine to form water?

    OK, sure. But that’s more of a “how” question. When I referred to the “why” question, I was speaking more in terms of “why are things the way they are?” Nobody knows why, for example, the electron has the charge that it has, or why the speed of light is what it is, etc.

    I would bet that same person puts a lot of credence into the latest fad concept of string theory which has at least two things standing in its way. It is unquantifiable and immeasurable.

    Excellent point. This aspect of string theory has given rise to a lot of opposition in the physics community. But Margaret should at least be gratified that a certain fraction of physicists have their minds open to the possibility that someone might come across a quantifiable prediction.

    Science is fraught with former errors which it has found and corrected.

    Which exemplifies the fact that dogma is anathema to science. Scientists, as arrogant as they are, are still humble in the face of nature. They strive only to describe nature, and then to construct an underlying theory that unifies the observed phenomena. Modern scientists do not claim to discover “truths.” Newton himself is famous for pointing out what he saw as likely flaws in his assumptions, which Maxwell and Einstein, for example, later amended by introducing radical new concepts of nature. As you probably know, string theory is an attempt to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity. It has been known since the 1920s that the two theories are incompatible, yet each describes to high accuracy a limited range of phenomena.

    In spite of all the self-correcting that has and will occur, the scientific enterprise has been remarkably successful. When someone rolls out the comment, “Yeah, but Newton was wrong, so we can’t trust science!” kind of comment, I remind them of the comment made by one of the astronauts onboard one of the Apollo spacecrraft to the effect, “I think Isaac Newton is doing all the driving right now.”

    …the first law of thermodynamics that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed was changed to fit a new reality….

    The first law states that energy is a conseved quantity in a closed system. By special relativity, energy can be converted to mass, and vice versa, but the point is that mass and energy are equivalent. The First Law still holds. I didn’t understand your point concerning the Second Law.

    And “we don’t have the answers today but we will find them,” honestly, is no more satisfactory to the theist than “God did it,” is to the atheist.

    The past is a pretty good indication of the future. I think many scientifically literate people worry that the anti-evolution noise signals a rejection of science and the scientific method, as well as a complete disregard of history.

    Not only does it not lead to the conclusion that there is an intelligent designer but neither does it preclude that possibility nor disprove the concept.

    Quite right. Again, scientists do not “prove” anything. They only look to devise working models of how things work, then adjust them as new data come along. They cannot disprove any theory unless the theory makes a prediction that is shown to be false. As many people here and elsewhere on BC have pointed out, ID makes no testable predictions, therefore, cannot be disproven, therefore, does not constitute a scientific theory, therefore, does not deserve to be competed against evolution. ID truly is a conjecture, and a very old one at that.

    The only truly honest answer is, “WE DON’T KNOW.”

    I would say, “WE DON’T KNOW YET.”

  • http://www.bhwblog.com bhw

    As to ID-phobia – the idea that by teaching intelligent design, you open the door to teaching that the intelligent designer is deity which then opens the door to teach that the deity is God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. If that is not the same exact logic used by homophobics that tolerance opens the door to acceptance which in turn opens the door to endorsement – hey, I’ll eat your shorts. It would seem to me that anyone would be reviled by this kind of thinking.

    Hope you’re hungry.

    The problem is, as I have pointed out in other comments on this thread, that ID proponents believe evolution to be a “threat to Christianity” [their words, not mine]. How can you really question that their ultimate goal is to teach that ID confirms the existence of Christianity’s god? That’s the whole point of the theory in the first place, that it confirms their pre-existing belief in God, the intelligent designer.

    The Intelligent Design Network website talks about how science impacts religion. IDers are bringing religion into the discussion of science — it’s part of the package. You can’t have ID without religion.

    Now, I personally prefer integrated school curricula. I see no reason to keep science discussions separate from metaphysical ones, so long as the distinction is made between them and students understand the difference between the scientific method and belief systems. So if IDers want ID taught in science class, then they have to be ready for the inevitable questioning of the basic foundation of the “theory”: that there is a creator who purposfully designed the universe and us in it. But I guarantee you that they won’t like that because you will be questioning and challenging their religion. And that’s because their “science” is founded upon a religious belief.

    It all boils down to the fact that ID itself has been intelligently (?) designed to confirm religious beliefs. There’s no getting around the connection to religion.

  • td

    great post bhw.

    I totally agree with your last paragraph. All my teachers taught evolution and big bang theory, but they were careful not to go to far into any possible religious implications of these theories. Never once did they say that it had to be one or the other. If you bring ID
    into the classroom then it will open the door to discussions about which is correct, ID or Evolution, and students will be forced to take sides.

    I personally am not a supporter of integrating metaphysics and science in the same class. Science class exists to teach the scientific methode. It’s not about why, it’s only about how. If you don’t want school systems to use the theory of evolution to teach kids about the scientific method then petition your school board to focus on another scientific theory.

    But don’t inject a non-scientific theory into the class room so you can balance out the why implications of evolution. You don’t see scientists petitioning the government to allow themselves to present evolution theory in Church so that they can balance out the how implications of religion.

    And as far as the ‘We don’t know’ vs ‘We don’t know yet’ debate. When it comes to science class, the point is ‘What do we know’. Evolution theory, though not perfect, is a plausible explanation of the evidence and based upon the scientific methode.

    ID may be a plausible explanation of the evidence, but it is not based on the scientific methode and therefore it should not be taught in science class.

  • Dayton Turner

    While as participants here, we are often discussing the relative merits of intelligent design, we should not forget the overall purpose.

    This particular blog is focused on a discussion as to whether the idea of intelligent design as a paradigm for the beginnings of the universe and life is a legitimate and appropriate topic to be included in the curriculum of public schools.

    There are those who, given the final say, would return curriculum to pre-Scopes trial days in which creation by God (very specifically, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) was the assumed and unassailable causation. It would seem obvious that such presumption was and is in violation of the 1st Amendment.

    The discussion here seems to have focused on the legitimacy of intelligent design as a scientifically relevant paradigm. Those opposed to including ID as an alternative explanation seem to have two main bases for their objections. One, they do not believe ID has enough scientific foundation to be included as an aspect of science or to raise legitimate objections to the present offering. Two, they believe it is the first step of introducing religious instruction into the public school system.

    So let’s look at the first main objection, the lack of scientific foundation for ID. The question I feel compelled to pose here is whether other information and topics come under the purview of science while lacking a solid scientific foundation (whatever that actually is). Is, for example, discussion of extra terrestrial life, for which there is only questionable evidence, a proper topic for discussion in scientific curriculum? The only possible links are the unsubstantiated claims of UFO sightings and claimed encounters with occupants of said UFOs.

    Or if you decide that this is a philosophical question which has not place in the science class, let’s change the scenario slightly and discuss whether 2 and 2 IS four or 2 and 2 ARE 4. Do you refuse to discuss this in math class because it is a question of grammar or do you refuse to discuss it in grammar class because it is a math equation which has no place in the grammar class. This is a silly example, but my point is that all these things are somewhat interrelated.

    If we wish to discuss some flaw in some perceived chemistry theory, would we not discuss it in chemistry class? If there is some disagreement over a matter in physics, would we not discuss that in physics class?
    If we have controversy concerning the beginnings of life, what more appropriate forum to discuss this in other than biology class?

    I don’t think the lack of scientific foundation or improper forum are very strong arguments for keeping this discussion out of school curriculum.

    Which leaves the second objection, that it is a violation of the 1st Amendment which says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . .” From this has evolved the concept of separation of church and state.

    It would have been nice if the writers of the amendment had expounded on that a little more. I know this has been argued in the courts for years but it remains unclear to me whether the proper use of establishment in that phrase is as a verb or as a noun.

    If establishment is used as a verb, the amendment prohibits congress from establishing (or probably even endorsing) religion. But even there it is not clear in a literal reading if it is referring to an identifiable specific religion or just religion as a generic concept.

    As a noun, the clause now means that congress is prohibited from making any laws which would restrict or endorse any existing or future religion.

    If “religion” in the clause refers to an identifiable specific religion, it could not apply to instruction relating to intelligent design because ID does not relate to a specific religion. Any of several religions could ostensibly claim the intelligent designer referred to their god(s) and only if the instruction specifically singled out one of those religions could it be considered promoting an identifiable religion.

    If “religion” in the clause refers to generic religious concepts, it is still difficult to eliminate such instruction so long as it does not suggest that that intelligent designer is an entity which also serves as the object of worship for some religion.

    So, in addition to the subject matter propriety and philosophical objections, there is also a legal question related to this topic.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Two, they believe it is the first step of introducing religious instruction into the public school system.

    I fall into this category. In your comment, you compare intelligent design to math and UFOs, but I do not think they are comparable. I don’t think you can make analogies there.

    Religion is different than anything else, not only because it has faith as a sole foundation, but because it involves worship. We don’t worship the mathematical equation or those blurry pics on A Current Affair.

    There is no current religion I know of that acknowledges a diety and just leaves it at that. All the religions I know of, give the diety some sort of fealty, in worship and praying, sometimes kneeling multiple times a day, and dedicating lives and souls and considering their diety a Loving Father™.

    You cannot tell people that a higher power created you without implying that the higher power, in some way, ‘fathered’ you and therefore some fealty is implied. Unless you think it’s okay for society to adopt the concept that a ‘child’ owes nothing to the ‘parent’.

    Intelligent design is still nothing more than a crafty way for evangelicals to do their job.

  • chipmunk stew

    Dayton Turner: “Is, for example, discussion of extra terrestrial life, for which there is only questionable evidence, a proper topic for discussion in scientific curriculum?”

    Not as a theory, especially not as a theory that intentionally exploits gaps in a well-verified theory as part of its evidence.

    “If we wish to discuss some flaw in some perceived chemistry theory, would we not discuss it in chemistry class? If there is some disagreement over a matter in physics, would we not discuss that in physics class?
    If we have controversy concerning the beginnings of life, what more appropriate forum to discuss this in other than biology class?”

    We teach disagreements all the time, but we don’t teach “some small vocal minority claims there is another planet sharing our orbit exactly opposite the sun” as a controversy. We might bring it up as an amusing anecdote, though.

    There is no “controversy” in science about the beginnings of life. There are acknowledged gaps in our understanding. ID-proponents claim to have answers. When the scientific community said show me, they failed to produce even a testable model, and the vast majority of scientists said it’s not good enough, get back to work. Instead of getting back to work, they started lobbying school boards to “teach the controversy”. This is not how science is done. The “controversy” is a political fiction.

  • Dayton Turner

    Hmm. Seems like the only people who see religion in ID are non-religious people.

    But when religious people contend that humanism is a form of religion, the non-religious (many humanists), vehemently protest.

    Or if theists claim atheism is a belief, just as theism is, atheists are taken aback.

    Apparently, non-religious people are the only people qualified to speak out on religion, philosophy, politics, logic, science or any other intellectual pursuit.

    The biggest problem here are people who don’t know the difference among what they know, what they don’t know and what they believe.

    I do not know how the universe began or how life orginated, but I do know no one else who has posted on this thread knows, either.

    There is enough evidence available that one can intellectually develop any number of beliefs concerning the origins.

    To limit the discussion to only one paradigm is not an education process, but an indoctrination process.

    I would not want an education system which indoctrinated young minds that some specific God worshipped by a specific group of people perpetrated the origins.

    However, to teach theory such as evolution as proven science is incompetent, if not dishonest. To refuse to admit to deficiencies and flaws in a theory is propagandizing.

    There seems to be no unwillingness to point to inexplicable complications in the theories on Relativity or to point to the problems of quantum physics and the seeming diametric opposite points of view these two theories offer toward the nature of the universe.

    I can’t thinking you non-religious folks may be far more worried about there being a God than we religious folks are worried about there not being a God.

  • gonzo marx

    Dayton sez…
    *However, to teach theory such as evolution as proven science is incompetent, if not dishonest. To refuse to admit to deficiencies and flaws in a theory is propagandizing.*

    first..evoloution, as taught in high school biology classes in the U.S. is taught as a “Theory” of current science..

    big difference than what you wrote

    my only problem with ID is that no scientific methodology to either prove or disprove any of it’s core Postulates has been put forth and subjected to the rigors of peer Review..

    that alone removes it from the category of what should be taught in a SCIENCE class, and places it in the realm of Metaphysics and Philosophy

    if you desire to advance the cause of ID, then you must define and quantify the Designer, and subject the Hypothesis once again to experimentation , gathering of empirical data, and peer review

    this makes the difference between “what i think” or “what i believe” and accepted scientific Theory by current standards and practices

    i have yet to find ANY of this accomplished, in any research i have undertaken on the subject of ID, what i find are Logical fallacies or Semantic trickery that defies mathematical description and offers innuendo or supposition rather than hard data or empirical evidence of any kind…

    that is NOT to say that the Hypothesis itself is not interesting…and i do think that it is quite worthy of further study….but it is NOT yet ready to be the subject of high school biology class

    it comes down to the category of curriculum…place it in the Philosophy, or Metaphysics class…and i can’t see anyone objecting..

    but in biology class?

    not ready for prime time, yet..

    your mileage may vary..

    Excelsior!

  • daytonturner

    I’m sorry that you do not see that evolution today is being taught as axiomatic or a proveable theorum.

    So far, all that has been discovered is that some animals and plants are related to other animals and plants which look different and that they can be cross bred to produce hybrids which do not quite look like either of the parents and that, in some cases, these hybrids can, in turn, breed and multiply as a now new animal or plant. In those cases, we can easily trace the lineages back to a common ancestors. Which is, essentially, what Darwin investigated.

    That is, in my opinion, what science is about.

    Science has not, however, discovered common ancestors between different species of animals or plants. There is no genetic or fossil link between say, cats and dogs. It is insidious to suggest that, while we don’t have those links available to us today, we will positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt figure them out some day.

    Current biology instruction glosses over the gaps by either ignoring them or pooh-poohing them.

    I do not insist that no such link can ever be found. I do not insist that it had to have been done by God or some other non-deitic intelligence.

    I merely insist that no one knows the answer to the questions as to where or how the universe came into being or how life began.

    I just cannot accept that it is honest or educational to teach that because we can breed a horse and a donkey and end up with a mule, it shows that maybe the lion and giraffe got togethr to produce the wildebeast.

    If you want to see that theory taken to its ultimate rediculousness, perhaps you could read some Piers Anthony “Land of Xanth” fantasies.

    I’m only saying that your answer, “This all happened as a result of random inexplicable events,” is no more or less valid or logical than the suggestion that some intelligence orchestrated those very events.

    Either of these answers comes as a result of looking at our surroundings and interpreting those observations through our base of attained knowledge and our life experiences.

    Just because some people assign deitic qualities to their supposed intelligent designer, does not prove that an intelligence designer is, indeed, someone’s God.

    We always end up at the same dichotomy of explanations. Did it happen by chance or by design. Either of these answers requires one to make something of a leap of faith to fill in the gaps between what we know and what we believe.

    The biggest difference is that those who believe it happened by chance are allowed to preach their doctrine (with virtual impunity) in the U.S. public school system while those who believe there was design are not.

    I continue to insist that this is not education but brain washing through indoctrination and propagandizing on a scale not seen since the hey-day of communism. It just sorta make me see red.

  • gonzo marx

    dayton sez..
    *I’m sorry that you do not see that evolution today is being taught as axiomatic or a proveable theorum. *

    you misunderstand my words..i do NOT see it as being taught as axiomatic..but i DO see it being shown as a provable Theorem…what is NOT being shown as a provable theorem is the concept of ID

    dayton sez..
    *So far, all that has been discovered is that some animals and plants are related to other animals and plants which look different and that they can be cross bred to produce hybrids which do not quite look like either of the parents and that, in some cases, these hybrids can, in turn, breed and multiply as a now new animal or plant. In those cases, we can easily trace the lineages back to a common ancestors. Which is, essentially, what Darwin investigated.*

    you confuse genetics and evolutionary Theory here..and i might suggest you actually READ Darwin’s work before making further commentary on the subject…it might also help to note that tho he began the process of codifying the Theory of Evolution..it did not stop there…it still continues to this very day…

    what you are Postulating is semantically equal to stating that Newton’s work is the sole defining treatise on calculus(see his Principia Mathematica) or that his work completely defines our current understanding of Cosmology and Astrophysics…which it most certainly does not…

    dayton sez..
    *That is, in my opinion, what science is about.*

    this non-sequitor occurs directly after my last quoted paragraph…please define your Opinion as it is not evident by your statement…then we can discuss it

    but here is a good rule of thumb…if it cannot be described and/or quantified utilizing the tools of mathematics and Symbolic Logic than it is not “science” but a fuzzy Subject…math itself cannot “prove” anything, but is a descriptive Tool of human Reason, and thus quite useful in the pursuit of Knowledge under the auspices of “science”

    dayton sez…
    *I just cannot accept that it is honest or educational to teach that because we can breed a horse and a donkey and end up with a mule, it shows that maybe the lion and giraffe got togethr to produce the wildebeast.*

    could you please show us just WHERE this is being taught in our public schools in a science class?…otherwise it is merely rhetoric and deserves no rebuttal

    dayton sez..
    *I’m only saying that your answer, “This all happened as a result of random inexplicable events,” is no more or less valid or logical than the suggestion that some intelligence orchestrated those very events.*

    read carefully..i have NEVER said anything like what you ascribe

    dayton sez…
    *We always end up at the same dichotomy of explanations. Did it happen by chance or by design. Either of these answers requires one to make something of a leap of faith to fill in the gaps between what we know and what we believe.*

    my contention is that the Theory cureently being taught in high school biology conforms to, and is being taught as..a Theory…something that has the weight of research, empirical data and has passed the rigors of peer review within the scientific Community…so far, ID has not…

    my apologies if i have not been clear enough on this point..

    dayton sez..
    *The biggest difference is that those who believe it happened by chance are allowed to preach their doctrine (with virtual impunity) in the U.S. public school system while those who believe there was design are not.*

    as i have pointed out..one is accepted as science by the process i have outlined above..the other has yet to pass the rigors of such a “test”

    you use of the semantically loaded words “preach” and “doctrine” is quite telling when speaking about this…merely my own Observation…

    not to the nut of the matter at hand..
    dayton sez..
    *I continue to insist that this is not education but brain washing through indoctrination and propagandizing on a scale not seen since the hey-day of communism. It just sorta make me see red.*

    i will not rise to the bait of your implied “red herring” here, but instead will ask you to define your terms in reference to “education” and “brain washing”…because this failure in agreement of epistomology seems to be at the crux of our disagreement…

    please note that current curriculum teaches the scientific methodology of Thought and Reason..how to prove or disprove a Hypothesis…the rigors of Logic and how it is applied to science..coupled with the required to graduate course in mathematics you achieve a fairly decent baseline in understanding Critical Thought, and the tools needed to go on to higher education for further study…

    if someone could show me that ID does this, and does NOT rely on faith alone…i would be more than happy to look at the work…

    thanks for the rational discussion..

    Excelsior!

  • daytonturner

    Well, I dunno. It seems to me when it comes to faith, but sides of this question have to have some faith.

    Your side has faith in the idea that nothing took nothing and made something. Seems like that would take a lot more faith than believing that something figured out how to make something out of nothing.

  • Duane

    Seems like that would take a lot more faith than believing that something figured out how to make something out of nothing.

    That just begs the question. Where did your “something” come from? Do you think time extends infinitely backwards. Physicists would disagree with you. And making something from nothing is not impossible according to quantum mechanics. Without having some knowledge of physics, your assertions carry no weight. Go spend 10 minutes on the web, and read about quantum fluctuations in the context of the beginning of the Universe. You won’t understand it (I’m not saying that I do, although I have a working knowledge of quantum mechanics), but maybe you can at least acknowledge that faith has ZERO to do with science.

    As is typical with ID proponents, you sell science and scientists short, maybe not out of sheer arrogance, but probably more out of ignorance of modern research.

    It’s not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of hard-working scientists, using the tools of science, and advancing the frontiers of knowledge, in spite of the uninformed skepticism of the I-need-to-be-comforted uninitiated. So, when you said, “Well, I dunno,” it would have been better to just leave it at that.

  • Bennett

    “…in spite of the uninformed skepticism of the I-need-to-be-comforted uninitiated.”

    Wow Duane. Nice. Is that copyrighted, or can I use it?

    Good answer.

  • gonzo marx

    to Duane..

    /golfclap

    you just said in yoru last paragraph what i have been attempting with the thousands of words i spewed all over this Thread..

    i am awestruck

    >bows, hand over fist<

    Excelsior!

  • Dayton Turner

    I do understand that quantum theory establishes a universal paradigm of unpredictable chaos as opposed to the relative (pun) universal stability of the theories of relativity.

    And now, to settle the obvious discrepancy between these virtually diametrically opposed theories, there is the totally unquantifiable, immeasureable string theory which is clearly suppose to clear up the whole picture.
    (I suppose the stings come from the same place the intelligent designer comes from. Hmmm, maybe the strings are intelligent and that will merge all the ideas under one umbrella.)

    Seems as though science continues to build a more and more complex, difficult to comprehend paradigms that are less and less believable. I may have to turn my cuff up another fold.

    I do not think I sell science short; but neither do I give it credit for fully explaining that which it does not fully explain. I give it credit for continually offering new possibilities, any or all of which may be partially or fully plausible.

    When it comes to origins, we all believe something. My thing is that those who happen to believe in intelligent design, or even some God for that matter are not stupid, ignorant asses. I hardly think you would find a scientist in the Muslim world who did not profess Islam. Many scientists of today believe in some degree of intelligent design or even profess Christianity. This neither invalidates science nor proves the existence of an intelligent designer. It merely shows that some can see both sides of this coin.

    It still remains, no matter how you attempt to disguise it, people who discount intelligent design, by necessity, must believe nothing came from nothing as the result of some inexplicable randomness.

    Science seems to say, “We don’t have the answers yet, but the truth is out there,” which is no more of an explanation to me than someone saying, “God did it,” is to you.

    This is certainly not an argument which we will resolve here. I have no expectation that you would ever come to an intellectual point where you could consider there might be some merit in the idea of intelligent design. And I can assure you, you have said nothing that does any more than convince me that the silliness of my beliefs are no more silly than the silliness of your beliefs.

  • chipmunk stew

    Dayton Turner: It still remains, no matter how you attempt to disguise it, people who discount intelligent design, by necessity, must believe nothing came from nothing as the result of some inexplicable randomness.

    If you’re talking about “intelligent design” as an abstract notion, then you’re probably right. You’re absolutely wrong if you’re referring to Intelligent Design as an alternative theory to evolution. I.D. makes assertions (such as “irreducible complexity”) which can, without contradiction, be dismissed while retaining belief in some ultimate creator of the cosmos.

  • Dayton Turner

    Hmmm. I miswrote in what you quoted but you saw right through it to what I actually meant.

    It depends on what aspects of evolutionary theories you are referring to. When it comes to adaptations or the fittest animals surviving and reproduction those qualities which made them the fittest, I see no need for direct intervention and manipulation by an intelligent designer.

    But when it comes to the development of a completely new species with no genetic relationship to others, I might consider some other causation.

    You mention “irreducible complexity,” and I suppose you are talking about Michael Behe’s mouse trap and other closed end systems.

    And there is the other guy (whose name evades me) who showed how he could reduce the mousetrap to a single spring.

    However, no one started with a single spring and then developed the more complex mousetrap by successively adding pieces. If the single spring had been an effective mousetrap, that is what we would be using this very day.

    The mousetrap that has only the spring is ultimately no more effective than a blood clotting system that only clots and never stops clotting.

    Deconstructing something does not guarantee that it has been deconstructed in the exact opposite steps with which it was constructed.

    The intelligent designer who made the six piece mousetrap was, IMHO, a more effective designer than the one who made the single spring design, if the single spring designer was, indeed, a designer rather than a refiner.

    Evolution, to the extent that it has been measured and quantified, is not a problem for the concept of intelligent design.

    The unproven, unvarified, impossible-to-reproduce evolutionary leap in which dead materials spontaneously spring to life is a concept intelligent design would necessarily question.

    I find the idea of spontaneous generation of life very difficult — well, impossible — to believe.

  • chipmunk stew

    The mousetrap is a false analogy. A literal example is the human eye, which ID-proponents like to point to as being irreducibly complex. But it’s not.

    First of all, some sight is better than none. People with impaired vision (partial blindness, color-blindness, blurred vision, etc., which are all caused by disruptions or malformations to parts of the whole) have an easier time navigating through the world than people with no vision.

    Second, it’s easy to see by looking at species living today to see how a human eye probably developed. There are animals with simple eyespots (detect light), animals with recessed eyespots (detect direction of light), animals with pinhole lenses (crudely focus images), animals with true lenses (sharply focus images), animals with rods and cones (detect color).

    Third, the human eye would work better if its layers were reversed–our vision would be crisper and more accurate. As it is, the rods and cones point away from the incoming light, and they sit behind a layer of blood vessels. If humans can conceive of a better design for their own eyes, what does that say about the intelligence of the designer?

    Fourth, ID-proponents use this idea of irreducible complexity (an unverified conjecture) to bolster the argument you touched upon that the introduction of “completely new species with no genetic relationship to others” is not explainable by evolutionary theory. This is the missing link argument, and its primary function is to show that modern humans do not share a common ancestor with other hominids. There has been no species ever that has no genetic relationship to others. Let’s clear that up right now. As to the idea of gaps in the fossil record, every time a new fossil is discovered that shows a new link between us and our ape-like ancestors, creationists and ID-proponents point to the new (now smaller) gap between us and that link. Before long, they’ll be saying show me the missing link between you and your mother.

    Microevolution vs. macroevolution is a false dichotomy. It’s just evolution, which happens quickly when a system is stressed, and more slowly when a system is stable.

    As to the origin of life itself, this is an openly acknowledged gap in scientific understanding, and the appropriate scientific answer is “we don’t know” (which is what my high school biology teacher [who believed in God] and textbook said). You’re free to believe what you wish.

  • Dayton Turner

    Thank you, Stew, for permission to believe as I choose. It appears we agree on a crucial element of this discussion. Evolution does not explain the origin of life.

    As I said before, some aspects of evolution are easy to trace, but others are not.

    Plus, I always have my ace of trump — maybe that is the way the intelligent designer did it.

  • chipmunk stew

    Dayton Turner: Thank you, Stew, for permission to believe as I choose.

    You’re welcome, but I wasn’t presuming to grant permission, I was just placing the answer in its appropriate context–faith not science.

    Plus, I always have my ace of trump — maybe that is the way the intelligent designer did it.

    I totally agree. If it’s true (humanity may never know for sure) it renders this “controversy” meaningless, though, doesn’t it? After all, the implication of this argument is that acts of God are synonymous with natural events.

    In other words, evolution is describing how God did it.

    Unfortunately, that’s not all that Intelligent Design (the written hypothesis, not the abstract notion) proposes. ID the hypothesis says (among other things) that natural selection only happens on a small time scale and genetic mutation on a small change scale, and that distinct species lines were created separately by an intelligent designer. This is far from being verified, and the convergence of evidence refutes it. It doesn’t render evolution only “a theory, not a fact” as the sticker on Georgia’s textbooks said.